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by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

10 Simple Ways To Think About Content Marketing

Content marketing is not as complex and complicated as we make it be.  You don’t have to be an Einstein to be successful. Einstein himself said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

So, let’s talk about a simple content marketing strategy!

Many marketers and sales professionals still struggle with the concept of modern marketing. They struggle with social media profiles, improving their reputation currency, and using content to develop an audience – so the by-product of all of these actions is more sales and higher value sales.

Do We Agree On The Definition of Content Marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute states “Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” My experience in marketing leadership roles with IKEA, SAP, Cognizant and many award-winning agencies validates CMI’s definition is spot on!

Research Backs Up The Impact Of A Content Marketing Strategy

Much research suggests that a robust content marketing strategy leads to more business.

  • More Sales Quotas Reached. Social media pros, using relevant content, are 6x more likely to make quota than those who do not use social media. This research suggests all sales organizations need to use content and social selling immediately! Source: KiteDesk, The Ultimate Sales Guide To Crushing Your Quota

6X Reach Quota - Gerry Moran

  • Content Helps You Break Through To Decision Makers. 90% of B2B decision makers never answer a cold call. This statistic indicates content is the key to opening the relationship door! Source: LinkedIn, How Leading Sales Pros Use LinkedIn For Social Selling

90% Don't Answer Phone Calls - Gerry Moran

  • Content Influences Decisions. 65% of buyers (and an overwhelming 82% of senior executives) say the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their purchase decision. So, if I am a sales leader I would focus on an efficient content strategy for a competitive edge. Source: The Knowledge Tree

65% Say Content Sealed Deal - Gerry Moran

All of this research indicates that a messaging strategy will help create the competitive edge for your organization – and deliver sales!

10 Ways To Simplify Your Content Marketing

 

1. Build Your Content Marketing Foundation – so you have a sustainable platform from which to amplify your story. Start your content plan by writing down your strategy. 68% of marketers do not have a written plan, reports the Content Marketing Institute. Develop a foundational approach to your content creation and distribution to inspire your audience to do what you want them to do. Most of all, build a foundation by adding value. Source: Content Marketing Institute, 2016 Content Trends

68% Don't Have A Written Content Plan - Gerry Moran

2. Model Your Target Audience After Your Current Audience – to focus your efforts on ‘look-alikes’ vs. ‘look-aways.’ Develop target audience profiles – i.e., personas – with public-facing information from LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. This digital due diligence enables modeling your content after your current readers and customers. This approach will help deepen more relationships and close more sales. When it comes to what you audience wants, 97% want you to improve the quality of your content by including benchmarking data. Source: Demand Gen Report

97% Want Benchmarking Data - Gerry Moran

3. Build A Content Supply Chain – to efficiently create custom messaging and deliver valuable knowledge to your readers. Architect your content to be easy-to-read, real-time and relevant to today’s conversation. Focusing on this step-by-step plan creates a well-oiled supply chain. This production approach to your storytelling ensures clear thinking create the right message – enabling connection with the right audience on the right channel at the right time. With 32% of companies reporting they do not have the talent to pull off an effective content marketing strategy you may have to invest in a new infrastructure or a hire a consultant. Source: Content Marketing Institute, 2015 Content Trends

32% Don't Have The Talent

4. Be A Storyteller – to help your audience remember your value proposition. Chip and Dan Heath say 5% of an audience remembers a presentation based on statistics – while 63% remember the storytelling. We are all trying to sell something or convince someone. Developing analogies and telling stories helps to make your point! Source: Chip & Dan Heath, 23 Facts about Buyers and Purchasing

63% Remember Your Story — Gerry Moran

5. Properly Position Your Value Proposition – to help guide your readers to know what they should do and why they should do it after reading your messaging. Developing awareness, association and consideration of your expertise and offer takes time. Presenting a call to action is not always about the direct response like selling Miracle Mops on QVC. Plan to develop 7-10 different ways to communicate your story on several different channels and always provide a way to get to the next stop on the customer’s buying journey.

6. You Ought To Be In Pictures – since your readers are visual content consumers. A picture tells a thousand words. There is no better way to tell your story than by using custom-made graphics to support your relevant point. KissMetrics reports appropriate visuals drive 94% more views than content without visuals. So, make sure to use pictures, graphics, and videos in each of your go-to-market social media channels. Source: KissMetrics,  6 Types of Visual Content You Need To Use In Your Marketing Campaigns

94% More Views - Gerry Moran

7. Embrace Your Influencers – since they have the attention of your target audience. 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth, while 47% use blogs to influence their decisions. Marketers also report there is a 3-to-1 ROI for using influencers. So, it appears that investing in influencer outreach will pay out handsomely for you! Source: AdWeek, Why Influencer Marketing Is The New Content King

92% Rely on WOM - Gerry Moran

8.  Focus On Your Form Factor – since Google and native reader behavior requires it. Article titles, keywords, hashtags, subtitles, tags and other form factors help readers find you. If no one can find your content  – did you ever write it? No! Looking for proof? Tweets with hashtags get 16% more retweets than those without. Source: Kim Garst, 20 Quick & Easy Ways To Get More Twitter Retweets

47% Turn To Blogs - Gerry Moran

9. Stay In Touch With Your Touch Points – since it’s easier to be where your customers are vs. getting them to come to you. Think through how to connect with the right audience on the right channel at the right time with the right message. With B2B marketers using an average of 13 ways to communicate with content, you have to use the best mix of touch points to tell the best story to tell on the best channel. Source: Content Marketing Institute, 2016 B2B Content Trends

10. Plan To Make A Measurable Difference – to help you understand if you are successful with your content marketing strategy. You can’t succeed unless you measure it – so set measurable goals and then measure how you performed against those objectives. Once you determine how you performed, optimize your plan and do more of the right ‘stuff’ and less of the ‘stuff’ that doesn’t work.

Do you have a few more simple tips to plan and activate your content? If so, please share below. Or, reach out to me on MarketingThink!

5 More Content Marketing Posts You Might Enjoy

Einstein also said if you can’t explain it simply then you don’t know it well enough. By creating a simple content marketing strategy, you can begin to simply explain your value proposition to your customers – Ka-Ching!

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

3 Easy Ideas To Get Customers To Pay For Content

Is your gated content worth the relationship currency you’re asking your customers to pay?

What you think is valuable content may be considered worthless to the customer on their buying journey!

Like a toll road, gated content full of how-to insight and relevant research is likely the quickest way for your client to reach their decision destination. However, this swift and easy access comes at a price.


Relationship Currency | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

Do your customers value your content marketing enough to provide their contact information, email address or social sign-in credentials? This CRM contribution is vital to your sales pipeline. The customer really doesn’t care, though.

It is critical for content marketers to find and build their credibility and articulate their value proposition to collect their customers’ relationship currency – and shorten the buyer’s journey and the sales process!

What The Content Marketing and Relationship Currency Facts Tell Us

  • Use Blogging To Increase Credibility. Marketers, who have prioritized blogging, are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI, suggesting that starting the conversation with a blog with a call-to-action is a way to engage with customers at the right place in the journey. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014)
  • Help Self-Educating Customers. By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their buying relationship without talking to a human, indicating decision makers will count on content more than ever. (Gartner Research)
  • More Content Is Always Better In The Eyes Of The Customer; but is it really? The average B2B decision maker consumes 11.4 pieces of content before they buy, suggesting they are spending a lot of time reading content (Source: Forrester)

This content marketing research indicates customers are counting on content to help them make their decision. Maybe too much content, actually. What if they had access to better content earlier in their decision-making process?

3 Ways To Manage Help Customers Manage The Toll Road

1. Use ‘Content Bait.’ Use shorter consumable content to establish your reputation and catch the attention of your customers. This attention-getting strategy will drive qualified traffic to your gated content. Tip: Leverage evergeen blogs by exchanging links to gated content landing pages

2. Create A Great Landing Page. Make sure your landing page clearly articulates the value proposition so the customer understand what they will receive in exchange for their contact information. TIP: Place a short SlideShare presentation on your landing page to help you seal the deal!

3. Offer Only High-value Gated Content. Leverage, a paid research report, white paper, or an e-book to collect on your customers’ relationship currency. Tip: Collect the minimal amount of data to begin a strategic nurturing program.

Do you have another content marketing tip for your gated thought leadership? If so, please share below.

To Toll or Not To Toll, That Is Content Marketing Question

If customers don’t value your content to exchange their relationship currency for it, then they’ll likely continue to self-educate themselves – taking the long and winding road to avoid the toll road fee. They’ll consume a lot of interesting content; however, they’ll waste time and energy to avoid sharing their personal information. They will frame their problem and work toward solving it. Their assessment and action may be right, but then again, it may be wrong.

If you’re going to gate your content, then ensure your customer sees the value in it. Or, embrace a free-for-all content marketing strategy and build a relationship with goodwill and easy access! Kind of like the yellow brick road. But then again, there were flying monkeys that weren’t too friendly on that free road.

P.S. Your Next Steps! I am the author of MarketingThink.com, a social media and social selling coaching blog. Please sign up for email delivery of my posts and pass this sign-up link to your friends and co-workers, who you think might benefit from reading these ideas.

P.P.S. If you want to get hold of me directly, please send me an email to moran.gerry@gmail.com or contact me directly on MarketingThink.com. I read every email.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

If You Blog And No One Reads It Did You Really Write It?

If you write a blog post and no one reads it, did you really write it? Hmmm. Now that’s a question for a content marketing guru, ninja or king to answer.

Many marketers have met the challenge of finding and motivating co-workers, internal thought leaders and executive leadership to write blogs. These subject matter experts (SME) are an excellent reputation-building resources a brand. This blogging ‘win’ is huge, since only a few years ago finding in-house content creators was like finding a four-leaf clover.

Blog Post | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

While some marketers have solved the content conundrum of using a blog to drive awareness, engagement and pipeline acceleration, most are just still figuring it out. Blogging is now a key performance indicator (KPI) for many modern marketers – to build solution awareness, engage customers and help the sales process.

Check marks (for a marketing plan execution to-do list) and editorial high fives are given when someone writes a blog – whether or not anyone reads it. And, that’s the writing rub, many great ideas that manifest in a blog post never get read, shared or clicked – missing out on the next step of brand engagement. Underwhelming blog post performance is not attributed to wrong ideas. Rather, it’s the fact that the blog isn’t built to be found. Writing powerful prose is one thing. Building a blog post to be an always-on marketing magnet is another.

A solid keyword strategy will make your blog work harder and drive more results for you.

10 Keyword Considerations For Better Blogging

Before you begin writing and building your blog post, create your list of keywords and variations. Use Google Ad Words tool or Hashtagify.me to find keyword and variations. Here’s a handy dandy 10-step checklist to build a better blog post.

1. Blog Title (title tag, H1 tag.) Always place your primary keyword and variations in early in your attention-grabbing blog title. If you are torn between a catchy headline or a keyword headline, always choose the catchy headline!

2. Meta Description (the descriptive text below the search description below the blog.) While including keyword and variations in your post’s meta description do not impact search ranking, their addition will help your readers better understand why they should read the post.

3. Blog Copy. Include 1-2 keywords and variations for every 100 words you write (i.e., maintain a 1-2% keyword density) to capture a search engine’s attention … and eventually your readers’ attention. Make sure not to over-stuff your blog post with keywords, since Google does not like that and it makes for an amateurish blog. Remember, the rule of thumb is 2% density for each keyword or variation – not the collection of keywords.

4. Graphics. Include keywords in your graphics’ descriptions and alt-tags to set up a picture-perfect search for Google.

5. URL. Add keywords in the structure of your URL (i.e., the areas that you see in the browser.)

Perfect Blog Post

6. SEO Plugins. Yoast’s SEO plugin is the best source for automating your keywords strategy!

7. Linguistic Plugins. If you are writing for the masses, then the Yoast plugin is an excellent solution. However, if you are blogging for a particular type of reader (or place in the sales funnel), then Atomic Reach provides a must-have tool!

8. Subheads (H2 Tags.) Every blog post should have at least one subhead, so it’s easier to read. And, every subhead needs to have keywords and variations in it.

9. Blog Promotion. Readers find your blog posts in one of the three ways – search, email delivery or social referrals. When writing your LinkedIn, Twitter, SlideShare, YouTube or Facebook posts, make sure to use similar keywords and hashtags to map back to the story you tell in your blog.

10. Analytics. Creating content according to these best practices is a great start to building the foundation to your blog post’s success. However, using a tool like Google Analytics will help you understand your referral traffic to see if your SEO keyword and social referral strategy are working.

Do you have another blogging tip? If so, please share below or contact me directly at MarketingThink.com.

Think of these ten tips as the planks that build a great blogging platform. If you follow this advice in your next blog post, you’ll never have to wonder if you write it, will anyone see it. Now, when that tree falls in the forest, it may not make a sound.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

Can Content Marketing Accelerate Sales Pipeline?

Can posting the right content for the right customer on the right channel at the right time really speed up a sale?

When it’s put that way, that type of sales success sounds more like it’s driven by publishing instead of selling, right? I thought only call-blitzing sales rep could make a sale close faster.

ontent Vs. Phone | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

So, here’s a news flash! Successful sales reps and marketers need to be good at publishing, too. Good content skills speed up the quota-busting long game. If you are not integrating your content marketing strategy into your field marketing, corporate marketing and field sales organizations, then you need to make this change – to create more sales opportunities, increase sale size, and decrease the sale cycle.

The Content Marketing, Social Media and Social Selling Recipe

Unlike email or telemarketing, content marketing is not a direct marketing tactic. It is an ingredient in the sales recipe – something that will make it ‘cook quicker.’ The three steps to create this marketing mix to accelerate the sales pipeline are:

1. Awareness. Establish your brand awareness and credibility by showing you understand the customer’s challenge through content posted on your social channels. Your customers find out about you from your reputation, which manifests through your social posts in relevant watering holes.

2. Consideration. Drive purchase consideration by getting customers to click through to your destination or reply with a comment. This engagement connects so you can help them solve their problem. This initial conversation, combined with content, will help your customer understand you can solve their problem.

3. Acceleration. Increase relationships and accelerate pipeline by delivering the right content at the right time – via 1-1 and other broader nurturing channels.

Using these three steps will accelerate sales more than if selling without social media and content marketing.

Content marketing can help accelerate pipeline on two levels – at the marketing department/organization AND from the individual sale rep level.

How Marketing Departments Can Use Content To Accelerate Sales

Marketing organizations can use content to activate late-funnel conversations and consideration by delivering relevant information to specific customer watering holes – LinkedIn Groups, external communities, etc. For instance, if the marketing team was close to closing key deals around cloud-based point of sales solutions, then content could be created in a format (e.g., infographic) to resonate in watering holes.

Unfortunately, many companies have not adopted an end-to-end content model to take advantage of these targeted opportunities. And, just loading up Twitter with a selection of branded Tweets won’t work either. Neither will blog posts placed on company-owned sites since they need to be amplified, in addition to being posted.

How Social Media Can Accelerate Pipeline From An Account Based Marketing or Sales Organization Perspective

Content can also accelerate ABM- or sales team-based pipeline. A company can create targeted content to speak to the key point that will help close the sale. For instance, if a company is selling analytics solutions to the target account, then they could create a SlideShare presentation to speak to the key  customer needs. After syndicating this content on owned social channels get the team to distribute and deliver this content – infographics, SlideShares, blog posts, etc. – via individual digital, social and email channels.

In regards to sales- and ABM-focused social listening, companies can monitor key accounts to understand if there are any dots to connect – to help handle an objection or double-down on a point of interest with custom content.

Do you have a way in which you have used content to accelerate pipeline? If so, please share below. Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com.

So, if you are trying to accelerate pipeline, you need first to build a process to map content to the right customer on the right channel at the right time. There is no one size fits all when it comes to pipeline acceleration and content creation.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

Break Off The Social Media Engagement

We need to end the love affair we have with the social media engagement metric. It’s time to break off the engagement and begin to ask the hard questions to understand how to measure the meaningful triggers that convert customers into long-term relationships.

Social Media Engagement | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

How many times have you heard a marketer who sets a business goal to drive ‘engagement?’ What does that metric really mean, anyway? The definition of social media engagement is so broad that it’s almost meaningless in the context with the ability to impact business.

The Definition of Twitter Engagement

According to Twitter, engagement is the total number of times a user has interacted with a Tweet. This interaction includes clicks anywhere on the Tweet – including hashtags, links, avatars, username, and Tweet expansion – retweets, replies, follows and favorites. This collection of measurements does not help identify the business impact – however individual engagement activities, such as link clicks, do.

Just like the marriage experience, engagement is the time that a couple spends before they get married – the ultimate conversion. With content, there are many nuances that marketers need to measure to get a discrete read on how the customer courtship is developing. Adding a catch-all ‘engagement’ metric blurs the lines of business impact. Marketers need to have clear metrics to support articulated goals!

7 Ways To Break Up The Social Media Engagement Metric To Focus On Business Impact

1. Valued Content. Is your content valued and engaging enough to be ‘owned’ and curated by others? When your content is shared (e.g., retweet) the key insight you gain is its relevancy to the reader and the credibility it has to be shared with an incremental audience.

Tip: Take a look at the audience of your retweeters to understand your content’s true value and impact on your business.

2. Interesting Content. Is your content valued enough to be saved for your network’s later reference? If so, then pay attention to Twitter’s Favorite engagement!

3. Social Referrals. Is your content valued enough to incite a click through to more content? The best marketers track referral metrics. A social media post with a link (e.g., bit.ly links) that gets clicked is a solid way to determine if your messaging is inspiring enough to drive customer action – and deepen their relationship with your brand.

Tip: Think about offering up a key fact or statistic in your social media post to get your readers to want to learn more about your value proposition. You need to give great information first, so your readers will click through to the next destination.

4. Part Of The Conversation. Is your content part of a great conversation with which your network wants to know more about? Many people search for hashtags, however fewer customers click on them. Clicking on a hashtag highlights the past week’s Tweets with the same hashtag. When someone clicks on a hashtag, it indicates their interest in a greater conversation and underlines your ability to contribute to a potentially trending topic.

Tip: Reach out to Tweeters, who use a particular hashtag, with question or comment to develop a conversation that will help your research or relationship development.

5. Develop A Reputation. Does your content get others, who are not part of your network, to want to know more about you? When your content ‘clicks’ with others, readers click your profile or avatar to find out more about you. If you want to build your reputation with a relevant and incremental audience, create more content that incites others to click your Twitter profile.

Tip: Optimize your Twitter profile to shine the best light on your reputation when others check you out!

6. Drive A Relationship. Does your content incite others, who are not part of your network, to follow you? If your goal is to increase the size of your relevant network, then measure the content that picks up new followers.

7. Conversation Starter. Does your content inspire your network or network-to-be to start a conversation with you or ask you a question? If you want to understand the type of messaging that inspires a discussion with your network, then measure the amount of replies (or mentions) that your Tweets receive.

Tip: Make sure you respond to all of your Twitter mentions and blog comments to do your part in the conversation.

Do you have another way to map social media engagement to business impact? If so, please share below. Or reach out to me directly at MarketingThink.com.

Just like a marriage and the engagement, we use content and social media interaction as a way to see how activities support the end-game goals. If you pay attention to the right metrics, then your customer relationship can be a marriage made in heaven!

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

Is Your Kingdom Interested In Your Content?

80% of B2B decision makers visit vendor-independent communities, vendor-sponsored forums, and LinkedIn at least monthly for business purposes, says Marketing Charts. I’d call these communities the customer conten kingdoms!

Content Is King | MarketingThink.com

This analogy derived from when I read bedtime stories to my children, Reily and Taylor, and I got to the story about the king. You know, where content is king. My kids always loved that part and invariably asked me “What if the kingdom does not think the king is interesting? Doesn’t the kingdom need to be interested in what the king has to say?” Now there is an interesting point to ponder!

If you know where your customers are going, or the kingdom in which they reside, then you need to find the best way to connect with them. Delivering content in the digital and social way that they want and expect will be your key to B2B marketing success and the customer kingdom.

5 Content Marketing Keys To The Customer Kingdom

1. Understand the anatomy of your B2B customer. Knowing what they consider relevant and how they consume content will help you create a win-win editorial strategy. Creating a customer feedback loop between sales and product marketing will help create the best content marketing materials as possible.

2. Use content to map to specific ‘sweet-spots’ in the buying journey. A content marketing strategy that drives awareness and engagement at the right time will set you up for success to have a relevant conversation with your B2B customers. Social media’s one-to-many delivery strength will always be in the awareness and engagement phase of the buyer journey. So, make sure to create content for the different parts of the journey – the customers expect it.

3. Deliver relevant content, like video, to help make a connection with your B2B customer.  B2B content takes all forms. And, video is an under-used and highly consumed medium. Integrating YouTube videos into your marketing strategy will help you reach your audience and achieve your goals.

4. Deliver content where your B2B customers spend their time. My daughter, Taylor, who is an avid ‘fisherwoman’ always tells me that you have to fish where the fish are if you are going to catch anything. So, with 27% of B2B customers using social media to inform a business decision, you need to be using it to connect with them!

5. Always provide a next step for your B2B customers with a clear call-to-action. Once you understand your customer, find where they buy and create consumable content, you need to direct them to the next step – more content, a relevant event, or even a phone call. Always include a clear call-to-action in your content to make it easy for the customer to deepen the relationship on their terms.

Do you have a few pointers that help you create customer centric content? If so, please share below. Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, or on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

My darling children, Reily and Taylor, make an excellent point! For content to be king, the kingdom needs to be interested in what the king is saying. If the emperor has no clothes, then he will know by the kingdom voting – no page views, no sharing, and no engagement. Long live relevant and kingdom-centric content!

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 2 Comments

15 Resources To Help Improve Your Personal Branding

Strong personal branding will help you sustain a solid career, develop a deeper relevant network and help you advance your agenda.

You probably are not doing it as good as you could.

Personal branding | MarketingThink.com

 

 

You see, the biggest barrier to your personal branding success is the lack of planning, strategizing and goal-setting. You need to do a little soul searching, self-assessment and checking out what’s underneath your ‘hood’ to get the most out of your personal brand on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. Before you jump and make changes, you need to do a little pre-work.

When working with executives, sales professional and small businesses, I often share this story to contextualize the need to do initial self-assessment before doing personal branding training. Every 3rd Tuesday of the month, my significant other has her house cleaned by her trusted cleaning crew. And, every 3rd Monday evening of the month, she frantically cleans her home and to get it in order before her cleaners arrive. I think she is crazy. However, I understand that this type of pre-work is standard operating procedure for many. This pre-cleaning and straightening up helps her get the ‘big things’ accomplished by the person she hired.

Preparing for your personal branding tune-up is much like getting ready for your house to be cleaned. If you do the pre-work before you start to investigate changes, hire someone to help or attend a workshop then you will get the most out of your personal investment and our social brand will be hitting on all cylinders!

15 Resources To Help Your Personal Branding Tune-up

Your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles are your new calling cards. Your tweets and LinkedIn posts are your new networking and brand-building tools. So, take stock of your current social snapshot. Here are some pre-work reading and ideas to help you get the most out of your personal branding tune-up.

1. Understand Why You Need To Integrate Social Media Into Your Personal Brand. Your customers and network are searching Google, Twitter and LinkedIn to stay on top of industry changes and to develop solutions to their business challenges. You need to be where they are searching. Understanding “why” a strong presence on social media is critical to your long-term success will help you think through your branding strategy. Check out these three posts to help you:

Personal Branding Profile | MarketingThink.com

2. Tune-up Your LinkedIn and Twitter Profiles To Bring Out The Best In Your Personal Brand. You cannot sell yourself until you work on your curbside appeal. So, think about these five links to help you start planning your social spruce-up.

Personal Branding | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

3. Learn How To Talk The Personal Branding Talk On LinkedIn, Twitter and with blogging. Now that you are all dressed up, you just be a social wall flower and sit against the call. You need to integrate yourself into your network’s social graph. If you can’t talk the talk, then you will never connect with your audience. These seven links will help you understand how to connect with you network on their terms.

Do you have a question or comment on these tips? If so, please share below or reach out to me directly at MarketingThink.com before the workshop. You can also reach me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.

So, take a lesson from my significant other’s approach to having her home cleaned and do a little pre-work before you start to tune up your profile. Need a little help with your sprucing up yours? Send me an e-mail at moran.gerry@gmail.com with your questions.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 1 Comment

Junk Email Is Your Content Marketing Treasure

One man’s ‘junk’ email is another man’s content marketing ‘treasure.’  You just need to embrace the ‘Oscar The Grouch editorial manager’ in you!

Oscar the Grouch Content | MarketingThink.com

Over 100 billion emails sent and received daily – opt-in email newsletters and updates, cold-call inquiries, customer service follow-ups or just plain old emails for which you did not ask. With all of that email there is bound to be a research, infographic or value proposition treasure if you dig deep into your digital trash can. Sesame Street’s own Oscar The Grouch used to say, “This is where I wanna be – junk (email) paradise! Just look it at. It’s like a work of (content marketing) art.”

For years, I automatically deleted all of these messages to avoid trudging through my inbox … someone else’s digital destination stuffed with their priorities.  However, when I created my blog, MarketingThink.com, I changed my tune and started to read each email to look for content gold –  interesting statistics, infographics and questions I should be asking or answering.  Now, every piece of email has the potential to inform me and support my blogging and content marketing lessons – helping me connect my audience with great ideas and statistics.

5 Ways To Use Your Junk Email For Content Marketing

No matter the industry, to whom you market or sell, solicitation or ‘junk’ emails typically have 5 things in common of which you can take advantage:

1. Key Questions. Use emails to see how they pose questions that customers should be asking and build posts around them. Asking questions is one of the best attention-getting techniques brands use – especially for blog titles. Prospects and customers are drawn in with the questions they should be asking since it helps them to frame their challenges and opportunities. Read your emails and leverage these questions – turning them into a blog post of your own with your own point of view.

2. Research. Dig into your inbox to discover secondary research and facts.  Few companies can afford to conduct primary research. However, most people have a selection of quality secondary facts and figures at their fingertips – opted-in and unsolicited emails. Look under the hood of your email inbox to find the relevant research facts to hook the reader and craft your message. These numbers and graphics can help you set up a customer trigger to incite a response – a moment of fear, or why a particular issue should warrant extra concern or consideration. My advice … always double-check your referenced facts and sources.

3. Reason Why It’s Important. See how others communicate why readers need to take action.  See how others articulate reasons why readers need to take action on the key question or piece of research and incorporate that into your content’s call to action! See how others articulate reasons why readers need to take action on the key question or piece of research and incorporate that into your content’s call to action! Somewhere in the body of a good solicitation email, there is a statement that identifies why attending the event or downloading the asset it valuable. These ‘reasons why’ are a great blog post starter. Remember, the most important blog posts speak specifically to one issue. If you have more than one point to make, then create another blog post!

4. Key Takeaways. See how others articulate key takeaways so you can focus your content to make the biggest reader impact. A good solicitation email highlights something similar to “You Will Learn These 5 Things By Attending (or downloading.)” Whether it is your own company email or another’s, this subject call-out is a great guide for you to create focused content that articulates your point of view. In other words, what will the reader learn by reading your blog post or e-book? Yes, you can blatantly point out to the reader the takeaways from your content!

5. Find Influencers. Find, follow and source the content of the speakers and authors highlighted in others’ events and publications notifications. If you are looking to follow or source the content of a 1st-, 2nd, or 3rd-tier influencer for your content curation strategy, then research and follow the relevant speakers referenced in others’ emails. These speakers are typically active on social media, blog and create content that you can curate or spark ideas.

Whenever you are using statistics or key information to support your blogs or writing, make sure to attribute the contributing source – it shows good manners and lends to your credibility.

Do you have another source of content or reference materials that have been inspiring or added to the quality of your content marketing strategy? If so, please share below. Or, contact me at MarketingThink.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.

So, before you throw away that next email because your email inbox is filled to the brim,  remember what Oscar The Grouch would do if he were your editorial manager – he’d  make content marketing art out of the emails found in his junk folder.

 

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.

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