Want to win a free, 6-month online B2B lead generation campaign?

Tlogohis afternoon, 451 Marketing officially announced the launch of the B2B Social Contest. The contest, open to companies that sell a business-to-business product or service,  will award a free, 6-month online lead generation campaign (a $42,000 value) to the company that best articulates how and why social media will help its business grow.

The contest will run from June 1, 2009 through September 1, 2009. B2B companies that wish to enter the contest must, in an e-mail, describe their company, its mission, product or service, what differentiates their company from competitors, and why and how they think social media marketing will positively impact their B2B business. Upon receipt,  e-mail submissions will be posted on The B2B Social Contest Blog.

Companies are encouraged to ask their clients, friends, and colleagues to comment on their company’s post. On September 1, 2009, 451 Marketing will tally the total number of comments each post received over the course of the 3 month contest. The five posts with the most comments will be considered finalists, and 451 Marketing will select the winner from this pool.

If you have any questions about the submission, nomination or selection process, feel free to reach us at B2Bsocial@451marketing.com, or on Twitter (@451Heat). Thanks and good luck!

Our Interview with "Scalable Intimacy's" Mike Troiano

For the latest edition of HEAT, we picked the brain of one of our favorite social media gurus, Mike Troiano (@MikeTrap), to find a little bit more about how he has made the transition from “varsity ad guy” to popular social media branding blogger at http://scalableintimacy.com/. Mike, currently based in the Boston suburbs, is constantly providing his readers and followers with insights into how brands should operate in a “social” online environment (my favorite tip from Mike: “Brands on Twitter that don’t follow you back might as well stick to print. Or draw on caves”).

Read on for Mike’s thoughts on how social media can help brands build scalable and intimate relationships, the “socialization” of B2B marketing, and the importance of maintaining a stable “buzz” at the social media cocktail party.mike

451: You have a extensive background of experience working in the ad business. When did you realize that you wanted to make the shift into digital marketing and found Ogilvy & Mather Interactive? Actually, was it your choice?

MT: No, that one actually wasn’t. I was working for Martin Sorrell at the time as a kind of troubleshooter, and he sent me in to fix “a problem at Ogilvy with American Express.” The solution to that problem became O&MI.

451: When you first started the interactive side of the agency I bet you never could have anticipated that the Internet would look like it does today, littered with social media technologies. Am I wrong? Did you anticipate that this would eventually be the web’s next big progression?

MT: Looking back, the signposts were there. It was obvious to us that e-mail and chat were the real engines of AOL, not the “professional” content. But did I envision that leading to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter et al? No way.

451: So tell me a little bit about where you are now, and how you are attempting to make sense of the shift in the way that we all interact with brands and media. Are you 100% invested/convinced in the viability of the social Web to be the central focus of marketing for the foreseeable future?

MT: Yes. I would go so far as to say that while the move to digital media was incremental, the move to social is transformational. At the risk of sounding like a pretentious geek… we’ve reached the end of the broadcast-dominant paradigm. Brands need to make the leap and engage to stay relevant, or – eventually – they’re going to dry up and blow away.

451: You do a great job describing your blog and overall thesis of social media marketing on your blog’s “Manifesto,” but can you give us a high-level overview of what you mean by “Scalable Intimacy” as it relates to social media?

MT: Scalable Intimacy is how I think about the true promise of social media… to enable brands to build the kind of “intimate” relationships that are only possible with authentic dialogue, on a “scale” sufficient to impact the operating results of the enterprise. That’s it.

451: That overview should segue nicely into a question about your blog post on engagement vs. activation. In essence, is the ROI of effective social media quantifiable in measurements like sales, response rates, signups, etc? Could we aggregate all of that and just say, “qualified leads?”

MT: It goes beyond sales and beyond leads. Activation might enable a brand to answer a critically important product question in a timely fashion, or reduce their unit customer service response cost, or grasp the external reality in a way that influences their business strategy. It depends on the business goal, really. Engagement is about creating the means; Activation is about delivering the end.

451: Do you have any examples of companies that have effectively developed marketing content online that is engaging enough to drive a good amount of activation?

MT: The usual suspects… JetBlue, Dell, Zappos, all do both to one extent or another. HubSpot offering a free SEO audit to people who visit it’s content-crammed blog… that’s activation. Tony Robbins interspersing product promo with inspirational messages on Twitter is another. Chris Brogan using his online influence to drive attendance at his shows… It’s everywhere, I think, at least among people who seem to know what they’re doing.

451: It is typically harder for the B2B marketer to be “social” with their brand. Have you found that the social web opens up opportunities for these marketers that may not have existed before?

MT: I guess. If you’ve ever been to a B2B trade show, you know there’s a strong social component in meatspace. When a critical mass of decision-makers in those industries are on the social nets – as is inevitable – it will happen there as well.

451: Where do you see this all going in the next 5-10 years, and what will the typical brand manager/marketer look like?

MT: Wish I knew. What I do know, though, is that brand managers will start to look a lot more like sales guys, and a lot less like MBA-types. It’s time to get dirty and go sell some sh*t. Old school.

451: Lastly, riffing off the “social media is a cocktail party” analogy. What if you’re a brand that has a “drinking problem,” likes to take things to the next level, and is often too edgy or over-the-top? Do you play in the social media marketing sandbox too and risk doing something controversial, or do you stay out?

MT: Social media is about doing stuff that’s worthy of attention. If the attention you get is negative, adjust your behavior. Most attention is good, though – just don’t be more “drunk” than the people you hang out with.

Mike Troiano is the founding CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Interactive and an established tech venture entrepreneur. Currently, Mike serves on the board of Crimson Hexagon, a Cambridge-based technology company that distills meaning from the online conversation. Read his professional blog at http://scalableintimacy.com/ and check out his personal blog at http://troiano.me/

Boston Globe: Increasingly, marketing isn't just one-way street

The Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner ran a terrific piece in Sunday’s paper about the emergence of the “new” approach to marketing that we continue to embrace– non-interruption based, inbound marketing. The piece specifically mentions how Boston-based companies (and individuals) have pioneered this shift, and will continue to foster it’s progression.

Here is the link to the article and the text is below:

/2009/04/26/increasingly_marketing_isnt_just_one_way_street/?page=1

Increasingly, marketing isn’t just one-way street

April 26, 2009

The Boston Globe

By Scott Kirsner

Is advertising dying – and Madison Avenue just hasn’t realized it yet?

Some influential writers, ex-agency executives, and consultants in Boston are making the case that a major change in the way companies sell things is taking place – and that most businesses and their marketing partners aren’t yet aware of it. Instead of interrupting you in order to get your attention – this column is brought to you by Dunkin’ Donuts’ New Ultra-Caffeinated Turbo Roast Coffee – their strategy is to let you stumble across their products online. The essence of the new strategy is to spread useful information about a given topic (like how to brew the perfect cup of joe) through blogs, social networks, Twitter, and video sites like YouTube.

“Before, you had to buy access to the consumer in some way, like purchasing a direct mail list or buying an ad in the Yellow Pages,” says David Meerman Scott, a Lexington author and speaker best known for his book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR.”

“Now, companies can talk directly to their customers.”

Scott is one of the organizers of a thrice-yearly conference called the Inbound Marketing Summit, which got its start in Boston in 2008; the next one takes place this week in San Francisco. Boston is also home to several companies that aim to profit from the advertising revolu tion by selling software or services to help companies communicate with customers in new ways, such as BzzAgent Inc., Brand Networks Inc., and HubSpot Inc. And the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council is convening a summit Thursday to explore how companies can measure the returns generated by this new approach to marketing.

Lots of different terminology is being tossed around to try to describe the shift, from social media to content marketing to social marketing to inbound marketing. The word “social” implies that the personal connections between individuals who can help spread your message to others are increasingly important. “Content marketing” alludes to creating content that people choose to spend time with, whether it’s a list of tips for maintaining a beautiful lawn or a funny video, like the “Will It Blend?” series created by the Utah blender maker Blendtec. “Inbound marketing,” coined by the Cambridge-based software company HubSpot, implies that a company has a prominent presence online and is delivering value to customers so they’ll come find it, rather than simply broadcasting “outbound” messages and hoping for the best.

A recent survey by Cambridge’s Forrester Research found that 53 percent of social media marketers expect to increase their spending, even amid the recession, and 42 percent expect it to stay about the same. One reason is that it is perceived as less expensive and more efficient than traditional marketing.

The new kind of campaigns can seem logical – or a bit abstruse. Helaine Smith, a Boston dentist, has posted YouTube videos demonstrating her purportedly pain-free approach to anesthetizing patients; she also offers a free, downloadable e-book on the connections between good oral health and one’s sex life. (Sex always sells on the Internet.) For the career site Monster.com, Boston-based Brand Networks created a free application that Facebook users can install, which delivers a constant feed of relevant job openings. More than 80,000 people have chosen to add the application to their profile pages, according to Jamie Tedford, BrandNetworks’ founder and a former executive at Arnold Worldwide, a Boston-based ad agency.

To promote a tech-oriented home makeover show on Verizon’s FiOS TV network, the Marlborough agency Advance Guard devised a somewhat bizarre idea: One of the hosts of the show altered a robotic Teddy Ruxpin doll so it would utter messages sent to it via Twitter. For a time, the Twittering Teddy could be viewed live on a Web video stream.

“At first, the client was like, ‘What?’ But when they saw the response to it, they were wowed,” says Advance Guard founder C.C. Chapman. The teddy – and the show – got lots of free exposure on well-trafficked blogs like BoingBoing Gadgets.

“I’m not classically trained in marketing, but most people in this space are not classically trained,” says Chapman. “It’s about street smarts as opposed to book smarts.”

This new wave of advertising can be traced back to pivotal books like Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing,” published in 1999, and “The Cluetrain Manifesto,” published in 2000, which urged marketers to think about carrying on a conversation with customers, rather than a monologue.

What’s interesting is that very few of the thought leaders of this emerging field hail from the biggest marketing, advertising, and public relations agencies. “When you see a paradigm shift come along, the people who dominated the previous age don’t necessarily do well in the new ones,” theorizes Paul Gillin, the Framingham-based author of “The New Influencers.”

“Ad agencies are in some ways crippled by their own incentives and culture,” says Mike Troiano, an entrepreneur who earlier in his career worked at ad agencies Ogilvy & Mather and McCann-Erickson. “The guys at the top of the food chain are the guys who do television ads, and below them are print, and then direct marketing, and then you have interactive. I think you’re seeing a lot of those sophisticated digital media people moving out of agencies and into their own shops.”

Most of the new shops are still small. BzzAgent, which operates a network of “agents” who sample new products and services and then “buzz” about them online, has 90 employees. HubSpot, which sells a suite of software to help companies manage blogs and their position on various search engines, has about 85. And those are two of the largest. But even the smaller firms and sole proprietors command very loud megaphones. Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, the organizer of this week’s Inbound Marketing Summit, has more than 60,000 followers on Twitter, for instance.

If there is a clubhouse for these new marketing mavens, it may be the Kendall Square offices of HubSpot. Every Friday at 4 p.m., the company hosts a live Web video show that chews over some of the new dynamics of the company-customer relationship. Beer is served, and the live studio audience usually numbers 50 or so. Guests have included Gillin, Scott, Chapman, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, and rap star/entrepreneur MC Hammer. Internet viewers can communicate with the two hosts via Twitter messages.

“Madison Avenue was the center of the world for the old style of outbound marketing,” says HubSpot chief executive Brian Halligan. “If inbound marketing is what’s happening next, then we think Boston has a chance to be the next Madison Avenue.”

The Keys to Being a Good Online Neighbor

A valued member of an online social networking community acts no differently then they would as a member of any other type of social community. The principles of online interaction are essentially the same as those that are established in, say, a neighborhood.

Networking– The fundamentals of building your relationships within an established community begins with a solid amount of networking.

You engage your neighbors. You learn about their likes, dislikes, interests, endeavors, aspirations, and opportunities. You begin to understand the roles that certain people play in your community. You learn where and how you can fit in, and how you can position yourself to be accepted.

So don’t leave things static. An inactive Twitter account is as much of an eyesore as Boo Radley’s house.

Trust– You would not take advantage of your neighbors by dumping your garbage on their lawn. You would not lose their trust by calling the police about a noise complaint, with out at least speaking to your neighbor about it first.

More often then not, you strive to have your neighbor’s backs at all times, to keep their secrets, and act appropriately for the betterment of everyone in the community. You do not cheat, intimidate or steal.

Similarly, why would you SPAM? What is the point of creating a fake Facebook account? To mislead people? Worse, you may believe that something that you post to an online profile is a funny thing for your friends to see. But can others in your online network (less chummy members of your community at large) see it too? They might not find that naked picture on your front door to be so comical.

Value– Everyone in a community brings a certain value to the table in some form or another. Some bring quite a bit more than others. But value can be an ambiguous phrase.

A good listener certainly can bring good value to their neighbors. Think of Wilson from “Home Improvement.” But that good listener must also show some activity. Prove that you are not there to merely stare, freeload, or even worse, prey.

Providing interesting, engaging, and useful information is usually considered the holy grail of online value. A great ‘how to’ blog post. A great video collage that aggregates certain memories or events. But, even a positive comment on a community member’s blog, or a retweet of a follower’s post, symbolizes helpfulness.

But stay within your means. A comedian can be a valuable inspiration to fellow comics and followers by simply offering jokes. But these types of personalities provide value to any and every community that they join. You don’t have to be George Carlin to stand out in your neighborhood.

But you have to do something. Be the first to discover something and share it. Every community needs a Paul Revere.

Establish trust, network and offer value. Prove to your community why you deserve a seat at everyone’s dinner table.