Saturday, 23 March 2013

8 Steps Towards a Winning Content Marketing Strategy

As marketers, we are unleashing increasing amounts of content into the marketplace. And as consumers we know that we do our best to ignore most of it! So how do we ensure that the content that we produce stands out from the crowd, and does so on a consistent and cost-effective basis?

That was the topic for a B2B Marketing panel discussion at the Paramount in Centre Point at the beginning of this week, sponsored by Waggener Edstrom. Other panellists besides myself were Prelini Chiechi from Lithium Technologies, Sue Pryce of Unipart Logistics and Nic Shaw from Waggener Edstrom.

In a lively debate some common themes emerged that thought were worth sharing:

1. Marketing needs to focus on more than just Demand Generation. In order for our DG activities to be landing on fertile ground, marketing needs to invest in market conditioning activity (aka thought leadership). One of the negative impacts of the current obsession with ROI of everything is that important non-DG activities are overlooked. Unless this can be overcome it will be difficult to make a case for the validity of content marketing activities (other than as a direct component of lead generation programmes)

2. It's Not About You! This was the morning's recurring theme. The value of our content is measured by the recipient - period. Consequently anything we create must have the customer/prospect in mind. We should audit the content we have to determine where it would fit in a buyers' journey, and challenge ourselves on whether it really adds value to the customer or actually really only serves our own agenda.

3. Content = Creation + Curation. Given that we are trying to build a relationship on our prospect's terms, it's essential to think about curating and sharing other people's relevant content Not only does this reduce our workload but it increases the potential value to our readers.

4. Be Interesting. We are looking for the sweetspot at the intersection of the buyer's passions and our expertise. Having done so we can take an authoritative and individual stance - one that is not the same as the rest of the crowd. And when it comes to standing out from the crowd, give some thought to visual design - unless we can grab our reader's attention everything else is wasted.

5. Keep Delivering. We can't treat content as a one off tactic - we are trying to build a relatiionship with the reader and that can only happen if we are persistent in the frequency of your delivery, and consistent in the quality

6. Integrate across all channels. Of course we need to ensure that your content is made available in the delivery channels that the consumer prefers - be that mobile, blogs, video, social, podcasts. But also we need to ensure that the experience we offer in our content is replicated across our functions. What a shame if we produce some outstanding, engaging content only for the experience to be ruined by a an over-aggressive telemarketing follow up - "I see you've looked at our video about the challenges that CMOs face around data, now would you like to buy our fancy database software?"...

7. Listen. Listening and measurement shouldn't just occur at the end of the process - we can use it across the spectrum from initial research onwards. Don't plan too far in advance, since our listening exercises will almost certainly make us want to adjust our plans significantly

8. Skills Gap. Creating compelling content - whether text, video, or other vehicles - is not simple. Above all it requires an understanding of the pressing challenges of the intended reader. It's unlikely that this skill will be found in our most junior staff members, yet it's surprising how often that is exactly the individual we ask to take ownership for these tasks.

I'd love to hear from you about your content marketing challenges - perhaps I can help...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

11 Tips for Getting more productive with email (and work)

Earlier in the week I presented a webinar for B2B Marketing Magazine on the subject of becoming more efficient with email and indeed with work in general. You can find the full slide set here

My talk focused on 3 key areas:

Approach to work. In our hyper-connected world it's so easy to become overwhelmed by stuff and lose control. It's not better time management we need, it's better attention management - we can't do everything and need to have a systematic approach to how we choose to focus our attention.

Email management. Like it or loathe it, much of our business communication centres around email. But an ever growing inbox is a common source of significant stress. Fortunately there are some simple techniques one can use to ensure you maintain control over your email rather than the other way around.

Email alternatives. Much of the problem with our current use of email is that we use it for the wrong things. Task lists, project management, collaboration, broadcast communications, etc are all better handled through other approaches such as collaboration platforms and list managers.

Here's some top tips that I use to maintain control:

  1. Audit how you spend your day. Simply documenting how you spend your day will help you focus on whether you're spending it on the things you should be.
  2. Get yourself a trusted systematic approach to managing your work. I use GTD - others are available. 
  3. Book time in your calendar to get work done. Stop being distracted by other people's priorities. If you have something on your agenda, put it on your agenda!
  4. Disconnect once in a while. Stop surfing and looking for distractions - focus on the single thing you want to accomplish right now.
  5. Go work in a coffee shop. Changing your environment for a while can have a major impact on your productivity
  6. Process your email, don't live in it. Change your relationship with your inbox. You simply go there on your terms to decide what needs to be done with each mail - delete, action, file, read, delegate. Then get out and close it down.
  7. Filter your email. Much of your email you regularly file, delete or forward - so get some help to do this for you automatically.
  8. Turn off notifications. You've go important work to do - you'll get to your email when you're good and ready.
  9. Minimise use of folders. Your email already has a search facility - there's no need to manually file mail in multiple nested folders. It simply creates additional unproductive decisions for you to make.
  10. Write shorter emails. Is it clear what the recipient needs to do? Does the subject line make it clear what's required? You know how your heart sinks when you receive that 2 page email - don't do it to others!
  11. Don't copy the world. Think before using reply all - it will actually make it less likely that anyone will feel ownership if you put multiple recipients. Copying too many people usually indicates that you're probably using the wrong tool

There's plenty of links here that expand on these ideas with tools and helpful videos.