Archive for the ‘education’ Tag

More on Content Marketing

You can’t look at any major marketing magazine, blog or website without seeing some talk about Content Marketing. Content creation takes up a good chunk of my time and I’m always interested in best practices and research findings.

Here’s a smattering of recent articles I found particularly interesting:

Here’s one of the charts I really liked from the Eloqua blog:

content marketing statistics

I’m sure we will continue to see content marketing as a discipline evolve and expand as we move into 2013 and beyond.

Divided America

Full disclosure – I work for a firm that largely is a third-tier defense contractor. And none of my opinions here reflect at all with my employer’s thoughts. In fact, I know my CEO and I don’t agree on most of this. But then again, he’s rich and British. To me, he’s doing what many in this article are doing – looking out for his own interests (keep my capital gains taxes down) and those of our company (spend more on those programs we supply), but not those of America.

Here’s the article that sparked this: CEOs in Crossfire at Sequestration Hearing

I’m not rich but I am an American. And I think we all need to give some to get us back on our feet. Just like our grandparents did during WWII. Nowadays, there is no sense of community and shared sacrifice. In fact, through manipulation and Gerrymandering, we now have a country that is way more divided in elected officials than it is in reality. Electoral districts are re-drawn to favor one party over the other. The result is extremist on both sides getting elected. And they all just cater to their constituency, not the interests of America.

A very sad state of affairs.

 

So called experts

While at a recent B2B marketing summit, I took advantage of having several of my company’s efforts (web site, email campaigns, landing pages) critiqued. For the most part, I was happy. But one review (by one of the vendors trying to sell their services) had me just shaking my head.

He was quick to be a critic but never asked about my market, customers or unique issues I had to deal with. Basically, he was not too smart. He had some good comments in general on our stuff but “in general” is not what I deal with. I have a specific audience. And specific needs for my niche. I don’t need some “best of practices” sermon. I like to keep up w/ best of practices but you need to tweak them to meet your specific needs.

I’ve been an independent consultant so I’ve been in his shoes. And he just doesn’t get it. He didn’t listen to me at all.

While I was consulting, I had a potential client (who really wanted to hire me) ask me about what I could do to increase her lead generation. Now, I’m an expert at lead gen. But I asked her to take a step back and think about her target market. I told her, I could generate 100’s of leads in a heartbeat. But I tried to tell her, that’s not what she wants or needs. She needed a limited number of quality leads. She just couldn’t focus down on a targeted segment where we could really get quality leads. 

At the end of the day, I gave her a lot of advice and I’m not really sure what she did or where she went. I feel really good about the engagement because I helped her better understand what she wanted and was trying to do. 

For me, the lesson was do your best and don’t sell out. I could have easily just taken her money and delivered “leads.” But it wouldn’t have helped her business. A more thorough strategic overview would have helped. Plus, a business plan.

MarketingSherpa B2B summit

I’ve been in B2B marketing for about 15 years. Ever since my MBA days, finding learning experiences that were relevant and applicable to me as a B2B marketer – well, there just weren’t many. I can count on one hand the number of conferences and “training” seminars I’ve been to that actually taught me enough to make it worth  my while. And my company’s money. This conference was four of the five fingers on that one hand. From the first session on day 1, I was engaged and learning. I’ve been on the bleeding edge of high-tech marketing for over a decade but, not only did I learn a substantial amount of new stuff, I also has the “slap in the face” moment of things I know better about but just haven’t spent the time on.

#1 from this conference – the VALUE PROP – the basis off of which almost everything you do depends. It needs to be a clear and succinct value proposition. It has to answer “why should I care about you?” and “how are you different/unique for your competitors?” Here’s a link to one of the many free pieces of content you can get on MarketingExperiments.com:

Do You Have the Right Value Proposition?

So much more to digest from this. Hopefully I’ll get time to spread some more in future posts.

iPad all the rage

OK, I will confess up front that I am not an Apple person. I grew up on PCs, DOS and Windows. I’m used to the snags, warts and all you encounter on a daily basis using these systems. That being said, I do see the allure of the iPad. They have made a big in-road in my company. They are light, handy, can go with you anywhere easily. Here’s an eWeek article about the adoption and impact on IT groups

For me, I had a MacBook Pro once. It was a loaner from a client and I needed it because I was putting presentations together and needed access to Keynote. I did like the interface but constantly found myself going back to my PC whenever I needed to do “real work.” My kids, however, thought it was cool. Anyway, the job ended and I returned it.

To this day, I still have issues with touch screens. I chalk it up to lack of use. But I did shy away from them with my latest phone – a Blackberry. I would be interested to hear how other 40 somethings like me who grew up with PCs are doing with the move to admittedly cooler (maybe even better?) technologies.

webcast guidelines

After reading several whitepapers, to-dos and watching webinars on best practices, I compiled the short list for those of you who have to do tactical marketing. This is an outline of what you should consider when you are planning webcasts. Please let me know any comments and/or edits. Much of this content I gathered from:

Sources:

The Definitive Webinar Marketing eGuide, December 2009, Quantum Leap Marketing (Sponsored by GoToMeeting

ON24 2010 Webcasting Report: Webcast Benchmarks and Best Practices for Lead Generation, January 2011, ON24

9 Management Practices for Exceptional Webinars: Proven strategies to build a lead-generation engine, MarketingProfs

Webcast Planning Guide

Summary and Goals

Overview of webcast and define the goals.

Target audience

Define the target audience (TDMi/job role) and goal of the webcast.

Topic, abstract and email invitation

When naming the webcast and developing the abstract and email invite, remember WIFM – “what’s in it for me” from the prospect’s point of view. As with whitepapers, titles such as those below resonate well.

  • 7 secrets to winning more business
  • Top 5 common mistakes and how to avoid them
  • New breakthroughs in …
  • How to evaluate and choose a …

Use compelling language such as:

  • In this fast-paced 45-minute webinar, discover…
  • Are you frustrated with/by…

Because webcasts are the promise of future benefit, consider offering something tangible and immediate like access to a whitepaper.

Promotion plan

Look to promote using both Mercury and 3rd party resources. Third parties can include co-sponsors, partners, guest speakers, etc.

Type Your company 3rd Party (media group, partner, etc.)
email blast
banner ad on website
enewsletter sponsorship/article
ROS promotions
blog postings
Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn Groups

Leverage webcast for new content tidbits

Look to use registration questions to provide content for webinar. For example, for storage, asking what challenges are you facing – would make a good slide for attendees.

Plus, look to use registration questions and webcast poll questions for content (article, podcast, etc.).

Post Promotion

Promote the recording as long as the content is fresh and relevant.

Interesting Industry Statistics

  • Webcasts are a low cost-per-lead method with high prospect engagement
  • Average registrant-to-attendee conversion rate is 58%
  • Months of December, June and October have the highest registrant-to-attendee conversion rates (79%, 68% and 63% respectively)
  • Significant number of attendees participate in polls and surveys
  • Integration with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can augment participation and stimulate conversations
  • Recruiting an outside speaker or co-sponsors significantly increases attendance
  • Many attendees tend to join about 5 minutes after the start time – start a minute or two late
  • Attendance increases with reminders sent the day before and an hour or two before the webcast
  • Surprisingly, Mondays may be a good day since Tuesday through Thursday is crowded

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing II

A while back, I wrote about the whole “inbound vs. outbound” marketing thing.  I still don’t get this “us vs. them” argument that many marketers are spouting. In fact, the division really is just a way of categorizing marketing techniques. Yes, I agree, “inbound” methods tend to cost MUCH less (especially if you are doing print or direct mail initiatives). And for that reason, over the last five years, my marketing budgets tended to include fewer “traditional, outbound” marketing techniques. But I still did (and do) outbound marketing – especially when it makes sense for the target market I’m going after. For example, you can’t reach many C-level people through email as they have an admin who filters it.

For me, this whole inbound/outbound argument is irrelevant. It’s a continuum. As a marketer, you want as many arrows in your quiver as you can get. For some targets, direct mail still works. Print ads can help you with awareness and thought leadership. Social media can create powerful communities. In fact, if done correctly, any of these outlets can be used for community building, awareness, education and thought leadership, lead generation, etc. As a marketer, your job is to decide what your goals are and then figure out which methods are best to reach your target audience and deliver the results you need.

Recently, I listened to a webinar put on by BtoB Magazing (#BtoBWC for you Twitters) that included SiriusDecisions and Eloqua as presenters. It was a very good webinar, by the way, and I have immense respect for both organizations. But one comment that I noted was that many more people were coming through the web than ever before due to inbound marketing. I agree that almost every marketer is leveraging the web to the max – primarily due to limited budgets. But to ascribe all web visitors to “inbound” marketing is wrong. I often used outbound methods (email in particular, print and banner ads, trade shows and direct mail) to DRIVE people to a landing page. And many times, you can’t track it despite your best efforts.

I use integrated, multi-faceted campaigns to meet my needs. For example, in a recent campaign when my goal was to get software developers to download our SDK and kick the tires (and become a sales qualified lead), I negotiated with the vendors and got several print ads for almost free. Ends up that many magazines are hurting for ads and will give you a good deal if you are doing several things with them. So I took advantage of the print ads to build awareness of my firm and our offering (I did have a call to action to visit our landing page just in case), followed up with a couple of staggered emails to the readership promoting various things (whitepapers, video tutorials, webinars, the download) and even worked in a conference or two. My thought was to “soften” up the audience first with the print and emails to make them more receptive to our message. And it worked.

So I think you need to evaluate every arrow you have in your quiver, figure out the ROI based on your goals and then put together your plan. And don’t worry about the whole “inbound vs. outbound” thing.

B2B Mag survey finding 2

I did an earlier post on the recently published results of a survey done by B2B Magazine and Genius.com but didn’t get beyond finding #1. They have 6 findings. Here are my thoughts on Finding #2.

To re-cap, here’s their purpose statement:

“How do today’s marketers see themselves and their evolving role in the enterprise? The purpose of the joint Genius and BtoB Magazine Marketer Skills Survey is to bring these answers into focus so we can gain a better understanding of how these drivers are shaping today’s Connected Marketer.”

Finding #2 is:  “To meet revenue and ROI goals, marketers need to adopt new skills.”

This is based on the following question and answers: I really like these answers. Based on my experience, as marketers we would love to spend more time on both strategy and analysis but often get pulled into the everyday needs of the organization to make quarterly numbers. So we spend a lot of our time trying to be sales-driven.  Strategy and analysis often get pushed off as end of quarter or even annual events resulting in the “can’t see the forest for the trees” syndrome.  I’ve often felt that we were missing a big boat (or at least a nice, small yacht) because we never had the chance to do some strategic brainstorming.

As for being sales-driven, it is nice to see that as high as it is. I’ve always seen sales as my customer. My responsibility (at least when wearing the lead gen marketer hat) is to provide them with a quality product – highly qualified leads. The old days of marketing throwing leads over the wall to sales should be long gone by now. Silos don’t work.

The interesting thing for me is what impact this could have on the marketing organizational structure. Most of the firms I’ve worked for were mid-sized so marketers were called upon to handle strategy, tactics, budgets, lead generation, running events, just about all aspects of marketing. And so some of these tasks (often strategy and analysis) got short-changed. The time pressures made you focus on tactics and delivering results. I always thought it would be beneficial to have somebody in marketing dedicated to a longer time horizon (say 9 months to 2 years) and let the rest of the team focus on the one month to 9 month horizon.

Anyway, would love to hear from you about other ways organizations handle this need for balancing long-term and short-term needs – and what other needs your marketing team may have!

Case Studies

Recently, I’ve seen a rather big thread on LinkedIn about the power and use of case studies. The thing that gets me is that people are trying to “fit” case studies into a particular role in the buying process – they should be “used only for sales purposes” or only” for lead gen.” My question is WHY? Why would you limit a tool that has such power to just a specific role?

Case studies are powerful – no two ways about it. If you can get your existing customers to promote you, it makes it much easier for both marketing and sales.

I have over ten years of experience at high-tech firms and have successfully leveraged case studies for all phases of the marketing to sales process.

In addition, and more importantly, you need to match your content to your prospect’s selling process.

What it comes down to is this: What is the buyer seeking during their particular phase of the buying process? And this varies.

Case studies can be used very effectively for lead gen. For example:

  • “Wow, that’s a well know firm. I should learn more about what they are doing.”
  • “Hey, that’s my competitor and we need to keep pace. I need to learn more about this”

Both of these questions and many similar are great for early lead gen efforts. Use your case studies for people seeking to learn.

For the most part, however, I’ve found that case studies w/ good metrics (ROI statements) work very well later in the sales phase when organizations are looking to justify an investment.

That being said, case studies make for great lead gen/lead nurturing webinars and for PR purposes. Most trade writers love case studies for article ideas. Use your case studies to generate awareness through PR.

Case studies are powerful. Don’t short change them by pigeon-holing them into one area of the buyer experience.

Content – Free or Not?

I’ve been following a very interesting conversation about marketing and whether content should be offered for “free” or not. There is a pre-requisite for this article. First you must read two articles:

Ok, I’ll give you a few minutes to read those two worthy posts.

While we’re waiting, I’d just like to comment on how well the Bruins played in their last game. Much better than that lackluster piece of crap first game they played. Damn, I almost drove to Boston to run a practice and get them fired up. No need now.

Oh, and can’t wait for our local elections. Lots of people running for a variety of offices. And I’m not one of them. Great to see.

Now, back to our program. Hope you read those two links (I did have them open in new windows so you could return here!). Anyway, I love this conversation. I was a Marketing Manager at my last three firms (15 years) but this was a particular issue at my last employer where we had several marketing managers, each responsible for his/her own area. We had many discussions about when and where to require registration for content and then, how much to ask. And here’s a surprise – we all had different opinions.

I think what it all comes down to is:

  • how are you (as a marketing person) measured?
  • what is the goal of the specific piece of content you are using?

For the first point, if you are judged on “traditional” metrics like page views, downloads, re-tweets, etc., then you are happy to make all content “free” and hope that people come back to you. Although I enjoyed David Meerman Scott‘s book on “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” I don’t fully agree with him.

Here’s the pendulum problem. If you go the route of free content, you get lots of people looking at your content. But many are worthless and if you pass them to your sales team, you just cost your organization a fortune in wasted time and effort. If you make registration necessary for your content, you lose people who may have eventually become customers but were just in the beginning phase of their learning. You just lost customers.

So the answer (as it usually is) is somewhere in between.

At my last firm, I was probably the biggest proponent of free content. But I had a plan. Content that fits early in the funnel – that content which is designed to generate interest and awareness, should be free. It’s the hook you are putting out there. But from that point on, as Dan McCarthy points out:

“The answer isn’t a matter of which approach is better, but rather which approach applies, and when.

It’s unwise, for instance, to demand registration for content early in the buying process when customers are beginning to gather information about you and your competitors. High-level perspective, such as industry articles, buyer’s guides, web copy and case studies help customers place your value against a larger context.

This content should be offered gratis.

Make it easy for prospects to get educated about what questions to ask. You build trust by making it safe to learn those questions from you.

As customers move further along the buying process, their questions become more knowledgeable and specific. They’re better equipped to recognize content of value to their research. If you’ve already built trust by helping them learn what questions to ask, they’re more likely to submit a name or an email in exchange for more specialized content.”

Couldn’t have said it better. Content needs to be mapped to the buyer’s progression through the sales process. You need to make sure you have quality content that moves your prospect from interest to buying – and you need to make it a natural progression based on their buying process. To add to the complexity, people will be jumping in and out of your “planned” content continuum so you need to plan for that. Also, if you sell to a group (such as enterprise software), you need to get your content to several different target segments. Figuring that out is why you earn the big bucks. Or, if you need help, just ask me so I can earn the big bucks. It’s definitely worth the investment.