People winning awards

How to win a marketing award

Doug Marshall, MD of Achieve B2B Marketing, has judged many marketing awards over the last decade Here he shares his experience and gives you some insights into an award-winning entry's key ingredients.

 

 

Winning an award can be a real boost. It’s a great feeling to know that industry experts recognise your achievements. Winning is something that can be shared both internally and externally to boost the prestige of your organisation. It’s also something that can help with your career advancement. 

But gathering the right information, completing the necessary forms, and getting internal approvals can take time and resources. So when you enter an award, you’ll want to enhance your chances of actually winning! I’ve been a judge for a number of awards, including the B2B Marketing Awards and WARC Awards for Effectiveness. I’ve reviewed many entries and viewed online and face to face presentations from entrants, so I’ve seen which entries stand out.

So how you can be in with a chance of winning? Most of the awards I’ve judged have been in B2B marketing. These suggestions are particularly useful for awards in that sector, but the suggestions here are relevant for most B2B awards entries generally:

Plan your entry

Often, entrants can find guidance from organisers on how and when to complete their entry. If you can, find out how the scoring system will work so you can prepare your entry accordingly. And be honest with yourself before deciding to enter: is what you've achieved so successful that it could potentially be award-winning? If your answer is yes and you decide to enter, give yourself time to talk through your results with colleagues and do multiple edits before you submit your entry.  

Provide context in your entry

What was the situation that required a solution? Providing context and background to your entry will help judges understand why your solution was important. Was there any research you conducted that yielded interesting iAwards 2nsights? Showing you understood real-world solutions with the research of end-users will help you build a good case.

List your objectives

Stating SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based) objectives) shows judges what you were setting out to achieve. 

Describe your strategy

What strategy did you adopt to achieve your objectives, and why did you choose certain tactics and channels? Displaying creativity, bravery, innovation and originality in your strategy and tactics will catch judges’ eyes. They’re looking for something successful, but also something extraordinary. 

Demonstrate results

Judges will want to see measurements of success. So clearly set out how you achieved your objectives, and what the results were. Numbers matter! Think about what judges need to know to score your entry highly, and include information accordingly.

Write a story

Entries are judged by humans. By the time they’ve reached the 17th entry, which happens to be yours, and they're eying whether to open that bottle of wine, you’ll need to grab their attention. Telling a story with an interesting arc is likely to keep their attention more than something that’s dry and uninteresting. Write in language that judges will understand, so take out acronyms and jargon that could confuse them. Don’t overload judges with unnecessary information.

Tell them what you learnt

Specifying what you discovered along the way will endear your entry to some judges; after all, they’ll want to learn something too. 

Include materials

Include visuals and other relevant documents to help your cause. But don’t rely on them! Technical issues may prevent them from being viewed, or they might simply be overlooked by judges.

If you’d like to chat about how to win an award, do drop me a line. Or if you'd simply like to discuss how to better market your training or information service, drop me a line on our contacts page.

 

The events guide for learning marketers

In-person events are back! Learning Live kicked off the autumn 2021 L&D events season. Over the next year, there are a host of events that training, digital learning and edtech companies can engage with L&D decision-makers. with virtual events still playing an important role. For learning services and technologies, events offer an important opportunity to meet L&D decision-makers.

To help you navigate the right events for your organisation, we've published a calendar of events to identify marketing opportunities for training, edtech and training services.  

To keep up with changes, register for updates on our contact us form.

Event  Date       Venue   Hashtag
Learning Live  8-9 September 2021 Etc Venues, Houndsditch, London #LEARNINGLIVE
Learning and Development World Congress 11-15 October 2021 Virtual  
CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition   3-4 November 2021 Manchester Central and online  
Online Educa Berlin (OEB) 1-3 December 2021 Hotel InterContinental in Berlin #OEB21
World of Learning Summit (TBC took place Dec 2020)    
Learning Technologies 9-10 February 2022  ExCeL London #LT22UK
The Learning Awards 17 February 2022  London Hilton on Park Lane #learningawards
Training and Development Summit 16 and 17 May 2022  Whittlebury Park, Northampton and virtual  #TrainingSummit
CIPD Festival of Work 15-16 June 2022  London Olympia  

 

Are you an organiser of events for the learning community? Use the contact us form if you'd like your event included or to let us know of any updates. This is provided on an information-only basis. Please check the event organiser's website for the most up-to-date information.

How to get the most out of events

 At Achieve B2B Marketing we advise starting with your objectives. These may be getting your brand noticed. It might be positioning a colleague as a thought leader. It might be lead generation. It may be many things, so consider your marketing objectives when planning events. During 2021/2022 there will be a mixture of virtual, blended and physical events. All have advantages and disadvantages.  

Here are some of the services Achieve B2B Marketing provides for learning companies participating in events:

  • Pre-event - objective setting, activity identification, participation promotion, stand set-up, presentation preparation, marketing collateral
  • During the event - social media support, competitor analysis
  • After the event - targeting prospects (stand and presentation attendees)

Do contact us if you'd like to discuss how to get the most out of your event attendance.

How to plan content marketing for training and edtech

Doug MarshallAchieve B2B MD Doug Marshall explains how to create a content marketing programme that will be valued by your buyers.

Imagine you’re a buyer of learning services or technology. You've got a big decision to make. It could affect your company’s success and your career too.

So well before you speak to anyone in sales you’ll want to do your research. There's probably one thing on your mind: Trust.

If you have commercial responsibilities in a company providing training, digital learning or edtech, your brand and people will need the trust of buyers. So how can your learning brand build trust?  A clue lies in this Gartner prediction:

Eighty per cent of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025.

Relevant, informative, and educational content plays an important role in building this trust. Great content marketing can be transformational for brand reputation and lead conversions. I've led marketing strategy for many learning brands, and I've seen how good content marketing builds trust and generates leads. 

Here are four considerations when putting together a content marketing programme for training, elearning, and edtech services.

Prepare learning content that your audience will share on social media

Make your content so interesting and insightful that it will be shared on social media, using relevant hashtags and handles.

Your audience is more likely to engage with real people than your corporate social media account. Also, your content will much more likely be shared when it answers customers’ questions. So for both of these reasons involve customer-facing colleagues when choosing subjects. What's going to interest prospects and customers? What will resonate so much they'll want to share with their peers?

Involving colleagues in content marketing will help ensure they share content - so keep colleagues informed of what content is being published with a marketing calendar that you proactively promote. If you're an admin for your LinkedIn page there's a nice feature that enables you to 'Notify Employees' which sends a message to colleagues. So keep in mind both your colleagues, who can post and share your content and customers who will engage with it. 

Optimise your learning content marketing

Google logoYou’ll want to make sure that your content has a positive impact on your website’s overall SEO. To do this create content using targeted keywords to attract visitors to your website, although be careful not to overuse them as this can be offputting for readers. There are many tools to determine which keywords to target. Here are three which I've found helpful
Semrush features a tool that tells how many searches are made on relevant keywords.

Ask the public collates, tracks and alerts you to the questions being asked on Google.

Moz includes tools to help you identify the difficulty of getting your search term to the top of SERPs.

Consider how you can get valuable inbound links from trusted external websites. One way to do this is to research and identify relevant websites that would feature your content, and in doing so provide a backlink to yours.

Many CMSs have SEO plug-ins to help you optimise pages. I like the Yoast SEO tool for WordPress and Joomla sites that I manage, as it proactively guides me to complete tags. As well as populating meta tags Include a meta description for your page. Although it doesn’t affect Google’s algorithms it will appear in many search results, prompting readers to click through to your content.

Make sure content marketing for learning brands is useful

Create content that will really help your prospect. Ask some customers what content is going to really help them in their job. Don’t restrict yourself to the usual types of content. The most useful content can simply be a checklist. Someone I knew built their lead generation on offering really useful templated contracts. Providing a glossary can be extremely helpful to people new to an industry, (they’re great for SEO too).

Also, consider your customers’ customers. What would your customers like to know about their customers? What invaluable insights could you bring? Surveys of customers’ customers are highly useful. Content about future trends has been shown to be valued by C-suite audiences.

Identify how to make content marketing purposeful

When planning content, consider its purpose. Ask what the end result is. To do this consider the business conversations your company needs to have with prospects to win specific work. This can guide you on the subject, media, channel, and audience that will have the most impact.

Soup stands for shareable, optimised, useful and purposefulPublish content for each stage of decision-making. Think about what actions you’d like prospects to take and design a CTA around that. Infographics and short videos are going to be more relevant for awareness activity. Webinars and thought leadership documents are likely to be more relevant later once your prospects trust you with their contact details.

From writing a blog to editing a video, organising a webinar to creating a guide, content marketing takes time and resources. It’s therefore important to do content marketing well so you get a good return on your time and money.

Remember these key elements of good content marketing - keep it shareable, optimised, useful and purposeful, or SOUP for short. Your colleagues in sales will be thankful that you’ve built trust in your brand and people - and so will that L&D buyer.

If you'd like a free consultation on how to improve content marketing for your learning brand drop us a line or give us a call, we'd love to hear from you!

Dos and Don'ts of Marketing Technology

How can you maximise the effectiveness of marketing technology? My experience tells me it’s by hiring and developing the right people:

Here are some dos and don'ts from my time as both an agency and in-house marketer.

DO

✅ Enable specialists to use the same technology frequently. I've seen how the more involved and invested marketers are in using specific technology, the more enthusiastic and inventive they become in using it.

✅ When budgeting for technology, factor in partnerships. Vendors seldomly provide sufficient support and more complex technologies will require roll-out partners.

✅ Test how intuitive the technology is for easier adoption. Ask potential users to do this so they buy in to the testing process.

shutterstock 718346401 5✅ Work with vendors who have a proven track record of helping users. Be sure of the support and training they provide and the quality of online tutorials. That means asking their customers searching questions

DON'T

❌ Invest heavily in technology and then lightly on the people to make it work.

❌ Overinvest in bells and whistles. It makes adoption harder and can be a waste of money. For some of my SME clients, Mailchimp is a perfectly good solution for email marketing alone, whereas for others, rolling out Hubspot and Marketo has been more appropriate.

Martech is one of many B2B Marketing subjects I discuss with Peter Sumption in episode 153 of his excellent Marketing Study Lab Podcast. We also discuss the importance of talking to customers, the differences between B2C and B2B marketing. Check out the podcast on Spotify and all other good podcast providers.

Doug Marshall portrait 1  Doug Marshall

  Achieve B2B Marketing

Five actions to improve your B2B marketing in 2021

Meet some customers

A previous boss once included this in my annual plan. What a great idea! It forced me out of the office to have conversations with real customers. I learned loads. such as why some customers wouldn't adopt eLearning. The answer - because their perception of elearning was watching someone staring at a camera, talking for an hour. In a business selling training services, that kind of feedback was invaluable. Telling real-life customer stories always gives marketers better credibility with client-facing colleagues and can lead to more meaningful internal conversations. So hop on Zoom and start some conversations with customers.

Make a plan 

You may be thinking ‘We don’t do annual plans anymore, we don’t know what we’re doing in 12 days, let alone 12 months.' Long term planning in the middle of a pandemic might seem especially challenging, even irrelevant right now. But targets don't disappear, and you'll still need to explain your forecast for next year’s budget. So use the opportunity of a long term plan to take a step back from your business. As Rory Sutherland says in his book 'Alchemy': ask yourself some ‘apparently fatuous’ questions. Like ‘why are we in this business?’ Check if your value proposition still stacks up. Scrutinise your right to win in your market. Find out if you have the right skills. I’m a big fan of working in an agile way as well, but you don't have to choose between the two. 

Ask this question

A great question to ask yourself and colleagues is ‘so what?’ You’ve got 50,000 Twitter followers, so what? You had 700 people attend your webinar, so what? Say it nicely so it doesn’t sound rude. But after a while, your colleagues will get the hint. So what? It means, how is this helping the business, how is it getting us to forecast, how is it building customer loyalty? So for example, next time you hold a webinar make sure there’s a plan for before, during, and after it. What’s the hook in the webinar that will make a conversion? Maybe it’s a workshop that leads to a sales call. Think CTA and keep asking so what? until you really understand how tactics will lead to the company achieving its goals.

Use SOUP for content

Content marketing is an essential tactic in B2B marketing, but it needs to be well-planned. I've devised 'SOUP' to remember four key rules for content marketing. Soup stands for

  • Shareable - make your content so useful that prospects will want to share it on social media.
  • Optimised -  make sure users can find it in Google (but without the keyword stuffing)
  • Useful - create content that will really help your prospect. 
  • Purposeful - what’s the next step for the user, is there a CTA?

Be aligned with your sales team

Win yourself fans in your sales team by doing some research on social selling and share what you've learned. Some salespeople may feel unprepared for the world of LinkedIn engagements and Twitter lists. So if they need some help, show them their SSI score. Then, suggest a chat to identify prospects, develop rapport, and build a pipeline on social media in a way that colleagues feel comfortable and get value. Want to know more about social selling? Drop us a line on our Contacts Page and we'll describe how to build a social selling programme in your business. 

Doug Marshall portrait 1Doug Marshall
Achieve B2B Marketing

Five influencers that edtech and learning services marketers should follow

If you’re responsible for marketing edtech, training, or elearning services you need to stay up to date on both L&D and marketing. Here are my five top recommendations for who to follow in 2021 to keep yourself informed.

Nick Shackleton-Jones

If you’re a business owner or marketer of learning services you’ll want a big say in product development. Shackleton-Jones’ 2019 book ‘How People Learn’ offers fascinating perspectives on how providers can make learning more effective. If you want to challenge learning myths and help your organisation develop training services that really work, Shackleton-Jones is a must to follow on Twitter.

Mark Ritson

There are many reasons to follow the Marketing Week columnist and brand consultant. His videos on LinkedIn help marketers better understand complex marketing concepts. Plus there’s a bonus, you’ll have aLearning Now TV great example of how to market learning services using social media and video. Ritson actively engages with comments, and his videos are great content marketing - useful whilst being easily digestible. 

LearningNow TV

Presented by L&D experts Nigel Paine and Kate Graham, LearningNow TV provides a magazine-type show that offers brilliant and timely insights on the world of L&D with interesting guests. To better understand your L&D customers and the sector generally, follow them on Twitter to catch the programme each month.

Donald H Taylor

The Learning and Performance Institute's chair publishes his annual L&D Global Sentiment Survey. It takes the pulse of the L&D community world-wide by asking. “What will be hot in workplace L&D next year?” Follow Donald and check out the results for 2021 to have more informed conversations with customers.

ON24

Webinars will continue to be an important tool to engage prospects in 2021. As a software service, ON24 is a cobbler with polished shoes with great webinars on, well how to do great webinars. Brilliant presenter Mark Bornstein offers a masterclass on webinar presentation by, you’ve guessed it, presenting great webinars on how to produce great webinars.

Keep up to date with how to market your edtech and learning services in 2021 by following Achieve B2B Marketing on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Why your marketing needs to be less rational to understand customers

There’s a false assumption in market research that customers are rational beings, conscious of all their feelings and actions. As advertising legend David Ogilvy stated ‘The trouble with market research is that people don’t think what they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say.’ 

Rory Sutherland's 2019 book  ‘Alchemy, The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense’ offers many insights to help business leaders and B2B marketers better understand their customers. Sutherland argues that if you look at customers through a less rational lens you may be able to understand them better. 

Uncover your customers’ unconscious motivations

A great example that Sutherland quotes is Uber. Research on their consumers’ rational needs might have focussed solely on the need for a speedy service rather than less rational, often unconscious motivations. But Uber's real genius is the reduction of anxiety when waiting for a cab. Unlike a phone-booked minicab, you’re not anxiously looking at your watch, uncertain of where your car is. With Uber, it’s there on your mobile, a little animated car on your screen, just two minutes away and coming down the road! So how do you better uncover unconscious motivations in your organisation? Sutherland has a suggestion: Create an atmosphere in your company where people can ask apparently fatuous questions. Asking for example what people hate about taxis might reveal their anxiety about waiting, rather than other more rational issues such as speed and price.

Ask apparently fatuous questions

archieveb2bmarketing 4Let’s take education technology and learning services as an example, an area where I provide marketing services. What would happen if you asked more 'apparently fatuous' questions such as ‘why do people want to learn?’

Recently I’ve seen great examples of companies growing learning services whose focus didn’t seem to follow traditional thinking that the rational, conscious motivation for learning is solely to improve job prospects.

FutureLearn, for example, has tapped into learners' desire for social learning by enabling users to exchange ideas. FutureLearn says it wants to create a learning environment ‘more like a chat with friends about your ideas and what you’ve learned.’

Tap into gamification

Language learning specialist Duolingo puts much of their global success down to the company's gamification strategy, created to keep users returning to the service. I know from my two of my extended family, how Duolingo cleverly creates competition amongst users which acts as a highly effective learning motivator.

The truth is there’s more than one answer for why people want to learn, and it might not be the answer a delegate gives on the feedback form. Asking more creative questions can lead to a better understanding of the real value of your business or learning service.

By better understanding unconscious motivations, you can be better armed to ensure your communications and the product itself offers real value for your customer.

Like this article? Discover how to improve your B2B marketing 2021.

Doug Marshall portrait 1Doug Marshall

Achieve B2B Marketing

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Want to talk about your challenges with B2B marketing?

Achieving success often starts with great questions

At Achieve B2B Marketing we’ll ask you where you want to get to and discover the best way to get there. Book an appointment with Achieve B2B Marketing today.

Call: 07961 127655

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