Chicago—At BtoB's NetMarketing breakfast here on Tuesday, four prominent b-to-b marketing executives discussed how their companies are adjusting to digital marketing opportunities and altering priorities in the current economy.
In the session's most provocative presentation, Frank Helmert, VP-interactive marketing at insurance broker Aon Corp., asked if b-to-b marketers weren't all wrong in their approach to social media. He acknowledged that marketers were using social media to enhance their brands, launch products, engage in customer service, recruit new hires and conduct public relations.
He said, however, that marketers are not using social media for marketing's ultimate goal: “selling more stuff to more people at higher prices.” He said Aon is experimenting with following customer and prospect companies via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other outlets to find out more about these companies and the potential to sell them more insurance policies by tracking such social media chatter as new hires, mergers and other events that may affect their insurance needs.
Using social media this way, Helmert said, will provide “more focus,” which is what b-to-b marketers always crave. The trick, of course, is to automate this process. He said Aon is in talks with a number of companies about doing exactly that.
Another presenter, George Stenitzer, VP-marketing and corporate communications at Tellabs, showed how content marketing has become central to his job. He said Tellabs created a content manager position two years ago, and that role has been crucial to keeping the company's website and social media content fresh.
Tellabs also recently redesigned its website, putting video front and center, Stenitzer said. He said short videos, particularly with the rise in mobile device usage, have to be short. “It has to be delivered fast and with punch,” he said.
A third presenter, Jamie Womack, VP-corporate marketing and branding at CareerBuilder, revealed how the slowdown in the economy has affected her company. Before the recession that began in 2008, CareerBuilder generated 100% of its revenue from the job board. As hiring continued to languish, the company has developed new data and service-oriented offerings for human resources departments. These offerings now comprise 35% of CareerBuilder's revenues.
Womack said the company has used online video to market some of its new services. CareerBuilder personalized one video so that the salesperson appearing in the video, which was emailed to 1,168 prospects, addressed each target by name. “Now, you're going to watch that video,” Womack said.
Finally, Stephen Bury, senior product manager of Microsoft Corp.'s Office Division, discussed how his group, which markets Office 365, a version of Office in the cloud, is using social media to reach small businesses. The group has developed the Office 365 Community and an online community on LinkedIn that allow users of Office 365 to discuss the product, answer questions and find support.
Bury said his group is using social media to support customers. “We are creating content around support,” he said, noting that most small businesses don't have IT departments to ensure the product is up and running.