Category Archives: Intregated Marketing

Social Marketing is a Content Party

time means holiday party time.   Although in celebration of a wedding anniversary, my wife and I attended a terrific party on 11.11.11 (their 11th anniversary – congrats again, Diana and Doug!).  Country club setting, liberally-flowing drinks, uniquely prepared and presented food, a live band — and most of all, a chance to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.

It’s this last element listed that sparked in me the notion that social marketing is like a cocktail party (no libations necessary):  people gather in a location, most often invited, to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.

And while they’re there, what do they do?

Tell stories.  Relate to one another.  Introduce sets of friends to others.  Share personal tidbits.  Communicate.

Now, consider then what most Brands do when invited to become part of this party.

Offer discounts.  Ask to be ‘liked.’  Tell the same selfish story time and again.  Never ask about the consumers they’re trying to friend.  Shout “buy me, buy me!”  Ignore newly make friends in search of new conquests.  Never offer anything meaningful to the conversation.

Imagine if a live person acted in the manner of some Brands at a real party – not only would he quickly find himself alone, there would be whispers amongst the other party-goers about what a lout he is, criticizing what he’s done, his boorish behavior.

And that’s precisely what happens to Brands who don’t ‘get’ the social marketing party.

What’s worse, they’ll likely not be invited back to many parties, alienating those friends-to-be.

Contenting Marketing can help your Brand (and you) with the social etiquette of social marketing.  After all, if social marketing is a place for friends to gather, engage, re-connect and forge new relationships, then Content must be the language they speak, the driver of longer term ‘friendships’ between consumers and Brands.

  1.  Listen.  When at a party, you understand the tone and tenor of conversations by listening first.  Find out who is saying what about you, about your competitors, but most importantly, about themselves – what they want, need, desire, aspire to.
  2. Strategize.  Think first about why you’re ‘going’ to this party, what you’d like to achieve.  Then do the same for your customers, ask why THEY are there and what their goals are.  Ask yourself under what circumstances your customers would like you there….and prepare to deliver on that.
  3. Plan.  Once your strategy is laid out, create a plan of what you’re going to say, to whom, and when.  Ask yourself why you, as a Brand, have the credence to offer this content to your customers.  And if the party venue changes, you’ll have to change your Content plan.  Be consistent, don’t offer a barrage of messages one party and fall silent the next year.
  4. Be adaptive.  The best laid plans…can change like the Midwest weather.  If your party is outdoors and it begins to hail, make sure your Content plan is flexible enough to change to reflect the changed context.  And if you’re not a meteorologist….go back to step 1 and listen.  You’ll hear the forecast.
  5. Measure.  The conversation during the drive home after the party always includes the “how do you think it went?” question.  Much easier to answer this if you’ve done steps 1, 2, and 3 – you’ve set up what your objectives were and how they map back to customer goals…these are your KPIs.
  6. Go back and start again with number 1.  A Content Marketing effort in social marketing learns and adapts.

Remember, your Brand has been invited to a party by consumers.  And Mom always taught us to bring something to the party – make it Content that engages your customers by being educational, informational, entertaining, and inspirational.

On with the party!

Advertisements

BUSINESS OBJECTIVES ADDRESSED BY CONTENT MARKETING

evangelistDiscussions with a new client often include the evangelizing (or ‘strong advocacy’) of what Content Marketing and custom content can do for their business overall.  As part of an initial presentation, I typically focus on a few that are apparent to their business/industry, but also recall from an earlier blog entry, and the list keeps growing.

In the spirit of helping you evangelize the power of Content, I’m sharing a list of 20 business objectives addressed by Content Marketing.

We’ll start this week with the alphabetic first ten, beginning with A through I.

Advocacy1.  Advocacy.  Truly the ultimate goal for your customers – have them doing the evangelizing for your business!  Even the most efficient media at the lowest CPMs can’t beat the free word of mouth by your faithful customers.  And since we know customers place higher value on the recommendations of others like them (much higher than advertising) – even if they are complete strangers – word of mouth made possible by the added value of helpful, relevant content brings the power of advocacy to ultimate levels.  Real bonding occurs when customers feel your business isn’t just after a sale, but all about truly helping them with solutions.

2.  Awareness.  Normally the domain of mass media and traditional advertising, Content Marketing now easily impacts this very early stage in the customer journey Awarenesscourtesy of the low cost/no cost broad channels made possible by digital media –websites, social media channels, blogging, and so on.  A customer’s earliest interaction with your brand is that much more impactful when not based on interrupting their engagement with the media, but when it is actually the engaging media itself!  I never would have become aware of the power of Blendtec mixers if not for their entertaining and informational video series Will It Blend? — that’s Content Marketing creating awareness.

Brand iron B

3.  Branding.  Content Marketing may possibly be the #1 WMB (weapon of mass branding) in your marketing arsenal.  A “brand” (the noun) is arguably more about what your product or service stands for, rather than simply what your product or service is.  And as the ultimate arbiter of what your brand really means, a customer searches for that which will serve their needs – not just the utilitarian needs of the offering, but the higher order needs of what they are ultimately seeking.  Rubbermaid doesn’t just offer containers, or just ‘organization,’ but ultimately stands for a better home life experience – and         that’s what their content helps brand (the verb).

churn reduction 4.  Churn Reduction.  What reasons cause customers to leave your fold are as varied and possibly more mysterious than what incites them to stay. Chalk either up to a rewarding brand experience.  More than price, more than product benefits, the ‘experience’ is an on-going and additive construct.  Relevant and engaging content gives customers  another reason to stay, as it serves as a differentiator from like products or services that may offer it cheaper or with a new bell or whistle. Even something  as seemingly interchangeable as a household cleaner can command more loyalty when the experience reaches higher-order needs, as this inspiring content  (if you’re a parent,  that is) from SC Johnson shows.

5.  Cross-sell

cross sell

‘After you got ‘em once, see if you can get ‘em again for something additional’ – that’s the basic idea behind cross-sell.  The theory goes that a customer    purchasing a broader swath of your product line is inherently a more profitable or at least more loyal customer. Viewed in the context of Content, it can be about a customer engaging with different content ‘platforms’ that address different customer needs.  A small business owner becomes a better customer to HP if she initially is a buyer of HP ink cartridges and then begins to purchase various HP peripherals; she also becomes a better customer if she frequently engages with HP through their entrepreneur forum 367 Addison Avenue and then begins to explore content in HP’s inventor community The Next Bench.  A customer experiencing a broader swath of your Content, too, is a more profitable and loyal customer.

6.  Customer acquicustomer capturesition

Every time I read the phrase ‘customer acquisition,’ I envision the hackneyed sales funnel with its wide mouth atop, sloping down to a narrow aperture at the bottom, where many prospects enter and fewer customers emerge.  Whether you  subscribe to this clean, sequential view of customer acquisition or a messier, divergent path (compare both examples), customer acquisition begins with prospect awareness and ends with customer transaction (the continued journey toward customer retention is detailed next).  Migrating prospects through these stages (or, through the funnel) is the sales challenge, with Content playing a major role in moving a prospect from awareness to consideration, consideration to interaction, interaction to transaction (or a mash-up of these steps).  In fact, a strategic argument could be made that your efforts to engage via Content should increase as your suspects to prospects to customers ratios decrease.

7.  Customer retentioncustomer retention

And, the other side of the coin – now that you’ve got them, how do you keep them?  Post-initial transaction efforts at re-purchase, bonding, loyalty, and advocacy can all be pegged to delivering communications that are entertaining, informational, educational, and inspirational – without being too marketer-centric (e.g. Buy me!  Buy more!  Buy more often!) and instead more customer-centric (e.g. By the way, By addressing my needs, right by my side).  Harvard Business  Review reports 91% of small business owners do nothing to retain existing clients, when even the most conservative estimates suggest the costs for new customer acquisition is five to nine times higher than the cost for retaining existing ones!  Traditional advertising may have a role at the beginning of acquisition, but does relatively little in customer retention – that’s where Content truly excels!

8.  In-bound marketing

lead generation

The concept of in-bound marketing (versus out-bound or ‘push’ marketing) is eponymous with Content Marketing.  Web 1.0 was doomed where marketers felt  ‘If we build it, they will come,” and when they (customers) didn’t stay, the legacy solution was to push messages at them.  In-bound marketing is centered on  Content, about self-creating something interesting to say to customers about their interests.  It’s the manifestation of Web 2.0, where every business has the   opportunity to become ‘media.’  Think of it as a discussion at a cocktail party:  if you have something interesting to say that is about delivering on the needs of a certain someone, that certain someone will flock to you.  If you interrupt others’ discussions and blather on about ‘me, me, me,’ you’ll be ignored (rightfully so).  Be the interesting one at the party who creates a true dialog with others.  Be ‘in-bound’ Content Marketing.

9.  Increase Customer LTV

Lifetime Value (LTV) is all about looking at the long-term health of a LTVrelationship with your customer, and not about short-term, quick hit, move on to the next victim type of sale.  Content helps build that elusive trust that is earned by a marketer, one that results in bonding, loyalty, and advocacy.  Clearly tied to churn reduction and customer retention, LTV is actually a mind set of doing business, one based on the value of that specific person or account to one’s business.  But from another angle, LTV can also be about the value of a brand or company to customer over a lifetime.  As the customer’s needs change, how can the brand  continue to be valuable to her?  How does the brand stack up against other competitors for her time, money, commitment?  Here, Content becomes a real differentiator, a competitive advantage to ensure the relationship is a long-lasting,  and mutually beneficial one.

10.  Increase share of wallet

share-of-walletThe idea behind Share of Wallet typically results from both a breadth and depth of customer transactions within a given competitive set or industry.  That is,       increasing the share of a customer’s wallet can be through broadening what they purchase from you (capitalized on by cross-sell) or by the deepening of purchases they make with your company from a vertical perspective (capitalized on by volume purchases of the same offering and/or by trading up within the vertical…upselling).  Here, Content Marketing impacts this objective by providing both information and inspiration – reassurance on past transactions and realization on future ones.  LinkedIn does a great job in the subtle up-sell to their premium offering cleverly called LinkedIn Premium.  For those professionals active in the job market, or those just curious, their content is user-centric and focuses on vaulting the networking hurdles and building business relationships in   the digital world.  Through Content Marketing, they address the higher order need for competence and control in one’s professional life, and thereby increase share-of-wallet through vertical upsell.

Next time, I’ll share the second ten:

11        Integration

12        Internal communications

13        Lead generation/formulation

14        Loyalty

15        Reputation Management

16        SEO

17        Social media communications

18        Stakeholder/shareholder communications

19        Thought Leadership

20        Up-sell

Are there more that you’ve identified?  Let me know — I’ll share them (and credit you) in the next post!

You want proof? Stick a fork in a toaster.

Recently I was invited to provide a post for the Content Marketing Institute’s blog.  CMI is the brainchild of Joe Pulizzi, a colleague and friend and self-proclaimed ‘poster child’ for Content Marketing.  Joe and I collaborated on “Engagement:  Understanding It, Achieving It, Measuring It,” a whitepaper/e-book published earlier this year.  His vision with CMI is to help marketers (particularly B-to-B marketers) with the how-to’s of content marketing.

Charged with providing additional insight on the measurement of content marketing, I pondered my post, and kept coming back to what, deep down, we all ask ourselves about any marketing communication:

Does it really work?

Now, back in my days as an undergraduate, my question was about advertising specifically:  Does advertising really work?  Can we prove it?

And I recalled the adages of some historical figures who reportedly said:

‘I know half my advertising budget is wasted; I just wish I knew which half;” and

“There are three kinds of lies:   lies, damned lies and statistics;” and even the

“X% of companies that continued to advertise through the Great Depression are still vibrant corporations today.  The X% that cut back, you’ve likely never, nor will you, hear of.”

(Okay, so I have recall of a few pithy statements meant to back up the idea that advertising is important but tricky to measure, to prove that it works.)

But isn’t that the same methodology that supposedly supports advertising’s effectiveness – that is, recall?  That you’ve “been reached” or you have “awareness?”  That you then just know?

I feel many of us marketing-types out there believe advertising works because, well, we believe it does.  We just know.

Now, see how that flies in the CFO’s office!

My post, here, talks about proving the efficacy of your content marketing efforts by facilitating an Experimental Design, to actually test that it works.  To show the corner office (or your own conscience) that “when you plug X in, Y happens.”

Experimental Design using a plugged-in toaster and a fork
Pre-test                                              Post-test

Photo credit:  hallopino.com

But I think as much as demonstrating the how-to’s of measuring Content Marketing using Experimental Design, it is key to remember that any marcomm effort is a strategy to help accomplish a (marketing) goal.  So, the independent variable here is the marcomm effort, and the dependent variable is the marketing effort.  It helps me, at least, to de-mystify the “science” behind it all.

Viewed this way, it also helps avoid ‘over-reaching’ with your hypothesis.  Rather than saying “we need to prove the ROI of Content Marketing” or “we need to measure the return on equity of Engagement,” your experiment should strive for a more direct correlation or cause:  “prove that increasing the frequency of marketing content will lead to a greater proportion of qualified leads amongst all leads.”

DO measure your marcomm efforts.

DO set aside monies and time to do so.

DO so consistently and regularly.

Think of it as Experimental Design itself, with a hypothesis:

If I take the time and effort to measure my Engagement efforts, I will produce insights, and ultimately, results.”

And that works.


Have you met Joe, yet?

Meet Joe.

Joe Kennedy (no relation) is 27 years old, lives in the Boston area (just a coincidence) and drinks beer (also a coincidence). 

He is making his way into middle management at a software company and earns around $ 60,000 per year.  He has an undergraduate degree from BC, and is a real sports nut.  While he is a self-admitted ‘homer’ (dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox fan, big Patriots lover, Celts, Bruins, and his alma mater), he enjoys all types of sports and is knee-deep in his Rotisserie baseball league (AL-only teams) and is currently gearing up for fantasy football ’09 (has been caught with his pre-draft rankings Excel sheets open at the office during work hours.  By his supervisor.  Twice.). 

He watches a variety of sports channels (Comcast SportsChannel, ESPN, local news, MLB channel, Golf Channel, NFL Network, and so on).  He played high school baseball and football, and secretly wished he had pursued a D-3 school so that maybe he could have walked on and played throughout college. 

Joe dates on and off, and has been seen out with a young lady from his company’s HR department (even though she knows better).  His friends that are girls (but some who wish they were more) describe him as ‘hot,’ though he has little clue.  Weekends (and some weeknights) mean bar-hopping with buddies from both high school and BC. 

Joe is frugal, but not necessarily a saver yet.  The youngest of five from a middle-class family, he’s held a job all of his life, even throughout undergrad.  He rents downtown, rooming with a college classmate; friends, but not buddies.  Drives a used, ’02 Toyota Camry. 

Meet Joe

Meet Joe

 

ESPN, the Brand, would like to have Joe choose their services solely, capturing greater share of Joe’s time spent, mind, and wallet versus having him spread all amongst ESPN and their competitors.  Furthermore, ESPN would like Joe to select ESPN as main Sports Information source across all channels, upselling him to The Magazine, and maybe even ESPN 36o.

 

 

“Hi, my name is Joe.”

“Hi, Joe!”

“It’s been six days since I became a persona….”

 

The class of grad students I teach as an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School created “Joe.”  For many, it was their first stab at a persona. 

It seems the persona has become all the rage amongst social media strategies…but has been utilized for some time now by content marketers, and even longer (I’d reckon) by traditional agencies (we were using them at Burnett back in the mid-80’s, though I don’t recall labeling them as personas at the time….).

The key today, of course, is to utilize the persona for above and beyond solely the creative target.  Ideally, personas are created for all customer segments, and used in new user profiling, content testing, and to lead discovery in the listening phases of social media planning. 

Personas provide more robust targeting and segmentation, above and beyond demographics, psychographics, and even transactional behaviors.  By bringing your target to life, you bring your marketing to life.

Have you met Joe yet?

18 Marketing Objectives Addressed by Content Marketing

how-to-select-project-management-software-objectives-2

Was tasked the other day by a potential client with providing a list of marketing objectives that are addressed by Content Marketing.

While not exhaustive by any means, I came up with eighteen…and would invite all to add to the figure.

Sheepishly, I admit that none of these include a numerical goal or time period, both requirements of a true marketing objective.  That said, when I printed out the list, I was so pleasantly surprised on how many key challenges strategic content addresses.

Again, feel free to add:

  1. Customer acquisition
  2. Customer retention
  3. Cross-sell
  4. Up-sell
  5. Loyalty
  6. Churn reduction
  7. Advocacy
  8. Reputation Management
  9. Branding
  10. Awareness
  11. SEO
  12. Thought Leadership
  13. Lead generation/formulation
  14. Increase Customer LTV
  15. Integration
  16. Internal communications
  17. Stakeholder/shareholder communications
  18. Increase share of wallet