1. 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...
  2. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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,...
  5. 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...
  6. Content Marketing Gap: What to do, How to do it, How to operationalize

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    When it comes to content marketing, there’s near universal agreement on “what to do,” what actions organizations must take. “How to do it” advice tends to focus on tactic-specific techniques. We see a significant execution gap between these two information categories. The gap is how organizations operationalize their content strategy. We believe this missing element is the reason content under-performs, organizations experience the perennial “challenges that B2B marketers face” (Content Marketing Institute), and demonstrating suitable return on content investments is elusive. The nature of the information delivered in this post is such that it requires explanation with visual support. This indicated that video is the best medium. It’s also an example of a practical use of video to deliver educational information, not just to entertain. This article provides a deeper understanding of a business or enterprise class content strategy. Executive Summary – 6 Competencies for Marketing and Sales Content Strategy This article with explanatory...
  7. 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...
  8. 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...
  9. 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....
  10. 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...
  11. 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...
  12. 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...
  13. 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...
  14. 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...
  15. 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...

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