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The Savvy B2B Marketers’ Guide To Mastering Highly Technical Industries

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B2B  /  Research

Developing a fresh partnership with a new client is an exciting time for both the agency and client alike, but it also might mean ramping up on an unfamiliar industry. Similarly, the client may be diving into unfamiliar marketing territory. It’s essential for the agency team to absorb, learn and embrace the client’s business quickly in order to deliver stellar client service.

Master Highly Technical Content in 1,2,3…
Get the goods from the client. Try the product and get to know it inside and out. This might not always be possible depending on the industry, but there may be a workaround such as touring a manufacturing plant, interviewing a product engineer or speaking with a customer.

This also should include getting any current product catalogs, corporate history books, white papers, case studies, media kits, etc. Digest the information carefully and get a feel for recurring themes, language style and their approach to reaching customers today. These client deliverables should help the agency understand how the client perceives themselves – which can be invaluable for the agency team.

On top of that, ask for a current competitors list, and make sure you know whom any soon-to-be competitors may be. Then, examine those brands by checking out their products, reading reviews, studying their newsrooms and reviewing their social sites.

It may be important to address the following questions of their competitors to fine-tune the examination process:

  • What are their key messages?
  • Are they rocking in social?
  • Is their content marketing up to par such as covering trade shows and addressing industry trends while avoiding marketing speak, etc.?
  • Are they leveraging the latest online tactics such as retargeting, SCHEMA, etc.?
  • Did the press cover their latest products?

Now that you’ve got a little dirt on the competitors, you should have a more critical eye for the client. So, by now you should have a sense of your client’s products and how they stack up against the competition, but how do customers and the industry perceive them?

Use these FREE and paid, quick and easy TIPS and TOOLS for getting in on the down low:

  • Check out these helpful tools to scour what others are saying on many of the most popular social sites, forums, blogs and news sites:
    • talkwalker alerts (Free): Looking for a reliable alternative to replace your love/hate relationship with Google Alerts? Get brand based mentions from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online news sites and YouTube with this free service that sends email alerts and/or updates to your RSS feed reader.
    • Mention (Free & Paid – Economical): One of my favorites. Mention is able to monitor the entire web including social networks in 42 languages. The free service is a little limited with only delivering up to 100 mentions a month, but the slick interface, advanced analysis and collaborative features such as assigning social tasks, sharing alerts and great options for teams beats out much of the competition for the price. A huge plus is the ability to view the same interface on your mobile device via apps for iOS, Android and Chrome – making monitoring on the fly seamless.
    • rankur (Free & Paid – Economical): rankur is similar to Mention in how it gathers and delivers social and news alerts but it does offer more alerts or mentions per month with the free plan. However, it does lack some of the conveniences that Mention offers such as mobile apps to catch items on the go and an as intuitive interface.
    • Brandwatch (Paid): While Brandwatch may price out small business, it does offer great tools for those with a bigger budget. This amped-up version of Mention and rankur offers a surplus of tools and is best designed for a digital team that can utilize all of its nifty features such as workflow, assigning mentions, customized displays, etc. This program also does a great job cutting through the clutter and delivering results that are spam and advert free.
    • Sysomos MAP & Heartbeat (Paid): Another favorite. The two separate, but complementary products offer a robust platform to gather data and conversation, analyze it and spit it out into reports that help you get a handle on sentiment, metrics, topics, themes, demographics, competitors and more. It may be on the higher end of the price scale, but I think you get what you pay for.
    • Social Mention (Free): Looking for a free, quick snapshot without all the bells and whistles? Social Mention might be the trick. It may be on the weaker end, but it can provide you with a decent aggregation of real-time mentions while sharing additional insight such as sentiment, top keywords and power users.
    • Trackur (Paid): This social media monitoring platform offers three plans tailored to fit your marketing budget while providing unlimited mentions with influence and sentiment metrics.
  • Find the social thought leaders by using WeFollow to discover prominent users by industry or interests. This should help you uncover the latest trends, discussions and commentary amongst the influencer crowd.
  • Read up on the latest industry news from Facebook, Twitter and blogs with LikeHack, which is curated by real experts in the field. Discover what issues your client should address and how they can get in on the action.
  • Use the often-forgot query search of “Company X vs.” and let Google fill in the blank. This should share who and what publications, forum members and Google are putting them up against.
  • Get a recent media list from the client and view the publications’ editorial calendars. Might sound old school, but you’re about to get schooled in what the industry is talking about for the next year.
  • Uncover trends, relevant trade shows and industry happenings by researching pertinent organizations and trade associations.
    • Yahoo Directory may be a little old school, but it has a great list of some of the most popular – from the Children’s Book Council to the American Gas Association.
    • Google Trends offers an awesome way to measure search interest of a brand or topic over time and geographically. For example, you can view a search term’s popularity over time and across regions to give you insight on where customer bases are growing, shrinking and staying stagnant. Check out “Subway” – fun way to see how one of the fastest growing franchises takes over the world.

Read. Digest. Synthesize.

You may feel a bet overwhelmed with information overload, but you’ll start to notice a recurrence of industry lingo, business trends and the state of your client’s field – helping you look like an industry insider during project kickoff.

© olly – Fotolia
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2 Comments

  1. 40deuce on February 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks so much for the kind words and recommendation of our Sysomos software!!

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Marketwired

  2. Stephen Anderson on February 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Outstanding. How to become an authority on almost any subject all contained within a single blog post. This advice flat out works and can establish almost anyone as a relatively instant authority with the ability to back up that claim in the work that we do for our clients. Perfect.

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