Picture This: What A B2B Company Can Show (and Tell) About Its Business

Maersk Effingham, by André Hueners

So much social media and marketing content is all about the telling… or writing. From the consumption perspective, it’s all about the reading.

Now, it seems, the social prognosticators are telling us that content is now all about the viewing. Fackbook’s Timeline, Pinterest, video, and infographics are thrusting all things visual to forefront as the next social media “It Girl”.

True, visual elements are getting more attention. Before Instagram’s eye-popping acquisition by Facebook, its user base was 35 million. Alone, Facebook users uploaded more 170 billion photos.  Pictures have been a part of marketing for the last century. Who remembers the Sears Catalog?  It’s not like the Daguerreotype was invented yesterday.

Visuals also mean video. Look at YouTube and you’ll quickly see (minus the teen kitty videos and Star Trek fan remixes) just how much visual content we generate.

Even with this visual Tsunami, images and video are underutilized mediums by B2B companies. Just as there is a lot to write about, there is also just as much to leverage visually to better connect with customers and markets. Visuals can — and should — reach into every aspect of your communications.

Usage. Is there a way to illustrate the breadth and scope of your company? Check out how Maersk Group leveraged photography of its ships, containers and facilities and attracted 237,000 followers on its Facebook page… in five months. User engagement via Instagram was a winning strategy for this huge B2B company. (Tip: check out how Maersk developed its social program via the folks over at Convince and Convert.  But don’t let size  lead to intimidation. Look how this small boat building operation uses photography.

Behind the Scenes. One of the less flashy, yet compelling TV shows in recent memory is called “How it’s Made“. So, how do whistle manufacturers get that little ball of whatever it is in that piece of bent metal? The same can be said for your business. People want to know more about you and your company. Put your processes and machinery on display, as well as your people. General Electric asked Instagram users to capture GE products using the app, offering the winner a free flight to the United Kingdom for an Instagram shoot.

Demonstrations and Installations. B2B products are typically complex and/or sophisticated. Many involve technological solutions and advancements, whether it is machinery or professional services. Visually demonstrate how your products work. “How-Tos” and “What For” video and still content can help you solidify a claim of a new or improved product over a competitor; show ease of use; or used as targeted content help a propel a prospect further down the sales funnel.    

Visual Repository. For companies with histories that span generations (and maybe younger), reaching back into photo files can find a treasure trove of imagery that can communicate a corporate story and heritage. Facebook’s Timeline is geared toward this kind of representative story telling. It’s also an effective way to highlight employees and related events.  For B2B firms, showing people behind the brand can help further humanize the firm.

Whether you use shared images, compelling video, or pictures from your corporate yesteryear, pictures can help you tell thousands of stories.

In what ways have you used imagery in your marketing?

Hyundai’s Confidence is Showing Through Social Media

hyundai_santa_fe+front_view

I’m in the market for good, late model used car.  While I like the idea of driving a new set of wheels off the lot, I dislike how much of the purchase price I’ll lose when they hit the street.

What make and model is in the lead that will handle two kids and a dog?  Not Honda, the Pilot is too pricey. Toyota would have been a lead off contender, but not today, not next year or maybe the next five.  Ford is coming back, but it doesn’t have a model that adequately suits my needs.

Like a lot more people, I’m looking at a Hyundai, specifically a 2009 Santa Fe — stylish, reliable and crash worthy.  With a family, I like to play it safe.  The company, however, is doing anything but, judging by its models, markets and marketing.

No Silver Bullet wrote about Hyundai’s different marketing approach last year.  So, when we learned about its new “Uncensored” campaign, we had to comment again.  Hyundai’s is exploiting growing confidence as a mature automaker and it is clear these folks are playing for keeps by eschewing the same, tired automobile marketing.

“Uncensored” captures what the car maker says are very organic conversations, unscripted, unedited remarks of drivers as they tested various Hyundai models in major U.S. cities this spring.  Now, a company would have lug nuts for brains if it were to air negative comments.  What’s notable is how the company takes the campaign two steps further.

First, according to the Hyundai press release,”125 non-Hyundai sedan owners will be given a new 2011 Sonata to drive for 30 days. Their comments will be posted – unscripted and unedited – on Hyundai’s Facebook site. The second is a multi-city ride-and-drive, which includes a video booth where consumers can film their drive impression and post video directly to their own Facebook page.”

Yeah, Hyundai has confidence… and some guts.

How odd.  A car company has me anticipating buying one of their cars, watching their commercials and searching out the comments on Facebook.  Better yet, amazing.