Content marketing: Essays by Content Professionals


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Introducing the ultimate content marketing ebook. The NuSpark Marketing team of b2b content directors contributed their thought leadership the book. Learn best practices on how content generates quality leads and sales.

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Content marketing: Essays by Content Professionals

  1. 1. Essays by Content Professionals Tips, Thoughts, and Various Articlesfrom the NuSpark Marketing team of content strategists. October 2011 1
  2. 2. IntroductionWelcome to our ebook on content marketing. I amthrilled to have contributions from my team of nationalcontent alliances; all experts in their field with manyyears of experience crafting messages that contribute toattracting, converting, and nurturing prospects into sales.The ebook is not another ―how-to‖ book. It‘s not acompilation of charts, graphs, and trends, nor is it apaper on ―best practices.‖ What it is, is a showcase ofhow our content people think, what their approachesare, and their reflections on how content marketing cancontribute to business growth.The essays are not new, but rather a collection of someof their best writing. I am honored to have themcontributing to the success of our clients. Enjoy, and Ihope you learn something new…Paul MosensonPresident and FounderNuSpark 2
  3. 3. Table of Contents How Good Content Can Grow Your Business……………2 ◦ Paul Mosenson 5 rock-bottom rules for effective B2B marketing content offers……………………………………………………….6 ◦ Susan Fantle How to Boost Content Downloads……………………….8 ◦ Susan Fantle A Matter of Trust…………………..………………………10 ◦ Bob Leonard Message Maps-Easier Content Creation…….…………….12 ◦ Bob Leonard 9 Steps to Continuous Content Improvement……………14 ◦ Bob Leonard Interruption Marketing; Billy May Exposed……………..…18 ◦ Maureen Monfore 20/20 Insight/Content Strategy……………………………21 ◦ Michael Selissen Creating Value and Trust……..……………………………24 ◦ Michael Selissen Military Intelligence…………..…………………………...27 ◦ Michael Selissen 3
  4. 4. Table of Contents 3 Easy Steps to a True Value Proposition……………..…31 ◦ Wendy Brache 2 Key Ingredients to Social Media Content,,………….…33 ◦ Wendy Brache Content Marketing for Your Brand……………………….34 ◦ Wendy Brache Using Customer Stories to Nurture Leads………………36 ◦ Oliver Picher White Papers for Lead Generation….…………..……….39 ◦ Apryl Parcher Using Email to Promote Your Content……………………42 ◦ Apryl Parcher Matching Content to Buyer Personas…..……………..…44 ◦ Gerry Lantz Feeling Stumped when Creating Content?.....……………48 ◦ Rachel Franco Is Your Content Having an Identity Crisis?.........…………50 ◦ Rachel Franco Content, SEO, and Landing Pages…………….…………..52 ◦ Paul Mosenson 4
  5. 5. How Good Content Works to Grow YourBusiness and Drive RevenuePaul MosensonWhether you‘re in sales, marketing, or top management, you have to realize that it‘s the words that are written on your digital properties is what matters most to attract, convert, and nurture leads into sales. At the end of the day, a sale occurs between people- buyer and seller, but that connection doesn‘t get to this point without the help and guidance of the written word. Our website, NuSpark Marketing, describes in detail the role of message throughout the website visitor- to lead-to sale process. Let‘s summarize:Prospect educates himself and stays abreast of industry news Trade journals Industry newsletters Blogs, and Tweets Online articlesContentProspect is persuaded that he has a need, and that solutions exist Print advertising Direct mail Email sponsorship ads and banner ads Social media conversation Webinar, white paper exposure (demand generation)Content 5
  6. 6. Prospect does further research on a solution Search engines- content drives SEO Pay-per-click advertising- content makes you click Blogs, forums, groups, social media- content is trustworthyContentProspect finds your website or microsite and submits his email to learn more on your solutions Web page messaging Conversion architecture Compellingness of offer Informational and educational downloadsContentProspect is nurtured until he is sales-ready Educational white papers Webinars, podcasts, and online trade shows Case studies for validationContentThroughout the process, leads needs to be qualified and scored, so that only the most engaged opportunities move on…Now sales takes over, ready to close.. On with the show. 6
  7. 7. 5 rock-bottom rules for effective B2Bmarketing content offers.Susan FantleContent is one of todays biggest topics of discussion in B2B marketing.To some, content is educational information that positions their company as a thought leader. To others, content is what is offered to prospects to keep them interacting with the company as they move through the buy cycle.Content is such a focus in B2B marketing these days that many larger companies now have a Chief Content Officer focused exclusively on managing its creation.Its important to know that one B2B marketers content does not have to compete with all the other content out there. It only has to have value for the specific targeted universe the marketer is trying to reach.Effective content follows these rock-bottom rules:Make sure the title is a grabber. The title alone is often what generates the download, so titles need to be strong and compelling. 7
  8. 8. Target the content. To be most effective, content should be targeted not only to industry and topic but to individual titles. If decision- makers and influencers include CFOs, CIOs, Product Managers and others, there should be specific content relevant to each title. If marketers need to send a single offer to many titles at once, they can create a "kit" as a few of my clients have done successfully. The kit would be a collection of content pieces with at least one item for each pertinent title. The name of the kit must also be a grabber.Make the content easy to read and digest. Dont make prospects have to think. Write to the lowest common denominator -- that is the person in a target group who might know the least about the topic the content covers. Big words and inside lingo dont make the company doing the marketing look smart, they just diminish the readability of the message.Provide a few quality take-aways. Content must reflect well on the company offering it, but it doesnt have to win Pulitzer Prizes. When creating content, make sure it delivers at least three bits of information that can show the reader that it was worth the effort to download and read it.Dont look stupid. Have all content proofed by a professional proofreader for grammar and spelling before its used.Summary:B2B marketers dont have to feel overwhelmed by the perception that their content has to compete with all the other content thats out there. They just need to follow these five rules. 8
  9. 9. How to boost B2B content downloads.Susan FantleLike most marketers these days, I have opted into sites that provide regular access to articles, white papers, reports, surveys and Webcasts that, hopefully, will make me better at my job.With all these emails swirling into my inbox every day, Im exposed to invites to review hundreds of pieces of content every day -- and so are your prospects.Will they take the time to read your marketing intro or abstract and download your content? Only if the headline catches their eye and their imagination.To be effective, content headlines need to instantly communicate what the piece contains. If your headlines read more like these real-life examples, then you may be diminishing interest in what you have to offer:"Unified Communications and Process Automation Combine to Maximize ROI""Managed data centre operating IT infrastructures successfully using innovative services""Cover Your Assets with Desktop Managed Services""Transforming Data Into Relevance and ROI""How Virtualization Changes IT Costs""Don‘t let CRM push you over the edge: how to build your business case" 9
  10. 10. Im sure the people who wrote these felt that they represented the content very nicely. And they may have. But these headlines are mushy. They provide no intrigue, no big promise, no revelations, no specifics. For example, "How Virtualization Changes IT Costs" doesnt tell me if the change is positive or negative. Heck, for all I know "Virtualization" could be really expensive. Something like "5 Ways Virtualization Cuts IT Costs" is a clear, strong and instantly understood title.You dont want your prospects to have to think, you want them to react to your message, or in this case, your content title.Strong titles should instantly communicate a clear picture of what the content contains, as these examples do:"Enterprise VoIP PBX: What to Know Before You Buy""4 Things Your Anti-Virus Should Do, but Doesnt""20 Questions for Smart Business Decisions""How to Defend Your Network Against New Hacker Tactics""Top 5 IT Budget Killers: What You Need to Know"With just a few active words, your content can move past sounding like another ho-hum white paper and become information your prospective customer sees as a "must read." So I recommend you pay as much attention to your title as you do your content. It will make a difference. 10
  11. 11. A Matter of TrustBob LeonardEverybody knows that trust has to be established before a sale, especially of complex and high ticket items, can occur. What is new is that it‘s become increasingly difficult to establish trust. The internet has distanced buyers from sellers. If you can‘t get in to see a prospect, how are you ever going to build trust?Useful and Relevant InformationMost business to business (B2B) companies use their website as brochureware. Boring, static descriptions of their company, its products and services. So easy for a prospect to click away to a competitor site.You just lost a sale and don‘t even know it.What do you do when you‘re meeting with a prospect in person? You pay attention to the prospect.You ask questions to uncover problems that, maybe, your products and services can solve. And then you listen.When prospects find you online, they already know they have a problem and they‘re actively looking for solutions.There‘s a whole discipline called search engine optimization (SEO) that‘s devoted to getting companies, products and services found online. We‘re going to cover that in depth in later blog posts, but for today we‘ll focus on after they‘ve found your website.Golden OpportunityThink about it. This individual is looking for what you‘re selling. They‘re already qualified, to a degree. How do you persuade them to contact you, to ask for a sales call? In stages. 11
  12. 12. Remember – your goal is to build trust. Establish rapport. Let the prospect know that they‘re in the right place and that you might be able to solve their problem. Give them information that is meaningful and helps them to make an intelligent buying decision.Above all, you have to tell the truth.You can‘t build trust with sleight of hand or half-truths. If a marketing agency even suggests something like that, get rid of them. This is the age of transparency. Remember Hillary Clinton‘s story about dodging bullets on the tarmac in the Mideast?A quality marketing agency will help you build a compelling (yet truthful) story around your products and services.Layers of ComplexityOdds are your product or service is fairly complex. Figure out all the questions your prospect will need to have answered before they buy, and give them the information they need. I‘m not suggesting that you reverse engineer your product on your website, but you must give prospects enough information, in bite-sized bits, over time, to get them to the point where they‘re ready to make a buy decision and they‘re willing to meet with a sales person.If you do this correctly, a number of things happen. While taking your prospects on this journey of discovery, you‘re: educating them about your company and its products and services; very gently, almost imperceptibly, persuading them; proving to them that you‘re trustworthy; and ultimately, becoming a trusted advisor.Today, your website and other online content (blogs, case studies, email messages, white papers, etc.) are the tools to use to build trust with prospects. 12
  13. 13. Message Maps Result in Quicker and EasierContent CreationBob LeonardConsistent execution of content marketing and social media campaigns is the critical success factor for SMB B2Bs. These posts, when taken together, will vastly improve your execution and drastically reduce the amount of effort and resources required.A message map should be created for each solution that a B2B marketer promotes.The maps identify the key messages that must be successfully communicated to target prospects.Here‘s how it‘s done:A brainstorming session is held among sales people, marketers, product managers and external agency people. Once everyone has shared their thoughts, key messages that truly differentiate the solution from the competition are generated.Validation of the messages occurs when supporting facts are delineated. Finally, and most importantly, the benefits to the customer are defined. The benefits should align with the needs of your target prospects. If they don‘t, you have a product problem.When there‘s agreement on key messaging, the marketing team doesn‘t have to define the message every time it creates new content. A message map provides the basic messaging for everything from articles to blog posts, podcasts to press releases, white papers to webinars. 13
  14. 14. Message maps make it easier and more cost effective to work with outsiders. If you outsource content creation, message maps give external resources the guidance they need to create material that supports and elaborates on your essential positioning.Message maps can help keep the sales team on message. Some enterprising sales people may create materials for specific sales situations. By giving them the essential guidance they need in a useful, accessible and approved messaging document, you‘ll make it easier for the sales team to create one-off presentations, individual letters and emails that are accurate and effective.You‘ll find that some of the sales team‘s improvisations are entertaining and persuasive.The sales team interacts with your target audience on an ongoing basis. They understand the buyer. They know which questions must be answered and objections overcome to close the sale. They may discover information about target prospects‘ pains and buying factors that you didn‘t have before. By maintaining a common message map and soliciting sales input up front, you can integrate their market knowledge into your messaging.A message map accelerates content marketing. Time spent up-front in developing the message map will be repaid in full during the content creation cycle. Fewer iterations and faster content development cycles will support a timely and successful content marketing initiative.How about you? Have you deployed message maps? Have you experienced increased efficiency when using them? 14
  15. 15. 9 Steps to Continuous ContentMarketing ImprovementBob Leonard Closed-loop marketing has been the exclusive domain of major corporations until very recently. Smaller companies with limited resources can now also reap enormous benefits from it. Closed- loop marketing is the process by which market intelligence learned during a marketing campaign is fed back into the strategy and plan; resulting in more focused targeting, more effective messaging, and improved resonance. Until the past couple of years, closed-loop marketing could only be achieved through expensive, labor intensive market research. Imagine being able to automatically feed your prospects‘ reactions to your marketing content back into your strategy, messaging process and choice of delivery vehicles. It isn‘t just doable… it‘s within the reach of even the smallest companies. What follows is a brief overview of the Closed-loop Marketing Process. 1. Research At the launch of any marketing campaign, it‘s ALWAYS a good idea to make sure you have a realistic understanding of your product, the marketplace, your value proposition and competitive positioning. In this closed-loop process, I‘m depicting a research step only at the inception.The process itself will automatically deliver new, deeper market intelligence as you roll it out. 15
  16. 16. 2. StrategyA clearly defined strategy is essential to the success of your content marketing campaign. What are the objectives for the campaign? Who are your prospects? What industry are they in? What roles and titles do they have? What business pains are your targets experiencing (related to your solution)? How will your product or service solve those problems? What are the resulting benefits?3. Buyer-Centric ProcessesYou can‘t build relevant and useful content unless you know exactly who you‘re talking to. Refine your definitions of target prospects from Step 2 into actual personas (representative individuals). Construct a map of the steps that your prospects go through in making a buying decision. Prospects have different informational needs depending on where they are in the buy cycle. Message maps identify the key messages that must be successfully communicated to prospects to move them to the next step in the buy cycle4. Editorial CalendarContent marketers are publishers. Publishers develop editorial calendars to give them a road map of where their publication is going – which topics are going to be covered and when. Today we publish in many different formats. Look at your message map and determine how best to deliver your content (via blogs, case studies, emails, magazine articles, podcasts, presentations, videos, web pages, webinars, white papers, etc.). 16
  17. 17. 5. ContentPrioritize using all the information you‘ve gathered in the preceding steps, and start building your content piece by piece.You don‘t have to create everything from scratch. Odds are you can find existing in house or third party materials that are appropriate and effective. Don‘t just appropriate the content, Curate it. That means you acknowledge the source, and then put the content into context by explaining how it relates to your solution. Optimize with SEO key phrases.6. Promotion and SocializationOnce the content is built, you need to let your target prospects know that it exists. If you have a permission-based email list, or blog subscribers, you can deliver your content directly. Otherwise you need to pull your targets to where your content is located online, or push it to where your targets are congregating in social networks.7. FeedbackGoogle Analytics, click thru tracking in emails, social media monitors and other tools enable you to cost effectively see how your targets react to your content. Where do they immediately bounce off a page? Where do they linger and learn? Which pieces do they forward, post, or tweet about? Where do they convert and take your desired action? What do they have to say in their blog comments? 17
  18. 18. 8. DocumentTo leverage the valuable information you‘ve collected in the previous step, you must gather the information, organize it, and store it where you can search it and sort on it. The more information there is (and tools like Google Analytics can generate tons of it), the more you‘ll need automation in the form of an integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.9. AnalysisOnce you have the market intelligence you‘ve gathered in a format that‘s easily manageable, it‘s time to measure how you did. This is an analysis process that translates the market intelligence into action items to course correct and tweak your campaign. Where did you do well? Where could you have done better? What should you change regarding your target descriptions, personas, message map, vehicles and content?Today‘s buyers are moving targets. Their needs and issues are constantly evolving. The economic environment is always changing. Technologies are continually being developed and upgraded. So it makes sense that our marketing campaigns should also morph in an attempt to keep up.Closed-loop marketing is ideal for B2B marketers who need to nurture prospects over extended periods of time. By continuously analyzing customer responses and refining your communications process and messages, you can adjust your campaigns to deliver highly targeted, relevant and effective marketing content. 18
  19. 19. Interruption Marketing: Billy MaysExposedMaureen Monfore I have nothing against Billy Mays, may he rest in peace. In fact, the man was a selling machine. But Billy Mays‘ legacy represents all that is wrong with the advertising and marketing methods of the last 30 years. Billy Mays and his interruption marketing methods must give way to permission-based methods that will reign in today‘s consumer-driven social media landscape. But wait, there‘s more! While Billy Mays‘ commercials might have been effective, they are loud and obnoxious.The phrase, ―but wait, there‘s more,‖ implies that we want to change the channel. And yes, when I see a Billy Mays commercial (or one like it), I hit ―skip‖ on my DVR remote. Or just as likely, I‘ll turn off the TV and open up my laptop where I‘ll readily find content that isn‘t loud or obnoxious. Billy Mays and his kind have succeeded because they realize they are competing for our attention. Rather than simply showing us the Shamwow and giving its price, they must sell the heck out of the thing before we move on to the next guy‘s ad. In a prophetic 1998 Fast Company article, Seth Godin (who coined the term ―permission marketing‖) said, ―We are entering an era that‘s going to change the way almost everything is marketed to almost everybody…. The interruption model is extremely effective when there‘s not an overflow of interruptions. But there‘s too much going on in our lives for us to enjoy being interrupted anymore.‖ As laughably entertaining as those infomercials might be, Seth Godin is right. I‘m too busy and there‘s so much more relevant, less obnoxious content out there. 19
  20. 20. In social media, consumers have all the power. If marketers are to succeed in gaining attention, they must first earn their consumers‘ trust. Honesty plays a key role in this.Call now and you‘ll receive…Ignoring the importance of honesty, interruption marketers do their best to seduce us. With the words ―call now and you‘ll receive…‖ they tell us that if we buy just one bottle of their super, fantastic, magic cleaning product, we‘ll get four more free…for just $49.99! You think, wow, what a deal! That is, until you do the math. Not two seconds later, you realize that you can get one bottle just like it at Target for $2.99—and you change the channel.Smart marketers have figured out that they don‘t need to dupe us into buying their products. Quite the opposite is true. Rather than draw us in with their seductions, smart marketers offer honest, valuable content to earn our trust. This is what drives success in social media.The research proves this to be true. As much as advertisers first feared TiVo, studies show that viewers will watch commercials that pique their interest. Remember that commercial with the Volkswagen stuck in a tree? Or the eTrade talking baby commercials? Brilliant. I don‘t know about you, but I genuinely enjoy watching those commercials.Lest you fear the social media equivalent of the fast-forward button on your consumers‘ DVR remotes, read this. ―Ad avoidance is less about skipping ads than it is about skipping irrelevant or intrusive ads,‖ says marketer Dave Evans in his book Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day.Evans discusses two studies which found that viewers will often rewind and view again commercials that are interesting or entertaining. Evans says, ―Both [studies] underscored the value of user control over content and the newfound ability to selectively watch ‗good‘ content while skipping over fluff.‖If only interruption marketers offered honest content—with the intent of earning our trust rather than pulling the wool over our eyes—we might actually want to watch. 20
  21. 21. Marketers are closet psychologists.They yearn to understand what makes us buy and how they can take advantage of our natural inclinations. Whether they‘re selling spray paint hair or ―exercise in a bottle‖ pills, the ―as seen on TV‖ folks want us to think that if something is so popular, it must be good. But we all know that the spray paint hair factory is just down the road from where that commercial was created. Likely, they can churn out ten cans faster than you can say, ―buy now!‖What interruption marketers don‘t realize is that our ability to hit the ―off‖ button is far more powerful than their attempts to psychoanalyze us. In social media circles especially, consumers gather together around a similar idea and there‘s power in numbers.In fact, consumers‘ power to avoid intrusive ads has resulted in widespread technologies that give us even more power: ―Consumers feel overwhelmed by intrusive, irrelevant ads. The result: a backlash against advertising—manifesting itself in the growing popularity of do- not-call lists, spam filters, online ad blockers, and ad skipping on digital video recorders (DVRs),‖ (Jim Nail, The Consumer Advertising Backlash, Forrester Research, 2004).This is why marketers must ditch their intrusive methods for tactics that give the consumer more control. Permission marketing does just that. It respects the power of the consumer.In his book Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day, marketer Dave Evans hits the nail on the head when describing the declining power of interruption marketing: ―It‘s all about trust…. ‗If you have to interrupt or annoy me to get your ad across, how valuable can what you offer really be? If you think I‘m dumb enough to fall for this, how can I trust you?‘‖Amen. 21
  22. 22. 20-20 Insight; Content StrategyMichael Selissen My first year playing Little League baseball was a nightmare. If I was lucky, the opposing pitcher walked me. More often than not, I struck out. When it came our turn to take the field, invariably one of the coaches would look at me and mutter, "Right field." He might as well have said, "Go sit in the parking lot!" And if the occasional left-hander hit a fly ball my way, I could do little more than watch as it sailed overhead. But something happened the following winter that altered my baseball destiny. Sitting in school, I realized I had a hard time seeing the writing on the blackboard. So off we went, my mother and me, to visit the eye doctor. A few weeks later I was sporting the finest in black horn- rimmed glasses. Quite stylish for their time! My corrected eyes opened up a whole new world. And as you might have guessed, when the next baseball season rolled around, things changed out there on the diamond. My batting average climbed to over 300. I went from hitting ninth to the number four "cleanup" spot. The coaches moved me to left field - a coveted position in the days of Carl Yastrzemski - where I snagged most of what came my way. 22
  23. 23. All in all, it was an unexpected transformation in performance. But one that had nothing to do with developing new skills, buying fancy equipment, getting a bigger allowance, or friending anyone on Facebook.The only thing that changed was my clarity of vision.Now, the day-to-day life of a B2B marketing communication professional can seem a little blurry at times. Still, odds are you have the baseline skills pretty well under control.You know how to: Identify audiences Develop messaging strategies Write well Execute campaigns Define goals and metrics Integrate multiple communication channelsSo then, how come it feels like you keep missing the ball?Sales folks ignore the content you write; customers dont get excited about your messages; or email response rates improve, but those prospects soon fade away.The answer may come down to something besides skill and effort: Maybe its time to look at business communication through a different lens. 23
  24. 24. Heres what I mean:Take a thematic approach. More than a communication strategy, a message theme articulates the greater vision of where your customers need to be. It raises the level of conversation beyond features, functions and benefits to include new ways of thinking about business and the world. A theme reflects the brand and provides the common thread that connects all of your content and campaigns. Consider, for example, IBMs Smarter Planet and Eloquas Revenue Performance Management.Be the customer. Customers want to know one of two things: How will your solution reduce costs or increase revenue. But getting there is a full nine-inning game packed with excitement, disappointment, twists and turns. Winning takes a combination of content and conversation that addresses a range of issues and concerns - large and small.You need content that speaks to each of these, one pitch at a time. To understand customer perspectives, talk with your channel partners and customers using one-on-one meetings, surveys and social media.Turn content into a valued asset. If your sales team looks upon content as simply an invitation to a sales call, then in the world of self-fulfilling expectations, thats how it gets written. But if you want to move to the cleanup spot, you have to create content that sales considers productive and indispensable. Sit down with key sales reps and subject matter experts. Work together to ensure that every content piece has a well-defined role to play in the buying process - from lead generation to final decision."Ah," you say. "Doesnt all this take more time, money and skills than we have?" "Maybe a little," I say. What it mostly takes is seeing how to use your time, money and skills in a different way.And once youve adjusted to that new pair of spectacles, you just might discover that you can hit it out of the park. 24
  25. 25. Creating Value and TrustMichael Selissen Im a sucker for a free meal. OK, it wasnt exactly free. I did have to give a workshop on how to create a lead nurturing program. But that was it. My reward was a full breakfast, a stunning lunch and a cocktail hour with an hors doeurve table that went on forever. Who could ask for more? The workshop was part of an annual learning and schmoozing conference hosted by CONNSTEP, a consulting group that helps Connecticuts manufacturers get lean and mean. Because I didnt have to present until the last session, I got to spend most of the day wandering aimlessly--just like I do when walking around the mall looking for Christmas presents.What I really did though, was listen in on other marketing workshops. During one particular session, the presenter told a story about a client of hers who had a long and onerous contact form on companys website.You know, the kind that asks how much you make, your childrens birthdays and the name of the 1961 World Series MVP. She went on to say that the client experienced an amazing 80 percent conversion-to-sales rate from the people who filled out the form. "How can this be?," you ask. Well wait, theres more... At her request, the client added a second, shorter, form asking only for name, email address and phone number. This form yielded a much lower conversion-to-sales. But that was in addition to the sales from the longer form. 25
  26. 26. In other words, the short form increased overall sales instead of just givingpeople the opportunity to provide less information about themselves."How can this be?," you ask again, more impatiently. "And why wouldpeople give up more information than necessary?"Wow, those are all excellent questions!The presenter didnt have an answer, so Ill give you mine.Its an answer based in part on an email exchange I had a year ago with Dr.Mary Caravella, a business professor at the University of Connecticut whodoes research in this area.Turns out that when confronted with a contact or other type of Webregistration form, a prospective buyer will make a cost-benefit decisionguided by a couple of factors:1. How much do I really value what is offered--i.e., the white paper?2. How much do I trust that this company wont spam me or call meeveryday, because Im just not ready to buy now?Using the workshop presenters example, leads who were further along inthe buying cycle trusted the company and wanted to be contacted, so theywillingly filled out the long form.But given the alternative, why not fill out the short form? Because theywanted to look like good prospects to the sales department, so theyprovided all the information the long form requested. Its the grownupversion of "Pick me, pick me, pick me..."On the other hand, leads in the earlier research phase of the buying cyclewere likely more reticent and closed the browser window rather than fillout the long form. But the short form gave them the opportunity tominimize their information exposure while testing the trust waters. 26
  27. 27. The challenge for marketers, then, is to capture as much information as possible from people in different stages of the buying cycle who exhibit different levels of trust.Here are a few thoughts...Offer some content of uniquely high value that cannot be had anywhere else. For example, create your own monthly Web survey.Include a privacy statement on each form assuring prospects that you do not sell or give away contact information.For download registration forms (white papers, case studies, etc.) include a check box with an opt-in statement like, "Yes, please have a sales representative contact me."If you use a long registration form, require only the minimum contact information and make other fields optional.Enhance the sense of trust on your website by including:• Pictures and biographies of senior managers and key contacts• Registration-free downloads of basic content• Phone numbers• Your companys physical address instead of a PO box• Customer testimonials and case studiesBy creating a flexible and trustworthy website environment, you can capture leads who want your attention now and get a head start on the ones who are "just looking" but will buy down the road.And in case youre asked, Whitey Ford was the 1961 MVP. 27
  28. 28. Military IntelligenceMichael Selissen It was a Saturday evening ritual. My parents would desert their perfectly delightful children to spend a few hours of fun and conversation with people their own age. When I was little, it meant my older brother Jerry had to stay home and keep an eye on me. Like clockwork, Dad would get half way out the door, turn around, point to us and say, "Now, dont you two fight while were gone.― "We wont...― Ill spare you the details of the ruckus that usually ensued once the car pulled out of the driveway. This was among the thoughts that came to mind a couple of weeks ago when I attended a ceremony on the occasion of Jerrys retirement from the U.S. Air Force. Now, heres the thing. Jerry is a civilian employee, not a uniformed member of the military. It turns out that the military treats their civilian colleagues as part of the family. And when they retire, civilians are awarded the same privileges and recognitions as any uniformed officer who leaves the service. As you might expect, the military retirement ceremony is pretty formal and follows a prescribed ritual.Yet, its highly personal and quite moving. Jerry invited family members and close friends to share in the festivities. And there was plenty of time for both civilian and uniformed coworkers to gush over his career accomplishments as well as his many civic contributions outside work. It was a memorable event that honored the whole person. So what does an Air Force retirement ceremony have to do with marketing communications? 28
  29. 29. Simply this.We live in a world of specialization. And marcom is no exception. Marketing folks typically assume sole responsibility for the whole enchilada that is outbound communications.Yet, throughout every company there are individuals who are creative, articulate and have something relevant to say. But they have no official platform from which to say it.As demand heats up for educational and thoughtful content, a new competitive front is forming. It goes by different names like Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing and Thought Leadership. But at its core it is a competition for the eyes and ears of customers, prospects, influencers and critics.To create the stream of content you need to keep your audiences engaged, think about reaching outside the marketing department to welcome others into the family of company communicators.I know, its a scary thought. But take a sip of water and read on...Do some early reconnaissance. Determine where the holes are in your content. Consider subject matter beyond your products and services. Topics like business processes, best practices, regulations and economics are always helpful. Also determine which communication channels need shoring up: the company newsletter, white papers, videos, webinars, social media, etc. 29
  30. 30. Recruit top-flight contributors. See who among your fellow employees already has a blog, creates videos for YouTube, or simply writes mesmerizing emails and reports. Look to human resources, finance, manufacturing, purchasing, customer education and professional services. Each organization can bring a different perspective to the industries you serve.Establish a protocol. Like the military retirement ceremony, define a structure for your contributors that also lets their personalities shine. Create an editorial calendar, establish policies and set expectations for frequency. Look here and here for examples of social media policies in industry, government and non-profit.Foster an esprit de corps. Invite contributors into meetings to discuss ideas, goals, success metrics and ways to improve the content- development process. A team approach keeps contributors engaged over the long haul.Look to the big guns for ideas. See how companies like EMC and IBM incorporate content from all sorts of internal contributors.The bottom line: If youre looking to expand the amount of content you produce or the breadth of topics you cover, take a lesson from those smart folks in the military. Go outside the marketing department and bring in some civilians. Then recognize their accomplishments and treat them as one of your own.Who knows? Your business just might take off into the wild blue yonder. 30
  31. 31. 3 Easy Steps to a True Value PropositionWendy Brache Everyone thinks they have a great sense of humor, right? But not everyone is funny. Such is the distinction between inside reality and outside reality. We often believe we provide quality deliverables on time and with a smile. But, customers may see us differently. Not that it‘s all bad– unless you really do deliver crappy product late and are grumpy while you do it…that‘s no good… Creating a true value proposition is a matter of figuring out what you do really well and capitalizing on it. Here‘s how to do it in three easy steps: Step 1: Interview three people in your company. If it‘s just you, then ask yourself the following questions. Either way, take notes for future reference.  What services do you offer?  Are you services cost competitive?  What kind of support do you offer?  In your opinion, what is your value?  What evidence do you have to prove your value?  What the most common piece of positive feedback you receive?  What are three adjectives that describe your offering?  What makes you (or your product or company) different than the competition?  If I‘m your ideal customer, why should I buy from you over anyone else?  What do you do that your competitors do not?  What problem do you solve?  What pain do you relieve? 31
  32. 32. Step 2: Interview three customers. Again–be sure to take notes. Why did you choose to purchase with/hire/partner with/accept [your name here] over anyone else? What was the selection process? What alternatives did you consider? What impact has [your name, product or company] had on your company? What impact has [your name, product or company] had on you personally? What is the most important feature of [your name, product or company]‗s solutions? How do you gauge success when it comes to [what your customer purchased]? Have you worked with competitors to [you name, product or company] before? How do they measure up? In what area does [your name, product or company] excel? In what areas could [your name, product or company] improve? Would you recommend [your name, product or company] to your friends and peers?Step 3: Look at your ―inside reality‖ answers and your ―outside reality‖ answers–do they match up?Only now can you create a true value proposition–the bottom-line reason anyone should hire, partner with or pay you over anyone else. Once you have this, you are golden.You can use this as part of your elevator pitch, as a sales tool and of course, as a solid branding tool.AUTHOR: Wendy Brache builds and executes personal branding and online marketing strategy for executives and corporations in the high-tech sector. She is the author of Sales Force Branding: Differentiate from the Competition, and co-creator of the Sales Force Branding program. Wendy is a senior consultant specializing in B2B Corporate Social Media, Demand Generation and Marketing Automation, and is also a featured marketing technology speaker and columnist on renowned websites, such as Dan Schawbels top-rated marketing blog,, Maria Shriver‘s Women‘s Conference, and Chopra‘s The above article was originally published on 32
  33. 33. 2 Key Ingredients to Social Media ContentWendy Brache Key Ingredient #1: Always remember that you are marketing to humans. Spiro Pappadapolous is a speaker and consultant for restaurateurs and small business owners looking for ways to enhance their revenue through social media and emerging technologies. In a recent blog post, Spiro pointed out an important branding lesson: “You are marketing to humans.” Of course, we all know this…but the content we delineate into our marketplace often proves otherwise. Spiro points out the following: ―Social media is not a broadcast medium, it is an interaction medium.‖ He notes the importance of participating in the conversation without selling all the time: ―Share valuable information, share others ideas and services, say thank you, and root others on. Be a friend, a champion, and true to your beliefs. That is being human, being social, and being genuine.‖ Key Ingredient #2: Just be clear and honest Marketing Experiments, powered by MECLabs is an expert resource in optimizing marketing communications. In a recent webinar, the team turned to their research to uncover what kind of copy converts the most. Presenter Flint McGlaughlin gave attendees an easy-to-remember rule of thumb: ―Clarity trumps persuasion.‖ So, here‘s the secret to great copy: Be clear and honest. In the end, great content + social media = customers AUTHOR: Wendy Brache builds and executes personal branding and online marketing strategy for executives and corporations in the high-tech sector. She is the author of Sales Force Branding: Differentiate from the Competition, and co-creator of the Sales Force Branding program. Wendy is a senior consultant specializing in B2B Corporate Social Media, Demand Generation and Marketing Automation, and is also a featured marketing technology speaker and columnist on renowned websites, such as Dan Schawbels top-rated marketing blog,, Maria Shriver‘s Women‘s Conference, and Chopra‘s The above article was originally published on 33
  34. 34. Content Marketing for Your BrandWendy Brache Content is a tool used to develop awareness. Content marketing is ―a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.‖ (-Junta42) So, how do we take awareness-developing content and turn it into sales? Let‘s start with a brief timeline of the decision making process: Prospects first get an idea to buy. They then begin their research by asking peers and colleagues for recommendations.They continue by searching for and gathering information, and ultimately call a company or person for more information. Well-known author of The Sales Bible, Jeffrey Gitomer, states that when a sales rep can reach a prospect with value-added information at the beginning of this decision making process, s/he has up to an 85% chance of winning business.Why? Because at this point, s/he can shape the criteria upon which the prospect makes all subsequent decisions in the buying process. Sales reps who don‘t reach the prospect until the end of the cycle have only a 15% chance of closing a deal. [Source: Jeffrey Gitomer, The Sales Bible. John Wiley and Sons, Revised edition 2003.] Gitomer provides further evidence, indicating a 95% chance of winning business when a prospect calls the sales rep versus a 5% chance when the sales rep cold calls a prospect, [Source: Gitomer, The Sales Bible] which suggests strategic actions can enhance the power of timing within the sales cycle. 34
  35. 35. The key to winning business lies in the strategic ability to provide valuable content to the potential buyer during the initial stages of the buying cycle, thus encouraging the prospect to engage early on.Your 2012 content plan should tell a story about your brand and provide a clear value proposition. It‘s a good idea to create a 6-month plan now, and then another 6-month plan after Q1, allowing you to modify your messaging as needed. Throughout the course of the year, your story can be told via blog, email, direct messaging, through social networks and direct mail.Regardless of the medium, your content should be: Relevant Timely Engaging HelpfulAbove all, your content should help your prospects make a buying decision.AUTHOR: Wendy Brache builds and executes personal branding and online marketing strategy for executives and corporations in the high-tech sector. She is the author of Sales Force Branding: Differentiate from the Competition, and co-creator of the Sales Force Branding program. Wendy is a senior consultant specializing in B2B Corporate Social Media, Demand Generation and Marketing Automation, and is also a featured marketing technology speaker and columnist on renowned websites, such as Dan Schawbels top-rated marketing blog,, Maria Shriver‘s Women‘s Conference, and Chopra‘s The above article was originally published on 35
  36. 36. Using Customer Stories to Nurture LeadsOliver Picher Are you still using one-size-fits-all case studies in your marketing? You might be causing your sales efforts more harm than good. Here are some secrets that will help you write better case studies for lead nurturing and content marketing. A few years ago, the CEO of the company asked me to manage our sales references. Our prospects often asked our sales representatives if they could speak to a few of our current customers. No problem, you might think, except the CEO confessed that several big sales had been lost because the customer said something that scared away the prospect! I knew we didn‘t have customers giving us ―bad references,‖ so there must have been something else at work here. In researching why we had lost those sales, I discovered several key secrets to using customers in both the sales and – yes — the marketing process. Those same secrets can be used to improve the effectiveness of your case studies in your content marketing. Case studies can be a valuable part of your efforts to nurture leads and move them through the marketing and sales process. Here are the secrets I learned: Ever prospect is different. I discovered that our sales references had been picked based on a rather simple criteria: could we get someone to take the prospect‘s phone call? There was no consideration for what criteria the prospect was using in their buying decision. I put in place a process in place that would identify the criteria important to the prospect, then I would match up customers who could speak to those specific issues. 36
  37. 37. Are you still developing your case studies based solely on ―which customers are willing to take my phone call?‖ Stop that, right now. Instead, think about the leads and prospects in your sales and marketing funnel. What criteria are they using to decide whether to engage with you and eventually become your customer? Research your current customers to learn which ones speak to those criteria, and then target those for case studies.A hot button for one is a red flag for another. The sales we had lost were because the customer had rather innocently said something that raised a red flag for the prospect on our ability to deliver on what they needed.Perhaps our customer loved our service team, because she called them night and day several times a week. The prospect, however, was looking for a ―set and forget‖ solution that wouldn‘t require much handholding from us. The customer made a great and positive comment that would have worked well for a prospect looking for a strong customer support team, but it absolutely destroyed our chances with this particular prospect!I learned to start asking our sales teams about the hot buttons and the land mines for the prospects. A hot button was a positive issue that would help move the deal forward, or even accelerate it. A land mine was something that would ―blow up the deal‖ if we ran across it. Every prospect was different, so I matched the prospects and customers carefully to ensure that the customers could speak effectively about the hot button issues while avoiding the land mines.In content marketing, these hot button and land mine issues should be part of the persona you use in developing for your content map. What hot button issues are going to engage people? What issues are going to scare them away? These are likely to be different for different segments. Make sure to map the right case study to the right issue and the right segment.Know what the real issue is for your prospect. Our first efforts matched customers and prospects based on industry, company size, job title, or technology. You know, financial services with financial services, CFOs with CFOs, etc. That worked to some extent, but it became clear that there were often other factors involved. It wasn‘t enough to segment out our prospects and customers based on the more obvious demographics. Over time, the hot button and land mine issues we were learning about helped us understand some of the hidden segments. 37
  38. 38. Your case studies need to speak to the ―hidden‖ decision points for your leads and prospects. While industry might be a useful way to segment for you, there may be other more effective issues to address that transcend industry, or company size, or job title, etc.Tell a story, and connect the story to the bigger issues. I spent a lot of time getting to know our customers, and I came to know their stories about how our company had helped them. Every customer had dozens of them. When I would ask a customer to talk with a prospect, I told them about the prospect‘s hot button issues. I then reminded them of some of the stories they had told me, ones that I thought might speak to the prospect‘s hot button issues.You can never put words in a customer‘s mouth. They are going to say what they want to say, and you wouldn‘t want it any other way. At the same time, I knew what our customers would say on certain issues, and I picked them specifically because I knew that issue was important to the prospect. I then connected the story in the customer‘s mind to that issue, so that when the issue came up in conversation with the prospect, the customer might remember to tell the story.Stories are very powerful, making an emotional connection between the storyteller and the listener. The emotions behind the story make it memorable. But you have to be explicit in matching the story to the issue. The response is emotional, you cannot count on people to make a rational connection between the story and the issue. Be explicit in aligning the stories in your case studies with the issues you are targeting.Also, note that every customer has dozens of stories to tell. Don‘t think that one case study will cover all the potential value a customer can offer. Keep a file of dozens of different stories from each customer. Some might be used a more official case study, but others might be used as a quick example in a blog post or a tweet.The final and most important lesson I learned was that the right connection will resonate with people. I had one customer who was so eager to speak with our prospect that he took the phone call while he was driving away on vacation.There is no reason we should be shoving one-size-fits-all case studies at our leads and prospects. Instead, we should be looking to target our customer stories so that they resonate with the issues, hot buttons, and decision points each of the segments in your content map. 38
  39. 39. Are Your White Papers Accomplishing YourLead Generation GoalsApryl Parcher Many companies have noticed that their white papers aren‘t attracting the attention they once did. With all the shiny new toys available in marketing today, some are even asking the question, ―Is the traditional white paper dead?‖ A better question to ask might be, ―Am I using white papers correctly?‖ Sadly, often the answer is ―No.‖ Yes, burgeoning technologies such as the Internet, social media, video and mobile have created shorter attention spans, paper-less offices, and global competition—but that doesn‘t mean your prospects aren‘t still looking for in- depth information. So how can we make the traditional white paper perform in today‘s world? Let‘s take a closer look at what constitutes a good white paper, and how we can take advantage of today‘s technologies to distribute and share it more effectively. The Basic Building Blocks Compelling content that captures and engages the reader: Because today‘s prospect has limited time, he has to be picky about the information he selects to read/absorb. Your content needs to immediately grab his attention, or it‘s lost in the shuffle.To capture and engage him, you need to have a thorough knowledge of your ideal reader—not a faceless, nameless group of people, but a deep knowledge of the individual—enough to picture this person in your mind‘s eye. An in-depth profile of your reader is essential before beginning a project, and should include the following: a.Age and sex b. Job function/title c. Personality type d. Emotional motivators e.Top problems and concerns (what keeps them up at night?) This information allows the writer to speak directly to the intended reader, construct headlines, leads and subheads that attract their attention, and body copy that engages them from the outset and keeps them reading. 39
  40. 40. Enough information to adequately explore problems/solutions: While today‘s white papers have become shorter than in the past, many companies make the mistake of trying to make them too short. A one-page product brief is not a white paper—and shouldn‘t be labeled as such.A true white paper must be long enough to fully explore the problems your solution provides. It should be carefully worded to include the trends or market drivers that are affecting the prospect‘s decisions, as well as third-party proof elements such as reports, graphs and statistics your reader will recognize and respect that bolster your arguments.Incorporating enough information to help your reader make a decision will generally take more than four pages, and can include as many as 10 or 12.Don’t try to “sell” me: The main point of a white paper is to persuade your reader that your solution will solve their problems. However, you should avoid overt sales language and hype.Your reader is looking for concrete answers—not a heavy-handed sales pitch.In fact, among professional white paper writers, there is an ―unwritten code‖ regarding sales language—try to get the client NOT to use it.Veteran white paper writer, Jonathan Kantor, puts it this way: ― …when it comes to developing a business white paper, many companies often forget these unwritten rules by presenting too much information about their organization before they have been able to earn their readers‘ credibility, an essential ingredient necessary to leverage that white paper into generating a ‗warm‘ business lead.‖Make it easy to read: Another aspect of successful white papers is readability. Today‘s short-attention-span audiences like brevity, clarity and visual appeal—so give it to them. Use short paragraphs, bold subheads, bullet points, colorful diagrams and illustrations…and lots of white space.When outlining your paper, also keep in mind the logical flow of information. The general outline of a typical problem/solution white paper should include these basic elements (in this order):a. Abstract (or Executive Summary )b. Introductionc. Trendsd. Problems (explore 3-5)e. History (can act as segue into solution)f. Generic solutiong. Company-specific advantagesh. Call to action 40
  41. 41. Include a planned launch/measurement strategyIn addition to these essential building blocks, modern white papers need a detailed launch and measurement strategy to ensure success. Just a few short years ago, the best mode of distribution was the company website and content syndication sites like Bitpipe and Techcrunch. However, posting and ―hoping‖ is no longer an option in today‘s crowded marketplace. Your audience may still look for your content on syndication sites, but you need a more comprehensive approach to getting your content in front of your target audience, which must include the biggest game-changer in marketing today—social media.Like it or not, social media is a fundamental shift if the way humans communicate…and leaving it out of your launch strategy is akin to paddling instead of motoring. A comprehensive social media strategy should include breaking your content into smaller chunks and sharing that content across a variety of social platforms—all of which should point back to your white paper and company website: Blog about it Use Twitter to Tweet key ideas Post strategic points to Facebook and LinkedIn Make and publish videos about key points Write articlesWhich platforms you use will depend on where your audience resides in the social sphere, but creating a written plan of action while you‘re planning and writing your white paper will help you decide how to chunk the information for your audience—and which platforms to use to your advantage.Modern sharing mechanismsThe industry standard for publishing white papers is still the PDF format, which is easy to print and/or share electronically with colleagues. However, keep in mind that new technologies can be incorporated into your documents to make them more sharable and search engine friendly, such as:SEO tagging (via document properties)Live LinksTwitter Re-tweet buttonsFacebook “like” buttons“Share This” buttonsIf your white papers aren‘t generating the leads you would like, try re-assessing how they‘re put together and how you disseminate them. While there have been lots of changes in marketing over the years, your prospects are still looking for information to help them make buying decisions, and a properly-executed white paper that takes advantage of today‘s technological changes is still one of the best forms of lead generation available. 41
  42. 42. Using Email to Promote Your Content?Think RelevanceApryl Parcher Many companies rely on email campaigns to make announcements about new content (such as white papers) to their client list. However, tracking those blast emails isn‘t always high priority. Do you know how many of your emails actually make it to your clients‘ inbox? How do you measure that? Is there a significant portion of your e-list that seems dead or unresponsive? According to Marketing Sherpa‘s 2011 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, one of the biggest challenges facing email marketers today is deliverability— but marketers have some new tools on hand to help ensure that their content reaches their intended audience. Recently, Sherpa came out with a webinar conducted with Return Path, an email deliverability services provider, that discussed these tactics. Here are some of the highlights: Of the 1,100 marketers interviewed in the survey, 65% say that targeting recipients with highly relevant content is a significant challenge, and 39% said that improving deliverability is a big hurdle. According to Sherpa, these two factors, relevancy and deliverability, are tightly linked. In fact, irrelevancy is the number one reason that people unsubscribe, and why email is not delivered. About half of email marketers don‘t get it, however. They‘re still blasting subscribers with irrelevant messages. But the intersection between what we want to say and what our readers are interested in is the measure of relevance. RELEVANCE This concept tracks right along with how you title your white papers and use the right copy to engage the reader and keep them interested, doesn‘t it? Assuming that you‘ve done your homework there and have a compelling report to share, the next trick is getting your email opened so subscribers see and absorb the content. One way to do that is to use what you know about your subscribers (collecting data, tracking behavior) for personalization and titling. Helpful data can be collected using automated analytics tools (like Google Analytics) to track what people are doing on your website once they click on your email.You can also use volunteered content preferences from subscription forms to help you deliver the kind of content your readers are looking for. 42
  43. 43. Content Relevancy Improves DeliverabilityWe know that when people are actively looking for content on the web, that they respond to content that seems relevant to their needs. The same is true of email. When someone chooses to subscribe to your list it‘s because they expect you to deliver relevant content. Meeting relevancy expectations improves activity (open and click rates), which also improves your sender reputation both from your recipients‘ point of view, and from the automatic SPAM detection systems that filter emails.Other Factors to ConsiderA big chunk of emails go undelivered—and this is something you may not be able to see from your Email Service Provider (ESP) reports.Return path talked about the concept of Inbox Placement Rate (which is NOT your ―delivered‖ rate). Most people think that the ―sent‖ messages minus the ―bounce‖ messages equals ―delivered‖ rate, but that‘s not true. It‘s the percentage of your emails that actually make it into your subscribers‘ inboxes. Unfortunately, that‘s not a metric that‘s tracked by most ESPs.In addition to discussing Inbox Placement Rate, Return Path noted several other things that marketers need to address in order to increase deliverability, and they include: Monitoring your reputation Using Seed List Monitoring to review subscriber activity Routinely removing dead addresses Using win-back initiatives to recapture inactive (but still valid) subscribers Managing frequency Performing complaint analysis (to determine who is marking your emails as spam and why) Maintaining a dedicated IP address Having a solid email infrastructureHow Do Your Email Campaigns Stack Up?If you routinely deliver your white paper content to your email subscribers, you may want to take a second look at how your mail is delivered, what percentage actually makes it to the subscriber inbox, and how your subscribers interact with your mail.Getting a better handle on where you stand regarding email deliverability is a good starting place. Scrutinizing your email practices and making improvements can help your emails pass subscriber and email provider relevancy tests—both of which are important in making sure your content has a chance to engage your reader. 43
  44. 44. Matching Content to Buyer Personas.Gerry Lantz How to match content to buyer personas B2B marketers, how do you make content truly useful to customers? Let me answer that with a question: do you know your customers‘ needs, desires and behaviors extremely well? So well, that you know what compels them? Don‘t be quick to answer ―yes‖.You should know customers so intimately, you could write their story. What‘s a persona? Marketers and agencies have used the word ―persona‖ to bring a heightened understanding of customers to the targeting of selling messages and relationship-building over time. Using first-hand observation of consumers via anthropological studies, qualitative methods, and crunching primary and secondary data, agencies and marketers are able to draw holistic portraits of a customer. These portraits consist of words, pictures, video, every possible sense experience (e.g., four years ago Chrysler built ―persona rooms‖ to help them design and launch new models reflecting purchasers‘ lifestyles). I like the term ―persona‖ because it pushes marketers beyond simplistic boxcar demographics that don‘t contain real insight. The process pushes deeper to find customer motivations and decision patterns. Even better, a persona is not just another name for a user‘s ―personality‖, which is typically described in not-so-useful generics, e.g., playful, stressed, health-conscious, blah-blah-blah. Personas force the discovery of human qualities that are rich, individualistic, and relatable. (For example, working with Hershey‘s Kisses®, we discovered that women purchasers ―loved‖ the brand, truly found it lovable and quirky in its shape, foil wrap, and flag on top.The result was a 20-plus year campaign, still running, where Kisses live as charming characters dancing around in white space print and TV ads.) 44
  45. 45. Gathering material for a personaEven if you don‘t have the resources of a national marketer (or the space to add an extra room onto your house), the information you need to flesh out a customer persona is as close as your keyboard and the nearest Starbuck‘s®.Tap the internet and conduct free or inexpensive on-line surveys.Pick up the phone. Seek simple informational interviews with potential targets. Offer to buy them a coffee, not to sell but to learn. I have found customers often are happy to give you ―the benefit of their experience‖ when you ask for it sincerely. More often than not, the big answers are not found by sitting behind your desk.Ask for and listen to customers‘ stories—how they experience you, your company and its services. Ask sales people to tell stories about customers: how they express their goals, the relief they seek, and what makes them comfortable.Yes, comfortable. Use customers‘ words, not yours. It‘s an authentic human story that creates a persona.Write their story relative to the products or services you offer. It doesn‘t have to be longer than a paragraph, maybe two. At the core of every good story is the question: ―What‘s at stake?‖ What‘s a customer‘s struggle or tension or highest aspiration—―their object of desire‖? Whether you write it well or not, your understanding (including a photograph, video, whatever) will be richer and more useful when you finally tell them your story. 45
  46. 46. Compelling Content:Your StoryWhen it comes to telling the right story to the right individual in a blog, a website, a tweet, or an email, some classic marketing and selling rules apply.1. ―It‘s not about you, it‘s about them.‖This adage contains two key principles for shaping content for true consultative selling. First, don‘t just rattle on about your product or services or how smart you are—don‘t be presentational, be invitational. Huh? Don‘t just talk ―at‖ your audience, start a conversation ―with‖ them. Make content so involving that it invites a response.Second, tie into their story, their persona. The game is to be genuinely helpful and allow prospects to involve themselves with you. For every product, service or bit of wisdom you have to share, turn the corner verbally so the customers see explicitly how they can use it to better their business.2. It‘s not about what you want to say but what you want to accomplish.Start writing with the end goal in mind. Don‘t meander. Know what you want a potential customer to do after they read your words of wisdom on a subject about which you are an expert. Is it merely to get them aware of you, return to your blog, respond with thinking of their own (ask for it!), or contact you directly. 46
  47. 47. 3. Tell two kinds of stories: success stories and an overall storySuccesses told as stories (not as dry situation-action-result case histories) cause people to perk up and pay attention, especially when the story is directly relevant to their business. Here‘s a made-up example. ―A major auto parts wholesaler‘s sales collapsed with a resounding thud in 2009 as the auto industry teetered on the edge of bankruptcy.They tapped the power of marketing automation to engineer a recovery ahead of the industry. Here‘s how they did it . . . .‖ If you‘re in that industry, you‘re interested.See your entire piece as a story. Start with a tension, a struggle, an obstacle, or an issue that you can help resolve or an opportunity you can help customers seize. (Note the opening of this piece.) Build the story by connected and escalating steps (some supported by success stories) that lead to the ultimate outcome they seek, whether it be improved ROI, more control, or simply useful knowledge they didn‘t have before.A persona is a discoverable story and the best content is a story that brings them both together. 47
  48. 48. Feeling Stumped When Creating GreatContent? What Would Steve Jobs Do?Rachel Franco Steve Jobs was a creative genius. I know. Tell you something you dont know. Did you know that you can look to Jobs for key lessons in creating genius content? If youre feeling stumped when it comes to content or content marketing, ask yourself what Steve Jobs would do. And then do it. Because Steve Jobs wasnt just about thinking differently; he was about acting boldly. What can we learn from Steve Jobs when it comes to content and content marketing? He delivered what his customers wanted...and more. Jobs was legendary for knowing what his customers wanted even before they did and for convincing them to follow him wherever he wanted to take them.You can do that too with your content. Develop those buyer personas and deliver content that speaks to them. But dont just speak to them where they are now. Look out into the future, as Jobs did, and deliver content that convinces your prospects and customers of a need they may not even know they have yet - but will as soon as your content shows them how your solution solves their problem(s) in a different and better way. 48
  49. 49. Steve Jobs was passion in action. He had this incredible way of making you believe that what he said was "the greatest thing ever" was indeed the greatest thing ever. How can you inspire your readers to think your content is the best content ever? And, in turn, to think that your companys solution is the best solution ever? Dont be afraid to inject some personality, passion and creativity into your content. Customers were glued to every move Steve Jobs made. Be creative so that your buyers will be just as glued to your content.Jobs was uniquely gifted at driving diverse parties toward a common goal. Jobs didnt just have innovative ideas; he knew how to drive the diverse personalities within Apple toward a common vision in order to bring these ideas to life. How can you encourage the different constituents (sales, marketing, etc.) in your own organization to create and follow a cohesive, targeted content strategy? 49
  50. 50. Is Your Content Having an Identity Crisis?Rachel Franco Are you on Facebook? If you are (and Im guessing you are), then youve probably noticed the many improvements annoying changes theyve made recently. Talk about negatively impacting the user experience - at least, according to my Facebook friends. And, talk about an identity crisis. Facebook is an example of an identity crisis if Ive ever seen one. In trying to be so much like Twitter, Facebook is coming very close to losing itself, to losing the customer experience that kept its customers loyal. (Lets ignore all of those privacy issues for now!) Is your content having an identity crisis? Is your company trying so hard to be like its competitors that its sounding just like its competitors? Dont "be like Mike". Be different. How can you create differentiating content? Here‘s a start: Understand your audience. To communicate effectively with your readers, you must know who they are. Know everything you can about your target markets, from who they are, what their needs are, the types of content they read, their most preferred channels, etc. Dont just think about their current needs, but also about their "future needs" - like Steve Jobs would do (see "Feeling Stumped When it Comes to Content Marketing? Ask Yourself, What Would Steve Jobs Do?") 50
  51. 51. Understand your competition. If you dont know what your competition is saying in its marketing content, how can you know what to say in yours thats different? Enough said.Think and act like a journalist. Journalists are storytellers. They probe and investigate so that they can craft the most compelling and credible story that will engage their readers. Be like a journalist and create and publish content on a consistent basis thats timely, educational, relevant and engaging.Include a differentiating call to action. Knowing what action you want your readers to take is crucial for an effective lead generating and lead nurturing strategy. What call-to-action can you include in each piece of content thats meaningful to your audience(s) and different from that of your competition? Dont just differentiate your content; differentiate your offer.I dont need to tell you how overcrowded the market is right now in terms of content. I just ask that, if your content is having an identity crisis, find the closest mirror, take a hard look inside and come out knowing who your company is and how unique your content strategy should be. 51
  52. 52. Content Marketing: Of SEO, Websites,Lead Generation, and Landing PagesPaul Mosenson Been thinking about content marketing again and after some recent engagements with some clients, I thought I‘d better shed some light on some important considerations as a further understanding of what content marketing is and how it is deployed. From an inbound marketing perspective, prospects can find you in a number of ways- here‘s two:  Via your website  Via your landing page Let‘s briefly take a deeper dive into each destination channel. By doing so, you‘ll realize that each tactics has its own accompanying content strategy. This is important when you consider your approach to engaging with audiences, and where they are in their own individual buying cycles. As you go through this, think about what are your most important business objectives? If you say site traffic, I say ―no‖ because attracting visitors doesn‘t necessarily lead to sales if your site is not relevant to your prospects and contribute a solution to their business problems. What you should say, is, quality leads that can become future sales opportunities. Website Content Strategy First, what is a website really? Here‘s a definition: A website is an online destination that combines relevant content and images that work together to encourage visitors to do business with you. People can find websites in three ways: 52
  53. 53.  Search Engines. When prospects have identified a need and look to search engines to begin the research process. Other websites or emarketing channels. When your site is listed in a directory that allows a click through, or via advertising, or via a social media channel. Offline marketing efforts. Traditional advertising, direct mail, PR, business cards, friends, referrals, or other avenues that persuade a prospect to enter your site into an Internet browser.So there are two elements here: The website content itself, and content that leads to a site visit (SEO mostly). Here are some questions to ponder for each element:Website. Ask yourself the following questions (at least as a start):1. Have I done enough research on my industry and what my prospects‘ most important pain points are? Does my website address those pain points simple and easily?2. Do I cover the benefits of doing business with my firm?3. Do I do a good job of telling my story without confusing prospects?4. Does my content focus on solving business problems?SEO. More questions to consider:1. Does my website use keywords that my prospects use to find my solutions? Remember, your website is about your buyer‘s needs and language; it‘s not about how well you can write about your features. Get it?2. If I‘m in a very competitive industry, are there keywords or phrases that are searched but maybe not so competitive but give me an opportunity for better organic rankings?3. Are those keywords the basis of your website page titles and meta descriptions?4. Are you writing keyword-laden blog posts and press releases that attract back links? 53
  54. 54. When all is said and done, if your prospect is just thinking about your solution, your website must leave an impression so that the prospect bookmarks it, or subscribes to any updates because of the content. If the prospect is later in the buy cycle, the website must engage the prospect and guide him/her to the next step- a call-to-action phone call, email, or web form.Landing Page Content StrategySo you have a website, and it‘s not optimized yet, so you‘re not getting inbound leads because your website isn‘t found on search engines. Now we get into the complementary, and just as important, lead generation tactic, email capture via landing pages. Landing pages (or microsites) are created specifically to briefly promote your solution, and provide valuable content worth downloading or registering because it contributes to solving a business problem.Landing pages are best used to complement advertising and social media. Here‘s how:Pay-Per-Click. More and more you see ads that promote the content assets available on a landing page. ―Free demo‖ ―Free white paper‖ ―Register Now‖ ―Download Now‖ are all common terms seen in ads with the goal to attract a prospect‘s attention with a form of thought leadership without having to go through a multi- page website. Pure lead generation.Banner ads/enewsletter sponsorships. Other forms of online media placements can also attract audiences to download content. Here‘s the difference. With pay-per- click, audiences are looking for a solution. With advertising, there may not be a demand for your unique solution yet, so banner ads and sponsorships can help build awareness and generate leads.Social Media. There‘s multiple tactics to promote landing pages in social media, including: Twitter: Give your landing page a URL shortener and promote your unique white paper. ―New white paper on how to select a CRM, from @companyX‖ LinkedIn: You can test LinkedIn ads to promote content, or strategically provide a link to the landing page within a LinkedIn discussion or a LinkedIn Answer Blog Posts: An excellent way to summarize available content in your post, with a link to the landing page for full download.Nurturing email. Whether it is a general email platform or marketing automation, content can be delivered via email, promoting new content, and persuading recipients to click to the landing page for download.The above is just the tip of the iceberg, with the attempt to give a brief overview on the two major approaches to content strategy. Websites engage audiences in detail with compelling evidence of your solutions. Landing pages offer content for quick lead generation. The ideal content marketing plan includes strategies for both scenarios.Go back to your goals; both techniques need to work together for optimal lead generation. That‘s what it‘s all about, right? 54
  55. 55. About the Writers Oliver Picher Oliver Picher is a Content Strategist with over 25 years of B2B and high tech marketing experience, both on the corporate side as well as his own consultancy. Oliver is a highly accomplished technology writer and communications expert, with superior skill at writing white papers, case studies, and website content that is relevant and engaging. Oliver‘s past experiences include stints as Marketing Director for Synygy and Public Relations Manager at Unisys. Apryl Parcher Apryl Parcher has over 25 years of experience in business, ranging from civil service to owning and operating several small businesses. She has a wide range of writing experience as well, starting out as a freelance journalist while still operating a retail establishment, and ending up a full-time business copywriter. Her content background allows her to manage our client‘s blogs, social media messaging strategy, and website content. Strategic Alliance: Parcher Marketing Services Susan Fantle Susan‘s specialty is creating content that is interactive and inviting for prospective clients and customers to request and read. With 25+ years of marketing to businesses of all sizes and in dozens of industries, she understands how businesses think and make decisions. She believes that effective educational content designed to generate a response should fit the situation, the goals and the current perceptions of the targeted business title. She speaks the language of business and can help companies make a real connection with their target markets. Strategic Alliance: The Copy Works 55
  56. 56.  Wendy Brache Wendy specializes in high-tech B2B content strategy and development for Fortune 1000 corporations and demand generation agencies. She provides engaging content backed by the strength of a deep technical background, understanding of the executive audience and experience with demand generation best practices and platforms. She writes all forms of web, print and digital marketing content. Strategic Alliance: Sales Force Branding Michael Selissen As a writer and inbound marketer, Michael creates content that establishes thought leadership and promotes brand awareness for B2B companies. He work closely with marketing managers, subject matter experts and senior executives to define expected marketing outcomes, assess the needs and barriers of relevant audiences, match content to address needs and barriers, and integrate that content into the lead management process. His work has appeared in industry newsletters, publications from major technology manufacturers and business Web sites. Strategic Alliance: Case Mountain Communications Maureen Monfore Maureen is a writer and marketing consultant who specializes in business-to- business marketing materials for technology companies. Maureen has written for enterprises like Microsoft as well as for emerging start-ups. Her clients credit her ability to quickly grasp complex ideas and create clear, concise copy that sells. As a marketing consultant and copywriter, Maureen writes and edits many marketing materials like brochures, white papers, trade magazine articles, case studies, data sheets, web pages, blogs, sales presentations and more. Strategic Alliance: MM Copywriting 56
  57. 57.  Bob Leonard Bob works with medium sized information technology (hardware, software and/or services) companies who sell their solutions to other businesses (B2B). Bob helps clients develop marketing strategies that target sophisticated business buyers, and then educates those buyers on the features and benefits of their solutions. Bob has over 20 years‘ experience marketing and selling computer hardware, document management software, telecom infrastructure, storage hardware and software, business intelligence software for airlines, ATM software for banks, and outsourced IT services. Strategic Alliance: acSellerant Rachel Franco Rachel helps technology and healthcare companies write white papers, case studies and articles (newsletter, bylined, etc.) that, in an increasingly ―buyer- controlled world‖, generate and convert more high quality leads into customers. Bringing the inquisitive eye of an investigative journalist and the strategic business savvy of a seasoned B2B marketer, she takes a very results-oriented approach in developing engaging and relevant content for every stage of the sales cycle. Strategic Alliance: RAF Communications Gerry Lantz Stories drive Gerry. He discovers and expresses the authentic, human story in any business communication particularly whitepapers and case histories—no matter how functional or technical the content. His experience in major New York City ad agencies in multiple goods and services categories and as a Corporate Director of Marketing has given him a unique perspective on both the creative and business sides of marketing. He describes himself as a ―creative guy in a business suit‖. Strategic Alliance: Stories That Work 57