The difference between patina and cruft

Cruft is obsolete. Cruft is broken, discarded, non-functioning refuse that should be hauled away.

Patina is the wabi-sabi of positive use. A bookshelf of well-worn encyclopedias (now replaced by Wikipedia) has a patina to it. Simply seeing it reminds us of the possibility of discovery.

Patina makes it easier to go forward. Cruft gets in our way.

Why Contract Management System?

Most types of businesses tend to require contracts and thus can make use of contract management software. If you’re still managing your contracts manually, here are five key reasons why you should make the switch from inefficient tools like spreadsheets and emails.

Main Reasons to Consider Automated Contract Lifecycle Software

Information accessible more quickly by the right people. If something like an audit occurs within your business, and you’re not relying on a contract management software, chances are you’ll need to get everyone on board to search for information. The process can quickly become incredibly inefficient. Instead, use contract lifecycle software which helps you analyse and review data, and discover potential risks too. No longer do your employees have to respond reactively but can be proactive, taking ultimate control of the business and relationships within it.

Centralised and automated data assigns the best person suited to each task. Usually, the more people working on a contract, the less efficient the process becomes, particularly if this is done manually. When contracts are centralised and automated, you can assign the best person in your organisation for each job. So, the legal team no longer works on number tasks and finance stops writing legal copy.

Standardised templates remove repetition of creating the same contracts over and over. The chances are that you probably create very similar agreements over and over regularly. Contract management software uses standardised templates with libraries of clauses and language. As a result, the length of time spent writing contracts is massively cut back and the time wasted on manually entering data becomes minimised.

Resolve cross-functional problems while keeping your sales cycle consistent. You can dictate rules for how contracts move through the contract lifecycle system and determine who should take specific actions. Each member of your team will know when to complete a vital action thanks to notifications and alerts. But ultimately, everyone is kept up to date regarding the progress of the contract.

Alerts mean you never miss a renewal again. With traditional contract management, there’s no way to know when auto-renewal will occur, and this can cost your business money. Contract Lifecycle management helps eliminate this problem by displaying alerts based on rules, dates, or data.

Replace Your Outdated Contract Management Process With Up to Date Software

Contract management software makes managing contracts within your company more efficient and productive while helping you improve profits and productivity within your teams. Additionally, the risk that comes with manual contract management is fully removed, and the contracting process becomes a lot quicker.

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“It might not be for you”

If you walk into a noisy bar and ask why they don’t have Chopin on the jukebox, they’re unlikely to accommodate you.

The same is true if you go to a BBQ joint and insist on sushi.

Most of the brands we truly care about stand for something. And the thing they stand for is unlikely to be, “whatever you want, we have it.” It’s also unlikely to be, “you can choose anyone and we’re anyone.”

A meaningful specific can’t possibly please everyone. That’s the deal.

Are we part of us?

Liberty is a state of mind. It can be seen as a chance for freedom, or a promise made but not kept. We can choose to be part of something or choose to be apart.

Liberty is the offer and promise and requirement of responsibility. A willingness to connect and to offer dignity in response to those around us.

Independence is actually about cooperation and interconnectedness.

Yet we’ve set up systems that limit what we see, how we connect and insulate us from the hard work that’s right in front of us.

One of the most important words I know doesn’t have a simple English equivalent, which says a lot. Sawubona, a Zulu term, means, “I see you.” Not just your face, of course, but your hopes, your dreams, where you came from and where you’re going. It’s not something we’re good at, and I need to do it better.

Figuring out the best way to see and understand and care about the people we call ‘us’ can be difficult indeed. And essential.

Wasting second place

100 people apply for a job. 99 are sent home. What if the winner hadn’t applied? You might have been thrilled with the person who almost got the job.

17,000 people apply to a famous college. Only 10% get in. But at least a third were good enough to get in but didn’t get lucky. What happens to their narrative?

Selective organizations need to get better about communicating to the people who ‘almost’ make it. And it’s an incredible waste to discard all the knowledge that was gained in the sorting process… how to share it to help someone else?

 

PS coming soon: A new session of The Story Skills Workshop. You can join the list today to find out more and get updates.

B2B Marketing News: COVID19 Impact on B2B, Boost in Online B2B Purchasing, Google Combines Search Console & Analytics Data

Consumer Recommendations Study

Consumer Recommendations Study

Which Recommendation Types Do Consumers Find Most Compelling? “Based on your favorite” is the most impactful recommendation type, study data shows. MarketingCharts

Google Expands Access to its Business Messaging Tools from Search and Maps. Expanded brand reach to customers via maps and search listings are among features in a new tool rollout.  Social Media Today

COVID-19’s Impact on the B2B Industry. B2Bs are figuring out how to stay in business, operate and recover. This often requires a digital transformation of marketing and sales efforts. eMarketer

B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report

Google to pay some publishers for content; others dubious. Alphabet’s Google on Thursday took a step towards resolving its spat with publishers, saying it would pay some media groups in Australia, Brazil and Germany for high-quality content and expects to do more deals, but others were skeptical.. Reuters

Study Reveals Surge in Demand for Online B2B Purchases as COVID-19 Slows Direct Sales. Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s B2B Future Shopper report shows nearly half of all B2B purchases are now made online. MarTech Series

Facebook Adds Custom Audience Creation Options Based on Shopping Activity. With Facebook and Instagram Shops on the way, Facebook has this week added some handy new Custom Audience creation options to align with increasing eCommerce activity. Social Media Today

The Evolution of Sales and Marketing Alignment. Much has been said about the benefits of aligning sales and marketing teams, as well as the many challenges that organizations can face. A new report from InsideView looks into what’s stopping companies from taking key steps towards alignment. MarketingCharts

Google Combining Search Console & Analytics Data Into One Report. Google is giving site owners advance notice of an upcoming beta test where data from two platforms is combined in a single report. Search Engine Journal

Facebook tests Forecast, an app for making predictions about world events, like COVID-19. Forecast, a new project from Facebook’s internal R&D group, NPE Team, is launching today to build a community around predictions. The iOS app will allow users to ask questions and then use in-app points to make predictions about what might happen in the future. TechCrunch

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

Have you found your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for taking the time to join us, and we hope you’ll come back next Friday for another collection of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post B2B Marketing News: COVID19 Impact on B2B, Boost in Online B2B Purchasing, Google Combines Search Console & Analytics Data appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

5 Ways to Make Brand Social Media Profiles More Compelling

Optimize Brand Social Media Profiles

Optimize Brand Social Media Profiles

As a concerned consumer, I have to admit that I’m ambivalent about social media. On the one hand, it keeps me connected with friends and family. And it provides a platform for those whose voices have been marginalized. On the other hand, it can be a 24-7 outrage machine where I can ruin my blood pressure arguing with strangers.

As a marketer, however, I wholeheartedly celebrate social media. Brands have never had such rich opportunities to interact with customers and potential customers. They’ve never been able to so easily display what the brand is about, what it stands for, and how it can bring value to people.

This is especially important now that virtually all B2B business is done digitally and customers are using digital channels more than ever to find information, learn about brands and solutions.

If your enthusiasm for your brand’s social media has waned, though, I get it. Social has been around for over a decade now, and it’s become just another channel for a lot of us. But if your brand is treating social as a box to be checked, rather than an opportunity to be seized, it’s time to take an interest again. With the pandemic shifting in-person marketing to digital, more buyers are online than ever before.

You can start with the basics, like refreshing your brand’s profile pages. With a few adjustments, you can make these pages more welcoming to your audience and more reflective of your brand’s personality and values. Beyond that, freshen up images, ensure links are working, information is accurate and up to date.

But let’s go beyond the basics. For that, here are my top 5 tips, as well as some platform-specific suggestions.

1. Ditch the Corporate-Speak

This first one may be the hardest for B2B marketers who have been in the game for awhile. Corporate marketing has a language unto itself, and if your target audience isn’t other corporate marketers, you’re likely getting lost in translation.

Start by eliminating buzzwords. Any grand-sounding, but ultimately empty, words and phrases can go. Look especially for those phrases that are true of every business, but that some brands tout as differentiators. Here are a few to look out for:

  • Data-driven. Are there businesses who base all decisions on Tarot card readings?
  • Results-oriented. As opposed to intentions-oriented, I suppose.
  • Best-in-class. If everyone is best in class, no one is.
  • Disruptive. This is a bold yet nebulous claim, and an overly common one.
  • Customer-first. This will differentiate you from all those businesses who put people who are NOT their customers first.
  • Industry-leading/Thought leader. These are vague claims as well, and also are titles that should generally not be self-granted.

In general, strive to talk like a person, rather than a corporate entity. Even on LinkedIn, where a higher level of professionalism is expected, you will attract more attention with a warm, human voice.

2. Eliminate Problematic Language

By “problematic,” I mean, “likely to cause offense to historically oppressed groups of people.” This may not be a popular topic with some folks, but getting rid of problematic language is absolutely essential for modern marketing. The risk is alienating not just the offended group, but whole swaths of your target audience who prefer more inclusive language. And you risk attracting the wrong sort of audience, too.

What follows is just a few excerpts from a very long list:

  • Gurus/Ninjas Both of these titles have real meaning and significance to their respective cultures, and using them as part of a brand descriptor or job title is a bad look.
  • Tribe/Tribal/Tribalism Tribal connections are deeply meaningful to Native Americans, so it’s better to find another way to refer to your group. Double yikes if you’re the “chief” of your “tribe.”
  • Circle the Wagons/Pow-Wow Not only are these examples of archaic language that somehow persists in corporate-speak, they’re both offensive to indigenous folks.
  • Crazy/Insane It’s best to avoid words that describe mental illness in a trivial fashion. Your brand can be “passionately” devoted to its customers without being “crazy about” or “insanely focused.”

I would call this type of language awareness “politically correct,” generally with an eyeroll. But in reality, it’s simply inclusive. If part of your brand identity is caring about marginalized people (and I hope it is), it’s important to make your language reflect that.

3. Say Why You’re Here

Okay, the language policing part of the blog is over. We can all breathe a little easier now. On to the next big, easy question: Why is your brand on social media?

Maybe it’s not so easy a question after all, but it’s one that you need to answer in a way that will satisfy your audience. Use your profile to explain why your brand is on a particular site, and what types of interactions you’re hoping for with your audience.

I particularly like how Dell does this within the strict character limits of Twitter’s profile pages. Their main page says, “Official News from Dell: Delivering technology solutions that enable people everywhere to grow & thrive. Need support? Contact @DellCares.”

In 137 characters, they tell us:

  • What the account does (Official News from Dell)
  • What the brand does (Delivering technology solutions…)
  • What you might be looking for instead of this account (@DellCares for support)

On every one of your brand’s social media platforms, make sure to include all this information as your calling card.

4. Focus on What You Do for Your Audience

It’s easy to make your social media profile into a self-promoting Greatest Hits page. That’s true of personal pages, and equally true for brands. We won these awards. We got good reviews in this publication. We have sold to this many clients.

A little bit of braggadocio is okay, even necessary to establish credibility. But the majority of your profile should stick to describing what you do for your audience. Does a potential buyer care more that you had a write-up in Forbes, or that you can keep their website up through traffic spikes? Do they want to hear about your industry accolades, or a story about how you helped a customer?

Content marketers are great at practicing empathy. Let’s make sure to channel that empathy, that thoughtfulness, into creating social media profiles, too. Write to interest your audience, not just your CEO.

5. Include a Call to Action

When you think about it, your brand’s social profiles are landing pages. They’re attempting to sell something: A closer relationship with the brand. And as with all landing pages, they need a strong call to action. It’s not enough to say, “We’re great, here’s what we do, here’s why we’re on this platform….” and leave it there.

If you want people to follow you on Facebook, don’t rely on their Follow button, state that explicitly. If you want folks to visit your blog, say so. If your main goal is to find folks who want to book a demo, put that right in the profile.

After all, your profile page isn’t a destination — you don’t win points for people getting there. It’s all about what they do next.

My favorite example of a CTA in a profile isn’t from a brand, but it’s from a person who is practically her own brand: Ann Handley. Her Twitter profile ends with a two-word CTA: “Say hi!” Think about all she conveys in those two words:

  • I’m friendly.
  • I want to know you’re here.
  • I want to talk to you.
  • Don’t just click ‘like’ or ‘retweet.’

Quick Tips by Platform

The above advice is good on any platform, but let’s zero in on the three most popular B2B sites for a few specific tips.

LinkedIn (client)

  • Use Showcase Pages to organize your lines of business & keep your corporate page clean and simple.
  • Make your page title descriptive of not just what your business is, but what it does. That is, instead of “cloud-based SaaS solution,” “Helping businesses store their most sensitive data.”
  • LinkedIn Pages are Google-crawlable, so bring your SEO best practices to bear when writing copy for them.

Twitter

  • Your profile is heavily character limited, so stick to the basics.
  • Extend your profile with a pinned tweet – something that provides extra information or a compelling CTA.
  • Be selective about the accounts your brand follows – they will be visible from your profile page.

Instagram

  • Don’t be afraid of emoji and hashtags in your profile – if they’re professional enough for General Electric, they’re likely okay for your brand, too.
  • Use your profile link wisely — link to a specific landing page rather than your company’s home page.
  • Use the Highlights feature to pin stories to your profile.

Don’t Distance from Your Audience on Social

Social media has been around long enough that it’s tempting to put it on autopilot, just one more thing marketers have to check in on every now and then. But there’s still a real possibility to engage with your audience on social, start conversations, and build relationships. And it all starts with making sure your profile invites people in and gives them a next step to take.

Want to learn more about how to put social media to work for your business? Find out how TopRank Marketing helped a business beat their social media new follower goal by 91%.

The post 5 Ways to Make Brand Social Media Profiles More Compelling appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Our top story

When you talk about your last job, your last vacation, the things that happened when you were 12…

What do you lead with?

Do you lead with, “I broke my ankle that summer and rarely got out” or is it, “I stuck with my reading regimen and read all of Shakespeare.”

Because both are true.

The top story is the one that informs our narrative, and our narrative changes our future.

Why Content Marketing is More Important Than Ever for B2B Brands

In his recently published eBook, Corona Marketing, Joe Pulizzi recounts how he and his wife launched the website Content Marketing Institute in 2007 at the exact time as a devastating financial crisis was beginning to unfold in the United States. 

“At the time, we believed things couldn’t have been bleaker,” Pulizzi writes. “Looking back though, this was absolutely the best time for my wife and I to start a business.”

Why is that? Because their commitment to providing useful, helpful and relevant content – even at a time where it was difficult to drive direct revenue with that content – paid major dividends as the market recovered. 

“When we were starting to come out of the recession in 2010, Content Marketing Institute quickly became the leading resource for content marketing education, not because we had some secret sauce, but simply because we invested in our audience for two years when everyone else went silent (or went out of business).”

Even when times are difficult, professional audiences still look to people and brands they trust for guidance, information, and entertainment; in fact, one might argue especially when times are difficult. And as we’re said on this blog before, that continued search for solutions means the work of marketing doesn’t stop

The challenges our world now faces with the coronavirus pandemic and social justice movement create a unique opportunity for B2B content marketing to make an impact, even relative to other recessions and crises we’ve faced in the past. Here’s why.

The Vital Role of B2B Content Marketing Right Now

In an increasingly customer-centric business sphere, content marketing has become a virtually omnipresent tactic for two primary reasons:

  1. It’s cost-effective at a time where budgets and ROI equations everywhere are closely reviewed and scrutinized.
  2. It’s non-pushy at a time where customers are increasingly resistant to interruptive, promotional messaging.

Both of these underlying drivers are magnified in the current environment. Budgets are broadly down – both for marketers and their customers – so business purchases (particularly discretionary ones) are being delayed and dialed back. As such, ads and content that aim for direct conversions can miss the mark. In fact, the perception that a brand is attempting to opportunistically profit during a crisis can be outright damaging.

Which Types of Digital Marketing Will Dominate 2020

The year 2020 revolves around digital marketing and its many perks, which are really out in the open. Be it any business, it is getting hard to survive without the right type of digital marketing strategy. There are many digital marketing names, such as online marketing, internet marketing, digital advertising, etc. Honestly, it does not matter what you call it; what matters is its significance in today’s era.

One cannot go without practicing digital marketing, especially those businesses that want to grow at a fast pace. It is more like an essential ingredient to achieve the right texture and flavor. It is the fuel of your vehicle and the ladder to achieve exceptional marketing results. Being a business owner, do you think you will go without something as crucial as the things mentioned above? If your answer is ‘no,’ then welcome to the club.

The latest digital marketing trends are here to stay in 2020. They have gained so much popularity lately, with the introduction of better services in the future. Traditional marketing tactics were a hit too, but gone are the days when they were considered ‘essential.’ What is even more essential is getting a business website up and running without further delay. Also, do not forget the social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

The reason behind mentioning all of this is to keep up with the digital evolution. There is no scope for businesses stuck in the past, that use conventional marketing techniques. Companies need to alter their digital landscape and make dollars in return. In 2020, different types of digital marketing strategies are going to dominate the market. Now is the chance to adopt these latest strategies and become the ultimate digital marketing designer to make sure your company remains ahead of the marketing game and achieves a competitive edge.

Keep on reading to discover which types of digital marketing strategies will dominate 2020. In this way, you will be all set to embrace the best trends and utilize them wisely.

1. Video marketing is a big hit

If you think video marketing is still an ‘option’ to consider, then you are wrong. Try to get on board with video marketing before it gets too late. It is yet another dominant digital marketing field, which is all about visual content. It might make you wonder why video marketing is so crucial. Well, it is the need of today’s market, where no other type of content can compete with visual content. If you plan to increase your website’s visibility and encourage sales online, it is necessary to go for video marketing. Consider these statistics about video marketing from ImpactBND:

  • Almost 70% of customers have watched and shared a particular brand’s video.
  • 72% of businesses have strong faith that visual content has upgraded their status.
  • Over 52% of customers state that product videos have helped them make sound decisions while purchasing products online.

Indeed, video marketing is super engaging, especially when brands do live streaming on various social media platforms; it attracts many viewers. The more a brand utilizes video content to their advantage, the more they can expand their customer pool. When combined with blogging, this powerful marketing strategy will do unimaginable wonders, especially for small businesses.

 

2. Personalized email marketing to your rescue

Emails remain a prevalent medium to communicate with people around the world. People use them for personal, industrial, commercial, legal, academic, and scientific reasons. When we use emails so often, then imagine how quickly email marketing will dominate 2020. However, email marketing is an art, and it needs personalization to grab one’s attention and convert it into a possible lead.

Generic marketing is a big no in this domain, and unique triggers should be used to win over everyone’s heart. We also recommend you give your emails a personalized touch and create some follow-up emails, all the while remaining engaged in answering any queries or concerns. All of this will help promote your brand with the right context, motivating the customer to act.

3.  Omnichannel Marketing is now becoming mainstream 

A handful of people are aware of this term, and if you are not one of them, it is time to get familiar with it. Omnichannel marketing is when a business starts using several online platforms to market its products and services. This kind of digital marketing allows companies to communicate effectively with their customers, building a secure connection with them. When a cohesive message gets delivered to the target audience at the right time, the online business boosts up. And it increases the customer’s level of engagement, which is far better than using a single marketing channel. Not just that, but purchase frequency, customer retention, and feedback improve overtime as well.

 

4.  Next-GEN SEO is the real deal

The SEO world has changed a lot due to Google’s BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update. This update is advanced software to learn deeply about what the searcher wants to know. It relates to the natural processing of language and how one can make the most out of SEO.

Take your business as an example, which might have a poorly written website. Such a site will decrease traffic flow, and a quick fix will not solve the problem. Here is when the BERT will step in, helping you think from your audience’s perspective and work around the pitfalls. SEO marketing is not only about algorithms but about the web traffic you can achieve. This update will increase the value of your business in 2020, with more advanced Search Engine Optimization.

Conclusion:

It is up to you to practice the types of digital marketing mentioned above or stay behind your competitors. 2020 is not going to wait for you, so do yourself a favor and get your business involved in digital marketing and achieve a competitive advantage. This way, you will also dominate the business sector besides these marketing tactics. So do not stand still and do some homework for your business. Ask yourself which of these types you will be trying first and dive right into it.

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