1. Conversations and content need better answers not just good stories

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    Your conversations and content need more than good stories. They need better answers! Most of us were taught early and often about the importance of using stories in our conversations and content. Marketers seem to obsess about story. Sales people are told to address customer problems and solution approaches by telling stories. And rightly so. It seems humans are hard wired with an affinity for stories. But, it turns out stories are just one of six answer types. That means you’re missing the other five! As a result, your answers aren’t as coherent as they could be. They aren’t as influential. They are aren’t as sticky.   Audiences Desire Answers with Useful Information Here are some questions to consider: How well do you address questions asked of you? (In which situations?) Or, a question asked of a sales rep, a company executive, customer service person, channel partner, or customer person,...
  2. Content Planning — from concept to specifics

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      Most people’s thinking about content is vague and incomplete. Ask for content definitions before your next planning conversation. Listen for answers as “categories” and “formats.” (Even research analysts are guilty of this.) Good definitions evoke an image that is consistent in the minds of everyone involved. But even the elements within categories and formats don’t meet this test. This video introduces a more specific and detailed explanation of the concept “content.” It provides a framework for content planning / strategy that is simple, straight-forward, and extremely effective.   Related Information For a written explanation of how to apply this framework, please see Small moves, smartly made, improve (unified) content strategy Avitage Content Operations Assessment Avitage Enterprise Information and Content Strategy Services    
  3. Small moves, smartly made, improve (unified) content strategy

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      An effective content strategy is a challenge most B2B organizations face today. The maturing use of content, along with competitive market factors, means the bar is constantly rising. Effective knowledge, information, and content are key business drivers. They impact top business objectives, especially: Organic revenue growth through new customer acquisition Sales, marketing and channel productivity, lower selling costs Acquiring data about customers and buyers to feed data-driven decisions Delivering a consistent, exceptional customer experience. Most organizations claim a content strategy. The question is, “how effective is it?” This article introduces a novel and relatively simple approach. Small moves that, smartly made, quickly and dramatically improve the content strategy process, quality and thoroughness of outcomes. Sales and channel leaders, who want to improve the quality and completeness of their content, will find this approach especially interesting.   Beyond Content Marketing The state of the market has moved beyond content marketing. ...
  4. Knowledge Delivered

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    Our theme this year is Knowledge Delivered. Why? We are all knowledge workers. Knowledge is actionable information. We operate inside organizations where knowledge creates value and competitive advantage. This makes information, knowledge and content strategic imperatives for any business. But we have a knowledge delivery problem.  Knowledge is locked away inside people’s minds, in content, within repositories, within systems. This inevitably makes it static, only moving toward out-of-date. When knowledge is needed, users must be aware of that need, know that it exists and where, have the time initiative and skills to go find it, and access permissions to complete the effort. To be a useful and usable asset knowledge must be delivered — when, where and in the right context. This works best when organizations incorporate the right knowledge, learning, communication support, and high-value content into daily activities and operating systems. To do this you must free knowledge from containers, so it can be delivered to cause action. This is a foundation...
  5. Why You Need a B2B Sales Information and Content Strategy

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      If you sell the way you did 10 years ago, you don’t need a sales content strategy. There’s little strategy required to tell people about your company, products, features — just don’t forget those benefit statements! But if you’ve truly adopted a customer-centered sales philosophy you know you have new requirements. The new realities of selling to self-educating, digital era buyers has made having the right information an essential tool for sales professionals. The right content addresses every key buyer decision point throughout the customer engagement process. The importance and complexity of this requirement demands a strategy.   Sales people need content to sell In B2B sales, especially a complex, considered or value sale, sales people still generate most of their sales “leads.” They develop virtually all sales opportunities. As it is for marketers, content is essential to capture prospect attention and generate interest. For sales people, tracking prospect content consumption indicates...
  6. B2B Sales Information and Content Strategy

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        When it comes to content and strategy, few people share a clear and common meaning of each word. Put them together, and what you have is downright perplexing. This is a sales content strategy guide for the perplexed. It is for people in marketing and sales who must collaborate to get these strategic assets right. (See Content is a Strategic Imperative for B2B Selling Organizations) The linked articles below are integral to a complete understanding of how to develop, document and execute an effective sales content strategy. First, a few definitions. Content For this article we are talking about sales content. More specifically, we’ll focus on B2B sales that are defined as complex, considered or value sales. “Content” includes sales messages, conversations, and stories which comprise what we refer to as the “contentS” of the media that package and deliver them. So content also includes conversations delivered by...
  7. How to Define Sales Use Case Requirements for Your Sales Content Strategy

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      The design point for your B2B sales content strategy must be your buyer’s engagement model, mapped against your sales strategy. Fundamentally, it must be conversation centered. Without well-defined and documented sales use case requirements, effective sales content strategy is not possible. Rarely do we meet companies that have even considered this, let alone defined and documented specific requirements. You can find an introductory explanation of this idea at Need Better Content? Define Use Case Requirements. This post will step you through a process to define and document requirements. Pre-requisite to use case definitions are two competencies we identify in our 6 Competency Framework for Business Level Content Strategy. These are Understand Audiences and Buyers Competency and Conversation Support Competency.  Essentially, sales use case requirements define the purpose and context in which sales content will be used. Sales Use Case Requirements Context The general context for your use case requirements are: Who’s...
  8. Marketing Professionals Constrained by Content Strategy and Operations Accenture State of Content Report Reveals

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      Don’t be distracted by the hyperbole associated with this important Accenture report on the state of content. “Marketers are drowning” in a “tidal wave of content,” are phrases from the press release and early articles that have picked this up. This is intended to create resonance and attract attention. As it should. Volume of content is a symptom. It’s not the problem. A related symptom is the insipid debate “quality vs. quantity” of content. This indicates marketers haven’t clearly identified the core causes of their many content related problems. This report should help. It’s also an important resource to share with your executive management, including your CEO. Donna Tuths, global managing director, content services at Accenture Interactive, is the author of the report. “The problems marketers are pointing out are symptoms of a broader issue. There is a finite amount of content you can create and manage using current approaches.”...
  9. Understanding the True Cost of Content in B2B Organizations

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      There’s a familiar expression used to describe some people. They “know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.” When it customs to B2B marketing and selling content, it appears most organizations don’t know either. The rhetoric of “data driven decisions” has become a business imperative and key B2B competency. In addition to being a driver of marketing and selling outcomes, content plays a critical role in acquiring data on customers, buyers and other key audiences. Given the strategic imperative of content in the digital age, and the significant, mostly hidden spend on content, this new reality warrants executive action. Research from the analyst firm SiriusDecisions (B-to-B Content Creation Costs and Outputs) shows B2B organizations are challenged to identify their true content spend. Even SiriusDecisions was surprised by the results. They discovered total customer content spend was anywhere between 3 and 10 times known spend.   Framework to Identify Your...
  10. Reframing Content ROI and the Case for B2B Content

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      Despite many articles recommending methods to determine content ROI, this continues to be a hot and confusing topic for many B2B marketers. Why is this? There are different purposes and uses for ROI. Content performance, at an asset or campaign level, is typically the way marketers think of content ROI. While difficult to measure, marketers need performance measures to tweak execution. But don’t confuse performance with ROI. To make a business case at the executive level, asset and campaign performance measures are not useful. They are too tactical. They doesn’t align with executive business criteria, or inform the kinds of decisions they make. Because they don’t show what’s possible, they miss the strategic importance and and impact on top business objectives. Marketers think with a traditional expense justification mindset rather than an investment mindset. We’ve written here about the misunderstanding between investment and expense.   A Content ROI Investment Model An investment mindset...
  11. Elevate B2B Information and Content Strategy to Business Level Execution

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    B2B Information and Content Strategy for Messages, Conversations and Content This post speaks to why B2B organizations should elevate information and content strategy from siloed functions to the business level, with executive accountability. This is about content that addresses external audiences we generally refer to as “customers”. B2B CEOs, CFOs and Sales leaders have a lot at stake in getting this right. But first let’s acknowledge a reality: if you’re a “middle age” executive, it is highly unlikely you have experience using content as a strategic asset. Content has always been considered and treated as an expense for tactical support. This has resulted in limited thinking about the role, contribution and possibilities of customer content. Digital realities have changed this. (See McKinsey, Measuring the full impact of digital capital.) Some of the top reasons you need to adopt a business level content strategy are: Content is a strategic imperative because...
  12. 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...
  13. Getting B2B Content ROI Right

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    In this digital era, the nature and role of customer content has new meaning and significance. Content is a strategic business imperative because it is a key driver of top business and functional objectives. Poor performing content lowers outcomes. Misunderstanding content ROI elevates risk of poor decisions about content strategy and investment. The risk to senior executives in B2B selling enterprises, of not taking a strategic perspective on customer facing content, impacts their decisions about top business objectives: New customer acquisition and revenue growth Sales and marketing productivity, and lower selling costs Data acquired about buyers, customers Consistent delivery of an exceptional customer experience. But most executives have never given serious consideration to customer content as a business asset. It has always been the tactical responsibility of knowledge and creative people. One executive expressed what I most often hear: “What is content anyway? Collateral, right?”  (See What is Content?) Most senior executives are still...
  14. 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...
  15. 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...
  16. Executive Summary: Six Competency Framework for Marketing and Sales Information and Content Strategy

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        B2B selling organizations face a serious challenge creating and managing content that impacts the success of new customer acquisition and profitable revenue growth, as well as tactical marketing and selling initiatives. The Internet and changes to buyer behavior has made content a strategic imperative and key driver of strategic business objectives, however; The traditional approach to customer content development, funding, and content production processes will not meet new, digital era sales and marketing use case requirements.  Companies require a business level marketing and sales information and content strategy that spans functions and tactics, and goes beyond project oriented campaigns, websites and other content projects. But senior executives seem unable to connect the warning signals from multiple departments and disparate systems pointing to a broken, mission critical process. Current responsibilities and budgets for content are spread across functions. This constrains the optimum use and value of content, and limits the ability...
  17. Information and Content Are Strategic Imperatives for B2B Organizations

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      Most business enterprises engaged in B2B selling have adopted content marketing as “the only marketing there is.” (Seth Godin) B2B selling typically starts online, through email or a phone call/voice mail — through content. They are doing so because the right information, packaged and delivered through the right content is the key enabler for tactics that execute a customer-centric go-to-market strategy, especially: Inbound marketing Automated demand management with lead nurturing Social marketing and selling Sales enablement These tactics are primary drivers for 4 top strategic enterprise goals: Revenue growth — especially organic growth through new customer acquisition and channel success Cost reduction — especially high enterprise selling costs Acquire data on buyers and customers — feed predictive analytics Compelling customer experience — from initial engagement in the buying process, through the ongoing relationship to optimize value of purchased products or services, to a desire for more products/services — through renewals, cross or up-buying and referrals....
  18. What is Strategy?

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      What is strategy? is not a question unique to content marketers. (See Robert Rose in Content Marketing Institute.) Lack of clarity about content strategy has firm roots in a universal confusion about strategy. In the business world, Michael Porter of Harvard Business School is a preeminent authority of business strategy. He points out “most businesses don’t have a strategy for their organization.” Well, no wonder we struggle with content strategy. And why don’t they? “Caught up in the race for operational effectiveness many managers simply do not understand the need to have a strategy.” For marketers, might we say, “caught up in the need to build a brand, generate leads, respond to persistent ad hoc requests, figure out tectonic changes in buyer behavior and marketing technologies …”   Michael Porter on Strategy In his seminal Harvard Business Review article in 1996, What is Strategy? Porter lays out basic strategy principles that...
  19. 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...
  20. 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...
  21. Avitage Master Content Publishing Briefing

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    Through our consulting projects and content workshops, many people have asked us for copies of our content publishing briefing to share with colleagues and executives. Taking a page from Tom Peters, we’ve published our Master Content Publishing Briefing on our SlideShare channel, and it is available to download. You can share this page link, or links to the Slideshare PowerPoint version or the video version below. Segments in this show address: Why Content Publishing Content Requirements and Challenges marketer face Publishing Process versus the traditional Production process A Specific Content Project Example A Model for Applying the Process to All Content Projects   Avitage Master Content Publishing Briefing — Video Versions (18 minutes) Avitage Master Content Publishing Briefing — SlideShare Version (Slide version of the video) Avitage is a content operations services firm. We help B2B enterprise marketing and selling organizations execute content strategy through operations design and management. We are not an agency, or creative...
  22. 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...

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Resolving the number one unconsidered cause of low B2B sales and marketing performance, and revenue growth …
… the inability to deliver effective knowledge, conversations, and situation-specific information (content), in context, at scale
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