Wondering Out Loud

Content Marketing is not a Shiny Object

Content MarketingWhen I first got into the demand gen game fifteen years ago, we used a basic teleprospecting model: dial for leads, qualify anyone you were lucky enough to make contact with, and push the good fits to field sales. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the millennium—inbound marketing, permission marketing, social media, etc.—but two recent conversations have me wondering if we’re close to completing the circle back to the year 2000 (I will happily grant that 2 data points does not a scientific survey make, but they did get me thinking).

The first was a conversation with a former colleague—currently VP of sales for a software company—who told me he has been bombarded lately with calls from teleprospecting/ appointment setting firms looking to drum up new business. I’ve been a marketing executive for a while now, and I can’t remember the last time I received such a call. The second was a conversation with another marketer who told me that they are changing their demand gen model by placing a heavy emphasis teleprospecting targeting senior executives at enterprise-level companies. All well and good, but it was the second shoe dropping that really got my attention.

As a tradeoff for diving into teleprospecting, the company has decided to curtail their content marketing program. That concerns me because getting the ear of a senior executive is next to impossible, but without the air cover of a robust content marketing campaign, you can remove the “next.”

Don’t believe me, read this from Business2Community, or call to mind your own experience. If the average buyer is 70% of the way through the buying process before they even engage with a vendor, what chance does any company have if they’re relying on a calling campaign to drum up new leads?

Content marketing isn’t a silver bullet. Nothing is. But it’s also not a shiny object that’s run its course. Content marketing is critical, especially in the upper funnel where you establish your brand. Without it, how will you take a prospect on the journey that lands them at your doorstep, reaching out when they’ve 70% mark. The simple truth is you won’t.

And on the rare occasion when one of the telemarketers makes a connection and has a meaningful conversation with a decision-maker who’s in an evaluation cycle, they’ll find it nearly impossible to squeeze their way onto the dance floor unless they are in the very early stages. Simply put, without a content strategy to support it, teleprospecting is a waste of precious marketing budget.

At the turn of the century, the most common responses teleprospectors heard—when they were lucky enough to make connection—were, “Thanks, but we’re not looking,” and “We are evaluating, but we’re down to our short list.”

The evolution of content marketing changed that by tipping the balance toward inbound leads that were already well on their way to making a decision.

Teleprospectors will have their share of conversations. By putting the right content in front of the right eyes at the right time, and the odds turning those conversations into leads will be much improved when teleprospecting makes a comeback.

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Marketing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media: Presence matters most

The lead fr0m the eMarketer article says it all:

Social media marketers feel that having a presence on social sites is more important than advertising there, but there are still challenges related to keeping a community running online.

And so it is today as it was in the beginning: Social media is about showing up and showing what you know. Because, let’s face it, in today’s world no one will give your ad a second look without trusting you first. That’s especially true in the B2B space. And that is the beauty of the power of social media.

Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name the biggies, give you ample opportunity to seek, build and engage an audience in a way that positions your people – and by extension your company – as industry experts. And when you take the step of sharing your expertise in public forums the market takes note and comes to see that your people can be relied on to offer counsel without without an invoice attached.

So we all seem to understand the importance of taking part in social media, but where we, all of us, still struggle is the all-important content creation. It’s not a question of how to do it, it’s a question of how to find the time to do it. I wish I had a good answer for you other than making time – 20-30 minutes – every day, or every other day, to scan your Google alerts for ideas (where do you think this came from) and decide how you want to handle them: Is it blog-worthy, or will a simple tweet do, and then handling them.

Of all the possibilities for social media involvement Twitter is, by far, the most forgiving. It takes very little time, yet it will expose your company and it’s people to an audience you won’t find anywhere else. Add a hash tag or two into the mix and you have the potential to grow your audience even faster.

Let’s be honest, we are constantly making accommodations for our time, letting something slide because another, more important, thing pops up, or dropping activities altogether. If you believe there’s value in social media, you will find the time to work it in. And as its value to your marketing programs grows, you’ll find yourself dedicating more time to it.

Regardless of time, market expectations say you have to be involved, so it’s time to get in and make your presence known.

October 12, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Social Media a waste of money

According to Gordon Beattie of Beattie Communications, social media is a waste of time and money for many companies.For those on a limited budget, and who doesn’t claim that to be a reality, Beattie suggests they are better off:

getting their websites to the top of the search engines or grabbing the headlines in the press and media is going to give them a much better return than a social media marketing campaign. The truth is that the majority of companies are wasting valuable manpower and financial resources on social media. I come at it from the standpoint – if it does not drive sales and build a brand, it’s not worth doing.

There’s a lot to unpack in here.

First, I agree that SEO needs to be a priority – regardless of budget. But what Beattie is ignoring is the important role social media can play in turbocharging PR efforts, especially for companies that have limited budgets. In my world, limited budget is shorthand for small company, and I know very few small companies that are capable of “grabbing the headlines.”

Limited-budget companies that employ good social media practices of listening, responding and creating solid original content, are not only building brand, they’re laying the foundation for future PR efforts by establishing their subject matter expertise and credibility. I have always had more success with media when working from a foundation we, the company, built, than by working the traditional pitch model.

To be sure, there are companies that are wasting time and money in social media, but that stems more from poor execution than from not belonging in the space. Done right, social media can work for most any company B2B or B2C, and for Beattie to dismiss it as being a waste is shortsighted.

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , | 1 Comment

It’s hard to argue with Search Engine Land’s B2B Social Media tips

Every so often I run across an article that has me nodding in complete agreement, and this one from Search Engine Land had me doing exactly that. The article – while using the work “tips” – actually outlines four reasons B2B companies need to be involved in social media.

Putting aside tactics like Facebook, Twitter and blogging, SEL’s Strictly Business points to the four basic elements of why:

  1. Influence your online reputation
  2. Better position your brand
  3. Engage prospects & customers
  4. Improve customer service

If you’re not doing these things for your company, others will do it for you. And those others will include customers (happy and not so happy), competitors (looking to gain an edge), and media.

Not only does social media give us the power to monitor and comment on what others are saying, it also provides the opportunity to drive what is being said. It’s an offer that’s hard to refuse and one that can be accepted in 4 simple steps.

Isn’t it time to take the first step?

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing with the LG Revolution for social media evolution

By day I’m the director of marketing for OptiMine, a paid search bid management solution and I spent last week in Boston exhibiting at Shop.org, a trade show for online retailers. Most of our marketing efforts are executed across the Web and social media is becoming a major part of that. I say becoming because we are a young company, almost four years old, and, as the first marketing hire, I got started only three months ago.

Using a smartphone while on site is a must for anyone who is doing trade shows. There is no better way to capture the activity. For Shop.org I was fortunate to have gotten my hands on the LG Revolution with Verizon service. I say fortunate because it allowed me to accomplish everything I set out to do.

While meeting prospects and customers is the primary objective for any exhibitor, Web 2.o and smartphone technology has made it possible to go beyond, bringing the wider experience to a much bigger audience. I’m talking about more than live tweeting with a hashtag. For example, the video below was shot using the Revolution. I was standing a few feet away from the subject and, although you can hear the background noise, y0u cannot appreciate just how loud it was. That’s how good the mic on the Revolution is. In terms of use, shooting video and stills and immediately uploading to YouTube, Twitter or Facebook is as simple as selecting “Share” and deciding where you want to send it.

 

The Revolution is 4G and the speeds are amazing, but the call quality does leave a little something to be desired. While I didn’t experience any problems, I did use the phone to call several people and a few did comment it sounded like I was speaking in a cave.

If you’re looking to shoot video, or stills and upload to your favorite social networking site – for  business or pleasure – the LG Revolution is a great option.

September 18, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Google+ a consolidation of power

Like most of you, I’ve been following the Google+ talk through the thousands of blog posts that have popped up in the past several days. There is no shortage of Feature to feature comparisons with Facebook, nor is there a lack of opinion and analysis of what Google+ means for the future of Facebook. I did, however, come across a post that considers Google’s latest offering for what it means to the Google as a whole.

Alex Salkever’s column in StreetFight is written from the perspective of hyper-local, but his observations and analysis apply across the spectrum of local to global. Simply put, Salkever posits the notion that, with Google+, Google has added the third and final leg it needs to become a “one-stop-shop for multiple facets of local advertising, all sold through its automated self-service sales machine.” What’s more, the machine will be self-feeding. The other two legs are Google Offers and, of course Adwords.

Individually, each has varying degrees of market penetration, but taken in total the three have a very good chance of creating the Web-dominating force Google has long sought.

There are far too many variables in play to determine when, if ever, the consolidation Salkever envisions will come to pass. But based on the early reviews of Google+, I wouldn’t blame Mark Zuckerberg for feeling a bit nervous at the moment.

July 2, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ducking the Social Media Sledge Hammer

I got sucked-in today and am still beating myself up over it. I fell for the old bait and switch not once, but twice, and got hit by the social media sledge hammer. In this case the sledge hammer came in the form of two whitepapers that went from informative and educational to heavy-handed marketing in the span of a couple of paragraphs.

One was going to tell me how to determine when it was time to leave the free paid-search management tools (Google Adwords, etc.) behind in favor of a more robust version paid version. The second, still dealing with paid search, said I would learn about the different ways of tracking conversions and the variety of cookies that can be placed on a searcher’s computer. Sadly, neither came close to providing me with anything I would considered even remotely educational. Both showed a complete lack of depth and were anything but interesting. Both were spectacular failures.

But that’s not the worst of it.

While reading it became very obvious that both were thinly veiled marketing brochures. I may be a purist when it comes to whitepapers, but I am of the belief that their role is to educate readers and, while doing so, establish the author – individual(s) or company – as a thought and industry leader. A well written and thoughtful whitepaper doesn’t need any marketing spin because the reader will make all of the necessary connections simply by consuming the document.

When I come across marketing fluff disguised as thoughtful analysis, my first thought is that the company doesn’t have the resources to create the content,  lacks the internal SME’s, or doesn’t have confidence in their own abilities.

Traditional marketing is for making claims. Social is for substantiating those claims. Each should inform and support the other, but mixing them can leave a bad taste in your prospect’s mouth.

June 30, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Timing is everything for this marketer

Just a few short weeks ago I joined OptiMine Software as the first director of marketing. OptiMine is a 3 yr old technology company that develops and sells bid optimization software for companies engaged in large (+$30K monthly spend) paid search campaigns. As their first member of the marketing department I walked into what is, for all intents and purposes, a blank slate. That is why the 1o marketing lessons in this article from Mark Suster was a welcomed find.

I’ve been involved in technology marketing for most of the last decade and spent much of that time in a start-up-like division of a company with annual sales of $100 million. OptiMine is a true start up and the marketing plan I presented to senior management today is the first in our short history. Thanks to Mark Suster’s article, I will benefit from his experience and his 10 lessons.

Timing is everything.

June 28, 2011 Posted by | Marketing | , , | Leave a comment

Charging into social media

This space is normally reserved for my observations about social media as it pertains to marketing, especially in the B2B space. While this post is not a complete departure, it is somewhat outside the norm.

I was recently asked to play with and review the new Droid Charge by Samsung for Verizon Wireless. Fortunately for me the offer came just before I was to leave for Seattle on a business trip. As the reason for the trip was attend SMX Advanced it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the Charge a test drive. Specifically, I wanted to find out how well the phone performs in completing standard social media tasks: shooting and uploading images and video. But I’ll start with a few general observations.

First 4G plus the 1GHz processor kick tail: the upload and download speeds are fabulous. I could tell without looking at the top display when I was in a 3G area by the noticeable change in performance.

And speaking of the display…I don’t recall seeing one that is as large or vivid as the one on this phone. Measuring 4.3″ the trademarked Super AMOLED touch screen is the best I’ve ever had the privlidege of using and am looking forward to doing so again in the, hopefully, near future.  When I was first handed the phone, I thought the size, 5.11″ by 2.66″ would make it difficult to carry and handle, but was happily surprised to find that not to be the case.

The Charge sits on the Android 2.2 platform and has more than 150,0o0 apps available for download. I didn’t look at all of them, but did enough searching through the app market to see that if you have something specific in mind, you’ll find an app to do the job.

Now, on to the job at hand: images and video.

As I said earlier, my primary goal was to learn how well the charge performs in uploading images and video to social media sites. I make my living using social media to promote OptiMine Software – Seattle was my first official assignment as the new Director of Marketing. To assist me, my first act was to download apps for the appropriate social sites; TweetDeck, Facebook and YouTube. As expected the downloads went smoothly and pinning the icons to the desktop was simple and intuitive.

The phone performed very well when shooting both still images and video. The 4″+ display made the job especially easy, particularly when panning in video mode.  When it comes to sharing the Charge is pretty slick. The left hand button at the bottom of the phone acts as the menu for everything. simply push it and it returns the commands that are specific to the screen, app, website, etc. that is active in the display.

If you want to share your image on Facebook select share, then scroll to and select Facebook and, bingo, your image is attached to your wall. The same process holds for YouTube – shoot, select, share. In the case of YouTube, however, I had trouble uploading video to my channel. The app told me the upload was taking place, and I could see that it was across the top activity bar, but I have yet to find where they ended up.

Considering how well the phone performed otherwise, I’m convinced that the problem with the video upload is user error.

Bottom line, I really like this phone. I’m not ready for an upgrade for another 18 months, but when the time comes, the Charge will be high on my list.

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , | Leave a comment

Social is great, but it can’t replace personal

Social media is a great way to engage with your market – we all know that – and an untold number of companies are now taking part. But I’ve been concerned that too many of the younger folk who are growing up in the world of social networking are going to fail miserably when forced to communicate face-to-face rather than Facebook-to-Facebook.

While I still believe there is reason to be concerned, I discovered – actually it was my 12 year old son – two local establishments that employ teens and young adults that are so customer-centric, I was pleasantly shocked by the way these young kids conduct themselves. What hit me hardest, though, is I never expected it because of my own perception of the culture they are immersed in. In this case, as in most, perception is not reality.

Before I elaborate, I need to provide a little background.

My 12 year old son discovered Aggressive Inline Skating (AIL) during summer vacation. If you don’t know what it is, take a few minutes to watch the video. He’s been (ice) skating  and playing hockey for several years already, but when he found AIL he fell in love. He’s not quite to the level of the guys in this video, but he’s having a hell of a good time trying to get there.

After several months of skating at the local indoor skate park, 3rd Lair, in traditional inline skates, mom and I decided to find him a used pair built for the type of skating he’s doing. Knowing nothing about them, I did as much online research as possible and went forth to find a pair. He tried ’em and liked ’em – just like Mikey – then we decided to get an expert opinion. The guy’s at 3rd Lair were the first stop.

They not only took the time to answer all of our questions, they also answered several questions we didn’t think to ask. Just to be clear, there’s was no profit motive at work here as 3rd Lair deals in skateboards, not skates. After giving us as much advice as they could, their last bit was a recommendation that we visit a shop called Pinewski’s.

Pinewski’s deals in skis, skateboards, knee boards, and inline. We brought our used skates to the shop hoping to learn just how good a deal Dad got on them and to find out if they were any good. For the next 30 minutes, a young man named Steve gave us a tutorial on aggressive inline skating and, in the end, we found that Dad, I, did make a good purchase, but that the bearings were a bit worn. He did recommend a replacement bearing, but also said it would be better if the lad spent a few weeks on the skates before taking on the extra speed the bearings would bring him. Here the guy could have made a sale, but recommended something that would, at best, delay us from spending or, at worst, have us buy the bearings from a shop closer to home.

Both young men were doing exactly what we try to do with social media: share our expertise, without selling, knowing that we are building credibility in the market and putting our companies in a position win future sales. I don’t know if either was conscious of the tactics they were using, but I tend to doubt because other experiences tell me it is part of the culture to coach and mentor those who have an interest in skating.

Too often, what is now called social is anything but personal. It’s nice to know there are at least a couple of places where personal comes first.

It gives me confidence that we won’t completely loose the real in favor of the digital.

June 3, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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