Archive for October, 2010


An article in The Wall Street Journal. Interesting look at how social media is not the end all for B2B companies to boost sales. You can read the original article here

Bill.com Inc., a provider of bill-payment services, is trying to market itself on Facebook. But even though the venture-backed company has more than 10,000 clients, it has so far managed to secure only 67 “friends” on the social-networking site.

These days, even small “business-to-business” concerns like Bill.com are experimenting with social media, perceiving the popular online hangouts as low-cost, easy-to-use venues for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts—retailers that sell smartphones, jeans, games and other personal products—so-called B-to-B businesses seem to be having a harder time connecting with their target audience.

Facebook “is so consumer dominated that it takes time to find a voice that cuts through what’s already out there,” says René Lacerte, founder and chief executive of Bill.com, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif.

A survey released last month of 230 B-to-B companies shows that 24% are using Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and others for marketing, and another 36% plan to try them in the coming year. “It’s certainly something that has taken off in the last six months,” says Michael Greene, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., which conducted the study.

In general, he says B-to-Bs tend to be slower to adopt new marketing technologies than business-to-consumer companies. But now that they’re catching up, it appears that many are having a tough time gaining followers. “B-2-B isn’t sexy,” says Mr. Greene. “It doesn’t have that same immediate attraction that consumer brands do.”

Bill.com so far has only about half the number of Facebook “friends” as the average user, and far fewer than many of its consumer-focused counterparts. For example, LegalZoom.com Inc., a small business that helps consumers file legal documents such as wills and divorce papers, has more than 10,000 Facebook friends.

Making fans of other businesses, as opposed to consumers (or actual friends), may seem counterintuitive to social networking. So B-to-Bs typically look to interact with workers who make buying decisions on behalf of the companies they target. Many attempt to acquire contacts by providing links to their social-media profiles from their websites and marketing materials.

“B-to-B buyers are people, which means they are on Facebook,” says Tim McLaughlin, president of Siteworx Inc., a small Web-strategy and design company based in Reston, Va., that is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “You need to be where they are.”

Some B-to-B owners say social networking is actually ideal for their demographic since it can take months for their kind of buyers to commit to a purchase. The products and services they sell tend to cost significant amounts and often several people are involved in the decision-making process.

For example, Eloqua Ltd., a marketing-software company in Vienna, Va., charges between $15,000 and $800,000 a year for its technology. Regularly posting status updates about industry trends and related topics to its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Corp. profiles helps it stay “top of mind” among clients, says Joe Payne, chief executive. “There’s no question what we do in the social world generates leads because it drives people to our website,” he says. “We can see where they’re coming from.”

Sharing information or advice on social-networking sites is also a way for B-to-Bs to show off their expertise, says John Lopez-Ona, president of Six Sigma Qualtec Inc., a business-consulting firm in Princeton, N.J., that uses Twitter and has its own blog. “It’s about building relationships,” he says.

B-to-Bs are also running special marketing campaigns on social-networking sites, such as contests that give away prizes to winners. OnTimeSupplies.com, an online office-supply retailer, launched an initiative earlier this month in which it promises to donate 25 cents to a breast-cancer charity every time someone posts an update on Facebook or Twitter mentioning it. “We’ve always depended a lot on word of mouth… whether it’s people trading stories in the cafeteria or on Facebook,” says Miles Young, chief executive and co-founder of the Atlanta firm.

Some small B-to-Bs say they prefer to market themselves on networking sites specifically designed for businesses and professionals such as LinkedIn.com.

“You have to pick the right tools, and sometimes the tools are dictated by the kind of company you are and the kind of prospects and clients you have,” says Kathy Scheessele, a partner at Mastering Business Development Inc., a Charlotte, N.C., business-consulting firm that recently started using LinkedIn.

“The type of people we’re trying to engage with are at a certain level. They’re not the typical kind of person who’s going to be twittering or have a Facebook page,” Ms. Scheessele says.

Like many other types of companies, small B-2-Bs are also using social media to find out what’s being said about them online, as well as gather competitive intelligence and keep up with industry trends. “The big advantage of social media is listening,” says Eric Bradlow, a professor at The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

But he adds that once a business creates a profile on a social-networking site, it needs to use it on a regular basis to avoid stoking the rumor mill. “People build up expectations around communication,” says Mr. Bradlow. “When expectations are violated, people will infer stuff that may not be true.”

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The following is an editorial I found on Linked In. It is fairly interesting, addressing why some people/companies do not find the success they hoped for on Linked In. Her Website is www.http://theconfidentcopywriter.com/.

So you’ve been on LI for months and you haven’t gotten one shred of business…except maybe a few inquiries here and there that didn’t pan out; a couple nibbles from companies that were wrong for you; and those endless MLM offers you won’t even consider.

That leaves you wondering what all the fuss is about. Who are all these people who claim they have gotten new, profitable business on LinkedIn?

Bad news: It’s not LinkedIn. It’s you.

To drive business on LinkedIn, you need an action plan and a system, just like any other business strategy. You’re only going to get back what you put in. Without a plan, you’ll waste a lot of time being sociable, with no real business to show for it.

This is the biggest complaint I hear about social media marketing…it takes a lot of time and results never seem to materialize.

I agree, it is time-consuming. But when done correctly (which means planning SMM into your day, maximizing that time, and maintaining a narrow focus), the results can be astounding.

It’s kind of like cleaning your house. You start out enthusiastically enough. Two hours later, though, you haven’t moved from the bedroom. You end up sidetracked, going through closets and drawers and…“ooohhh! What’s this? My high school love letters!”

Before you know it, you’ve walked so far down Memory Lane you’ll need to catch the bus back to the corner of Main & Reality.

8 Steps to Optimizing Your LI Connections

1. See the future: How much new business can you comfortably handle? Be realistic. One new client a month is 12 for the year. Not bad.
2. Choose a target market and do not stray from this focus
3. Join groups for those markets and actively participate in a meaningful way
4. Educate yourself on effective LI search…there are ways to search and findspecific information about specific people
5. Stand out: Be active! Be proactive! Be visible! Get out there and get involved. Create a highly compelling profile; not a resume rehash.
6. Answer questions to highlight your subject expertise
7. Accept connections and request connections. People want to connect with you!
8. Talk to people. I mean, really talk. Show an interest, look for ways to help each other…seeking connections isn’t only about having lots of connections!

Remember…this is social media marketing. You wouldn’t walk into your neighbor’s BBQ, announce your arrival, then sit in your neighbor’s favorite chair and start dominating the conversation, would you? The beauty of social media marketing is the opportunity to use natural, social strategies of communicating, connecting and collaborating to build your online visibility and attract the attention of companies you really want to work with.

What LI strategies have worked well for you?

An interesting article on the keys to using social media avenues to boost a company’s business. Here is a portion of the article.

  1. Analyze existing media, social media, and your demographics. Before you start, analyze existing media, demographics, and new social media alternatives for a fit to your rollout campaign requirements. Factor in the fundamental shift to ‘pull’ marketing taking place across the world in media and advertising. Then set your goals.
  2. Understand the basic tools – the social media trinity. Blogging (WordPress), micro-blogging (Twitter), and social networks are the trinity. Key social networks are Facebook (500 million consumers) and LinkedIn (60 million professionals). Get to know the five W’s of these and others – who, what, where, when, and why. Pick your fit. 
  3. Integrate your strategy into the trinity. Social media does not stand alone; it must be integrated into a balanced marketing strategy. Content is still king, so do the proper homework on what you blog, and the quality of the messages you deliver via social media. Put your social network links on your stationery, business cards, and email.
  4. Assess and commit the resources required. At this point you need executive buy-in, decide what you do personally, assess your staffing and out-sourcing requirements, and commit the budget. This is the time to get creative, run pilot projects to look at ROI, and educate the whole team on objectives and activities.
  5. Implement metrics and analytics. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Determine the proper measurement tools and set up the measurement process. Only then can you determine your ROI. Manage your expectations, and analyze every marketing channel. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The above was published by Lon Safko, who just published his Second Edition of the bestselling book, “The Social Media Bible.”

To read the full article, click here

A recent report from the Association of General Contractors notes that a neglect in infrastructure is hurting construction industry.

Treasury Department Detailing Underinvestment in Transportation Explains Why Construction Firms Are Losing Billions to Congestion, Shedding Tens of Thousands of Jobs

This new federal report is a sobering reminder of the tremendous economic costs of years of underinvestment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. As the report makes clear, our collective failure to repair aging roads and bridges, expand transportation capacity or address chronic traffic congestion is costing businesses billions in lost productivity and workers tens of thousands of jobs.“Few segments of our economy are as dependent on transportation infrastructure as the construction industry.

Construction orders accounts for one out of every ten manufacturing shipment and one out of every twelve machinery shipments, for example. Yet our own data indicates that congestion and unreliable transportation networks are costing construction firms an estimated $23 billion a year in lost productivity and late deliveries.“Meanwhile, the construction industry has suffered horrific job losses due to declining demand for construction services, including state and local funded public infrastructure projects.

The latest federal figures show that the 17.2 percent construction unemployment rate is nearly double the national average. Construction employment is approaching levels not seen since August 1996.“That is why the Administration’s newfound focus on making significant, long-term investments in rebuilding and expanding transportation infrastructure will provide much-needed help to hard-hit businesses and workers alike.

With construction prices down significantly from just a few years ago, now is the right time to make a long-term commitment to the very infrastructure that keeps our businesses competitive, our drivers safe and our communities vibrant,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America.

An article in emarketer notes that more companies will be blogging about their company.

The personal blogosphere, while it still boasts million of online journals and participants, has largely stalled in recent years. Consumer use of social media has moved more toward social networking and microblogging, which seem to have eroded the perceived usefulness of full-fledged blogs. But in the corporate world, a different picture emerges.

Read the rest here

Video is hot! It adds a whole new dimension to your marketing. Are you looking to use video with your social media efforts, but feel a bit stuck.
In this episode of Social Media Examiner TV, Mari Smith shares important tips, creative ideas and what you need to know to integrate video into your social media marketing. Also be sure to catch her ninja marketing tip at the end of the video

Is LinkedIn Not Working For You?

Up to this point, you’ve probably focused on building up your connections to grow your online influence and visibility. However, the greater challenge lies in actually going deeper with those connections that you’ve made online. If you’re simply connected to someone but have no further dialogue, what have you really accomplished?

Read the rest of the article here — 5 Ways to Develop Meaningful LinkedIn Connections

An interesting video from Bloomberg television on the move from traditional advertising to digital advertising. Click here to view the link — Bloomberg Video

The Associated General Contractors of America, in its monthly report, is seeing a possible turnaround in the construction industry. Read the below for a monthly analysis of the market.

Construction spending edged up 0.4% in August to $812 billion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate but remained 10% below the August 2009 level, the Census Bureau reported today. The good news was limited to public construction, which climbed 2.5% for the month, although it was down 1.0% year-over-year. Based on categories with increases, the public uptick appeared to result from federal funds for stimulus, military base realignment, and hurricane reconstruction and prevention, although Census does not list individual projects or sources of funds. Stimulus funds appear to have lifted public housing (up 33% from August 2009 to August 2010), sewage and waste disposal (up 19%), water supply construction (up 5.2%) and highway and street construction (up 0.9%). Reconstruction work around New Orleans may have helped conservation spending rise 18%. In contrast, public educational construction, which is almost entirely funded from state and local revenues, slumped 13%. Private nonresidential spending fell 1.4% for the month and 24% year-over-year, with all 11 categories in the Census press release declining from a year earlier, most by double-digit percentages. Private residential spending slipped 0.3% for the month and 1.7% since August 2009. New single-family construction fell 4.2% in August, the fourth straight drop since the homebuyer tax credits expired in April, though spending was 3.9% higher than in August 2009. New multi-family construction slumped 11% for the month and 52% year-over-year. Improvements to existing single- and multi-family rose 5.0% and 4.2%, respectively.

Unemployment rates were lower in August than a year earlier in 182 out of 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 169 areas and unchanged in 21 areas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Wednesday. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 165 areas, declined in 193, and was unchanged in 14. An analysis by AGC of construction employment in 337 metro areas for which BLS provides data showed year-over-year increases in 56 areas, decreases in 245 and no change in 36. The number of areas with increases in construction jobs was the largest since September 2008. BLS combines mining and logging with construction for areas in which there are few employers in one of those industries. Kansas City, Kansas added more construction jobs (2,500 combined jobs, 13%) than any other metro area while Hanford-Corcoran, California added the highest percentage (22%, 200 combined jobs). Other areas adding jobs included Pittsburgh (2,000 construction-only jobs, 4%); Calvert-Charles-Prince Georges Counties, Maryland (1,200 combined, 3%); Chattanooga, Tennessee (700 combined, 8%); and Eau Claire, Wisconsin (600 combined, 19%). Chicago-Joliet-Naperville lost more (22,600 construction-only, 16%) than any other metro area, even after a construction strike ended in July. Napa, Calif. (900 combined jobs, 30%) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large declines included Las Vegas (13,500 construction-only, 22%); Houston (11,200 construction-only, 6%); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett (9,100 construction-only, 12%); and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (8,500 construction-only, 13%).

Despite lackluster construction demand, many materials used in construction have risen in price. Today the Institute for Supply Management reported that respondents to its monthly survey of purchasing executives at manufacturing firms listed aluminum, copper, steel, stainless steel and plastic resins among items that rose in price in September, although steel was also listed as having fallen. Titanium dioxide, used to whiten paint and other products, was listed as being in short supply. “Some types of polyethylene resins continue to be in short supply and some resins are now on allocation,” New South Construction Supply e-News (jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com) reported on Tuesday. “The September resin increase of $.05/lb held and resin manufacturers have announced an increase of $.04/lb for October orders. Because of the rising cost of resins, polyethylene C & A film manufacturers increased prices by approximately 5% in September and most have indicated they will increase prices by another 5% by October 1st. Dry shake metallic floor hardener and topping manufacturers increased prices in September,” as did “most major manufacturers of decorative concrete products…in late August or early September. The increases vary between 5 and 12% depending on the item.” Engineering News-Record reported on Monday, “The Turner Construction Co.’s selling price index showed no change this quarter and is down just 2.7% from a year ago….General-purpose building-cost indexes, which only measure labor and materials prices, are starting to ease back. For example, the LSI index compiled by the Sierra West Group, Sacramento, Calif., was down 2.6% from a year ago this quarter. By comparison, three months earlier, it posted an annual increase of 1.1%. [The selling-price index compiled by Rider Levett Bucknall Ltd., Phoenix] inched up 0.3% this quarter but remains 0.5% below a year ago.”

“After several years of steep declines, state revenues are starting to pick up,” the National Conference of State Legislatures reported on Tuesday, summarizing a survey of all state legislative fiscal directors. “In some states this means the rate of decline has slowed, but in others, positive revenue performance is occurring in one or more tax categories…. And despite recent revenue improvements, more gaps loom as states confront the phase out of federal stimulus funds, expiring tax increases and growing spending pressures. It increasingly appears that FY 2010 was the trough for state revenues. Nearly every state forecast has fiscal year (FY) 2011 revenues exceeding last year’s, although many note that revenues are still well below peak levels.” Even states that increase spending may not boost construction for a while.

An interesting white papers report by Truste on leveraging online relationships to grow sales. The following is an Executive Report

Many financial executives have cited the recent near meltdown of the global economic system as a powerful example of what can happen when there is a crisis of trust. In fact, it can more accurately be described as a “freeze-up” rather than as a meltdown. Lending between banks, and from banks to customers, slowed down drastically. And it became more extensive until the pipes through which money flows nearly froze.

Why?

The reason most often cited by financial industry journalists was an arcane phrase that suddenly became household words—counterparty risk. Simply put, trust among the various parties in the financial system had all but disappeared. Can I trust insurance company A when they say they have the capital to back the liabilities they have covered? If I loan bank B money overnight, can I trust they can or will pay me back—at any rate of interest? The mantra suddenly changed from “return on capital” to “return of capital.”

Today’s businesses are moving more of their transactions online. Enterprises are now entering an era where trust has become one of the most critical components of a company’s brand. Can I trust that another business will safeguard our identity and private information? Can I trust they are who and what they say they are? Is it any wonder that financial executives have this fear?

According to financial statistics from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3, a partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance) in its 2009 Internet Crime Report: From January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009, there were 336,655 total complaints filed with IC3.

Dollar loss of complaints referred to law enforcement was at an all time high in 2009, totaling $559.7 million, compared to previous years.1 Business-to-business companies increasingly recognize how critical building trusted online relationships has become to their success. This value of improving trust goes beyond just online marketing and ecommerce.

Within an organization, the presence of trust among employees and between a company and its partners acts a lubricant, making virtually every part of the business move faster while reducing costs. According to a recent Watson-Wyatt study, high-trust organizations outperform low-trust organizations by approximately 300%. This whitepaper will explore how financial function leaders like yourself can align trust, credibility, and privacy processes in their organizations into a business integrity strategy. It will examine the hard and soft costs— including opportunity costs—of poor trust, and will examine ways to build trust.