1. 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...
  2. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. 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...
  6. 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...
  7. 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...
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
  10. For a Stronger Content Strategy — Begin With Purpose

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    I remember reading about Norman Cousins. He developed a serious illness in the seventies and received a poor recovery prognosis. Convinced of the power of positive emotions, he used humor and laughing to support his recovery. He rented funny TV shows and movies. This experience was the basis for his popular book, Anatomy of An Illness. TEDTalks are part of my therapy today. Mostly because of their incredible inspirational value. Right at the top of the most popular TEDTalks is Simon Sinek. Sales and marketing must go beyond delivering information to customers. We’re about inspiring action. In this vein, all marketing and sales professionals should be familiar with this landmark talk, Start with Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Action. When organizations develop their content strategy, and begin with purpose – theirs and their audience’s purpose – the work is less daunting and results are more effective. This is not a...
  11. Avitage POV on Marketing and Sales Communication

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    My company, Avitage, has recently updated our point-of-view. Over fifteen years the core vision has not changed: to enable front line business communicators to assemble and deliver buyer relevant and useful content, tailored to each audience — even an audience of one. We even learned how to do this with video! But the delivery methods have certainly evolved, expanding the need for, and value of, our approach. Enabling sales to meet revenue, growth and profitability targets is the responsibility of marketing and sales working in a collaborative effort. How you sell is a primary differentiator and opportunity to create value for customers. These efforts should also be aligned around the common process of the customer’s buying journey, and the objective of facilitating a faster buying process. A Communication Requirement Seeing these objectives through a communications lens is an important distinction. Communication is a function of: Messages — knowing what to...

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