Modern Marketing

B2B Marketing Communications: Thought Leadership with Dianna Huff

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The next interview in our B2B Marketing thought leader interview series is with Dianna Huff, B2B Marketing Communications Consultant.

Dianna also writes for the Marcom Writer Blog, and provides some great tips to help B2B marketing professionals develop integrated marketing campaigns for effective lead management.

Dianna_huff Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you got into B2B marketing.

I am a B2B marketing communications consultant and copywriter — I specialize in helping companies achieve better results with online marketing, including Websites, SEO, email marketing, e-newsletters, landing pages, etc.

I started my career back in the late 80s, early 90s — I used to write newsletters for various organizations on a volunteer basis. I had also always worked in a manufacturing environment, even in college. (Back then, the term “B2B” didn’t exist.) I completed my Master degree in English Lit in 1993 and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I went to career counseling and when the counselor saw the things I was writing “for fun,” plus my experience at various companies, she said, “There’s a name for people like you – it’s called marketing communications.” The rest is history.

From reading your blog, I see that you write a lot about integrated marketing. What are your top 3 tips to help companies tackle the art of integration?

This is a great question.

1. Actually plan out your campaign before you create anything. Who is your target audience? What are their pain points and challenges? How does your product or service help them? What are your goals and objectives for the campaign? Describe not only a successful outcome but how you’ll measure it.

2. Develop your strategy. How will you reach your target market? Where do they congregate and what is the best way to attract their attention? Just because everyone is pushing new channels such as YouTube/video, doesn’t necessarily mean that YouTube/video will work for you. Carefully consider both offline and online tactics and how they will work together. For example, I am still very perplexed by the recent VW campaign which uses print ads, TV commercials and online ads. I really do not “get” the campaign nor the message nor the objective. Why? Because none of the channels are fully integrated – the campaign assumes you watch TV and go online to specific sites. But if you read only the Wall Street Journal, which is where I saw the print ads, they make no sense whatsoever because they are out of context.

3. No matter what your channel, don’t send people to your Website home page! One of my favorite things to do is pick up a trade journal — any one will do — and analyze every single ad in the publication. Generally, only one or two companies push people to an offer-specific landing page. All others direct people to the home page. Even direct marketing / SEO companies do this — and they should know better!

What techniques and marketing tactics have you personally used to push the envelope?

I developed an e-book for my client, Dr. Helaine Smith, a cosmetic dentist. (Even though she markets to consumers, her sales cycle is very close to B2B in that it’s a “considered purchase” that can take months.) I took inspiration from David Meerman Scott, who advises that companies should offer free information / new ideas in the form of e-books. Dr. Smith really wanted to push the envelope in dentistry by talking about how one’s oral health can affect one’s sexual health — something no other dentist was doing. So last spring I developed an e-book for her called, “Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!” which has had close to 4,000 downloads (which is huge for her) and several reviews on blogs, including About.com and David Meerman Scott’s blog, Web Ink Now. In fact, her alma mater is going to give it out to freshman during orientation! This project “pushed the envelope” for me because my first inclination was to advise her to stay on “safe” topics. If we had done that, we would not have created such buzz for her.

A recent post on your blog discusses 5 strategies to increase B2B sales. What is the number one opportunity you see for companies to better reach their target market online to increase sales leads?

Search engine optimization and content geared toward what buyers want. Seriously. I see so many B2B sites that aren’t optimized, and the smaller B2B or “mom and pop” sites tend to have very little content — and then companies wonder why they aren’t getting any leads/inquiries from their sites. One company that called me had a Services page that simply listed their services. That was it. I said, “You need to expand your services content so people know what you do and how you can help them.” Their response? “Our customers know what we do.” It’s this kind of thinking that leads to companies losing out to their competition.

In your experience, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for B2B marketers striving toward marketing ROI?

Know your customers and buyers and what they want. In fact, I developed a free e-book on this very topic, Five B2B MarCom Strategies to Increase Sales Now. It includes eight strategies for getting to know your prospective customers.

As many of you are also B2B marketing experts, what tips do you have for developing a truly integrated marketing campaign?