Do you blog for international business?
I’ve been doing some research on the Irish SME sector and the role of blogging in companies’ international marketing strategy. There aren’t many doing it yet so it’s not possible to draw many conclusions.
From the outset I proffer three points:
- A blog is another channel to raise awareness for your company.
- A blog is a great mechanism to anchor your Social Media Marketing strategy.
- A blog can only be one of a number of your international marketing activities.
Today I am looking at Ceramicx Ireland Ltd, a technical infrared heater manufacturer, exporting to 63 countries around the world. It operates out of its manufacturing and research facility on the stunning backdrop of the Mizen Peninsula, Ballydehob, West Cork, Ireland.
Ceramicx’s MD, Frank Wilson is an engineer by profession but is an advocate for marketing.
- Most of its revenue comes from exports.
- Some country revenue is from one-off client sales.
- It has an industry leading R&D orientatation.
- It is number 2 in the world in ceramics – size wise.
- It is 1 of 7 recognized world players.
- The industry is long established with a strong community.
Ceramicx are now focusing on a number of markets:
- Far East
- The English speaking markets – UK/USA
The company is passionate about:
Its products and expertise and shaping the industry through R&D:
Marketing: Frank Wilson, its CEO, is an engineer by profession but believes marketing, niche positioning and Thought Leadership are fundamental to building a global and sustainable business. In addition, Frank believes communication through story-telling, strong brand personality (and a little controversy on occasion), help build its online presence and reach and engage its existing customers and new target customers.
Ceramicx allocates a significant budget to marketing.
They are working from a 5 year strategic plan which now integrates on and offline marketing.
Ceramicx’s objectives are to a) to define the industry and b) build an online community around the industry with itself at the centre.
Social Media Marketing Strategy
Ceramicx believes in the power of Social Media Marketing. Like many organisations, it started its eStrategy in 2009. It is using its blog to anchor its SMM strategy and to communicate the brand values, history and stories of the company, while at the same time, building followers, loyal employees and converting leads from interested observers to buyers.
It uses Linkedin to connect and engage with its industry, joining relevant groups, and it is starting and getting involved in discussions and online forums. Ceramicx engages with its competitors online and invites them to join in on their discussions. Together, they make the industry stronger.
It hasn’t yet set up a Ceramicx Linkedin Group but plans to do so once it has better established itself as an authority.
Ceramix also has a Twitter account, @ceramicx which it opened in the 3rd quarter of 2009. It doesn’t yet have critical mass and needs to devote more time to this platform.
Its blog stream is automatically published on Linkedin.
Right now, Ceramicx realize that many of the influencers within its target group don’t have the proficiency to interact via these new social networking platforms: neither does it fall within their remit. This group hasn’t yet recognized the entire value of an online community. But, Ceramicx sees a growing trend and believes in time its target audience will be online and community based.
Ceramicx posts new content on average once or twice a week.
The focus of the blog is to generate content that will validate Ceramicx’s brand as a Thought Leader and authority on its subject matter.
In time, they plan to add more guest posts to their blog.
Interaction with other blogs
At the moment Ceramicx is tracking other blogs in its industry. It is however, focusing on building its reputation as an authority now, rather than leaving too many comments on other blogs. It expects to interact more at a later stage in its campaign.
Creating a blog character
To bring some fun and interest into their blog, Ceramicx are using Kelvin the cartoon character as a mouth piece to offer more controversial opinions. It is another way to tell stories and engage with its audience and keep bringing people back, while at the same time, protecting the brand for its more conservative readership.
Kelvin is a chameleon and like infra-red, cannot be detected.
Ceramicx plan to use Kelvin more in the future.
Other Social Networking Platforms
They have a Facebook page but are not yet populating or building it in any meaningful way. Likewise, they have a limited number of videos as yet to upload to YouTube. Both of these platforms are on their list for increased activity towards the end of 2010.
They are doing limited bookmarking at the moment but expect to increase this activity in the future.
Ceramicx is committing significant resources to its eStrategy and Social Media Marketing strategy: the maintenance and online interaction on its active social networking platforms is in the region of 5 – 6 hours per week.
Frank lived and worked for many years outside Ireland. He believes one of his key strengths is communicating with his non-English speaking clients and prospects in a way that neither party is disadvantaged by a lack of fluency in each other’s mother tongue. He regards it a joy of his professional life that he is privileged to work with people in places as diverse as the Middle East, China and Germany.
• If we care to interact and communicate with the customers in these regions – we can do business.
• By interacting in their language – we are INCREASING our chances of being successful.
• Its about the 3rd Step of Globalization – Acting and Marketing your business like a local player.
• With the Internet – this means using a “local” website, with local languages that can meet local requirements.
Ceramicx, within normal business constraints, is consequently committed to communicating in the local market language. Ceramicx’s website is currently translated into 9 languages. The degree of translation is dictated by Ceramicx’s activity and prospects in that market. Their foreign language websites have been up for more than 2 years which has helped google ranking in those local markets.
Their blog is not yet translated but it is in their future planning. As revenues grow in each foreign language market they will be able to pledge further marketing resource.
At the moment Ceramicx is profiled in each country as a.com vesus .de (for Germany, for instance). They may in the future move to local country hosting.
In Frank’s own words “To manage is to measure”. Ceramicx will only continue with its SMM and eStrategy if the analytics confirm that its initiatives are working. And they are!
Headline Figures are for last 4 months versus the same months in the previous year are:
• Website Traffic is up 176%
• Unique Visitors up 180%
• High success in 14 of 15 English Key phrases (targeted phrases with volume)
• High success in 32 of 36 multilingual key phrases (same as above)
• Major increases in website traffic from 24 of 25 countries
• Organic Google Search Traffic up 170%
• Organic Yahoo Search Traffic up 170%
• Direct Traffic up 85%
Granite Consulting (www.granite.ie) support Ceramicx’s e-Strategy with SEO. They have identified 9 key phrases in English for optimization: highly trafficked terms. Blogs and content reference these key words and phrases.
They track traffic via google analytics and google alerts to identify where Ceramicx is being mentioned.
In the past year Ceramicx has reduced its google ad campaigns as its organic ranking has significantly improved as a result of consistent and good content posted to its blog.
Granite also does a lot of work with Ceramicx in relation to link building: identifying relevant sites with which to link: identifying individuals within those organizations to contact and making the contact – with relevant “business case” to request the link.
Online Reputation Management
At the moment their activity and tracking is limited to Google Alerts and management by requirement. They expect to have to pay more attention to this in the future as they extend their activities across platforms and in more countries.
Social Media Marketing Policies
As it is only a few key individuals within Ceramicx who are creating content and representing the Ceramixc brand online, they have not felt a need to develop SMM policies.
Ceramicx is wholly committed to building its brand and reputation using Social Media Marketing: its blog and linkedin are its key social networking platforms currently but it expects to develop and exploit other platforms in due course. To-date it is pleased with the results it’s achieving and the ROI (return on investment) for its marketing budget.
The figures speak for themselves!
Do you know of any Irish companies who are successfully blogging for international business? Please share your experiences.