1. How to define requirements and requisition content

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      To get effective, sales-ready content, sales organizations must “requisition content” from the marketing and content groups that are resourced and budgeted to create it. This article introduces an approach and steps to do this. To understand why, see Why B2B Sales Organizations Must Requisition Sales Content. To understand why you need a sales content strategy, see article referenced bellow. This requisition work could be a key role for sales enablement professionals. While the steps are simple, the work isn’t necessarily easy. In a sentence the approach is this: Assess critical sales conversations  at key buyer engagement points, in the context of:   1. Assess and Define Key Customer Engagement Use Cases This is the best starting point for planning and preparation work (content strategy). It defines the context for the “job” you need content to do. (See What “Job” Do You Want Content to Do?) Identify each critical conversation within each use...
  2. Creating microcontent first might resolve your content problems

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      Looking back, I’ve been involved with microcontent for 25 years in the content business with Avitage. Although we never called it that. The name Avitage was created from “audio-video montage”. A montage is a picture created from many little source images. Microcontent is each slide in your PowerPoint decks. If you think about where “knowledge” is stored in your organization, you might respond, “in our people’s heads, in our PowerPoint, and in document, video and perhaps audio files.” Probably in that order. Our first software application managed PowerPoint at the slide level. The application allowed individual slides to be assembled into “Collections,” without duplicating source slides. It operated in a manner similar to the thumbnail view in PowerPoint. But it managed an entire organization’s sanctioned and personal PowerPoint. We subsequently associated audio with each slide. Audio as microcontent. One audio element could provide coaching on the intent and use of the slide. A...
  3. 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.   Incremental Content Quality Stages Here’s how I describe...
  4. Why your approach to content alignment hurts your results

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      The long-prevailing wisdom is to align content to the customer’s buying stage and/or the sales process stage. This approach reflects an outdated content alignment and management mindset. Yes, we all long for simpler days of old. It’s the folder mindset that says, “we need to group content within hierarchical folder categories.” Buying and selling stages are a rather obtuse concept. Few content users or their audiences really know or think about what stage of the decision / selling process they’re in. The Gartner Buying Journey model below shows a more realistic reality. So, aligning content to the yellow box stage doesn’t accomplish much. It probably contributes to confusion and difficulty finding exactly the right asset, quickly. This simplistic thinking also causes you to miss content requirements that a more rigorous approach will identify. Asking, “how will my content users go about looking for content?” is a better approach. This is what should be...
  5. The Content Design Point is Different for Marketing and Sales Content

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        In Marketing and Sales Content — Differences That Matter I identified the problem that few people explicitly understand the difference between sales and marketing content. Does this really matter? During 20 years creating sales, marketing and training content for B2B organizations we discovered it really does. I believe this misunderstanding is a primary cause of poor or missing situation-specific sales information and content. This matters because the quality of sales information impacts B2B sales and marketing performance, as well as revenue growth. For companies pursuing account-based marketing tactics (ABM) I suggest success depends on information that is more like sales content than marketing content. The question addressed here is, “what can be done to improve sales content?” I will offer a prescription for what to do, based on adopting a different content design point, and how to do that. Consider for a moment the infamous marketing and sales...
  6. How to Level Up Your Content Operations

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      At some point B2B executives realize that adding resources and technology to the traditional content operations process produces only marginal improvements. Digital era content requirements are rising exponentially. They will not be addressed with the current process. This will become even more evident when marketing begins to adequately support B2B sales content requirements, as well as those of the sales channel. That will probably require you to level up content operations.   Background on B2B Content Operations All content is outsourced, or should be. By this I mean sales and marketing people, and their audiences, use and consume content. They don’t create it. They rely on internal or external content development teams. I also mean subject experts who possess the knowledge that informs content should not create it (mostly). They have a “day job.” Their domain expertise may not include the skills required to design and create effective content. Subject...
  7. Objectives-Based Content Strategy Framework

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      With guidance from SiriusDecisions and other analysts firms, many B2B organizations have evolved their go-to-market, messaging and content strategy. They have shifted from a product-based to a persona-based content framework. This is often in support of a solutions selling model. “As b-to-b organizations place greater focus on both inbound marketing, and optimizing content for the sales force, the skills and behaviors required for content ideation, writing and delivery are rapidly changing. To survive and thrive, product and solution marketers must evolve their competencies.”  The premise of the brief is: “The shift toward inbound marketing is forcing marketers to support continuous buyer conversations via the Web and virally through social media channels and influencer marketing. These conversations require topic-driven content focusing on industry and business issues that concern key buyers personas.” SiriusDecisions, Building a Persona-Based Content Framework. (Client portal access required) This guidance has convinced organizations to shift their emphasis from...
  8. 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...
  9. Modular Content Creation vs. Traditional and Structured Content Approaches

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      As content marketing practices mature, organizations look for new ways to gain advantages and improve content performance. One of the most elusive tactics is to optimize content for audience and situation relevance. Numerous studies have shown business outcomes improve significantly when content delivers highly targeted, useful and relevant insights to audiences. Yet marketers currently struggle to produce content tailored even to relatively simple relevance factors, such as specific industry verticals or personas. Demand campaigns and nurture tracks seldom are targeted to those factors. Lack of data, list segmentation and relevant content are three primary reasons we usually hear. As marketers move beyond content for marketing tactics, and step up to support sales and the sales channel’s content requirements, the ability to deliver highly targeted, situation-relevant content will be an essential capability. Sales engagement is essentially a one-to-one activity. When B2B buying teams are made up of 5 to 6...
  10. What is a Leveraged Content Supply Chain?

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        In What is a Content Supply Chain? I identified the shortcomings of the traditional and still prevalent process by which B2B organizations create content. I concluded by saying the question is, How do you design a content supply chain process that will optimize 10 essential content criteria, especially the need to scale without scaling investment, or compromises to important criteria? In our 20 year content creation business we discovered the answer in a different approach, process and set of techniques we refer to as a leveraged content supply chain process. If you Google content supply chain you will discover the content workflow management software category that some claim IS the content supply chain. This isn’t what we’re talking about here. This is like saying ERP software IS the manufacturing supply chain. Manufacturers learned they first had to change their supply chain process to realize the big value ERP software investments...
  11. 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...
  12. Complexity Simplified — The B2B Selling Dilemma

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      Complexity is a natural condition of our modern digital era. Complexity, coupled with exponential change, can paralyze effective execution. Without mechanisms to make the complex simple, people experience the feeling as “complicated”. This is the condition B2B sales and marketing leaders experience when it comes to defining and executing sales, marketing, content and data strategies. The impact and costs are high — to individual productivity, functional results and to strategic business goals. They’re also accelerating with the exponential rate of change. As Mckinsey says in the two minute video in this article: “The future waits for no one. The biggest risk, is being left behind.” For B2B sales and marketing leaders the problem isn’t knowing what to do. What to do is universally understood and generally accepted. Prescriptions include: Segment audiences and buyers to focus investment and resources Deeply understand customer business issues, functions, roles (personas), and how they make (buying) decisions Develop...
  13. Situation-specific 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...
  14. 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...
  15. Change your content process to leverage accelerate and scale

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      When it comes to customer facing content, much is written about creative techniques, tools and infrastructure. But there is little thinking or discussion about content process change. By changing your content process for strategy and operations you can leverage resources and assets, accelerate production time to real-time, and scale outputs without compromise. My thinking is influenced by the re-engineering experience in the 1990’s. The refrain we hear today about return-on-investment for content marketing is very similar to complaints in the 90’s about lack of evidentiary ROI on investments in personal computing technologies — hardware and software. I was influenced by the writing of British cybernetician Stafford Beer who wrote: “The question that asks, ‘given my my business, how should I use the microprocessor?’ is fundamentally the wrong question. A better question would be, ‘given the microprocessor, how should I design my business?'” Companies re-engineered their accounting, manufacturing and product...
  16. Content Source the secret sauce to quality content

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      My cousin arrived from California the other day. As we sat enjoying a bottle of his excellent homemade Cabernet, he told me about his decades long wine-making hobby. Turns out there are many ways to screw up wine in the production process (technical term). But if you don’t begin with the right, quality grapes, there’s little you can do to improve it. It occurred to me this applies to content creation, doesn’t it? If you don’t have the right inputs, there’s little even a great writer can do to produce great content. Content Source is the secret sauce to quality content because it’s the way you acquire and prepare inputs to your content process. Our practice of using Content Source began over a decade ago. We quickly worked to make it a disciplined, robust content practice. When we consider our world without Content Source, we realize we would lose our: Leverage, efficiency...
  17. 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...
  18. 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...
  19. Content Strategy Competency – Understand Audiences (Buyers)

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      For most B2B selling companies, content strategy is developed and executed at the functional or even tactic level. These strategies naturally focus on the requirements and audiences of each function. Few companies have a universal, business level content strategy. The functions we’re talking about engage some version of the company’s “customers,” with messages and content that are of a marketing and selling nature. This creates new requirements that are driven by self-educating audiences, digital content and online channels.   We believe lack of an effective, business level content strategy lowers optimization of top business objectives: New customer acquisition and organic revenue growth Sales, marketing and channel productivity, for lower selling costs Acquiring data about customers and buyers to feed predictive analytics and data-driven decision making Delivering a consistent, exceptional customer experience. Indeed, we see significant opportunity for companies that develop business level content strategy to create breakthrough results in terms of: content...
  20. Create Customer Content in Multiple Languages

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      The requirement to deliver customer content in multiple languages is further evidence of how new realities are introducing new requirements that demand new approaches. It’s also an example of how new requirements raise the importance of the ability to scale content operations. Content in multiple languages isn’t new. Technical publications, websites and marketing collateral have long dealt with this issue. But that’s exactly the point. Look at how those responsible to meet that requirement had to change content processes, adopt new technologies, and develop new techniques. You don’t know you say? Exactly, another point! The silo nature of organizations has created learning barriers. This post, and the book Global Content Strategy – A Primer, by Val Swisher can help you learn those lessons. Global Content Strategy – A Primer Over the last decade, our list of new content criteria has grown from 6 to more than 9 factors. Foreign language...
  21. 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,...
  22. B2B Customer Content Operations Manifesto

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      The custom content business is a difficult business. It’s a difficult business due to the economics of the underlying content operations model, as well as poor inputs from inefficient clients. If you’re a B2B CMO pursuing content dependent strategies such as content marketing, automated lead generation and nurturing, sales and channel enablement (among others), you are now in that business. Agencies and production companies that produce good work products, and are profitable, do so by exploiting poor inputs and inefficient clients. And clients pay dearly for this. The primary mechanisms they use to do this are to charge for: Strategy Creative Retainers (agency of record or annual contracts) Change orders These mechanisms are not available to you with your internal content operations. Which means you’re left with all the negatives. This is why you (and most content marketers) struggle to: produce a constant stream of audience (buyer) relevant content … in the many...
  23. 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 in how poorly organizations operationalize their content strategy. We believe this 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.   How to Operationalize Your Content Strategy 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...
  24. More Than Content Needs Overhaulin’

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    For all the time, attention and investment made in sales enablement tools, it’s a shame a fraction of that hasn’t been invested in solving the core problem: the content itself. One of our colleagues often quips: “it’s easier to buy software.” He means easier than figuring out the culture and process changes, aligning siloed functions, enrolling stakeholders, and resolving all the interdependent causes of problems. He also says, “every major purchase is essentially a change management initiative.” Despite the lip service and pockets of success (sustainable?), sales enablement hasn’t yet met expectations. But then …. CRM? I was reminded of this by Tom Pisello’s summary of the Qvidian users conference. Top Priority: Content Overhaulin’. While “purging, aligning and personalizing” content might be necessary work, what’s really required is a better process for content. How can it possibly be, that in the fifteen years I’ve been involved with B2B content, most...
  25. How to improve content performance and operations output

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      Marketing leaders, and the executive team to which they are accountable, understandably want to improve performance of customer facing content, get better outputs from content operations, and better returns on content investments. At the recent Content Marketing World, content ROI was a prominent topic. This post will provide an overview vision of what you must do to tune your content operations for optimal performance. Content operations performance means the ability to reliably and consistently meet content standards you’ve identified: Quality Timing (continuous and rapid time-to-market) Quantity (to cover requirements with versions and formats) Audience relevance As well as other factors you’ve identified (reuse). There are so many factors marketers must optimize, starting with resolving their challenges, as well as new, digital era content criteria.   We will explain our recommendation for an operational shift in the first video below. The second video illustrates how this works using a new, continuous publishing, or “content...
  26. 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....
  27. 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...
  28. 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...
  29. 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...
  30. 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...
  31. 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...
  32. 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...
  33. 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”...
  34. 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...
  35. 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...
  36. 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...
  37. 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...
  38. 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...
  39. 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...
  40. 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...
  41. 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.  ...
  42. 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...
  43. 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...
  44. 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...
  45. 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...
  46. 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...
  47. 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...
  48. 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....
  49. 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....
  50. 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...
  51. 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...
  52. 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...
  53. 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...
  54. 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...
  55. 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...
  56. 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,...
  57. 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...
  58. 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...
  59. 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...
  60. 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...
  61. 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...
  62. 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...
  63. 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...
  64. 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...
  65. 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...
  66. 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...
  67. 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...
  68. 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...
  69. 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”...
  70. 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...
  71. 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...
  72. 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...
  73. 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...
  74. 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...
  75. 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,...

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