Get more Bang for your Buck with Creative Content Development and Repurposing

There has been a lot of chatter recently regarding the topic of content marketing. In its most simplistic form, content marketing literally means taking your content and marketing it. Sounds easy enough, right? If you have the right strategy in place, and have properly identified your objectives and key success metrics, then yes. It is easy. But if you haven’t, you will find yourself in a vicious cycle, with insufficient content to fill the engine.

So, here are some tips to help you succeed with your content marketing program.

  1. Know your objectives. Are you trying to generate new leads or nurture your pipeline to convert leads into opportunities into sales?
  2. Know your audience. Remember, everyone ingests content differently. While one person devours a technical whitepaper, his/her colleague may prefer to watch a webinar. Having the right content, for the right persona is critical in nurturing the prospect so that they convert into a lead.
  3. Identify existing content/assets. This includes: whitepapers, webinars, case studies, podcasts, online calculators, videos, etc.
  4. Fill the content gaps. If you are heavy in one type of content (i.e. whitepapers), but light on others (i.e. case studies), start filling the gaps. Your goal should be to have at least 2 pieces of content for each type of asset
  5. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. Can you repurpose any of your existing content? Some ideas for this include: Have the author of a whitepaper record it and turn it into a podcast. Take a case study and turn it into a webinar. Convert a webinar into a whitepaper.
  6. Know how your content is being consumed. Are you posting it on 3rd party sites and collecting the download leads? Do visitors need to complete a lead form in order to download it from your site? Datasheets are typically “freebies”, but the more sophisticated content, such as whitepapers and webinars, are typically caged. In other words, they can’t be downloaded unless the recipient provides some basic information.
  7. Ensure your content is well-written and well delivered. Times are tough and we are all trying to make do with the resources at hand. But if you’re sacrificing well-crafted content that stays on message and engages your audience, then you are, (pardon the expression), being penny wise and pound foolish. Invest in the resources to craft a beautifully-written document and you will be able to repurpose it (see point #5) for a variety of secondary deliverables
  8. Cross-Sell. When someone downloads a whitepaper, thank them and send them a link to a pre-recorded webinar of the same topic. Did they sign up for a webinar? Send them a case study. Try to have at least 3 pieces of content that focus on the same topic, in different formats so that your audience can consume it at various stages of the buying cycle. (see #2)
  9. Use your content to feed your social media engine. Pull out stats and tweet them. Then link to the source asset (webinar, whitepaper, etc.) Take the Q&A from a webinar and turn it into an FAQ.

Good luck. And remember, if your content isn’t delivering, perhaps it’s as simple as changing the title. It’s amazing how something as simple as that can make the difference between a successful campaign and a dud. Be bold and test different titles, subject lines, and even audiences. And don’t be afraid to dust off content from a couple of years ago. If 70% of it is still relevant, it is far simpler to update the other 30% than to start from scratch.

The Role of PR in the Marketing Mix

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the words: “PR”? For some it’s Press Release. For others it’s Public Relations. But for all companies, PR is a Marketing necessity.

Consider what PR can deliver for you that advertising can’t.

  1. Credibility: That’s right. I don’t mean that you should go hog-wild and issue press releases every other day. What I mean is that, done properly, the relations you build with journalists, bloggers, editors and analysts can ultimately propel your brand/company/product to the front lines. Nothing says credibility like a good review, a headline in a newspaper, or a positive nod from a blogger
  2. Messaging: PR people spend more time working with words than just about anyone. Well, I’m not counting the folks who write documentation, or legal contracts. I’m talking about the words that get into the public eye. Who better to help finesse your messaging than the folks whose livelihood it is to get the attention of the media?
  3. Media and Analyst relations: PR folks are known for their rolodexes and for their ability to network, schmooze, and develop the right relationships with the right people. They can quickly ascertain who you need to be in front of, and how to make it happen.
  4. Pitching: I’m not talking about baseballs. I’m talking about pitching tightly crafted article outlines (know as abstracts) to a target list of media, journalists, bloggers and analysts. The result is INK. That is what you want: ink on paper (or pixels on a screen). You want someone to write an article, comment on a press release, ask for an interview and basically put your name in front of the world.
  5. Media Database: This ties into #3 & #4. Your PR team/person will develop a database of the publications and contacts relevant to your target market and product/service. This becomes your go-to resource for pitching media and analysts.
  6. Editorial Calendar: Think of all the publications in which you would love to be published. Well, the majority publish an annual calendar of topics being covered. Your PR person will take all the calendars, decide which articles are relevant, which abstracts meet the criteria, marry that to the proper media contact and pitch away. If they’re successful, you get ink, which enhances your credibility and increases brand awareness. You see, it all comes full circle.

So, before you dismiss PR as “just a press release”, take a step back and look at the whole cycle.

Print vs Email – Leverage both for a compelling ROI

The most important facet of any direct marketing campaign, whether it be print or online, is getting the reader to open it up. Now I’m not talking about bills and statements. These fall under a completely different category and the rules are changing daily as to how they are used for marketing purposes. What I’m talking about is good, old-fashioned direct mail.

When it comes to email marketing, you must have a compelling subject line. When it comes to print, you have to get the envelope opened. But then what? You’ve either gone to all the trouble of crafting the perfect subject line, one that is not blacklisted, has just the right amount of words, and is compelling and catchy, even on a smartphone. Or you’ve designed a stellar envelope, with an engaging creative element that grabs attention and entices the recipient to open it and see what’s inside.

Once you’ve captured someone’s attention you need a reaction. You need them to ACT. But how? Are you sending your prospect to a PURL (their own personalized webpage)? Do you want them to contact you via email or phone? Are they downloading content? Are they signing up for an event? Are they participating in a contest? Are they scanning a QR code or filling out a form?

The choices are endless but the objectives are the same: Generate interest and turn a prospect into an opportunity.

There are people out there who will say that print is dead. There are also people out there who will profess that people’s inboxes are saturated and messages are being lost and ignored.

I agree with both statements. And, to that point, I believe that there is a place for both tactics in your direct marketing arsenal.

Clearly there are pros and cons for each. First off, email is relatively cheap. There are no printing costs, no postage costs, it is very simple to test a variety of messages and measuring results is almost instantaneous. Plus, you can schedule your email down to the minute and day that it is sent. On the other hand, print is tangible, so you can touch it and hold it.  It is relatively simple to cultivate an address database since you don’t need personal email addresses, and it has staying power. There are endless varieties of envelopes, colours, sizes, and formats at your disposal and most printers are only too happy to work with you to develop the optimal printed piece. However, in many cases print can be cost-prohibitive, time consuming, and nearly impossible to track open rates.  So why use print?

Because it works. When executed properly, print is the perfect complement to email. Is it the be-all and end-all? Of course not. But as I mentioned, people’s inboxes are inundated with offers, newsletters, spam, contests, jokes, etc. It’s getting more and more difficult to cut through the noise. But print, that’s different. I’ve run simultaneous campaigns, where the creative, the messaging, and the call-to-action were identical between print and email. And you know what? The response to the print campaign was significantly higher to that of the email.

Yes it was in a colourful envelope and mailed during the holiday season, when folks are expecting to receive mail. But I ran the same campaign again, when it wasn’t the holidays, and it still outperformed its email counterpart.

Results vary between industries, geographies and target audience, and you need to be diligent with your testing and tracking. But if you’re not using print as one of your direct marketing tactics, you could very well be undermining your efforts and missing out on opportunities.

Tradeshows – 6 tips for a successful event

I admit it…I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to Tradeshows. On one hand, I know that it’s important to attend, at some level, if you want to make your presence known in the market and, more importantly, if you are an established brand and “can’t afford” to not be seen. However, like all marketing arsenal, there is a time and a place.

The Tradeshow “hey day” of the 90’s is long gone. Yes, we all mourned the loss of Comdex. But lately, I’ve noticed a resurgence, dare I say a renewed excitement, for the tradeshows of today.

If you’re a B2B company, here are 7 tips I will share with you, coveted over nearly 20 years of attending shows as either a delegate or an exhibitor. So, even if you got stuck with a 10×10 booth in the bowels of the show floor, or your neighbours are lacklustre and unimaginative, you can still be successful if you bear the following in mind: 

1 – Know Why You’re There
Are you a new company or is this the first time attending the event? If so, you are probably looking to fill your pipeline with contacts (notice I didn’t say “leads”). Tradeshows are great places to fill your database with a multitude of potential prospects. Marketing will want to nurture the contacts; Sales will want to build pipeline. Both can be accomplished with patience and an understanding of what constitutes a lead. (see point #2) But be warned, some really did just come for the t-shirt. Are you an established company? (more than 5 years of consistent participation at the show). Then you are likely looking to connect with prospects already in your pipeline to move them along the sales cycle. Tradeshows are a great opportunity to meet with customers and prospects and grow the relationship.

2 – Make Sure Sales and Marketing are Aligned
When it comes to whether or not a show is successful, ensure you have established the criteria BEFORE you commit to the event. What marketing considers a “lead” and what sales does can often rival the Venus vs Mars analogy. As far as I’m concerned, Marketing’s job is to nurture any and all contacts for viability. If there is a real opportunity, intent to purchase, and budget allocation, then the “lead” can be handed off to Sales. Otherwise, let it stay in Marketing’s capable hands! Marketing will nurture that contact, provide them with information, content such as whitepapers and case studies, invitations to webinars, etc. Sales need not waste their valuable time on the “t-shirt” grabbers. When agreeing on your success criteria, establish whether participation in the event is to: foster existing relationships, generate leads (assign a number), strategic presence, competitive research. And when the show is over, do a post-mortem and document the results. I often find sending a simple feedback form to the folks who worked the booth is a terrific gauge. And it will make next year’s decision to participate much easier. Finally, agree on who shoul work the booth. In my opinion the ideal mix is 1 salesperson, 1 product/marketing person, 1 technical pre-sales person (depending on the audience, of course).

3 – Drive Traffic
If you don’t make a memorable impression, then all your efforts will be for naught. Are you doing a draw at your booth for a large ticket item (i.e. an iPad)? Are you giving away 200 “tchachkes” (i.e. pens, stress balls, etc.)? Are you running a contest? Do you have dynamic presentations and presenters? Are you issuing a press release? Most importantly, are you communicating this well in advance to your prospects? Find out if there’s an official #hashtag for the event and use it in your social media efforts. (see #5 for more)

4 – Integrate Your Messaging
If you have an Events section on your website (and really, who doesn’t these days), post your participation in the event as soon as possible. Make it prominent in your newsletter. Add it to the front page of your site the week before the event. If you’re issuing a press release, get the show’s media list and notify them in advance. Share the release under embargo if you can. Do an email blast to last year’s attendee list. If your budget permits, do a print campaign (yes….people open envelopes if the message is compelling). Run a contest. Use Social Media. Assign someone to tweet while at the show, take pictures, post them to your company page on LinkedIn and Facebook. Engage your prospects!

5 – Be prepared
I am amazed at how many companies spend tens of thousands of dollars on events, that don’t bother to spend the time ensuring that their presentation is clean, free of typos, and has been well rehearsed by the person delivering it. When you ship all the materials down, allow room for mishaps (see my post on “what can go wrong will go wrong” for more tradeshow pitfalls). Ensure your booth staff have time for bio breaks, competitive research, etc. Take the time to give them the show agenda so they know when to expect heavy traffic on the event floor. Arm them with breath mints and water. Invest in a lead scanner (or be prepared to scan/hand-enter potentially hundreds of business cards). Give them all the return shipping way-bills in advance. Make it easy for them to focus on a successful show, not all the minutae best suited to your events co-ordinator. And for goodness sakes, check the booth BEFORE you ship it. Are all the panels in tact? Do you need light bulbs? Is the messaging still accurate?

6 – Follow Up
After you’ve spent all the time, money and energy preparing for the show, marketing it, developing materials and presentations, don’t lose sight of your valuable “contacts”. Get them into your CRM database (or whatever you use to manage leads) ASAP. Yes…even the business cards that the salesperson insisted be put into their pocket for follow up (just be sure to return them to said salesperson!) Ensure the lead source is listed as the tradeshow. Have a follow up email ready to go, with a piece of content that was not available at the event, sent to them within 72 hours of the last day of the event.

So there you have it….my top six tips. To thank you for getting this far, I will now offer a bonus tip: Do more than exhibit. Are there speaking opportunities? Sponsorship opportunities? Can you partner with the Event Organizer to produce a webinar in advance of the event and get yourself in front of their attendees? All of these should factor into your decision to exhibit.

Good luck! And if you ever find yourself overwhelmed with upcoming events, if you need help implementing some of these tips, or if you simply want to bounce some ideas, please contact me at: joannegore@rogers.com

What happens when you don’t KISS?

So Tim Horton’s is adding a new size to its cup lineup (http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/about/new-cup-sizes.html). But here’s the funny thing; while they are introducing a new larger 24oz cup, they’re still calling it XL! Huh? Instead of taking this new larger cup and calling it XXL, they have instead decided to rename ALL of their other sizes. small becomes XS, medium becomes small, etc. If you look at the actual graphic they provide (http://dam-img.rfdcontent.com/cms/323/323_original.jpg) they go ahead and explain the following: “…a large double-double is now a medium double-double”. Again…Huh?

Let me get this straight. You pull up to the drive through and order your standard, large coffee double-double. But in reality, a large is now the old XL. What does that do to the cream/sugar ratio? And what about the poor sucker who orders an XL and gets this new monstrosity?

Why am I going on and on about this? Personally I drink my coffee black so it doesn’t affect me as it will others. But believe me, it will affect others. On one hand, everyone has to now remember their old size and convert it to the new size (to some that might be as confusing as converting pounds to grams). Then factor in the whole cream/sugar thing. But the thing that irks me the most is the motivation behind it all.

Is it a ploy to raise prices? Again, Tim Horton’s states that the new sizes won’t affect the prices…but what does that mean exactly? Is an XS (an old small) less expensive…or is it the same price as what a small was? Is a large the same price as a large or the old XL? This is all making  my head hurt.

Now…back to the point at hand. Why am I lamenting this so much? Because I see this sort of confusion all the time on websites, landing pages, marketing collateral, etc.

I was introduced to a book several years ago called: “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug.  It has become my go-to resource. Basically, if you give someone too many choices, they get confused and eventually abandon your site. If you want them to go to a specific page then send them there. Don’t make them wade through pages and pages of your content…it will only piss them off. 3 clicks should be the MOST that it takes to get someone to their desired location. And if they don’t know why they’re on your site and what’s in it for them….HELP them. Direct them very smoothly to the page you want them to visit. The page that will get you the most bang for your buck.

But for many that is a difficult and daunting task. I’ve sat through many messaging sessions and website reviews. How can you succinctly convert your core message into a one or two-sentence overview, that explains why what you do is important to to your customer? Everyone is so focused on how it works. Who their repertoire of customers is. What awards they’ve won. The “buzzwords” they love.

But is that going to get your potential customers to click? To download more information? To attend a webinar? To “follow” or “like” you?

Nobody wants to admit this, but at the end of the day, the customer doesn’t give a rat’s ass about how you are the number one provider of state-of-the-art technology that will revolutionize the way they do business. Because EVERYONE says that!

Take a step back. Decide who you’re talking to. Determine their biggest challenges. And then, clearly state how you can help them beat those challenges. Don’t make them think; rather help them realize that what you offer is what they need.

As for coffee? Maybe I’ll go to McDonald’s McCafe. The coffee’s actually quite good and I don’t have to think about what size I’m going to get when I place my order.