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Use Content Calendars to Improve Your Content Marketing Efforts

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Nov, 20, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing

 

 

 

 

 

Great presentation by Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures, at Internet Summit 2014 (#isum14).

 

Arnie conducted a content marketing workshop in which he shared a couple of keys to improving your content marketing.

 

Content calendars -- by year and by month.

 

If you have not put together your plan for 2015 yet, get your marketing, sales and customer service teams together before the end of the year and go through the following process.

 

For the annual calendar identify by month:

  • Business quarter focus or goal
  • Selling cycles
  • Seasons
  • Holidays
  • Events -- national, industry specific, company specific
  • Product launches
  • Deadlines
  • Company goals
  • Metrics -- what are the definitions of success of your content marketing efforts?

 

For the montly calendar by day list:

  • Title or description of the content to be produced
  • Status
  • Due date
  • Publish date
  • Type of content (blog post, ebook, white paper, infographic, FAQ, video, testimonial, case study)
  • Producer/designer
  • Editor
  • Target audience/persona
  • Distribution channels for the content produced
  • Promotion
  • Metadata tags
  • Metrics to be measured daily, weekly and monthly

 

By getting everyone in the room you will accomplish a couple of things:

  1. You'll generate enough ideas for content that will last you an entire year.
  2. You'll be inculcating and content marketing and generation mindset among others in the company who will begin to see content opportunities where they had not seen them before.

If you need a facilitator for your content calendar meetings, let me know. I'm happy to help.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

Tags: trust, information of value, consistent messaging, content marketing, content

Answer These Questions to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Nov, 18, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing institute

 

 

 

 

Most B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy — but only 35% have documented it -- Content Marketing Institute

Here are the questions the Content Marketing Institute suggest you answer to get your content marketing strategy in order:

Business Plan for Innovation:


❑ What challenges are we trying to solve?
❑ What is our dream outcome with this process?
❑ What is the risk if we fail?
❑ Whose unique perspectives do we want to involve? If internal, what permissions do we need from their managers to participate?
❑ What is our budget?
❑ How often do we want to produce deliverables?
❑ If life or business issues get in the way, how can we push a “big red button” without
disbanding the idea of the business plan?
❑ How will we execute each experimental idea, and how long will we give it to work?

 

Business Case for Content Marketing:


❑ What is the need? What do we hope to accomplish with our content marketing?
❑ How big of a need is it? Do we have a big enough audience to justify a plan?
❑ What is the business model? How does it work? What do we have to do?
❑ What is our differentiating value? Why is this more important than other things we are
spending time on?
❑ What are the risks? What’s in our way of success – or what happens if we fail?

 

Persona Development and Content Mapping:


❑ What are the details of each of our personas?
❑ What does our sales funnel look like?
❑ What does the customer’s buying cycle look like?
❑ What content do we need to create based on the engagement cycle?

❑ What is the customer context?

 

Our Brand Story:


❑ What does our marketing look like? Where are our competitors situated? What is the reality for our customers? Why do they currently identify with our brand?
❑ What would the world look like if we could realize the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) that we set out for our brand? What is the “call to adventure” for our product?
❑ Why hasn’t this been done?
❑ Who will provide guidance for our brand as it makes this journey?
❑ What is our new idea? How will we lead our audience into this unknown with us?
❑ Who will our brand align with to help us move forward? Who will be the naysayers? What
challenges can we plan for?
❑ What will our brand ultimately achieve?
❑ Once our brand has changed, how will we show that differentiation?
❑ What ambush could – or will – our brand face now that it is different? How will we continue
to move on?

 

Channel Plan:


❑ What do we already have that helps us tell this story (e.g., an existing Web page, blog, etc.)?
❑ What must change for us to tell this story (e.g., do we need to add a blog; do we need to
create or revisit our social Web strategy?)
❑ What must stop (if anything) for us to tell this story (e.g., do we need to stop using Facebook and divert our energy to a blog?)
❑ What are the objectives for each channel as they relate to the engagement cycle?
❑ How will we map each channel to our story?
❑ What are our specific goals for each channel?
❑ Which channels apply to which persona(s)? (Note: You may want multiple accounts on the
same social network to address different personas.)
❑ How/who will manage the content and conversation on each channel?
❑ What is the velocity, tone, desired action and structure for the content on each channel?

 

Please let me know if I can help you and your firm develop a content marketing strategy.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: information of value, alignment, consistent messaging, content marketing, content

Why blog, create valuable content and build networks on social media?

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Nov, 14, 2014 @ 13:11 PM

why blog?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Bullas recently asked the question, in the title of this blog, in his post "44 Reasons Why You Should Use Social Media for Your Personal and Business Brand."

The biggest reason for me is to "leave a legacy." I don't have any kids. I've helped more than 100 people become successful marketing professionals.

I felt like my blog was a place where I could capture and share everything I've learned, and continue to learn, over the course of my career.

Hopefully providing information of value to business owners and marketing professionals will help them:

  1. Grow their business.
  2. Engage and empower their employees.
  3. Understand the value of customers versus revenue.
  4. Commit to providing an outstanding customer experience.
  5. Learn from some of the mistakes I've made.

Building a network, and making connections, on social media has been invaluable. It's given me an opportunity to connect with people I would have never met -- with them adding value to my life, and hopefully, me adding value to their's.

I love what Guy Kawasaki says, "The Internet rewards those who share information, and penalizes those who hoard it."

Blogging consistently is a great way to capture, and share, your thoughts and information of value.

It's also a great way to build awareness, traffic and leads. The key is consistency of message and presence. Most people who start a blog stop blogging after two to three months.

I know from experience, and data shared by HubSpot and other companies, that it takes six months to build a following that will help to double website traffic and improve SEO. Although I also know that by publishing at least twice a week, I've doubled traffic and leads for clients and employers in less than three months.

Do you share information of value to create awareness of your brand and to build your business? If not, and you'd like some help getting started, let me know. I'd be happy to help.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

 

Don't have a website or need a refresh? Website are becoming easier to build as well with free resources like Squarespace and Wix and information of value from companies like http://firstsiteguide.com. That's on my "to do" list.

Tags: be reliable, be real, information of value, be relevant, content, social media

Empower Advocates to Build Your Brand via Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Oct, 20, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

raving fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great presentation by Jason Hibbets (@jhibbets), Red Hat's community manager of Opensource.com.

 

Jason, his team at Red Hat and 10 non-Red Hat "moderators" are generating 600+ articles per year consistent with their goal of building the world's premier open source story telling platform.

 

They do this by following the same principles of open source:

 

  1. Transparency -- in participation and passion

  2. Collaboration -- enables rapid prototyping and meritocracy

  3. Methodology -- lean, get stuff done

  4. Strategy -- daily heartbeat, content is king, 50% user generated content, SEO while writing naturally

 

Opensource.com monitors its writers and gives them awards and badges creating a win-win for Red Hat, opensource.com and its supporters.

 

It holds voluntary meetings with moderators every Monday to discuss potential topics of interests for the coming week.

 

According to Jason, the magic, and the success of opensource.com, is in the community.

 

As such, it makes sense to invest in, promote and facilitate your community of advocates.

 

I have been a raving fan of Chipotle for seven years and have written a number of blog posts promoting their products, service and personnel.

 

I believe Chipotle, and every other major brand, is missing a tremendous opportunity by failing to engage their promoters to share information of value in their social media channels of influence.

 

If you have loyal customers who are willing and able to sing your praises, do everything you can to facilitate and encourage them.

 

As a matter of fact, here's a great infographic from Matt Banner that will help you and your advocates know everythingy you need to know to master a particular social channel.

 

Why would you not want free marketing and to recognize, and reward, your best customers?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book   

Tags: information of value, raving fans, content, social media, advocates

10 Ways Manufacturing Companies Benefit from Marketing Automation

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 16, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

marketing automation for manufacturing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past few years I've helped several manufacturing companies implement marketing automation solutions to improve their business and their marketing.

 

To date, 20% of larger companies (500+ employees) are using marketing automation, while firms with 20+ employees have a 4% adoption rate. 

 

Following are 10 benefits manufacturing companies can realize by using marketing automation:

 

  1. Save time. You can create marketing campaigns and posts for different products and target audiences ahead of time and schedule to run once the customer or prospect takes an action in the future.

    For example, if you're attending a tradeshow and having people visit your booth, you can have an automated message go out each evening when the show closes thanking them for coming by the booth and inviting them to reconnect if they need more information on a particular product.

  2. Ability to provide personalized, targeted relevant information to clients and prospects when and where they need it.

    If a channel partner needed a case study for an end-user customer, you are able to provide it instanteously.

  3. Marketing staffs are able to get more done in less time. One employee can execute complex and ongoing campaigns that can connect with many more customers and prospects than is possible to do manually.

    Marketing automation is very scalable and allows you to grow your business without the commensurate growth in your marketing department.

  4. Ensures consistent messaging across time and channels. You're able to ensure that all of your graphic standards are met as well as delivering consistent, relevant messages to the right target audience. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency breeds confusion and distrust.

    This capability is particuarly important if the company is going through a brand identity change as one company I worked with was doing.

  5. You receive detailed reports on the performance of each campaign by channel so you know what's working and where improvements can be made.

  6. You are able to A/B test different elements of a campaign like who an email is coming from, the subject line, the offer, the layout, the call-to-action, the landing page and the images.

    One marketing automation platform even enables you do do A/B/C/D testing.

  7. A tremendous benefit for manufacturing firms with sales forces or channel partners is the ability to score leads.

    Marketing and sales must sit down and agree upon what constitutes a marketing qualified lead (MQLs) versus a sales qualified lead (SQLs) and how the MQL is best nurtured into an SQL.

    This must be constantly monitored so the scoring and nuturing process can be refined over time.

  8. You are able to learn more about your customers and profiles through progressive profiling.

    By integrating your CRM and your marketing automation software, you are able to prepopulate forms for website visitors. This lets visitors know you know them and keep track of their valuable information. It also enables you to ask more relevant questions so you can better qualify them over time.
     
  9. You build a repository of marketing elements, supported by data, so your marketing team is not "reinventing the wheel" every time a campaign is needed.

    You also know what has worked in the past when a new campaign is needed.

  10. According to Aberdeen, firms that use marketing automation improve lead conversion 107%, have a greater average deal size of 40%, have a 20% higher attainment of quota and 17% beter forecast accuracy.

 

Is your manufacturing firm using marketing automation to increase productivity and sales?

 

If not, let me know if I can help you identify the right marketing automation platform for your firm.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

 

Tags: trust, consistent messaging, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, content, MQL, SQL, marketing automation, call to action

10 Ways IT Companies Benefit from Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Oct, 15, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

content marketing accelerates sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been using inbound/content marketing for the past few years in conjunction with outbound, traditional and digital marketing.

 

IT, both hardware and software, companies were one of the first to see the benefits of sharing information of value and continue to do so today because:

 

  1. The more information of value you share, the more you build awareness of the problem companies are facing and the solution your product or service provides.
     
  2. By sharing information of value, answering people's questions before they even ask them, you are gaining trust and establishing you, and your firm, as a trusted advisor on the topic.

  3. Answering questions when, or before, they are asked is providing a service. You are making those who are researching the topic lives easier, saving them time and enhancing their knowledge.

  4. The more information of value you share the more you are establishing yourself, and your firm as a thought-leader, and problem-solver.

  5. Sharing information via blog posts and social media drives more traffic to your website.

  6. Driving more traffic to your website generates more leads assuming that your website is offering the prospect something of value for which they're willing to give you a "real" name and email address. You don't need to ask for more than that.

  7. The more information of value you share, the more you are able to establish a dialogue with those interested in the topic you are addressing. People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Sharing information of value is a great way to start a dialogue.

  8. Content marketing gives you the opportunity to nuruture marketing qualified leads (MQLs), those who aren't yet ready to buy, into sales qualified leads (SQLs), those who are ready to engage with a sales person.

  9. The more information of value you publish on your website, the more your grassroots SEO improves. The more frequently you add information of value to your site, the more frequently the search engines will crawl it to see what you've added.

  10. Ultimately, more awareness, more traffic, more leads and nurturing MQLs to SQLs will lead to fewer lost leads and more sales all because you and your firm were willing to share information of value and provide a solution to a problem.

Is your firm using content marketing to drive awarness, traffic, leads and sales?

 

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook 

Tags: information of value, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, content, trusted advisor, MQL, SQL

10 Ways Professional Service Firms Benefit from Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Oct, 07, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

content marketing for professional services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've had the opportunity to work on the client-side for, and on the agency-side with, a number of professional services firms including accountants, lawyers, consultants and financial advisers.

 

All of these firms, and the professionals that make up these firms, will reap multiple benefits from content marketing.

 

Here are 10:

 

  1. Build awareness of the firm and the professionals by sharing information of value, case studies and testimonials on a regular basis via blog posts on your website and in the social media channels where your clients and target prospect frequent.

  2. Provide a service, and build trust, by answering clients' and prospects' questions in an open, honest and transparent way. Make the buying journey easier by answering questions before they are asked or suggesting ways prospects should be evaluating a firm like yours.

  3. Gain trust by being an unbiased source of information in your area(s) of expertise. Be the first person, or firm, someone thinks of when they think of the services you provide.

  4. Become recognized as the thought-leader in the industry by addressing and raising relevant topics of interest and sharing your unique point-of-view on the issue.

  5. Drive traffic to your website via inbound marketing by having the appropriate calls-to-action on the information of value you are sharing.

  6. Generate leads for your firm and your professionals by providing more detailed information of value on your website or landing pages.

  7. Start a relationship and dialog with a potential client who has a need for the services which you offer when they respond to information you have shared.

  8. Nurture marketing qualified leads, with information of value before pursuing them as sales qualified leads. This will make the sales process much more productive for everyone.

  9. Improve grassroots SEO by generating more keyword optimized content on your website. You will be crawled more frequently by the search engines since your website is constantly growing and you'll be found more often since your site will have more relevant keywords.

  10. Drive sales. More visits = more leads. More leads = more sales.

 

A professional services firm has a lot of information of value to share with prospective customers -- from the solutions you have provided previous customers to the answers to questions that have been asked by your current prospects and customers.

 

The key is collecting, documenting and sharing the information of value.

 

If you need any help, please let me know and I'll be happy to put together a content marketing plan that will help you and your firm reap the benefits fo your knowledge.

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: dialogue, customers for life, trust, information of value, content, call to action

10 Benefits Manufacturers Receive from Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 30, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

content marketing for manufacturers

 

 

 

 

 

 

I introduced content marketing to Anua (formerly Bord na Mona Environmental Products, N.A.) when I was their director of operation and marketing.

 

The firm is the leading energy company in Ireland and provides wastewater, water reuse and odor and volatile organic compound control solutions to municipalities, industry, commercial developers and the residential market in the U.S.

 

We went to market via distributors and manufacturers' reps.

 

Since Bord na Mona has been in the business of providing wastewater solutions for more than 75 years, there was plenty of content to share with channel partners, as well as end-user prospects and customers.

 

By posting at least a couple of blog posts every week, we were able to:

 

  1. Build awarenesss of Anua and our wastewater, water reuse and odor and volatile organic compound control solutions.

  2. Build trust among our channel partners and end-user customers by sharing our knowledge of, and commitment to, wastewater, water reuse and odor and volatile organic compound control solutions.

  3. Provide a service by educating and answering partners' and clients' questions before they asked them, as well as answers to questions they had not yet considered.

  4. Become the thought-leader in the industry by addressing relevant topics of interest and answering questions in a responsive and transparent way.

  5. Doubled traffic to the new, rebranded website via inbound marketing.

  6. Generate leads from end user customers that we were able to forward to our distributors and manufacturers' reps resulting in our channel partners' perception that we had done more marketing in the last six months than in the first 12 years in the market.

  7. Begin a relationship, and have a dialogue, with prospects and personally introduce them to channel partners as well qualified leads.

  8. Nurture marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs) by continuing to provide information of value, answer questions and understand prospects' objections prior to engaging with them in person.

  9. Improve search engine optimization (organic SEO) by adding content, with keywords and metatags, to our website and links to relevant websites and channel partner sites.

  10. Accelerate sales by getting more leads and understanding where each prospect was in the buying process so our sales force and channel partners could pursue SQLs and marketing could nurture MQLs.

 

Are you a manufacturer or channel partner who has benefitted from content marketing?

 

What have you found to be the most successful content to share?

 

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook 

Tags: accelerate sales, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, content, trusted advisor, MQL, SQL

Use Social Media to Do More with Less

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 22, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits (@ncnonprofits) for allowing me to serve as a "curbside consultant" for two of their member organizations yesterday.

 

The question I received from both organizations was "how can I do more with less?"

 

I am a strong believer that the internet and social media has leveled the playing field for small-medium sized businesses as well as not-for-profits.

 

You have a tremendous opportunity to tell your story, and make an emotional connection, by using the resources you already have.

 

Here are five suggestions:

 

  1. Ensure that everyone in your organization is in alignment with regards to the vision, mission and values of the organization. If there is misalignment, or lack of agreement, you won't be able to deliver a clear, consistent and effective message. The less consistent your message, the less trust you and your organization will have.

  2. Identify your organization's story and make sure it makes an emotional connection with those you are trying to reach. Ensure everyone in the organization is telling the same story in the same way. Look for situations your organizations have facilitated to reinforce the message of the story.

  3. Share information of value -- don't sell, don't ask for money. Educate people on what your organization is doing and it accomplishments. Get testimonials, quotes and video clips from those you have helped. Ask them to tell their story.

  4. Identify your promoters and raving fans and ask you to help them spread message, and information of value, on the social media channels where they are most comfortable.

  5. Have a content marketing mindset. Look for content and then opportunities to use the content multiple times (on your website, in an email, on social media channels, in a slideshare). All of this content will help your grassroots SEO and generate more awareness and visits from people who are interested in helping your cause.

How are you and your team using social media to do more with less?
Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues
 

Tags: consistent messaging, raving fans, content, emotional connection, social media

Create a Center of Excellence to Improve Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Aug, 21, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

social media center of excellence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Vanessa DiMauro (@vdimauro), CEO of Leader Networks, Ekaterina Walter (@ekaterina), CMO at Branderati and Jessica Gioglio (@savvybostonian), head of Public Relations and Social Media at Dunkin' Donuts for sharing their insights and experience on the webinar "Social Organization: How Centers of Excellence, Collaborative Management and Seamless Enterprise Structures are Working" for Social Media Today (#smtlive).

 

Social media is causing businesses to evolve.

 

More than 50% of businesses report they currently are, or will be, a socially-enabled enterprise within the next year.

 

Line of business silos can lead to difficulty when trying to become a socially-enabled enterprise.

 

Different business units use different metrics, have competing budgets, duplicate efforts, have resource wars for talent and have multiple social media accounts.

 

Companies lack an integrated business strategy, an integrated communications strategy and best practices for using social media to promote the business, engage with prospects and service customers.

 

The solution is for the business to create a Social Business Center of Excellence housed within the strategic communications group supporting the different lines of business.

 

Doing so will result in an integrated approach to creating standards and best practices that can be applied across the organization based on the vision, mission and values of the firm.

 

The Center of Excellence:

  • Establishes, and monitors performance against, the shared goals and objectives of the organization.

  • Creates a framework, tools and standards for using, and interacting with prospects and customers via, social media.

  • Implements pilot projects for organization learning and best practices.

  • Shares measures of success and performance versus key performance indicators (KPIs).

 

The benefits will be:

  • Insights for new product development and R&D by listening intensely.

  • A more customer-centric organization.

  • More innovation.

  • Flexibility to respond to trends, customers and prospects in a timely manner.

Over time, the goal of the Center of Excellence is to help the company become so proficient at social media, and sharing information, that it's no longer needed.

 

Keys to success:

 

  1. Executive buy-in, leadership and ownership.

  2. Center of Excellence objectives are driven by line of business leaders but captured and managed by the Center of Excellence in light of the vision and mission of the company.

  3. The Center of Excellence is empowered to be an organizational change agent.

  4. Cross-departmental collaboration is enabled, supported and rewarded.

 

Has your firm created a Center of Excellence to improve the customer experience in social media and beyond? 

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: alignment, consistent messaging, vision, mission, content, social media