Category Archives: Content marketing

Need Help Explaining Content Marketing to your Caveman Executives and Sales Team? Try this.

The Caveman Executive Needs Help Understanding Content Marketing

This is a story you may use to help explain to your caveman executives why a thought leadership content marketing strategy works.  Simply put, it you are willing to share your expertise with those people in your target audience with no strings attached, they will place your firm at the top of the credibility list leading to more business.  Great content marketing helps to make the lives of your target audience better in some way.  The story of Ugah, the Neanderthal thought leader, explains how the concept of ‘Youtility’ or thought leadership is a highly effective marketing strategy.  This story is meant to be fun and even a little whimsical to help gain the attention of your internal audience and spark some discussion around the topic.  Let me know how it works out for your tribe.





educate your caveman executive

Hello, my name is Ugah and I’m a Neanderthal who lived about 30,000 years ago in the area now known as Croatia.  Obviously, I’m telling this story from the great beyond, but my story is about how I went from the smallest, almost extinct, tribe to the most powerful tribe in all the land.  I accomplished this amazing feat by giving away our secret hunting tactics.  I believe you Neanderthals in the modern age would call my method ‘content marketing’.

In the days of the original Neanderthal, survival depended on the size of your tribe.  The larger your tribe, the more hunters and the more mammoth meat you could obtain.  The well-fed tribes were stronger and able to defend themselves better than the smaller tribes.  I was running the smallest tribe in the land.  As the leader of the tribe, my primary responsibility was to develop a strategy for growth.  The bottom line (as you modern humans call it) was the amount of mammoth meat we acquired and, occasionally, were able to store away for a rainy or snowy day.  My strategy of double digit increases in mammoth meat was failing miserably.  We struggled to feed the tribe.  We were on the verge of failure.
We were determined to survive.  We embarked on a marketing campaign with a goal of attracting more members.  We put all of our meager resources behind the campaign.
Our pitch included what we thought were our best and most unique features:
  • ·         Great location
  • ·         Nice, friendly cavemen and cavewomen
  • ·         Global leader in hunting mammoth
  • ·         Cutting edge technology
  • ·         Best hunting grounds
  • ·         Ease of joining

Who wouldn’t want to join a tribe with those features, right?  I painted pictures on the cave walls at all the common Neanderthal meeting places.  Our paintings were beautiful and talked about the great features of my tribe.  I bragged about our capabilities and about our more prominent members.  I told what we did, how we did it and where we lived.  It didn’t work.  Nobody joined us.  Zero ROCI (return on caveman investment). The outlook was grim.  It seems other tribes were also telling about their attributes.  And, guess what, their list of reasons to join looked very similar to my list of features and benefits.  All the tribes paintings and all the tribes talking points sounded exactly like ours.

I huddle with the tribal elders in a large-brainstorming session.  One thing I knew we had that the other tribes did not have was a unique and different hunting technique.  We were experts at hunting mammoth.  If we could get to a mammoth herd first, we were quicker and more effective.  Our ratio of mammoth meat to tribe members was higher than any other tribe in the entire region.  This fact and only this fact is how such a small tribe was able to survive at all in the harsh Neanderthal world.
As things were so grim, I decided to give it one last try using a radical, out-of-the cave idea.  I proposed that we give away our secret mammoth hunting method.  I proposed to the Elders that we teach anyone and everyone, whether in our tribe or not in our tribe, how to use our unique hunting method.  The Elders told me I was crazy.  They said, “Ugah, are you nuts?  Why should we give away our secret?”  They said, “Ugah, if we tell other Neanderthals in the other tribes about our hunting secret, they’ll just steal it and use it against us, we’ll die out for sure”.   I said, “no”.  I explained to them that by educating other cavemen, our tribe will become known in all the land as the experts.  We’ll achieve top of mind awareness and credibility. Neanderthals from all over will want to be part of our tribe and will leave the bigger tribes who are not willing to educate them and teach them to become great hunters. We will offer real value and ask for nothing in return.  The Elders were highly skeptical.  They said no other tribes were doing it.  They wanted me to put more Neanderthals on the trails for face-to-face meetings talking about our great features and the benefits of our tribe.  But I said, “No.  More Neanderthals on the trails is too expensive, they eat a lot and they whine a lot.”  The product specialist Elders said, “Let’s develop some new tools and some new ways to keep warm.  Surely, these new products would attract more members to our tribe.”  The Product Elders and the Sales Elders were the most powerful in our tribe mostly because they were the loudest and most extroverted of the tribe.
In the end, because I was the leader, I had final say. I made the decision to proceed with sharing our hunting expertise with all the Neanderthals in the land.  I dispatched our more creative members to draw cave paintings depicting our special hunting technique.  We held evening meetings around the cave fires teaching others how to hunt better and more efficiently.  We showed them how they could use the time they saved to grow some food and make a more comfortable home.  Soon, more and more cavemen were showing up at the hunting seminars.  Neanderthals from all around the land were seeking out our tribe after they had seen the cave paintings (we always included a map with the drawings so they could find our tribe).  Slowly but surely, our small tribe grew and grew.  Within one year, we were the largest, strongest, best fed and happiest tribe of all the Neanderthal tribes.  It turns out that by teaching cavemen and cavewomen about something they valued and that made their lives easier, the perception of our tribe became one of higher value than any other tribe.
One thing the Elders were right about was how the other larger tribes tried to duplicate our hunting method.  The technique took time to perfect and they could not reproduce it quick enough.  They ramped up their cave painting activities, talking about their global leadership, new tools, great locations, best-of-breed, world class, industry standard, robust, turnkey, groundbreaking, people and caves, but it didn’t matter to the target audience.
We became a medium size tribe, then a large size tribe.  Quality of life was high and everyone prospered.  Neanderthals from all over the region walked hundreds of miles to seek out our tribe and learn how to use our hunting technique.  The more we gave, the more we received back.
The elders in sales and product eventually admitted that educating and helping people was a successful way to grow and enrich the tribe.  They realized that other Neanderthals didn’t care about our tools or our location or our other attributes. They even began to believe it was their idea to give away the hunting secrets.  That’s ok with me.
It turns out that Neanderthals are somewhat self-centered, they care about what the tools and other attributes could do for them.  We showed them, educated them and gave our expertise out with no strings attached and they repaid us with lifelong loyalty.

 

To all you modern marketing Neanderthals living in the 21stcentury, listen to Ugah.  If you want to grow your tribe, share your expertise.  Educate your target audience.  Give them something they can use to improve their lives.  I guarantee your tribe too will grow and prosper. Help the caveman executive learn more about content marketing.
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Republish from Industrial Internet Marketer

My friend Tom Repp at Market Pipeline was kind enough to show interest in an eBook I published on Slideshare, “The Manufacturer’s Growth Manifesto”.  Tom published a great blog post.  And I’m not just saying that because it was my content.  I highly suggest you visit his blog and consider his marketing services if you may be in need.

Industrial Internet Marketer

How Content Converts to Revenue

content converts

How Content Converts to Revenue

This slide deck demonstrates how content converts to revenue.  As you make decisions about which content to create, how the content converts to revenue should be top of mind.  And, don’t forget to make sure the content aligns with your content mission statement.

How to Convert Content Marketing to Revenue – The 7 Pieces of the Puzzle

Originally published December 5, 2013 on the Content Marketing Institute blog here.
convert content marketing to revenueHow to Convert Content Marketing to Revenue – The 7 Pieces of the Puzzle

It’s not easy to convert content marketing to revenue.  According to the B2B (North America) Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends survey published by CMI,  88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing (down from 93% in 2014) and only 6% consider their efforts as “very effective” (down from 9% in 2014).  Although we are not sure what the term “very effective” means to those responding, it is safe to assume that revenue generation influences whether or not the effort is effective at some level.  In the B2B world of marketing, if our content and associated content marketing efforts are not generating revenue, then we should fix it or stop the effort altogether so budget and resources can be diverted to those tactics that are generating revenue.

The framework I am presenting is highly effective and measurable.  I present the solution to converting content to revenue as 7 pieces of a puzzle rather than a linear series of steps because the process is best viewed in a linear fashion, but not necessarily executed in a linear fashion.  If you put together each piece of the puzzle with the whole in mind, you will generate revenue with your content.  I have employed this framework at a global electronics manufacturing company resulting in growth rates of 20% to 30%.  It works.  For every piece of content you intend to create, you should visualize how it will churn through the 7 Pieces and out the revenue end.

Caveat:  Basic Content Marketing 101 presumes you are creating content that is relevant and useful to your target audience so they can do their jobs better because of the content your organization is providing.  This 7 Piece framework works based on this premise.  If you produce a bunch of content masquerading as education, for example, that is really a product promotion, it won’t work.  To put it bluntly, if your content is crap, this process will not work.

Puzzle Piece 1 – The Fundamentals.  As mentioned above, this won’t work without effective content, an effective creation process or having the tools necessary for distribution and measurement. The first fundamental task is creating effective content.  It’s not all that easy as we see with only ‘9% very effective’ CMI survey result.  Those companies who excel at content marketing that generates revenue have worked hard to gain executive sponsorship, a ‘content’ based culture in the sales and marketing organizations, and resources supporting a content marketing strategy.

The second critical fundamental piece that must be in place before this process is effective is a proper marketing plan.  Make sure you have written a proper marketing plan for your business before proceeding.  Every step in this process requires that you have a thorough understanding of your business and the target market.  There is a lot of information available about how to create effective content as well as an effective supporting environment.  A great place to start is on the CMI website.

The third critical fundamental piece is a proper toolset.  You will need to have the following apparatus in place for this process to work efficiently and effectively:

1.      Website
2.      Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)
3.      CRM integrated with the MAP
4.      Alignment with sales around lead management, definitions and who does what when

From this point on, I’ll assume you have a good content creation machine in place, a written marketing plan, and a robust toolset in place.  Now you and are ready to move on to the next piece.

Puzzle Piece 2 – Distribute and Make it Find-able.  Content will not significantly drive revenue by just sitting on your website.  I suspect many of those companies who deem their content marketing efforts less than very effective are creating good content, but only parking it on their website hoping for improved SEO.  Don’t get me wrong, good content parked on the website will improve SEO, but it is not enough by itself to measurably affect revenue.

Content distribution must be integral to your marketing strategy and tactics.  The content you create must be used extensively with both outbound and inbound tactics.  Your outbound ads must promote the content and your inbound tactics like pay per click (ppc) must promote the content.  Stop promoting your products!  Instead, promote your content!  Promoting content is a far better way to engage with your target audience than telling them about your product or service.  Sorry, but it’s true, your audience perceives your product or service as a commodity.  The sooner you embrace that idea, the sooner you can start generating 20% and 30% growth rates.  Offer your content via all outbound channels where your target audience congregates; emails, print ads, email ads, digital ads, direct mail, social media, etc.  Inbound SEM ads should also promote the content.  This idea of promoting content in place of product is sometimes hard for the organization to understand. You are likely to get strong pushback at this point.  This is where the preparation of your organization comes into play.  You must have strong executive support and a content marketing culture or at least a strong understanding in place.  Otherwise, your product managers and sales people will freak out and possibly hinder your content marketing strategy.  They may even force you back to a product based strategy and back to those dismal growth numbers of 1% to 5%.

Puzzle Piece 3 – The Conversion Point (landing page).  It is imperative that all outbound and inbound activities drive to a custom landing page.  DO NOT send them to a regular web page!  Even more importantly, DO NOT send them to your home page!  Once they take the action step (click or typed URL), they should be directed to a custom designed landing page.  The landing page must be designed specifically around the offer of the content.  If you send them to one of your regular web pages, you lose, especially if you send them to a product page.  The more relevant you can make the landing page, the better chance you will have at earning their engagement.

You’ll have to make some decisions about how they acquire the content once they are on the landing page.  Will you gate it or offer it with just a click?  The harder it is to get the content, they higher will be your abandonment rate. Conversely, the easier it is, the more broad your reach.  I love to give away content for free without any strings attached because it gets wider exposure and still builds awareness and credibility within your target audience.  The three components of your landing page are:

1.      Offer the asset.  This should be perceived as the main function of the landing page.
2.      Tell them about your value proposition or what you do.  We want to offer content they find valuable and we want the visitor to connect the goodwill generated by the asset to the brand offering (awareness + credibility).  Present the offering as a side panel, not as the main focal point of the landing page.
3.      Make it easy for them to find out more about your company.  You want them to think to themselves, “who is this company giving me this valuable information? I want to know more”.  Always give a visitor the option to ‘raise their hand’ and make a direct connection.

Remember, your outbound ads and your ppc ads should both drive to the landing page.  Do not fill the landing page with product based information.  The last thing you want is for your visitor to feel like they were victim to a bait and switch tactic tricking them by offering valuable information, but directing them to a product page.

Puzzle Piece 4 – The Call to Action Step.   Although the CTA is integrated to Piece 3, it is important enough to merit its own section.  This is where the quality of your content matters.  If you have created something that is of interest to your target audience, they will take an action to learn more.  You have to tell them what you want them to do!!  In the digital realm, it usually involves a click.  Again, you have to tell them to “click here to get the paper” or “Register here” for example.  Don’t leave it up to the reader to figure out what they’re supposed to do.  If it isn’t really easy, you might lose them.  If you don’t make it clear about what you are offering and how to get it, you’ll lose a great deal of effectiveness.

Puzzle Piece 5 – Qualification. At this point, a person from your target audience has clicked or responded to the CTA in your ad, arrived at your custom landing page, has been delighted to easily obtain a useful and helpful piece of content, put your brand top of their mind, associated value with your brand and associated your company with a particular offering.  Additionally, they may have explored your website, shared the content via their social media channels, forwarded the email or even requested a contact action from your sales team.  At this point, it is important to decide what happens next.  Are they a marketing qualified lead (MQL) that is sent over to the sales team for direct action?  Are they sent to a nurturing program? Are they left alone until they see your next great piece of content?  Each of these choices are valid actions and will depend on your particular business practices.

Regardless of your business practice, you must consciously decide what happens next.  Your work as a modern marketer is not over at the point of click or the download.  Assuming you are fishing in the pond where your target audience resides, I suggest only two options:  pass them to sales as a MQL or send them to a nurturing program.  This is where your marketing automation platform is a critical component of the content to conversion process.  Throughout the nurturing process, your contacts will be receiving more great useful information (content) and getting to know your company and the associated offering through regular website visits.  As they visit and interact with the content, you should be measuring that activity ideally with some type of lead scoring program.

Success of the qualification step depends on close alignment with the sales team.  You should have an agreement in place specifying the point at which any of these contacts should be considered ready for a call.  Your decision may be to just let the contacts decide for themselves when to proactively reach out to your sales team.

Puzzle Piece 6 – Pass the Contact Information to the Sales Pipeline. If your content is educational and you’ve complied with all the best practices of offers, ppc, landing page, etc., you’ll be flooding the top of the funnel and the sales team with qualified leads as well as filling the nurturing funnel with tons of future buyers.  I would like to re-emphasize the importance of collaborating with sales on each campaign.  They need to understand what’s happening and why it’s happening as the leads start flowing into their in-boxes. Those contacts that do not qualify are sent to a content based nurturing program.  While in the nurturing program (where you offer them even more great content you’ve created) they are engaging more deeply with your company and its value proposition.  As they engage, you are increasing awareness and credibility in their minds.  When the day comes around and they finally are ready to buy what you offer, your firm gets the call because of this awareness and the credibility you have achieved.

Step 7 – The Purchase – The final step is, of course, the purchase and, hopefully, many future purchases.  After the contact is passed along to the sales funnel, content can be used to move them along in their decision process towards a positive outcome for your firm.  Sales people should be trained how to use your ‘later funnel stage’ content to help close more deals.  Late stage content is where you talk about your products, case studies, application notes, etc.

Keep in mind these seven pieces of the puzzle for each and every piece of content you create. You should never create content without having a plan for conversion clearly specified. Effective content marketing is heavily interwoven with the marketing strategy and tactics as well as the sales process.  Cultivating your target audience so they become life-long customers is all about engagement.  You want them to place your brand and associated offering top of mind and with a great deal of credibility.  If you are able to achieve this position in their minds, when the day comes around and they are ready to purchase the thing you are offering, your firm gets the call.  Competitors who are not using this type of framework may get a call, but they will have minimal credibility and only be used for a price comparison.  This 7 Piece framework makes your firm the winner of market share and accelerated revenue growth rates.

Book – Billion Dollar Lessons

Great book review Vanessa!

Online Marketing Moment

lessonsOh – it is a wonderful and rather humbling read 🙂  As the authors emphasize, people do make mistakes and we need to learn from these mistakes (particularly those that seem to be part of our nature 😉 ).  These mistakes were made by people…  by very smart people.  Many of these mistakes can be avoided – 46% .  Other mistakes can be mitigated.

A very good point for people who may not be at the level of the organization that allow make any actions about the mistake – recognizing the mistake may help us to associate ourselves with the projects that are more likely to succeed and invest our energy there.  It would be more beneficial for the company and for the person.

Business failures have a repeated pattern.  These are usually not the execution mistakes (as many people believe), but rather strategy mistakes, when flawless execution can not…

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Great Collection of Marketing Infographics

I came across this post from Vanessa Bright’s blog, ‘Online Marketing Moment’ with a link to a great collection of infographics about marketing.  Every topic you can think of is covered.  I haven’t looked at them in detail, but would love to have you check them out and call out any you think are exceptionally relevant and real.

http://onlinemarketingmoment.wordpress.com/marketing-infographics/

Gallery

What about the future of growth in China?

Another good article, specifically about prospects for growth in China from @HarvardBiz. http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/11/chinas-economy-in-six-charts/

Will Your Bad Boss Make You a Bad Boss, Too?

I think this is very true. How can anyone be at their best with a nasty boss to deal with every day. The really strange thing is that most bad bosses have no idea they are bad. In fact, I’m convinced the worse they are the better they think they are. Bizarre.

Don’t Interview. Tell Stories.

Another good one from Hank Blank. As humans we love a good story around the campfire.

Hank Blank: Thoughts on Networking, New Business & Agency Searches

I had a coffee the other day with a new arrival to the New Normal.  He was well educated and had a successful career in the Old Normal.  We had never met before but had gone to the same University in Canada. The University of Western Ontario.  Fancy that since we were in Southern CA.

I have lived in the New Normal for a long time.  I remember the .com bust from 10 years ago but that is a distance memory today for some today when a 23 year old Founder of Snapchat turns down 3 Billion from Facebook whose Founder is 29 and the highest paid CEO in the country.

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I Want A New Business Person With A Magical Rolodex.

It’s tough out there.

Hank Blank: Thoughts on Networking, New Business & Agency Searches

I got an e mail from a new friend in NYC the other day.  He shared some of his recent agency experiences as a New Business person.

“Over the course of the past two years I met with a number of agencies who were looking for New Business leads.  What they are really looking for are miracle workers with magic Rolodexes of prospects just wanting to hand out work.  I wonder where these agency folks came from that think that’s a realistic expectation in this day and age.”

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