What Works in Content Marketing?

I had the opportunity to attend an excellent presentation on content marketing by Michael Brenner, vice president of marketing and content strategy at SAP. Content marketing is experiencing astronomical growth the last two to three years, with no slow down in sight. Some of the frenzy over content, however, seems to have the feel of chasing the latest shiny object for brand marketers.

Is there a decent ROI when it comes to content marketing? I believe there can be, but it’s going to take some growth and practice to really hone in on everything that well done content marketing can offer.

For instance, in order to be most effective, Brenner correctly pointed out that content needs the following:

  • Simple answers to relevant questions
  • Consumer-centric focus
  • To be more visual consumable and “snackable”
  • Emotional messages (these are twice as effective as promotional messages)
  • Focus on helping on the customer
  • Entertainment value as well as information

Mark Schaefer’s recent post about Content Shock had some truth to it. Content production is increasing so dramatically that it will reach a tipping point, if it hasn’t already. The vast supply of content means is will be tougher to break through the noise for most marketers and reach their audience. Those that succeed will have one of two things 1.) Really deep pockets to promote their content, or 2.) Excellence in producing the best content that breaks through the clutter.

Succeeding in content marketing is a tall order for sure, but it can be done. Points like the ones above are just the start, so much more goes into creating really great content that gets noticed and drives action. What would you add to the list?

The State of Trust (in Under Three Minutes)

The 13th annual Edelman Trust Barometer contains some very interesting developments on the state of consumer trust.

Some points that caught my attention included:

Technology is the most trusted industry, while banks and financial institutions are the least trusted.

Only 18 percent of those surveyed trusted business leaders, and only 13 percent trusted government leaders.

Influence and authority has shifted from the few top leaders to the many (with the help of social media).

Messages in the new media age must contain humility, transparency and a willingness to explain mutual benefit.

Great insights…

Google+: The Resurrection

Somewhat surprising news emerged recently in the social media world. According to Global Web Index, Google+ has surpassed Twitter to become the second largest social network in the world.

Here’s how the numbers break out: Facebook still holds the top spot with 693 million active users, Google+ has 343 million actives and Twitter comes in at 288 million.

Google+ has had quite a journey over its short history. It started with a bang and millions joined in droves. Then, it went through a period of diminished use and got labeled a “ghost town.” But the site has been steadily gaining interest and traction to get to where it is today.

I’ve always liked Google+. Some have unfairly overly compared it to Facebook, and although it does have some  similarities, it’s a very different site with differing strengths and appeal. G+ users aren’t subjected to advertising. It also offers a cleaner and simpler user experience, not to mention that it’s a great site to connect and engage on a deeper level with others that have similar interests.

A couple recent innovations that I think have helped G+ dramatically include the introduction of Communities and allowing brand pages to more easily connect with consumers. Both moves allow finding and connecting with others to be a much easier and enjoyable exercise.

It’s great to see where G+ has landed. Of course, with the competitiveness of social networks, things can change in a matter of months.

Converged Media Imperative

Converged media has been a hot topic the last two years and is picking up speed in 2013. This concept represents a blurring of the lines between the three types of media: paid, earned and owned.

I don’t think there are many who would disagree that this is happening and will continue. But another important issue is: What type of marketing professional will flourish in this environment and bring added value to his or her brand?

A word that comes to mind to describe this professional is: diverse. Fluency only in a single area, be it advertising, public relations, social media, branding or others is career and brand limiting. The value add comes from multi-disciplinary professionals who understand all of the converging types of media at the strategic and tactical levels and can fit them into a bigger, more seamless picture.

The disciplinary silos must come down. They should be replaced collaborative, cross-functional teams that can work together across the media spectrum.

All of this doesn’t mean specialization has no place. It simply means marketers must adapt and grow in their understanding of media, and work together more effectively. Converged media demands it.

Balanced Decision Making

Survey 10 different organizations about how they make decisions and no doubt you’ll get 10 very different approaches. This is understandable. Differing organizational cultures need differing processes that fit the organization.

To be most effective, however, business decision making needs a strong element of balance.

For some organizations, decisions are made too quickly, with not enough information and little staff involvement. This often leads to poor, ineffective and costly decisions.

For others, the problem is just the opposite. The process is very long, with overwhelming amounts of information and too many people involved. This leads to unresponsiveness, lack of innovation and missed opportunities.

The best decisions start with clearly defining how the decision will be made, including:

  • Who should be involved?
  • What is right data or research to be gathered?
  • How much time is realistically needed?

By starting with evaluating how decisions are made, that will be a great first step in deciding wisely.


Not Your Father’s B2B Marketing (B’s Are People Too)

Excellent summary of some of the points of distinction when it comes to B2B marketing. The point about opportunities for greater depth in reaching the target audience is right on the money.

moebius ink

Last week, Marketing Profs and TopRank published an excellent “this is not your father’s B2B” eBook (thank you!) with 33 tips from top marketers (now embedded below) on how to bring innovation to the classic world of B2B marketing. I’ve whittled it down to what I think are the strongest TOP 5 themes.

First, there is a crucial message woven into the eBook that is increasingly important and impossible to ignore:

#1. “B’s and C’s are People (and people love a good story),” via @davidbthomas.

Multiple thought leaders in the eBook emphasized (and re-emphasized) that whether you’re labelled B2B or B2C, the bottom line is we’re all people and need to be approached as human beings for greatest success. I’m not saying you can simply take an idea from the Skittles Facebook page and apply it to your latest Big Data pitch. But I am stressing that businesses don’t…

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We Have Seen the Brand, and It is Not Our Enemy

The explosion of social media hasn’t been good for branding. Somewhere along the way, branding seems to have developed a bad name (although still not as bad as public relations).

I saw a comment the other day on a social media platform to the effect that the concept of branding was outdated because “we’re all connected now.” It’s not an isolated comment these days, but rather it represents what many have stated over the past few years in one form or another. The underlying belief behind this is that any attempt by a company to develop and promote its brand is inherently based on lies. That there is some type of spin being created to trick consumers and lure them into believing something false.

This type of thinking shows really a lack of understanding about what branding is all about. That’s why I like this post about the Zappos brand because it tells the story of what a brand really is: an extension of the culture (people) that work there.

Branding is about taking what is true about the company and presenting that to consumers, not making things up. Ideally the true culture and values of the company add up to a distinct value proposition in the minds of consumers.

Because consumers can talk to each other now via social media doesn’t invalidate brand development and communication efforts. Indeed, it only make these efforts more important. Companies sometimes fail, because they’re filled with people that can make mistakes. That doesn’t mean the great lie of branding has been exposed.