CES 2016 ExhibitOne thing B2B brands can agree on is that trade shows still are a very valuable investment. So valuable, in fact, that the average B2B brand invests nearly 40% of its total marketing spend on them.

With so much money spent annually on a single marketing initiative, it makes sense to ensure your marketing investment is capable of delivering the expected ROI.

In our white paper, “Your Roadmap to B2B Trade Show Success,” we provide a foolproof method for planning and executing your next trade show marketing initiative.

To give you a flavor of the white paper, we have included a brief list of some of the topics addressed:

Picking the right trade show

Do you go all in and set up a booth at the biggest — and most expensive — trade show for your industry or try one that has less attendance but will involve less financial risk? Deciding which trade show is right for your budget and growth ambitions will go a long way toward ensuring you get the healthy return on investment you seek.

Budget

You should always set up a budget for your trade show initiative lest you find yourself constantly sinking money into an ever-growing cost center. The budget should be realistic, based either on your company’s past experiences at trade shows or research you do on other companies in the same or similar industries. Build in a reasonable financial margin for error, of course, since you never know how much variability there will be in pricing of key inputs like booth design and materials, shipping, travel and lodging, etc.

Project Manager

Perhaps the single most important decision you make is who to assign as project manager. A good PM will steer the trade show marketing initiative with confidence, and be able to marshal the resources from all over your company to ensure everybody is on the same strategy page.

Staffing

Seems like a no-brainer but staffing your trade show booth with the wrong employees could spell disaster. Better to go with employees who truly thrive on customer service and can operate on little sleep and in chaotic environments because trade shows often involve after-hour schmoozing with clients, prospects and influencers. They should also be very fluent with your product and service offerings and have a professional demeanor for discussion with all kinds of individuals.

Marketing

Be sure to plan your trade show marketing collateral well in advance. Any new product launch should include foolproof demos and accompanying product data sheets. You may need to have a product specialist on the team to ensure the demos go well on the trade show floor. Also, be sure your marketing is consistent with your company’s brand guidelines in terms of colors, logos, fonts, etc. The last thing you want is to sow confusion among customers and prospects with respect to company brand and messaging.

Social Media vs Media Outreach

Both are important. Social media is a great way to communicate with customers and prospects before, during and after the trade show. The key is to plan well in advance by beginning to follow and share posts of professionals you are targeting. Be liberal with shares and general information posts about your prospects as opposed to direct sales pitches; nothing turns off a prospect faster than a direct overture without having worked to develop a meaningful connection first.

Media outreach is still very relevant as it is one of the best ways to establish your brand’s credibility and reach a much wider audience. To ensure you get a shot at media coverage during the trade show make sure you reach out in advance to key journalists who are planning to attend the event in order to set up face-to-face meetings at your booth. If you are launching a new product, it will be easier to set appointments with media; but if you don’t have a news trigger like that then try to grab coffee or a happy hour drink with a couple of key journalists and bloggers to begin developing a relationship that will lead to future news coverage.

Follow-up

This is a key item that companies have to get right or they risk missing out on the primary reason they attend a trade show — new leads! Some companies employ card scanning technology but many simply pocket the cards for entry into a CRM system after the show. Whatever your approach is, be sure that every lead entered into CRM is properly identified in accordance with your lead rating system. Well-qualified leads should be assigned to sales for immediate follow-up while leads higher in the sales funnel can be added to your drip marketing campaign.

Ready to download now!

Your Roadmap to B2B Trade Show Successtrade-show-white-paper” is now available to download! If you have any questions about our white paper or need tips for strategizing an upcoming trade show, feel free to share your information with us and we’ll schedule a brief call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B2B Marketing TipsThis is the second post of our New Year’s installment on ways B2B brands can retool their marketing assets to improve website traffic, lead conversions rates and overall brand awareness in 2017.

Trade shows are big deals

Trade shows are where many B2B companies spend the most time and money by far. According to our newest white paper, “Your Roadmap to B2B Trade Show Success,” B2B companies “invest nearly 40% of their marketing budget in exhibitions” in order to reach customers, prospects and influencers in one event. If you are looking for ways to gain more traction in the form of leads and media coverage at trade shows, then feel free to download our white paper from this link today!

Modernize your social media strategy

How is your company currently using social media to reach new prospects and develop thought leadership? Do you make the occasional post to Twitter or LinkedIn only to return a couple weeks later for another couple of posts? Are you getting bogged down making tons of posts but not seeing any traction in the form of more follows, reposts and deeper levels of engagement?

This year why not research your target audience more to learn what sort of pages and influencers they follow? Figure out what these pages and influencers are offering the people you want to engage with. Are there any common themes in the messaging? If you are selling cybersecurity solutions to CIOs of small enterprises, do your targets spend time on Reddit sharing thoughts on the latest hacks, or are they reposting their favorite cybersecurity bloggers on LinkedIn? Find answers to those questions and you’ll find new way to engage them more consistently in hopes of building up trust and drive future conversions.

Be strategic with your social media, as well. Heading to a trade show later in the year? Be sure you prepare your social media campaign in advance and include outreach to key journalists and bloggers. Loop in your blog to drive traffic there, or develop a landing page for a product announcement to facilitate lead capture — or both! Combine ad buys on social networks with a webinar showing the benefits of your new product, a launch party at the trade show, a contest give-away.

Don’t forget social ad buys

Modernizing your social media strategy must include social media ad buys. After all, the Facebooks of the world are not making money by letting you do business on them for free. They are fast becoming the best way for businesses to brand and lay the groundwork for lead conversions. While Facebook may not be the ideal platform for B2B companies (yet!), you can make smart ad buys on LinkedIn and Twitter that can drive more traffic, advance thought leadership and grow your company’s following.

Don’t forget to stay abreast of how social ad buying is changing, because it is. Improvements to advertising platforms on social media come all the time. For instance, it’s now possible to upload emails of your prospects and customers on Facebook to run targeted campaigns; you can then have Facebook create a mirrored list of high-potential targets based on the demographics of your customer and prospect list. LinkedIn and Twitter are now following Facebook’s lead and allowing email uploads to create targeted ad groups as well.

SEO

Popular search engines  like Google and Bing are constantly in flux as they try to refine their search algorithms to award legitimate content producers and discount or even block ones that game the system for organic higher rankings. For instance, it used to be common practice to send out “press releases” on distribution platforms like PRWeb until Google caught on to the practice of keyword stuffing employed by many SEO companies. Your SEO is better served by following best-in-class practices such as producing quality content on your blog with backlinks to your website, contributed articles to other influential industry blogs and even media placements in traditional media. There are no doubt other tricks of the SEO trade that won’t run the risk of getting you blackballed on search engines like Google but you would be wise to research them before pursuing them.

 

Business meeting. Marketing strategy brainstorming. Paperwork and digital concept. Intentional sun glare and vintage colour

It’s that time of the year to take stock of your B2B brand assets and how well they performed in 2016. The timing of the New Year dates back to Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. when he ordered a change to what eventually became the foundation for our modern 12 month calendar. Perhaps not surprisingly, the name January derives from the Roman god, Janus, who was the god of beginnings.

Many businesses also peg their operational budgets to the start of the new year. Which means that many marketing professionals are busy evaluating the performance of their marketing strategy and investments. The goal? Learn what worked well, what could use improving and what should be scrapped in favor of a new approach.

In that spirit, we offer you this quick look at things marketing professionals should keep in mind as they look to retool B2B brands for 2017.

Blogging – Content is still King

Nothing quite compares to an active blog when it comes to driving website traffic and conversions. And by active, we mean publishing at least 11 posts per month consistently. If Hubspot’s extensive research is any indicator, B2B companies that publish 11 monthly posts get nearly 3x the website traffic as compared to ones that publish only occasional posts. Post 16 times per month and you may very well see 4.5x more lead conversions compared to those who post only weekly. Of course, this assumes you are laying the groundwork for conversions by adding call-to-actions (CTA) on your blog and providing deep links to other parts of your website.

Grow your contact list

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to add an email address capture app to your website in order to ask visitors to subscribe to your email marketing campaign. Mind you, it’s not an invitation to start selling to subscribers. But you can lace your marketing campaigns with call-to-actions in hopes of converting them into customers. An app like OptinMonster will let you set up the contact “ask” either upon arrival to a website, a set time after arriving or when the visitor shows what’s called ‘exit-intent’ (moves cursor to address bar to navigate away from the website).

Speaking of email

Email is far from dead, especially in the world of B2B marketing. Most purchasers in B2B companies prefer to be contacted by email over phone. Social media, by comparison, is a non-starter when it comes to making sales overtures. Email is the way to keep your prospects informed of your latest innovations, successes and offers. Combine email marketing with webinars, free white papers and an active blog and you will win a large share of the market in short order.

Website updates – Out with the old

If your website is showing its age, instead of scrapping the whole thing and incurring a huge expense in the process, you might consider freshening up the site with new images, some tweaks to content and possibly even experimenting with new CTA copy and buttons. As previously mentioned, one of the more effective ways to retool your website is by blogging on a consistent basis. If it has been 3-5 years since your last website refresh, you may be due for a complete overhaul. If you operate on WordPress, you would be wise to look for newer, more responsive templates that can allow you easily update the website, do your own SEO (more on that below), maintain a killer blog, and even create sliders.

[Part 2 of blog post is coming tomorrow!]

belgium-imageBelgium might be a small country, but it has a vibrant startup community with some pretty large ambitions. In cities such as Ghent and Antwerp, fresh talent is working on building companies which have the potential to disrupt entire industries.

Here are 10 Belgian startups that we selected — not necessarily on their revenue or the capital they raised —  for the potential they have to be genuine disruptors in their markets.

Box office crystal ball: ScriptBook
This company developed an algorithm that will predict whether a movie will be a box office success or a dud. Too good to be true? Perhaps. What is a fact, however, is that the ScriptBook algorithm is now being applied in different pilot projects by American film studios. The movies under study will be released in the next 12 to 18 months. If ScriptBook proves it can make a difference, then it is almost certainly a ticket to fast growth for the Belgian startup.

Site: www.scriptbook.io / Twitter handle: @ScriptBook_io

Uber for foodies: FLAVR
The FLAVR app creates a marketplace where food lovers can be matched with food makers. Think Uber for foodies. FLAVR launched in May 2016. It has managed to cover the entire Dutch speaking part of Belgium (over 1,800 home chefs registered) and is now gearing up for international growth. FLAVR has raised €650k seed capital and, having won International Accelerator’s pitch competition at SXSW in 2016, we know that FLAVR has the ability to whet the appetite of potential investors in the U.S.

Site: flavr.be / Twitter handle: @addflavr

Staircase to growth: GRAAH
GRAAH produces the first aluminum staircase in the world. The modern design staircases are not tailormade but put together in a modular way on site. Most of sales come today from the United States, but there are plans to grow in Europe in 2017. ‘Graah’ means ‘gladly’ spelled out phonetically in West-Flemish Dutch by the way, because these West-Flemings really love their stairs!

Site: www.graah.be / Twitter handle: @graah_stairs

Keeping score: neoScores
Several Belgian musicians — sick and tired of having to deal with paper scores — came up with the idea of building a music sheet application in 2009. Today neoScores makes it easier for musicians around the world to play, practice and perform music through its Gustaf app.  

Site: www.neoscores.com / Twitter handle: @NeoScores

In sync with your doctor: Andaman7
Walloon serial entrepreneur Vincent Keunen came up with his idea when his son was treated in the hospital and had a hard time obtaining any medical information on his condition. Andaman7 allows medical practitioners to share medical files with their patients. What makes this app unique is its ease of use and automatic synchronization between patient record (from the doctor) and individual medical file (from the patient). In 2016, Andaman7 scored a contract with the Liège university hospital in Belgium, allowing more than 500 patients to have a full copy of their medical information downloaded to their Andaman7 app. Andaman7 is also getting ready to set up shop in the U.S and plans to raise $5 million in 2017.


Site: www.andaman7.com / Twitter handle: @Andaman7

Oh, Canada!: Moovly
Moovly has built an online platform with subject matter experts to allow them to produce their own promotional video and animation clips. Any clips produced through Moovly can easily be repurposed for use in other marketing collateral. Through a reverse take-over of a Canadian company, Moovly is now traded on the Canadian stock-exchange.

Site: www.moovly.com / Twitter handle: @Moovly

Two Stella’s, please: Playpass
Belgium is the country of big music festivals. Think Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter. Playpass produces smart RFID wristbands for these types of events. A Playpass wristband can be used to enter a festival and even make payments for food and merchandise at the event. Since every festival has different needs, the functionalities of the wristband can be tailored accordingly.

Site: http://www.playpass.be / Twitter handle: @Playpass_EU


A place and time for everything: Chestnote
‘Think Snapchat, but then 100% the opposite’, founder Peter Wellens told Gazet van Antwerpen. Chestnote offers ‘contextual’ messaging, which means that through the app you can send a multimedia message that will only be delivered at a certain time, at a certain place. Brands will have an opportunity to pay for a service to reach users on the platform, and in March Chestnote wants to sell its technology to companies so they can then integrate Chestnote in their own brand apps. Recently Chestnote raised 650,000 euro to further fuel its growth.

Site: chestnote.com / Twitter handle: @Chestnote

Because school is cool: sCool
sCool, developed by Belgian startup Learningscape, is a Facebook-like experience for kids and teachers to use and improve their learning experience. Individual schools can sign up for sCool, which means that only teachers and students that belong to the school can create accounts, making it a safe place for children to learn online. Children can recommend books to each other, keep an agenda, get super creative with videos, and much more. sCool enables ‘flipped learning,’ which reverses the traditional pedagogical approach used in schools by delivering instructional content online and even outside of the classroom. It also brings homework type activities — traditional done without a teacher present — inside the classroom for improved hands-on learning.

Microsoft was so charmed by the startup’s technology that it allowed it to integrate sCool with Skype. Nearly 50,000 children currently work on sCool app in Belgium and The Netherlands.


Site: scooledu.org / Twitter handle:@its_scool

Going the extra mile: Parcify
Parcify offers a service through which consumers can have products they order online shipped to a unique Parcify address, not necessarily a physical address approved by the postal service. For example, when Parcify receives the product if notifies the client through its app. The client then decides when and where to have it delivered — even if it’s at a park, restaurant or street corner. How does Parcify manage that? Through the GPS coordinates of your smartphone! After Belgium, the startup plans to enter the Dutch market in 2017.

Site: www.parcify.com / Twitter handle: @Parcify

 

Did we forget any Belgian startups? If so, feel free to let us with a comment below or on our Twitter account at ManzerComm.

For those not familiar with us, we specialize in helping startups and established tech enterprises accelerate growth through a blend of digital marketing and PR.

 

globalfintechlogo
Manzer Communications has teamed up with seven other communications agencies to found the Global Fintech PR Network, the world’s first network of agencies serving the specialized needs of the financial technology – or fintech – industry.

Based in five continents, Global Fintech PR Network is designed to help clients gain a global perspective and reach in the highly competitive, transformational fintech industry. The idea for the network originated in Copenhagen earlier this year with the partners behind Norfico – the first dedicated fintech advisory and PR agency in the Nordics.

The founding members include:

The new global network of fintech PR agencies will be able provide truly global service across multiple continents, cultures and languages to allow fintech clients a seamless engagement experience staffed by some of the world’s leading experts in fintech communications.

For more information about how to design a global fintech engagement, please call one of the Manzer Communications offices in Austin, Denver or Houston or fill out our contact form and we will reach out to you.

 

We’re excited to announce that we have acquired Masi PR, a similarly focused boutique PR firm based in Denver.

With this acquisition we have added Peter Masi, principal of the firm he founded in 1995, as VP and Partner of Manzer Communications. He joins Founder & President Dave Manzer and Partner & Vice President Jo Detavernier as the agency’s senior leaders.

Peter Masi joins Manzer Communications

Peter Masi

Masi will focus on supporting client engagements as well as assisting new-client acquisition, especially in markets like Colorado Springs, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Portland, and Las Vegas. He will also direct the agency’s content marketing and demand generation services for clients.

“The acquisition of Masi PR brings substantial capability in terms of media relations, content marketing and demand generation expertise to our agency,” Manzer said. “With more than 20 years of experience serving B2B technology companies, primarily in the software and healthcare sectors, Pete understands that our business has evolved and is now much more metrics-driven than ever before.”

“I’m thrilled to partner with them to help make Manzer Communications the agency-of-choice for tech companies that are serious about lead generation and revenue growth,” Masi said. “Dave and Jo are communications leaders who understand the business of marketing & PR. I look forward to helping our agency grow in our key practice areas such as technology, healthcare and professionals services.”

Manzer has opened up an office in Denver for its growing team at 50 S. Steele Street, Suite 250, Denver, CO 80209. The local phone number for our new office is 720-808-5193.

We are proud to announce that our agency was selected by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide media relations services for the upcoming Belgian Economic Mission to the State of Texas. The economic mission will take place December 3-11 and will be led by HRH Princess Astrid, Representative of His Majesty the King.

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“We are truly honored to be the agency selected to manage the media relations for the Belgian Economic Mission. We were picked mainly because of our strong European focus and past experience assisting European technology companies like 3D printing software developer Materialise seeking to expand brand awareness in the U.S.,” said Dave Manzer, founder and president of Manzer Communications.

The trip will involve over 100 Belgian professionals from companies, trade organizations and the Belgian government. Manzer Communications will be responsible for the media relations during the mission’s visits to Texas including Austin, Houston, San Antonio and College Station. More details on the scope of the mission, the event schedule and Texas participants will be shared with the press in November.

 

 

trade show marketing tips

Regardless of business sector, there is bound to be a trade show that brings together the leaders and great minds of the industry that your business inhabits. Exhibiting at a trade show can provide countless benefits for the growth of your business. From reconnecting with existing customers and meeting new ones to scoping out the competition, the list goes on. Trade shows are also an ultra competitive battle ground, with competitors from the same sector, lined up in rows one after another, fighting for the finite amount of time that each customer has.

Here are a few general categories to keep in mind as you make your decision about whether a trade show is worth the investment.

Picking the best venue

With a myriad of trade shows available, you will have no shortage of options to choose from. To make the most of a trade show and avoid unnecessary costs, however, it is important that you choose to exhibit only at trade shows that are best aligned with your business.

Deciding between attending consistently successful industry trade shows or less established ones can be tricky. If you are going for the less tried and tested route, then it will be useful to check on past event media coverage, the presence of big name guest speakers, social media activity and the expected attendance for the event.

Plan to succeed

Every successful trade show depends upon a tremendous number of activities coming  together seamlessly over several days in a location often far away from the corporate office. The process of preparing for the trade show must therefore begin months in advance and involve multiple departments within a company including product marketing, sales operations and corporate communications.

Bring your ideas into focus: If you want to stand out from your competitors and generate more traffic to your booth and media buzz about your products, then you better spend some quality time on the planning phase. Showing up to a trade show just won’t cut it. Nor will the “If you build it they will come” mentality. You are facing off against the competition so be prepared to come out with a compelling strategic vision to guide your trade show investment decisions.

Spying on the ‘enemy’: Okay, nobody is suggesting you hack the competition to find out if they are going with a red plush carpet or video booth at this year’s trade show but at the very least you would be wise to learn how they presented at past trade shows. While copying the competition won’t get you far, emulating their strategy or booth creatives can give you some fresh ideas on how to build out your trade show presence.

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Create a budget:  Before you start spending, be sure to create a budget for the trade show initiative, which will include brand assets, product prototypes, media outreach and booth staffing. Start thinking about whether you want to spend more to create a show-stopping booth, with complex marketing material and a big booth space, or if you want to go for a more utilitarian route – keeping it simple, yet getting your message across.

Find a creative partner: You may be better served by bringing experts on the team to help you with the trade show strategy planning and execution. While hiring somebody outright may not always be an option, retaining the services of 3rd party experts often is. Some of the main areas you may want to outsource include booth design, collateral messaging and design, booth staffing and media outreach. The good news is that with a well-established 3rd party provider you will get professionals with many years of experience helping companies like yours get desired results at trade shows. You can also hire an agency to work on-demand or possibly consider a monthly retainer in the case of a content marketing & PR agency.


Get the word out

Contrary to popular belief, the bulk of the work for trade shows actually happens before the event itself! Ideally, you should give yourself about 90 – 120 days of lead time to make the necessary arrangements – or in other words, the sooner you start, the better.

Get your signage ready: Instead of cutting on costs, try spending a little more and creating signage that your patrons would enjoy taking pictures of. In the competitive world of trade shows, cheap signage rarely translates into better foot traffic. In fact, if you view your trade show signage as an investment and a chance to make a bold brand statement, you can keep it and reuse it for subsequent events.  

Promote on social media: Assign one employee to take charge of your company’s social media pages for the duration of the event, to ensure ease and consistency in communication. Make full use of the event hashtag when promoting your own marketing material to get the information to event attendees who might not be following your social media accounts. Also, don’t forget to keep your existing followers updated with constant tweets and posts.

While you’re at it, synchronize announcements: The point of going to a trade show is not just to press the flesh of customers and prospects but also to show off your newest innovations and draw a sharp contrast with competitors. To maximize the impact of your product and/or service announcements you should create an announcement strategy that maps out the timing of announcements across all communications platforms. For instance, an Internet of Things (IoT) supplier to the solar industry announcing a breakthrough product/software solution would likely issue a press release to the industry trade press, while also posting about it on the company blog, launching a product landing page and saturating social media channels with a mix of organic and paid posts. The goal of this well calibrated cascade of information is to reach your customers, prospects, influencers and media on the channels where they are present and turning prospects into leads wherever you can.

Speaking of media initiatives…: If you are looking to make an important announcement at the trade show, get a hold of the media list from the trade show organizer and send out a release announcing your attendance, where you can be found on the trade show floor and that you plan on revealing a major product breakthrough. As part of the outreach, try to secure one-on-one meetings with your spokesperson(s) to obtain as much media coverage as possible. Developing a media interview schedule based on the availability of your spokesperson will avoid the potential embarrassment of having a journalist show up with the spokesperson on a lunch break.

Spokesperson training: An often overlooked part of preparations is ensuring your primary spokesperson is fully fluent in the product and company pitch and can maximize the impact of an interview. The last thing you want is for a spokesperson to get a key detail wrong and have a journalist turn around and communicate that to the world.

 

Be Outstanding

With the crush of competitors at trade shows, you have to make sure that you are thinking out of the box and doing something to stand out so that people remember you.

Set yourself apart: According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the average time that each visitor spends at each booth is about 5-15 minutes. Thus, to keep them interested and to get them to stay longer, consider setting up video displays, interactive screens, iPad kiosks or raffles draws! Don’t throw things together haphazardly however. Your booth needs an overarching narrative, a dominant theme in which everything needs to fit. 

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Staff Selection: Make sure your staff is well versed on product features and benefits. This will greatly affect the quality of engagement with prospects and customers. Your most productive staff in the office are not necessarily the best people for the job. Pick employees who are outgoing and capable of exuding your positive organization culture to leave a positive impression of your business in the minds of visitors to the booth.

Less is more: A trade show is not meant to be a historical display for all of your products and offerings. Instead, highlight 1-3 products/services that you want all of your booth visitors to remember. If you feel the need to talk about more than just 1-3 products/services, perhaps set up a digital display where booth visitors can find out more.  

Don’t hide in your booth: Networking is the game you have to play at industry events. Consider making it a competition among your sales reps to talk to as many people as possible and even award prizes on a daily basis. You can even keep track of level of engagement by tallying points for things such as business cards collected, leads generated and LinkedIn connections obtained.

Post constant updates on social media sites: Physical trade shows and a virtual presence don’t have to be mutually exclusive. By posting constant updates on Twitter, photos on Instagram, and perhaps a mix of both on Facebook, you keep both event goers, and non event goers updated throughout the show. And of course one or more dedicated landing pages will contribute greatly to your lead generation.

Owned event: Make use of the opportunities offered by the venue to own your own events. These run the gamut from a press conference to a happy hour or even a panel discussion with industry experts moderated by your CEO. 

 

Keep it going

Follow up: Adding a personal touch after the show might just seal the deal. Send the people you met an email or a follow-up note on LinkedIn to let them know that you want to keep in touch. Ask them if it is ok if you put them on your mailing list. Even consider asking for their feedback about the trade show booth to get the customer perspective and discover ways to up your game next time around.

Share media coverage: It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments and to boast about them on your various platforms. Track all media placements and then share the media coverage on your company website, tweet about it, add pins on pinterest, or make an instagram post out of it (but just make sure you don’t break any copyrights)!

With the multitude of content covering social media campaigns from almost every aspect imaginable, it can certainly be a tedious exercise putting it all together for a “big picture” view. That’s why we saved you the trouble and did it for you!

Our white paper, “How to run a successful social media campaign,” is a comprehensive guide for planning and running an effective social media campaign, complete with specific examples and relevant statistics that outline every step of the campaign process.

Here is a brief overview of what you will see in our white paper:

Know your goals!

In order to save time and resources, planning every detail of your campaign ahead of time is absolutely essential. Each goal and objective should be outlined, from what results you’re looking for to which platforms you want to use. For example, if your campaign’s goal is to spark more engagement on Facebook among a specific demographic, then be prepared to decide what actually constitutes engagement for your brand — comments, shares, conversions, etc. — and how it will be measured when the campaign is completed.

Stay consistent

After determining which social media platforms will receive the most engagement from your target audience, synchronize and execute the campaign across all of them. While each platform works in a unique way and may target a slightly different audience, your brand messaging must remain consistent across each of them. If you’re planning to use Facebook and Instagram as your primary platforms, you may want to use an ad on Facebook and a visual post on Instagram. Broadcasting your content in both organic and paid posts across platforms is an opportunity for crossover promotion that is a must in today’s pay-to-grow reality. Strive for consistency by using the same hashtag for each post.

Measure results accurately

Measurable results are the main objective when launching a social media campaign, otherwise how else will you know if your campaign achieved its strategic objectives? To best measure your campaign’s results you will need the right tools to determine your campaign’s effectiveness and, ultimately, its ROI. Most social media platforms provide ways to measure engagement and reach, but it’s advisable to use your own social analytics tool– there are plenty of them on the market today– in order to measure and report on the campaign in one convenient place. 

Ready to download now!

How to run a successful social media campaign” is now available to download! screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-11-04-33-amThe white paper will take you step-by-step through the intricacies of developing a social media campaign capable of delivering results across multiple social networks and even competing technologies like digital billboards. Our section on budgeting gives practical guidance on the need to create realistic budgets and even build in a little padding for the inevitable cost overruns that are part of running live campaigns using multiple teams, tools and timelines.

If you have any questions about our white paper or need advice on creating highly integrated digital marketing and social media campaigns for your growing business, feel free to share your information with us and we will schedule a brief call.

In the meantime, we wish you happy social media prospecting!

 

 

 

 

With the upcoming release of the Deepwater Horizon movie we are reminded of these dramatic events of 2010. In this post we look back on the many crisis communications mistakes, and some good moves, that BP made as it tried to manage the optics of the disaster.

It has been six and a half years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, sank and started to spill oil uncontrollably in the Gulf of Mexico. It took no less than 87 days for the sea-floor oil gusher to be capped. Eleven people died because of the accident. At an estimated 210 million gallons of oil discharged, it was the largest marine oil spill ever.

BP saw a lot of credit it had gained in the preceding decade evaporate almost overnight. The company had worked hard to position itself in the years leading up to the disaster as a leader in corporate social responsibility and even made it to the ‘most sustainable company’ rankings. It had spent a small fortune on marketing to bolster its image as a ‘green’ company, and even changed its logo green to reflect its commitment to environmental responsibility. Within weeks of the Deepwater Horizon accident, however, that carefully maintained image of BP went up in flames literally and figuratively in what eventually became the worst man-made environmental disaster to hit the Gulf Coast.

 

Check out our free white paper “Writing the crisis communications manual” 

 

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was also a public relations disaster in the way the company handled the media and responded to public outcry for information on the spill and ongoing plans to cap the well. Media coverage showed the oil rig on fire, underwater shots of oil spewing into the Gulf and heartbreaking scenes of oil washing up on the Gulf coast and oil-soaked coastal birds fighting for survival.

These scenes ensured BP would be judged poorly in the court of public perception. What sealed the company’s verdict was the inept way it communicated about the catastrophic event. Making matters far worse, the company’s lead spokesperson, CEO Tony Hayward, seemed oddly cavalier and disconnected from the gravity of the event.

BP continues to struggle with that legacy till today. As recently as in 2015, BP’s senior vice president of U.S. communications and external affairs tried to ‘correct’ media perceptions of the damage done by BP to the Gulf. His tone deaf Politico op-ed, which was defensively entitled No, BP did not ruin the Gulf’, backfired (as could have been expected). Isn’t the role of PR, after all, to anticipate the mood of the media and public at large and then weave a narrative that does the most good for a company’s brand reputation?

Initial failure to take responsibility

BP was quick to point fingers at Transocean, the company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon. Although it might well have been the case that the company was wholly (or partially, as it turned out) responsible for the incident, being so quick to shift blame to another party was not the right call to make in the face of a crisis. External stakeholders perceived the move as an evasion of responsibility by a company that already had a history of industrial accidents, including a 2005 fire in Texas City that killed 15. Instead of scapegoating Transocean, BP would have been far better served if it has risen to the occasion by promising to do everything it possibly could to figure out what went wrong and fix the problem. It certainly seemed to many outside observers that BP let its legal team establish the message strategy. In fact, it became a recurring theme in how the company managed the crisis: Minimize ownership of the accident, blame others, downplay BP’s liability.

Lack of empathy

Who can forget the infamous words of then BP CEO Tony Hayward (yes, ‘then’, because the crisis cost him his job) when he said on camera that he simply wanted his life back. The optics could not have been worse for such a verbal gaffe. The last thing BP should have done was had a highly paid CEO of a global oil giant lamenting about his loss of quality of life with the backdrop of the worst man-made environmental disaster to hit the Gulf in memory and one that cost 11 lives. Fittingly, Hayward’s comment expressed an element of selfishness and lack of empathy that was emblematic of BP’s handling of the crisis it helped cause.

If Hayward appeared cavalier in his approach to the media it was because he either failed to properly seek the counsel of his internal PR team or felt confident he could ad-lib his way through live press conferences. It was discovered, much later, that a corporate cost restructuring at BP resulted in the elimination of senior corporate communications staff, a critical managerial lapse that cost both him and the company dearly.

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg added insult to injury by making a statement in which he said that BP cared about the ‘small people’ who were impacted on the Gulf Coast. Not surprisingly, Svanberg failed to consult senior communications staff prior to the press conference given the aforementioned corporate changes. The ‘small people’ reference contributed to the larger narrative of a “foreign” company with a history of industrial accidents essentially trashing the Gulf Coast while only showing concern about the event’s impact to itself and not caring about the loss of 11 lives and widespread damage to the Gulf Coast ecosystem.

Lack of truthfulness

The company was less than truthful in the way it reported on the size of the spill. Whether it engaged in purposeful deceit we may never know. What’s clear is that in denying media access to the cleanup site the company gave additional ammunition the belief that it was trying to cover up the true scope of the crisis. Moreover, continuously over-promising on when the leak would be fixed and failing to deliver left the public frustrated and further damaged the credibility of the company. While it is true that a company in crisis needs to project as much situational ‘control’ as it does empathy it does not entail making empty promises to get the media off its back. Control should have meant BP sticking to the message that everything was being done to cap the leak as soon as possible and doing everything possible to minimize the damage to the Gulf Coast ecosystem.

Did BP do anything right?

BP may have gotten a lot of things wrong with its crisis communications strategy, but it is generally regarded as having done a good job of employing social media — Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube — to keep the public up to date on efforts to cap the spill, clean-up the Gulf and pay reimbursements. Social media also allowed BP to respond quickly to any rumors or errors in media coverage to set the record straight. Social media became a way for BP to gain direct access to the public without the media filter, and it became highly skilled in its use.

BP also created an entire section on its website devoted to the spill. Visitors could find pictures, video and maps that tracked the spill clean-up. The section was kept active for several years given the long-term nature of the spill clean up and slow-pace of the legal fall-out and eventual financial payouts the company owed. It was also a way for BP to argue its case on its ‘home turf’ without the need to rely upon 3rd party media outlets.

Conclusion

Much like the Wells Fargo crisis discussed in our last post, the Deepwater Horizon incident is yet another example of how a reputational crisis, if mismanaged by not having senior crisis communications professionals in the trenches with senior management, can easily become an existential threat to a company.

BP did a lot of things wrong, but it did some right. A look at the Deepwater Horizon nearly six years later illustrates the need for a strong crisis communications plan and well-trained team because the demands are extremely challenging during a crisis. Companies also need senior communications staff on board who can counsel the leadership on HOW to communicate, a mistake that led to many embarrassing moments for BP. Most importantly, company leadership must take crisis communications seriously and be willing to heed the advice of skilled communicators.

FreeCrisis Communications Plan Crisis Communications Manual ready to use!

Manzer Communications has made it easy for your company to begin preparing for a future unknown crisis. Our free whitepaper “Writing the crisis communications manual” is available for download and use by your communications team to customize for its own unique needs. The manual lays out step-by-step how to build out your crisis communications plan. It gives you examples of training scenarios to use in workshops, drills and simulations. It even provides you a sample table of contents to help you build out your comprehensive manual. 

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Do you need help writing the manual or training your staff for a crisis? If so, Manzer Communications can help. Our experts provide comprehensive crisis communications services from preparation of manuals and spokesperson training to on-site crisis communication training and live crisis communication consulting.

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