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.

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

10 reasons why being an entrepreneur makes sense

I’ve always admired entrepreneurs.

When I was out on my own as a typesetter and graphic designer over 25 years ago, it was called “Freelancing“. Today, I am a “consultant“. But am I an entrepreneur?

I spent the last 20+ years working in the corporate world. I’ve worked for small business owners (entrepreneurs) and large enterprise organizations (founded at one time or other by….an entrepreneur).

Not everyone has what it takes to start, run, manage, sell, market, produce and deliver products and services. You have to be able to sell yourself, have a bit of a thick skin, and recognize when it isn’t working and to pack it in. It takes passion, dedication, organization, energy, time, courage, and of course MONEY.

It takes money to start a business. It takes money to sustain it as you build up your client base. It takes money to buy supplies, pay your staff (if you have one) and support yourself and your family. But if you can tackle that hurdle and set realistic goals for yourself. If you appreciate the benefits of being your own boss and doing what you are passionate about, then maybe, just maybe, you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Here are my top 10 reasons why I chose to go out on my own:

1 – The commute: I used to travel 1.5 hours each way to get to and from work. That’s 3 hours a day! Now my commute is 8 feet

2 – Wardrobe: As much as I love to shop, I must say I love the fact that I get to work in yoga pants and a t-shirt

3 – Cost Savings: I have saved money on makeup, gas, coffee, eating out and clothes (see #2)

4 – Exercise: I can go to the gym whenever I want. Typically, I go for a cardio workout in the morning and am back home, showered and at my desk by 9. On days where I am meeting someone for lunch, I will opt instead to go later in the morning, and head straight to lunch freshly showered and wearing REAL clothes. The bottom line is…it’s up to me

5 – Healthy Eating: Although some people may find the opposite, I find I eat better at home. I have a proper breakfast, a decent lunch, and a home-cooked dinner. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days when I choose to eat frozen yogurt and berries for lunch…but I can tell you it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than if I made that choice and had to purchase it from a foodcourt!

6 – Time for my kids: Most days I am home when they get home from school. I can find out how their day went and give them a hug. And then I can kick them out of my office and continue working until it’s time to make dinner.

7 – Time for me: I don’t have to do grocery shopping on Saturdays anymore! I don’t have to worry about the number of personal calls I make during the day. I don’t have to worry who’s looking over my shoulder if I want to check my Facebook status! And I can set my alarm for 8:55 am on the mornings that I don’t have to get my kids off to school! (see #1)

8 – Fewer politics: As a consultant, I don’t typically get embroiled in the office politics, the office gossip, the idle chit chat and the frustrations that can set in on a team that is strained and overburdened. That doesn’t give permission to be arrogant. On the contrary. I value and respect the people I contact and have the privilege of working with.

9 – Variety: I am a person who thrives on variety. Even if all of my clients want the same thing (i.e. a lead gen strategy), each is different. Different products, solutions, audience, offer, budget, goals, etc. It keeps me on my toes and keeps the creative juices flowing.

10 – Pride: I get to do what I love and share what I’ve learned the last 25+ years with people and companies who appreciate and value what I bring to the table.

Of course there are always days when I wonder what will happen if my proposal doesn’t get accepted, if my prospects dry up, how I’m going to cover the medical expenses with no benefits, whether I made the right decision to go out on my own while we are still in the tenuous process of recovering from a struggling economy. And I suppose for the foreseeable future I will often have those doubts.

But then I remember how I felt when my first proposal was accepted. When my first article was published. When I received payment for my first consulting job. And how proud I feel when I receive gratitude from a client and a referral to someone new. I also think of the amazing people I know made the very same decision I recently made and have thrived.

So, whether you consider me a freelancer, a consultant, an entrepreneur, or simply self-employed…at the end of the day…I am happy! (…and yes, I still have a rolodex of recruiters close by….just in case!)

How do IT Professionals use Social Media?

I’ve been tasked with an interesting project. Truthfully, it’s not all that different from what I’ve done the last 5 years but, what is interesting, is my initial reaction. I actually said “I don’t think social media will work”! Can you imagine that?

I have been preaching the benefits of using social media since I attended my first #MESHmarketing conference in 2006. I didn’t know much about it. I didn’t blog. But I got it. I knew that I was bearing witness to a changing tide in Marketing.

So I began to learn. I attended online Social Media summits. I started following key influencers. I got a Twitter account and began to tread the waters. I installed Tweetdeck and learned ways to leverage hashtags and lists. And I began to implement a social media program at the company where I worked.

And I learned. And I’m still learning.

Social Media is a strange beast. In its simplest form, it is merely one more tactic in a marketer’s toolbox. But it is rarely looked upon in its simplest form. Because it has become very personal.

Social Media is about community. Social Media puts you smack in the middle of everything. It enables you to communicate with peers, express your opinion, research products, socialize globally with like-minded individuals and yes, even follow celebrities.

But for many businesses, especially public companies, Social Media is daunting. It is a new territory of criticisms, unhappy customers, and an arena where you can’t control the content.

Social Media represents a new era. An era where, instead of giving people the information you want to receive, you must learn to share the information they want to get. The whole sense of community is a foreign concept, and not one easily embraced.

But the tides are shifting and businesses are starting to realize the value. Not all businesses, mind you, but many more B2B organizations are incorporating Social Media into their marketing mix than they were 5 years ago.

But there is one group of individuals who, in my opinion, are still not convinced. And if you’re a B2B marketer in the tech space (of which I am one), then you may find yourself wondering what to do next?

You see, most IT professionals and developpers scoff at the notion of Social Media. There. I said it. They hate it. They see no value in it. They don’t “do twitter”. If they use Facebook at all, it’s for purely personal reasons. Same for LinkedIn.

So I ask you, as marketers, how do you include these individuals in your community? How can you reach out to them and share your carefully-crafted IT content? You know, the whitepapers that you struggled to ensure don’t smell like marketing collateral. The webinars you know they would attend if they knew about them.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some very smart people over the years. And as far as I know, their “social media”, their “community”, consists of forums and groups. Yes, the same communities that they’ve participated in for years. Long before social media was the cool new buzzword. But I wonder if that is beginning to change. Are IT people starting to embrace traditional social media venues? Are they on twitter? If so, what hashtags are they using? #ITpro and #ITprofessional seemed to be fairly active, but there wasn’t a lot of meat behind the tweets.

We are all trying to reach this elusive group. And they know it. My question is, is this why they stay away? I certainly hope not. Because that would be unfortunate.

If you’re an IT Professional who is embracing social media please share your thoughts. And if you’re not, please tell me why.