What should you write about? Where do you find inspiration? How will people find and read your blog? And how do you attract new customers with it? If you’ve ever found yourself pondering any of these questions, this blog post is here to help! Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to create a successful SEO blog.
Writing blogs helps your business grow
What is blogging?
A blog is a space where you regularly publish and promote new content. Content that relates to your business and industry; here at BBN, we might write about content marketing, for example.
The main purpose of a blog is to help your visitors. Your blog has to be relevant and visitors should learn something new so that they leave with a positive feeling about your brand or business.
Why should you blog?
Maybe the better question to ask is: why not? Blogging offers a whole host of benefits. Sure, it takes time to find a topic, do your research, write your content, optimise it for SEO, design your blog and promote it. But once your blog is online, it will keep ‘working’ for you.
Blogs can help you:
build trust amongst your readers (by promoting yourself as an expert in your business)
get found by your target audience, especially if you’ve created an SEO blog
attract ‘strangers’ and turn them into ‘visitors/customers‘ (inbound methodology)
Realising that you should be blogging is one thing, but actually writing an SEO blog is a whole different kettle of fish. With these tips, you’ll be up and running in no time.
1. Blog topic and title
Topic: one topic per blog
Think about your audience when choosing a topic: which questions and problems do they face? You should treat your readers to informative content that is worth saving or sharing. Don’t write about yourself, but do write about your expertise in your sector. And always remember: focus on a single topic per post.
To help you decide what to write about, draw up a list of potential blog topics. The following questions might be useful while brainstorming (as might the HubSpot Blog Idea Generator):
Which questions are customers or prospects asking?
What do your buyer personas need help with?
What do people want to know about your industry?
What are your competitors or industry communicating about?
One handy tip: bundle together topics that support the same conversion or CTA, such as all blogs about content marketing that offer a Content Marketing e-book as a download.
Next, find out which keyword combinations score well for the topics you’ve listed: which keywords do your buyer personas and your industry use? What is it they type into Google? It’s important to research this aspect to make sure you rank highly in their search results (there’s more on SEO in point 2).
Title: the more specific, the better
Your title is what draws people in, so it’s crucial to get it right.
The more specific your title, the better: that way, your readers will know exactly what to expect.
Clearly mention what value your blog can bring: what are your readers about to learn?
Incorporate a specific keyword group in your title that describes what your blog is about. Even so, always make sure your title flows naturally: you’re writing for your readers in the first place, not for Google.
Limit your title to 50 or 60 characters, so that search engines like Google are able to display it as a neat preview.
Take a look at the title of this blog, for example: ‘Writing SEO blogs that work? Check!’
You know exactly what to expect: this is where you find tips on how to write successful SEO blogs. The question teases a little, and the exclamation mark entices the reader in (make sure you don’t go overboard with titles, as you might come across as too ‘shouty’).
The keyword group is ‘writing SEO blogs’: that’s what our target audience is looking for on Google, so that exact search term combination is embodied throughout the text.
Our title has 34 characters, so it will look perfect in a list of online search results.
2. Blog design and SEO optimisation
Design: structure, white space and images
You want your blog to be read, so aside from its content and writing style, you need to make sure its design draws readers in.
Start with a fitting, attractive, high-quality image at the top— this often doubles up as a preview. Remember to also use images or video in the blog itself, to break up longer sections of text.
Leave enough white space between titles, paragraphs and so on. This creates a sense of calm, which will encourage readers to read on. In addition, white space allows your readers to concentrate on what really matters.
Provide structure with titles, (numbered) lists, bold text or quotes. Lots of readers will skim a text before deciding to read all of it, so make sure your main message is contained in these easily skimmable blocks.
SEO: keyword combination and links
Do some research into what your target audience is looking for online: what questions do they have, which keywords are they using, which combinations of terms are they typing into search engines? You can go a long way just by using common sense! In addition, use these tips to find out which specific keyword combination (long-tail keyword) is best for you to use:
Type a few keyword combinations into Google yourself. Watch which suggestions Google offers, both in the search field at the top and in the search results below: these are the combinations searched for most often. Take a sneak peek at the pages that rank highly in the search results — the masters in the art of SEO, in other words.
Check the popularity and competition for different keywords or keyword combinations using online tools such as Google Ads keyword planner, Yoast, Ubersuggest (by SEO guru Neil Patel) or Moz. Alternatively, you can ask an experienced specialist for help.
Once you’ve decided on a long-tail keyword, you’re all set to optimise your blog. You can do so by using your keyword combination (or parts or variations of it) at strategic locations:
In the page title
In the URL
In the blog title (H1)
In the other titles (H2, H3 etc.)
In the body text
In the alt text for the image
Make sure everything keeps sounding natural: if not, your readers will lose interest. In other words: don’t go overboard — you don’t have to include the exact keyword in every single title or paragraph. Regularly use variations or synonyms of your keyword to keep the text flowing naturally — Google is smart enough to recognise these terms.
Last but not least: try to incorporate a few interesting links to other content in every blog. This will push you up the Google ranks, as it proves you’re trying to help your readers.
Internal links: to your own company’s content, such as blogs, white papers or e-books
External links: to reliable (and preferably popular) sources, which will tell Google you’ve done your research
3. Blog CTA for lead generation
So, what have we learned so far? Your readers should always come first: you’re writing a blog to help your visitors. Of course, you’ve also got a brand or product to sell. There’s no need to shy away from that fact — but you do need to make sure it’s not too obvious. By showing your readers that you know what you’re talking about, you’re putting your faith in them to take the next step.
A strategic nudge in the back — in the form of a CTA (call to action) that ties in with the topic of your blog — might just send them down the right track. Consequently, you should try to find an offer that’s of interest to your readers and that fits in neatly with your blog content. In doing so, remember the following tips:
Place a clear CTA at the end of every blog post. In our case, we’ve included a suggestion to download our Content Marketing E-book, which will take your content marketing skills to the next level — have a look for yourself at the end of this blog (and whatever you do, don’t hesitate to click!).
Experiment with CTAs to find out which ones work best: try different forms (text, buttons, images etc.) and positions(top, bottom, side, middle etc.). And don’t forget to analyse the results.
4. Social media buttons in your blog
Useful blog posts will be shared on social media before you know it. As such, you should include clear social media buttons that make sharing as easy as possible. That way, your readers are just one click away from spreading the word.
Remember: every blog presents an opportunity to attract new visitors, so allow yourself the time to make sure every single post is worth your readers’ while. Also, try to post frequently and ensure your writing style is consistent.
If you’d like to offer readers the opportunity to have your blogs delivered straight to their inbox, make sure you’re fully compliant with the GDPR legislation on personal data.
Quick checklist for creating successful SEO blog posts
1. Have I chosen the right topic?
Informative, specific and clearly defined
Ties in with the interests of our buyer personas/readers
About our industry (not our company)
Does my title draw readers in?
Does it say why this post is useful?
Does it stand out in terms of language and design?
Does it contain a specific keyword combination (in under 60 characters)?
2. Does my blog look attractive?
Image at the top
Plenty of white space
Clear structure (titles, lists etc.)
Is my blog SEO-optimised?
Alt text for images
Titles and body text
3. Am I promoting my offer?
Does the CTA tie in with the blog topic (e.g. ‘download e-book’)?
4. Can visitors easily share my blog?
Are social media buttons (clearly) present?
Would you like to find out more about content marketing?
Over the past few years, marketing automation has become a standard technology for online businesses, and it’s only getting more popular. Industry revenue is growing by more than 30% every year:
Adoption is growing, but the state of marketing automation is also evolving. New trends, technologies, and use cases are changing the role and benefits of marketing automation for businesses.
Read on to learn about some of the important trends in marketing automation.
1. Automated Strategy Optimization
In the beginning, marketing automation was all about freeing marketers from tedious, repetitive tasks and helping them deliver their marketing messages at the right time. Now thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, it’s possible to also optimize your marketing message with the help of automation.
For example, AI technology can discover and catalogue your website content and categorize it by relevance. Then it automatically delivers personalized content experiences suited to individual users.
So instead of just saving you time on certain tasks, marketing automation can also help you improve your audience targeting and overall strategy.
2. Better Predictive Lead Scoring
Lead scoring isn’t a new marketing automation feature, but it’s bound to improve a lot. Most marketers either create their own scoring criteria or let their marketing automation tool calculate it for them based on interest, website behaviour, email interaction, and other factors.
Now marketing automation software can use machine learning to improve algorithms and refine the lead scoring process. This makes it possible to derive deeper insights from the raw data and make a better assessment of individual buying intent based on the behaviours of each lead.
As lead scoring becomes more accurate, marketers will take advantage of it to drive more marketing decisions. Smart marketers will use lead scoring to decide which accounts to prioritize for their sales and marketing messages. Lead score will also inform what kind of marketing content is needed for different points in the sales funnel, so you can engage leads with the right message at critical points.
3. Better Cross-Channel Marketing
When marketing automation was in its infancy, new technologies popped up for every marketing channel. You had your email automation tool, social media marketing tool, blog management technologies, etc.
But now that it has grown in popularity, there are many all-in-one marketing automation solutions to choose from. While most marketers today still use disparate tools to manage their automated tasks, that won’t be the case much longer. That’s because consolidating your marketing efforts has serious benefits for your business goals.
When you handle email, social media and mobile marketing all in one place, it’s easier to build a cross-channel marketing strategy. Delivering a consistent marketing message across channels and devices helps to optimize your sales funnel, improve customer loyalty, and more. In fact, businesses with strong omnichannel marketing strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.
So if you’re still using five or more technologies to reach your audience on different marketing channels, now’s the time to consolidate. Look into using a marketing automation platform that can handle all these tasks – or one that integrates well with other technologies that do.
4. More Hands-On Marketing
For most digital marketers, automation is about streamlining certain processes and getting more time to work on other (more strategic) things.
But while saving time is important, many make the mistake of seeing marketing automation as an opportunity to “set it and forget it.” They automate their social posts and, as a result, spend less time engaging on social platforms. Or they set up their email sequence but never stop to analyze its performance.
The most effective marketers realize that marketing automation is an opportunity to focus more of their energy on direct engagement and strategy optimization. Automation can help you better understand your audience, create a more effective marketing message, and deliver it at the right time to the right leads.
Marketers who make full use of the features that lead to these benefits are set up to overcome competitors who simply want to save time on tedious tasks.
5. Chatbots as a Marketing Standard
Another added benefit of AI in marketing automation is chatbots. A chatbot is essentially an automated conversation through messaging.
AI can automatically suggest relevant content based on consumer intent data and where a lead is in the sales funnel. It’s possible to also use this information to automate sales information, customer service and other suggestions with chatbots.
Businesses can use chatbots to recommend products and services, deliver marketing content, help users convert into customers, and more. Most chatbots are used on Facebook Messenger or another messaging service, but you can also set them up as a widget on your website.
Chatbots are a new, interactive marketing channel that will continue to grow in relevance as AI makes automated responses more accurate and helpful to consumers. Instead of seeing chatbots as a novelty, more businesses will seriously consider incorporating them into their marketing strategies.
Keep Up With the Trends
Marketing automation platforms are constantly offering new tools and integrations that make reaching out to your target audience more efficient and effective. Marketers who take advantage of these changes before they hit mainstream will have a strong competitive edge over the rest of their industry. So always be on the lookout for new opportunities to optimize your marketing strategy with automation.
BBN is an organization owned and operated by its partner agencies around the world. We deliver marketing success across borders, working collaboratively. Together we number over a thousand B2B specialists in 29 countries, with about 300 clients in 23 different B2B sectors.
A big part of BBN’s success is that we meet regularly. We share proven processes that we have developed together and get to know each other’s agencies intimately. That’s what I’m doing right now—getting intimately acquainted with BBN Spain (The Marketing Hub) through the BBN Exchange Programme. The aims of the programme are to share knowledge between agencies, identify and build synergies, and give people the opportunity to learn new skills and build lasting relationships.
BBN Spain is a social media powerhouse. They are a great bunch of people with strong expertise in leveraging social, notably LinkedIn, as a core part of a seamless lead-generation process. So it should come as no surprise that one of my objectives on this stay is to improve my ability to build and manage goal–oriented and measurable social media (mainly LinkedIn) campaigns that support an overall marketing campaign.
Another of my other objectives—a purely personal one—is to get to know Spain, Spaniards and Madrid, which is proving to be delightful. It’s a big city that offers a lot of experiences that you can’t find in Turku or Helsinki. It oozes history, the buildings are beautiful, the food is delectable and wow—what a lovely atmosphere!
This is the metro stop close to my apartment. It is perfectly located, as it is halfway between our office and the city center.
Like many marketers, I am self-taught in the area of social media. I have learned a lot just by doing and of course, I read a lot on the subject. But I wanted to experience first-hand how other BBN agencies used the same tools, to gain new insights, and to learn tactics that would help me to create better campaigns. Top-of-Funnel social media content is something that most of our clients need to do a better job on and there is no one that has greater expertise than Madrid’s The Marketing Hub.
I am now three weeks into my stay in Madrid and halfway through my exchange. I have already gained a lot of new insights and tactics, especially with LinkedIn, where I’m quickly adding to my knowledge of Top-of-Funnel activities to drive traffic. I’m also adding to what I know regarding client briefing and campaign planning processes, reporting and optimization. Though what I have learned is still theoretical, in the coming weeks I will get to put my knowledge into practice.
Working in Spain has been an excellent opportunity and a very interesting journey. I don’t speak Spanish, so language-wise it has also been ‘interesting’ and sometimes humorous. It has actually been pretty easy to get by in a country where I don’t speak the language—I have even learned a bit of Spanish to get by. In really tricky situations, I always have the opportunity to use Google translate.
Madrid is surrounded by beautiful mountains. I got to experience the beautiful mountain views with colleagues from the office.
Being here makes me think that everybody should try working or living abroad; it really gives you tremendous insight into different cultures and how the world works. I have learned that Spaniards are very hardworking, dispelling any preconceptions about ‘siesta’ and the ‘mañana’ mentality. But they also have a relaxed attitude and have done a good job figuring out work/life balance. They really enjoy life from day to day instead of working like crazy and saving up their enjoyment for their holidays, as many Finns tend to do.
I’m working on BBN Finland and BBN Spain projects at the same time, which has created a few scheduling challenges. Finns start their workdays early and are also one hour ahead of Spain. Spaniards come to work when Finns take their lunch break, so we effectively have 3 ½ hours of work time together before the Spaniards eat lunch. When they get back, Finns have already left the office. (Sigh.) Nothing is impossible, but it’s something to get used to. After a few weeks of training, I am almost a pro! Now to perfect my LinkedIn campaign planning and execution…
To find out more about partnering with BBN and the many opportunities the BBN Exchange Programme can provide Please contact us
If you’re a marketer, you’ve explored the seemingly never-ending list of metrics, such as social media engagement, site visits, and conversion rates. It’s also likely you have to report to your company’s executives the results of your marketing efforts. But with all these marketing metrics to choose from, have you ever thought about which ones the execs actually care about? Here’s your guide to the six marketing metrics that matter to your boss’ bottom line.
1. Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
The CAC is a metric to determine the total average cost your company spends to acquire a new customer. It’s self-explanatory as to why your boss would deem this important.
2. Marketing percentage of customer acquisition cost
The marketing percentage of customer acquisition cost is the marketing portion of your total CAC, which is calculated as a percent of the overall CAC. Note: An increase in this metric may indicate one of three things: 1) your sales team under-performed, 2) your marketing team is spending too much and/or has too much overhead, and 3) you’re in an investment phase.
3. Ratio of customer lifetime value to CAC
This metric is a way to estimate the total value that your company derives from each customer compared with what you spend to acquire the customer. The higher the ratio, the more your sales and marketing team deliver to your bottom line. However, your ratio shouldn’t be too high as you always want to invest in reaching new customers.
4. Time to payback CAC
The time to payback CAC calculates the number of months it takes your company to earn back what it spent to acquire customers. This is an important metric to show how much time it takes to start making money off customers. In industries where your customers pay a monthly or annual fee, you will typically want your payback CAC to be less than 12 months.
5. Marketing-originated customer percentage
Marketing-originated customer percentage is a ratio that shows what new business is driven by marketing. It calculates this by determining which portion of your total customer acquisitions is derived from your marketing efforts. A company with an outside sales team and inside sales support may be at 20-40% marketing-originated customer, while a company with an inside sales team and lead-focused marketing team may be at 40-80%.
6. Marketing-influenced customer percentage
Marketing-influenced customer percentage calculates the percentage of new customers that marketing interacted with while they were leads at any point in the sales process. Execs will want to look at this metric because it indicates how effective your marketing is at generating new leads, nurturing existing ones, and helping sales close the deal.
What Does This Mean for Your Team?
Don’t stop tracking other metrics such as site traffic, social shares, and conversion rates – just because they didn’t make the top six list doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth tracking.
However, when you report to executives, you want to present marketing metrics that they care about – those that affect their bottom line.
When engaging in conversations that are meant to be persuasive or to influence your listener’s actions (for example, a sales pitch, an email campaign, or a call to action), your goal should be that your listener both receives and retains your message. The first step in achieving this is to tell them what they need or want to hear, not simply what you want to say. This is also true, and fundamentally more urgent, in a crisis communications situation. It’s human nature to more effectively receive information that is relevant and timely to us.
How many times have you been at an event listening to a speaker who droned on and on about themselves, their accomplishments or their industry expertise? Many, for sure! What do we do when that happens? Almost universally, we tune out. Our thoughts turn to other matters, or we may even check messages on our phones if we can do so without being noticed. What if that speaker began their presentation by addressing a challenge you’re having or an issue you cared about deeply? The listening experience would have been quite different.
People want to feel that they matter. When you start a conversation or write the first sentence of a marketing message in a way that acknowledges the space they’re in, you are far more likely to hold their attention and grow the relationship.
So how do you do this? Knowing a bit about your listener first is key. Active listening is also crucial. Ask questions designed to elicit critical details. In a sales or influence environment, you may start by probing what types of challenges your listener faces in achieving their business goals. Expand your understanding by asking how that challenge, or set of challenges, impacts their daily processes. Using phrases such as “tell me more” and “how does that affect you” invite your listener to share important details that you can use to craft your response – a response that should be helpful and informative. These steps form the foundation of establishing yourself as a resource to your listener. He or she is much more likely to continue the conversation or engagement if you present yourself as helpful and oriented to problem-solving.
Before engaging with someone either in person or electronically, ask yourself what matters to them. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Then, communicate a message that’s meaningful to them and provides new knowledge or assistance. It takes slightly more effort on your part on the front end of the process, but the outcome can be a new client, mutually beneficial relationship, or friendship, and don’t we all want more of those?
What makes a brand? Sounds like an existential question, doesn’t it? Only it isn’t.
On face value, you’d say a brand is a “product manufactured by a specific company under a particular name” if you go by the Dictionary. Dig a little deeper, and you know branding is beyond creating just an identity mark. It’s about how the world perceives your company and what it stands for.
But often times, brands fail the test of time, or there’s a mismatch between how consumers perceive a brand and how you want them to, or are unable to survive the competition. It’s at this juncture that brands need to introspect and change tack.
BAM (Brand Asset Management) model helps brands do exactly that. Whether you want to develop a new brand or reposition an existing one, the BAM model–developed by four international brand strategists—provides a strategic way forward.
This model is passed on by marketing agencies to their clients through a two-day workshop, which is followed by a collaborative development of the brand strategy. Based on the insights from the workshop and quantitative and qualitative research, the team develops the brand strategy.
Rodger Jones, Director-Brand Strategy, Bader Rutter, says “the Brand Asset Management model helps B2B marketers focus on brand positioning and creates competitive differentiators.”
I got the opportunity to be a part of the BAM workshop held in Milan, Italy, last year, conducted by one of the four developers of the BAM model, Rodger Jones, Director-Brand Strategy, Bader Rutter. In a conversation with this uber-organized, post-it obsessed, straight-shooting snooker-champ, I discovered first-hand how BAM is redefining brands.
Why has BAM become more important—and more relevant—for B2B marketers today?
The key challenges B2B marketers faced a few years ago have grown in magnitude today. They were, and still are Globalization, commoditization, and competitive differentiation. These issues make BAM more relevant today for B2B marketers.
The initial version of the BAM was developed 13 years ago by four brand strategists from the USA, Germany, France and the UK.
What gap is BAM trying to fill for brands and what triggered the need for one more brand strategy model?
B2B brands face several challenges. An effective brand strategy helps with filling multiple gaps. For instance: It helps clients focus on positioning, key messages, and most significant audiences, ensure consistency of messages across all touch points, build market awareness and equity, build business results faster, and identify sustainable differences from the competition.
“Start with thorough screening and profiling of the decision makers before you attempt to sell the value of investing in branding.” — Rodger Jones, Director-Brand Strategy, Bader Rutter
The trigger was a recognition within the BBN group of agencies (an international network of agencies across 29 countries) that we had several, brand strategy models across agencies. So, the primary goal from the outset was to combine the best of the best from the most experienced practitioners. Another important goal was to create one unified model for global continuity throughout the BBN group. This would allow all B2B marketing agencies to provide the same best-in-class offering anywhere in the world.
BAM MODEL: WHAT’S IN IT FOR AGENCIES
Differentiates agencies from their competitors.
Insulates agencies from competitors that are trying to poach accounts.
Positions agencies at a level of offering strategic consultation.
Creates a perception that agencies bring “fresh” thinking to the table.
Enables you to engage clients higher up the food chain (C-level).
Opens doors to larger clients.
Strategic thinking builds credibility for all services.
Brand development improves the effectiveness of marketing and communications.
Positions agencies to recruit and retain better talent.
Could you briefly explain the five modules and the benefit of each module? What real impact can it have on B2B marketing?
The model can have a real impact on B2B marketing in many ways. Increased revenue and market share, customer loyalty, profitability, clarity of vision, ability to expand into new product and service categories, and attract and retain high-quality employees, and decreased price sensitivity are some of its high-impact benefits.
“BAM helps brands focus on positioning, cater to the most significant audiences, build market awareness and equity, provide business results faster, and identify sustainable differences from the competition.” —Rodger Jones, Director-Brand Strategy, Bader Rutter
The BAM model comprises five modules to address key needs in B2B branding. To understand each, it’s important to look at the fundamental question that each module is answering. Then look at the key benefit delivered for each:
Discovery: Where are we and why? Benefit: Key insights on the business, brand, target groups, marketplace, and competition. This module examines the current state of the brand.
Future Identity and Position: Where do we want to be? Benefit: Brand identity and position to support the business strategy. This module focuses on where the brand wants to be in the future.
Portfolio Strategy: What role should each offering play? Benefit: Organize and structure the brand’s entire product and service offering for synergy, prioritization, and elimination of duplication.
Audience Needs: Who is our audience and what do they need? Benefit: Audience identification, prioritization, buyer’s journey insights, and targeted main and supporting messages.
Internal Activation: How do we align and guide? Benefit: Determine behaviors that will enhance the brand and ensure consistent delivery of the desired brand impression.
Could you give us an example of a client who had a challenge that needed BAM’s assistance?
In the last 13 years, BAM has reshaped brand strategy for multiple organizations. One of them was a large global leader who wanted to establish aggressive growth goals. But they could not realize them through internal innovation and development. So, they purchased multiple companies in the same, or adjacent spaces. This created the need to develop a new brand portfolio strategy and new positioning.
We started with discovery to analyse the competitive landscape of the brand, and conducted interviews with customers and internal stakeholders to determine how they perceived the brand. It revealed what positioning spaces were open in the market and the current external and internal perceptions that needed to change.
BAM MODEL: WHAT’S IN IT FOR CLIENTS
Helps clients focus on positioning, key messages, and most significant audiences.
Ensures consistency of messages across all touch points.
Builds market awareness and equity
Provides business results faster
Identifies sustainable differences from the competition
Enables success in marketing products in a commoditized marketplace
Helps clients demand a higher price, or reduce price resistance for their goods
Builds a sustainable emotional connection with customers
Builds customer trust and loyalty
Loyalty leads to annuity: Lifetime customer value
Next, we employed the portfolio strategy module to sort out the acquisitions, assign roles and relationships and to prioritize brands. Plus, we had to transition company brands to become product line brands. And help transfer the emotional commitment employees had from their previous companies to the new parent company.
“It is important to clearly explain how the BAM model is designed to align with client needs. Start with needs, then diagnose how BAM can be applied.” – Rodger Jones, Director-Brand Strategy, Bader Rutter
With an established portfolio, we then created the desired future identity and position for that new portfolio. This helped the client define how they wanted to be viewed in the market and in the minds of their customers.
Then we created key messages to shape the desired perception among key audiences.
What’s the difference between a BAM Smart B2B organization and a non-BAM Smart one? What would you say are the three characteristics of BAM Smart companies that sets them apart?
We consult with a wide range of clients. Some embrace the principles and practices of B2B branding. Some are interested but lack a commitment for the long term. I believe some characteristics of organizations that make branding work for them would be:
See brands as business assets that require attention and investment.
Employ experienced staff with extensive knowledge and devotion to branding.
Have the courage and conviction to invest in and implement marketing that builds brands based on a sound strategy and plan.
The question in most people’s minds when they attend a BAM workshop is: How do I sell this to a client? How do you answer the ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ question for both B2B marketers and their clients?
I believe there are several factors that can convince clients on investing in creating and implementing a brand strategy. Just look at the characteristics of companies that understand the value of branding that I mentioned earlier.
Quite frankly, if the client does not recognize their brands as business assets worth investing in, it will be a tough sell. Can you convert a non-believer? Sometimes. But it takes patience and requires a higher acquisition cost. So, start with thorough screening and profiling of the decision makers before you attempt to sell the value of investing in branding.
BAM MODEL: WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU
Positions you at a level of offering strategic consultation
Enables you to engage clients higher up the food chain (C-level)
Expands your “toolbox”
Expands career opportunities
Next, it is important to clearly explain how the BAM model is designed to align with client needs. Start with needs, then diagnose how BAM can be applied. Consider each module and all respective tools. Then clearly articulate the deliverables they will get. The model is structured to be easy to understand and show tangible deliverables at each module. Then, you can explain how investing in a brand strategy process that results in clear, actionable deliverables can provide many benefits.
It’s no surprise that winning new business is one of the top challenges that agency owners face. In the 2018 Benchpress agency survey, 38% of UK agencies stated that winning business was their biggest challenge after recruiting talent. More surprisingly, it was the fact that 66% did not have a business development plan.
We recently conducted some research and also asked our BBN partners to provide their best advice and critical tips for winning the right type of new business. We’ve now collated all these insights and produced this best practice guide for agencies who want, or need, to win more new business.
To read our top 10 best practices, please click on the thumbnail below:
A company’s brand is an asset to manage and leverage. The rewards for successful brand management can be great: It can address important customer needs, build a sustainable emotional connection with customers, leverage an organisation’s strengths, develop a competitive advantage through differentiation, and inspire and help mobilise workers. Managing a company’s brand on a global scale provides the same benefits, but also consistency and clarity in brand identity across the differing characteristics and demographics of the marketplace.
These rewards are not easy to achieve. It takes time, discipline and a definitive process. In the application of BBN’s highly effective Brand Asset Management (BAM) model, we utilize a proven process to create a rational way to make decisions, resulting in a common vision and inspired consensus for the brand identity. The BAM model was co-developed by an international team of strategists from BBN partner agencies. It represents the synthesis of global best practices and has been peer-reviewed, tested and internationally vetted.
An organisation-defining brand is important to any company that wants to try to stake out its position and differentiate itself in the marketplace.
There are five key elements we have learned to be critical factors, all essential for the success of any global branding effort.
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It’s a jungle out there. Today, we’re inundated with sustainability propaganda in a climate where more companies are turning to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports to make their statements – but is it all just greenwashing? The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting standards is one way to gain credibility.
I’ve worked closely with many B2B companies on their CSR reporting and find it both rewarding and challenging. It can take months of planning and execution, particularly when reporting to the GRI sustainability reporting standards. So, I’ve put together this article to help you navigate the GRI jungle.
A comprehensive guide
GRI sustainability reporting standards have become a staple in the sustainability reporting landscape. GRI is an independent international organization and since 1997, has helped businesses and governments around the world navigate their communication on pressing sustainability issues.
Making the transition from the G4 Guidelines to the GRI Standards –something that happened in 2018 – was a feat within itself. With more emphasis on the management approach to material topics, a new modular structure and removal of reporting duplication instances, the new standards are accompanied with clearer guidance for ease of reporting – but it’s still a lot to get your head around.
Source: Consolidated set of GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards 2016
Taking the GRI path
Here are some of the benefits, in my opinion, of using the GRI Standards:
Reporting to the GRI Standards can help eliminate incidences of greenwashing. It’s like a gold standard in reporting (just like randomized controlled trials are the gold standard in scientific research), creating a common language for the businesses of the world to communicate with.
Using the GRI standards sends a strong message that you are committed to authentic CSR reporting. Full and transparent disclosure means that your stakeholders can form their own opinions about how your business is contributing to sustainable development.
The standards can help to guide what data needs to be collected throughout the reporting year. Once the groundwork is done the first time, collecting data for the next reporting period is basically a formality.
Here are some of the challenges I faced when consulting the standards and working to create a compliant CSR report:
The Consolidated set of GRI Standards is a mammoth 443 pages. It’s a lot of information to digest, with a total of 36 standards covering economic, environmental and social topics. Luckily, it is available in searchable PDF format.
Interpreting the wording. Tip: underlined words link to a glossary of terms so that you can try to make sense of it.
Knowing when you can make an omission (only available in the comprehensive option, which is where you need to address all of the standards). Reasons for omission can be: not applicable, confidentiality constraints, specific legal prohibitions or information unavailable. You need to explain why you are making an omission.
Swimming in an ocean of data. In an ideal world, collection of data to form a GRI-compliant report would be completed in one fell swoop. But this is usually not the case because you need to collect data from Human Resources, Procurement, Sales and QEHS.
When your CSR report goes seemingly on and on for pages on end, a dwindling attention span can be your worse enemy. That’s why breaking up the text with storytelling, infographics, tables and graphs can give the eyes a rest from time to time. And white space is a must-have, too.
How general disclosures, material topics and topic boundaries intertwine
General disclosures outline reporting requirements that provide context for how a business reports on its sustainability efforts. Materiality is the principle that helps determine which material topics are sufficiently important to your business for you to report publicly on. The topic boundary describes where the impacts for a material topic occur, and how your business addresses these impacts.
What’s a “material topic”?
Without material topics to inform your CSR strategy, you may as well not bother. The standards rest firmly on them. Businesses are expected to engage their stakeholders on matters that affect their business and the stakeholders’ interests. There is an ordered approach to this and what you usually end up with is a neat plot diagram, which helps to inform your overall CSR strategy. The dots of highest importance are ideally your material topics.
Source: Consolidated set of GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards 2016
If I still have your attention, then take comfort in this. You can engage the services of a third-party auditor to check that you comply. Most of the global consulting companies offer this and can provide an extra layer of assurance. Just in case.
Two flies with one swat
Our Danish clients often also use their CSR report to fulfil the requirements of Årsregnskabsloven (Danish Financial Statements Act). This involves highlighting your due diligence processes, risk management approach and KPIs for the reporting year. Reporting obligations vary for companies of different sizes and the Act is updated regularly. So, along with ensuring GRI compliance, I have also written CSR reports with this legislation in mind. But I guess if you can get two flies with one swat, why not?
This is an excerpt from an article in our latest issue of Buzz Magazine on the value of a brand in B2B marketing.
When marketers contemplate bringing a brand to life, thoughts often flow to the traditional four P’s of the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. Yet, many prosperous business leaders today would argue that the traditional four P’s overlook the most important aspect of building a successful brand: the people.
Many experts agree that it is the employees, through their understanding of and belief in a company’s philosophy, who truly build the customers’ image of an organization. Nicholas Ind, a writer and brand consultant, says an organization’s focus should be more on “bringing a company’s ideology to life internally to enhance brand value” because long-term brand — and business — success depends on the customer experience. Employee actions and behaviors have a direct impact on customer experiences.
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