GenY… and what kind of bosses they really want

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Hays GenY Great Leader TypesNow, that we have adviced in a funny way how Baby Boomers should not engage with their younger GenY’ers, here comes some serious advice again. The recruiting company Hays has done some interesting research in the UK among 1.000 GenY’ers with the title “GenY and the world of work”.

The study shows that 51% of the Millennials want a mentor or Coach as their boss who treats them fair, and who is an expert in his business field. 40% are looking for a leader (but not a dictator), and 34% see an advisor as their ideal boss.

And what are the main quality features a boss must have for the Generation Y? Well, nothing extraordinary…: Ability to motivate them, be supportive and just be fair! Is that a challenge? Not for you, guys, right…?!

There is more in it for you. Just watch their study video…

Study: Online forums still popular and leading community option (Infographic)

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According to a recent “2013 Social Media Survey” by Proboards the interactive communication preferences across platforms are still heading towards forums. Although you might think that they asked their own users (which is probably right), the survey still shows the importance of forums and communities. For their results the company promoted the research toover 150 respondents via Facebook, Twitter, and the ProBoards customer support forum.

The study claims that online forums are still popular. What was interesting for me to see is that they were even preferred compared to social media platform for interactive communication. Two out of three respondents (67%) stated that forums were the social media tool they found most valuable. Obviously, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+ follow but the question here could be asked whether most people realize that all these platforms are also forums if used in the right way. That LinkedIn did not figure in as a significant social media tool is in my eyes not correct as the forums there within, are very powerful and interactive, plus they generate very valueable input for managers.

“The survey results do not surprise us since platforms such as Facebook and Twitter do not give you the level of control that forums do,” said Patrick Clinger, founder and CEO of ProBoards. “Forums provide greater customization and more options…”

Forums -although we would define them as communities according to our Community Centric Strategy- offer a great way of engaged communication, and probably with better and deeper quality than any other social network. There is more information in the infographic attached…

ProBoards-Social-Media-Study-Forums

Study: Digital transformation still slow in companies. If there wasn’t the execution…

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It is one of the findings, we often experience in reality when we advice companies: The employees understand how the digital transformation works. However, the management -especially CEOs and executives- are not seeing the urgency in moving on with the digital transformation. In a recent study of more than 1500 executive people in 106 countries released by Capgemini Consulting in partnership with MIT Sloan Management Review these findings become clear again, although the study writers make clear that the common agreement is that the future is digital.

The results show that those company executive who have the digital transformation on their agenda almost four out of five executives (81%) believe that it will offer their company a competitive advantage. They also see that it will become a critical development to their organization within the next two years. Still, nearly two out of three (63%) see that the velocity of technology change in their organizations is not moving fast enough.

Not surprisingly, many employees are becoming more and more impatient with the development and progress compared to their upper managers. This stays against the fact that 53% of the CEOs think that the pace of the digital evolution inside their company is “right”, “fast” or “very fast”. Especially, the middle managers and staff employees think that the progress isn’t enough toward a digital realm. Just 25% of managers see the pace is right. One of the comments in the report blamed that the management was guilty of “complacency, [and] ignorance of modern technology”. And another one stated “Clueless management”.

The study’s authors categorized four different stages of digital transformation:
a. Beginners: Have been slow to adopt, or are skeptical of, more advanced digital technologies like social media and analytics.
b. Conservatives: Have deliberately hang back when it comes to new technologies.
c. Fashionista: Very aggressive in adopting new technologies, but do not coordinate well across departments.
d. Digiratis: Have the vision, and are willing to invest what it takes.

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

The reasons for the slow adaption for the modern digital challenge is made obvious: Time. When 53% of CEOs and executives say that the “don’t have time for this right now,” it sounds like a normal common excuse when things are not familiar or understood in the importance for the future development of companies. They (52%) simply don’t know how to do that, or are resistent to move on “this is the way we’ve always done it”.

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Spot On!
When the study finds that 65% of organizations have just begun to step into the digital transformation process, it shows that most managers have not yet understood where the world of mobile and social media is getting us in the future. And when only 15% of respondenting CEOs and executives can be considered “mature” adopters of digital technologies, it reflects our view of how we experience the top management that comes to us and wants input on how to change the company towards the digital realm. And whent he study authors conclude that just some companies rank in the same category as a Starbucks or Intel, which are kind of top notch in digital transformation, we might still see potential for even them to become better. It is one thing, to have a chief digital officer at Starbucks that also enables customer mobile engagements. But it is another thing to make all employees follow the rules of the digital transformation. The challenge is on…!

PS: Study can be read here.

Study: B2B commerce moving from offline to online

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Most of us know that B2B is massively moving away from offline to online. But where is the proof? A recent survey by Intershop -based on a survey of 280 European and 120 US senior IT and business decision makers from merchants with a B2B focus and annual online revenues of $1 million to over $100 million- shows that with 57% the majority of B2B vendors sees B2B commerce fundamentally shifting from offline to online.

Intershop - B2B Business Shift 2013

The company manager that responded are aware of the shift (51%) and replied that they are changing their organizational structures and business models accordingly. Furthermore, 44% of those responsding managers find that B2B vendors adopt B2C best practices in order to improve their B2B purchasing processes.

Intershop - B2B Challenges 2013

The following numbers show what the main drivers of change seem to be. Most of the respondents (81%) found that changing consumer expectations are driving the changes in B2B commerce. And another 74% see new technology delivering new and unseen experience access.

Intershop - B2B Drivers of Change 2013

Still, not all is shining bright in the world of B2B commmerce. When 96% replied to be facing challenges in adapting to new B2B commerce trends, it speaks a clear message. Thus, the challenge is for…
- 50% to provide intuitive and user-friendly interfaces for multiple touchpoints (B2B online stores and mobile apps)
- 48% to manage complex organizational structures
- 47% to convince offline customers to use e-commerce and self-service channels

Spot On!
It is a good sign that almost all companies (92%) market their products on the Web and the rest is planning to do so. Even better is the fact that of those companies marketing their products online, 95% plan to boost the online part of their revenue in the future. This may be a wish, this may be a dream, this may be hope. However, the main issue in our eyes from several cases we worked on is an internal cultural challenge: Understanding that a shift to online is a personal and a leadership topic. If companies face it and get some good advice, the change to a new B2B commerce is not causing red eyes.

Study Search Ranking: What makes your brand look good on Google

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It is one of these questions that many brand marketers are asking themselves: What makes us reach the top search results on Google? A recent report based on Searchmetric data for 10,000 top Google search keywords sheds some light here. It was based on correlations and website characteristics of 300,000 URLs appearing in the top search result position in the US between March 2013 and June 2013.

The report shows that those websites tend to perform best that have a high social impact in terms of likes, shares, tweets and Google “+1″‘s. It also makes clear that there is a realationship between ranking high on Google and collecting Google+ links to achieve better ranking impact which the graphic below indicates.

Searchmetrics-Rank-Correlation-Facts-Social-2013

Despite common believe that fast website performance through intelligent on-page coding might create some benefit for the search ranking, the study shows that just not having it will let websites achieve lower rankings. This means that SEO basics like having H1 and H2 tags or providing brief descriptions now are seen as standards but won’t support any boost effect.

Searchmetrics-Rank-Correlation-Facts-2013

Still, content is king for Google. Good rankings were correlated always positively with good and unique content and had a bigger effect in 2013 than the year ago. As main ingredients of positive content can be named a clever internal link structure, a URL with a clear message and longer text plus a sensible number of integrated (audio)-visual files. This could be as of the fact that Google wants to boost their own pictures search sites and obviously Youtube.

Keywords keep up their impact on the rankings. On the page, they still need to placed in the title as close to the front as possible and in the text they need to be placed wisely as well. As of some algorithm changes compared to 2012, the importance of keywords in the domain name or the URL has lost its significance.

According to the report, websites of brands and other domains seem to play on different levels for Google. Obviously, brand websites seem to be superior to normal sites. The report states that it looks as if the search engine finds it normal for brands to generate more backlinks with the brand name appearing in referring content pieces alone.

The infographic provides some more information – and if this version is too small, just click here and download it
Search-Ranking-Factors-2013

Hey MINI! Not interested in brand advocates?

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My MINI Paceman - So much fun with it!

My MINI Paceman – So much fun with it!

Listen BMW and MINI! This is not a story made up. This is real. This is me.

When the MINI Paceman was first promoted at the Detroit Motor Show in 2011 as a concept car, I said and wrote to my fans, followers and friends: “This is gonna be my new car!” To some of them, it came as no surprise. Some knew of my passion for the MINI brand. Some recalled my words from brand strategy workshops, from keynote speeches or marketing seminars. Some remembered pictures of me in front of my former white MINI Cooper, and they were surprised I am selling it. Some responded and asked questions about features of the new Paceman; even I could not answer those days. Today I can.

But… Many of them did not even know of the new concept, the new brand, the new design, the new small SUV category that MINI kind of invented, and so on. I did. I saw the potential. I just got infected by the brand. I wanted a new MINI Paceman. I loved the outlook: Getting the keys handed out for a MINI Paceman.

I have thought a long time about writing this post, or just forgetting about it. But I am a challenger…

Today, the IAA 2013 is opening their doors in Frankfurt. Car brands are proudly presenting their latest auto concepts. Managers posing in front of their new innovations in modern steel or carbon. They are shaking hands with those that make them look good. But who does really make them stand out? The technical suppliers? The revenue driving resellers? The social influencers? Or those who hold up a sign in the streets without being incentivized or getting cash saying: “I love this brand!” Those who stand out, and those who make stand out: the brand advocates?

Maybe today is the right time to write a blog post and tell a story that to many of my fans, followers and friends sounds unbelievable – but MINI, I tell you, it is the absolute truth. I write it in the night when other people are sleeping. My clients tomorrow won’t care whether I had enough sleep, or not. I write this, when there is more important things on the desktop than leveraging a brand that does not listen, nor understand. Am I mad? Am I not clever? No, I am honest. I am what I am. I am a real MINI Paceman advocate.

Beginning of February 2013, I sat down with my MINI car sales representative and told him that I want to buy a Paceman. I wanted to be one of the first in Munich. I wanted to sign the contract. Now. And I asked whether he could open doors to the marketing, PR or social media department at MINI when an idea hit my brain just in the minutes when I sat there: Two of my clients have called me their “pacemaker”. The word transition from pacemaker to paceman was not too far off for me. So, some brilliant thought (at least in my mind) awoke in my head: Why not call yourself “Mr. Paceman”?

A concept created in a brain flash: Website domain. Web space. Web blog. Unique content published in a Paceman. The life of a Pacemaker in a Paceman. Lifestyle. Design. Speed. My life.

While the reseller configured my MINI Paceman, I bought the website domain, set up the blog with a little help of a friend and scribbled the whole concept on my smartphone. I told my MINI sales rep about the idea when I had signed the contract. He was enthusiastic about the concept and saw a lot of other potential cooperation opportunities.

I was ready to start publishing. Publishing about the pleasant participation for my MINI Paceman. The color. The design. The coffee holders. The changing interior lights. The engine. And so on. Publishing about the pace of my days, my experiences with the new Paceman, my life in a MINI Paceman nutshell. I wanted to share pictures of MINIs. I wanted to post design ideas of other MINI freaks, and find the first MINI Paceman pics, I might come across. And a lot more…

Now, obviously I knew about brand protection and brand rights. I knew that -before I started buying the domain- I should get in touch with some MINI brand contacts and get some formal permission to use the brand name. I thought: “Just do it!”

So, I wrote emails to MINI, their PR department, their marketing department, their social media people, and their agencies. I even contacted strategic partners from MINI. I wish I hadn’t done it. I felt like a little unloved kid being pushed from one corner to another in order not to cause any trouble for anyone, in order to shut up. MINI did not move. I continued. The answers I got where just some lines making clear that I am not allowed to use the brand for my purposes.

Hang on! My purposes? Is that the power of a big modern brand, is that arrogance, hubris or simply ignorance?

If I promote a brand I like, invest time, offer to wear their branded merchandising clothes and have even bought the brand product before (and maybe a far too expensive brand product), why should I not be allowed to do marketing and PR for that brand to my fellow peers? A target-group that MINI is chasing with banners, print ads, wallpapers, outdoor marketing, newsletter mailings and a lot more.

Doesn’t this mean, I am actually doing what MINI pays others for; marketing agencies, PR people and media houses with the old “quid-pro quo” game: editorial coverage for advertising dollars? Those institutions that create corporate publishing products for brands which cost these brands a fortune?

Shall I then be happy and not get crazy, when I get the feedback: “We might consider that you are writing a guest post on our official MINI blog.” Hurray! What an outcome of my activities! Sorry MINI, you missed the point! I am not just a buyer. I am not a normal influencer. I am more. I am a MINI Paceman brand advocate, if you know what this means MINI. If not, you might just read the study by Ogilvy)?!

A brand concept. Still waiting for MINI to understand the value of brand advocates.

A brand concept. Still waiting for MINI to understand the value of brand advocates.

More than seven months later, the blog is still online – online without any content at MrPaceman.com. The case has been mentioned by me in at least 20 seminars and on several stage appearances at events. Events where even the BMW marketing departments or some of their agencies participated. I saw people shaking heads, heard their words asking how ignorant and un-clever brands can be, and read their tweets and updates trying to get reactions to this case from MINI. MINI did nothing. For seven months now, the MINI brand managers did nothing.

Yesterday, some silver surfers passed by my MINI Paceman. One of them, a man in his seventies approached me when I got out of my Paceman: “Great car. Cool design and colors. Is this new? Have never seen this car before…” His wife replied: “This is one of these new SUV cars but just in a MINI format. Nice high access. Like it!”

Would this make up for a really cool advertisement? Now, just imagine, I had written about such stories, shared a picture with these older people and spread the word around the world about my life in the MINI Paceman. Don’t you think these stories, these emotions, these experiences might have made a difference in the way the MINI Paceman gets positioned, promoted and had pulled sales leads?

“Advocacy goes deeper. Advocacy is emotion-driven. Advocacy is loyalty. Loyalty is commitment. Loyalty is passion. Loyalty let’s forget the rules of logic, of facts, of the rational. Advocates drive on the streets of loyalty and breath it’s air.” Martin Meyer-Gossner on brand advocacy, September 2013

Did I make the benefit of brand advocates clear to you, MINI? Ok, then get into the next MINI Paceman and drive to me. Let’s speak!

PS: All of you out there who think MINI should make a move towards brand advocacy, share this post and maybe that will make them clear what opportunity they might have missed. And let’s hope some other brands learn from this case…!

B2B: What data lead generation should deliver to marketers

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In an era where Big Data rules in many companies’ marketing departments, it is interesting to see where pay-per-lead marketers see the best value in. A recent survey by Business.com conducted in May 2013 of 500 active pay-per-lead advertisers (with SMB market focus) states that most B2B marketers value a buyer’s purchasing time horizon as the most important data point they want (51%). The problem is: They often cannot get that data set.

The second most important data point for leads is the employee size figure of the buyer’s company (31%) which these marketers say would be extremely valuable to get. In the third place comes the industry sector (29%) and then the job title of the business decision maker (20%).

Business.com 2013 Content Marketing Leads
As shown here and here in different other studies, the survey concludes that content marketing becomes more and more valueable for lead generation.

More than half of the people responding (51%) the study said that leads generated via whitepapers are valuable or extremely valuable. Webinars are also on the rise with 34% responding that leads from hosted webinars that feature their company or products are valuable or extremely valuable. Leads generated via sponsored email still find their interest among B2B marketers. Still, 38% stated these are valuable or extremely valuable, followed by case studies (38%) and video (35%).

Business.com 2013 Webinar Leads

Spot On!
If we think of the “old BANT process”, the study lacks some answers and findings in terms of making us understand the importance of budget in these days. Not surprisingly though, the study still mentions that 42% expressed strong interest in “hot transfer” leads (connecting companies immediately with leads as they come in) which probably are most promising in terms of fast lead conversion. When 60% see lead scoring as essential for the lead generation process, individual leads still is assigned a score reflecting the likelihood of a response. Maybe this should serve an answer on the BANT budget topic. For me that was not quite clear though.

SO, what would be your answer: IS the BANT process still valid? And what data set would be important to your sales process?

Brand advocate or Influencer: Are you driving on the streets of loyalty?

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In many seminars there is a common opinion: Brand advocates and social media influencers are cast in the same mold. They are not! They are completely different kind of personalities. However, this does not say that they cannot change their roles from brands to brands. Still, the question is whether they might suddenly become both in the future: influencer and advocate. We have shared our thoughts a while ago…

So, how can advocates and influencers be defined (backed up by an infographic from Zuberance and Convince and Convert below)?

Advocates are customers of brands. They are not heading for money or incentives that a brand or company might pay them for going out and holding up signs “I love this brand!”. In fact, it is just the other way round: They often pay brands more than they have to. Personal persuasion, individual enthusiasm and emotions the brand creates lead them to recommend products to their fellows, friends and fans without any reward. These people are just happy with a brand or product. The brand has satisfied their needs and desires which let’s them engage in discussion they are not really part of. These people are actually looking for engagement around the brand and might even start conversations that foster new brand approaches, or even design new product concepts.

Influencers were -well, in the days before social media- people that were wearing logos on shirts, were used as testimonials or stood in front of a camera and talked about a product or service as a client case (things they often had no clue about). Nowadays, there is a new type of influencers coming up that gets paid by blogging or social media monetization platforms, and in the end from brands and companies. These bloggers or social media active people write or talk online about brands predominantly as they get paid for promoting the brand or product. In most cases, these bloggers have a great community of people that build an attractive audience (whether as of reach or relevance) for the brand or company – maybe simply to increase the influencer base or to spread the word (word-of-mouth) around the brand.

The main difference between the two?

Advocacy goes deeper. Advocacy is emotion-driven. Advocacy is loyalty. Loyalty is commitment. Loyalty is passion. Loyalty let’s forget the rules of logic, of facts, of the rational. Advocates drive on the streets of loyalty and breath it’s air.

A recent study by Ogilvy claims that social media influencers don’t use these streets of advocacy and passion, the streets of the brands they follow. The study makes cleat that most “advocates” -in the above definition probably more influencers- mentioned product features and not emotions. Only 9% of brands were lucky to facing greater than 50% of brand advocacy. And, “advocacy” posts constituted only 15% of social mentions.

How to build a global passion brand: Insights from the 2013 Social@Ogilvy Brand Advocacy Study from Social@Ogilvy

Marketers need to understand the value of brand advocacy. Advocats are the elite of your brand fans, and marketers that do not identify those advocates will leave out the opportunity to spend marketing budgets more wisely:

“Brands that do not generate substantial advocacy will need to pay more for reach and consequently have costs substantially higher than those brands that drive advocacy… this advantage could make the difference between a company with outstanding shareholder returns and one that fails to perform.”

zuberance-influencers-vs-brandadvocates

Hey marketers, just think about yourself: Would you tattoo yourself with the brand you love, like i.e. many Harley Davidson fans? Let us know…

ABM Study: The impact of B2B media on purchase decisions

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It is one of these questions many B2B marketers would love to get an answer: How many of the B2B business professionals that can be reached by B2B media and live events are involved in purchasing decisions or supplier selections?

Well, a recent study by American Business Media’s “Value of B-to-B” report, which was based on 6,682 responses from business professionals, 74 marketers and 111 business publishers and released Wednesday, gives an answer: Of those purchase business decision makers responding to the survey 74% can be reached by B2B media and live events.

The web plays a critical role here. The study states that 87% of those use industry-related websites on their customer journey and research in the decision making process. What they predominantly use is print magazines (65%), industry conferences and trade shows (58%) and e-newsletters (55%).

ABM B2B Resource Usage 2013

However, we all think the world is completely digital these days, the study makes clear that 74% use both digital and traditional media to get latest best practices and get the right information for their business. The industry-related focus of the print publications is relevant for (68%) as they spend more time with those publications than with mainstream business or consumer publications.

PS: There are good signs for the media industry, too. Almost half of the responding marketers (45%) expected an increase in B2B advertising budgets for the next 12 months.

Study: Increase in marketers social spendings expected (Infographic)

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With their recent study The Creative Group predicts that the majority of advertising and marketing executives (62%) expect an increase of their company’s spending on Facebook marketing in the follwoing twelve months – 9% more than they predcited one year ago.

Not surprisingly, the advertising spend on Facebook leads the list of social ad spendings. However, the majority of executives will also invest in other channels more than last year: LinkedIn (51% up from 38%) and Google+ (50% from 41%). Twitter is also on the plan for a budget increase with 48%, as well as Youtube (40%), Pinterest (35%) and Instagram (32%)

Although this shows a great breakdown of all industry sectors and job titles in an overview, the different industry segments and job titles varied in their view on budget increase:

Facebook
- Large companies (100+ employees): 74% of marketers expect an increase in Facebook spend
- Smaller companies (100-249 employees): 60% predict an increase for Facebook spendings

Twitter
- 57% of advertising executives expect an increase in spendings
- 48% of marketing executives expect an increase in ad spends
- 12% of marketing execs expect a decrease in spend
- 6% of advertising executives expect a decrease

The study was based on a US survey of 300 marketing executives and 100 advertising executives.

How about your marketing budget planes with Facebook, Twitter and the likes? Increase or decrease?

Forecast-Social-Media-Spend-2013

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