1. 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...
  2. 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...
  3. 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.  ...
  4. 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...
  5. 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...
  6. 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.    
  7. 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...
  8. 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.    
  9. 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...
  10. 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...
  11. 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...
  12. 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...
  13. 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...
  14. 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...
  15. 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....

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