Category Archives: Social Media

How Can I Improve My Content Marketing Effectiveness In 2014?

tips for content marketing success

My tried, tested and trusted content marketing blueprint for 2014 success

In 2013 you planned to be more organised about your content marketing. Your intention was to publish more frequent blog posts, grow your social media influence, and improve your discoverability in search in order to attract and engage more customers.

However, as a CEB study shows, 2013 was not the year in which marketers mastered content marketing: “79% of marketers consider content marketing important; yet only 12% feel ready to deliver against it.”

But 2014 can be different for content marketing, and my three golden rules, before you do anything else, are these:

  • Plan for how your audiences are going to discover your content before you spend time and resources creating it. (thanks to Ann Handley for this invaluable advice)
  • Anticipate your readers’ questions before you create and publish anything. Ask yourself: What are their pain points? What are their information needs? What utilitarian content do they seek?
  • Never set a goal without putting a deadline against it. Download an editorial calendar template from Smart Insights.

Then, once you’ve mastered these three rules, follow these 6 essential content marketing steps:

  1. Go deep into topic coverage. Your content marketing needs to go deeper. It needs to drill down into your customers’ core themes, their critical pain points and issues. Make your content more meaningful and relevant to them. Spend time creating a content strategy, without which you will only continue to produce ad hoc marketing content and waste more precious time and money. Going deeper into content works hand in hand with your search engine optimisation (SEO), with your keyword research, and with your Google AuthorRank (Google+), because, when done properly, these efforts collectively drive sustained long term search engine ranking performance (SERP). Aim to produce marketing content that’s actually wanted by your customers, and by that I mean deeper content they will love you for: downloadable guides, PDF eBooks, Video demos, case studies, research papers etc..
  2. Gain deeper insights into customers. Knowledge of customers, their needs and buying cycle, tends to be very shallow and superficial. You need deeper customer insights if you want to engage and convert your audiences online. You need an intimate knowledge of your customer’s buying cycle so that you can plan an effective content strategy, and produce effective lead-generating content. Ironically it’s never been easier than it is now to observe, listen and interact with customers directly. Get the deeper insight into your customers that your competitors don’t have. Interview your buyers or their proxy. Use a tried, tested and trusted interviewing process like the five rings of customer insight.
  3. Set crystal clear metrics for your content marketing. Metrics fall into four buckets: Consumption metrics, share metrics, lead generation metrics and sales metrics. And determining the right metrics depends on defining your goals for your content. Setting clear goals gives you the basis for measurement and evaluation. I don’t expect you to master the Holy Grail of content marketing ROI overnight, but content ROI is a top priority for marketers in 2014, so keep your eyes peeled, and follow me on Twitter @concentricdots and get a notification of when the Smart Insights Content Marketing ROI Guide publishes in February.
  4. Create an editorial calendar. If you’re struggling with your content marketing, attaching deadlines to your activities is the first step toward being more disciplined. One of the best tools that publishing lends content marketing is the editorial calendar. If you’re struggling with creating an effective editorial calendar, our Content Marketing Masterclass might be the training you need in 2014.
  5. Influence the influencers. When your influencers share your content with their audiences it escalates your influence by proxy. Experiment with tools like Little Bird to identify and tap into the influencers that are blogging, tweeting and sharing content that matters in your sector. Influencer marketing goes hand in hand with content curation and aggregation, two key activities that help audiences filter out the rubbish content and filter in the best content. Click here for advice on influencer marketing.
  6. Promote your content. Remember the #1 Golden rule at the beginning of this post: Plan for how your audiences are going to discover your content before you spend time and resources creating it . There’s no point producing great content if you haven’t planned how you can reach your audiences to tell them about it! In 2014 you need to focus as much on content distribution as you do on content creation. You need to plan your promotion with the same care you plan your content and use tools like HootSuite and other automated scheduling platforms to target and reach your audiences.

Reality check:  The popularity of content marketing is making it more difficult for you to stand out. It’s inevitable that you’ll struggle: Content marketing is tough, but the above disciplines will help you avoid disappointment in 2014.

I’ve described the actions to take to improve the effectiveness of your content marketing in 2014, but nothing is more important than producing content that your customers actually want. Remember this: Anticipate your readers’ questions before you create and publish anything at all.

If you’re afraid that you’re going to struggle with content marketing in 2014, you can attend one of our Content Marketing Masterclasses, where we’ll give you all the tools and templates you need to succeed. More details on the Content Masterclass website

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Are You One Of The 95% Doing Content Marketing For Lead Generation?

content marketing for lead generation

Target customers with better content marketing

Is your company one of the 95% in the UK doing content marketing?

A recent study says 95% of UK marketers “do content marketing”.

Historically, small business owners have had to rely on third party media to publish content on their behalf, but in the digital marketing era, the line between publishing and marketing is blurring, and publishers and marketers are now doing very similar types of things to attract audiences, nurture prospects, and convert them into life-long customers (the process of lead generation in a complex buying cycle).

Are you using content marketing for the complex sale?

Businesses of all sizes can now be publishers, which means many innovative businesses (often startups, devoid of hard-to-banish marketing legacy, are pioneering their own publishing and digital marketing operations at very low cost, and using content marketing and social media in digital channels to interact with their audiences. These more nimble companies are using content marketing to “capture” their prospects and convert them into customers over the course  of a complex sale.

How closely does your company’s content marketing activity match the key findings from the CMI/DMA UK’s research?

  • 94% of UK marketers have adopted content marketing
  • 49% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months
  • 26% of marketers use 5-6 tactics whilst 22% use 16-19 content marketing tactics
  • 90% are writing their own online articles and doing their own social media marketing
  • 74% write their own blogs
  • 85% create their own eNewsletters
  • 82% use Twitter
  • 78% use LinkedIn
  • 76% use Facebook
  • 57% use YouTube
  • 55% of UK companies outsource content creation

Or is your company struggling to create enough content? 

Many small business owners aren’t media content experts, and very few marketers have publishing skills, which means that 57% of UK companies surveyed are struggling to generate sufficient content, whilst 49% of businesses can’t produce content that engages their audiences.

Do you need a content marketing planning framework? 

Content creation takes time and skill: copywriting, design, layout, writing headlines, chunking, storytelling, tone-of-voice, customer empathy are all skilled practices.

Without a solid content planning process like the 6 Steps Content Marketing Planning Framework marketers miss the point, post stories or articles that matter more to them than to their audiences, and procrastinate for so long over what to publish that they miss their deadlines

If your company says it’s going to invest in content marketing, or invest more money in content marketing (like 54% of the respondents in the study), you will fail unless you have the framework, discipline and skills required.

Whether you succeed or not with content marketing is not dependent on your product or service (some companies in “boring” industries are creating great content marketing), your company or market size, your price or channel, but more a question of whether or not you truly understand the disciplines and rigours at the heart of content marketing.

If you’d like help with content marketing planning visit our main website and get in touch, or simply sign up to receive our content marketing tips.

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Content Marketing: how to think like a publisher

Content Marketing Think Like A Publisher The Original Michelin Guide Rouge 1900

Content Marketing Think Like A Publisher The Original Michelin Guide Rouge 1900

In a recent blog post for Smart Insights, the UK’s premiere digital marketing portal, I asked the question: “Why might a company that sells goods or services want to act like a media company?”

The point I was trying to illicit was that all non-media companies now have the chance to embrace content creation to attract, win, convert and retain customers.

Compelling content attracts and retains customers 

Yet most businesses plod on with old school marketing, churning our content that is neither compelling nor relevant to their audiences. Audiences have become adept at filtering out messages that are irrelevant to them.

I’m conscious that if thinking and acting like a publisher were easy, then more businesses would be doing it by now and the discipline would move into the mainstream. Instead content marketing, despite being the new marketing muscle, is only used by innovators and by a handful of very early adopters (visionaries) who understand that customers will more willingly be attracted and “pulled” toward a brand, product or service if the content is helpful.

Why do so many businesses fail with content marketing and which businesses succeed? 

The problem is that most businesses today are not resourced or structured appropriately to enable them to develop carefully crafted, relevant and timely content that supports prospects and customers along the buying cycle.

Yet some non-media companies have successfully used content marketing as their core marketing strategy for decades even centuries. In 1954 Guinness printed 1000 copies of The Guinness Book of Records. The book was a marketing tool or give-away, rather than a money making venture. Similarly, the first edition of Michelin’s Red Guide was published in 1900, originally to help drivers maintain their cars, find overnight accommodation, and eat well while touring France. The “Guide Rouge”, as it is known, included the locations of petrol stations, mechanics, and tyre specialists, along with tips on tyre and car maintenance. Michelin only started charging for the Guide in its twentieth year of production, when the Michelin brothers realised that copies of the Guide were being use to prop up workbenches in garages.

Content marketing is not new. Those non-media companies understood that people are willing to be ‘pulled’ towards a product, service or brand if they see that its providers are offering them something entertaining or of value which fulfills an informational need or desire for entertainment.

Content marketing: from specialty to ubiquity 

Those were companies with vision and publishing in those days was not core to their business. Today though, the tools for publishing are ubiquitous and are central to all integrated marketing communications. That’s because the obstacles of media production and distribution have dissipated. But to be effective and to win a return on investment, businesses which produce compelling content need watertight methodologies if they are to succeed in a crowded ad noisy marketplace. To be successful in content creation, businesses need to think in a joined-up way that ensures all their efforts and resources are geared toward providing compelling content that sticks, that is shared and which attracts (pulls) the bees (prospects) to the honey pot (brand). Achieving this outcome in support of sales requires both resources and process. What follows is a summary of both.

Content marketing: resources and process 

Content marketing needs to ensure both resources and process are leveraged to perform the following with consistency:

- Identify the needs and personas of its target audience

- Audit and categorise its content assets and sources

- Put the right people on the right task (sadly too often content creation and social media are pushed down to the most junior people in the business)

- Define the roles and responsibilities of the people in content creation, editing and production needed to fulfill the business objectives and maintain the editorial activity over the long term

- Understand and support the customer along their journey at the varoious touch points and negate their pain all along their journey

- Ensure content production is scheduled and fulfilled (editorial and production calendars)

- Provide the rules and guidelines for the team and the contributing authors, designers, editors etc.. to abide by

- Plot the above onto a milestone plan

- Create a content/editorial calendar – define the strategic orientations, formats and frequency of output

- Design the layout of content

- Copy edit and guide internal and external contributors, experts, authors

- Control production

- Provide keywords and ensure all posts are optimised for search (SEO)

- Metadata tagging and image selection

- Style corrections

- Resource and manage the production and delivery (video, webinar, ebook etc)

- Distribute the content though all appropriate channels and measure effectiveness

- Cost, budget and allocate resources for and to the above

- Negotiate terms with contributing authors/ experts/freelancers

- Develop customer relations via social content

This process  is no mean feat, and when content marketing fails, it’s mostly because process fails.

Ensuring the content marketing process works

Below I have reproduced a glimpse of a milestone plan I developed for a client in the technology sector.

Content marketing milestone plan

Content marketing milestone plan

Content marketing  resources

The internal coordinator or manager of the process oversees this process from A to Z to ensure that all tasks and goals within the plan run smoothly and that the plan delivers the marketing goals. The same person manages the resources for editorial and production. In turn editorial and production manage content creation and production. Thus the content creators (employees and contributing authors) are given clear guidelines to work by so that their time can be dedicated to creating the content.

If you visualise this workflow as a critical path plan like the one above, you can begin to see how the workflow for the team is shaped and how resources need to be allocated in order to deliver the volume of content needed, with the frequency of output and to ensure distribution is achieved in all marketing channels.

Help with content marketing

If managing the content marketing process is something your business finds challenging, I work independently, and with some of the best digital agencies in the UK, to ensure your business develops the content marketing methodologies and disciplines needed to accentuate sales. If you’d like more information on my approach, please contact me.

You can also view my LinkedIn profile here 

How to improve mobile app discoverability and increase mobile app downloads

 

How to Optimise Discoverability Of Mobile Apps

How to Optimise Discoverability Of Mobile Apps. Photo Credit: gadget_media Flickr

As we prepare to launch a new series of branded mobile educational applications for ocean goers, we want to put everything we can on our side to ensure our mobile application does not get lost in all the noise and our discoverability is optimised.

To help ensure greater discoverability we’ve had to have a focused approach to product marketing throughout our creative process.

From kick-off: marketing and the process of creative app development 

Before we gather around the drawing board at iGlimpse, we like to start with the analytical stuff (just as we we did when considering a new books and their viability); first we look into what kind of app types and user experiences are currently being positively reviewed. We study rankings, user reviews both in the app store and across the web and we download and play with mobile applications. This enables us to better map the functionality, building blocks, coding and plan the critical stages of development and production.

Only once we’re happy a product matches the needs of a target audience and that there is a commercial gap do we begin storyboarding and wire-framing the application screens. Only when we’re sure we’ve scoped our project fully, do we get stuck into production, applying frequent alignment meetings throughout to ensure we stay track, to make corrections and improvements, spot bugs early and stay on course to hit the milestones in our critical path plan. With testing and bugs, rewriting code is no fun at all, so we aim to get everything right from the start.

What’s our mobile application?  

Our mobile application is an educational tool that helps sailors identify the types of vessel and the activities they are engaged in at sea, as specified by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Col Regs).

The app provides “iGlimpse” access to schemas, graphics and descriptions of the lights and shapes in the Col Regs and the rules that apply to them as well as featuring a “Test Yourself” section.

Using a single code base and a bridging mobile framework that supports 7 mobile platforms, our app will be platform-agnostic and ready for distribution in multiple stores simultaneously.

But, like new books, new music releases or new film releases, the app needs to be discoverable through search, promoted and priced correctly to ensure its sale.

Our application is launching into a crowded marketplace in which Col Regs are available in many formats including books, flashcards, videos, DVDs and apps. To stand out from the crowd our USPs are: iGlimpse access, ease of use, convenience. These elements coupled with our designer graphics will ensure people enthuse and review the app positively. Word of Mouth is probably the most important single piece of marketing we’ll achieve.

Who are our users, where do they hang out and what sails their boat? 

As well as the many existing sailors of small and larger vessels, our users include trainees on the RYA Day Skipper Courses and their trainers. There are about 155 000 new recruits annually. Our users are of mixed age / gender; they could be Apple, Android or RIM enthusiasts, they are online savvy, they like gadgets, they have disposable income and they actively seek content that helps them improve and grow in their preferred pursuits. We prefer to apply psychometric tagging rather then demographic tagging so are more interested in their likes and pain points than their income bracket or age. Outside the pressure of the Day Skipper Course and the exam, trainees read specialist sailing / motor boat magazines, they are on Twitter and Facebook, they like brands, they search on Google, YouTube, DailyMotion and VideoJug and they are hungry for material that will inspire, inform and entertain them. They also support the RNLI and attend events like the London and Southampton boat shows. London 2012 will be a big focus point for our community. Boating enthusiasts are fascinated and fearful of collisions at sea!! The metrics we’ve studied confirm all the above. Our customer persona is the best guide we have for our marketing decisions.

Routes to market

The app market is a tough and unforgiving place. The app store models are fundamentally optimized to drive pricing down and this is a hard model to build anything other than a hobby business around until you reach notoriety and critical mass.

Discoverability is a big challenge and we’re fully aware that the shelf life of an application, from a revenue earning perspective, is lower than it is for books and music. So the big question for us is: How do we get our application discovered?

We know we’ve got to enable discovery and trial so we can do three things:

  1. produce a demo video to host on YouTube and embed in social media (blogs, FB, Twitter etc) that replicates the user experience
  2. segment our product into a full ‘paid’ version and a lite ‘free’ version, so we maximise downloads and can focus on conversion to paid.
  3. we can also create a storefront around our application, where the user downloads a base application that is free, and, via an in-app purchase, we can augment that users application by adding new content or new functions.

Promotion and PR 

With so much available content we’re conscious we need to support and manage our community of enthusiasts. We’ve already found the concentrations of users which means we can target the channels they hang out in online and offline.

We know who the opinion leaders are, who the influential bloggers and press reviewers are and we’ve got the marketing content assets ready to supply when they request them. This is where the video showcasing our application and our promotion codes will seamlessly integrate with our communications.

Mistakes and assumptions we must not make: 

We must not ignore paid-for-marketing and make the mistake of thinking word of mouth on its own will drive sales – it won’t

We must not assume that sufficient enthusiasts searching searching with keywords will discover our app – they won’t

We must not forget that there are several app stores we need to be visible in

We must not leave the marketing till launch or post launch – priming our market for readiness is key

Conclusion 

The app stores can be a casino for developers but we believe our decision to publish fora clearly defined community of users means that we’re better equipped to anticipate our product marketing. We come from media backgrounds and know the value of great content. Because we are starting our marketing early, we stand a better chance (but not guarantee) of getting our app and supporting marketing materials into the hands of the opinion leaders before we launch. And we will continuously nourish, moderate, manage and maintain buzz in our verticals.

What advice do you have for ensuring better discoverability of mobile apps?

Digital Marketing: Why Brands Need To Act Like Publishers

Digital Marketing:Why brands need to act like publishers

Digital Marketing:Why brands need to act like publishers (photo credit Nils Geylen, Flickr)

When liking was as easy as a first date

Not long ago, everyone was talking about the power of “Like” and nothing seemed easier for a brand than building a tribe of followers (Godin, 2009); people who declared they liked your company, its brand or product.

This lazy approach to digital marketing led brands into thinking, falsely, that they had found a cheap and easy way to build a network of brand advocates online, the type of people who would enthusiastically follow a brand’s daily posts and pass these on, regardless of how dull or self-centred the updates were, to their friends and followers.

Then came the social break-up

Recent research in a paper entitled “The Social Break-up” (subscribe to download), shows that people are more fickle than that. The paper by ExactTarget demonstrates that social marketing with Tweets and updates that resemble press releases or ad copy (broadcast messages) doesn’t build tribes and that lazy, sloppy social media marketing turns people away in droves.

Part of the problem is that brands are using online channels the way they do broadcast channels, when in fact online channels are interactive.

It takes more than a like to build a strong, lasting relationship online 

In my work advising clients on best-practice in social content creation, I work using a detailed process that helps pint-point the needs of the audience, the brand’s differentiation (where it can make a difference) and on defining content that bridges the gap between audience expectations and brand messages, using content that is relevant, authoritative, timely and that employs calls to action (CTAs) that shifts interaction up a gear from casual acquaintance or occasional visitor to regular follower and ultimately brand advocate, ensuring content meats the needs of audiences and that items are passed on virally. In essence this intricate and detailed process of content creation and distribution ensures fans don’t just “like” a brand, but that they care enough to share it.

Great content is all about great process 

If brands are to be successful with digital marketing they need to identify, plan, create and schedule the production and distribution of meaningful and relevant content that will engage audiences not once, but again and again, over time and in ways that are different at each stage of their journey: through discover, consideration and decision making.

Just as the ExactTarget research highlights, brands need to move away from posting one way marketing messages and focus their attentions and resources on tooling up properly for media production.

Why is acting like a publisher so key for non-media companies? 

Why, I hear you ask, might a company that sells products want to act like a media company? For that matter, why might a customer be attracted to a company that is creating content? These questions are good and they were debated at a this autumn’s Like Minds conference where I joined three fellow experts from the technology and media sectors for a panel discussion. In a plenary entitled “Is every company a media company?” we debated these questions and analysed the sorts of changes non-media companies need to make if they are to create content that attracts, builds and maintains relationships with their customers in social, email, print, in-person and a multitude of other communications channels.

The nitty gritty of content marketing 

If non-media companies are going to emulate media companies they need to embrace a number of core skills, including

1. Process

To deliver quality content media companies use process. That includes a forward planning process that plans 6-18 months out. This process includes inventory, gap analysis, graphics, layout, photography, outsourcing and the rigorous discipline of budgeting. If you don’t have a tight process, then content won’t get produced. An editorial calendar ensures the content you plan to publish fits with a key objective, matched a tactic (white paper, webinar, blog, newsletter blast, etc.) and gives the task an owner.

2. Skills

Producing content relies on specialist skills. It relies on people and is therefore a serious and disciplined management task, usually for a content manager, who will need to know writing and blogging styles, keyword selection, proofing, correction, tagging and much more. Bringing the skills in-house to project manage the content creation process is essential. Alternatively, agencies need to demonstrate they have seasoned publishing and editorial people.

3. SEO

Content needs to be search friendly or it won’t rank in SERPs. Journalists and editors are trained in SEO these days and they get feedback on the impact their writing has. Brands need to make their agencies have SEO as a goal and they will be judged based on this.

Conclusion

Marketing has to change if it’s to resonate with today’s consumers. The placement of editorial in marketing is not about adding another layer of content to persuade customers to buy things. The editor exists to help customers find information, get inspired and feel good. I believe that through this process, you help customers with the information they need and they will reward you with their business.

Please leave a comment if you share / don’t share this view or just to say hi, I read your stuff. Thanks for reading.

How To Supercharge Online Public Relations

How to supercharge online public relations

How to supercharge online public relations

Have you noticed how, suddenly, Public Relations (PR) has got much more exciting?

PR used to be the boring department, producing dull and pompous company-centric messages and corporate brochures to push out to reporters, journalists and analysts for a quarterly event usually involving wine. In turn the reporters would push these same messages out to a broader audiences.

It wasn’t just boring but fattening: wining and dining journalists on expenses to ensure the stories converted into clip counts and instant ROI.

PR Has Changed

Thank goodness all of that has changed and PR has come of age. Now it’s all about fast-paced two-way communications involving realtime conversations with bloggers, reviewers, users, consumers and the media.

In this turbocharged world, there isn’t time for a tea break, let alone wine. The audience (bloggers) are too busy writing content to engage their audiences and can’t afford to publish drivel. If they did, their fickle audiences would soon be diverted elsewhere, to more engaging sources of comment and debate.

It’s like walking in quick sand. If PR are not monitoring the ebb and flow of sentiment and comment online, chances are they won’t be looking in the right place at the right time, when a story, criticism or potentially damaging report or opinion breaks or tweets. And missing sentiment online could end their career in corporate PR, in a flash.

Too Many Organisations and Agencies Fail

Many corporations aren’t tuned in to the online buzz or the sentiment in their sector. We see proof of this everyday at GreenWise where we receive more bland, disconnected and irrelevant PR stories than we know what to do with.

These self-centered press releases don’t get published because they’re without interest to business people. The stories are invariably about winning contracts, the appointment of a new member of staff or an increase in sales or profits. How can PR professionals honestly imagine these stories will get them airtime? Don’t they realise that a company that isn’t winning contracts, hiring people or earning profits might be more newsworthy? PR of this kind is lazy and there is no excuse for it.

Tips and Advice

My advice to companies that rely on PR to build goodwill and understanding is to first and foremost monitor the industry they are in, understand its sentiment and tune in to its buzz online. This is essential because more then ever PR needs to be on message, aligned with the market and in the conversation. Monitoring has to underpin all PR communications and the tools to do are there for large and small companies.

Building relationships, creating goodwill and mutual understanding between your organisation and your publics is at the heart of all good PR. In today’s fast paced world it’s essential to know the bloggers, thought leaders, influencers, reporters and analysts who care most about your industry and activity. Keeping a close eye on what is being said, aligning your teams and adjusting your message is a core skill.

Tools for SMEs

RSS feeds, Google Alerts, Twitter Search andDelicious bookmarking are all tools within easy reach of small organisations. They are cosy nothing at the point of entry.

Tools for Larger Corporations

Large companies with more complex PR activity and with people working across continents will need smarter tracking tools that can locate and pull together complex streams of data from many sources (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, influential news sites etc..) into one dashboard, in realtime and allow simultaneous access to a multitude of account holders enabling them to build relavant campaigns, adjust their messages and reach their audiences with engaging content, regardless of location, division or department. For these companies and their agencies, semantic software like idio platform will help them structure the online data and content in real-time to enable them to develop trusted and measurable customer relationships.

 

How to align sales, marketing, content and the customer journey

 

The B2B Customer Journey

Mapping the content stages along the customer journey – photo credit 31Volts Flickr

The Internet: unlimited access to online information

The free access to digital information has disrupted every single traditional business operation and the seller no longer controls the message. Instead, the Internet, and its proliferation of user generated opinion and media, has put the buyer in the commanding seat.

Online, buyers will take all the time they need to consider a product or service and to ensure it meets their need. The vital stage of customer “consideration”, which once took place in the confines of a relatively secluded and safe environment, now takes place in the open, in full view of other businesses expressing similar challenges, and offering their opinion on the best solution.

The content marketing challenge

The response from companies to this online shift has been to bolster their presence by investing in SEO and carefully managed digital content that increases their discoverability online and which pushes them higher up the search engine results.

But every solution has its downside and the volumes of content distributed are so overwhelming that, unless crafted carefully, deter a sale rather than help it.

Sales and content marketing joined at the hip

That’s why sales and marketing teams need to join closer at the hip and get their approach to content marketing right. And that approach needs to align with the three traditional points along the customer journey.

The 3 stages along the customer journey

Stage 1. Awareness is the first stage in which buyers become conscious of the fact that they have a gap or a challenge they need to address. In this stage buyers come across issues online, in industry sector newsletters, events or magazines that act as a “wake up call”. They know the status quo is not sustainable and that change is inevitable.

Stage 2. Consideration is the point along the customer journey at which the buyer has accepted and committed to change and explored potential options. In this phase, the buyer is committed to a solution but not to a provider. And the solution needs to be calibrated using a cost/benefit analysis and other measures of ROI.

Stage 3. The Decision stage is the final stage during which a solution is justified and the provider is selected. In this final phase, the best overall value proposition is selected.

Aligning content to the customer journey

Content has many forms online and includes emails, video, webcasts, white papers, case studies and audio podcasts. To be effective and avoid the problems of redundancy, the content needs to be designed by marketing to help sales teams connect and sell more effectively to buyers. The more aligned the content is with the buyer, the more likely a sale will be.

Aligning the content with the journey

Smart evergreen content that can be shared, such as guides and practical information tips works across the entire journey.

But each stage requires a different focus in the content.

- In the initial Awareness stage, white papers and webcasts that provoke and offer tools for assessment work well. These should be easy to read, concise, relevant, graphic, well designed.

- In the consideration stage buyers want to explore options so written case studies and videos that testify to success work well. Videos should be short and easy to stream. Any content that is fronted by someone in authority figure will be very effective in moving the customer toward the end goal. Case studies from research and study institutes that support the business case are the best.

- In the final decision stage when the customer is seeking to select a single service or product provider, the best content will offer tables of comparisons that demonstrate the comparative benefits and value for money.

It’s only by taking a smart and rational approach to content marketing that companies can work harder to support the sales effort with relevant content and to influence the customer’s decision be it online or offline. Which are the companies in your sector that manage this process effectively and which companies fail at it?

 

How To Choose An eMedia Conference

eMedia Conference. What value will the conference provide?

Another eMedia Conference? What value is there in this one?

Are you dazed and confused by the proliferation of ePub, eCommerce, SocialMedia, eMedia and eMarketing conferences?

Are you overwhelmed by the choice and trying to work out how you can justify the cost?

As a response to the vast numbers of eMedia conferences being promoted, I found it useful to create a checklist to help me choose between so many conferences and ensure my money and time are well spent.

Here are 7 Questions I ask before signing up for an event:

  1. What are my motivations for attending? To network? Stay abreast of new trends? Perhaps I want to learn about some techniques or best practice? Is the attendee list available so that I can assess the networking value?
  2. What of the events reputation, organisers? Who in my network has or might have attended the conference in the past? What was the value they got? Is there any feedback on Linked In groups or industry leading blogs?
  3. Who is speaking? What about? Will the speakers / topics engage me. How many are commercial sponsors or advertisers? I attended a conference recently (digital media) where a significant number of the speakers were sponsors. Their talks were not engaging. A quick search online will help me figure out which speakers are commercial and which aren’t and what their level of accomplishment is.
  4. Who is putting the conference together and do they practice what they preach? Do they demonstrate best practice and if so what stories do they have to share about best practice? Do they have a blog and do they help the industry develop a better understanding of the issues, not just during the conference but on an ongoing basis?
  5. What’s the conference focus? Conferences tend to offer wide appeal (scatter gun approach) to attract wide audiences. Too often conferences fill their programs, try to cater for all tastes and satisfy none properly, achieving zero value.
  6. How much is it? If I spent the money on training, what would I get? Can I afford not to go? Can I follow the conference online? Is it being streamed tweeted, SlideShared? Does it have a Twitter hashtag?
  7. Finally, perhaps the goal of a good eMedia ePub conference should be to focus on idea execution rather than idea generation. At this mid term stage in our shift to digital, a good conference is one that doesn’t provide more ideas but one that empowers us to make good the ideas we’ve already got.

What are your thoughts? Please share your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to hear me talk about a conference I thought was very special, click here to see a videoblog I made about Like Minds, an excellent conference on the theme of  Creation and Curation in Digital Media.

 

The new rules of digital publishing

Perspectives for authors in the post digital age- welcome to disruption – a talk I gave to an international audience of cross-media professionals in March 2011. Inspirations for this talk were Simon Waldman, Seth Godin, Forrester and the talented entrepreneurs breaking with old models and pioneering the new rules of digital publishing.

2010 year in review – 9 things that made it special despite recession and austerity

Concentricdots Stephen Bateman A Capstone Year

2010: A Capstone Year

A whizz through my 2010 calendar has reminded me just how busy 2010 was: a year of change; a creative year; a fulfilling year but, above all, a year of transition.

2010 was shaped by four things: curiosity, independence, connection and reinvention. So here, in reverse order, and with no further ado, are the 9 capstone elements that, despite the austerity of recession, made 2010 a very rewarding year for me.

1. GreenWise®

In December I joined GreenWise, a specialist online publisher that focuses on helping UK SMEs “green” their operations and reduce their carbon footprint. The business, founded by Louise and Mark Fewell, serves the needs of four distinct business segments and has established itself as a premiere destination for “green” content, providing trustworthy information and resources to a growing tribe of subscribers and advertisers.

GreenWise is a pure digital player that relies on an integrated mix of online digital media to grow and sustain its online customer communities. The challenge in 2011 will be to diversify the revenue streams, leveraging its Audience, Brand, Content and Data revenues by further engaging and sustaining its community of users.

2. iGlimpse™

The decision in November to start iGlimpse came from the conviction that a proven segment of lifelong learners in the outdoor leisure and pursuit sectors could be served with better media. Hence, the content we will create at iGlimpse will inspire, instruct and interface with outdoor enthusiasts providing them with an entertaining experience on their handheld devices.

The overall aim is to quicken an enthusiast’s ability to master their chosen outdoor recreational activity wherever they are and whenever they need quality instruction. iGlimpse will combine new media technologies with the wisdom of leading outdoor experts to create rich bundles of convergent media that instruct, entertain and make a tangible difference to the lives of those seeking progression and proficiency. Making all this happen for time-poor and mobile enthusiasts will be a key focus for me and my business partner, Simon Jollands, in 2011. Website under construction.

3. Like Minds

Like Minds is an international community of business leaders, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers which emphasises innovation, learning, connecting and engagement on subject digital. There’s an annual conference in Exeter in the autumn. This year the conference theme was “creation and curation”.

The workshops and plenaries were blistering, the participants were tropical and the gathering of like minded people was thermogenic.

The founders Scott Gould and Drew Ellis have built a community with attitude. And, just as it did in 2010, Like Minds promises to float my boat again in 2011. Follow #likeminds on Twitter and see what I had to say about the 6 magic ingredients of the 2010 autumn event in a video blog here.

4. CAM / CIM Diploma in Managing Digital Media

The best way to learn about digital media is to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. But I’m a great believer in structure and discipline, which is why, in September, I enrolled on the CAM diploma course in digital media management as a postgrad professional student to undertake four modules covering digital campaigns, branding, online advertising and public relations. The course provides a solid framework and objectives to underpin strategic and operational work undertaken in the field. Studying the course and working on assignments whilst managing and implementing digital media campaigns will help me consolidate and strengthen my digital marketing and media competencies in 2011. All essential to doing battle in the ensuing digital media landscape.

5. Idio

I can’t talk about 2010 without mentioning Andrew Davies, Ed Barrow and the great team I’ve had the pleasure of working with at idio. This is a truly passionate and talented team of young semantic experts. They develop some great semantic software and they’ve been an inspiration to work with. We’ve got some exciting publishing projects in development and I’m really looking forward to my collaboration with Andrew, Ed and the rest of the idio team in 2011.

6. Micro-blogging

Twitter has undoubtedly been a major focal point for me in 2010. Whilst only starting to gain popularity in the UK, the micro-blogging platform has allowed me to connect to +250 of the most influential thought-leaders in my industry. It’s been like drinking from a fire-hose and I can genuinely say that without Twitter I wouldn’t have discovered nor assimilated 30% of what I’ve learned in the last six months, since June. Twitter has not just allowed me to connect with people in the virtual online world but to meet extraordinary people “irl” (tweet speak for “in real life.”)

My use of Twitter has been professionally focused and this has allowed me to build a tribe of  just under 250 followers without distraction. Combined with this blog and my professional LinkedIn groups, Twitter has been a force unlike any other. In 2011 I will align my use of Twitter to ensure my content remains relevant and authoritative.

7. Professional Networking

I joined LinkedIn over 3 years ago and I have consistently updated and embellished my profile. And I’m so glad I maintained my profile because no other social networking platform has been more valuable in helping me connect with my primary network and extend my reach into my secondary and tertiary networks than LinkedIn.

I’ve discovered numorous specialist LinkedIn groups that have been powerful and engaging platforms to bring me into contact with people who share the same interests but who have different perspectives. The quality of interaction has varied widely from group to group with the best groups hosting open-ended posts to stimulate discussion and give users room to add their perspective. The best moderators have also thanked people for their participation to the group.

8. Blogging

Joe Pulizzi (Junta42 and CMI) famously said “you can’t be taken seriously in social media unless you have a robust, consistent blog”. I’ve loved blogging and whilst my Google analytics won’t break olympic records, the results I’ve achieved across different metrics (unique visitors, individual page views, average time on site, new and repeat visitors) have all made my blogging activity worthwhile, providing me with a hub toward which I can point my readers whenever I discuss a subject dear to me.

I’ll admit I’ve sometimes struggled with the time and frequency of blogging but, through perseverance, I’ve found my voice and built my authority independently of any publishing corporation. Having my blog has forced me to be analytical and to ask questions about the changing nature of publishing. I know from direct feedback that my recommendations haven’t been in vain and that I’ve helped others make sense of sometimes complex challenges.

Above all blogging has given me a platform to engage in meaningful conversations with industry colleagues, prospects and customers, establishing my credibility and authority whilst having fun.

In 2011 I’ll be committing to blogging better and, dare I say, more often.

9. Family and Friends

Other highlights (non-professional) of 2010 include Louis, my eldest son, achieving the “A” Level examination grades he needed to read International Politics at Aberystwyth University (August), My mother’s 70th birthday on the Isle of Wight (March), A touring holiday with my wife and boys on the Basque Riviera (August), two magnificent stage performances managed by my daughter at the Bath Ustinov Theatre and my gruelling GR20 high altitude trek across the Corsican Alps (June). Oh, and the iPhone and iPad weren’t bad either ;-)

Happy New Year All