25 February – The next generation of advocacy…

In today’s connected world everyone is interpreting brand advocacy to involve promoting their message through key advocates such as channel partners, sales partners, employees, influencers and ambassadors… But the truth is you’re all missing out on a few tricks. Here’s the next generation of advocacy, what we will all be doing in a few years’ time (for some) and very soon (for our customers).

Brand to advocates- normal advocacy
The current trend in advocacy which is receiving increased attention at the moment involves brands pushing their messages through their advocates’ social media accounts, increasing the exposure of both the brand, and the advocates.

With the likes of Microsoft successfully deploying this to their channel partners and influencers, and F5 Networks to their employees, we know just how successful this can be. But it is about time we went one step further and tried something slightly different.

Going beyond- enable advocates to suggest content
This may sound like a crazy idea at first glance but I can assure you it isn’t. This works by using a social media platform that not only enables brands to create content to share to advocates but also enables advocates to share content ‘back’ to the brand. This could include relevant industry content, or even content they have created themselves.

The benefits:

  • Enables advocates to feel valued
  • Enables brands to access, and share, more content
  • Increases the range of topics to share
  • Reduces the workload from content creators/ marketing department

    Microsoft are already ahead of the game here. Alex Beere, Consultant Social Media Manager, SMB and Partner, Microsoft states ‘Our influencers are key to our business; leveraging not only their social media presence to share our news but also engaging them with our content creation process allows us to drive relevance so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship’. If the likes of Microsoft are already doing this, it’s undoubtedly only a matter of time before you do too.

    Going even further beyond- advocates suggest content to other advocates
    You may have the view that you only want your advocates to share content that you have created. This is the wrong attitude to have. Soon socialondemand® will enable advocates to share their own content through to other advocates, directly. This could include industry-specific content or local news they have created themselves.

    The benefits:

  • Some content may only be relevant for advocates to share amongst themselves.
  • Advocates end up sharing a variety of content, increasing their social presence even further.
  • With advocates receiving an increased online presence, content posted by the brand will then reach an even wider audience.
  • Advocates will remain engaged with your brand, sharing brand and their own content, seeing for themselves the value in continually doing this.

    This is a demand we have recently seen from our customers, so I can guarantee that these next generation advocacy ideas will soon be deployed by other social automation software companies. Just remember though, we got there first!

    By Olivier Choron
    CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

    Find me on LinkedIn

  • 22 February – Social Selling and Personal Branding

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    By Ian Moyse (Industry Cloud and Channel Sales Leader), rated #1 Cloud Influencer 2016 and Awarded a Linkedin Power Profile 2015

    I am often amazed at how little most sales people invest in the value of their own personal brand and lack understanding of what social selling is and how to apply it amongst their kit bag of tools.

    Avoiding the puns from the late Stuart Baggs of the Apprentice about “I am the brand” , having an online brand is not about necessarily having your name in lights or being known or famous, it is the public view you give of yourself to others.

    A prospective customer or employer in knowing your name will inevitably at some point look you up online, as they will the company or product they may consider buying in their business lives or at home. Who of us hasn’t when thinking of going somewhere or buying a product or service done a quick search, looked at their web site, looked at shopping sites like Amazon and Ebay, read reviews, perhaps asked friends on Facebook or twitter their experience etc.

    When I am going to meet a customer or am about to interview someone for a sales role I always check them out on Linkedin, look on twitter/facebook and a quick Google Search, allowing me to know a little context about them as a person and even to a degree a little of what personality type they are.

    Today it is so incredibly easy to find a wealth of information on anything to enable a pragmatic, informed and safer decision and in the mobile world you can do it easily anytime, anyplace. So why expect that you as an individual will not be looked up at some point and pre-judged, especially if you are doing the same of others as I described above.

    Like it or not, disagree with its fairness, it doesn’t matter. The buyer has more control than ever and that includes on finding out about you as a person as well as your proposition and company. You may have read previously on how the buyer dynamic has changed, often a customer having done 60-70% of their research before a sales person gets engaged. Expect this to also include on you when you do engage.

    So firstly make sure your online profiles represent you well. It’s not difficult and your own profile is yours, it travels with you wherever you go and can beget you new opportunities you did not expect. Use a professional and friendly looking photo of yourself (not one partying or on holiday) and use a similar or same one across your profiles. Have a good summary BIO of yourself and again keep it consistent across profiles. Add links to awards you have won, articles mentioned in, content written etc, anything pertinent that showcases you as a person professionally. Make it a small project to polish your online presence, look at others profiles and plagiarize ideas you spot that would work for yourself. My main profiles for example can be seen at http://www.ianmoyse.co.uk & https://twitter.com/imoyse. I continue to review these and improve them as I see what others are doing that I like and see value in.

    Social Selling means I have to spend my life online as an expert at social media and publish lots of information right? Wrong. Social selling is all about profile, listening, engagement and publishing/push of information as a combined effort.

    Once your profile is polished, look at who you connect with, follow, retweet, repost content from etc. A simple engagement might be simply liking and sharing a person’s content onwards or one step further reposting someone’s tweet and adding your own comment such as “a great point and I also think xyz” or replying to that person with a question or comment. In doing so you begin to get engagement, not only with your followers and audience, but also with the author you have paid compliment to by sharing their content. So you don’t have many followers or connections yet, no matter it still pays compliment to them and your content sharing may gain you more followers.

    Remember also what you share is what viewers of your profiles will see of you, so think carefully about sharing lewd or anything that could be deemed offensive, sexist, etc What you share represents you. In my view people do not want to know you had a great sandwich just now, but sharing valuable content and facts relevant to your industry can have value to the wider audience.

    Social Media in terms of a brand and engagement is a long play. Do not expect instant gratification. Perhaps you get the CIO of a target customer to retweet some content you shared with them, don’t immediately launch into sales pitch on them. It is important to use social to demonstrate your value and to build engagement to a point where such an interaction is natural. This means nurturing, the words usually used by marketing should also fall into the realms of salespeople, nurturing future pipeline and prospects early. Great to call into the CIO in November cold and get through, a meeting and into an engagement, but how often is that now easy? Start nurturing them in February alongside your immediate sales opportunities. Follow them on social, reach out with relevant content shares on the systems they are on, comment on announcements they post where you have good comment. People notice who shares their content, comments, likes etc – try it yourself – see if you note who views your profile, engages peripherally with you!

    Personal brand management, Social selling and experience in how to leverage these is going to continue to become increasingly important and as a differentiator to you personally. If I interview someone in the future who perhaps has searched on myself, figured this out, read articles I have written and comes armed demonstrating proven use of these values over someone who just wings it as a salesperson, who will stand out, who will align best with my goals and with me personally!

    17 February – How to diminish the hassle and expense of email newsletters

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    Email marketing is set to be the most invested in B2B channel in 2016, with 82% rating it their top priority this year. The question is how can you improve your current efforts?

    The top 4 issues with email marketing:

    1. It’s so expensive
    The sheer cost of creating and sending email newsletters daily/ weekly/ monthly is quite overwhelmingly expensive, when you consider the multitude of employees who are involved, each of course with their own costs. Graphic designers, HTML coders, content creators and marketers, just for one email! And you can times this fivefold for complex multi-topic newsletters.

    2. The creation and approval process is so long!
    One email generally passes at least four different people, each with their own busy schedules and time constraints, delaying the send date considerably. In some cases, by the time everything has been approved, the content is already out of date. This is even more the case when you need to translate the content. Nightmare! Now do you start the whole process again or do you just send out the old content?

    3. Creating targeted, personalised emails is too difficult.
    We can all understand the importance of sending subscribers targeted and highly personalised content, but is this really achievable when it involves physically creating a multitude of different versions? And what happens if a recipient fits into more than one of your subscriber lists? Will they receive duplicate emails, with similar content in both? Imagine you’re the receiver of the content, how annoying would that be?

    4. Engagement/ CTA is low
    So out of date content and duplicate emails are regularly being sent to your subscribers… it’s not surprising then that your call to action and subscribers are becoming less and less engaged each time they receive an email newsletter from you. Anyone would switch off from this.

    The sooner you begin the solution the better… Invest in newsondemand. You may say ‘yeah’, ‘yeah’. It’s just the same as every other email marketing software, why bother? Well you’re wrong. What other program solves all 4 of the issues above and more?

    With no HTML coding or layout design required, and therefore less man power, newsondemand vastly decreases the cost of producing emails. The layout of the emails – driving by localised templates – also remains consistent, ensuring you adhere to brand guidelines every time.

    Reduced creation, approval and delivery time
    With your newsletter bypassing less employees, the approval process is shortened, with only the content requiring approval. This reduces the likelihood of out of date content being shared, ensuring only valid content is sent to recipients. Content can also be approved within newsondemand itself, ensuring everything is kept in one place, making the whole process that bit easier.

    Targeting abilities
    newsondemand enables recipients to decide the topics they would like to hear about, as well as its frequency plus the specific time and day they wish to receive your news.
    You simply categorise each piece of content within your newsletter, selecting; topic area, who it’s for, language and priority level (most important articles appear at the top). Based upon this information your newsletter will then be auto-created, each displaying content specifically relevant to the recipient. And voila, your emails are targeted to all users, with minimum effort.

    Engagement can now be high!
    By giving recipients exactly what they want, when they want it, it’s not surprising that engagement will be high. Our customer, SAP use newsondemand and since using this software their open rates are up by 49%! Their average click to open rate is 5.9%, with some even receiving a staggering 17%.

    2016 is the year for email marketing, so ensure you invest in the right programs and get ahead of the curve, before your competitors do. I know it’s my software so I am biased, but I strongly believe you will struggle to find one better for improving your current email marketing efforts! Good luck!

    By Olivier Choron
    CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

    Find me on LinkedIn

    08 February – Communicating with Channel Partners: Considerations and Tips

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    I often see my customers struggling to write good content on their partner newsletters, e-shots and portals. Having done it myself for many years, I must admit it’s a tough job and it’s so easy to get it all wrong. I would like to highlight just 3 issues to consider together with a few tips on how to make sure partners really get the ‘right stuff’.

    Consideration #1: the 80-20 rule
    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but only 20% of your partners will truly be interested in what you say. Whatever your channel strategy, whatever programs you put in place, whatever tools you provide, I have seen it time and time again: only 20% of your partners will be engaged with your brand. These are the few for whom you are important and for whom you represent a nice chunky part of their business. And within these 20%, only a further 20% will actually read your news consistently and with the care it deserves.

    Consideration #2: you are one of many
    For all partners, even your top 20%, you must remember that you are not the only vendor they work with at any given time. They have other hardware and software suppliers they also have to deal with on a daily basis. Some research firms indicate that a ‘typical partner’ can deal with 18 vendors regularly. You are only part of one solution and they may have multiple customer propositions. So, for them, your news is not THAT critical; it is part of everything else they do, and often what they do themselves is more critical to their business…

    Consideration #3: partners cannot be bundled as ‘one group’
    A typical mistake we marketers are guilty of, is assuming that our ‘typical partners’ speak the same language. We conveniently assume, for the sake of making our programs and emails easy and cost-effective, that they are all very technical and care about our technical news. We forget that many are in sales or marketing or procurement functions. So, typically, we don’t tailor our messages to each of these audiences, and instead create one news-for-all.

    There are several other considerations to take in account – if you have different product lines or if you serve very different vertical/ horizontal markets, then not all your partners will want to ‘follow’ these or be informed about these. If you are working globally, you will also need to tailor your news to your local markets – yes, people don’t react to the same content tone/ approach.

    You get the gist…communicating with channel partners isn’t a job for the faint hearted! So, let me help you; here are a few things you can do to drive partner engagement.

    Tip #1: really smart tools
    I will start with something which no one wants to talk about. There are partner portals and communications platforms that can really help. I will blow my own trumpet by saying that our own newsondemand newsletter platform and our own portal capabilities (especially our smart resource library) can give your partners the ability to select what they want to follow/ hear about. By giving them the choice to opt in or out of certain content (especially if you organise this by product line, vertical and/or horizontal segments), you will guarantee better engagement/ readership levels.

    Tip #2: there is only ONE story
    All I hear about these days is ‘content stories’. People believe they have to create stories to sell the content. It is quite true, of course, but when you are dealing with channel partners, there really should only be one story – how your organization will make their organization more profitable! Everything else should support this story. So, don’t try and be too creative, stick to the one story and make sure everything you do and communicate is about that! Changing stories would be like changing value propositions… it will bring confusion!

    Tip #3: simple writing
    Because most of us don’t have the resources, budgets or tools to send different copy (of the same announcement) to different audiences, whether they are in management, sales, technical or marketing functions, we are left with having to create ‘one style fits all’ content. If this is the case, make sure it is clear, concise, and can be read and understood in 30 seconds, by everyone. Most partners don’t have the time to read lengthy content.

    Tip #4: catch their attention
    Make your email title meaningful – it’s for 100% of your partners; make your news articles very brief (and clear) – and I mean 3 lines, maximum. If we can do it in 140 characters on Twitter, let’s try to do it in our newsletters too! Make sure however your 20% of partners also get what they want– the full news by adding a link to ‘read more’ to enable those who are interested. Don’t try to squeeze all the news in your newsletters.

    Tip #5: make your newsletters news-worthy
    There is no point in communicating about old news, simply because you missed your last deadline or because you need ‘space-fillers’. Keep to current items. Sadly because most of us still rely on ‘monthly newsletter schedules’, we tend to spend a lot of time collecting news, organising, translating and sending it. By the time the newsletters are sent out, they are old and it’s very likely your partners have seen or heard of the news elsewhere. This will not help you achieve great results!

    Tip #6: illustrate your news
    Images should not be used to lighten the newsletters or make them pretty. Space in an email or newsletter is worth gold. Use images to add to your copy. Make them tell the story. Your partners will see them first. Images should grab their attention much faster than the text you write beneath or around it. So, don’t include one image/ icon for each news item, but focus on key news and develop your few images around them.

    Tip #7: CTAs that work
    Some news articles will not require an action, but these should be few. Most news items should require your partners to do something – check more details, register for an event, view a file or research report. Make sure your Call to Actions (CTAs) are clear and obvious. You don’t want to lose your partners through their journey.

    Tip #8: think about responsive designs
    We can no longer ignore mobile devices; in fact we need to assume that your news is likely to be read on some mobile device of some sort. Your email or newsletter design must be constructed to render best on these devices, as the first priority!

    Finally, an email or newsletter should be 600pixel wide; that’s the norm! Don’t use bullet points; they are likely to break your HTML. Don’t use multiple fonts or font sizes; it will be confusing and messy.

    So, that’s it…just a few tips from me. I hope they help. If you would like to discuss these or bounce around some ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    By Olivier Choron
    CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
    Find me on LinkedIn

    04 February – Why social automation is not a cop out

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    Just because you use social media automation software to create and send social media posts does not make you’re an unengaged robot. It means you’re being efficient and using your time wisely.

    “Impersonal”, I think not!
    I am by no means suggesting that using this software is enough to gain a strong social presence on its own. Instead, it should be used to plant the seed, informing, and educating prospects of your offerings. To truly flourish, further interaction with engaged connections will need to occur. This can include directly communicating to individuals who have responded to your shared posts as well as influential industry thought leaders.

    Reaching wider audience
    One of the great things about social media automation software is the ability to schedule posts at particular times/ dates. This allows you to create many posts at once and also gives you the added bonus of scheduling posts at times to appeal to different time zones, opening your brand to an even wider market.

    Users on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest post at a rapid rate, a rate you will not stand a chance of keeping up with without use of a social automation platform. I am not suggesting you should post 100 times an hour, but the more frequently you post to these sites, the more likely you are to reach and be noticed by your desired audience.

    Social media advocacy
    The more sophisticated automation systems can also be used as a way of enabling advocates to share your social media posts as their own. This enables them the advantage of building a reputable thought leader status, but also gives you increased brand exposure to their connections, reaching an even wider audience than before.

    It also allows you to remain in control of content shared, selecting your preferred tone of voice and adhering to brand guidelines. This ensures you deliver a consistent brand message on social media.

    Measuring success
    Without using a social media automation system, how do you quickly and accurately know which social network you are receiving the best results from? Which you should be looking to improve upon and in what way? Yes, I know each network has their own report metrics, but how can you efficiently gain an overall picture. With sophisticated automation systems, you can even measure the success of each post, identifying if or even which advocates shared your post and what engagement it received. These are all measuring abilities I am sure you will agree are pivotal for evaluating your overall performance on social media.

    So don’t by any means lose the human element of your social media efforts, but instead embrace social media automation software to; utilise your time effectively, enable advocates to share your posts, and finally analyse your overall performance so you can strategies and improve your efforts even further. Trust me you will quickly see it’s worth it!

    By Olivier Choron
    CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
    Find me on LinkedIn