Creating better content

bBrands must know themselves before they can create content that is meaningful.

Brands must know themselves before they can create content that is meaningful.

Brands must know themselves before they start to publish content.

Rebecca Lieb, Jessica Groopman, and Susan Etlinger of the Altimeter Group published “A Culture of Content,” A Best Practices Report. The report covers in detail how leading brands are creating a corporate ecosystem that encourages content development at every level of the organization. While many of their best practice recommendations were not new, one insight that stood out was that brands must know themselves before they can create content that is meaningful and helps to achieve business goals.

When brands decide to jump on the content bandwagon, they suddenly realize that an online presence can quickly overwhelm the resources dedicated to producing content. That’s why we see so much “me too” content from competing brands.

Brands that effectively deliver meaningful content share these three attributes:

  • They are the best at what they do, whether offering a product or service.
  • Everyone in the organization can articulate what makes their brand different from their competitors.
  • They listen to their customers and make the necessary changes, cultural or procedural, to enhance the brand experience.

In today’s always-on media environment, brands can feel pressured to produce content that doesn’t meet strategic criteria for being published. Leading brands have solved this problem by asking these simple questions:

  • Does this content warrant the resources necessary to produce it?
  • Will this content produce a rate of return equal to or greater than a paid media insertion?
  • Does the content solve a customer’s problem or concern?
  • Will the content support the mosaic of the overall brand story?
  • What is the shelf life of the content?

In the not-too-distant past, great brands — B-to-B and B-to-C — knew their DNA. They knew their history, where their value systems came from, and valued the inherent creativity of their employees. This was evident in their marketing and confirmed by their market share.

Today, these same traits are needed to produce content because now in the omni-channel media environment, content is becoming the face brand across every customer experience.

To download a copy of the Altimeter report, “A Culture of Content” click here.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

What’s your brand’s point-of-view?

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Finding your voice

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

Blog_110_Marketing Automation Platforms

MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces.

 

The promise of Marketing Automation Platforms is to integrate and automate marketing functions

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) are receiving lots of attention in the B-to-B marketing sphere. Most of these platforms are targeted toward companies with large database records that execute the majority of their marketing efforts online. For originations that fit the aforementioned criteria, MAPs promise greater marketing efficiency, integration with sales CRM software, reduced external resource expenditures, and ROI tracking for each marketing event.

The strength of an MAP is its ability to capture digital transactional information for specific marketing actions. These actions can include the following:

  • Email opens, top performing links, and overall performance
  • Website visitation, visitor page interaction and analytics
  • Inbound marketing responses to posted content and landing pages
  • Social platform monitoring for sentiment and customer insight

These actions are generally considered first encounter lead generation activities found at the top of the sales funnel. It is at this junction that marketing and sales must agree on what a qualified lead looks like and what steps are necessary to move this lead through the sales funnel.

With the definition of a qualified lead identified, an MAP can provide the functionality to automatically continue to reach out to the prospect. As the prospect demonstrates intent to purchase, CRM software is able to provide sales with leads that require shorter close times and better success rates.

All of this sounds great, almost like push button marketing; however, there are several things to consider:

  •  MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces
  • MAPs are not a substitute for a strategic marketing plan
  • Underestimating the amount of content required to shepherd the prospect through the sales funnel
  • The current marketing staff may not have the technical horsepower needed to manage the MAP
  • Time commitment and resources from IT will be needed for implementation, integration, and ongoing maintenance
  • Substantial learning curve and resources required for marketing and sales personnel
  • Implementation time of 6 to 12 months to see results
  • Identification of critical data chains for ROI reporting
  • Commitment from the executive wing to fund and nurture MAP implementation

MAPs focus is on digital interaction. What about traditional marketing and brand building? These software platforms are challenged to know what effect display advertising has with regards to purchasing behavior, brand sentiment, and brand loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong here. I see the benefit of ROI analysis and the positive potential MAPs can have when implemented properly. However, at the same time, I am also cautious about MAPS. My concern begins with the automaton nature of the entire process. The promise of inbound marketing is to engage with interested prospects and begin to build a relationship. Being inundated with additional email offers and qualifying phone calls can be a turn-off, stopping the relationship building cold. In addition, marketers must be cautious about treating prospects like Pavlov’s dog. Thinking that they can be trained to respond by redundancy is a danger.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Big data and creativity

Determining Advertising Return On Investment

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below
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Do your customers suffer from “E-fluenza”?

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Too much digital messaging drives us to distraction

Everyday the pipeline of digital messaging is expanding. And because of this, our ability to take in, absorb and comprehend is becoming less and less.

E-mail, text, social network advertising, CRM software, and websites are increasingly shouting to be heard above a sea of keyword flotsam and search terms.

What can marketers do to improve their digital messaging?

Simplify your message

Clarity of thought drives consistent messaging. Formulate your value proposition and concentrate on what you do well. If the reader has to think too much, odds are you will lose their attention. One test for simplifying your messaging – have a teenager read your website home page, then ask them what your company does.

Design for humans, not for bots and crawlers

Some web analysts claim that up to 65% of web traffic are bots and crawlers reporting back to search engines. That leaves 35% for human consumption. Humans are drawn to good design and content that connects on an emotional level. Highly visual websites that use strong imagery can convey more emotional connection than text-heavy analytical sites.

Understand your customer’s decision-making process

Arrange content in a natural flow that identifies customers’ concerns and problems, allowing customers to contemplate your solution through a linear progression of small steps. Using this approach builds customer confidence in your solution and reinforces their decision that your approach is best. Provide case studies, user reviews, and technical literature along the way as needed to confirm their decision. Consider providing a redeemable coupon to enhance the purchasing experience.

Build the relationship

There has to be a human connection to sustain a relationship. If not, then the purchasing decision is relegated to the lowest price to achieve the desired results. Improve brand consideration by communicating the brand story through thoughts and actions that resonate with the customer. Influence the purchasing decision by aligning with causes that benefit the industry as a whole.

The purchasing decision is a series of small steps, so make the steps easy and communicate in real terms, not industry jargon. Remember that no one wants to be sold to. The only one that receives any emotional benefit from that approach is the seller. Instead, assume the role of trusted advisor or consultant, enabling the purchaser to make their own decision based on the features, benefits, and solution that best fulfills their needs.

Simplifying your digital messaging and appealing to customers’ emotional needs is a sure cure for their “E-fluenza,” replacing their confusion with your solution.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Social media content strategy

RESPECT the customer

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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People-to-People Marketing: Engage, Connect, Influence

There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions.

There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions.

The goal for P-to-P marketing is to engage decision makers and influence their purchasing decision

If you feel a little out of touch with the whole marketing ecosystem today, don’t feel alone. There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions. Now, effective marketing is a mash-up of traditional B-to-B and digital P-to-P strategies with tactical execution determined by company size and where the buyer to be reached spends the most time.

Content everywhere but what do buyers find most useful?

Content can take many forms. Eccolo Media, in collaboration with market-research firm Global Marketing Insite (GMI), with recently published the Eccolo Media 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey Report identifying categories for marketing collateral and what technology buyers in small, medium, and large companies consume when making considered purchase decisions.

16 forms of marketing collateral were identified:

• White papers
• Product brochures
• Case studies
• Technology guides
• Video and multimedia files
• Blog articles
• Infographics
• Webinars
• E-books
• Podcast, audio files
• Magazines and publications
• Competitive vendor worksheets
• E-newsletters
• Social networks
• Web slide show
• Tweets

Content consumption in the sales cycle

Breaking down the sales cycle into 4 phases to identify the most effective forms of content that buyers found useful:

Pre-sale (unaware of the problem) – Blogs, infographics
Initial sale (understands the problem) – White papers, case studies, video and multimedia files
Mid-sale (identifying solutions & selecting vendors) – Case studies/success stories, technology guides
Final sale (finalizing vendor and purchasing solution) – Technology guides, implementation scenarios

Relevant and high quality content plays a critical role in the purchasing decision. Marketers that understand this have the opportunity to engage, connect, and influence buyers throughout the purchasing process.

Social networks – perception and reality

Social networks are prime territory for distributing content. Determining which social platform to concentrate on for content distribution can be influenced by the size of the company you are trying to reach. Small and mid-size companies lean more toward Facebook, while larger companies consume more content from LinkedIn.

Twitter is also a viable network for reaching influencers and purchasers. Click-through rates from vendor posts are increasing because the short burst of information is usually accompanied by a link to a larger content library.

Blogs are also influential in the pre-sale phase to identify problems, bringing them to the surface for consideration.

One thing to remember is that with so much content available, buyers are becoming more selective in deciding which content is worthy of their time. Because buyers choose the time and place for receiving marketing content, formatting for desktop, tablet, and smart phone enhances the buyer’s experience.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why people-to-people marketing is replacing business-to-business in the aviation industry

Content development for aviation marketers is a communal affair

Getting social media to pay off

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Image credit: buchachon / 123RF Stock Photo

Aviation Marketing: Inbound marketing essentials

Have the right inbound marketing tools and platforms in place help build brand preference

Have the right inbound marketing tools and platforms in place help build brand preference.

Aviation manufacturers are slowly warming up to the idea of inbound marketing. Progressive practitioners are realizing the benefits of improved organic search rankings, broader reach of influence, and increased brand preference by investing in a strategic inbound marketing program.

When contemplating the execution of an inbound marketing program there are business, strategic and tactical issues to consider before starting the process.

It starts with identifying business goals.

Just as with external marketing, inbound marketing should be aligned with achieving business goals. Drafting a communication plan will help identify points of differentiation, constituent’s perception of your brand, and help develop key messages that resonate with decision makers.

When developing key messages it’s important to understand what keeps the decision makers for your particular product or service up at night. Understanding their business issues helps with crafting messages that create emotional connection.

Once the messaging segment is compete then it’s time to move into tactical execution.

Where to start?

Some of the basic tools and platforms you will need are:

  • Website
  • Presence on social media channels that connect with your constituent base
  • Resources for content development
  • Coordinated branding materials
    • Presentation templates
    • Presentation graphics
    • E-information sheets
    • High quality photography

Website: Electronic brochure or brand story magnet?

Weather developing a new or retooling an existing website pay attention to developing an overall concept or theme for the site. A good concept can differentiate you from the competition and help bring continuity to your outbound and inbound marketing support pieces as well. Bypassing the concept step can result in a website that is generic and more of an electronic brochure instead of a reflection of your brand story.

Another issue for consideration is the flexibility of the website with regards to adding sections and additional functionality as market and business conditions dictate. One important website attribute I stress is a simple content management system for content updates and announcement postings.

Social media channels are important.

Old school aviation marketers have yet to warm up to these channels but those that don’t have a presence are just inviting their competition to take the upper hand. When this happens you have to work twice as hard and invest that much more to achieve parity with your competition.

Content creation and design.

Having consistence of messaging and continuity of graphic execution helps solidify your brand image. Understanding how online content is digested above the fold and below the fold provides the insight needed to determine how much content to put on a webpage, where to place it, and when to augment the content with a downloadable file.

Additional Articles on this topic you may find of interest.

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Defining your brand’s personality

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Please leave you comments or thoughts below.

Why ROI measurement for inbound marketing fails

ROI measurement fails to consider the shelf life of inbound marketing content

ROI measurement fails to consider the shelf life of inbound marketing content

Simple ROI measurement for inbound marketing fail to consider the shelf life of content

Here we are in the age of “Big Data” where everything can be tracked and scrutinized. For aviation marketers is means one more hurtle to jump when trying to justify investment of marketing funds for inbound marketing programs.

Traditional RIO measurement seems very simple – take the gain of the investment, subtract the cost of the investment, and divide the total by the cost of the investment.

ROI = (Gains-Cost)/Cost

This simple calculation comes up short in several areas:

  • How can you determine the value of a follower?
  • What’s the value of a blog response?
  • Is the content presented in such a way that it has an evergreen shelf life?

The value of a follower

What is a follower of your inbound marketing worth? Monetizing the value of a follower is subjective because we get into grey areas of determining worth. Does the content present the social face of the corporation? If so what is the value of good will towards the corporation? Does the follower reference the content in their social media network? If so, how do you calculate the value of reach from linked content?

Content shelf life

I like to think of inbound marketing content- blogs, white papers, e-books, videos and infographics as a conduit that provides a way to gain insight into the brand.  Produced correctly the content can influence purchasing behavior and have a very long shelf life.  This also throws a wrench in the traditional ROI measurement because the cost of producing the content needs to be measured over the time that the content remains relevant. For example, a video is produced about a new avionics component. The marketing expense to produce the video was $10,000. The video is placed on the corporate website and syndicated on various video sharing sites.  First year sales for the new component were $100,000 with gross profit of $40,000.

Traditional ROI measurement would look like this.

ROI = ($40,000 – $10,000)/$10,000 = 300% ROI

Now consider year two of the video investment with component gross profit of $30,000 and a marketing expense of $1,500 for website maintenance and syndication cost.

ROI =($30,000 – $1,500)/$1,500 = 1900% ROI

Inbound marketing measurement – ROI or VOI (Value of Investment)

As the examples above show ROI measurement can be can be modified to suit the situation -it all depends on what you include as returns and costs. Granted this a very simplistic view of ROI and there are more robust financial models available. That said, I’d recommend that a more accurate measurement: VOI = (Value-Cost)/Time

Another way to look at value of investment would be not to invest at all

This is another approach to determine the value of content. The internet is a crowed place with brands fighting for the attention of an over caffeinated, 140-character challenged audience. Their purchasing decision is neither entirely rational nor based on the lowest price. It can be influenced by website functionality, peer reviews, blogs, leadership papers and content that helps them select the product that is best suited to their need. If the brand is not active in this environment then it virtually invites the competition to gain the share-of-voice and increased exposure.

Additional Articles on this topic you may find of interest.

Big data and creativity

Big brother and marketing ROI

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Measuring Digital Display Advertising ROI

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: How to Achieve brand leadership through content creation

Brand leadership requires that everyone contribute to content creation

Brand leadership requires that everyone contribute to content creation

Brand leadership is about showing and telling the world what the brand stands for.

Brand leadership is achieved by communicating brand values, thoughts and deeds. In the digital world this can be achieved by publishing content via blogs, videos and microsites that are interesting and demonstrate the brands values and commitments to both customers and industry.

Organizations that are considering investing in content creation should first ask  “Why?”

The idea of content creation appeals to many people. They will read an article, see a video or blog post online and feel like they have something valuable to contribute. This is first step in the journey of people-to-people marketing.

When approached by someone in the organization about creating a blog or a video the first question should always be “Why?” This is not a rhetorical question. No doubt there are thousands of blogs and videos dedicated to aviation topics.  This question is asked to determine if the content supports the brand values.

After determining the merit of the “why”, the next questions should be:

  • What are the resources required to support content creation?
  • Does it contribute to the brand leadership effort?

 Resources

Successful content creation informs and inspires the readership. This usually comes from the author’s experience and unique point-of-view with regards to the subject matter. Another important aspect of the undertaking is that successful brand leadership requires a library of content before the first piece is ever published. Visiting a website with an abandoned blog or a single video post indicates a lack of effort and commitment.

Brand leadership requires that every department contribute to content creation

It’s not just the responsibility of marketing or public relations to produce content. People in these departments are trained communicators but may lack the deep knowledge base needed to develop authoritative content. In addition, there are conversations everyday throughout the company that relate to customer satisfaction, product improvement, and user experience that can provide inspiration and valuable input for ongoing content creation.  An additional benefit of company wide content creation can be a library of content that can be accessed online providing a quick reference for solving problems to customer questions.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

14 social marketing channels for content distribution

Engaging employees in social media marketing

How to write effective online copy

Social marketing begins with the correct strategy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.