1. Business Trends Indicate Need for Enterprise Content Strategy and Operations Management

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    Content Header Target Audiences:  VP of Marketing / CMO; CEO/CFO; Marketing / Content Operations head Purpose:  Provide insights from business analysts on important trends that impact business, marketing and content strategy: the digital enterprise, digital marketing, content and content operations, and their implications for business strategy Raise awareness of the need for enterprise content strategy that is different from traditional marketing content strategies for websites and content projects Support the case to execute content strategy through a new, leveraged, more efficient, content supply chain operations model. Topics:  Content is a strategic imperative and driver of top enterprise objectives. To meet new requirements, challenges and business imperatives, businesses must embrace a new content (digital) mindset. Businesses need a content strategy that goes beyond marketing, websites and content projects. This must support ALL customer facing, content dependent groups, including sales, sales training, customer service, HR (talent acquisition), and the sales channel. Organizations must execute content strategies...
  2. Conversation Support Competency for Content Strategy

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      Target Audiences:  VP of Marketing / CMO VP Sales Product Marketing Sales Enablement  Purpose:  Introduce a new perspective and suggested approach to improve customer conversations and content, as well as the productivity, effectiveness and efficiency of marketing, sales and content development teams. Topics:  Conversations and content creation require common inputs Why make individuals have to figure out universal inputs Design conversations, develop universal inputs, and deploy inventories of support elements to all customer facing and content creating people   Conversation Support Competency for Content Strategy When we talk with people about content strategy, and the preparation required to create effective content, most are familiar with the first competency in our 6 Competencies for Marketing and Sales Content Strategy — Understand Buyers. “Personas! Yeah, we’ve done those!” Well …, ok. But think about what else constrains your ability to create quality content and get it deployed quickly.  Now, think about your sales...
  3. Why Content Operations Is Your Next Focus Area

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      Business-to-business selling organizations that have adopted inbound and content marketing strategies to deliver relevant, useful, educational content to prospective buyers should give this question serious consideration. Four factors implicate this as a possible requirement: Universal business drivers Each company’s go-to-market goals, strategies and plans Content strategy and requirements Challenges that constrain content performance  Universal Business Drivers In our post Business Trends Indicate Need for Enterprise Content Strategy and Operations Management we presented relevant insights from several prominent analyst firms on top business trends that have implications for customer facing content: the digital enterprise, digital marketing, digital content, enterprise content strategy and operations.  As these analysts make clear, content is a strategic imperative, and primary driver of top business objectives. Changes in several areas are contributing to the need to adopt a unified marketing and sales content strategy that goes beyond marketing, websites and contentprojects, among many others: Buyer expectations...
  4. Don’t Just Curate Content – Harvest It

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    This blog originally published on the Sandhill.com blog. Curate content to address many content challenges marketers face. Current curation practices focus on automatically generating newsletters, primarily based on third party articles. This approach severely under-utilizes this important tactic. The harvest step is perhaps the most significant part of our curation practice. When we curate content, both internally developed and third-party content, we harvest specific elements from within the source content itself. This reduces or eliminates creation by downstream users, and reduces the time effort for new content creation.   Don’t Just Curate Content – Harvest It! Enterprise marketing leaders and chief content officers use many tactics to serve numerous content constituents and their use case requirements. The emergence of the digital enterprise elevates requirements as groups beyond marketing, including sales and channel sales partners, but also customer service and HR (talent acquisition), must be supported in their use of content and content marketing tactics. One...
  5. Why Content Creation Isn’t Everyone’s Job

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      I read with interest John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing blog Why Content Creation Is Everyone’s Job. The post raises good ideas with, in my opinion, the wrong conclusion.  It’s a short post, I suggest you read it. I’d like to offer a different perspective and approach. This is a teachable moment. The lesson involves the difference between thinking like a marketer, and thinking like a publisher. It illustrates a new reality all organizations face, but is especially important for enterprise marketers. The new reality is: the traditional, project oriented, creative craftsman approach to content, cannot meet new, digital content and marketing requirements. The problem and premise is pretty well stated in the blog: “The need for content has moved beyond a traditional marketing department’s ability to create because the content an organization must produce today represents the voice of an organizations strategic point of view.” But the conclusion in...
  6. Shift from Repository to Content, Communication and Collaboration Ecosystem

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      People responsible for sales and channel enablement, marketing and content operations, or supporting groups that use content, face many challenges. We have identified a solvable challenge that immediately improves productivity, efficiency, and, most of all, business outcomes. Almost every day I have conversations with people in organizations who complain how difficult it is to find, access, deliver, and reuse content that is critical to job or task performance. This is a basic and solvable challenge. Your Content Constituents When this ability is missing, business outcomes suffer. But people’s motivation to quickly and effectively respond to the requirements of each situation is also curtailed. Audiences today expect near instant response or support. This often means delivering relevant, useful content. Think about the customer-facing, content-using groups across your organization: in marketing and sales of course, but also customer service, training and HR (talent acquisition). Your external constituents in your sales channel also...
  7. Content Management – Aggregate Don’t Upload

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      As a content operations advisory firm, we occasionally find ourselves in the embarrassing position of the “cobbler’s children.” This syndrome reared its ugly head when we realized that our spreadsheet based content inventory wasn’t really working as a good way to discover and access the right content for specific sales, marketing or content requirements. The spreadsheet was the right tool for the initial content inventory job we conducted a few years ago. But the hassle factor for daily use was too high. This showed up as assets not recorded in the document, and pleas for content recommendations going out across email and IM. Before we set out in search of the perfect content management solution, we convened to discuss our use case requirements. We began by analyzing the primary content and content types we used, along with where they were stored.   Content in 18 Repositories That’s when it hit...
  8. For Sales Blogging and Social Selling – Think Like a Publisher

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      The practice of social selling has crossed the chasm and entered the tornado stage. (Huffington Post, see Mike Kunkle’s excellent webinar) To fuel this content dependent activity, many are urging sales people to blog, and to become thought leaders. (Lori Richardson, John Jantsch,  ITSMA) This is a logical extension from a belief that sales people must think more like marketers. In my view, “think like marketers” means sales people must approach selling from a buyer perspective. They must understand and align to the issues, questions and process buyers must address to make a buying decision. (See Sharon Drew Morgen – Buying Facilitation) Not all buyers are ready or interested to hear about your company and product — especially those features. But I also know that thinking like a marketer does not mean thinking like a journalist. It does not require sales people to “blog” – certainly not in the way most...
  9. Executive Summary: Six Competency Framework for Marketing and Sales Information and Content Strategy

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        B2B selling organizations face a serious challenge creating and managing content that impacts the success of new customer acquisition and profitable revenue growth, as well as tactical marketing and selling initiatives. The Internet and changes to buyer behavior has made content a strategic imperative and key driver of strategic business objectives, however; The traditional approach to customer content development, funding, and content production processes will not meet new, digital era sales and marketing use case requirements.  Companies require a business level marketing and sales information and content strategy that spans functions and tactics, and goes beyond project oriented campaigns, websites and other content projects. But senior executives seem unable to connect the warning signals from multiple departments and disparate systems pointing to a broken, mission critical process. Current responsibilities and budgets for content are spread across functions. This constrains the optimum use and value of content, and limits the ability...
  10. Why Google Plus is Our Company Content Hub (and should be yours)

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    This article is written for small and mid-size businesses, but also for groups within larger organizations that are constrained by poor enterprise infrastructure. The points here take nothing away from the fact LinkedIn is an important social platform, especially for personal use and content publishing. Businesses should have strong presence and active participation on both platforms. This post will explain how the nature of Google+ participation is different from LinkedIn and other social sites, and why that should make it a primary hub for all your customer facing content.   If you’re like most people you use social media channels to get your messages and content distributed. You’re being a publisher. Or maybe you’re like me, mostly a listener. If it ends there, you might be missing the most powerful potential for your business, especially for social selling. What if the theory, “be on the social channels your customers are on”...
  11. Customer Facing Content as a Conversation

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    The Four Cs of Content Marketing I’ve written about content as more, and different than, format. While working with clients recently, I’ve heard them wrestle with questions about what content to create, and how to make priority decisions. I think some deeper distinctions about content can help here. When I consider content work, I think about the Four Cs of Content: Conversation Context ContentS Container  Notice that container — format — is my last consideration. This is a big change from the traditional approach to content creation. Typically, format, as in “what do you want to create?” is an early consideration. For example, your approach as well as resource and vendor selection might depend greatly on whether you want to create a blog or whitepaper, PowerPoint or video. This thinking and approach is too limiting for today’s content requirements and challenges. Start with the Conversation Thinking about customer facing content as...
  12. Information and Content Are Strategic Imperatives for B2B Organizations

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      Most business enterprises engaged in B2B selling have adopted content marketing as “the only marketing there is.” (Seth Godin) B2B selling typically starts online, through email or a phone call/voice mail — through content. They are doing so because the right information, packaged and delivered through the right content is the key enabler for tactics that execute a customer-centric go-to-market strategy, especially: Inbound marketing Automated demand management with lead nurturing Social marketing and selling Sales enablement These tactics are primary drivers for 4 top strategic enterprise goals: Revenue growth — especially organic growth through new customer acquisition and channel success Cost reduction — especially high enterprise selling costs Acquire data on buyers and customers — feed predictive analytics Compelling customer experience — from initial engagement in the buying process, through the ongoing relationship to optimize value of purchased products or services, to a desire for more products/services — through renewals, cross or up-buying and referrals....
  13. Information and Content Strategy Beyond Marketing and Websites

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      What is Content Strategy? The problem with common words, and word combinations, is we all assume our definitions and interpretations are universal. This is certainly the case with content strategy. Since the concept “strategy” is challenging in itself, it’s no wonder content strategy seems to mean so many different things to different people. We’re back to the blind men holding the elephant metaphor. At the Intelligent Content conference (ICC) this reality was in full display.  Until I questioned the elephant on the table, everyone seemed to nod knowingly as the term “content strategy” was bandied about. I appreciated Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson) when she acknowledged she has been giving this topic deep consideration lately. With respect to the rest of us, if Kristina is doing this, we better pay attention. We do have good foundational guidance in both Kristina Halvorson’s book Content Strategy for the Web, and Ann Rockley and...
  14. A Strategic Approach to Content – Repurpose vs Multipurpose Design

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      How would the way you create content and manage your content operation change if you didn’t know the: Intended audience Purpose or intended use cases for the content User experience to evoke Key points to include and exclude Desired outcomes and associated calls to action Required length or format? If you intend to repurpose content, this is exactly what you are facing. If you want to get more out of content investments – to meet content quality, timing and availability, use case coverage, version and format requirements, in light of normal budget and resource constraints – you must resolve this dilemma.   Repurpose vs. Reformat I see a lot of confusion about the concepts repurposing and reformatting. They are not the same. Most people mean reformat rather than repurpose. Take a whitepaper, webinar, etc and “turn it into” a blog, an infographic, chop it up into little videos or...
  15. What is Content?

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      What is content? Before you dismiss this question out of hand, please consider my main points. Most people think of content in two primary ways: type (or category, such as documents, presentations, case studies, product sheets), or format. Ask about this in your next planing meeting.  You see this regularly in graphics that suggest how to align content to buying stages. Consider the universally recommended prescription to define requirements for each stage of the buying process. The graphic below from SiriusDecisions is a common framework. The problem is, definitions based on formats doesn’t in any way inform creators about how to produce the assets. Users are often unclear why and when they would use it. This weak model leaves everyone thinking, “we’ve defined our requirement” (as type, category or format) but in fact, haven’t defined anything truly useful. We’ve found it more useful to think about three elements that...
  16. What is Strategy?

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      What is strategy? is not a question unique to content marketers. (See Robert Rose in Content Marketing Institute.) Lack of clarity about content strategy has firm roots in a universal confusion about strategy. In the business world, Michael Porter of Harvard Business School is a preeminent authority of business strategy. He points out “most businesses don’t have a strategy for their organization.” Well, no wonder we struggle with content strategy. And why don’t they? “Caught up in the race for operational effectiveness many managers simply do not understand the need to have a strategy.” For marketers, might we say, “caught up in the need to build a brand, generate leads, respond to persistent ad hoc requests, figure out tectonic changes in buyer behavior and marketing technologies …”   Michael Porter on Strategy In his seminal Harvard Business Review article in 1996, What is Strategy? Porter lays out basic strategy principles that...
  17. It’s (Past) Time to Make Content Marketing Intelligent

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    This isn’t just a cute phrase. Long time, serious content practitioners, the technical pros in this business, use the term “intelligent content” deliberately. So much so it’s the name of their conference. They also call themselves “content strategists”. Given the importance – and confusion – of content strategy for content marketers, I wanted to see for myself what could apply to our content operations practice. So I attended the conference. I learned these are the people who, in some important ways, are technically ahead of many content marketers. They are paving the road for us. They come from the technical publication world. But for over a decade they have been applying their principles and practices to websites. These have serious implications for content marketers. What is Intelligent Content?  “Intelligent content is structurally rich and semantically categorized and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.” From the conference website, along with...
  18. Content Marketing Lessons from Netflix House of Cards

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      At 12:01AM pacific time on February 14, 2014, Netflix released season two of House of Cards. All of it! Others have written about House of Cards, especially the points about viewer “control” over content, and the importance of stories. But I think a critical content marketing lesson has been overlooked. The implications are significant and uncomfortable. Kevin Spacey has been quoted, and you can hear it in context in the video below: “Through this new form of distribution, we have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson that the music industry didn’t learn: give people what they want, when they want it, in the form that they want it in, at a reasonable price and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it.” (Italics are mine)  What is “this new form of distribution”?  What are the implications of giving people content “when they want it?” A Personal Experience One of...
  19. Beware Out-of-context Content Marketing Prescriptions

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    Post Header Summary: Content marketing advice outside the context of understanding your business, goals, strategies and plans can be misleading, even dangerous. Audience: B2B content, inbound and social marketers; demand managers Topic: Content marketing practices and techniques Purpose: Educate, advice   I regularly receive calls and emails from clients and colleagues who ask my opinion concerning advice they read about content marketing tactics. Two points:  1) What to do is widely understood and generally accepted. How to operationalize it is the challenge, and where breakdowns typically occur. 2) Appropriate prescriptions for tactics and techniques require an understanding of the context in which they will be applied. You wouldn’t take a doctor’s surgical recommendation without a physical diagnosis supported by a battery of tests would you? I’ve stopped reading all content marketing articles that purport to tell me what to do. And my eyes glaze over descriptions of tactics. I’m much more interested...
  20. How to execute content marketing

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        What would improving the way you execute your content marketing initiative look like? What would it mean to create more and better content faster, on a continuous basis, despite the constraints of your current resources, expertise and budget? What functional and business outcomes would improve? Want some help? No problem. We (and others) can help. But first, we’ll need a copy of your marketing plan, including: Business Strategy, Goals & Plans:  Make sure it contains your primary business goals and associated metrics. Include your go-to-customer (sales) strategy, plans and metrics. If you sell through the channel, make sure you include them in your marketing and content plans. Marketing Strategy, Goals and Specific Plans: It will be important to align your content marketing investments and priorities to your sales, channel and marketing plan. In addition to your core strategy we will need your demand generation and management plan. If...
  21. Before Your Next Content Project

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      This post addresses related, but different, content outsourcing and in-sourcing project best practices. Outsourcing Content Creation I have seen many companies struggle setting up outsourced content creation projects due to inadequate preparation and documentation. Content vendors often prefer it this way. Your inefficiency, or ignorance, is their “value add” — and higher billing. Often, preparation work, in the guise of “research,” occupies a significant portion of the content project’s time, effort and budget. This may have been acceptable in the traditional, periodic, “point production” content outsourcing model. But organizations today must create a constant stream of buyer relevant content to satisfy a broad use case requirement map. After content vendors come up their learning curve, conduct their research, and deliver their work product, lots of knowledge walks out the door. Undocumented knowledge. Some or most of this knowledge will be needed for somebody’s content project. Probably pretty soon.  ...
  22. Define Your Customer Engagement Content Use Case Requirements

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      When it comes to creating customer facing content, how are decisions made at your organization? Without well defined and documented content use case requirements, at each functional level, but ideally at the business or enterprise level, organizations experience reduced efficiency, effectiveness, and a lower return on content investments. How can you prioritize investments and creation efforts without this input? How can you map and assess your customer facing content? How can you be clear about the specific purpose of each content work product? Unfortunately, this work is seldom done, even at functional levels. The objective of a content publishing operation is to get the best performance from customer facing content, output from resources, time and effort, and return on content. In the vernacular, we’re all trying to do more with less. As demand for content scales, this is becoming more critical. Pre-Produce Content A key principle of a content publishing process is to...
  23. Avitage Master Content Publishing Briefing

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    Through our consulting projects and content workshops, many people have asked us for copies of our content publishing briefing to share with colleagues and executives. Taking a page from Tom Peters, we’ve published our Master Content Publishing Briefing on our SlideShare channel, and it is available to download. You can share this page link, or links to the Slideshare PowerPoint version or the video version below. Segments in this show address: Why Content Publishing Content Requirements and Challenges marketer face Publishing Process versus the traditional Production process A Specific Content Project Example A Model for Applying the Process to All Content Projects   Avitage Master Content Publishing Briefing — Video Versions (18 minutes) Avitage Master Content Publishing Briefing — SlideShare Version (Slide version of the video) Avitage is a content operations services firm. We help B2B enterprise marketing and selling organizations execute content strategy through operations design and management. We are not an agency, or creative...
  24. Real-time Visualization of Online Conversations

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    This is a dynamic visual representation of the online conversations being conducted in conjunction with today’s Marketing Profs B2B Forum in Boston #mpb2b. Keyhole, a provider of real-time tracking of social conversations, makes this possible. When you toggle between hashtage and keyword assessments of the conversation you will see the map update reflecting the current state of conversations. Click for source reference. The implications and uses of this are flooding my mind. Use the comments section below to share your ideas.    
  25. Engagement and Eloqua Experience

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    For the Eloqua Experience preparation webinar sponsored by Televerde, I was asked to speak to the topic of Engagement. This is one of six topics that comprise the agenda for Eloqua Experience. As a concept, engagement means something a little different to everyone. I often hear clients talk about engagement as: touches, email opens, click-thrus, event visits, content views or even downloads. As B2B marketers, we have to be careful not to get too caught up in mechanics and focused just on “hard” outcomes we can measure and report. I suggest we think of engagement as: Sustained and helpful interaction with a target audience to create and mature relationships across the entire buyer life-cycle, in order to realize mutual personal and business outcomes. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Webinar Engagement Poll This webinar format consisted of a question for participants on each Eloqua Experience...
  26. What are your customer’s stories?

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    In an interview with Krista Tippet on the On Being podcast Seth Godin provides typically insightful answers to the question, “what is marketing?” Modern sales and marketing are indeed in transformation. This requires new thinking about these professions, the principles and practices that inform best practices. We dismiss this at our peril. This three minute excerpt can stimulate breakthrough thinking to guide your content strategy discussions. Unlike most marketing discussions of stories, Godin invites you to consider your customer’s stories, what they are telling themselves before they meet you. This is the context into which you must set your story.     
  27. 12 Demand Management Competencies for Success

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    Too many companies struggle to realize their demand management improvement expectations from investments in marketing automation. Marketing automation initiatives are often considered the next step beyond email marketing. As a result, campaign oriented thinking carries forward and limits the approach and results. Have we not learned from CRM and other technology categories that technology is an enabler, not a  producer of significant outcome improvements?  In fact, new technology often requires organizational change, new skills and increased work in the short term. A failure to appreciate the required competencies for demand management success is a root cause of this phenomena. Just the terms “lead gen” and “demand management” often carry no distinction within these organizations. When you hear that, it’s a yellow flag of caution that poor performance is bound to follow. The following is a checklist of demand management success competencies. Each are significant categories in their own right, with...
  28. IDG On Connecting the Dots Between Content and Sales

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    The opening lines, and most of the lines that followed, really grabbed my attention: “Marketers spent more than $40 billion on custom media in 2011. B2B marketers are allocating one-third of their budgets to content marketing, and more than half plan to increase content marketing spending in 2013. However, as many IT marketers are discovering, content marketing is a complex practice that requires insights not just into what type of content to develop and deliver, but when and how to deliver these assets to ensure maximum engagement.”   This IDG Enterprises report is the result of a survey of 1,025 IT decision makers to “to gain a better understanding of the role content consumption plays in the purchase process for major technology products and services.” I believe these insights apply to most content marketers today, and soon to all, even in lagging industries. My first observation is this is the...
  29. Change Selling Behavior — Really?

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      Another terrific Boston SMEI breakfast discussion this morning. Lisa Dennis lead a discussion about changing selling behaviors using ideas from Dan Pink’s latest book, To Sell Is Human. Here are my takeaway observations and related thoughts. Core conclusion: rather than try to change behaviors, select, enable and incent desired behaviors. The topic of selling and sales behaviors is so broad, it has to be focused for a coherent discussion. Yet so much of what I read and hear never starts that way. Any sales conversation must begin with the nature of the selling process, especially from the buyers perspective — how they see their problems, available solutions, and buying challenges. My colleague Rob Scanlon developed a simple “Three Level Selling Model” that I’ve found useful. This is based upon the customer’s understanding of their problem, vendor products and solutions available to solve their problem, and their ability to make...
  30. One Hour Content Marketing Reality Check

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    Take an hour in the next week to objectively assess whether you have created a competitive edge in the way you engage buyers through online content.  That is the first competitive battle you have to win.  If you are outsold here, you may not get a second chance.  You may not even become aware of the opportunity.  Key points you have to assess when evaluating your competitiveness include: Will buyers relate to our understanding of their problem? Will buyers understand their options for addressing their problem? Will buyers get insights into what is really important to understand about their choices? Has our point of view given buyers enough insights and ideas to allow us to make the short list of vendors for consideration? Assess Your Best Competitor Begin your competitive assessment by going to your best competitor’s website to see what content is positioned to engage buyers. Look at the key...
  31. Continuously Acquire Customer Stories, Insights, and Ideas

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      If content is the fuel for content marketing, sales and customer enablement, then customer stories or insights are the active performance enhancing ingredients. Well-developed messages targeted to address key buyer questions are better understood when the right customer stories create context. This is particularly important with innovative products, where buyers lack prior purchase experience. Capturing customer stories or insights can be a challenge for content marketers. Logistics and weak practices are both a factor. Trying to find stories when you need them is not easy. Setting up time to talk directly to customers can be inconvenient and face internal organizational barriers. Often marketers lack first-hand access to customers. They have to rely on intermediaries for access, or on subject matter experts to provide stories. Sometimes this works well. Just as often the stories are not compelling or inspiring. A better approach is to have a rich inventory of stories available to...
  32. Learnings From A Content Strategy Hangout

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      I “watched” last week’s Google+ Hangout lead by the team at Velocity Partners in the UK:  Content That Stands Out: A Content Strategy Google+ Hangout.  The link will take you to the recorded show, or click the video image below. I have learned we tend to apply new technologies initially, by using old paradigms.  Google hangouts are a new technology most likely requiring a new paradigm. The Velocity sponsors openly acknowledge this. Video and group communication methods raise additional challenges. I have learned that video programs require tight production efforts, guided by strong moderating skills, based upon significant preparation. The ad hoc group conversation felt disjointed and didn’t work well for me. I lost my attention and interest rather quickly, despite being highly interested initially. Content That Stands Out In this morning’s email Ryan Skinner from Velocity responded to a question I had previously submitted. My question sought to...
  33. Business Video — it doesn’t have to be this way

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    Your colleague walks through your office door and announces, “let’s make a video!” Quick, what images come to mind? What feelings hit your gut? “We need: cameras, lights, production people, someone to shoot, where, when is it needed, how long will it take, what will it cost, how will we use it, …? This feels daunting, are we up to this, can we succeed, is it worth it, does this even make sense …? It would be nice, but ….” Now ask yourself: what if it doesn’t have to be this way? Video is one of the fastest growing content formats that interest both audiences and marketers. So a lot is at stake to figuring this out. Change Your Mindset Paul Ritter of Interactive Media Strategies is a seasoned analyst of the video marketplace. I asked him what he thought was holding people back from making greater use of video....
  34. I Need A Plan for 200 Videos for the Channel, Chapter Five

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    Collaborating with the Channel    Max Wilson, Director of Marketing at WE-CAN Technologies,  has been asked by his executive team, (Chapter One), to develop an execution plan for delivering 200 videos for use in the channel.  He has responded with an email validating that 200 videos is approximately what is needed, (Chapter Two), and an email outlining a pragmatic production approach, (Chapter Three).   Max followed up with a recommended approach for evaluating the initiative investment, (Chapter Four).  In the evaluation he identified a potential channel partner adoption risk to be managed. Max sent the following email about a collaborative approach to channel partner adoption to his boss, Jim Everett, VP of Marketing. Jim, Our belief that the use of videos by the channel will be a great help is tempered by the pragmatic reality that it is likely to be received with a mixed level of enthusiasm.  All change efforts are.  We know that...
  35. I Need 200 Videos for the Channel, Chapter Four

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          Investment Decision for Video Initiative The executive team at WE-CAN Technologies is considering investing in the development of videos to drive growth through its channel partners. They asked Max Wilson, Director of Marketing, at WE-CAN Technologies, to develop an execution plan, (Chapter One). Max has already sent an email that validates the number of videos that would have to be developed, (Chapter Two), and an email that outlines a pragmatic approach to developing the videos, (Chapter Three). The executive team knows that not all good ideas are worth doing.  They asked Max to recommend decision criteria for evaluating the investment.  Getting alignment on the decision criteria sets baseline expectations that the execution plan must meet.  These inputs are important to the design of the final execution plan and operating budget. Max sent the following email with his recommendations to his boss, Jim Everett VP of Marketing at WE-CAN...
  36. I Need a Plan for 200 Videos for the Channel, Chapter Three

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    How to Produce 200 Videos For the Channel Chapter Three Max Wilson, Director of Marketing at WE-CAN Technologies, is responding to a request by the executive team to develop a plan to make 200 videos to use with the channel, (Chapter One). They had five questions for Max to answer. What is the right number of videos and why? Knowing that we need volume production, how do we do it? How do we make decisions about the value versus the cost of 200 videos? How will we collaborate with our channel partners to use the videos? What does an operating plan look like, including a budget? Max already sent an email explaining the logical volume drivers, (Chapter Two), and how he estimated that 200 videos is pretty close to the right number. Max sent the following email to Jim Everett, VP of Marketing at WE-CAN to explain how volume production will work....
  37. Who’s going to stock the (content) pond?

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      I love to look for paradox in life. Take content, for example. Content creation is undergoing a major shift from a few, centrally managed professionals, to many people, through out the organization, with varying skills, process understanding and techniques, who aren’t often managed in this process at all. And yet, we wonder why this content “sucks.” (I’ve come to appreciate this is a technical content term when used in this context, not vulgar slang use of the term.) It’s one thing to ask domain experts or writers to write short form blogs, and maybe try to find a relevant supporting image for a post. And a poor blog that takes someone a couple of hours to write, and few people read, has a relatively minimal impact on the business.   Think “Stock the Pond” In New England, if you want a good fishing experience, you look for lakes and...
  38. The Role of Content in the B2B IT Buying Process

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    Forgive the redundancy, but Ardath Albee has another good post talking about the role of content in the b2b IT buying process. She is referencing the recently released IDG 2012 Customer Engagement Study report. One major finding is enterprise IT Decision Makers engage with an average of 10 content assets during their buying process. Of course all assets won’t come from one company. But the implications for both quality and quantity of content required is important to note. Four Active Buying Personas Ardath also points out that this is for a single buyer role. In complex sales, there are often well over 4 “personas” who are active in the buying process. In fact, often, discovery of a key idea or vendor may be made by someone not even on a vendor’s “people map.” Someone is conducting research or crosses an interesting article that is forwarded to the people involved. But...
  39. I Need 200 Videos for the Channel, Chapter Two

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    How Many Videos Do We Really Need? Max Wilson, Director of Marketing at WE-CAN Technologies sent the following email to Jim Everett, VP of Marketing at WE-CAN. Jim, This is my first follow up to your previous email outlining the executive teams request for 200 videos, (Chapter One), to support our channel partners.  Their strategy for using videos to leverage our channel partners had eight objectives but also came with five questions.  The first question I will answer in this email.  It addresses the realistic number of videos required to support the channel program objectives.  I will send answers to the other four questions as soon as they are developed.  They include: How will we produce the videos? How will we make decisions about what to spend to meet our goals? How will our partners engage with us on this? What would a start-up operating plan look like for creating this...
  40. I Need a Plan for 200 Videos for the Channel

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    Chapter One Max Wilson, Director of Marketing for WE-CAN Technologies, received the following email from his boss on Monday morning. October 1, 2012 Max, Our executive team has been visiting customers and partners for the past two weeks to identify sources for our next phase of growth.  The consensus is we need to redouble our efforts to support our channel partners.  Our efforts to enhance their capabilities to sell WE-CAN solutions will be a win/win scenario.  Our executive team believes our partners can outsell the competition with our help.  They also believe, with our partners, we can lower the total cost of sales.  The executive team wants to leverage your experience and knowledge with emerging trends in content marketing, social media, and especially the use of video in revenue generation.  They have asked for a plan on how we can support the channel with an estimated 200 high impact, co-branded...
  41. But it is so easy to Buy Technology

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    The message has been the same for more than two decades.  It is easy to buy technology.  All you have to do is write a check.  Getting the technology to deliver results depends on the strategy, the vision of how a new process will be enabled, and an understanding of the skills required.  The technology industry is littered with sad stories where technology got ahead of strategy.  It appears marketers are still learning this lesson. In the past month I have been in two conversations with marketers from Fortune 100 companies about the increased demands for content by their organizations.  In both cases demand for video content had become a priority as well as a concern because of the cost.   The first thing these marketers wanted to talk about was new technology platforms that support video production.  They spoke as if the technology platform was the most important capability.  They...
  42. Asking the Right Questions of Your Marketing Scoreboard

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    Your marketing metrics, or your scoreboard, should measure both activity and results.  Unfortunately it is the hidden insights into the relationship between the two that creates actionable intelligence.  Cause and effect relationships in a complex B2B environment characterized by multiple buyer touch points across a buyer driven buying cycle are as clear as mud.  It is fair to say that the easiest things to measure are the least meaningful.  Knowing what questions to ask of your metrics differentiates successful marketing programs from the money pits.  In a recent CRMSoftware.TV video, Jon Miller, Vice President of Marketing for Marketo, speaks to the importance of marketing quantifying its value to the rest of the organization.  Jon provides his point of view about going beyond activity metrics to linking them with results by asking the right questions. Jon’s insights touch upon lead generation, sales productivity, and marketing portfolio productivity. The credibility provided also establishes a...
  43. New Thinking About Video Opens New Video Usecases

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    Demand by your audiences for video formats is escalating precipitously. Social and mobile marketing favor video content. The high desire for video by selling organizations has never been well fulfilled. Video is a critical content format for marketers to leverage. But video has been inherently difficult to produce. It requires expertise, time and costs that have limited when and where it could be used, as well as the volume of productions. If these factors are keeping you from pursuing an aggressive video strategy, this post will challenge your current thinking and provide an alternative perspective. New Technology Lifecycle When new technology arrives it has typically been applied to common use cases and methods. The technology provided value through marginal improvements. In his classic book Brain of the Firm, Stafford Beer made the observation (paraphrasing): “the question that asks, given my business, how can I use this new technology?” is fundamentally...
  44. Rethinking Video

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    When you think about video, do you consider it predominately a visual or audio medium? I suspect most people would say visual. When we think video, we think camera. We think motion (video). But I have come to think of it as predominately an audio medium, albeit with important visual support. Indeed it is the effective combination of pictures and words together that create interesting and persuasive messages. Many years ago Al Ries and Jack Trout, acknowledged experts at the art of persuasion, wrote an article in Ad Age titled A Picture is NOT Worth a Thousand Words (sorry, no link, way before digital and web content.) In it, they debunked the myth. Historically, the written word developed because pictures could not tell the full story. A richer way of communicating was needed. Audio is the verbal delivery of words. Ries suggested a simple test. When you view television advertisements,...
  45. Yogi Berra on Content Marketing

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    Yogi Berra had the brilliance to bring wisdom and insight to the obvious.  I recently heard his famous phrase, “It’s like Déjà vu all over again.” It reminded me that there are lessons available in history that we can all benefit from.  Having participated in the making of business innovation history with category management the emergence of content marketing is a Déjà vu experience for me. Lessons On Transformation I had the opportunity in the nineties to lead the program office of one of America’s leading chain drug retailers.  At the time we were transforming from a traditional and simplistic, “Buy low – sell high,” merchandising model to category management.  Category management focuses on the profit potential of a section of store real estate, usually an eight to twelve foot section of shelves.  It addresses the role of each product in the assortment for driving traffic, profit, or impulse purchases. ...
  46. Theory of Postponement and Content Marketing

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    The theory of postponement is well understood in the supply chain and manufacturing world.  With solutions that have several variants, or that require customization, the process is designed to postpone adding variant features or customizations until the last possible moment.  Common sub-assemblies may be built to stock, but variants are built to order, and are assembled just before they ship.  Think of the genius in the Dell custom PC supply chain. Content creation in this era, where buyer relevance is a core principle, should leverage that same postponement philosophy.  The “new producers” on the front line of business – marketing campaign developers, bloggers, inside sales, presales, direct sales and channel partners should be able to custom assemble content just as it is needed.  They should be able to do this every day without consuming their day. To do this requires content that is pre-produced in a modular fashion that anticipates...
  47. Talking head video

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    Talking head video is the lowest form of video. It should be minimized as much as possible. It is certainly boring, and generally not very effective. It’s also a poor use of the video medium. Let’s look at why. Talking head is completely dependent on the attractiveness and delivery expertise of the talking head. Television news professionals, arguably some of the best on camera talent that exists, long ago learned the importance of “b-roll” because of the difficulty of on camera delivery. They know talking head loses attention somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds. Most business people barely communicate effectively in live conversations. On camera, amateurs really struggle to combine an effective on camera presence, a non-irritating narrative delivery, and interesting content. We have learned talking head video adds very little substantive, or even credibility value. The interest in, and credential of the speaker can be accomplished in simple ways...
  48. My customers don’t use social media

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    This post is for my current and future clients who think they won’t deal with social media because their customers don’t “use” it.  This thinking is the first cousin to the “we’re different” thinking that every vendor encounters when they try to bring proven solutions to new prospects. Both limit easily achievable possibilities. What does that mean, “use social media”? Is Twitter or Facebook the image you carry? OK, but ask yourself these questions: do your customers conduct online research, do they use Google? Then, you need to deal with social media. Social media, in part because of the buzz word nature and related hype, is intimidating. I suggest you replace the words social media, with online channels. There are two primary ways to think of using social media: to listen and to promote. Start By Listening Social media is a terrific, low cost (time and effort only) way to...
  49. 7 reasons an internal slide library is an imperative

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    PowerPoint management isn’t sexy, but it is a productivity and effectiveness enhancer. In many organizations PowerPoint is a lingua franca. It is a primary way knowledge is captured and shared. Where are slides created in your company? Marketing (marcom, product marketing, field marketing), multiple vendors or contractors, training, field sales and pre-sales, executives — almost everyone creates slides. How well are they shared? How easily can you find the slide(s) you need. Everyone manages PowerPoint. Most manage it poorly. PowerPoint is typically managed as a document. But we are often looking for specific SLIDES. We want the most up-to-date slide version. We also want shows that closely fit our specific presentation situation. Custom assembly, while necessary, requires time, effort and knowledge. What if we can access and leverage the best versions for each situation? In repeated buyer surveys, purchasers want more visual content. They prefer whitepapers with more visuals. Content...
  50. No Marketing Momentum? What Now?

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    Competitive athletes know that momentum can make all the difference in winning games.  You develop momentum by either executing a well thought out strategy or making a spectacular play that shakes up the competition.  When you have momentum you play your game and emphasize your strengths.  When you lose momentum, you have to figure out how to get it back by making adjustments.  Marketing momentum in a competitive environment has many similarities.  You can develop it through a well thought out strategy followed by focused execution. Depending upon spectacular big events to develop marketing momentum is risky and hard to do but not unheard of.    The big difference between sports and B2B marketing is timing.  Games are over in minutes or hours.  Marketing takes months to deliver outcomes. Understanding marketing momentum is important to developing a marketing strategy.  Marketing activities build upon one another to develop and sustain momentum.  Multiple...
  51. Got “content” challenges? Apply the problem-cause model

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      Serious practitioners of content marketing inevitably face significant content challenges. But sales professionals do as well — especially to conduct effective change conversations with customers. Surveys, as well as client discussions about top content challenges, reveal the operational nature of the underlying causes of many of content related problems. Operational Issues However, I seldom see content strategy guidelines address operational issues. This is a major shortcoming of current thinking. Content strategy and planning for content marketing is a different and complex task for most newcomers. But if you look at the challenges early practitioners have faced, you will want to figure this out quickly. One of the most useful models we use we call the “problem-cause model”. Like many powerful ideas, this idea is simple. But work with it and you will experience important insights that will help with your content strategy and execution. Problem-Cause Model Explained In this...
  52. To lower video costs while volume grows, change your process

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    Over the past year we have had the privilege of working with two large software companies: SAP and PTC. I’ve heard a common refrain from each that is applicable to organizations that want to lower their cost of video, even as their requirements scale. The refrain is: true value and productivity gains come from redesigning the workflow processes that software enables. Consider the alphabet soup of video assembly and production tools available to us all: Adobe, Brainshark, Camtasia, KnowledgeVision, Visible Gains and many, many others. We’ve realized value and some productivity gains from applying these software tools. Yet, we still haven’t solved the cost/volume dilemma. For this, we’ll need process change. Traditional Video Production Process So let’s look at the underlying process of traditional video production. Say to anyone, “we need to make a video,” and what images come to mind? Cameras (of course), lights, video editing software, maybe a...
  53. Four Lessons You Should Learn from Publishers

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    Content marketing would be easy if it didn’t require a steady stream of fresh, engaging, relevant content.  It’s not that developing great content is new.  It’s creating the volume and continuous development required that is new. A number of companies confront this problem by hiring a staff of writers.  As their salary line goes up they may find that it is still difficult to keep up with content needs.   Skilled story tellers still need a story.  They look to subject matter experts, some of the most knowledgeable and busy people in the company, to provide stories or knowledge.  After resolving availability issues, subject matter experts often feel the need to explain their world to a writer so that the writer can tell a story.  This requires a lot of time for SMEs who have incredibly limited availability to begin with. Unfortunately, this also doesn’t always work well.  What often happens...
  54. Content Marketing Discussion With Marketing Made Simple TV

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    This week I had the privilege of joining Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 and Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners on an online video discussion hosted by Jeff Ogden‘s Marketing Made Simple TV online show. Takeaways and Insights Content Strategy — This is the starting point and essential first step for an effective and efficient content marketing initiative. We must get this right or we will experience weak and misaligned work products, delayed and inefficient execution, and limited results. There are clear and agreed upon models for content strategy. Disciplined work is required. Operations Model — Content strategy must extend to define an operations model that deals with new requirements of content marketing, especially for a constant stream of buyer-relevant and useful content that applies to the entire buying journey. This impacts the scale of content and operational resources. Execution is a major challenge and risk. One (of many) reason is an...
  55. Content Curation in Practice

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    My day started like most days. I opened and read email, a few blogs and checked out Twitter streams. An article about recent research results on content marketing spend caught my eye. As I glanced at it (how seldom we really read things these days) data about the surge in video use and planned growth caught my eye. So, what did I do? I copied the URL and forwarded it to colleagues with a note, “this is interesting, you should read this.” We all do this, don’t we? Then my brain fired off a content marketing principle: acquire.  Always be acquiring ideas and inputs for new content. We call this content curation when content originates from a third party source (this link is an example of one use of curation). I copied the link into our content inventory (you have one of these, right?). I added the requisite information about...
  56. New Thought Leadership Metric for Buyer Driven Markets

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    The new realities of B2B marketing has made thought leadership, and the development of big ideas, an important differentiator.  The new realities are also driving a change in buyers’ expectations.   Buyers want relevant and actionable content that enables them to turn big ideas into operating realities. The traditional role of thought leadership developers has been to focus on the research and analysis that yields the important big ideas.  Turning those big ideas into relevant actionable content to meet the buyers’ expectations isn’t what they do.  That job actually belongs to the people in marketing and sales that drive revenue.  These, “revenue drivers,” are closest to the customer, online or in person, and have disciplines for communicating with customers.  They understand the need for relevant actionable content, how to develop it, and the best ways to deliver it. The Hand-off The problem is with the hand-off from thought leadership to the...
  57. Video — the second best way to create for content marketing

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    Content marketing has created a content conundrum. Content marketing is fundamentally about creating buyer relevant, education oriented content, that supports the buying team as they progress through a buying journey. With this shift from vendor to buyer orientation comes great pressure on traditional content production methods and costs. Blogs have emerged as the best way to create for content marketing. They are foundational to this endeavor.  We know from blog work this content must be created consistently. One customer commented, “I need a constant stream of fresh content.” This implies not only frequency but scale.  Of course, this has huge implications on resources, development times, content quality and costs. But what do you do next? White papers, webinars, or any other of the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing Playbook that lists 42 ways to connect with customers? Where do you focus? Where do you invest your scarce time, effort and...
  58. Create (More) Video Without A Camera

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    The traditional video production process and techniques have a clear role for many video purposes. This approach requires specific skills and tends to be inherently expensive, time consuming, and doesn’t scale efficiently. When you shift the purpose for video from entertaining or promoting to explaining, proving and educating, different criteria should dominate. To address these new criteria for video a different approach that leverages a different process and technique is required. The driving principle of the new approach should be to leverage every project, subject expert, previous asset and resource to create content extensions and re-usable assets. This is in service of the ultimate objectives of quality video with lower costs. A key technique is to create core, re-usable assets. This starts with images, animations, audio, video, but also includes modules of communication elements that are capable of being re-configured into new content programs. Plan for content extensions. Extensions are...
  59. New Criteria for Video

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    Let’s make a video! What images immediately come to mind? Gotta get a camera, lights, green screen, Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro, etc.? What about skepticism? Is it worth it? Will it work? Will the useful life be longer than 4 months? What distractions and un-intended costs will you face? And, what are the true costs? Traditional Video Thinking I’d like to introduce you to a different way of thinking about video. Most people think: Duration — videos should be short, people’s attention is very limited Style —  videos must be flashy, high impact, people want to be entertained Resources — video requires someone who knows how to do this, and is willing to do the “non-linear” (whatever that means) editing Website — we’ll put videos on our website Video quality is always a factor in people’s thinking and expectations. We find it useful to think in three broad...
  60. Best Practice B2B Resource Center as a Hub for Relevant Content Delivery & Lead Nurturing

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    A B2B web site resource center is a key hub for any B2B marketer looking to transform their web site from a billboard which prospects view but bounce off – never to return again – to a trusted resource where prospects engage over time as they move through their buying process. This can be an important vehicle for delivering relevant content, and through this capturing useful information about prospects that is used to manage the ongoing nurturing of these prospects in order to accelerate their buying process. We saw an opportunity to develop a best practice framework for B2B web site resource centers by examining existing resource centers from best in class companies such as Marketo, HubSpot and Eloqua; online publishers such as newspaper web sites; and other sites that manage large volumes of content (e.g. recipe sites). With our company’s location in Waltham, MA – we are privileged to...
  61. Selling to On-Demand Buyers

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    Most of us are well aware the world of B2B buying has gone through fundamental shifts in the last five to ten years. Why hasn’t the way we sell fundamentally changed as well? We all feel the perception from buyers that, to them, all vendors and their products look pretty much the same (undifferentiated value). We know too well the difficulty of identifying and engaging new prospects in sales conversations (generating leads). Our CRM monitored sales process reveals protracted buying timeframes (longer sales cycles and higher costs). I am amazed that for many senior executives I meet, a deeper appreciation of the implications of this transformation hasn’t occurred and isn’t translating into different strategies . If you are a CEO, CFO or VP of Sales with over twenty years of experience, you come from an era of thinking about B2B marketing as famously described by John Wanamaker: “Half the money...
  62. 35 Days to Great First Sales Meetings

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      35 Days to First Conversation — do the math For prospects who actively engage your content, assuming a two day lag in viewing, here is a possible sequence to your first call appointment (elapse time not work days) (“your mileage may vary”): Day 1 – send initial invitation touch with vmail call Day 3 – prospect views email content Day 5 – send Touch #2 automatically, no call Day 7 – prospect views content Day 14 – send Touch #3 mail, vmail call Day 16 – prospect views content Day 23 – send Touch #4 mail, vmail call Day 25 – prospect views content Days 25, 26, 27 – email & call to request introduction conversation Day 35 – have first introduction call For a detailed, comprehensive explanation of each step, download this document.  
  63. Move Beyond Concept to Create Content Like a Publisher

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    For marketers who have embraced the publishing mindset in support of inbound and content marketing strategies, execution has emerged as the new barrier to success. You understand the need to think like a publisher. You have shifted content focus from vendor and product collateral, to customer educational content. You blog, create whitepapers or e-books, conduct webinars and even dabble in videos. Linked-in and Facebook pages (and now Google Plus) have led to YouTube and Slideshare channels. You have a Twitter account and are learning about new social media platforms every week. Keeping up with demands for content is daunting. Think like a publisher tells us what to do. But can it help us understand how to do it better? You bet. Understanding the deeper implications of what it means to think — and create content — like a publisher can lead to a new operational model. With a fundamentally different...
  64. Why Create Content Like a Publisher?

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    When you hear the phrase “think like a publisher,” what does this mean to you? Why think like a publisher? How would you explain this concept to your colleagues or managers? Perhaps most importantly, what would you do differently if you and your organization were to create content like publishers? For most people I speak with, they have a good, level one understanding: They can “become the media” and leverage the internet to “publish” content Acting like a journalist, they embrace blogging to varying degrees of discipline and success They know content must be more about buyers and their “problem to solution journey”, than traditional vendor focus collateral By sharing ideas to help buyers understand their problems, options and recommended approaches to solving those problems, content can capture attention and identify prospective buyers, educate them and begin to build the critical trust factor Ideally, storytelling is embraced as a key...
  65. Content Marketing Support Resource

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    I’ve just completed reading Rebecca Lieb’s new book, Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher – How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media. I’m immediately buying copies for my people and to use with customers. It’s a terrific introduction and summary of the principles and top level practices. This is book for people who want or need an initial understanding of Content Marketing. I read it in a couple of hours on a plane ride. This makes it a good book to share with senior executives and others to help explain “why we’re taking this approach to marketing”. We all need that. We’re all working with a few who “get it,” surrounded by far too many who don’t. Given the significant mind, strategy and budget shifts required for organizations to pursue this course, making the case for content marketing is the first challenge proponents usually face. Given the “dabbling”...
  66. Content Publishing vs. Traditional “Point Production” Process

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      People regularly ask me to clarify the differences and reasons for adopting a content publishing process rather than the traditional point production process. The publishing process is at the core of our Leveraged Content Supply Chain ideas. Here is a simple list of reasons. We believe organizations face new content requirements that a publishing oriented creation process best addresses because: Content must be relevant to each buyer and their situation, vs. “one size fits all” Content must educate, create a vision and inspire vs. pitch features and benefits This means a dramatic increase in the volume of content to create which breaks down with traditional approaches We must reduce the burden on subject experts (SMEs) and change their role in creating content Content creation must become a planned asset development and maintenance process vs. an event driven, “one-and-done” approach Content creation is moving from centralized, “professional” creators to “new...
  67. Ready or Not, Here’s Your Content Challenge

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    To capture attention and deliver value, your content challenge is to be relevant to your buyers and readers. It might be cliché to say buyers are inundated with information, but I don’t see organizations really committing to strategies that deal with this reality. While many have changed the way they market over the last three to five years, I don’t see corresponding changes in the way they create content. I call the traditional approach a “point production” method. Sometimes this is referred to as “one and done.” I put the emphasis on “one” — one blog, article, webinar, whitepaper, video, etc. If we are committed to creating relevant content that works for our organization and our readers, it must be created to speak to a specific individual, specific interest or issue, buying stage, industry, competitive context and other relevance factors. Not all of them together. If we believe it’s important to make our...
  68. Content Governance in the Content Marketing Era

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    Today’s content marketing requirements and opportunities are straining traditional corporate thinking, policies and processes. How has your company adapted policies and procedures to accommodate the “democratization of content creation” with the shift from centralized, “professional” production processes, to a distributed or (hopefully) agile creation process? A common occurrence we experience when creating video vignettes for companies provides a good example. This involves the internal review process that is based on traditional thinking, policies and procedures. First, some context. We typically create content for our customers, to address their buyer’s journey: their issues, challenges, opportunities, options, etc. This content is educational in nature. Hopefully it delivers insights bordering on  “thought leadership“, with some degree of a “point-of-view.” Relatively little of this content presents an official corporate offer. Our process begins by interviewing our customer’s subject experts to acquire the language they typically use when talking with customers about customer business issues. We expect these experts know...
  69. Customer Interviews for Marketing and Selling Content

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    At our recent sales and marketing breakfast we had an excellent conversation on customer — and video — interviews. As a result, I suspected that most B2B marketing professionals don’t have a successful framework for thinking about, much less acquiring, effective customer interviews for marketing and selling content. Follow on conversations with organizations large and small confirmed my suspicions. What’s the ‘Job’ of Recorded Customer Interviews? What do you call them? Success stories? Testimonials? Case studies?  What is the “come from” behind your approach? What is your primary intent? To have your customer tell your prospects things about you that you can’t (or shouldn’t) tell yourself? Or are you “coming from” a perspective of “helping buyers make effective buying decisions” by getting your customers to share insights that address specific buying questions — by role, issue, buying stage, solution alternative? What is the “job” recorded customer interviews are expected to do? How do these expectations differ...
  70. Content Marketing Best Practices from Joe Pulizzi

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    Hubspot Inbound Now Video Interview also a Case Study In How to Create Content Like a Publisher Whether you are new to content marketing or an advanced practitioner you can learn something from the recent Hubspot Inbound Now interview with Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 and founder of the Content Marketing Institute. Anytime I can hear or read Joe’s insights it’s a worthwhile time investment. The Hubspot process is an excellent example of thinking and creating content like a publisher: Be a resource for new ideas and insights Acquire content by interviewing subject experts Use audio and video as acquisition methods (more than just interview) Transcribe the audio Offer the content in multiple formats for consumption convenience: text, audio and video Amplify — in this case they blogged about the interview for another distribution method Promote — others will help you do this   Inbound Now #16 – Content Marketing Best Practices...
  71. Are You Communicating Synchronously in an Asynchronous World?

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      We live in a world that prefers to receive information asynchronously. But we tend to focus on using live, synchronous delivery methods. This is a key source of high costs and low results in every area of a business. I cannot overstate the importance of this idea and distinction, as well as the implication for individuals and organizations. First, some simple definitions. Synchronous communications happen at the same time with all participants. Synchronous communications tend to be traditional voice-based conversations to deliver intended messages. They can be conducted in person or over the phone or web. Asynchronous communications do not occur in the same time. Communications experienced asynchronously are consumed “on demand” at a time of choosing by the recipient. Asynchronous communication rely on content to package and deliver core messages — audio content such as voice mail, text content, or video. Implications for Your Communications As I consider the world...
  72. What “Job” Do You Want Content to Do?

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      Marketing professionals who are trying to understand the principle behind content marketing can take a lesson from Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School and his “jobs-to-be-done” marketing ideas. This core Christensen idea is presented in the HBS Working Knowledge article, Milkshake Marketing. The article describes a fascinating study his team conducted on behalf of a fast food chain that wanted to improve milkshake sales. The company initially applied a typical market research approach before it engaged “one of Christensen’s fellow researchers, who approached the situation by trying to deduce the ‘job’ that customers were ‘hiring’ a milkshake to do.”   Parallels Between Product Design and Content Strategy Consider this comparison between product design and content strategy. Both product design and content share similar problems. Product design challenges are revealed in the low success rate of new product introductions. Marketing content issues are revealed in the low usefulness to marketing campaigns, sales...
  73. Lead Nurturing and the Inside Sales / Telesales Role

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    We are working with several clients to help them improve their lead nurturing program to deliver a higher volume and quality of sales ready leads to the outside sales team. We have found a tendency on the part of Inside Sales to conduct their work from what I would term a traditional mindset. In many cases they are actively prospecting for new leads from an unqualified list. They may be qualifying, using a BANT process, opportunities that have been created through marketing programs — something one of my partners refers to as “waterboarding to BANT.” Or, they are actively trying to set appointments for sales reps. Telemarketing Study Results This assessment was verified in a recent article about a study of the top objectives and budget areas for telemarketing organizations. “The most popular objective for telemarketing, according to the research, is ‘generating new leads’, selected by 76 per cent of...
  74. Content and Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2011

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    I’ve just read this compilation of insights and predictions published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Two strategic insights I found especially helpful: Must have a real-time mindset (David Meerman Scott) The “consumerization” of B2B marketing (Tom Pisello) This summary of especially salient points looks like a pretty good content checklist: Content will get shorter (Doug Kessler) Relevance will become the new standard (Sandra Zoratti) Must become better storytellers – Some brands will understand that they are nothing more than a story and brands that tell their story will win (Simon Kelly) Create original high value content (think unique) (Valeria Maltoni) Education oriented better than humor (Russ Henneberry) Frequency, quality and relevancy not only matter, but will be essential to maintaining a competitive edge (Barbara Rozgonyi)   Ability to generate content that engages audiences and motivates them to take action (Paul Roetzer) Quality over quantity Content strategy and planning–By the end of 2011,...
  75. Additional Thoughts on 10 Rainmaker Selling Principles

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    As we all plan for a new year and for changes that will make a difference, a good place to start is with core selling principles and practices. Mike Schultz gives us a useful checklist in his recent blog 10 Rainmaker Principles and Keys to Sales Motivation, which I highly recommend. Given my commitment to focusing on “being the best“ I found this list especially helpful. Like all good points this post stimulated additional thoughts that I’d like to share. Principle #1 — Play to win-win. One of the challenges many of us have given our years of experience is to view principles like this through a mindset of “yes, this is a good one, I understand.” I will be challenging my organization to re-think and re-apply this principle in ways that break through our “thinking as usual.” We will re-define what it means to deliver in the best interests of clients and prospects — specifically and in...

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