Content Marketing

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 2 Comments

5 Ways To Rethink Your Content Marketing Strategy

Flo, the infamous Progressive Insurance spokesperson inspired me to rethink my personal content marketing strategy.

Every now and then you need to tweak your approach to your content marketing strategy to help you reach your business goals. Sometimes a ‘jump-start’ is in order!

Content Marketing Tips | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

You see, I just installed the Progressive Insurance Snapshot in my car to get a discount, which will help me reach my personal financial goals a little bit quicker. Hey, who doesn’t like 25% discount on their car insurance! The Snapshot encouraged me to fine-tune my driving to help me reach my goal. I am driving a little slower, breaking sooner and just paying attention more.

While sitting at a red light that I slowly eased into, I thought to myself, what I fine tuned my personal content marketing strategy? Would a similar approach to content can help to deliver a better message to my network (and yours) – including adjustments to timing, channel, wording, etc.?

5 Tips To Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

1. Think through your keywords and hashtags to make your messaging work harder and find your network more naturally

2. Connect with your network by delivering authentic content with your voice and tone. And most of all, think if Big Bird would be annoyed! 

3. Your content marketing strategy is not always activated through a social media channel. Think about how you socialize your ideas on a 1-1 or 1-few basis – which means start making your PowerPoint presentations better!

4. Rely less on sponsored content and develop better home-grown content really to build a deeper relationship with your customers!

5. Understand the role, responsibility and strength of each social media to meet your goals – sometimes you’ll need to get a little crafty to maximize your exposure and drive your business outcome.

Do you have some progressive social media and content marketing tips to share? If you do, please share them below. Or, contact me directly on MarketingThink, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.

You can decide to go with the flow and not change anything with your content strategy. Or, go with the ‘Flo,’ for added insurance to make your content marketing strategy work a little harder.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 9 Comments

Blog More To Sell More.

86% of customers say they would engage with vendors if they provided insights or knowledge about their industry, states LinkedIn. Blogging is an excellent selling strategy and platform to provide these insights.

You are in charge of your personal brand and your sales success. You don’t have to be an expert content marketer. You don’t have to be a social selling savant. You just have to take ownership and find a way to connect with your customer on their terms. You are in charge of your destiny.

You Are In Charge Of Your Sales Destiny

When I was young, my dad told me when I didn’t get picked for the basketball team or didn’t start in a game that I was in charge of my destiny. He said, “You are the only person that can get it done for you.” He was right, when it came to playing basketball. I only ‘got so good’ by relying on after-school practices yet was only going to get so far. Yes, I made the team, but never started a game, which quickly got very old. One day I decided to take charge and not rely solely on my support structure. I practiced more, learned more and differentiated myself. I learned how to shoot with my left hand and dribble behind my back. I took charge of my destiny. I turned my results around – finally starting and then making all-star teams for 9 years straight.

Use Content and Blogging To Differentiate Your Selling Efforts

This same advice and set of results applies to today’s sales organizations and your own efforts. whether or not you use social selling techniques. You need to do what it takes to get it done. And, blogging is one key tool to help your personal strategy.

Hubspot states that B2B companies who blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not blog. This statistic alone should motivate sales teams to take control of their lead development strategy by introducing blogging. They also state that 82% see a positive return on blogging efforts.

Blogging Drives ROI | marketingthink.com | @gerrymoran

Can you imagine walking into a sales appointment or bumping into a client at a trade show and have them reference a great blog post you wrote? A blog post that addresses deeper customer issues and information. A blog post that does not sell.  THIS social selling moment is nirvana … and will lead to a deeper relationship and a greater chance to help frame and close a more lucrative sale.

A Social Selling Guide To Blogging

Where do you find blogging ideas if you are a sales representative? Just look in your email inbox or your most recent customer conversations. TMG Custom Media reports 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships. A sales representative-generated blog post is a great step toward generating custom content. Consider these five sources of content marketing for your social selling strategy:

1. Questions your clients are asking. Have you been asked the same question again and again by your customers and prospects? For example, “Why is cloud computing important to a non-profit company?” When a question is asked more than three times, it’s time to write a blog post to answer it – backing it up with personal experience and research. This content destination can become your 24-7 relationship builder. TIP: Make a list of the 10 most popular questions you receive from customers and write ten 300-500 word posts to answer them.

2. Questions your clients should be asking. Many customers don’t know what they don’t know. When you can present the questions they should be asking, then you have a consultative approach and are out to help them vs. just sell to them. This approach will hep position you as a solver vs. a seller. Pass on this type of blog content before you meet a client, or follow up for when you leave the appointment. TIP: Make a list of questions that support the benefit statements for the products or services you sell.

“Don’t get me wrong, sharing content is a great thing. When you begin social selling, it’s one of the first things you’ll want to do to stand out,” says Amar Sheth on the Sales for Life blog. “But at some point you must create your own content. The power of your own thoughts on a subject matter are vital to your building a personal brand. In my mind, these two are inseparable.”

3. Current industry research customers should consider. Read your email, review your Feedly feeds, or pull a statistic from the Wall Street Journal and develop 300-word blog post on why this statistic is important to your client or their industry. When you leverage secondary research, you build your credibility through explaining why someone else’s statistics is relevant to your customer. TIP: A 300-word post takes no more effort than a well-crafted email.

4. Current trends in the industry or category. Current trends are always a great conversation starter, and many times customer are not paying attention to them or keeping up with them. Take the time to understand the current trends, identified in trade publications or via thought leaders, to map them to the needs of your customers. TIP: Create a Twitter list of thought leaders or trade publications to quickly follow real-time trends.

5. Explaining complex issues in an easy-to-understand way. Explaining a complex issue, like cloud or big data, with a story or an easy-to-understand way is a gift that can keep on giving for you. If you take the complex and make it consumable with a simple blog post, then you can become a go-to resource which will move you into the circle of trust. TIP: Explain your POV to your significant other, your kids or your grandmother to see if THEY understand it. If they do, then write it down.

These five buckets are only a starting point. Do you have other content sources you have used for your social selling strategy? If so, please share below. Or, reach out to me on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+. You can also contact me on MarketingThink.com.

Writing content mapped to each of these buckets not only helps you help the customer but also trains you to be a master of your craft. Working on clearly articulating your POV and expertise will elevate you to a social selling winners circle. Take control of your own destiny and be an all-star on your sales team.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 4 Comments

Content Is The Key To Open The Door To Social Selling Success

Content marketing is the key to open the door to your social selling success. And, to walk through that door, you need slide content through the customer’s ‘mail slot’ to make a connection, build a relationship and help close the deal.

Yes, helping to frame the business opportunity and presenting features and benefits are essential. However, we do all of that with content. Successful sellers are writers and publishers!

Content Marketing Is Key To Social Selling Success

MarketingThink.com Whiteboarding Session: Content Is The Key To Open The Door To The Making The Sale And Exceeding Quota.

Don’t See The Connection Between Content Marketing and Social Selling?

Don’t you see the content and selling connection? Well, your customers recognize the importance of great content to help them make a purchase decision. The best social selling teams and representatives are journalists and curators; delivering the right content to the right customer on the right channel at the right time of the sales cycle. Research shows customers’ native behavior includes searching, consuming content and self-educating. They certainly are NOT going through their summer reading list when they are online; they are busy working. Many are self-educating early in the sales cycle.

  • Forrester research shows 90% of customers start their purchase with a search engine. Are they finding you? Provide the type of content to get you found early in the buying process on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Search. This is the secret sauce to beat and differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • 46% of buyers consume content weekly. And, 37% spend time daily to get a better understanding of the application technology to business problems, reports ITSMA/CFO. Another research-report indicates buyers consume no less than 3-4 pieces of content to help them make their sales decision. You can be a part in providing that content.
  • 45% of buyers require person-to-person contact in the buying process, reports ITSMA/CFO. And, what are customers looking for with this person-to-person contact? Expertise, which can take the form of content via a Twitter or LinkedIn relationship!

3 Ways To Source Content For Your Social Selling Strategy

Not all content is created equal and all content does not have to be built from scratch. Many conversations I’ve had with the thousands of sales representatives I have trained, center around where to find great content. Ultimately, it’s a sales executive’s job to pick the right content for the right conversation. They have to choose from where to source information over the course of a customer relationship or sales cycle.

 

Sourcing Your Content | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

Customers are looking for different types of content at each stage of the buying journey. So think about where you an integrate yourself.

  • Create Your Own Content. Forrester reports 70% trust content provided by an individual, while 10% trust ads on websites (think about the tweets that point to the registration page). So, it makes sense for sales executives to create their own content. Check out this social-selling problem solver’s cloud blog at Cloud Disruption.
  • Connect With Company-provided Content. Many companies use solutions, like Spredfast and HootSuite, to create and provide ready-made and ready-to-use content for sales executives. It’s up to the seller to modify the content with their own voice or to use as-is. What if all of your company’s reps sent out their tweet or LinkedIn post at the same time? I would not worry too much about that since most individuals have discreet social networks and there is very little duplication, from the customer’s vantage point. It’s easy enough to show how to add one’s own voice.
B2B Content

Customers trust 3rd-party content from their social network and vendor relationships most. Curated content needs to be part of your social selling strategy!

  • Curate From 3rd-party Sources. There is no dearth of content to be curated from third-party sources like the Wall Street Journal. Curate content to provide your customers with 3rd-party support of your sales conversation. Also, they will appreciate you showing them the most important stories to read.

3 Reasons To Use Content To Build Your Social Selling Advantage

  • Differentiate Yourself From The Competition. There are many sellers who find a prospect on LinkedIn and then inundate them with a phone call or email to set an appointment. Imagine the impact of sharing relevant content BEFORE you reach out to customers. How different would THAT be. How differentiated would that approach make you? Get familiar with the channels your customers use and begin to create, curate and connect with them.
Why B2B Decision Makers Search | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

Customers are constantly searching for and consuming content to stay ahead of the curve.

  • Content Is The Cure For The Common Sales Objection. A well-crafted blog post or a curated article passed on from HBR.com to your customer can help thwart the ‘same old objection’ that you hear.
  • Feed The Content Hungry Customer. If you feed your content-hungry customer at each stage of the purchase process, they will be satiated and ask you back for desert and coffee. Remember, they are looking for different content as they self-educate and get closer to the sale, so be ready to serve it up.

Do you have a great social selling experience that includes a personal content marketing strategy? If so, please share it below. Or, please contact me directly at MarketingThink.com,  LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.

Are you managing your sales strategy with content? Or, are you waiting for an email, call or even a page from your customer to invite you into the sales process? If your answer is yes, then it’s RFP for you. Rest Forever Peacefully (or Request For Proposal). Either way, you are getting involved too late in the sales cycle.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 9 Comments

Stop Using Social Media To Drive Sales

You can lead a customer to your brand with social media, but you can’t make them buy from you using social media. This is my B2B marketing advice.

In other words, social media does not fit neatly into a B2B marketing strategy and last-touch attribution. So, don’t think  you can tweet and directly cause a million dollar sale. However, you can get on the customer’s radar and start to build a relationship with relevant content and messaging.

Lead A Customer To Your Brand

Get Your Customers To The Watering Hole First

So, if want your customers to start drinking from your fountain of knowledge, you need to get them to the fountain first, right? That’s the job of social media for B2B marketing and sales conversion; to make your customer aware of and consider your brand and solution. And, with 89% of customers using a search engine to start their buying process and 75% of decision-makers using social media as part of their discovery, we all need to focus more on delivering content via social media to increase awareness. Sales conversion is best left for social selling and 1-1 interaction, since we know that email marketing and banner advertising does not work like it used to!

It’s a Numbers Game, No Matter How You Look At It

The number of watering holes and digital touch points has dramatically changed over the past five years. B2B customers are no longer waiting for you to send an email or serve up a banner ad. They are learning on their own. Customers are investigating LinkedIn groups and networks, reading blogs, following Twitter accounts and +1ing on Google+. Amplifying your information and content in these watering holes will help you reach an audience on their terms. Think about increasing your message reach and impressions to get your customer to know that YOUR brand is relevant to them.

Some Brands Understand Social Media’s Sweet Spot, Why Don’t You?

Some companies, perhaps yours, are picking up on doubling down on social media and its impact on awareness, engagement and influence sweet spot. In fact, 47% of CMOs have stopped measuring social media success using a revenue-per-customer metric (source: February 2013 Business Intelligence CMO survey). And, this same report indicates that 16% fewer CMOs are tracking conversation rates. So why is anyone trying to attribute social media to driving a sale? However, social media is an important ingredient in the multi-ingredient conversion recipe.

With social media budgets expected to increase by 78% by 2018, the smart brands and CMOs are truly investing in  social media. This increase will help direct digital marketing, social selling and paid media to work more efficiently convert sales.

Reach, Engage, Influence

Measuring Reach, Engage and Influence For B2B Marketing

So, how do you measure if you truly connect with your customer? Once you choose to focus on using social media to reach, engage and influence, how do you measure it? The questions you need to ask before you begin to decide are the social media activity indicators like retweets, shares, clicks, etc. are:

  1. Are your content and messaging reaching the most relevant and incremental audience?
  2. Are your content and messaging engaging enough to keep your audience in a ready-to-act or ready-to-buy state?
  3. Do your content and messaging deepen the relationship with your customer to help influence their purchase?

Where are you or your company landing on effectively using of social media to drive demand, leads and sales in? Please share your experience or plans below. Or, contact me directly on MarketingThink.com, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

Remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. However, you have to let them know where the water is in order to get them there so they have to choice to drink. And, getting them to drink is another part of a B2B marketing integrated strategy!

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 2 Comments

Teach Instead Of Sell

89% of buyers search on Google, Bing, etc. when planning to make a purchase, according to the Fleishman-Hillard research.

There is a social selling lesson here.

So, what can you learn from this simple statistic? Today’s selling and marketing lessons are influenced by this customer native behavior. They are learning and educating themselves with or without our help using digital and social sources.
Be A Social Selling Teacher

We’ve all had customers tell us they have narrowed down their decision to a handful of vendors or products based on their own research. Even worse, we’ve all received an ‘out-of-the-blue’ RFP, with all of the needs and requirements neatly packaged into a PDF requiring our 5-day response. Do these experiences sound familiar?

60% of customers want your content to help them understand a complex issue.

60% of customers want your content to help them understand a complex issue.

We need to get ahead of this self-education behavior and build a consulting relationship to help frame our customer’s problem.

3-part Customer-Centric Marketing And Selling Lesson Plan

1. Prove It With Teaching Credentials. Make sure to walk-the-walk when it comes to credentials and reputation management. When customers raise their hands to learn, let’s ensure we show we have the teaching (vs. selling) cred to back up our ability to make a difference. We want to build up and document our reputation by:

  • Maintaining great customer-centric LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to show who we really are and that we have a history of helping
  • Regularly distributing relevant and valued content and links. Use LinkedIn updates, tweetsblog posts, and comments to show we are keeping current with the customer-centric issues vs. just our product features and benefits
  • Participating in community and LinkedIn Groups discussions where our customers are searching to show we operate more like an insight-giving teacher instead of a feature-touting sales representative

This attention to reputation builds our credibility when we are ‘Googled’.

Social Selling Thought Leaders | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

2. Have A Different Syllabus For Each Stage In The Buying Journey. 76% of B2B buyers prefer different content at each stage of their research, reported in recent demand generation research. Awareness, consideration, and purchase are the buying process stages. Once we’ve grabbed the attention of our customer, we need to map the conversation and content to the place in the buying stage. And, we need to deliver the messaging on the customer’s digital and social channel of choice. 98% of B2B buyers continue to learn as they move closer to their decision; using more refined search terms as their research deepens.

3. Tutor Customers To Solve Their Problems. Customers want to hear real-life experiences, and how others handled their situation. They want insight into solving their problems. A simple 3-question framework is a great place to begin the tutoring session.

  • What is the problem?
  • What does the problem mean to you?
  • How can a solution and vendor help solve your problem?

Teaching to the first two questions will help make the sale much easier to complete.

Can you teach us a thing or two about a lesson you taught a customer? If so, then please share in the comment section! Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on Twitter, on LinkedIn or on Google+.

As Dave Edmonds from Rockpile put it, “No one there to tell me how. A different world – teacher, teacher, teach me now.” It is a different world for all of us, so we need to teach our customers how to solve their problems.

So, be a teacher and not a seller.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 3 Comments

10 Ways To Teach Your Customers To Buy From You

When it comes successful social selling and meeting your sales quota, being more like a car mechanic, instead of a car salesman, might be the key to your success. Huh? How are you going to meet your quota if you don’t act like the tenacious and famous car salesman, Cal Worthington?

Teach Your Customers

I have purchased over 10 cars in my lifetime and cannot remember any of the names, faces or other details of the people who sold them to me. However, I remember every car mechanic I’ve ever worked with. I remember each of them because we built a trusting relationship. They taught me and did not sell me. They showed me how to maintain my car and advised me on what to look for when buying a new car. They were my trusted advisor who helped me fix my current problem and frame my future purchase. Wow!

Whether you are selling enterprise software solutions in the cloud or trading show shipping services you can position yourself as a teacher, like my car mechanics, and reap the rewards of being a top seller.

Social Selling Lessons | Be A Teacher Not A Seller

1. Differentiate Yourself From The Sales Sharks. With InsideView reporting that 90% of CEO’s do not return cold emails or calls, becoming a trusted advisor and teacher to your customers makes sense. It’s the only way to break through to them. Don’t ‘look’ like the typical sales professional and you will separate yourself form the herd of sales sharks.

2. Don’t Be All About Making A Deal. Instead of focusing on a small amount of sales, build a large social network people modeled after your customers and their influencers. 75% of B2B decision makers use social media to learn. So, plug into this larger network, to bust your quota.

3. Pass On Valuable Information. Don’t use your social media and network channels to promote your solutions. Pass on valuable information, instead, to lead the conversation to you when the time is right to buy. You want to be known for handing out knowledge and not brochures.

4. Associate Yourself With Great Brands. You are the company you keep, so keep good company. Associate yourself with great knowledge brands, like Harvard Business Review, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, to build your reputation and brand.

5. Think Outside The Trade-Show Booth. Cast the trade booth sales mentality away and spread your knowledge so people will eventually visit your trade booth when it’s time to buy; 73% of customers are willing to engage with you on social media, so get to it!

Successful-Content-MarketingThink.com-@GerryMoran

Successful-Content-MarketingThink.com-@GerryMoran

6. Use Social Media To Teach And Not Sell. Selling is best done face-to-face. However, Social Media Today reports B2B buyers look at an average of over 10 digital resources before ever making a purchase. Since customers need to learn before they buy, use this opportunity on social media to connect. Your customers are there whether or not you are.

7. Teach And Connect With Today’s Technology. Connect and get on the radar of your customers and potential networks by retweeting, sharing, commenting and favoriting others’ content. Intersecting with their learning tools is a great way to build a relationship instead of finding and phoning them from a LinkedIn search. LinkedIn reports 85% of IT Decision Makers use social networks for business, so your future customers are waiting for you to socially engage.

8. Develop Insights. Before you teach and connect with your customers, you need to listen to the customer and their customers. Listening is a great way to prepare for your connections and calls. SirisuDecisions reports 82% B2B decision makers think sales representatives are unprepared for meetings, so this insight-driven approach will help you build the best social selling lesson plan.

9. Tap Into The Ready-made Network. There is an entire social community on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs, where customers are tapping to learn how to be smarter, more effective, more efficient to make more money. Determine how to tap into this potential, leverage the rules of engagement, and position yourself as a teacher; especially since the Sales Benchmark Index reports reps with 5000+ linked in connections have a 98% chance of attaining quota.

10. Be A Publisher. In addition to curating and passing on the great content to your network, create your own assets on a blog. Blogging is the social selling secret weapon. Hubspot reports that 92% of companies that blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog, so this strategy seems like a no-brainer!

Do you have another teaching tip to share? If so, please comment below. Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.

If you are looking to set yourself up as a social selling teacher, you might enjoy learning how to:

So, quit selling the sales sizzle to focus on educating your customer. If you are looking to make quota then a differentiating social selling approach, like an advising car mechanic, will place you in the driver’s seat to success! And if you have a recommendation for a new mechanic, let me know. Mine just retired!

Image Source: BTSTire.com

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 7 Comments

Are You Suffering From Beginner Blogger’s Block?

Are you wondering how to start a blog? You aren’t alone!

Maybe your first great blog post still in your formulating in your head. You know that blogging for your business, or personal brand, is a great idea. But, how do you start a blog? The number one question I receive from individual and brand bloggers is “What do I blog about?”

How To Blog

Frustrated blogger.

Is this your situation? Do you have a case of beginner blogger’s block? That is, the inability to put fingers to keyboard to create findable, readable and actionable customer content?

It’s important for you to move beyond this obstacle and start to use blogging as the building blocks of your business or brand. Turn your blog into your “24-7 salesman” to answer customer-service inquiries or buying-related questions. This content destination will help customers learn more about your business while you are not open for business!

With 42% of people reading a blog daily, you need to get over your roadblock and start to ‘fish where the blog-reading fish’ are. They are biting. And, with B2C and B2B blogging companies generating up to 81% more leads than non-bloggers, also reported by HubSpot, you need to be casting the content bait to catch these blog-reading fish!

5 Ways To Cure Your Blogger’s Block And Start A Blog Post

Are you are still asking what good blogging does? If so, then consider these five key benefits and how to activate them to  derived get over your blogger’s block.

1. Great blogging provides helpful content that anticipates and answers customer questions. Create your blog posts to anticipate customer questions. Answer customer questions with a post before they turn into email inquiries or phone calls; helping you service the customer and build a relationship without being there! This approach will also save you time and money! Turn this relationship-building opportunity into a great customer connection by writing ten blog posts to answer the most popular questions you receive on your site, in your store, on the phone, or are passed on from your sales force.

2. Useful blog content is findable and relevant. With 89% of the consumer’s buying journey beginning with a search engine, reported by Fleishman-Hillard, blog content needs to be findable by customers and prospects. Put your blog in that “search light” by leveraging Google’s AdWords keyword tool to identify the terms for which your potential customers are searching. Use these keywords to kick-start ten blog post ideas and break your blogger’s block.

3. Reliable blog content builds customer assurance. Dimensional Research reports 90% of consumers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. Technorati indicates that blogs are the 3rd most influential consumer purchase source. Great blog content helps you build trust before the customer ever contacts you, making that first touch a second  and more familiar contact. Start to get on the trusting side of your customers by writing ten posts based on key secondary research facts customers should consider when making their decisions.

4. Valuable blog content adds value to the buying process. With up to 70% of the buying decision being made before the you enter the picture, whether you are a brand or a sales executive, getting in front of the conversation earlier is paramount to your success. Connecting earlier in the sales cycle helps you frame the buying needs and gain an edge with the customer. Great blog posts help you add value to the process.  Your value-add content helps customers ask the questions they are not asking … but should be. Many customers don’t know what they don’t know, so use your experience to write ten posts on the questions that your customers should be asking is very valuable. These value-add posts will help you build trust and begin to use your content as the go-to comparison resource.

5. Relevant blog content helps to solve a customer’s problem. Help customers solve a problem by sharing your ten of your real-life customer experiences to show how others have handled a their similar purchase requirements.

Do you have another way that you cured your blogger’s block? If so, please share below. Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter.

Once you have your content machine working overtime, you might be interested in some of these ways to increase the effectiveness of your blog:

  1. How to build the perfect blog post
  2. How to find the best keywords for your blog
  3. Why blogging is important for your business
  4. How to blog in 5 easy steps
  5. How to make sure you blogging doesn’t suck!

Follow these ideas and you will have fifty blog posts in no time to spread over 50 weeks! You’ll beat your blogger’s block while developing building blocks for your business!

Picture source: Writer from InspirationalStorytellers

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 1 Comment

Does Your Content Marketing Strategy Need A Decoder Ring?

Did you catch the content marketing lesson during The Christmas Story marathon on TBS this holiday? Since 1983, we’ve been drinking up the Ovaltine content marketing story on The Christmas Story. Ovaltine almost pulled off the perfect execution of using storytelling to generate awareness, engagement and generating a sale with Ralph!

decoder-ring

It’s critical for brands to understand the power of storytelling to reach and involve customers so they will “buy stuff”. It may take a little longer to take this storytelling route, than a direct-respond email or telemarketing. However, it’s a necessary approach since many customers need to be wooed this way!

3 Parts To Good Content Marketing Storytelling

The Ovaltine scene in The Christmas Story breaks the need to tell a story with your content down nicely.

1. Generate Brand Awareness Using Storytelling. Like many of the 1940’s and 1950’s brands, Ovaltine used radio shows to connect with their audience of buyers (i.e., moms) and influencers (i.e., kids). As presented in The Christmas Story, Ralph was a captive audience member each week. Since there was no television, Facebook or PS3 in 1940, so Ralph’s entertainment was centered on the Annie radio show. Ovaltine used its storytelling ability to insinuate their weekly chocolatey message into the lives and minds of their listeners. This approach helped to build their brand awareness.

2. Tell An Engaging Story To Build A Great Relationship. Each week Ralph listened to the radio-delivered adventures of Annie. In addition to hearing the weekly escapades, he was intrigued how each show ended with a secret message. He needed a decoder ring to understand this message. He tried to decode it without one, but failed each week. He needed that tool to understand what Ovaltine was saying. We all know that great content marketing and messaging should not require a decoder ring. However, this secret message and the need for a decoder ring was the carrot for the reader’s (i.e., Ralph’s) engagement. What a great idea to keep the audience engaged! Ovaltine did a great job of increasing their awareness and buyer involvement by integrating the story with the need for a true engagement mechanism.

3. The Call To Action To Move The Buyer Toward Purchase. Now, this is where Ovaltine did a good job and not so good job. The announcer’s highlight of the secret message at the end of each episode was a great call-to-action. It truly tried to take the relationship to the next step. Ovaltine wanted little kids from around the country to mail away for the decoder ring! This action was a great step toward the purchase! However, once Ralph received HIS ring and decoded the secret message, he found that is where the storytelling ended, and the sales pitch began. Instead of continuing the story in the way that he expected, the direct message became “Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine”. As Ralph put it, “A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!” The Ovaltine relationship ended due to bad storytelling!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5OWoG44VAw

Do you have another great example of content marketing and storytelling embedded in a television classic? If so, please share below! Or contact me directly on MarketingThink.com, LinkedIn or Twitter!

Great marketing strategies execute on their content marketing strategy with great storytelling. With no decoder ring needed!

Make sure to execute you content marketing strategy the right way! Otherwise, you might shoot your eye out, with your poor storytelling!

Picture sources: Decoder ring from YuleBlog.us

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 2 Comments

How SAP Got Its Social Media Act Together

This article first appeared on Citeworld.com and was authored by Ron Miller.

Businesses are flocking to social media today because they understand at some level that customers are there and they need to be there with them. But there’s always been a sticky question about return on investment in social media and whether it drives sales.

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As Moran put it, we’re all in the business selling stuff and any social media effort has to be geared toward that ultimate goal. David Meerman Scott, who has been preaching about the value of social media and content marketing for years, and who wrote the seminal book on content marketing, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, also recognizes that it comes down to how the business is doing.

In video interview from earlier this year on measuring the ROI of social media, Scott had this to say. “Fundamentally, the most important thing is how is your business doing? Are you making sales? Are you driving revenue? Is your business growing? Are you keeping the customers you have? And there’s no doubt that social media can help to do that. The challenge is how do marketers actually measure that?”

Moran says it takes a seat at the table, and he says his social media team has earned that at SAP over the past two years. It started out just as him — the situation was “the wild west” — but as he has shown his value, his team has now grown to eight people in a short time. Now they are partners with sales and marketing.

“We have a plan. We work with the sales force. We have people whose job is to be sellers of stuff. How do we put content in their hands and repurpose it for them and their needs?” Moran asked. .

Moran recognizes that buyers are doing research and making decisions before they ever contact a salesperson. Part of his team’s job is to find a way to get into that conversation the buyer is having on social media because that’s where the buying journey really takes place.

Ultimately, Moran explained, “Content is key,” but it requires a plan. “Think of it as a subway map. Connections [require] a solid set of rails. If they aren’t connected, you won’t deliver content  to the right contact at right time.” And it’s important to understand the connection between content and social media and how they can drive one another.

For SAP, that meant ending the fragmented approach they had been using in their social media efforts and bringing it in-house. “At beginning we had 10 agencies running social media. It didn’t work,” he explained. And he didn’t just have a willy-nilly approach to social where he tried to do it all at once. Instead, he took a slow approach and set up a framework. “We set up rigor, governance, and roles and responsibilities to get those messages out,” Moran explained.

With a framework in place, Moran said they needed to earn a place at the planning table. Based on the goals and objectives of the sales and marketing process, they decided what content they would create and what the goals of that content would be. Moran explained that you need to understand what you want the customer to do and it becomes simpler to create social media and content campaigns around that goal.

“Social media plays a big role in awareness and engagement. When you see how social media fits in, it becomes much easier to manage its effects,” he told the audience.

Scott says you how measure success in this type of effort is dramatically different from how marketers measured success in the offline world. Instead of measuring how many people came to your tradeshow booth or replied to your direct mail, you need to measure forms of engagement, such as how high your company appears in the search engine results for key words and phrases, how many bloggers are talking about you and what are they saying, how many people are talking about your company and sharing your content on social networks, and and how many people are accessing your content.

“Every one of these little small things builds a business’s presence online to the point [where] all of a sudden they are becoming the biggest player online, and fundamentally if you’re big online, you’re big. Because that’s how people solve problems today, they go to Google and they ask their friends on social media.”

And Moran shared some data points in his Gilbane presentation that back this up. Eighty-nine percent of buyers begin the buyer journey in a search engine, and 75 percent use social media to support their research efforts.

Moran says his team is trying to create demand with content and find ways to measure how that relates back to leads and sales. “Where do blog page views come in? Where do tweets come in? And we begin to see the connections between these things and conversion. We measure each part of the way and how that has an impact on conversion,” he said.

How each organization measures success is probably going to be a little different, but as Scott and Moran explained, at the end of the day, it always comes down to the bottom line, and if you can tune your social media and content marketing to drive sales, you are going to be successful.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 3 Comments

How To Build The Perfect Tumblr Profile For Business

Tumblr needs to be considered for every brand’s picture-perfect content marketing strategy in 2014. With native buying behavior focusing on the visual experience, brands need to be presenting their story at the multitude of customer touchpoints. This content consumption behavior demands that brands evolve into a curator and syndicator of their content assets on visual and graphical platforms like Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest.

Perfect Tumblr Profile Blueprint

Brands need to fish where the fish are, and they are on all three platforms. Tumblr, with its Instagram-meets-blogging positioning, is a channel that is under-represented by many brands. Somewhere between 30 and 300 million Millennial consumers (yes, it’s a big spread) and others value this vast visual destination to consume and curate content. It’s a great place to get to know brand better. Tumblr is certainly not the last-touch in the B2B or B2C sales funnel. However, it is a great destination along the buyer journey.

Why Tumblr Is Important For A Company’s Content Marketing Strategy

Tumblr is a solid content marketing addition to a company’s toolkit because facilitates over 80 million daily posts and over 13 billion monthly page views! And, Piquora reports that each user averages over 18 minutes per visit on Tumblr, a very sticky content marketing result. The native use of Tumblr users includes reblogging, sharing a blog post with followers and other blogs, which has a very positive impact on SEO. With best-practice Tumblr posts including a link to a brand’s key web site, this sharing will have a very positive impact for a company.

Before a company can start to activate a content marketing strategy on Tumblr, an optimized Tumblr account needs to be created. Here’s a simple blueprint to get started!

How To Create The Perfect Tumblr Profile To Enable Your Content Marketing Strategy

  • Catch Readers’ Attention With Your Title.. Your keyword-driven blog title can use up to 50 characters. However, depending on theme, 50 characters may not fit comfortably. Also, companies do not have to use the yourname.tumblr.com format instead replacing it with a custom URL.
  • Make  A Great Impression With Your Picture. Your graphics, whether a headshot or your company logo, need to be at least 128px by 128px and square to make the biggest impact with readers.
  • Use Your Description To Explain Your Tumblr Blog. Another keyword-driven area of Tumblr, the description area allows up to 350 characters to describe a blog. You will want to add Google+ HTML code to establish your Google authorship.
  • Create Pages To Further Explain Your Value Proposition. Use Tumblr pages to list bio, services, contact information and social channels for readers to connect with a company on their preferred channel. Companies should keep your pages limited to 4 or 5, so not to overwhelm you readers with choices.
  • Encourage Readers To Submit Their Own Content. Encourage reader-curated or -delivered content by asking for user generated or contributed content.
  • Encourage Readers To Ask You Questions. Encourage reader questions to begin a conversation with potential and current customers.
  • Use Tags To Make It Easy For Readers To Find Your Content. Tags help to categorize posts and help readers search for content. Turn the tag feature on to enable this reader searching.
  • Establish A Way For Your Readers To Comment. Tumblr offers no blog commenting. The best choice is to add the Disqus application, which is built into the Tumblr set-up to enable reader comments.
  • Google Analytics (GA). Use the Google Analytics code to enable Tumblr metrics.
  • Mobile Layout. With 37 million monthly views from a mobile device, it makes sense to activate Tumblr’s mobile layout.
  • Connect To Twitter & Facebook. Enable or disable automatic sharing of Tumblr posts depending on if your Tumblr content supports your Twitter & Facebook content strategy.
  • Accent Color. Choose the color that bests complements the brand.
  • Font. Choose the font that bests complements the brand.

Do you have a Tumblr tip? If so, please share it below. Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink, on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Looking to fine-tune your company presence and content marketing on other social media platforms? Try these other handy to blueprints to help you:

  1. Create the perfect LinkedIn profile
  2. Build the perfect Twitter profile
  3. Construct the perfect SlideShare profile
  4. Assemble the perfect Instagram profile
  5. Develop the perfect Pinterest profile

Once you put your mind to it, creating your perfect Tumblr profile will take less than 30 minutes! You will find that once created and populated with create content you will be having more conversations with your customer and driving more traffic to your other social and web properties … which will help you generate more sales!

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