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Notes from the Keynote Session with Kathy Button Bell, VP & CMO at Emerson
Written by Erika Schell-Rompré   
Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Steve Archibald, President of the Philadelphia BMA addressed the hungry crowd of marketers at the BMA Philadelphia annual meeting at the Urban Saloon this September. While attendees might have come for the “best Tots in Philly”, they left inspired by Keynote speaker Kathy Button Bell, VP & CMO at Emerson.

Initially, Kathy made this marketer’s head spin by showcasing the massive challenges marketers are facing today. She put a spotlight on the scope of marketing and the broad array of tasks marketers are expected to accomplish; which all need our immediate attention. Additionally, marketers must keep pace with the constant change, yet still be successful; on a limited budget. UGH!

On a more positive note, Kathy said, “as B2B marketers we get to be creative every day. What we are doing in B2B is more complicated and harder.” Take that B2C marketers! POW! Kathy challenged us to embrace social media with open arms and if you don’t have the skills, hire a millennial to tackle social media. As B2B marketers, our roles are ever expanding from R&D to sales, to technology to HR. “Marketers are getting asked questions from all fronts.” Kathy encouraged us to be “transparent, break down silos and to be flexible.”

No longer are we creating a marketing plan at the beginning of the year and checking off each item upon completion. Social Media and all things digital = feedback is immediate. Marketers have to be prepared to course correct or speed ahead. But you have to be listening. Now more than ever, business is about relationships and not about transactions.

As marketing changes, so should the tenants. Kathy encouraged us to look at the traditional 4ps of marketing and suggested how this should evolve to fit todays’ business environment.

Old 4ps   New 4ps
 Product  →  Solution
 Place  →  Access
 Price  →  Value
 Promotion  →  Education

Solution – define offering by the needs they meet, not by their features, functions, or technical superiority.

Access – develop an integrated cross-channel presence that considers customers’ entire purchase journey instead of emphasizing individual purchase locations and channels.

Value – articulate the benefits relative to price, rather than stressing how price relates to production costs, profit margins, or competitors’ prices.

Education – provide information relevant to customers’ specific needs at each point in the purchase cycle, rather than relying on advertising, PR, and personal selling that covers the waterfront.

As the “Chief Complexity officer” at Emerson, in charge of a multitude of independent brands, Kathy found a way to create efficiency and save money. Her philosophy, “It all starts with the products: simple, clean design and easy to use.” Kathy believes marketers need to be the driver of change at a company. As the CMO, she spends the bulk of her time on IT, but still finds time to keep the R&D folks in check and keep them from just creating more “great stuff.” Gartner reports that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than the CIO at most companies.

Kathy spends a lot of her marketing time on voice of the customer; just listening. Because what a customer wants is not a product. They want a promise, a solution and perhaps a bundle of products. She urged B2B marketers to “define the pain.” Innovate, but ask market research before creating the product. And continue innovating to create new business rather than protecting market share just by lowering costs. The risk goes up, but so does the reward!

Continue “destroying silos”, Kathy whispered and become friends with sales. Learn to tell stories about your products and brand, so that customers can relate and see themselves in the story. She also suggested letting someone at the company become the mouthpiece, including the CEO, to humanize the company. The CMO needs to find someone at the company to tweet and use other digital media to stay relevant. Connecting with potential hires via social media is the new norm. In fact, Kathy is a huge fan of LinkedIn. She claimed she saved $550,000 in recruiter fees alone this past year.

On a final note, Kathy encouraged this B2B marketer to be bold, be different, create beauty and not be afraid of “China Red” (pink). The sky really is the limit when it comes to B2B marketing. Don’t be afraid to push some boundaries.

As for this marketer, I’ll definitely be back next year for more inspiration and of course, for the TOTS!

Erika Schell-Rompré




Value is the only thing that matters in B2B Marketing
Written by Per Ohstrom   
Friday, 19 July 2013

When one business is selling to another business, gimmicks from consumer marketing do not work. No company will buy capital equipment or build a new facility because they get a 20% off coupon, or see a great commercial on TV. Business customers buy what they need, when they need it. It is up to the selling organization to promote its offerings in such a way that Value is well understood and attractive.

A common and persistent mistake companies make when determining selling price is to base it on cost. There is no connection at all between seller production cost and customer value of a product or service. Instead the marketing manager needs to understand the economic value of his offering, i.e. what it is worth to the customer. This can be gleaned from understanding the value in use of, say, a component or subassembly.

For example, a tackifier or resin that promotes stronger adherence of a road marking formulation to the road surface, and makes it dry faster, can command a higher selling price than lower performance products. Or a rental company allowing customers to on-rent and off-rent locally staged equipment when needed can charge a higher rental rate.

Understanding customer value requires good customer relations and excellent communication. The Sales force is key in collecting and understanding this data, since they are closest to the their customers. There are also tools like Voice of the Customer (VOTC) that are used. It is marketing’s job to synthesize and aggregate this data on a market segment level. A segment is simply a group of customers with similar unmet needs, that would respond to the same value proposition.

Besides formulating value props, marketing can help the selling process through building strong brands and generating leads. An earlier infographic shows how social marketing can be used for lead management:

Finally, we want customer relationships to be long term, not just a single sale. This can be achieved with an effective Sales function, understanding customer pain and selling solutions to alleviate it. Oftentimes this involves providing different value- added services, like help with system design, technical service, GPS or RFID asset tracking, bundling or kitting of components, or joint research projects.

The sales person teaming up with marketing will have great opportunities to provide customer value, and the company consistently providing the highest value will get (and keep) the business.

Oer OhstromPer Ohstrom is a lifelong Industrial Marketing executive who has lived/ worked/ traveled in 45 countries. He has experience from manufacturing, equipment rental, industrial distribution, and consulting. Per likes to read and write about industrial marketing, corporate strategy, PR and market communication, international business, sales, economics, leadership and a lot of other ... Continue reading »

Sowing The Seeds Of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Written by   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Scene: The Boss knows all about Google and how important it is that your organization appear at the top in search results. She just did a search on a term related to your business and 'Guess what?', you are not appearing at the top of the page. This needs to be fixed!

The good news is that it's 'fixable' the bad news is that it's not a simple as flipping a switch. And because of that, organizations sometimes over spend on services, consultants, time and effort trying to implement a quick solution to a long term initiative.

In this post, I will talk about realistic expectations of organic search engine optimization (SEO) results and the importance of a balanced SEO strategy. One analogy that I like to use in talking about organic SEO is that that it's like farming. It's a slow process that, when done correctly, over time yields positive results. 

In a culture of instant gratification, it’s understandable that there is a perception that something rooted in technology and logic is something that can be quickly changed. And because of that perception, many organizations end up overpaying for some ‘Secret Sauce’ or ‘SEO Snake Oil’. Here are a few tricks of the trade to watch out for:

  • We Guarantee You #1 placement on Google.
    • There are a number of companies that solicit business using this claim. In some cases these companies are really selling pay-per-click advertising. For small businesses that are less technologically fluent, they may not realize the difference between ad placements and organic SEO results. They just see their company appear at the top of the page as promised. This isn’t a terrible thing, they may be getting quality impressions and clicks but they are mostly overpaying for a service that they don’t truly understand. And, the moment they stop paying for the marked up ads, their presence disappears.
    • In other cases, these agencies are doing the organic SEO work of implementing the correct meta data – page titles, keywords and descriptions. In that case there is no real way to back up that ‘#1 placement’ promise. But the chances are if you narrow the search enough, any organization is #1 for something. Do a search for [organization name] and [organization city] of any company with any type of web presence and the chances are, the company you are looking for will appear at the top of the search results. It’s the more generic terms that are harder to capitalize on for organic search.
  • Here’s a big heavy report of SEO recommendations.
    • Some more reputable organizations can sometimes overdo it with organic SEO by overloading clients with in-depth analysis of every page on a site that goes through every word, image and HTML tag. The analysis may follow sound SEO principles but it’s important to focus on the content that is of priority to potential visitors/customers. Do you really need an analysis of the privacy policy page? How about that press release from 2008?

The fact is that implementing an organic SEO strategy that returns long term results is a long term process. It’s something that needs to be built into the communications strategy for an organization as a regular task. At the heart of good organic SEO is good content. Content is king!, would be the appropriate buzz phrase here. You need to have something to say or display that people want. It may be information about your organization. It may be commentary on your industry or cause. Whatever it is, it needs to be currently relevant to your audience.

Once you have the content, then you can get into the meta data. Most marketers have a good understanding of the importance and fundamentals of page meta data: 

  1. Use ‘keywords’ in content
  2. Include relevant meta – keywords, titles and descriptions
  3. Use common sense URLs that include related keywords

If you need a primer, here is a great resource from Google: Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

If your organization understands and is already on top of keeping clean and relevant meta data, then you can go a level deeper and look at page structure and HTML tags. Some of this can be handled dynamically by content management systems and some of this is a manual process. It’s important to understand how these items are implemented in your site.

  1. Prioritize your heading tags in pages so that the more important content contains a lower heading value. If your page title is about ‘How to Make Better Widgets‘ than ‘How To Make Better Widgets’ should appear as H1 tag in the HTML. If you think of the page in an outline format, the tags act as your bullets.

< H1 > How to Make Better Widgets< /H1 >

< H2 > Decide on your Widget Size< /H2 >

< H3 > Widget Size Considerations & Restrictions < /H3 >

< H3 > Previous Widget Size Examples < /H3 >

< H2 > Design Your Widget< /H2 >

< H3 > Widget Colors < /H3 >

< H3 > Widget Materials < /H3 >

  1. Include image meta data. For images throughout a site, include a brief description of the image. Image searches are very common and can drive site traffic. By including related data as ALT, TITLE and DESCRIPTION attributes.
  2. XML site map. Ideally, a website content management system can generate an XML sitemap on the fly as pages are created, edited and deleted. Without that functionality, there are tools that can generate a site map for you - and - but you have to manually upload it to the appropriate location on your server.

Finally, after you have your site structured appropriately and have a process for generating and publishing content, you need to expand the reach of that content with a linking strategy. You can follow all of the best SEO practices and still come up short if there are no links to the content you create. Search engines crawl your site to see what’s there but they also rank pages according to popularity based on number of links to the content and how often people click on links to that content when they see it. This is where social media can be a huge benefit to traffic. By sharing and posting your content and encouraging sharing and re-posting, you help generate those links.

These are just some of the important factors to keep in mind for generating relevant organic traffic to a site. Organic SEO is not a quick fix and should be implemented as part of a long term business strategy. So, the next time you hear about a competitor beating you in the rankings, plan to start planting the seeds for organic search growth.

Some great resources for additional reading:

Christian Shea is the Marketing and Business Stratigist at Lyqiux. Lyquix is an integrated marketing & technology firm.



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