Chris Koch

9 attributes of the best thought leadership content

Chris Koch

It’s best to address a problem before customers realize that it’s a problem. Some time back, I blogged about the attributes of a thought leader. Lately, I’ve been talking to B2B marketers about the content delivered by these thought leaders and asking, What defines good thought leadership content? Here’s what I have so far. Surely, you have a suggestion that will get us to ten attributes? Visionary. Provocative. The best thought leadership pieces are bold and attack conventional wisdom.

Best 91

What the slow death of B2B publishing means for marketers

Chris Koch

Though most respondents in our How Customers Choose research said the quality of their providers’ thought leadership was pretty good, nearly 40% said it could be better. Existing customers are also looking for new ideas.

Trending Sources

The last of the anti-social marketing tactics

Chris Koch

Taglines are the last bastions of a classic, one-way marketing messaging strategy, preserving marketing’s perceived right to tell customers what to think. In truth, customers have never listened, except in a few cases of companies with the budget muscle to pound the tagline into customers’ heads over and over again though mass marketing and TV.

7 reasons why social media success has nothing to do with social media

Chris Koch

You have to tweet ideas for solving customers’ problems. This week I was asked to speak on a panel about social media to a group of B2B marketers in financial services. It was great getting the perspective of marketers outside of technology. But they call it “financial services” for a reason: They have all of the same struggles as technology services companies—with the added complication of tons of regulatory requirements.

The Rise of the Customer Marketer

Explore the changes taking place in customer marketing from the perspective of customer marketers themselves

Four reasons to hate thought leadership

Chris Koch

But thought leadership is supposed to be the antidote to the stuff that we (and, more important, customers) dismiss as collateral. What customers are looking for are good ideas, not content. You may have noticed that I’ve changed the name of my blog. I’ve changed it for two reasons. First, because I’ve left ITSMA and joined SAP , where I will focus on marketing the good ideas of the many subject matter experts there.

Media 59

6 lessons on how NOT to market to customers

Chris Koch

Sure, healthcare knows how to sell drugs, but in terms of preparing the customer for the experience of service delivery, fuggedaboudit. Here are some examples: Educate the customer—or don’t. Many of us in B2B can be proud of how we educate our customers and prospects on the business issues they face—from current regulatory changes to future “sea changes.” Oh wait, right… Whatever you do, don’t let the customer meet the people who will actually be doing the work.

B2B 49

3 ways to link marketing to revenue without metrics

Chris Koch

Marketers tell me that if they can get salespeople to even send the thing to prospects and customers they’re happy. We need to create talking points for salespeople to use when communicating to customers and prospects, and we need to find ways to integrate salespeople into the content development and dissemination processes from the start. I’m looking forward to our annual ITSMA spring road trip.

Link 56

Eight attributes of a thought leader

Chris Koch

Our prospects and customers want us to cut through the noise of social media just as they’ve wanted us to cut through the noise of every other communications channel that came before. Their rapport with customers extends to a genuine, ego-free interest in the problems those customers face. Social media are growing up. The initial thrill of connecting to a bunch of peers that we’ve never met is giving way to the desire to get something useful out of those connections.

Media 55

Customer Success and Marketing Alignment: The Key to Unlocking Customer Advocacy

Most B2B companies say the customer experience is a priority, but their teams are not prepared or coordinated enough to make this a reality

The prerequisite to effective social media: the idea organization

Chris Koch

In other words, unless we become idea organizations, we’re not going to have much to say to customers, prospects, and influencers in social media. One company has created an internal portal where project members submit ideas that are vetted and voted on by the project customers. Can you start to see that by creating these idea development processes, it becomes much easier for companies to engage in social media conversations that will impress customers and influencers?

4 Reasons Why Facebook Stinks for B2B Marketing

Chris Koch

It’s yet another channel for reaching customers and the effort required to set up a Facebook page and create RSS feeds of your content to update it is pretty small. Recently, I was preparing a workshop on social media for an ITSMA client. The marketer in charge of the company’s social media effort gave me a clear edict: “Look, I don’t want you focusing on Facebook, okay? We don’t see the value of it for B2B and we want it off the table.

2011: The year of personal brands

Chris Koch

But who’s thinking about the customer here? What about the customer’s view? But looking at it all from a customer’s perspective, I think Forrester looks better being a legacy on a star’s personal blog than having a star that leaves a void in content upon leaving. This is the year that the personal brand begins to do battle with the corporate brand. I think we need to let the personal brand win—especially in B2B.

15 things marketers should stop doing and thinking in 2011

Chris Koch

The ultimate risk in business is that your customers stop buying from you because they don’t trust you. Preventing employees from speaking to customers because they might make a mistake ignores this much bigger risk—which existed long before social media came along. Customers want to speak to the people they will be working with. Plus, it can make both employees and customers happier than they are now.

B2B 51

Marketing’s golden opportunity in innovation

Chris Koch

Social media aren’t even just for facilitating conversation and customer relationships. Innovation is becoming more external to companies and more social. When Netflix’s internal engineers struggled to get more than incremental improvements in the company’s movie matching algorithm, the company put the problem to the internet and crowdsourced a 10% leap in accuracy (of course, it didn’t hurt that they offered a million dollar prize).

B2B 48

Why you need to turn your customers into stalkers

Chris Koch

We have individual salespeople making calls and we have marketers establishing deeper relationships with existing customers through intimate channels like reference programs and customer advisory councils. At ITSMA , we’ve been busy preparing for our annual State of the Marketing Profession briefing next Tuesday. It’s where we introduce some of the top findings from our annual budget survey of marketers. But we don’t like to just parrot the numbers from the survey.

Stats 38

How do you know when you’ve reached the next level in social media?

Chris Koch

I speak to many regulated B2B companies who (still) don’t believe their employees can engage in uncontrolled conversations with customers and prospects. I was thrilled to run a social media workshop this week with a large B2B technology and services provider (and ITSMA member). The great thing about the experience was that this company is already doing social media.

Why salespeople should sell ideas: an FAQ

Chris Koch

Every B2B company has subject matter experts (SMEs) who are working with customers to solve problems and have deep backgrounds in customers’ processes, industries, and functions. How do I get these ideas in a form I can use with customers? Great, so you want me to dump a bunch of whitepapers on my customers? No, you have to work with marketing to get those ideas translated into a form you can use with customers—whether that be idea salescards, demos, etc.

FAQ 36

Where is the utility in mobile apps for B2B?

Chris Koch

For customers in this realm, I think utility has long meant access to their peers and to expert advice during the purchasing and post-sales processes. The utility would be in making that easier to do than it is now (going to vendors for customer references, calling up their networks of peers for recommendations and advice, sifting through analyst reports and trade magazines, going to trade association events).

Media 31

Why Can’t Companies Be More Like the Iroquois?

Chris Koch

Each tribe had its own language, customs, and culture. There’s no discussion of whether what I’ve published is of good quality or could be helpful to a customer – it’s all about fear and power. Customers are demanding that we deal with them in a unified, cross-channel fashion.

How to get employees involved in social media: focus on ideas

Chris Koch

External: Customer councils. Many marketers involved in social media management tell me that they struggle to get their subject matter experts engaged in social media. But focusing solely on engagement is the wrong goal. What we should be talking about instead is getting those experts involved in creating ideas. In an interview this week with Stephanie Tilton (thanks, Stephanie!)

B2B 38

I have seen the future of B2B marketing. It’s on Forbes.

Chris Koch

I’m especially fond of the effect it has on my colleagues in SAP marketing: they understand that they no longer need to pitch products to get the attention of customers and prospects. Our group’s mandate is to research the business issues that SAP’s customers and prospects care about and write exclusively about those issues—not our products and services. That’s because customers and prospects actually come to the Forbes site and read our stuff.

The 2 questions on every buyer’s mind

Chris Koch

Consultant Fred Reichheld didn’t invent the concept of customer loyalty, but by identifying the marker for it, he changed how many companies approach managing customer loyalty. Marketing and sales must agree on the alignment of content to the various buying stages so that sales will get the right signals about when and how to approach customers for a sale. At any moment in time, C-level executives are looking for answers to two questions: What should I be doing right now?

How to use social media for B2B

Chris Koch

Take an active role in social media by engaging with customers and influencers in the various forums where conversations are taking place. By pushing SMEs to engage with the target audience in these ways, you help them build up trust and loyalty among customers and prospects.

Stop doing PR. Start doing visibility.

Chris Koch

That’s why increasingly, PR is going to become a matter of simply allowing your subject matter experts to be found rather than enlisting armies of PR people to try to force journalists and customers to find those subject matter experts. But it does mean removing PR people from their traditional role as gate keepers between subject matter experts and influencers and customers. Push them to get lots of peer and customer recommendations and connections.

PR 30

Thought leadership is still dead; long live idea marketing

Chris Koch

Regardless, it’s a twist on an old consultant’s trick: Gain attention and credibility with press, customers, and influencers by creating your own definition, which gives you the ability to insert the “what we call x…” phrase into descriptions of otherwise basic things. The education is the exchange of value that begins a relationship between the customer and the deliverer—whether that deliverer is a salesperson, a marketer, or a subject matter expert.

Should we stop marketing to the CIO?

Chris Koch

With speeds and feeds no longer relevant, marketers must get the attention of customers through ideas about how to improve business services rather than technology comparisons. Without the IT hairball to lock providers and customers together in a death embrace, the barriers to switching providers will come down.

Is Twitter “social?”

Chris Koch

For these reasons, pundits say that Twitter isn’t much use for reaching B2B customers. Many say that marketers are a different breed than “customers,” and what works for marketers won’t translate to the B2B world in general. Majority opinion seems to be that Twitter isn’t really a social platform it’s a broadcast medium.

Sports Analogies Suck, Right?

Chris Koch

The example I’m about to give focuses on the fact that if you think of sports fans as business customers, they are the most loyal in the world. For example, what customer do you know of that would be willing to sit for hours in sub-zero temperatures just to get your product (okay, maybe Apple fans do that somewhere, but other than that, it works.

Is the era of PR over?

Chris Koch

First, let’s define what PR means from the perspective of the customer (i.e., a journalist) and the customer’s customer (i.e., Your customer hates and avoids you. These aren’t the people you want talking to influencers and customers. And customers never read the releases. In B2B, that’s not going to build relationships with customers.

13 questions about social media and thought leadership

Chris Koch

Ideas that educate customers and prospects about important business and technology issues and help them solve those issues—without selling. Companies and customers and prospects will have a more continuous relationship than they do today. Earlier this week I participated in one of MarketingProfs’ TechChats (just do a Twitter search on the #TechChat hashtag to find the dialogue).

There is only one objective in social media: create learning networks

Chris Koch

Companies that made commodity products would tell me with straight faces that even their financial processes were unique—GAAP be damned—and that they needed to customize their software to fit “our ways of doing things.” You need to build an internal network that focuses on identifying internal thought leaders and building alliances with external academics and customers who can help develop and test ideas.

Eight reasons to monitor social media and a list of tools for doing it

Chris Koch

Social media monitoring is a way to figure out what’s being said about your brand and reveals opportunities for engaging in conversations with customers and influencers. Furthermore, a vanity search cannot distinguish whether what’s being said about your brand is coming from a blogger with 2000 readers that include your most important customers or from a grad student whose RSS feed goes to his Mom.

Why marketers must become the new publishers

Chris Koch

Marketers need to talk to subject matter experts inside the company, influencers outside the company (analysts, academics, bloggers, journalists), and customers. Marketers need the same feedback from customers and from salespeople. One of the great trends were seeing at ITSMA is increased automation of the lead process. It’s great because the software acts as a battering ram for alignment between marketing and sales.

How to Grab Readers’ Attention: Be Counterintuitive

Chris Koch

But research by my colleague Stephanie Overby has found that the real workhorse driving increased customization of manufactured goods on the production line is the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine. Have you tried the counter intuitive approach in your writing for customers?

The power of self-regulation in customer relationships

Chris Koch

And he aims to give away (as in free) as many services to his customers as possible. The bowl represents the lifetime value of the customer. When a customer needs something small, like a nut or bolt, Zane trains his staff (and training is important) to just give them away.

Have you created a waking dream for your customers?

Chris Koch

Another company is using automated algorithms to seek out and deliver targeted customer and competitive intelligence to salespeople—on a daily basis! Image via Wikipedia.

Why the volume and quality of interactions with customers has to pass for social media ROI

Chris Koch

So if you buy that leap of logic, let’s say that blogs are another channel, like PR, in a marketing mix designed to familiarize customers and prospects with our companies and us. Here are some metrics, mostly for blogs, that help build engagement with customers and prospects.


In social media, no one knows you’re an introvert

Chris Koch

How can we help customers be extroverts? Those numbers look bad, but we have to think of them from our customers’ perspectives. I think for marketers, the issue is less about whether our customers will be more extroverted online—they already are. Image via Wikipedia.

How to build emotional engagement in B2B marketing

Chris Koch

That’s what has led to the horrific vocabulary of mindless marketing speak that makes us utter things like “demonstrable value” with straight faces while deluding ourselves that it leaves an impression on customers.

B2B 2