Search Engine Marketing (SEM) combines all the strengths of search engine optimization with modern communications and sales tools, such as blogging and ecommerce.
One company that has a lot to teach us is All-Spec Industries. All-Spec Industries is an online distributor of products for electronics production, service, repair & testing. This is pretty much as B2B as you can get.
All-Spec Industries' internet marketing professional is Elizabeth Williams. She has developed the All-Spec Current to accompany her ecommerce site. She avoids crass commercialization and provides interesting information for her technical customers (specifiers and buyers). As expected, it all points to her making a sale.
Elizabeth is using the internet exactly as it should be used – to make important information easily available for people who need to implement that information.
I interviewed Elizabeth on her ongoing project today. Here is what she had to say:
RICK: How did the All-Spec Blog idea get started?
ELIZABETH: My supervisor attended a marketing conference. When he came back his main objective was to get All-Spec involved in social media marketing. He thought the blog would be a great marketing and informational tool for our customers and readers.
RICK: Were you required to get special permission from your boss for this project?
ELIZABETH: Once we introduced it to the owner and general manager, they told us to go ahead with it.
RICK: What does your Sales department think of this project?
ELIZABETH: We have only recently been making a huge effort to promote our blog on our website, through different links, and on directories, so it hasn't been long enough to truly judge the impact it will have on our sales. But our sales, as well as our customer service department is very supportive in hopes that it will eliminate some of the call traffic coming into customer service.
RICK: Was there a "key" promise or deliverable that convinced you or your management to allow this project?
ELIZABETH: We realized the importance of helping our customers through the blog, and once we introduced it to the owner and general manager, they were very pleased with our goals for the blog.
RICK: Who writes the articles/postings for you? Is it all you or do you get equipment manufacturers to provide the content?
ELIZABETH: I actually write a lot of the articles. I really don't have a background in electronic production products, but I do a lot of research on the Internet, and get my information that way. Our vendors also send us statistics about the products so I use that as well. We also have several people here who are really well-versed in the technical aspect of what we sell who write articles as well. Lately, we have been trying to get vendors to write some articles because they are obviously very familiar with what they are selling. And we actually have one in the works right now.
RICK: What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
ELIZABETH: I usually struggle with article topics that would be interesting for our readers. We have recently posted a survey to help this. It asks readers what they would like to see on our blog. When we get enough votes we'll be able to use those.
RICK: You've included an embedded YouTube video. Did you create the video or is it from the manufacturer? Do you have plans to create your own videos?
ELIZABETH: I actually found this video on YouTube, and then found it again on Weller's website. We actually do have tentative plans to possibly create some videos ourselves. We would like to have a series of "how-to" videos or videos introducing new products (similar to the Weller video in mentioned above).
RICK: Do you use eBay to sell your goods or do you transact business strictly on your site?
ELIZABETH: We transact business through our site and through our catalog.