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7 Ways to Create Better Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Nov, 19, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am frequently asked by those who are pursuing a content marketing strategy what they can do to make the process easier and provide higher quality information of value for their customers and prospects.

 

Following are seven steps to take to create better content:

 

  1. Be strategic and identify how your content marketing integrates with the rest of your marketing communications strategy:
    - Who are your target personas -- who are you trying to reach?
    - What are your goals -- awareness, traffic, leads, dialog, SEO?
    - When do you want to reach your target in their journey -- top of the funnel (awareness, research), middle of the funnel (RFI, short list, competitive evaluation), bottom of the funnel (meeting with vendors, purchase decision)?
    - Where do you want to reach your target -- where will they be most receptive to your message, where are they going to be looking for information of value?
    - Why does what you are sharing matter -- is it really information of value or all you doing a brand dump, or selling?

  2. Create one big piece of content and then break it down into different content types that can be shared across many channels -- blog posts, white papers, videos, ebooks, infographics, testimonials, FAQs, case studies, webinars, newsletters.

  3. Tell a story that is different and unique to you and your business. What business problem have you solved with a creative solution?

  4. Be useful. Answer questions before people asked them based on the questions you've been asked many times before. The more time you save your customers and prospects, the more you make it sinple and easier for them, the more likely they will become long-term customers.

  5. Have a content generation mindset and inculcate that mindset into your employees. Content is everywhere. One of the best sources I heard lately are the emails members of the sales team are sending to clients or prospects. These emails are likely answering questions or objections.

  6. Do more. The more you do, the better you'll get and the more analytics you'll have to let you know what is, and is not, working. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than companies that do not blog (Hubspot).

  7. Be a better writer. Tell better stories. The more you write, the more you share, the more you have a chance of stirking a chord with a prospect or a customer. Write emotionally compelling content to increase the likelihood that your content will be share with others.  

Tags: dialog, earn your customers trust, information of value, customer journey, content marketing, emotional connection, trusted advisor, social media

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 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

8 Reasons to Blog / 7 Ways to Generate Trust and Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Jan, 27, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

blog to increase awareness, trust and sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing a blog about something about which your product or service is a great way to build awareness and trust of your firm and your products and services.

However, prodvide information of value, don't sell. Answer questions. What problems do you solve? How have your customers used it? What do you need to consider before buying?

The information needs to be relevant, interesting and informational to your audience or target personas.

If you take the time to share information of value, via a blog on an ongoing basis, you will grow your brand. Businesses that blog:

  1. Get 55% more website visitors than businesses that do not.
  2. Get 70% more leads than businesses that do not.
  3. More than half (57%) have acquired a customer through their blog.
  4. Are making a positive impact on their search engine optimization.
  5. Are adding content to their website with every post and increasing their opportunity to be found.
  6. Are demonstrating thought leadership, trustworthiness, showcasing their expertise and providing fuel for their inbound marketing efforts.
  7. Have 97% more inbound links than businesses that do not.
  8. Help solve their customers and prospects problems. 

Write down every question you get from a customer and then write one blog posts that answers each of those questions.

Consumers want the truth and you are able to provide the truth with transparent content and straightforward answers to their questionsu.

Since content is a function of listening to your customers, everyone in your organization should be responsible for providing ideas for content and generating content.

If sales people are being asked questions, those questions should be answered on your blog and on your website.

Following are the seven strategies recommended to develop transparent content:

  1. Tell the customer what it costs!  If you don't, the customer will just go to Google and find out. Build trust by providing information customers want.
  2. Some customers search for "cost," others for "price." Provide answers both ways with different blog posts. Writing the way people ask questions or search is the key to outstanding SEO performance.
  3. Everyone wants to know about potential problems. Talk about your problems and your solutions to the problems. Address customers' concerns upfront, don't make them search another site for the answer.
  4. "Versus/Compare." People want to compare alternatives. Go ahead and present the alternatives for them in an open and objective way.
  5. Awards. People love awards. If no one is recognizing providers in your industry, go ahead and do so. Recognize what your competitors do well and they'll post your content on their website and Facebook page. This gives your site more links and more traffic.
  6. Break news. Be the leading voice, and thought-leader, of your industry. Provide insights be they good, bad or ugly. There is power in being the source of news and knowledge for your industry.
  7. People love "best of" lists. What "best of" lists can you create for your industry?

By becoming the respected voice of your industry, you will improve your leads, shorten your sales cycle and improve revenue.

Think like a customer. Always be on the lookout for content. Encourage and empower your employees to do the same.

Be a teacher and a lifelong learner, especially with regards to what customers want to know.

How can we help you develop an inbound marketing strategy based on content marketing?

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

Tags: transparency, trust, information of value, accelerate sales, honest communication, be relevant, trusted advisor, social media

10 Tips for Creating Content To Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 18, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

use content to accelerate sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Pawan Deshpande of HiveFire and Rick Burnes of Hubspot for their recent webinar on "Top 10 Ways to Feed Your Content Beast."

As the writer of a couple of blogs, one for my personal interest on marketing and another for my company on wastewater treatment, water reuse and odor and VOC control, I know the importance and value of content.

I am able to write daily about marketing, customer service and customer satisfaction because it's something about which I am intimately familiar after 30+ years in the business.

On the other hand, I need content on wastewater, water reuse and odor and VOC control since I'm new to the industry.

Content plays a very important role in attracting people to your website as evidenced by the following statistics:

  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links than companies that do not.
  • Companies that blog have 434% more indexed web pages than companies that do not.
  • Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors than companies that do not.
  • The more frequently you post blogs, the more leads and customers you get.

I can see the traffic to my company site increase every time I posted a blog.  Unfortunately, I did not have sufficient content to post with the frequency I would like.

On the otherhand, I post to my personal blog daily and visits continue to grow month-to-month.

Following are 10 "tips and tricks" that will help generate more content:

  1. Get into the content mindset -- it's important for everyone on the team to be thinking about content for blogs.  Presentations, questions from customers, industry news relevant to your products and services are all great sources of content.
  2. Tweetable facts -- consider a blog post that's made up of 10 tweetable facts and then put a "Tweet This" link beside each fact using click to Tweet (http://clicktotweet.com/72R30).
  3. Don't try to be Hemingway, try to be useful.  Since I started blogging, I've tried to provide information of value to those interested in marketing, customer service and customer satisfaction.  I know I'm not Hemingway, but hopefully readers of my posts get the gist of the idea they can use to improve their business through content marketing
  4. Conduct a poll or survey -- this is a great way to engage readers, promote participation and the results of the survey will serve as content for future posts.
  5. Don't make one person carry the load -- unfortunately, I don't have an option where I am but the more people you can get to blog the better for you, them and the company.  This also helps promote a "content mindset."
  6. Guest post -- invite a guest blogger to write on your site.  This is a great way to build links to your site, for SEO, as well as the guest blogger.
  7. Reuse your best old content.  Repost on Twitter and Facebook since content here turns over frequently.
  8. Conduct an interview.
  9. Test your content.  I've learned that readers love lists; as such, I try to provide a list in as many posts as I can.
  10. Create an infographic -- the visual will generate more readership and sharing.

What tips do you have for creating content?

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook

Tags: information of value, accelerate sales, trusted advisor

#CXO: How To Increase Your Marketing Budget by 10%, or More

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Oct, 01, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

Increase your marketing budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A friend of mine recently completed a two-month stint as a director at a major, $50MM+, advertising agency.

I was surprised when she told me the agency did not subscribe to critical third-party resources, or complete post-buy analysis, to ensure the client was getting the best media for their money, or even getting the media they thought they were buying.

In this day and age, it’s hard to believe an agency can keep clients without subscribing to resources or providing the fundamental services agencies provided just five years ago.

In the event you use an ad agency, here are 10 steps you should take to ensure you’re getting the most for your money:

  1. Make sure the agency is directly subscribed to independent third-party syndicated research (e.g., Nielsen Local and National Television Audiences, Arbitron Local Radio Audiences, GfkMRI, Scarborough Local Survey Data, Nielsen @plan, Comscore, Sysomos, etc.) to ensure they are accurately assessing the target performance of TV shows, radio stations, print media and digital/social channels.
  2. Find out how the agency negotiates with different media channels on your behalf. Are they using third-party cost benchmarks?  If not, why? What kind of quantifiable value-add are you getting for your media buys?
  3. What sort of project management system is in place?  How is time documented?  How are projects tracked to ensure they are being completed as efficiently as possible?
  4. What sort of reports do you receive?  Conference reports after every meeting?  Weekly/monthly status reports?
  5. Who’s working on your account?  The senior team that pitched your business or the junior team, or even worse, interns that cost the agency even less?
  6. Who is doing the creative and channel optimization of your digital media?  Are they experienced digital experts?
  7. How do they approach tracking and post-buy analysis of all of your media?  Have you performed an audit of their analysis to ensure it is sound?
  8. Are the media being paid by the agency in a timely manner or is the agency using the money you pay them for media to pay other expenses?
  9. How, and how frequently, do you evaluate the agency’s performance?  Hopefully you have an open and trusting relationship and there’s an ongoing dialogue of how both the agency and client can improve in certain areas.
  10. Is the agency making a fair return on their work for you?  Have you discussed what a fair return is and does your agency share their financial performance with you on, at least, an annual basis?

With the evolution of marketing over the past 10 years, a lot of agencies have gone out of business and a lot of agencies have opened their doors providing only digital or social media support.

I am a VERY strong proponent of multichannel integrated marketing campaigns that use traditional, digital and social media as well as inbound and outbound marketing.

Just as I never saw a single channel (i.e., TV only) traditional media campaign outperform a multimedia (i.e., TV plus radio plus print) campaign in traditional media; I do not believe a social-only campaign can outperform a social plus digital campaign.

However, the number of agencies with the employees with the knowledge to execute fully integrated campaigns is dwindling.  Make sure you’re giving your product or service the best opportunity for success by working with marketing professionals that understand the totality of integrated marketing and its benefits.

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

Tags: transparency, trust, honesty, trusted advisor, integrated marketing

7 Ways to Improve Your (Company's) Reputation

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Sep, 13, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

Consumer insights on reputation management

We know consumers place greater importance on the perception of the company offering the products and services than the perception of the products and services themselves.

As such, whether you are working for a large, medium or small business or you are a single-person business, you need to worry about your, and your company's reputation.

Here are seven things you can do to improve your reputation:

  1. Contribute to the social and economic development of your community.
     
  2. Foster growth and innovation in your industry -- learn and add value.  If your industry becomes more successful, you will become more successful.
     
  3. Uphold sustainable development principles.  If you're not concerned about sustainability, prospects and clients will be less interested in working with you.
     
  4. Network.  Increase relationships in the community, every community, where your company operates.
     
  5. Value the employees who build and bring life to your company.  These are your ambassadors with customers, prospects and in the community.
     
  6. Establish a trusted partnership with suppliers and influencers based on mutual commitment to operational efficiency.
     
  7. Manage the company's financial resources responsibly and transparently according to best practices and corporate governance.

I have found LinkedIn to be particularly useful in:

  • Developing relationships in different industries
  • Networking
  • Identifying suppliers and strategic alliance partners for my company
  • Building awareness of my company
  • Sharing information of interest among my friends, business associates and potential business associates

What have you done to improve you and your company's reputation?

Click Here to Download the Free e-book

Tags: transparency, earn your customers trust, empower employees, referrals, trusted advisor

Why Blog? To Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Aug, 19, 2013 @ 06:08 AM

Blogging generates leads

 

I attended HubSpot's Inbound Marketing University in 2010 after spending 30 years in advertising and marketing practicing, predominantly, outbound marketing.

Then, as today, I see the value of inbound, or content, marketing in conjunction with outbound marketing.

Shortly after attending Inbound Marketing University I began writing blog posts about that which I am passionate -- marketing, insights, customer satisfaction and employee empowerment. Blogging gave me a way to document and share what I've learned over the course of my career, as well as helping me become more knowledgeable about inbound marketing and social media.

As the following takeaways from HubSpot's study of 4,000 customers, there are numerous benefits to blogging:

  • Businesses who blogged 16 to 20 times per month get 100% more traffic than those who blogged less than four times per month.
     
  • Those who blogged at least 20 times per month had 400% more traffic that those who blogged less than four times per month.

  • Businesses who blogged 16 to 20 times per month got 200% more leads than those who didn't blog.

  • Those who blogged at least 20 times per month saw 300% more leads than those who didn't blog.

  • B2B businesses who blogged 16 to 20 times per month got 200% more leads than those who didn't blog.

  • B2C businesses who blogged 16 to 20 times per month got more than 300% more leads than those who didn't blog.

  • Businesses with more than 200 blog articles got 360% more traffic than those with fewer than 20 blog posts.

  • Businesses with more than 200 blog articles got 250% more leads than those with fewer than 20 blog posts. 

Blog posts = web pages

  • Business websites with 401 to 1000 web pages have 800% more traffic than those with 51 to 100 pages. 

  • Business websites with 401 to 1000 web pages have 500% more leads than those with 51 to 100 pages.

  • Both B2B and B2C companies with more than 1,000 web pages generate 700% more leads than those with 51 to 100 pages. 
Traffic => Leads => Sales
I read a lot about the proliferation of information on the Internet and people not having time to write, or even read, content.
However, the statistics above are difficult for anyone that needs leads to ignore.
I know the tradeshows we invested tens of thousands of dollars attending didn't generate anywhere near the number of leads my four-month old website and blog has.
Don't know what to write about?
Marcus Sheridan turned a Richmond, Virginia-based fiberglass pool company, that was feeling tremendous financial hardship during the real estate downturn in 2009, into the largest fiberglass pool company in the U.S. simply by answering customers' questions.  More than 400 of them.
Start by writing about that which you are passionate.
Answer people's questions in an honest and transparent way.
Be relevant. Be reliable. Be responsive. Be real.
Do this and you, and your company, will be seen as a trusted advisor to those searching for the products or services you offer.
As Seth Godin says, the Internet rewards those who share information and penalizes those that hoard information.
Share your knowledge to generate more traffic and more leads and to accelerate sales.
Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook

Tags: be reliable, be responsive, accelerate sales, be relevant, trusted advisor