1. The evolution of content quality criteria

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      For too many organizations I meet, content quality is assumed. Or, it’s delegated to those creating the content. Defined and documented content quality criteria typically don’t exist. They aren’t part of a service agreement with content creation teams. When content quality criteria are discussed, it’s typically using the lowest level of quality maturity. Of course, this makes no sense. It’s part of the legacy of where and how content has traditionally been sourced. Agencies and production teams were hired to not only deliver quality content, but to figure out what that actually meant. With greater content production and accountability moving internally, this gap in thinking and practice is an important reason for low content performance. It also impacts content operations productivity. Content time-to-market is delayed, and costs rise, due to re-work of content products following initial and often multiple reviews. Here’s how I describe the evolution in content quality...
  2. Microcontent — the most important content type you don’t manage

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        Microcontent isn’t widely understood or consciously used. When it is, it’s usually by marketing for social media content. But micro-content may be the most important content type you have, and you probably don’t manage it. Microcontent is simply what the words imply. The term is credited to user experience expert Jakob Nielsen: “microcontent is a small group of words which can be skimmed by the reader to understand the wider message of the article.” Examples include a sentence, a paragraph, an image, a 20 second video, a checklist, a quotation, an answer to a question, research results or facts. It can be stand alone, as Nielsen and most others consider it. It can also be source for any new content. Either way, microcontent is an under-used content type. And it’s not limited to marketing. Significant impact on job performance and business outcomes across your entire organization can be realized by applying...
  3. What is a Content Supply Chain?

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      The genesis for this is an article by Jake Sorofman at Gartner, “The Content Supply Chain is the Rate Limiter to Digital Marketing Maturity.” “Targeting and personalizing experiences requires content—lots of it, in many different forms, for many different audiences, engaging across many different channels. Managing this madness becomes an exercise in combinatorial complexity that requires a more rigorous approach to your content strategy.” Content supply chain requires an architectural way of thinking, which begins with a clear understanding of the demand side—in this case, all of the consuming applications and experiences enabled by your segmentation, targeting and personalization strategy.” “If your goal is to deliver an experience something better than one size fits all—or worse, all sizes fit none—you need to treat your content strategy as more than a hand wave. You need an architectural approach to your content supply chain.” McKinsey have written about the importance of a content supply...
  4. Situation-ready information, on-purpose, by design

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      I’m done talking about “content.” The word is too conceptual to have any useful meaning. In my world, words matter. To work, words must convey common meaning. I believe the word “content” and how it’s used actually causes problems. This is undoubtedly a contributor to quality problems experienced with marketing and especially selling content. Sales tells marketing, “we need better content.” Marketing replies, “what kind of content do you need?” Sales: ” we need customer stories, presentation support, videos, etc.” Sound familiar? And I could go on about content for certain stages, personas and industry verticals, among other important relevance categories. Having managed a business that created content for B2B sales, marketing and training organizations for 20 years, we regularly dealt with requests expressed this way. Knowing desired content formats, audience types and selling stages is simply insufficient input to inform quality content. We would ask, “What exactly do...
  5. Use Knowledge Delivered Strategy to Define and Show Content Value

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    A Different Approach to Content Strategy and Justification   B2B content marketers must continually defend budgets and tactics, especially content investments, by proving performance. This is part of a persistent struggle to raise marketing credibility and awareness of its impact in the business. Too many executives, and especially the sales organization, still don’t see it. You create and deploy content to many constituent groups and users. They deliver those assets in many ways through a variety of channels and mechanisms. You work hard to figure out how to track and measure asset performance and business impact. This is not a simple challenge. But content ROI must be proved. Or does it? What if you change your approach to “proving the value of content”? What if you flip the process?   Knowledge Delivered Strategy Applied The Knowledge Delivered strategy is explained here in greater detail. This approach to content strategy and...
  6. 30 60 10 B2B Content Strategy

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      Companies struggle to keep up with the content demands of a digital business environment. As B2B selling organizations adopt social selling practices, current content volume requirements will seem puny by comparison. You better have a strategy to scale without compromising quality, timeliness and, of course, cost. In the content business, create vs. curate is similar to the traditional business decision of make vs. buy. To the degree companies develop a formal B2B content strategy, deciding this mix is one decision output. What if there’s a third way? This won’t be a breakthrough insight. It recommends elevating an important technique for higher execution. This technique many companies seldom use and may not have considered in content strategy decisions.   B2B Content Strategy A simple way of thinking about content strategy is to answer two main questions: On-purpose — What content do we need and why? What’s the “job” content must perform?...
  7. Create relevant content based on personality profiles

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      We know relevance resonates. Content that addresses each audience interest, persona and situation performs better than generic content. So why not create content based on personality profiles? My first “real job” (working since age 9) was for ADP. One year later I moved into sales. I had a good intuitive sense for my buyers. I could read their personality and peculiarities. But I had no idea how to use that information to help me sell. My manager introduced me to DISC. DISC is one of many personality assessment models. The initial DISC model comes from Dr. William Marston, a physiological psychologist, in a book entitled Emotions of Normal People, published in 1928. DISC Personality Model This model uses four dimensions to characterize people: I use DISC to quickly assess the person I’m meeting based on behaviors, speech patterns, and even their setting if I’m meeting in their office. It works, even...
  8. 7 reasons you’re not getting the most out of customer facing content

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      Missing or under-performing customer facing content has a significant impact on strategic business objectives: new customer acquisition and organic revenue growth, sales and marketing productivity and efficiency for lower selling costs, data acquisition and customer experience. B2B lead generation and conversion rates are universally below expectations. Late stage content in sales cycles hasn’t evolved to support buyer-centered selling practices. A realistic assessment of the underlying cause of the problem helps you apply the right solution, because it allows you to see the real cause of the problem. In our view, there are seven primary reasons you are not getting the most out of your customer facing content. 1. Customer facing content is not created on purpose. Content has a specific “job” to do for both marketing and sales tactics. How you define the purpose of your content depends on the specific information required for each “touch,” the user experience...
  9. Is “Last Idea In, First Content Out” Killing Your Content Strategy?

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      We had just completed ten intense weeks creating a business level content strategy for a client. This kind of work produces many work products. Two relate to this story. We carefully defined the client’s marketing and sales use case requirements. And for actionable next steps, a carefully considered and prioritized list of content that was required to support those use cases was also developed. Within days I got “the call.” I call it LII FCO, “last idea in, first content out.” It seems a prospect had asked one of their sales reps a question in a meeting. The rep came back and asked the Vice President of marketing “what do we have I can send to this prospect?” It was an attractive topic. The VP was excited to share with me the opportunity to leverage the work we had just completed. The company had lots of ideas to fuel this creation. After...
  10. How Content Operations Can Create Marketing and Selling Breakthroughs

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      Marketing and selling content operations isn’t sexy. But it could be one of the most important focus areas for marketing leaders. See Is Content Operations Your Next Focus Area? Almost every week I see fresh survey results that continue to reflect the long-standing challenges that B2B marketers face (Content Marketing Institute). More importantly, I speak with people in companies and hear the same issues. The question is, “given all the internal and external expertise and creative resources available to organizations, why do these persistent and near universal content problems still exist?”   McKinsey On Digital Marketing Operations This post was inspired by the McKinsey Insights article: How digital marketing operations can transform business. Here’s McKinsey’s assessment of current state: “Marketing operations are certainly not the sexiest part of marketing, but they are becoming the most important one. With businesses unable to keep pace with evolving consumer behavior and the marketing landscape,...
  11. How Do Audiences Assess Your Marketing Content?

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      What if you could assess your marketing content the same way your audiences do? How would that improve content quality, audience relevance, performance? Of course. Makes sense. But what exactly does this mean — in practice? I invite you to collaborate in this real-time case example. I have a video for you to view, assess, and provide feedback for recommended improvements. We’ll source reader inputs over a couple of weeks and post the best suggestions. Principle being applied: it’s easier to criticize someone else’s content than our own. But maybe there are lessons we can all learn from this experience. The Scenario AlignMeeting is a new, interactive, online sales meeting platform from AlignRevenue. Their target users are B2B inside sales reps and managers. AlignRevenue created a short introductory video to outline the problems that inside sales reps and managers are experiencing—and a new solution to those problems. The primary goal...
  12. Content Marketing Gap: What to do, How to do it, How to operationalize

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    When it comes to content marketing, there’s near universal agreement on “what to do,” what actions organizations must take. “How to do it” advice tends to focus on tactic-specific techniques. We see a significant execution gap between these two information categories. The gap is how organizations operationalize their content strategy. We believe this missing element is the reason content under-performs, organizations experience the perennial “challenges that B2B marketers face” (Content Marketing Institute), and demonstrating suitable return on content investments is elusive. The nature of the information delivered in this post is such that it requires explanation with visual support. This indicated that video is the best medium. It’s also an example of a practical use of video to deliver educational information, not just to entertain. This article provides a deeper understanding of a business or enterprise class content strategy. Executive Summary – 6 Competencies for Marketing and Sales Content Strategy This article with explanatory...
  13. Getting B2B Content ROI Right

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    In this digital era, the nature and role of customer content has new meaning and significance. Content is a strategic business imperative because it is a key driver of top business and functional objectives. Poor performing content lowers outcomes. Misunderstanding content ROI elevates risk of poor decisions about content strategy and investment. The risk to senior executives in B2B selling enterprises, of not taking a strategic perspective on customer facing content, impacts their decisions about top business objectives: New customer acquisition and revenue growth Sales and marketing productivity, and lower selling costs Data acquired about buyers, customers Consistent delivery of an exceptional customer experience. But most executives have never given serious consideration to customer content as a business asset. It has always been the tactical responsibility of knowledge and creative people. One executive expressed what I most often hear: “What is content anyway? Collateral, right?”  (See What is Content?) Most senior executives are still...
  14. Need Better Content? Define Your Use Case Requirements

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    Perhaps you’re the sales leader, and your sales people lack the content they need to sell effectively in this age of online, self-educating, stealth buyers. Or, perhaps you’re responsible for lead generation and demand management, but you lack effective education-oriented nurturing content to support your desire to deploy multiple persona, stage and industry relevant nurturing campaigns. You might manage channel sales and your partners regularly complain they lack channel appropriate content to fuel their lead gen and selling activities. Or, you are accountable for any number of other content dependent, customer engaging groups across your organization. Your inventory and budgets are starved for the customer relevant content you require. You each know the performance of your group suffers due to poor, missing or impossible to find content for key situations.  Yet your organization is cranking out more content than ever before. What’s going on? More importantly, what can you do...
  15. Continuum and Process vs. Event, Project or Campaign Thinking

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      The consensus is clear. It’s past time to shift your thinking about your approach to marketing activities as an event, project or campaign, to continuum and process thinking. In my mail yesterday I received my hot-off-the-press copy of Ardath Albee’s new book, Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results. While I haven’t yet read it, this morning LinkedIn delivered an interview-based article that introduces a key theme of the book. LinkedIn: Why is it important for marketers to view marketing as a continuum?  Ardath Albee: Marketers typically think of their B2B marketing efforts as a series of campaigns focused on specific parts of the buying decision. The problem is, if a B2B buyer is at a different stage in their buying process than the content you distribute suggests, you could miss engaging them entirely. This theme is especially important for your thinking about your content strategy and operations....

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