Killer Presentations

May 26, 2011

As marketers is our job to create meaningful content that will help influence sales. You will eventually find yourself not only writing copy for an eBook, whitepaper or email campaign but also having to create and deliver presentations. That’s where you can shine. Let me explain.

The Suckiness Factor

Most presentations suck. That’s a fact of life and I think that there are people with genetic predisposition to put together boring presentations. No matter how hard they try, people will not be enticed  by new bullet colors and the almost funny jokes.

Think back to the past few presentations you’ve attended. Either from other departments in your company or even delivered via webinar. Now score them according to the “suckiness factor” below:

  • Zero: Outstanding presentation, didn’t feel the time go by.
  • One: Good presentation, I’ve learned something today.
  • Two: Meh, I’ve seen better.
  • Three: What time is it? Wake me up when it’s over.
  • Four: Ugh! All those bullet points are giving me headaches.
  • Five: Stop! Please make it stop! I can’t take it anymore!
This won’t make you feel better but at least you now have something to do during those presentations.

Creating Quality Presentations

The goal of understanding which presentations suck and why, is so that you can avoid the same mistakes when creating yours. Whether you will deliver them yourself or you are creating them for a sales pitch, a demo, conference, or any other event the important thing is to make sure your presentation won’t suck!

The first thing you should do is watch Garr Reynolds explaining how to create great presentations at this Google Talk recorded session (video embedded below).

After you’ve watched the video above, go buy his book, Presentation Zen. It’s an easy read that can take your current presentation and improve it 10x. I’m not kidding.


A Buyer Persona Template for the B2B Marketer

May 20, 2011

With the new hype of content creation now making the rounds of webinars, books, and whitepapers another term has regained the spotlight: the buyer persona.

I was reminded once again of the importance of creating buyer personas during Bulldog Solutions event on Marketing Benchmark in which Rob Solomon walked us through their five step process for organizing your marketing programs:

  1. Business Case
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Process Planning
  4. Program Execution
  5. Measurement

While going through each step should be another post entirely, there were a few really good key insights that defined their approach:

  • Establish a goal and structure all your efforts towards it
  • Map your content
  • Measure and share your results

I’m oversimplifying it but without these three key actions your efforts will prove fruitless. When talking about content mapping, the buyer persona discussion emerged and it became clear that what can come across a simple marketing exercise is actually the pillar of your content creation strategy. Afterall, as Stefannie Tilton best said, “You can’t make a connection with your audience unless you know who you’re trying to reach“.

Personas Drive Content Quality

David Meerman Scott argues that one of the benefits of creating buyer personas is that it will force you to create meaningful, easy to digest content that will actually make a difference in the buying process. In his words:

“Truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, ego-centric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization”

I couldn’t agree more.

Who’s Involved in Creating Personas

During the Bulldog Solutions event, we discuss this issue of how to create one and who should be involved. The agreement was that Sales should be the driver of the creation of the persona, with Marketing only helping the process. This won’t work in all companies, and aguably there might be some pushback to creating personas as a waste of time or it being “just a marketing thing”. Another common problem you might encounter when trying to create Buyer Persona profiles, is that it may be confused with User Persona – something totally different. We, marketers, are concerned with the buyer (we want to influence the purchase) while other departments like Development and Product Management will want to focus on the person actually using the product (a User Persona).

So, from a Buyer Persona standpoint, is only natural that Sales, who is most in touch with the person actually making the buying decision will be front and center in the creation of the profile and it will be a great exercise to align sales and marketing.

Buyer Personas for the B2B Marketer

While buyer personas have a long history (starting to be widely publicized in the early 90’s), what I’ve seen from all the templates that I could find is they are mostly focused on the B2C market adding strong emphasis to demographics, which in the B2B world are not as relevant as say, the person’s title or role in the purchasing process.

Another interesting development that is shaking the B2B space is the increase influence of social media in buying decisions. Buyer Persona Insights makes a good argument when it says that buyers in B2B marketplaces are becoming more social in their interactions.

“B2B buyers today are becoming more social and not just in technology usage but in terms of what the influence of the technology has done to make buyers behave more socially.” – Buyer Persona Insights

Buyer Persona Templates and guides can be easily found on the web, for example:

But don’t just stick with the standard templates, customize them based on your industry, and needs. When you are done, you can then proceed to map out your content to the multiple buyer personas you created. A good way to understand what type of content should be created for each buyer profile has benn outlined by Jeff Ogen on a post “Using Buyer Personas for B2B Marketing“. If you can use the persona you created to answer those questions, your content creation strategy will now have a good framework.

Want another good reason to start working on your buyer personas? According to a Frost&Sullivan Research Report, only 46% of marketers have developed buyer personas, so there are good chances your competition isn’t among them and you can start taking advantage of buyer persona development to improve your content creation. But more importantly, take alook at how Brand Regard improved 3x click-through for their website. They did it, you can too.

Marketing Charts and Trends

May 18, 2011

With an impressive collection of charts, HubSpot released The Marketing Data Box. Get it for free either in PDF or PPT format.

There are 65 charts on 54 data slides showing:

  • The benefits and consequences of social media to US Adults
  • Whether Americans are willing or not to pay for online news
  • The average cost per lead for outbound vs. inbound marketing
  • The percentage of mobile users that own smartphones
  • What activity dominates mobile internet time (and it’s not social networking)
  • Ecommerce growth rates
  • What percent of US population search online for health information, and where they are most likely to go
  • The TV programming that will make your ads more likely to be thought of as trustworthy
Marketing Data Box

The Rise of the Content Marketer

May 9, 2011

Content Needs a King in Marketing

Content Needs a King

I know I don’t have to argue the value of content to readers of this blog. If you are even remotely interested in marketing it is clear that the more the web has transformed the way we promote our products, the more firmly ‘content’ has planted itself as the center of our lives.

Besides the rise of social media as marketing channel, the emergence of marketing technology, more specifically Marketing Automation systems, in which you can configure the automated distribution of content to customers and prospects has been changing the way marketers see and create conent.

The power of marketing automation is the ability to target your marketing database with specific content based on their behavior and stage in the purchasing process. According to a recent report from Forrester Research titled “B2B Marketers Must Better Prepare for Marketing Automation” (get it from Marketo for free), marketers have to really focus their efforts on content creation if they are to succeed:

“If they only push this type of content out in campaigns, they push their audiences away, since business buyers have a low tolerance for commercial messages. When companies start to tailor content to different audiences and stages of the buying cycle, they greatly increase the amount of content, and the type of content needed changes”

Marketing Roles Are Evolving

Marketing used to have clearly defined roles. Marketing Directors and Managers on top, Marketing Coordinators, Marketing Specialists in the middle, followed by Copywriters, Designers, Web Masters, and more at the bottom. Add a few other roles such as events coordinator and more recently email marketing specialist and maybe even something related to social media and you have the hierarchical organization of 90% of marketing departments today.

With the change and addition of new marketing channels, marketers now see themselves more as content creators than anything else. Twitter feeds need updating, Facebook pages need commenting, blog posts need editing, and YouTube videos have to be tagged. All of this new material requires some form of marketing organization, or better yet, organization and support from the marketing team.

What used to be clear roles (i.e. the copywriter writes copy for the ad while the designer makes the ad look pretty), is now morphing into a free for all. Interns are ‘liking’ pages on facebook while the events coordinator is Tweeting about the trade show giveaway at their booth. Sales reps are sharing webinar recordings with prospects, the CEO is blogging his latest thoughts on the industry, the human resources manager is updating the company’s LinkedIn page.

Does it sound familiar? And scary? Yup!

A new role is starting to take shape. I first heard a term I think will become norm at the last Power of eMarketing Conference in San Francisco, during a panel discussion in which Chris Baggott, Compendium’s CEO, talked about the “Content Coordinator“.

The Content Coordinator

The Content Coordinator is basically the person on your marketing team responsible for coordinating content creation and distribution. Note that this person is not necessarily responsbile for creating the content per se, and in fact some will argue that content creation and copywriting are the same, but rather helping with maintaining a consistent message across all channels (content creation should actually be encouraged throughout the company and a good social media policy put in place).

How you think about what content is for your company will determine how big this role is. Think about:

  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Presentations
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Sales Collateral
  • Blog Posts
  • Tweets
  • Facebook Comments/Likes/etc
  • LinkedIn (company page, discussions, etc.)
  • Website

And the list could go on a few more bullets. But you get the idea… content can be as simple or complex as you make it. The important thing is how consistent, or integrated your message and branding is across channels. And unless you have someone paying attention to it, you’re likely to lose the opportunity to influence people towards buying your product.

So while adding another person to your marketing budget may seem tricky at first, maybe you don’t have to hire an additional person (although for larger organizations that should definitely be the case). You could simply rework some job descriptions to free someone’s time to focus more on the whole content coordination aspect. This could be a good stepping stone for a promising young Marketing Coordinator, for example. The important thing is to make it official and empower this individual to really take charge of content inside your organization. This will save everyone (especially the Marketing Manager) a lot of time and avoid headaches down the road.

Larger organizations may even start thinking of a higher level role, of Chief Content Officer, created in order to plan, coordinate the execution, and report on content ROI.

Whether you decide to formally create this new marketing position or keep things the way they are for now, one thing is certain – your content is more king than ever. How you decide to work with it will determine whether you succeed or fail.

The Challenges in Adoption of Marketing Technology

May 3, 2011

A recent webinar hosted by Neolane, “Crack the Code – Getting C-Suite Buy-In for Your Marketing Tech Purchases” had a very interesting presentation by Suresh Vital from Forrester Research.
Based on a recent report on Marketing Technology Adoption for 2011, the findings of their research shed some light on the challenges we face when it comes to marketing technology.

The Goal of Marketing Software

The need for marketing software comes from the necessity to better understand customer behavior across multiple channels. Companies need to be able to track and measure customer interactions from a reliable source and that has driven a lot of the recent interest in Marketing Automation and Customer Intelligence technologies. The goal is to make use of cross channel marketing strategies to target the customer at the right moment and influence purchase decisions.

Not a new trend, but rather a need that has ben greatly amplified by the prevalence of social media channels which in turn is making companies look for technology solutions. Without solid customer data, cross channel strategies become increasingly difficult to implement.

Marketers as Technologists

According to Forrester’s research, data driven marketers are divided about technology investments. 53% of Customer Intelligence professionals (those who own the customer data and are responsible for customer analytics) consider themselves as technology leaders while 47% said they were technology followers.

While personalities play a role, I think corporate policies and the marketing leadership play a big role in shaping up how marketing technology is brought into the company.

Mobile technologies were also a clear trend for 2011, having the majority of marketers saying they are planning on using or increasing the use of mobile marketing technology. Improving customer experience across channels was also top of mind.

Technology and the Marketing Budget

Technology accounts for 10 to 14% of the marketing budget, according to the research. Marketers are starting to play a strong role in defining the needs and in the selection process when it comes to purchasing marketing technology. This is a shift from the traditional back-seat marketers take for software purchases, typically letting the IT department decide.

27% of marketers say they are the final decision makers

Adoption Problems with Marketing Technology

A surprising finding was that the most important criteria for selection of marketing technology is cost, quickly followed by functional alignment.

82% of respondents say cost is number one factor in deciding marketing technology

This means marketers are settling for solutions that are more economical as long as they match most of their needs. Those solutions that praise themselves for being the all encompassing [fill in the blank] for marketing may be surprised to find out that they are losing deals to lesser competitors simply because of pricing, but that’s not all they should focus on.

As part of the adoption issues, the research found out that the top three barriers for using marketing technology are:

  • 49% Cost
  • 47% Uncertain ROI
  • 40% No Budget

This makes sense. With markeeting budgets still being threatened due to economic uncertainty, marketers are pressed to justify their purchases and show ROI. New tools on the block (social media monitoring and others are the likely candidates) may have a tough time showing solid ROI, therefore their purchases being delayed. Vendors should therefore really work with their customers and prospects in trying to justify the purchase. Marketers also need to work on their justifications and their business cases to make senior management understand why a technology can help the company especially when Facebook, Twitter, and other channels are still a mystery for most corporate executives.

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