1. 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,...
  2. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. 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...
  6. Yogi Berra on Content Marketing

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    Yogi Berra had the brilliance to bring wisdom and insight to the obvious.  I recently heard his famous phrase, “It’s like Déjà vu all over again.” It reminded me that there are lessons available in history that we can all benefit from.  Having participated in the making of business innovation history with category management the emergence of content marketing is a Déjà vu experience for me. Lessons On Transformation I had the opportunity in the nineties to lead the program office of one of America’s leading chain drug retailers.  At the time we were transforming from a traditional and simplistic, “Buy low – sell high,” merchandising model to category management.  Category management focuses on the profit potential of a section of store real estate, usually an eight to twelve foot section of shelves.  It addresses the role of each product in the assortment for driving traffic, profit, or impulse purchases. ...
  7. No Marketing Momentum? What Now?

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    Competitive athletes know that momentum can make all the difference in winning games.  You develop momentum by either executing a well thought out strategy or making a spectacular play that shakes up the competition.  When you have momentum you play your game and emphasize your strengths.  When you lose momentum, you have to figure out how to get it back by making adjustments.  Marketing momentum in a competitive environment has many similarities.  You can develop it through a well thought out strategy followed by focused execution. Depending upon spectacular big events to develop marketing momentum is risky and hard to do but not unheard of.    The big difference between sports and B2B marketing is timing.  Games are over in minutes or hours.  Marketing takes months to deliver outcomes. Understanding marketing momentum is important to developing a marketing strategy.  Marketing activities build upon one another to develop and sustain momentum.  Multiple...
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
  10. 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”...
  11. 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...
  12. 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,...
  13. New B2B Marketing and Selling Truisms

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    This is my list of new marketing and selling truisms for B2B selling organizations. They provide context for most of our services and writing. I post them prominently here so as to not have to repeat them in any conversation or material I create. If you agree with these truisms, please join the conversation. If you have additional, please help me grow a comprehensive list. Thanks to those who have provided suggestions, some of which I’ve added. Buyers are more in control of the B2B buying process than ever before. For buyers, all sellers look and sound alike. Products and services appear undifferentiated. Therefore, the way we sell is a critical area of differentiation and value add. The Internet changes everything, by providing instant access to virtually unlimited information. This requires new ways of thinking about marketing and sales, as well as new processes, skills, resources and investments. “It’s not...
  14. 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...
  15. 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...

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