Tag Archives: Marketing Messages

Can This Radical Change Increase Content Marketing Effectiveness?

23 Jan

2014 is looking like another big year for Content Marketing. Do a search and you’ll find a vast source of predictions from the Content Marketing Institute, Mashable, research analyst Forrester, the IAB and others.   All sources forecast business spending will be up for Content Marketing this year.  Depending on whose report you believe the CM budget will increase 58% to 75%.

While more is spent on Content Marketing are the efforts more effective?  At the recent Northern California Business Marketing Association (BMA) meeting in Silicon Valley, an experienced panel of Content Marketing experts tackled the question and shared their challenges and struggles to make content marketing a success.

Informative presentations, different perspectives and implementations were shared.  One that I found most insightful came from Jeremiah Glodoveza, Director, Public Relations and Social Media at NetApp.

Much has been written and said about the importance of SEO and content strategy for CM success – but we have not heard much about (if at all) the need for organizational change to support CM effectiveness and success.  Jeremiah shared that his company is in process of changing its marketing organization so it can better integrate content marketing campaigns – restructuring from functional silos to an interconnected organization.

Current Organization

Current Organization

New Organization

New Organization

(These charts are examples only, not NetApp charts).

The change will bring together marketing functions that often times are working independently and with goals that are not aligned .

The new organizational structure is intended to better support collaboration and consistency in messaging and campaigns as well as sharing common goals across marketing functions like PR, technical writing, and communications. Jeremiah believes that more companies will begin making this kind of change to their marketing organizations.

Hats off to NetApp for thinking out of the silo. Making a radical organizational change like this one isn’t easy.  It will be interesting to find out if NetApp’s Content Marketing is more effective as a result.

Resources:  NorCal BMA Meeting, January 22, 2014, panel discussion, Content Marketing:  Why Is A Publisher’s Point of View Essential Today

Solving Real Business Problems and Showing Value – Every Marketers’ Job

19 Jun

For me Marketing has always been about showing customers how a product solves real business problems and creates value.  Recently I became familiar with the term, Solutions Marketing.  Look online and you’ll find Solutions Marketer job titles in Fortune 500 companies and marketing consultants and agencies that provide Solutions Marketing services.

     What is Solutions Marketing?  One of the definitions I found on Google stated, Solutions Marketing addresses a business level problem, aligning products with business value. Good Solutions Marketing speaks directly to business needs. 

     Young Asian BusinessmanAs a career marketer in various roles (communications, product marketing and management), my job has been to show customers how my company’s products solve real business problems.  Whether developing a Marketing Requirements Document for a new product or creating product messaging, each required an understanding of how the product solved a business problem and created value for customers.

     Maybe it’s the sign of the times.  Many marketing functions have become specialized. As marketers, if we cannot show customers how our products solve business problems, we will fail in our efforts. Solutions Marketing is something we all do (or should do) regardless of our marketing job title (or function).

     Wikipedia has this definition of Marketing: B2B marketing is creating value, solutions, and relationships either short-term or long-term with a company or brand. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.

Consider that most companies aren’t large enough to have a specialized Solutions Marketing position or group. Is it the role of all marketing functions to understand and communicate how a product solves a business problem and creates value for customers?  What do you think?

Sharing the Who, What and Why With Customers

28 Feb

Several months ago a start-up had asked for a review and recommendations for improving  their current website and Facebook page.  What stood out most for me was that their website lacked information about the organization, the Who, What and Why were all missing.  Who is a part of their organization? What is their organization about?  and Why does it matter that customers do business with them?

For a new business with a unique product, sharing this basic yet key company information with potential customers is even more critical to build trust and a relationship with customers.

While this may seem pretty obvious to most of us, sometimes smaller organizations and start-ups feel the need and want to be different starting with the website.  For this organization, they have a unique, creative and non-traditional approach to funding charities.  Their website design and content reflects those attributes.  But, the important point is not to get so caught up in being creative or non-traditional that you forget about why you have a website in the first place, to provide information and to connect with your customer.

On this organization’s website, there is no tab or section that tells the story of how or why the organization got started, who the founders are or what is the mission.  A Join button is located on the home page that immediately opens to a window requesting customer contact information to join. There is no landing page to tell the customer why do business with them or in this case ‘join’ their cause. And because this organization has a new model in charity giving, it is important for potential customers to clearly understand how the giving of donations works, what is expected of them and what if any are the costs should be explained on the site before the call to action to join.

Understanding where customers are in the sales process and providing the right content for each stage in the sales cycle is also critical.  If you don’t provide the appropriate information, customers that are not yet ready to buy will leave.  Don’t ask for the sale too soon.  You’ve got to build trust first.

Start with the website. For the majority, it is still the first place they go to learn about a company.  Be creative in design and marketing on your website but, also include the information that customers need and want to know, who you are, what you are about and why they should do business with you.

How to Rise Above the Noise and Be Heard

21 Feb

In today’s marketplace, there is more ‘noise’ than ever before. The number of companies (all sizes and levels of resources) and volume of content competing for customers’ time is staggering thanks in large part to social media, the Internet and mobile technologies. How can your company rise above it all and be heard? Tell Your Story.


People remember a good story.  Every business has one. If you think you don’t, take some time to remember why you started your business. What is your vision? What does your business stand for? What are your core values?  What do you want to be known for?  What are your customer successes?

By creating your story and consistently telling it again and again, your business develops a persona that customers identify. Story telling isn’t new.  In this day of sound bites, tag lines, and elevator pitches, telling a story may seem a bit long winded.  But, an effective narrative can tell a memorable story that has impact and matters more to your customers than advertising jargon.  Be truthful and authentic in your story and customers will develop trust in you and belief that you will deliver on your promise.

For the B2B Company:  A Great Story Can Rise Above the Noise

For B2B companies, customer successes are a great way to tell a story. How did your company help solve a problem for your customer or your industry? What did you do that sets you apart from the rest?  An employee success story can confirm your core values with customers and serve as a guide to employees in their decision making and interactions with customers to ensure consistent customer experiences.

Best Media to Tell Your Story

The best media to use when telling your story is always the one that most effectively reaches your customers and best fits your story.  Video is an important part of Cisco’s product offering so, it isn’t surprising that Cisco uses video for its story-telling and launched the Cisco YouTube channel in September 2011. Video is a powerful way for companies of any size, not only the largest, to reach and engage with customers as an alternative to standard text.

Businesses don’t make buying decisions.  People inside businesses make decisions.  Make the connection with them through your story.

Resources:

Name that Brand Story… by Rob Marsh, http://www.brandstoryonline.com
The Power of a Good Brand Story, Mark Thomson, the BrandChannel
The Importance of Story-Telling in Lead Nurturing,  Jeff Ogdon, Fearless Competitor
Are You Telling Your Brand Story, Steve Woodruff , Small Business Branding
Strategy:  Story’s More Powerful than the Brand, Tom Peters, You Tube

Identify Your Unique Value Proposition and Grow Your Business

9 Jan

Do you know the unique value you bring to your customers?  The need to define a unique value proposition is key to success whether you are a B2B, B2C, for profit, or non-profit.  Being able to fulfill a customer ‘want’ that no other company can and clearly articulating that value to your customers will grow your business.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition is much more than the benefits that your company or product delivers.  It defines why a customer should do business with you and not anyone else who provides the same product.  It is the unique value that a customer cannot find anywhere else.  Your product must have at least one  differentiator that sets it apart from the rest to be successful.

Believe it or not,  a value proposition shouldn’t be more than ten words to effectively communicate what is distinctive about your product. Be specific, clear and concise.  This isn’t easy to do and requires time to refine but essential to the success of your product.  You and your team may consider an off-site away from the distractions of the office to get this done.

Finding Your DifferentiatorA value proposition is brand defining

Unique value is a key element in brand strategy. How you uniquely fulfill the needs and the wants of your target customers defines your brand.  Find out What makes your customers happy and what keeps them up at night.   When your unique value provides an emotional benefit to your customers, you create brand loyalty and your customers will buy from you.  Define your value proposition and you define your brand.

Steps to identifying your unique value proposition:

1.  Take an inventory of your skills, what are you good at?

2.  Clearly define your target customer and their needs and wants.  If your product is segmented by vertical markets such as education or healthcare, each of these segments has its own set of needs and wants and most likely different competitive solutions.  You will want to define a unique value proposition for each segment.

3.  What gaps need to be filled in the market?

4.  Complete a competitive analysis.  What sets you apart from your competition?  What is distinctive about your product?

5.  Test.  This is a key step. Questionnaires, interviews and focus groups are good ways to see if the value proposition resonates with your customers.

6.  Once your value proposition is defined and you are able to clearly articulate it, communicate it throughout your marketing efforts, website, collateral, and social media activities.  Keep the message consistent but, you can customize it to fit the media.

Resources:

Powerful Value Propositions, How to Optimize this Critical Marketing Element – and lift your results. Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Director, MECLABS group (webinar)
Make Customers Feel the Love and Keep Coming Back, Jim Joseph, (Vocus webinar)
Your Brand as Your Value Proposition, Chris Hughes, Vistage, (You Tube Video)
Defining Your Unique Value Proposition, ASAE & the center for association leadership

5 Good Reasons to Include Podcasts in Your 2012 Marketing Plan

20 Dec

Podcasts can add a new element of excitement to your marketing and social media efforts.  It’s another medium to reach your audience and share updates on your company or products, the industry, trends or insights.  The latest technology and new tools and services make podcasting easy to use and at a relatively low-cost to deliver.  Today, most podcasts are delivered on-demand and can be accessed from your website as either a video or audio file.  Any computer that can play media files can play a podcast.

Here are five good reasons to include podcasting in your 2012 marketing plan:

1. Creates Interest:  A new medium to deliver your marketing message can create new interest in and bring new life to your existing marketing content. Using audio and video to deliver content enhances the audience experience beyond printed text.

2.  Positions You as an Expert:  Consider delivering a series of podcasts that informs and teaches your audience on a topic that is relevant and of interest to them.  Providing helpful and useful content to your target audience furthers your relationship with them and your position as an expert in your field.

Businessman watching podcast3.  Reinforces Your Brand:  A human voice has the capacity to add inflection and an emotional element to your content vs. print. Using an appropriate voice that fits your brand further reinforces your brand strategy and messaging.

4.  Increases Reach:  Podcasts are accessible on-line at the demand of your audience.  This increases the reach of your marketing efforts beyond time-zones, work-styles and geographies.

5.  Builds Relationships and Trust:   People don’t have relationships with a company.  They have relationships with other people.  By giving a voice to your company, you humanize the experience between your target audience and your company.  They’ll be more likely to do business with you if they know and trust you.  Podcasting can further develop that trust.

As you look at including podcasting in your marketing and social media plans consider the following;  Podcasting should support your overall marketing strategy and plan and enhance your current marketing efforts with your target audience. Confirm that podcasting is an effective medium to reach them. Make sure you have the resources to update content and provide podcasts on a regular basis.

Resources:

How to Create Your Own Podcast, by Corey Deitz, About.com Guide
How to Podcast, by Jason VanOrden
12 Ways to Promote Your Podcast, by Jake Ludington
How to Grow Your Podcast Audience, by Marcelo Lewin

Effective Advertising or Just More Noise?

24 Oct

By Susan Lowe

It’s difficult not to notice that over the past few years, advertising has become a part of sportscasting -what I call ‘advercasting’.  Limited only by the imagination of an advertiser, brand names sponsor just about any kind of play during sporting events especially baseball games.

This past season brands have sponsored steals at second base, the drive of the game, player of the game, pitching changes, game summary, the play of the game, replays, call to the bullpen and more. Many of these brand advertisements are announced repeatedly during the game. A viewer might hear 20-30 of these in a typical broadcast.

During some recent NHL games, the sponsor’s message was part of the sports commentary on improving team performance.  After a tough play ended, the commentator announced  “the team needs to perform like a (luxury brand name) automobile performs.”   The following game the commentator announced  “the team should turn their heads like people turn their heads when they see the (luxury brand name) automobile.”  

More and more brand names are being ‘plugged-in’ to the dialogue of a sportscast. As viewers are recording games and fast forwarding through commercials thanks to DVRs (digital video recorders), advertisers must find new ways to reach their audience.  Advertisers know that when placed directly into the sportscast, viewers cannot avoid the ad-else they miss the actual game.

In my opinion, the number of brands and brand sponsored plays in sports (particularly baseball) today is excessive and this number continues to increase.   With so many brands vying for viewers’ attention during a game, advertisers have some fundamental questions to answer.  Is this kind of advertising effective?  Is it resulting in the intended response to the brand?  Do viewers find the message credible? Or is it just more noise that the viewer is tuning out (broadcast spam)?


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