Who remembers this movie? [Dirty Dancing]This movie drives me crazy. The whole premise seems ludacris to a rational human.The whole reason that Baby’s Daddy doesn’t like Johnny is because he thinks Johnny knocked up Penny. This isn’t true. Hell, everyone except her Dad knows it isn’t true. This seems like it should be a simple problem to solve!
Likewise, our jobs could be simpler too. After all, we’re not curing cancer or sending people into space. At it’s most basic level, we turn bad stuff into good stuff.Content strategists: -Identify the problem -Know the ideal end state -Might even have a process to make the journeyIs that enough? This should be super simple, right? It should be just as easy for us to sell in content strategy as it would be for Johnny to just talk to Baby’s father.
If this were enough, we wouldn’t have time to attend conferences like this and we’d all be rich. Unfortunately, that’s not reality.Content strategy is still fighting for a seat at the table in most agencies. Clients are waking up to the need, but not as many are actually doing something today. And let’s face it – selling content strategy is difficult! It should be simple, but it’s not. Today, I’m here to help you communicate to others why our jobs are important and a worthy investment.
So what’s the problem? Clients recognize the need. Only a small minority is ignoring content marketing completely. Over half are planning on doing some content marketing within the next year.However, we content strategists need to help define content strategy and content marketing.Look at the disparity between clients who think they have a content marketing strategy and agencies whose clients have a content marketing strategy. The sample size wasn’t miniscule, so the most likely conclusion in my mind is that a lot of clients have programs in place that their agencies WOULD NOT deem a viable content marketing strategy.You are learning a bunch this week to help you define this for potential clients. That isn’t my talk. My talk today is – once you educate the client enough on what content marketing entails – how do you get them to commit to a content marketing plan?http://www.slideshare.net/fullscreen/eMarketerInc/emarketer-webinar-key-digital-trends-for-2013/3
To sum up:Clients recognize the need and want to engage with experts. And a lot of them have the money to invest.We are experts whowant to get to work. What’s the problem?The problem is that we are not making it easy for clients to sign on the dotted line.
First, there are usually two types of client and you must understand what each cares about in order to sell your content strategy idea.The boss – CMO, CEO, whatever – is motivated by being seen as a leader in the industry. He doesn’t get into the weeds and is operating at 50K feet. He cares about industry-wide trends, ROI, big ideas. His peer group is external to their own company. They want the company written up in Ad Age or recognized with a Cannes Lion.The worker – brand manager, marketing assistant, whatever – is motivated by serving the boss in hopes of becoming him/her eventually. He’s worried about how much work this will be, pitfalls that can derail progress, the particulars of the day-to-day. His peer group is internal to their company. He wants to do good work and be seen as a leader BY THE LEADER.And both of these guys want their annual bonuses. If your content marketing program can bring them recognition, they will be happy.
Now, let’s take a look at ourselves. As content strategists, we must get into the weeds…or muck or whatever colorful analogy you care to use. We’ve got a messy job. A lot of businesses have over a decade’s worth of content clogging up their sites. They might have multiple products or maybe sell to many targeted groups. We need to know all of this. Audience. Brand. Business. And content. We need to be the expert and that is a very messy job indeed. But we try to bring order to this chaos. And we often do so on a massive scale. Everyday we deal with abstraction and try to make something real out of it. And we love the job – no one is in content strategy without wanting to be. That’s where our aspirations spring from – inside ourselves. We love problem solving. We love tackling complex issues. And a pat on the back doesn’t hurt now and then.
The problem is that we’re using our language – the language of content strategists – to try to sell business people on content strategy. It’s not going to work. And it isn’t the prospective client’s fault. It’s our fault for not speaking the target’s language.We need to speak to the client using their language. In the easiest way possible. We like complex problems, but they need simple solutions.
What I’m about to show you comes from years of working with big and small brands. I know these work because I’ve lived through the fuck-ups – most on my part. So learn from my mistakes!
Stay out of the weeds.Neither the boss client nor the worker client will be impressed. They don’t care how to get to the solutions – they just want the solution. I think of it like building a house. Initially you should show up with a blueprint. Once the work is done, you should walk the client through the house. But please, stop showing them your hammer and saw. They just don’t care and it is distracting.
A lot of people in whatever business you’re pitching won’t see the value in content marketing yet. They won’t get it. Don’t let that discourage you.Our first reaction as analysts and strategists is to write up a huge POV, collect data, create charts, etc. It is our left-brain mentality. And sometimes that works. But season this rational approach with some emotion too. And not just touchy-feely emotion. Remember that things like embarrassment, greed and anxiety can motivate your audience if you provide the context of the problem. [Tell story.]We had much more productive conversations when we all understood that we were discussing content strategy in the context of a misused and neglected site. You must provide a context for why you’re talking about content strategy at all.
In my experience, when it comes to being the first out of the gate compared with being the last one to the party, most client-side marketers want to fall about here.If your prospective clients fall close to this range, remember to reassure them that this has been done successfully before (proof of concept). But also reassure them that there is plenty of room within their vertical or particular industry to make in-roads (they can still be seen as leaders). To do this, we tell stories of successful content marketing:-Coke’s Content 2020 initiative-P&G’s Petside – ranked among the top 5 pet websites with unique editorial features, expert Q&A, tools, how-tos, etc.-Wells Fargo’s Business Insight Resource Center – The BIRC saw a 36% increase in referral traffic to the main Wells Fargo site between 2011 and 2012.
At Imagination, we take every opportunity to teach our clients about content marketing. We consider it part of our job – it’s a value-add we provide. Never presume your audience is as up-to-date as you are in your specialty area. Now, that doesn’t mean teaching needs to be boring. Get content folks in the same room as design folks and some pretty amazing stuff can come out of it.
Whether you are selling in content strategy for the first time or presenting some of your findings to the client, you should always show, not tell. I like letting an example tell my story for me.In this example, we could have spent weeks or months explaining to the client why buying content farm content would hurt them. We could have done SEO training, given them a million charts, really worked to convince them rationally that this was a bad choice.Instead, we simply picked one of their existing articles and did a little research of our own. [Tell story; include how we showed them a Google search of all of their competitors ranking higher for the same piece of content.]After that, I didn’t need to appeal to their left brain to make the correct decision not to buy crappy content. Their right brain reacted so strongly that it overrode any lingering concerns the left brain could’ve thrown at it. http://www.revolutionhealth.com/healthy-living/natural-health/healing/stress/stress-managementhttp://www.cigna.com/individualandfamilies/health-and-well-being/hw/medical-topics/stress-management-rlxsk.htmlhttps://www.blueshieldca.com/hw/articles/hw_article.jsp?articleId=HWRLXSK
Content strategy is a very fuzzy thing. It’s not universally understood, people can’t picture it in their heads – you need to provide tangibility for potential clients to understand. There are many similar examples. One of my favorite is Progressive Insurance (not a client). They do a great job of making insurance – another intangible product – something users can imagine purchasing. They make insurance seem more real, thus opening the door to purchase. If you want a potential client to buy a content strategy program, provide them with a bill of goods. Outline exactly what they get if they sign on the bottom line. And if you already have a client, do everything in your presentations to remove the fuzziness. Be clear and exact. Use boards to make key points or to show off compelling findings. Print, create, build – do these things to make your content strategy more tangible.http://www.progressive.com/commercials/name.aspx
After a client has signed on for content marketing work, that doesn’t mean you can retreat into a hole. You need to work with the client BEFORE THE WORK BEGINS to demonstrate that you understand their goals and vision, and are ready to implement it. For Walgreens “Healthy and Happy” magazine, we worked with the client to establish the proper voice. But we did it in a visual way that prompted conversation. And we created this with the client. They had a stake; they had skin in the game.This is mostly an internal tool – something our writers can hang up on their wall as a guide. However, it has also served as an effective client tool as well. It helped to establish an understood language for discussing content. And it has helped us assess the viability of proposed content before a single word is written.
As you’ve seen throughout this presentation, you will be better off the more you can use visuals to get your point across. A lot of times, we used a very simple graphic to discuss content priorities and volume. This way, your client isn’t trying to give you direction with zero parameters. Instead, we provide a framework within which they can communicate their wants and needs in a more structured and usable way.http://www.popculturediagrams.com/tag/dirty-dancing/
When presenting your work, remember that attention is a limited resource. Limit what you cover and don’t bury the lede. [Give example of Post Office receipt.]The Post Office tries to provide everything – to the extent that I find it unusable. Focus in on the most important parts and load up your appendix with all the supplementary stuff.
So, these are the topics I covered today. As you can see, none of these are rocket science. And none of them cost a lot of money. Everyone here could implement these today.Employing these 9 tips demonstrates your EQ – similar to IQ, but for emotions – your ability to empathize with clients. If you can empathize and speak their language, your clients will love you.They will love you because each of these points will help you communicate to them, and let them communicate better internally about content strategy. You make them look better. And they achieve their goals.We’re not going to convince everyone about the value of content strategy. But I hope these tips help us all at least present the idea in a more cogent, more persuasive manner.
I still don’t understand Dirty Dancing.But like Dirty Dancing, a lot of things that seem simple will instead be cloaked in drama, tears and sweat. And it really doesn’t matter whether the content strategy problem you’re tackling is simple or complex. What matters is that you communicate your findings in an easy-to-understand way.In the end, you can either scream about your frustrations or you can dance to the beat that your client is laying down. Me, I like to boogie. Check out Imagination’s thought-leadership print publication on all things content marketing. Use this address or download it on the iPad app store.
9 Proven Tips to Sell In Content Strategy 1. Avoid the weeds 2. Provide context 3. Reassure 4. Take time to teach 5. Show, don’t tell 6. Make it tangible 7. Be transparent with the process 8. Visualize everything 9. Limit in order to focus#ICC2013 @MarketerBlog 22