1. 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...
  2. 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....
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. What is Content?

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    Before you dismiss this question out of hand, please consider my main points: Most people think of content as type or format. You see that in buying stage content alignment graphics. But content is really comprised of three elements: contentS (information), package (format) and purpose (the job content must perform). Jim Burns, Execute Content Strategy blog. (Copy to reuse) Content under-performs primarily because it doesn’t sufficiently support the purposes for which users and audiences need content. Unfortunately, purpose is seldom explicitly defined before content is created. Jim Burns, Execute Content Strategy blog. (Copy to re-use) Consider the universally recommended prescription to define content requirements at each stage of the buying process. The graphic below from SiriusDecisions is a common framework. The problem is, defining content as formats doesn’t help in any way inform the contentS — the information. ContentS are the “what” and “how” of content: what to say, and how to say it....
  6. 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...
  7. 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...
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
  10. 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...
  11. 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.  ...
  12. 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...
  13. 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 Publishing Process to All Content Projects This is the native PowerPoint version. It contains extensive builds and audio with each slide. When you play the PowerPoint as a slideshow (outside of SlideShare) the audio will play and slides will advance automatically. For preview purposes, we have included the video version below as well (18...
  14. 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.    
  15. 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...

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