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In-Flight Content Guide: Prepping for Your Content Marketing Expedition

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It's time to buckle up for what is sure to be an epic flight as we prepare for a safe landing at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio, USA this September 5-8. The Content Marketing Institute and TopRank Marketing teams once again will bring you a series of three #CMWorld conference ebooks showcasing some of our amazing speakers with their thoughtful advice on content marketing. Hang on for a fun ride - and we'll see you in September! (And be sure to listen to Joe Pulizzi's "message from your captain!" We had fun with this one.)

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In-Flight Content Guide: Prepping for Your Content Marketing Expedition

  1. 1. Adele Revella Marcus Sheridan Carrie Hane Tim Washer Laura Creekmore Rebecca Lieb Jay Acunzo Andrea Fryrear Mark Schaefer Amanda Todorovich Tom Webster Michele Linn Carlos Abler Jeannine Rossignol
  2. 2. A MESSAGE FROM YOUR CONTENT CAPTAIN Wouldn’t it be nice if content marketing were as smooth as a transatlantic flight? While the once wild ride of content marketing has certainly reached cruising altitude, there’s still some turbulence from time to time. According to the latest joint CMI and MarketingProfs research, a full 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing, while 86% of B2C marketers have purchased a ticket to the content skies. It’s certainly wonderful to watch it all take off. Does that mean it’s time to kick back, relax, and turn on autopilot? Not even close. In the same study we found that 59% of B2B marketers say it’s unclear what successful or effective content marketing looks like at their organization. And in the B2C world, just 52% agree that their leadership teams give them ample time to produce content marketing results. Put down that tiny packet of peanuts Maverick, it seems we’re not quite out of flight school. While the value and practice of content marketing have been largely adopted and recognized at scale, the methods for finding success elude many B2B and B2C marketers alike. If we wish for content marketing to succeed as an industry, we must evangelize planning, strategy, and commit to taking the time it takes to get it right. In the following pages we offer tips from top experts on how to prioritize planning and strategy, and ensure your content journey is safe and enjoyable. Buckle up. There’s bound to be a bit of turbulence. Joe Pulizzi Founder, Content Marketing Institute & Content Marketing World
  3. 3. Are you ready to start – or continue – your expedition? Join these speakers and many more at Content Marketing World 2017 this September. We’re ready to provide you with all you need for a successful journey. Register for CMWorld using the code TOPRANK100 for $100 off main event and all-access passes. Content Marketing Institute is the leading global content marketing education and training organization, teaching enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multichannel storytelling. CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and the Intelligent Content Conference event is held every spring. CMI publishes the bi-monthly magazine Chief Content Officer, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. Watch this video to learn more about CMI, a UBM company. To view all research and to subscribe to our emails, visit www.contentmarketinginstitute.com.
  4. 4. “Sure, you have a story YOU want to tell, but are you guessing about whether your audience will care to hear it?” - @buyerpersona
  5. 5. STORIES BUYERS WANT TO HEAR Sure, you have a story YOU want to tell, but are you guessing about whether your audience will care to hear it? Before you begin, you need to know your BUYER’S story. You need an efficient way to focus on the useful aspects of your buyer’s story. You need … 1. Buyer personas that reveal your buyer’s mindset about the decision you want to influence. It’s not enough to profile your buyer – you need insights about how, when and why they make the decision you want to influence. 2. Your buyer’s story to be based on in-depth interviews with real buyers. Don’t settle for fictional personas based on internal or customer perceptions. 3. To build a buyer-focused content strategy by meeting with your solution’s subject matter experts to build story themes that concisely address what your buyers want to hear. Don’t skip this step or nothing will change. Adele Revella CEO, Buyer Persona Institute @buyerpersona Dream Travel Destination My favorite place to go on vacation is home! I’ve traveled all over the world for so many decades, and now I live on a fantastic island in the Puget Sound – San Juan Island. I can’t think of any place I’d rather be.
  6. 6. FIND SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS Most content doesn't start with the Sales team, which is a crying shame. Why? Because they are the subject matter experts. They are the ones with their ears to the ground. They are the ones most aware of the questions/concerns prospects are most commonly asking. Thus, if the content doesn't come from Sales, then it's likely never going to reach its potential nor be integrated into the sales process as it should. Most content marketers don't understand how to turn "The Elephant in the Room" into a core strength. What I mean by that is the fact that every company, product, and service has it's problems, drawbacks, or "none-fit" issues. Most marketers never address these things-- thus turning the issue into the elephant in the room. But the smart ones take the elephant, bring it to the front door, and say, "This is our elephant. We love it." Most content marketers have never taken the time to answer this key question: What are the top 7 reasons why someone would *not* buy from us (assuming they know we exist)? Once this is answered, the question then becomes, "How many of these 7 issues have we addressed *well* on our website and in our content marketing efforts?" Marcus Sheridan President, The Sales Lion @TheSalesLion Dream Travel Destination It's really not where I'm going, but who I'm going with. If my wife and 4 kids are there, it's a paradise. And if deep-sea fishing is also there, then it's heaven!
  7. 7. THINK LESS, NOT MORE Content marketers don’t always start with a customer need. Better to start with the customer journey and map content to each step rather than starting with what the company wants to sell. They tend to think quantity instead of quality. Think less, not more, content. Encourage collaboration between departments and take advantage of technology for easier workflow. Along with that, content marketers don’t necessarily plan for content reuse. They need to consider an intelligent content approach. Content that is structured to optimize performance with technology. It is structurally rich, semantically categorized, automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable. The results include better user experiences, easier storytelling, and more efficient content management. Carrie Hane Principal Strategist, Tanzen @carriehd Dream Travel Destination Italy. Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast specifically. All the movies and photos I see make it look a bit like heaven on earth. I can picture myself in a convertible driving along the coast, with a scarf on my head and big sunglasses, a la Audrey Hepburn.
  8. 8. “Tell stories about shifts in economies or markets that led to reinventing the industry.” - @timwasher
  9. 9. UNLOCK DEEPER STORYTELLING Encourage employees to share photos and short blog posts about their hobbies, cooking classes, hiking trips, etc. Publish these to the company’s “Who We Are” page. This honors employees, and creates rapport and trust between the company and blog readers. One of the main reasons people are hesitant to contribute content is because they don’t know what to write about. Remove that obstacle by providing a specific story concept, and invite employees and customers to submit a blog post or photo with caption., e.g. “What I did this summer.” Stories about history are fascinating. Create a series of stories remotely connected to your industry (but not about your company). Profile inventors and reveal their moment of inspiration. Tell stories about shifts in economies or markets that led to reinventing the industry. Tim Washer Creative Director, Cisco Systems @timwasher Dream Travel Destination Gruene, TX. Float down the Guadalupe River, chicken-fried steak at the Gristmill, a converted 1878 cotton gin overlooking the water, and boot- scootin' to live country music at Gruene Hall.
  10. 10. ASK WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE NEEDS Begin with the end in mind. Set your goals down, and write up your concrete strategy from audience understanding, to business goals, to tactics, to measurement strategy. Put it on a timeline, and then follow through and adjust accordingly. First, as always: Ask what your audience needs, and create the message second. In developing your message, ask yourself, what do you want people to know? More organizations should spend time on message development. We jump very quickly to execution — creating content — but we’d be way more effective if we spent more time on audience and the overall message. Your world is omnichannel and you must be, too. I don’t care what business you’re in; if you don’t have a strategy that enables you to communicate on any platform, you’re toast. Don’t imagine you can get by with email alone, or just a website, or without seriously analyzing all the ways your customers use media today. If this is you, you’re asking for it, and someone will be by shortly to eat your lunch. Laura Creekmore President, Creek Content @LauraCreekmore Dream Travel Destination Top of my travel-bucket list: India. So much rich history...so little time!
  11. 11. Rebecca Lieb Principal, Conglomotron LLC @lieblink Dream Travel Destination Anywhere I haven't already been! I'm excited to run content workshops in Shanghai this winter, my first real visit to China. Also high on my list are India, Australia and New Zealand. DOCUMENT YOUR STRATEGY Sadly, strategy still tops the list. My research, together with that of CMI, still demonstrates that most marketers are flying blind, committing content marketing without first documenting a content strategy. That leads straight into #2: metrics and KPIs. Without understanding what you want to achieve and how you'll measure progress toward that goal, it's all just scattershot content. #3 is being more experimental. Strategy isn't hewn in stone, it can provide margins for learning what's new and next in content marketing, so have fun with it! “Without understanding what you want to achieve and how you'll measure progress toward that goal, it's all just scattershot content.”
  12. 12. “Figure out what makes you, your team, and your customers unique.” - @jayacunzo
  13. 13. THINK MORE Number 1: Think for yourself more. Number 2: Think for yourself more. Number 3: Think for yourself more. There's enough clickbaity, list-ified, secret-selling malarkey out there to fill the galaxy. Figure out what makes you, your team, and your customers unique -- obsess more over your CONTEXT instead of everyone else's advice-filled CONTENT -- and execute against that. You'll be surprised at how easily you stand out from the average noise just by being an exception from it. Jay Acunzo Host, Unthinkable Podcast @jayacunzo Dream Travel Destination The scene: Rome. A tiny family- owned restaurant sitting along the River Tiber. The characters: A wide-eyed, college-aged, extremely broke Jay, and five friends of equal state of mind and wallet. “Figure out what makes you, your team, and your customers unique.”
  14. 14. ADOPT A MORE AGILE APPROACH Adopt a more agile approach to content strategy, which, to be clear, doesn't mean changing it everyday on a whim. It means strategically revisiting strategies at regular intervals and objectively evaluating their performance with an eye towards continuous improvement. Getting to this kind of place takes time and effort, but it lets your content team run in closer sync with the audience and business objectives instead of blindly executing against a six-month strategy. Take a look at your publication cadence and content mix and try to determine if it's really the best fit for your audience. If you're publishing a blog post Monday through Friday because you think that you should, but your audience would prefer two longer written pieces and one video, you're not meeting their needs as well as you could. The flip side of #2 is to really consider your content resources during planning. Be considerate of their workloads. Don’t destroy their passion for content with unrelenting production demands and unreasonable expectations. Andrea Fryrear Chief Content Officer, Fox Content Ltd. @AndreaFryrear Andrea’s Dream Travel Destination Hands down Rome, largely because its history and architecture are totally unique. But also because pasta. And wine. And cannoli.
  15. 15. BE ORIGINAL "Look up." Don't be so wedded to a content schedule that you miss opportunities to comment on relevant news and shifts occurring in your industry. Ignore SEO. Well, not ALL the time, but consider how SEO can be holding you back. Content goes viral because it’s unique. If you're only aiming at popular keywords, by definition you're optimizing to an average, not necessarily creating something that is entirely bold and new. Challenge yourself to create content that only YOU can create. To stand out, you must be original, and to be original, you need to have the courage to bring your own story into the narrative. Mark Schaefer Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions @markwschaefer Dream Travel Destination I've been to 60 countries so I've seen a lot, but one that is hard to get to is Nepal. It's a colorful and exotic place with such a rugged landscape!
  16. 16. “Look at content data every day and tweak based on the analytics.” - @amandatodo
  17. 17. ADAPT TO YOUR AUDIENCE Mine and mind your data. Dig into the analytics of your content performance. Listen to what your customers are telling you with their behavior and interaction with your content. Make sure you’ve got a persona that you’re creating for… who are they? What’s their name? What are their interests? What devices are they using to engage with your content? Adapt and be fluid with your content scheduling. Scheduling months out isn’t always a great idea. Optimize to the current news environment. Look at the data every day and tweak/adjust/optimize based on the analytics. Do not “set it and forget it.” Amanda Todorovich Director, Content Marketing, Cleveland Clinic @amandatodo Dream Travel Destination Hawaii. I’ve never been there, and my family wants to go. We love beautiful beaches, and spending time in tropical weather. I have this memory of my daughter when she was like 2 years old asking us to go to “Who-why-ee” that always makes me smile.
  18. 18. ENTERTAIN & CHALLENGE I don’t know about three things content marketers *aren’t* doing—but I will give my three criteria for anything I put out: it has to entertain, it has to challenge, and it has to come from genuine subject matter expertise (not content marketing expertise). If I can hit all three, it meets my ultimate goal: content I am proud of. Tom Webster Vice President, Strategy & Marketing, Edison Research @webby2001 Dream Travel Destination Cleveland. Definitely Cleveland. CMW falls on my birthday every year, so it’s become Party City Ohio to me. “[Content] has to entertain, it has to challenge, and it has to come from genuine subject matter expertise (not content marketing expertise).”
  19. 19. FROM ”MEH” TO MEANINFUL Shut down: One thing marketers don’t excel at is being quiet . . . truly quiet. Marketers who actively turn off social, email and all other distractions to think and create will have a distinct advantage over their “always on” peers who are most certainly busy, but who may or may not be productive with meaningful work. Think about how what they create makes people feel: To quote my friend and fellow CMW speaker, Andrea Fryrear, “Our job is not to create content. Our job is to change the world of the people who consume it.” If marketers can truly get into this mindset, the content they create can be transformed from “meh” to truly meaningful. Say no – or not now: The last thing I think marketers need to do a better job with is prioritization. Make deliberate decisions about the few things you will focus on, and work on them until they are complete (or at least until they are ready to pass off to the next person). Don’t feel the need to prioritize new ideas; rather, decide if they need to take priority or if they should be put in the “parking lot” for now. Michele Linn VP of Content, Content Marketing Institute @michelelinn Dream Travel Destination If I had to choose something from my bucket list, it would be one of those overwater bungalows in Tahiti. I adore the ocean, and I’d love to wake up in those surroundings. island in the Puget Sound – San Juan Island. I can’t think of any place I’d rather be.
  20. 20. “More content producers should strive to produce the best thing that exists.” - @Carlos_Abler
  21. 21. EMBRACE SALES ENABLEMENT The content marketer should make content they KNOW their clearly defined target audience will actually WANT. You wouldn’t think I would have to recommend such a perfectly obvious thing. Unfortunately, hordes of content producers still operating as if simply pushing content into channels is an end in itself. There is more ‘nontent’ than ‘content’ out there. Until that stops, we’ll need to reiterate that relevance is king. Content isn’t king. Relevance is. Content is just a means to an end to relevance. Or it’s nontent. Identify the content that will answer the needs of their audience, and then benchmark their content concept against that most competitive content in that category they can find, and then surpass it. Too many content initiatives are benchmarking to some ‘meh’ common denominator. More content producers should strive to produce the best thing that exists. For that, due diligence to investigate the landscape of existing content would help. Every content marketer in the world should do a mirror affirmation saying “Relevance is King, I will not produce nontent”. Carlos Abler Leader, Content Marketing Strategy, Global eTransformation – 3M @Carlos_Abler Dream Travel Destination The Rif mountains of Morocco, where I would join a musical trance brotherhood, so I can whirl away into ecstasy until there is nothing left of me.
  22. 22. KEEP SALES IN MIND Sales Enablement. We spend the majority of our time as marketers thinking about the customer, their needs and how our product/service will help them. We use our content to start great conversations with customers. But if we don’t plan for how sales will use the content when we turn the customer over to them, there will be a huge disconnect. A disconnect that could result in a lost opportunity, or worse a lost customer for life. We need to know our sales team, their selling process and ensure we’ve developed content that also meets their needs. I’m so passionate about this topic, it is the focus of my session at CMWorld! Jeannine Rossignol Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Xerox @j9rossignol Dream Travel Destination My dream travel destination is Egypt to see the Great Pyramids of Giza. They are an amazing, inspiring accomplishment from an ancient world.
  23. 23. And now, a word from your captain CARE TO SHARE YOUR IN-FLIGHT EXPERIENCE? Click any of the icons below to share the in-flight guide on your favorite social network.
  24. 24. And now, a word from your captain WHAT’S NEXT? The joyride doesn’t have to end here. Sign up for our exclusive CMI Airlines Perks Rewards Program** today, and you’ll receive a ticket to our next In-flight Content Guide, “Creating a Memorable Content Experience.” This piece will feature even more amazing advice from thought leaders and brands on how to cruise through the content skies like Maverick and Goose. Due to legal restrictions, we will not be be serving peanuts, pretzels, or alcoholic beverages during next week’s flight experience. Just ToFu, BoFu, and a bit more ToFu content to round out the flight. *There is absolutely, positively no such thing as CMI Airlines Perks Rewards, but we WILL send you amazing content advice (and only when you want it) if you sign up for our newsletter!

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