1. Content Marketing Principles and Practices

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    Subtitle: Lip Service or Disciplined, Consistent Execution? A research briefing on Focus Marketing website called Best Practices in Content Marketing presents summary recommendations, a set of principles really, for conducting content marketing. Executive Summary “A content marketing strategy involves the creation of content for the purpose of engaging and establishing relationships with current and prospective customers, and subscribes to the belief that delivering high-quality information to prospects at the right stage of the buying cycle drives profitable action. There are several stages of a content marketing strategy each with many elements to consider before moving to the next. In this guide, Focus Experts Ardath Albee, Joe Chernov, Barbra Gago, Doug Kessler, and Stephanie Tilton have suggested their top tips and best practices for each stage of the content marketing cycle.” I highly recommend the briefing, the full roundtable discussion transcript, or the on demand recording of the full program. (I especially like that Focus offers MP3 and transcript versions,...
  2. Sharing a customer’s story

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    I’m just back from a client review meeting. We assist our customer with lead management and content. This week they started a campaign, here is their story. As a result of our customer’s ability to track and score buyer consumption of content, initially delivered through an outbound campaign, and supported by a content microsite, our customer identified several people whose content consumption behavior indicated heightened interest. This triggered a move of this “lead” in their (Marketo) lead management system from the initial “inquiry” status to “marketing qualified lead” (MQL). The lead scoring algorithm also triggered their inside sales person to conduct an immediate phone follow up. All of this was communicated automatically within their Salesforce.com system, virtually in real time. The “buyer” turned out not to be the actual buyer at all, but the administrative assistant for the President of the company. She indicated they found the content so valuable they...
  3. Content Strategy for the Web

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    If you’re accountable for creating content for marketing and sales I encourage you to immediately get copies of Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web for everyone on your team. There are many parallels and insights that apply to building non-website content. The core premise, that organizations must take a strategic approach to building content and think of content as important business assets, applies to content created for lead generation and nurturing programs, sales enablement and customer communications. The following are a few key excerpts from the book: “Only when we embrace our identities as publishers will we be able to commit to the necessary infrastructure to care for our content as a strategic business asset. For years, we’ve been spending millions of dollars on strategy and research, user experience design, visual design, and technical platforms. In other words, we’ve invested in everything we need to build the online vehicles...
  4. Repurpose Content, Important, Not a Panacea

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    The tactic to repurpose content is a hot topic right now among marketers as they look to reduce content development time, effort and costs. Our company has repurposed content for customers for over fifteen years, and developed several techniques. But first, a warning. Repurposing content is not a panacea to creating the right content the right way the first time. We suggest, if you can repurpose content, it wasn’t designed and created to be targeted and relevant in the first place.  This is why a content strategy that develops a content engine to continuously create content like publishers is so important. If content is not relevant, remarkable or compelling, repurposing won’t necessarily make it so. If content is all about the vendor and their products, it can be difficult to repurpose into effective customer educational content that is high demand today. Think of house renovations. This works well when it’s...
  5. Keeping PowerPoint in Perspective

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    A recent New York Times article — We Have Met the Enemy and He is PowerPoint — is the latest in a (seemingly) never-ending series of articles deriding the tool. This is a good opportunity to move from the “cool” perspective of bashing PowerPoint, to consider it’s significant possibilities — even for content professionals. For over twelve years we have recommended a different perspective. Rather than view PowerPoint as a bullet-oriented presentation tool — it’s initial purpose — we suggest viewing it as a business graphic development, and even general communication tool. Training organizations have long embraced PowerPoint as a foundation for e-learning. Where would marketing webinars be without PowerPoint? As a production tool for general business people, nothing beats it and that’s why it’s so pervasive. But what of more “professional” users? A Tool for the Content Marketing Professional Consider the following marketing and sales content requirements facing most...
  6. A Content Engine Drives Lead Management

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    I was walking my dog past the school playground recently and watched a dad with a young child playing on the monkey bars. The boy could barely jump up and reach the rungs, but seemed paralyzed at the distance between the rungs to begin his navigation. Then I heard him command his father: “swing me, Dad, swing me.” The father gave the boy a gentle push and, using the momentum created by the swinging, the boy navigated his way across the remaining bars. However, whenever he ceased his momentum and stopped on a rung, he was unable to restart. He dropped to the ground to return to his father for a lift and a swing. This got me thinking about lead management. We know that initial inquiries begin to go cold within hours. But too often our follow up connections are “one and done:” a phone call, landing page, white...
  7. Creating Relevant Content

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    The shift from building content about a company and it’s products and services, to building content that speaks to specific interests of target audiences, raises the issue of content relevance. What makes content relevant? How would we gauge the degree of relevance of a content item? This shift is being driven by new customer buying processes enabled largely by internet availability of information traditionally provided by vendors. As buyers begin their buying process with online research, content becomes more critical than ever before. Content is what helps companies get discovered during this research process. Used properly, content can help companies discover potential buyers before they decide to contact vendors. Search engine optimization (SEO), internet syndicated articles, and marketing automation technology (among others) have changed the marketing game. Buyers are not interested in vendor products and services until quite late in their buying process. At the start, they are primarily interested...
  8. How to Think Like a Publisher

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    In 1982 I joined Ziff Davis publishing company in a special group that Bill Ziff set up to figure out how to migrate his print publishing empire into electronic publishing. This experience fundamentally changed my thinking and my life path. It taught me how to think like a publisher. Content marketing thought leaders today are regularly instructing us to think like a publisher. When I ask people to explain what this really means and, more importantly, how they would create content like publishers, they typically respond with blank stares. Those familiar with the way many websites are supported by content management systems have some familiarity with this concept. But this doesn’t inform the creation process. How does the CMS analogy help our understanding of creating like publishers? Publishers separate the major tasks involved in producing finished work products. The database is key to this approach. A content management system is...
  9. Think Like a Publisher

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    Marketing automation for lead nurturing raises the stakes and the complexity of the content creation process. To feast this voracious beast, we recommend you think like a publisher. Why? Buyers want to view relevant content based upon their: role, specific needs or issues, stage of the buying process, industry, alternatives, and information purpose (attention, general education, customer stories, vendor point-of-view, vendor capabilities, proof points, technical explanation and more.) To create physical documents to respond to this requirement would require hundreds, perhaps a thousand documents (4 variables for 5 factors is 4 to the 5th power). Daunting, if even possible. Business publishers need content to be available immediately when buyers, or their sales staff, require it. But budgets are tight and quality standards must be preserved. Volume and the ability to tailor content — perhaps even personalize it — really ups the ante. Business publishers need to shift their thinking from...
  10. Don Hewitt and the New Producers

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    This summer Don Hewitt, creator and producer of 60 minutes died. For those of us in the communications business — most of us — there is a lot to learn from this man. Despite working with text from our youth, most of us don’t write very well. When it comes to graphics, animation, audio and video we truly have a long way to go. But these are the new tools for communication in our age, and we are the “new producers”. As business communicators, we must learn from “publishers” how to create quality content, quickly and affordably. Digital media and the web have raised the bar making us not just publishers, but broadcasters. Don Hewitt was the master of the broadcast world. I’d like to call your attention to this interview, and to several statements in particular that relate to web-based communication. A shorter segment is below.   Conversations at KCTS 9:...
  11. Create Content Like a Publisher when Creating Webinars – Two Customer Examples

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    Over a year ago in this space we outlined “7 ways to take your webinars to the next level,” which was so well received it led to an interview for Blog Talk Radio and multiple guest blog posts. Over the past several years we have been applying this create like a publisher approach to webinars, and the impact for our customers has been significant. The two customer examples show how changing the way you execute webinars can have a substantial impact on the results you get from lead generation webinars as well as fuel content creation for multiple purposes including lead generation, lead nurturing, sales enablement and thought leadership. Anthelio: “A Physician Portal Approach to Patient Information Access” How Anthelio created content like a publisher: Anthelio’s audience is difficult to get to committ the 45 to 60 minutes during the work day for a live webinar, so an on-demand microsite with short video segments is a more effective...
  12. The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It – Signs 4 to 7

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    Last week I published signs 1-3 of the “The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It”. This week I continue with signs 4-7. Sign #4: You’re cloning landing pages to create others It’s tempting to clone an existing page to create another landing page.  I don’t recommend it. Why not? You’re going to forget to update information. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen Marketo web pages with the wrong Page Name (top left corner of the browser), because the page was copied and the person forgot to update the page meta-data. That easy to forget because the meta-data is a bit “buried” and not top of mind to update unless you as using a checklist. What to do about it: Rather create a set of typical web page layouts in Marketo, from which you will clone. You can put...
  13. Marketing Automation – 10 Points on What to Do First

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    I was recently asked – “We have 3 months until we turn on our marketing automation system (in this case, Marketo). What should we do before we set it up?” First off, don’t wait for anything to turn on marketing automation. You don’t want to wait one more day because the moment you turn it on, it’s going to provide you with visibility into who is engaging your web site and you’ll begin building an activity history that will later be associated to an individually named prospect (as soon as they click on one of your emails). OK, so now you have your marketing automation turned on, what’s next? To help you ensure that you fulfill on the promise of marketing automation and meet the expectations of your management team, the below list are must-have components of anautomated lead management and lead nurturing program powered by marketing automation. These are not optional.  If...
  14. Applying a publishing process to training content

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    At Marketo University yesterday I presented a training program around how companies can apply Marketo’s recently released program management functionality to get more out of their events. My recommended approach to program management entails creating a “master event program template” which contains all of the rules and data-driven email and landing page templates. This saves time and operationalizes best practices around events, while creating a program performance report that measures event success. The original request from Marketo was to create materials for Marketo University – a training point production. Our “Create Like a Publisher” process says, however, that content creation should follow a programmatic approach, and consider multiple purposes when making the time and resource investment to create content. Said another way — rather than repurpose content after the fact, which is inefficient, create it right the first time. So in following this create like a publisher process, we created: a 30-minute on-demand...
  15. “The How” – More effective execution around webinars and event marketing

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    I have been asked to instruct an upcoming Marketo University course on event management as part of Marketo’s Revenue Rockstar Roadshow in Boston. The course will cover how to leverage Marketo’s programs & “my tokens” functionality to best manage lead generation events, both offline and online/webinars. By using a set of database-driven templates to manage all event web pages, emails and rules, you (marketers) can spend less time on event setup and operations, and more time focused on event promotion  — and therefore, getting more out of your events.  And this return on event investments (success rates and new lead acquisition) is rolled up into a single, management report compiled in real-time. Moreover, this approach means you can more easily incorporate best practices into your event and webinar programs.  When it comes to marketing, most of us know what we should be doing, but effectively operationalizing it (and ensuring it sticks) is where most companies fall short...
  16. Pre-produce content so it’s there when you need it (like when the Earth shakes)

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    Yesterday’s earthquake presented one of our customers with an example of the importance and impact of creating and managing modular video assets. We work with our customers to help them create content like publishers in order to accelerate their customers’ buying process, and one of the key fundamentals is pre-producing content across a variety of topics (not to mention – roles, buying stages, industry and other factors), so that “it’s ready when you need it.” Our customer Building Engines is a software-as-a-service for managing real estate operations. Natural disasters such as an earthquake have significant ramifications for a building manager including the need to notify and update tenants across multiple communications channels, track and manage these communications, and for operations staff to file incident reports. With the news of the earthquake reverberating on Tuesday, Building Engines was able to leverage their content to contribute to the conversation, share and generate attention. As background, we...
  17. From No-Budget to Signed Deal Using Provocation-Based Selling – Webinar Executive Summary

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    As part of the Marketo Revenue Masters Webinar Series, Principal Consultant for TrellisOne Consulting, Kathleen Schaub and Senior Vice President of Sales for Marketo, Bill Binch, co-presented a webinar entitled “From No Budget to Signed Deal.” The purpose of the webinar was to explain the concept behind provocation based selling and how it can reach high level executives. The webinar covered 3 key questions: 1)What does is mean when a lead says they “have no budget” for you? 2)What provokes an executive to spend their budget on your product or service? 3) How do I get the attention of executives looking to spend their budget on my product or service? This is an executive summary of the presentation. What does “No Budget” Really Mean? There is no such thing as having no budget. Everyone has a budget. When a prospect says they have “no budget,” what they usually mean is...
  18. Perspectives on Marketo’s Product Release – Event Management and Webinar Integration

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    I attended the Marketo product release webinar introducing Marketo’s new event management functionality as part of Marketo’s new pioneer program, for early adopters of the latest Marketo functionality. Marketo’s event management allows users to set up templated event sequences for events such as webinars, and greatly reduces the amount of steps required to re-use assets from event to event. In addition, the first iteration supports direct API access with WebEx, with other integrations planned for the future. The functionality is a good start and part of an overall development plan from Marketo to better automate event management tied to marketing automation. It’s too early for me to review the functionality based on a brief introductory webinar – but it did get me thinking about some of the key drivers as to why Marketo has invested their product development team’s valuable time into this new set of features. Two key reasons stand out:...
  19. 7 Ways to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation – Webinar Executive Summary

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    As part of the Marketo Revenue Masters Series, Mac McIntosh, Founding Partner of AcquireB2B and Jep Castelein, Founder of LeadSloth co-presented “7 Ways to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation.” This is an executive summary of the 7 ways. Nurture your leads to get 3 out of 4 sales opportunities that come from prospects with longer-term needs Marketing automation can help drive sales revenue by nurturing leads so that sales opportunities come from customers with the right level of needs. Research conducted by Founding Partner of AcquireB2B Mac MacIntosh, has shown that approximately ¾ of sales revenue comes from long term opportunities over six months. The purpose of these lead nurturing campaigns is to move buyers from awareness, to inquiry, to consideration and finally to purchase by appealing to different audiences in different stages of the buying process. Those customers in the beginning stages of the buying process require...
  20. Why Consistency and Standards are So Important – Production and Program Management

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    I recently reviewed with our production team the importance of why we have consistency and standards around the practices and processes of our business. By way of background, some of the areas for which we have developed and manage standards include processes to: Create content like a publisher – creating content for multiple purposes and audiences through a single process (e.g. content for lead generation, lead nurturing & sales enablement) Produce webinars and all the various forms of content that results from it Produce vignettes – video-like content easily tailored for multiple audience Produce software demos – so that they are much more engaging and re-purposable than most Outsource automated lead management programs – Design, implement, on-board customers and operate the program Conduct content inventories & assessments – to align content to buyer roles, interest and stage; and identify content gaps and priorities Now to “the Why” – why standards and consistency are important. For...
  21. Applying Digital Body Language to Webinars

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    Digital Body Language (the phrase coined by Steve Woods of Eloqua) has become a key principle of B2B Digital Sales & Marketing. This involves using web behavior around content consumption to learn more about customers – their issues, interests, stage of the buying process and more. With automated lead management programs, it is used to score prospects and to deliver relevant content based on their interests and stage in their buying process. Webinars are a key component of nearly all B2B sales & marketing organizations’ lead generation programs. But companies are missing a significant opportunity to learn more about their audiences when they employ the generally practiced webinar format. When you conduct a webinar, what do you really know about your audience? Hopefully, you know their name, email address, perhaps organization and maybe role. You know they have a general interest in the topic, but not much more. How can we apply...
  22. How I Created Content Like a Publisher When Speaking at Bentley University

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    This coming week I have two presentations at Bentley University – first, guest lecturing at Terry Skelton’s class Fundamentals of Content Development as part of the Information Design & Corporate Communication department, and then speaking to Marketing and IDCC majors as part of a spotlight for careers in digital content marketing, hosted by Alyssa Hammond. To prepare, I followed a process that we use with our customers to ensure that both speakers and audience get the most out of an event experience, by creating content like a publisher. My presentation includes an overview of B2B Sales & Marketing today – concepts such as inbound marketing, content marketing, digital body language, marketing automation, lead management and the revenue engine. Then I explain how Avitage takes the concepts and puts them into practice through a specific approach and set of processes. Finally I review customer examples and recent case studies with BNA...
  23. Rethinking “Why do you do webinars?”

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    In our recent blog post “7 ways to take your webinars to the next level”, we discussed some specific techniques that can help you get more out of your webinars. The blog post was well received with engagement through our inbox, blog comments, LinkedIn, Twitter and was requested as a guest blog post by Shari Weiss (@sharisax). As we engaged in this dialog, it occurred to us that if you are running a webinar program or thinking about doing so, there is a fundamental “step forward” that you can take to best leverage the medium for your organization. Several years ago, if you asked a marketer why they run webinars, 10 times out of 10 the answer would be for two reasons – “one, to get our message out” and “two, to generate leads”. Today, while these are still important outcomes from a webinar program, we believe that they are trumped...
  24. 7 ways to take your webinars to the next level

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    Webinars are a key component in generating compelling and relevant content to feed your lead generation, lead nurturing and content marketing programs. We see all too often however that companies take a “show up and throw up” approach to webinars, and therefore are only scratching the surface in terms of capitalizing on the opportunity. Webinars should not be a random act of marketing or a point production, but rather fall within a webinar strategy with consistent execution and production. These are seven things you can do right now to take your webinars to the next level, and increase your ROW (Return on Webinars, of course). 1. Pre-produce the webinar Pre-producing the webinar greatly improves the webinar experience for both viewers and presenters. When pre-producing the webinar, the webinar will still be presented as if it’s live (it has just been pre-recorded and edited), followed by a live Q&A.  The pre-production...
  25. Implement a content marketing program – not random acts of marketing

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    The potential payoff for content marketing and lead nurturing has been well documented by marketing research firms, analysts, marketing automation vendors and (most importantly!) businesses that have successfully implemented lead management. However in the marketplace we see a wide gap in the success businesses have in implementing lead management; we see time and again the difference in results can be predicted based on the answer to a simple question – are you implementing a lead management program, or are you implementing “random acts” of marketing? Said another way, are you relying on your marketing automation software as your solution, or is your software enabling a well-managed program? Here are some ways to determine if you are taking the program-driven approach required to generate the desired revenue growth from lead management. Are the following items documented and understood by your internal teams and vendors/partners involved in managing your marketing? Clear goals...

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