Does Your Content Have Superpowers?

Content marketing | Content Superpowers | PWB MarketingA few years ago, while serving on a social media panel during a presentation to a local entrepreneurial group, I casually remarked that, “Content is everything; social media is just plumbing.” In the years since then, I’ve seen this proven over and over both with clients and with brands I follow. In order to succeed, your content marketing needs superpowers.

This post examines some of the content marketing your brand needs to succeed.

Exceptional Audience Relevance

Social – more than any other medium – has to connect with what your customers and prospects want to learn. If it doesn’t, they’re on to the next thing. Too many marketers are pushing content that THEY want to tell customers, as opposed to information that customers are seeking.

Powerful Stickiness

Remember the old days of “sticky” web content? Where your reason for existence was to get customers to return to your web site? Sticky content and content marketing are essentially the same concept. According to a study by DDB Worldwide and Opinionway, 84% of a company’s fans are already customers.  Only relevant, interesting, and fresh content keeps people coming back.

Incredible Engagement

In his book SocialnomicsEric Qualman observes that social media marketing is, “More like Dale Carnegie than Mad Men. Less about selling and more about listening.” Social is a unique channel because of its allowance for real-time dialogue. Harness this ability with content that asks questions, solicits opinions, and takes other actions to encourage audience response.

Robust Adaptability

Successful content marketers generate content for use across multiple channels. A LinkedIn post might lead to a white paper on your web site, expanding on the post topic. A targeted Facebook ad might direct users to a a topic-specific landing page. Great content is great content – just be sure to recognize the unique nature of each channel and modify appropriately. For example, text on a web page won’t make a dynamic Pinterest post without adaptation.

Brand Power

What does your brand stand for? How are you positioned? What is your unique value proposition? Content marketing should clearly and consistently support your brand and values. If you don’t have a clearly defined set of brand values, we can help you with that.

These are but a few of the content marketing superpowers your brand needs. Want to know the others? Or put this to work? We should chat.

-Sean-

Get Your Story Straight

PWB is in the midst of creating several storytelling videos, and we’re finding some common themes and issues emerging. Here are a few recommendations for crafting a successful storytelling video.

  1. Get your story straight – if you haven’t really figured out the messaging for your product, service, or company, you can spend a lot of wasted time wandering in the wilderness.
  2. Understand how it will be used – storytelling videos are an excellent asset in an integrated demand generation program. Taking a step back to see where your video(s) will fit in the buyer’s journey is always helpful. This helps you stay on-message and focused on the viewers felt needs.
  3. Keep it simple – the goal here is simple; to help people quickly “get it” – emphasis on “quickly”. A good storytelling video should be less than two minutes long. Stay focused on that goal.
  4. Bite-sized chunks – two minutes is a surprisingly short amount of time. More complex stories may need more than one video. One of the projects we’re working on is a three-part series. This really enables us to tell the story in meaningful increments. It also gives our client more assets for their demand generation program.
  5. Picture = 1,000 words – use both the visual and narration elements to say more than you could by using just the narration. Some concepts are easier to see than talk about.

At PWB, these are all key elements in our process as we craft your story. Have a complex concept that you want to quickly, simply, and effectively communicate to key audiences? Let’s talk!

-Sean-

Catch on Command: Demand Generation

A few years back I was fly fishing on Michigan’s Pere Marquette River. After a little while a couple hiking up the path stopped and the gentleman said to me, “Catch a fish now…”. I remarked that I wished it were that simple (well, in reality, I don’t – the chase is a big part of the fun).

At the end of your marketing campaign, did you hook more fish than the last time?

Recently I was reflecting that interaction was a little like the demands that are placed on demand generation programs today. Often management and sales folks without a marketing background forget that marketing is an inherently longer-term activity. It’s all about the science of getting into your prospect’s head and helping them make the decision-making journey toward your product. Just like that day on the river.

While I can’t catch fish on command, I can do a lot of things to increase my likelihood of catching one. Spend more time on the water. Test new techniques. Tie different flies. Learn from what worked in the past. And experiment with new things that you think will work, based on what you’ve seen before.

Demand generation has many parallels. If you test, refine, measure, learn, observe, listen, and occasionally take a bold-ass risk your odds go up considerably. While you can’t generate qualified inquiries on command, you can do a lot to improve your inquiry and conversion goals.

As marketers, it’s incumbent on us to help the leadership and sales teams we serve understand this holistic, long-term perspective. I can do a great deal to entice an inquiry. I can even target getting inquiries from the right prospects. But what we can’t do is make the exact fish you want bite precisely when you want it.

I look at my fishing season a lot like I approach a campaign. At the end of the campaign, did I hook more fish than the last time? And if so, did I land more? Those are the true metrics for success.

-Sean-

Marketing: How Do You Sell?

I have a funny skill to come up with Yogi Berra-esque quotes that are off-the-cuff at the time, but then prove to be even more accurate than I realized initially.

Last night, at a local workshop for entrepreneurs, I did it again. I was talking with a peer after the event and I said,

“Channel trumps promotion…”

In this case, I was referring to a local start-up who is doing all the new cool edgy marketing tactics, but wasn’t really putting much value in how their product would get sold. They have a solid distribution partner who’s getting them into key retail outlets, but that’s not energizing the brand in their minds. As I thought about it more afterward, I find that this is an all-too-common problem in demand generation and marketing.

Case in point – a couple of years back I was talking to a technology company who’d basically been built on defense and government contracts. They wanted to start to sell into more consumer markets (a familiar theme) and they had identified 2-3 possibilities. What they were looking for from me was a marketing plan to penetrate one of these markets.

As it often is, one of my early questions was, “How will you go to market?” The answer was both revealing and frustrating. Turns out they had a potential deal with a humungous OEM who basically owned that segment. We’re talking a “these guys would buy 100% of what we could possibly manufacture” type deal. Yet they wanted me to build them a plan to reach end users. Ummmm, how about if we chase that OEM thing down first, guys?

If you’re in Marketing and you’ve never “carried a bag” (i.e. been in field sales), it’s easy to dismiss the importance of a connected, effective sales channel. Want to sell high-pressure filters for use in refineries? If you don’t have either a direct team or a group of reps who know the industry and have access to key contacts, it’ll never fly, Orville.

I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it – sales and marketing are interrelated, interdependent disciplines. HOW you go to market is tremendously important to WHAT marketing strategies you will employ. If you haven’t figured out the former, the latter will nearly always fail.

Easily over half the entrepreneurs (who, BTW, had some pretty cool products and ideas) at last night’s event hadn’t really figured that out yet.

Marketing can be an answer. But first you have to figure out what the questions are.

-Sean-

Why Discipline is Critical for Successful Demand Generation

 

At a recent PWB staff meeting, we sidetracked, as we often do, into a discussion of what makes for a successful demand generation program. It dawned on me that a common characteristic was various forms of discipline, so here are some thoughts on the disciplines of successful demand generation.

A Disciplined Point of View

First and foremost, successful demand generation require one to take and maintain a point of view that looks at the whole marketing and sales process, not just individual efforts or programs. Look at how it all fits together (or doesn’t) from the customer’s point of view, and in terms of your goal.

The Discipline to Work Together

Many companies have serious discontinuity between marketing and sales. Often they don’t ever talk, let alone work cooperatively. Demand Generation requires mutual respect and a disciplined commitment to work together to achieve common goals. Sometimes this can be solved structurally, by having both functions report to the same person.

The Discipline to Test

The secret to success is often just to stop doing things that don‚Äôt work, or as we say here at PWB, “stop doing stupid stuff!” This easier said than done, as many companies can’t tell what things in their program are stupid. Sometimes they’re just standing too close to see it (which is where PWB’s outside perspective can help a lot). Sometimes it’s because there are too many variables. It takes discipline to stop doing the things we’ve always done even though they’re outlived their usefulness. It takes discipline to focus on one variable at a time so you can determine its impact. You have to be willing to fail to be willing to test, and then be willing to pay attention and act on the results of the test.

The Discipline to Make the Results Visible

I had the privilege of working in an organization with a very well developed and disciplined demand generation process. I was responsible for the entire marketing and sales effort, so I could control the whole process — from spot TV buys to telesales commission systems. At the time I didn’t like it, but hindsight showed me the value. We had quarterly Board Meetings were I had to stand up, share what we did that quarter, and show how it compared to plan. Having those facts out there for God and everyone to see was a big motivating factor for me and my team. It also made it possible for a bunch of smart people to see the whole process, and help me improve it. What you measure, you motivate!

QR Codes – true Demand Generation for print media?

You’re starting to see them everywhere‚ those goofy-looking bar codes. While it would be easy to write them off as a new-fangled gimmick, they have a real place in an integrated demand generation campaign.

A challenge of utilizing non-online media in the past was the ability to direct traffic to a campaign-specific landing page. Previously, the only way to do this was to either create a vanity URL, or hope viewers could remember to enter: “www.mycompany.com/bonus/123bb_mw”. Good luck with that.

Now, with a simple QR app and a smartphone, your prospects can quickly be transported directly to a page with more information and lead capture vehicles.

But, there’s one caveat. They’ll be doing this from a mobile device. So, make sure your landing page performs on most of the major mobile platforms.

What Kind of Demand Are You Generating?

During a recent Marketing Roundtable presentation I moderated, one of the presenters touched on the idea of bad customers. His argument was that not only do bad customers consume valuable resources, they ultimately are significantly less profitable than good ones.

This premise set me wondering – are you chasing the GOOD customers? Or are you just running demand generation programs to drive numbers. In my experience, very few customers are doing the former. Do you even know the profile of a good customer? Few businesses seem to take the time, especially during an economic downturn, to find out. It seems to me that a few simple analyses would identify the good ones – total lifetime value, tenure, average sale, purchasing of multiple products or services, or even the classic Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value (RFM) model from direct mail modeling.

The presenter at this roundtable did say that in his past experiences he found some direct correlations between acquisition strategies and outcome. For example, customers acquired through pricing discounts had a high propensity to become bad customers. Was nice to see some data to support my long-held belief that price discounting as an outbound marketing strategy is a bad plan.

So, are you just generating demand? Or are you generating the demand from the customers your business most needs to be profitable?

There Is No Try

Demand Generation (DG) is a simple construct – a set of marketing activities that integrate, coordinate, and lead prospects through the buying journey. But, it’s a holistic, systems-based approach to marketing. Simply implementing a portion of a DG program will cripple its effectiveness.

With DG, you’re either all in or you’re not. As Yoda said, “There is no try.” Cherry picking the elements of a comprehensive program, or trying to force-fit existing content into them compromises the whole.

For example, we think you shouldn’t just stick your existing creative up as a front end to DG efforts. Good DG creative is much more in the vein of classic direct marketing with a clear, compelling benefit, a solid call to action, and an offer with perceived value. At the same time, thinking that you can simply drive traffic to your existing web site is likely to be ineffective.

Solid DG is predicated on a consistent, continuous, crafted story that moves buyers through the cycle. Think of it as a conversation, and in a way it is, as DG has replaced some personal selling that needs to feel relevant to the buyer to generate impact.

DG is not a panacea, nor is it easy. What it can be is a tool that delivers game-changing advantages in a competitive marketplace.