Category Archives: Social Media

Content Marketing and Social Media Predictions for 2012

Thanks to our friends over at Content Marketing Institute, who have complied 150+ predictions for 2012 in the field (proudly, MY field) of content marketing and social media marketing.

Magic Eight Ball for 2012

 

 

No shocker, the smart money is on content filling a larger role in the lives of marketers, including the fueling of their enhanced social media efforts.

But read on here, and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

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!

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!

Domino’s Pizza Proverbs: Content Marketing extending the experience

Using a brand’s own packaging as a forum for content is nothing new, of course.  Ingredient-based food brands have been placing recipes for salads, sloppy joes, Slurpees, and salmon on labels, boxes and inserts for ages.  This type of content typically addresses the next-closest level consumer need; in this case, nourishment — and how best to achieve it while utilizing the starring brand.

But what about when the consumer need is of a higher order, say the need for self-expression — can packaging provide the appropriate venue there?

Starbucks thought so, in 2007.  Looking to extend the thought-provoking topics traditionally discussed in the local coffeeshop to the to-go cup of cappuccino (extra foam), they introduced “The Way I See It,” a series of statements and quotes from famous and not-so-famous folks and their views of the world, printed in green and black ink right on the cup.

starbucks-side-of-cup
Words of wisdom from Roger Ebert

Sometimes controversial, polarizing, or even just odd, the content did serve as an experience-extender of the higher order need of expression… something perhaps missing from our drive-through world and reminiscent of the sometimes controversial, polarizing, or even just odd discussions held in coffeehouses in days of yore.

Today, we have this from Domino’s :  Pizza Proverbs.  A combination promotion, user-generated content, and social media play, it invites consumers to slice up a traditional proverb (e.g. “A stitch in time saves nine”) to make it Domino’s and pizza-centric (e.g. “A pizza in time feeds nine”).  As of this writing, there are 568 pizza proverbs appearing on pizzaproverbs.com – at least those that Domino’s feel make the ‘cut.’  (Note:  author submitted two pizza proverbs that should have risen to the top, yet were rejected by website curators.  Ah, such is the life of a user generating content).

Eight consumers with the sauciest snippets of sage advice will receive their proverb printed on an empty, grease-free Domino’s box (suitable for framing, I’m guessing), with the chance (not promise) to appear for real on certain quantities of Domino’s delivery boxes…seems Domino’s isn’t yet 100% sold that any could become the phrase that pays.

I, for one, hope Domino’s does allow on-box, mass distribution of the winning proverbs – they’d clearly be a hit (and maybe collector’s item) in the regions where the winners call home, or could play to other vertical promotions focusing on featured offerings.

Moreover, it will offer an opening lob into the bull-sessions frequently enjoyed by those gathered around a ‘za.  Just as Starbucks wished for the thought-provoking, coffeehouse vibe in its “The Way I See It,’ Domino’s similarly hopes for the irreverent, after-hours munchies mob with “Pizza Proverbs.”  Both using their own iconic packaging to deliver an expanded experience.

Questionwho’s the next major marketer to leverage its own packaging as a venue for content marketing (user- or brand-generated)?

I’ll post all answers (within reason), even if in questionable ‘taste!’

Putting his money where his content is

Opportunities and Threats for Social Media

The future of social media as viewed by senior UK marketers

I will be following, with great interest, a very brave Brit who is attempting to prove that content marketing really works — in a matter of hours.

On May 19th, next Wednesday, John Bottom of BaseOne in London will be attempting this live at the IDM B2B conference in front of 150 senior marketers.  What’s more, Mr. Bottom will originate the content right then and there, and then look to prove its effectiveness by gaining 1,000 clicks to its posting.

I think he’ll achieve it.

He has laid some groundwork to help set his stage:   leveraging some content marketing of his own and spreading it through a variety of social media channels to like-minded fans of content marketing.  So then, on May 19th, when the content goes “live,” he’ll have enlisted the help of a community that believes in its power and wants John to succeed.

In a way, these before-efforts are already proving the effectiveness of content marketing…and his exercise on Wednesday will simply re-confirm them.

Join me in helping him out by spreading his message on 5/19/10.

Just follow this to read more:  http://bit.ly/9LLk0C

And here is the content to be spread on Wednesday:  http://bit.ly/cUOsuY.

Best of luck, John.  But I’m a believer in making your own luck, and I’m confident you have.

Ten…make that Eleven Things Social Media Can’t Do

campfire

Great post from B.L. Ochman on Ad Age.com the other day:  Ten Things Social Media Can’t Do, and worth the read.

As any blogger worth his/her salt, I’d like to add my two cents…well, in this case, one more cent:  there could be 11 things social media can’t do.

11.  It can’t meaningfully exist without consistent and engaging content, steeped in a content marketing strategy.  Too often Brands are rip-roarin’ to “be” on Facebook, Twitter, etc., but without a plan of what they’d like to say and why that is relevant to the intended audience.  That’s where content marketing comes in.

Put in a ‘happy camper’ way, it’s like a bunch of friends gathering around a campfire, and the Brand has actual stories to tell:  not necessarily about itself and why it’s so great, but stories that educate, inform, inspire, and entertain the other folks ’round that campfire.

So turn your list up to 11, and tell your customers a story!