Marketing Content That Sells

August 30, 2010

When talking with lead nurturing and marketing automation vendors they all make it seem very easy.

You setup a campaign, define the nurturing stages, and even add some points to different interactions to score the lead and customize the nurturing experience. Then with all the triggers in place, sit back and watch the software do the job of sending the right message to the right prospect at the right time. Wow, it’s magical!

Yes, except for one little detail. Who’s going to write all that new content? Do you have the staff to do it? Will you have to outsource? Do you even know what kind of content you need for each nurturing stage? Yup, it is more complicated when you get to the implementation phase of the program, and that’s where most companies fail.

But why the focus on content? David Meerman Scott, in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR points out that creating quality content is the new imperative:

“The tools of the marketing and PR trade have changed. The skills that worked offline to help you buy or beg or bug your way in are the skills of interruption and coercion. Online success comes from thinking like a journalist and a thought leader”.

You’d think that everyone would be doing it by now, but that’s not the case.

I recently finished reading Trust Agents, by @chrisbrogan and @julien, who approach this subject by saying:

“The difficulty in creating content that will get a recommendation, the one that most companies tend to get wrong, is that they don’t think creatively about how their content can be exciting to the average population”.

Ha! That reminds me of what I see when I visit most B2B companies’ websites.

We have all been there. You are researching a new product or service and Google points you to a website, one of the key vendors in that space, and you have to read the page twice to really get it what they are trying to say. How is it that your product or service will benefit me? What is that acronym you keep using? How do I get in touch with someone who can explain all of this? In the B2B marketing space this is notorious. Go to a trade show and the situation gets really bad. Trade show booths with slogans and taglines that don’t mean anything and sales brochures that are full of “features” and screenshots but lack detail of how they solve a problem.

While I still struggle to write good content, I did find some useful resources online that I hope will also help you out.

The resources above are a great start. The key ideas that seem to be present across them all are:

  • Buyer persona is key for content generation
  • Guest writers (employees, competitors, etc.) can help tremendously especially if you can’t dedicate a resource full time for the content writing job
  • Lists seem to be a favorite item on the web and a great way to get more viewers, just figure out what topic should your list cover
  • Content reuse, multiple formats for the content is a nice way of creating lots of content without having to come up with new ideas all the time (formats include webinar, recording, eBook, blog post, etc.)
  • Time the content for the right stage in the buying cycle / lead nurturing process – this is the most difficult, because it requires you to really know your customers and prospects

What has been your main challenge with content marketing?


The Ghost Blogging Debate Done Right

August 23, 2010

If there is a discussion that will never die is the Ghost Blogging debate. I recently listened to the best arguments both in favor and in opposition of ghost blogging via a Six Pixels of Separation podcast, expertly conducted by Mitch Joel who discussed the issue with Mark W. Schaefer, another excellent blogger and marketer.

Here’s the link to the podcast SPOS#214, it’s worth listening to. Then, check out Mitch’s blog Ghost Blogging And Last Rites for some additional insight and great comments by readers.


Mapping the Social Media Landscape

August 11, 2010

Infographics, according to Wikipedia are “graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge”. It’s also a wonderful way to communicate your message. Marketers that manage to become good at visual data communication can positively influence their companies into taking the right approach or strategy. Talking with the CEO or other managers about what all those metrics mean is sometimes a challenge, especially when they are not on top of the latest marketing trends or technologies.

When it comes to social media, a nice chart can do the talking job for you. The problem is finding the right one. The internet is now full of infographics for the social media space and each has its own particular characteristic. Here are some of the more interesting ones I found that try to map out the social media or social networking landscape. Their creators vary widely, from bloggers, marketing companies, to nationally recognized magazines.

National Geographic’s “World Wide Friends” illustration:

National Geographic Magazine World Wide Friends Illustration

National Geographic Magazine World Wide Friends Illustration

Overdrive Interactive “Social Media Map”:

Overdrive Interactive Social Media Map

Flowtown’s 2010 Social Networking Map:

The 2010 Social Networking Map

Flowtown's The 2010 Social Networking Map

Information Architect’s Web Trend Map 3.0:

Web Trend Map 3

Information Architect's Japan Web Trend Map 3

Harvard Business Review “Mapping the Social Internet”:

Mapping the Social Internet

HBR Mapping the Social Internet

Mapping Social Media and Internet Trends

What I like about the maps above is that each one is a great representation of the data it is trying to communicate. The maps that follow a known pattern (subway lines, political map, etc.) tend to be easier to understand because they represent images we’re already familiar with. In general, if it takes you more than a few seconds to understand what the map is trying to say, then it’s not a good map. Your audience, of course, will be the determining factor telling you whether one type of map is more appropriate than the other.

Have you found a good representation of the social media space? Please share!


Best Companies Don’t Need Marketing

August 5, 2010

Interesting set of articles on Inc’s Magazine June Edition “Inside America’s Best Run Companies”, showing how the best small business companies run and the perks and benefits they have to attract and retain top talent. Take for example the following stats mentioned in the magazine:

  • 75% of companies offer educational assistance to its employees
  • 83% of companies practice open-book management
  • 28% of companies pay 100% of employees costs for health insurance
  • 95% of companies offer flexible work arrangements

On top of that, they highlight some of the nicest perks some companies offer, like:

  • On-site pickup and return of clothes that need laundering (McGraw Wentworth)
  • Subsidized meals delivered at employee’s desk (Dealer.com)
  • Two weeks of full-paid leave to work for a nonprofit (Patagonia)
  • $5,000 spending money if you travel abroad plus one extra week vacation (LoadSpring)
  • Professional cleaners go to your home every two weeks, at no cost to employee (Akraya)

If you come from the typical 9 to 5 job where being there is what is expected and you look forward to vacations like a prisoner eager for his 1 hour outside in the patio, then the list above is nothing short of a paradise. The reality is, more and more companies are adopting practices like these (especially telecommuting and flex hours) because technology is such that not only allows you to do it, but makes you more productive.

But companies don’t offer these nice perks just because they are run by nice people. They offer them because the market for talent is fierce. Finding and retaining the best people has always been a challenge, no matter your industry. When you have a little bit extra to offer, being that the free lunch or whatever, you are a step above the competition. And the word gets around and your hiring costs are reduced because people are now finding you for a change.

The best marketing ends up being what the employees tell their friends about their companies. How they like (or don’t like) the perks, and when magazines like Inc pick that up and write a story.


How to Fail at Social Media

August 2, 2010

The challenge of keeping up with the competition in the social media space is not new. The problem is, when a company does very well with a campaign, others come and try to copy the same formula thinking it will also yield higher numbers, but no! The solution, it seems, is far more complicated.

An interesting post on Why So Many Companies Suck at Social Media brings in some good insights and compares the now famous Old Spice youtube campaign with copycats like Cisco and Brigham Young University. Why is it that one company fails miserable while the other gets it right? It seems it has all to do with creating the right message for your audience. But wait, that’s not new… is back to marketing 101 you’d think, no?


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