Should we kill marketing?

October 1, 2017

“What if everything we know to be true about marketing is actually what’s holding back our business?”

And in fact – “what if we realize we’ve invested the shipwreck of marketing?”

An interesting way to start a marketing book, eh?

I just finished a fascinating new book, Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses are Turning Marketing Cost into Profit, by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. Joe and Robert are the creators of the mega-conference Content Marketing World, and Joe has written other books like Content Inc, Epic Content Marketing, and Managing Content Marketing.

Catching a theme?

The core message of their new book is acknowledging that the marketing world, as we have known it since the dawn of the big three (print, radio, and TV), is our past and that marketing doesn’t have to be just a cost center anymore. When done well – brands can actually create a profit center from their marketing efforts. Instead of your marketing requiring additional financial resources – what if it generated new dollars? We’ve all heard the idea that about brands should become media companies. You may not want to take your company quite that far. But wouldn’t you like to make money with your marketing efforts?

Traditional marketing has been primarily advertising – the renting of space on someone else’s channel to earn attention, brand awareness and alter the consumer’s behavior. Even PR falls under that description. Instead of buying an ad, the brand or their agency would pitch their story to the editorial side of the advertising channels. Their goal was to have a story written about them or their offerings that would create the same results as paid advertising would have generated.

Along came the Internet and suddenly consumers found their voice. Until that shift, they’d been our silent audience. But as it became easier to share opinions on message boards, forums, social media channels, websites and review outlets, they got louder and louder.

Initially as a defensive mechanism, brands because using the Internet too – creating content to fight for search engine position and to balance the consumers’ voice. But the brands discovered what probably seems to you as a very simple marketing truth. That when the brands provided valuable content and helpful information, the consumers would create a connection and magnify the brand’s reach by sharing the content and inviting others in.

On a mega-level, this is what Johnson & Johnson has done with BabyCenter.com. What started as a simple extension of their core website, it now reaches more than 45 million parents a month across the globe and offers their content in nine different languages. Eight of every ten U.S. mothers use BabyCenter.com.

Odds are your goals aren’t quite so lofty. Which is awesome because that means you can replicate your version of the results faster and with a smaller level of investment. The Internet and digital content have leveled the playing field. It’s why small brands like BigPoppaSmokers.com have crushed their competition, stolen the market share of much bigger companies and have created a brand that garners incredible amplification of their value from the consumers who love them.

The book isn’t suggesting that you abandon your core business model and become an organization that generates revenue the way a traditional media company does. Nor is it suggesting that you should abandon your paid and earned media efforts. For most organizations, there will always be a benefit to those channels.

But what the authors are suggesting is that businesses today also need a profit-generating owned media strategy that will give you an unfair competitive advantage.

Many people may quickly get to the idea that because it gets easier and cheaper to publish content and we have more and more places to put it – that the value of content will be diminished as the volume increases. If we’re talking about generic content that any business in your industry could produce as easily as you could – that’s probably true.

No one needs one more article of benign content that doesn’t take a position, challenge a stall belief or actually go out of its way to be helpful to the audience. It’s why Google changed their algorithm to reward “quality content” and the channels (like Facebook) changed their game so that brands had to buy eyeballs, even if they were sharing something of value.

So now the outlets that we were counting on to leverage our content began to behave like a traditional media channel. Which is why so many companies have decided that the only way to control the delivery was to control the channel.

And voila…they decided to stop competing on a playing field they didn’t control and instead, they became the channel.

Now, instead of relying on paid and earned media to drive people to make a purchase, the goal is to use those channels to drive the audience to your own content where you can add value immediately so that on the day they actually need to buy the thing you sell – you’re the obvious choice.

The book goes on to outline how a traditional company, who has been marketing in more traditional ways, can turn their marketing focus/efforts on its side and come out with a model of generating revenue from their marketing efforts.

I can remember being in an advertising class (so you know how long ago that was) and the professor was talking about the value of brand equity. He explained that Coca Cola was a publicly traded company and so they had to publish their financials. He put up a slide that showed that the company determined the value of their brand was in excess of a few billion dollars. With a B. In 2013 – the value was $79.2 billion dollars.

What happens when you go beyond the brand and create something like BabyCenter.com? Now you have a tangible asset that subsidizes the growth of your company and audience.

Interesting stuff, eh? And I am just scratching the surface of the book. It goes on to walk you through how to think differently about your marketing and begin to re-tool your efforts to this new model.

As with anything Joe and Robert do – I’m a fan. I think they’re insightful thinkers who have walked out what they teach (check out the Content Marketing Institute site) and continue to refine their viewpoint as things evolve.

Check out the book. Re-think your plan for 2018. Begin to build your channel and the equity it can bring your organization.

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Creating your content machine

June 14, 2017

content machineYou’re ready to get your content machine up and running but let’s revisit the information from last week where we covered some of the preliminary steps in creating a successful content strategy. They were:

  1. Identifying the business outcomes/goals for the strategy
  2. Knowing who you are targeting and what would be genuinely helpful to them
  3. Recognizing that the hub of your strategy needs to be a digital presence that you own and control completely (website versus a Facebook page)
  4. Creating a series of spokes (on and offline activity/channels) that will drive prospects to your hub

Once those tasks are complete, you can begin to think about creating your content machine focusing on the kinds of content and the volume/speed of your content creation. The hub and spokes will dictate how much content needs to be created.

Finally, it’s time to think about structure. You need to build a team that will be responsible for concepting/creating content, curating other people’s content, going out into the social space and telling people about available content, etc.

For this to work long-term, you need a few things:

  • A commitment (not just lip service) from the company owner/leadership
  • An allocation of time/resources that is as sacred as any client deadline
  • An editorial calendar that is persona focused
  • A cross-trained team large enough to meet all of the deadlines
  • Measurable business goals – that are regularly being measured/reported
  • An understanding that this is a long-term play and that expectations should be tempered in terms of quarters and years, not days or weeks
  • A marketing plan for promoting the content and the company

If a company is willing to invest the time and effort into doing it right, the business goals will be achieved if not exceeded over time. Sadly, most organizations are just going through the motions and will never really reap the benefits that content marketing can bring them. Worst – their self-serving efforts are costing them business as prospects check out their efforts and quickly move on to a company who is actually walking their talk.

The personas and editorial calendar should ultimately govern the content. Once you know who you’re talking to, you should build out an editorial calendar with content ideas that you know will be of value to one or more of the personas. Everyone on the team can contribute ideas but once the calendar has been set – it should be honored. Because content and social should be timely – there are going to be exceptions to the rule. It’s much easier to deviate from a plan than it is to plan as you go.

Because content and social should be timely – there are going to be exceptions to the rule. It’s much easier to deviate from a plan than it is to plan as you go.

All content should go through the usual creation process – including internal reviews and proofreading. So in that way, it’s governed by whoever owns that part of the process. Naturally, your company should already have its own graphic standards, branding criteria (both visual and voice) and those boundaries are honored as well.

It’s a little like publishing a monthly magazine. You’re always planning a few issues in advance. You have a defined look, feel and audience. You probably have some regular features or offerings. But what drives the entire process is that editorial calendar and the agreement that deadlines will be honored, no matter how busy you are.

Sadly, this generation of business leaders aren’t all going to get it. Some will dismiss it because they don’t personally participate in social networks. Some are afraid to learn about it. Others will believe it’s only worthwhile if your customer is a <fill in the blank> but not for their clients.

That’s great news for the businesses who do get it. It just means the bounty will be even greater.

Content marketing achieved through a well-oiled content machine can be the great equalizer for organizations. It allows small companies, organizations in secondary markets and those with the tenacity to create a library of useful, smart content to not only compete but to win big.

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Making content part of your marketing mix

June 6, 2017

ContentPick up any business magazine, read a marketing blog or attend a conference and you’re going to get the message that you must have a content strategy.  Truth be told – this is nothing new. There’s always been a marketing strategy that emphasized the production of helpful tools/information that taught prospects something of value to earn their trust and a thought leadership position.

What is “new” today is that every company has the capacity to be a publisher and information portal via their own website, blog, social networking pages etc. It used to be difficult and expensive to do and today, it’s neither.

In fact, most companies already have the distribution channels (Facebook page, Twitter account, website, e-newsletter, etc.) in place.  They just do a lousy job of using the tools at hand. For most businesses, these channels don’t get very much attention and they either languish from lack of relevant content or even worse, they become a brag book for their own accomplishments, awards, clients won, etc.  They’re either dormant or so narcissistic that no one pays any attention and really, who can blame them?

Before you can determine what kind of team or structure you’d need internally, you need to decide if you should even be creating content (my bias is yes, but it’s still a discussion that needs to be held) and if so – why?  What are the business outcomes that are driving the decision?  When done well, content marketing can drive qualified leads, shorten the sales cycle, generate new and repeat sales, reinforce a current client’s buying decision and create PR opportunities, just to name a few outcomes.

Once you’re clear about what you’re trying to accomplish, you need to identify your audience for this effort.

To get that answer, you need to look to your company’s personas and if you don’t have any – create them. Personas are a powerful tool that helps drive every aspect of a marketing effort, from tone of voice to media to message.

When it comes to creating content with the goal of attracting your best prospects – it only stands to reason that you’d want a very detailed picture of who those prospects are.  One of the reasons most companies blather on about themselves on their blog or social networks is because they have no idea who they’re talking to. Once they get their personas very clear in their minds – planning the content becomes simple. And it’s rarely narcissistic again.

Now that you’ve identified why you’re implementing a content marketing program and who you’re targeting, the next step is to build your hub or the center of all of your efforts. This hub is the mother ship – where all efforts lead back to and it should reside on a platform that the company has 100% control over.  That means it is not Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other 3rd party owned site. It needs to exist on your own website or blog. It should be the container in which all of your original content is stored and offered up to visitors.

After the hub is established, the spokes can be added.  A spoke is any activity or effort that drives people back to the hub for some reason. These will include both on and offline activities ranging from speaking at the Rotary meeting to offering your free ebook from your Facebook or Twitter platform.

Many companies start off strong.  Enthusiasm is high and everyone’s ready to contribute.  But as client work piles on, it’s easy to dismiss your internal efforts as optional.  Deadlines start being overlooked and before you know it, you have cobwebs.

But there’s a cure and we’ll dig into how to effectively create and maintain content flow next week.

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Do you recycle?

April 26, 2017

recycleI admit it – I hate re-inventing the wheel. There’s nothing more debilitating to a To Do list than the belief that everything you do needs to be custom created. In this era of content creation, we all need to be brilliant recyclers.

There are several advantages of re-using copy/visuals throughout your marketing efforts. We all know that repetition is necessary when you’re trying to implant marketing messages into your audience’s consciousness. So using the exact same wording and visuals helps accelerate that process.

In addition, it allows you to focus on the strategic elements of your marketing and stop re-working the words. If you don’t like the words (or visuals) well enough to re-use them, then why are you using them at all?

Here’s the biggest misconception about recycling your marketing materials. You don’t want people to get bored or notice that you’re repeating yourself. With all due respect – you wish!

Unless you’re a marquee brand like Apple or Disney, no one is so mesmerized by your marketing efforts that they’re going to notice. Even if you recycle the content several times in a short period of time. No one is memorizing your content. But after awhile, your key points will stick. That’s the point, isn’t it?

Here are some ways to look at your existing content as a source for future content.

Your website: Oh, this is a treasure trove of content for your harvesting purposes. First, look at your website’s navigational headers. You can assume there’s a handful of blog posts, newsletter stories, direct mail letters etc. in each section of your website. Identify key messages in each section and expound on them for future content usage.

Your newsletter: Have you been producing newsletters for a while? Go back and find the evergreen articles that would still be helpful to your audience. Cherry pick the best ones and turn them into blog posts, social media status updates or emails to your best customers.

Your videos: Have you been smart enough to leverage videos in your marketing? Transcribe them (don’t have time – it’s cheap and easy to get it done) so you can re-purpose those pearls of wisdom. If they’re testimonials, those make great visual sound bytes on social media and your website. If they’re how to videos, turn the content into blog posts or FAQs for your website.

Your owner’s manual/instructions: I know it’s not sexy but hopefully it’s written to be helpful. That’s great fodder for social media posts, website content, helpful direct mail pieces to recent purchasers and potential buyers.

Your speeches: These are a very strong source. Odds are, the content is pretty unique and only used for this one purpose. If you’re a typical speaker and use PowerPoint – you’ve got built in visuals and copy. Each key point belongs on your website at the very least. They probably will make excellent blog posts/newsletter articles or an entire direct mail series.

Remember that when you recycle, it doesn’t necessarily mean using the exact same copy in the same way. It’s certainly possible but you may have to change the length, add some set up to give the content a frame, or add details to add value. On the flip side, a piece of long content may need some pruning or it might make a great series, rather than a single piece.

When you start looking at your existing content, ask yourself if you could use it to create:

  • Ebooks
  • A Slideshare deck
  • Case studies
  • Pinterest board or Instagram series
  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Social media posts
  • Newsletter articles
  • Direct mail pieces
  • Podcasts

Look at your existing work as the building blocks for your future work. You’ll love the consistency, the time savings and new tools you can create when you recycle.

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Is your Facebook page dead in the water?

June 29, 2016

facebookThe organic (natural, without paying any money) reach of your Facebook page has never been something to write home about (you’d be lucky with 13-18%) but now it’s even less.

The simplest explanation is – as more content is created (by both our friends and the brands we’ve liked) there simply isn’t enough real estate. Facebook cannot fit all of the content into our newsfeeds. And it’s estimated that the average Facebook user’s total number of pages liked increases by 50% every year.

So we are adding more friends and more pages and everyone is adding more content. There’s simply no more room.

Add to that the fact that Facebook is trying to give each user the content they care most about, based on a mix of factors like:

  • The interest level of each recipient
  • The type of post it is (status update, sharing a link, a photo etc.) and the level of interest each recipient has indicated for that type of post
  • Who the creator is and how well their past posts have been received
  • How popular this specific post is with the people who have already seen it
  • How recently the post was published
  • A whole host of other factors that Facebook has personalized to every single user

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Facebook figures that you’d rather see content in your newsfeed from the people you are closest to, based on your interactions with them
  • They also believe that you’re more interested in people than organizations
  • They’ve given you the opportunity to both like and follow a page, and if you really want to track their content, you can add it to an interest list
  • They want to make more money by selling you ads and boosted posts

So what’s a brand to do? What Facebook is saying to you is – you need to earn your spot. You need to consistently produce content that your audience cares about enough to interact with it.

On your Facebook page:

  • Be interesting enough that people not only like your page but also add it to an interest list. In other words – talk about something other than yourself
  • Think interactive when you think content. Ask a question, ask for stories or reactions, or say something that will trigger a response
  • Don’t play the “like this post for the free XYZ” game. It’s annoying and FB will penalize you for it.
  • Buy ads and pay to boost your posts

While many companies are calling foul on this trend, I think that’s a little ridiculous. Facebook is a company built to make money for its stockholders. Since they’ve given us our personal accounts for free – how did we think they were going to generate revenue?

Probably the most important adjustment you can make is to level set your expectations. Facebook pages have never been and will never be the end all and be all of free advertising and marketing. I worry about the small businesses out there who have been sold a bill of goods and believe that a few posts a week (where all they do is talk about themselves) is the golden ticket to success.

There is no magic bullet and marketing is neither free nor easy. Your Facebook page probably still has a place in your marketing mix. But how large a role or how much business you can drive from it is really dependent on whether or not your audience values what you share.

Hmm, are you sensing a theme?

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How to get it done

May 24, 2016

Get it DoneGet it done, get it done. The truth is, there isn’t a marketing pro or business owner alive who doesn’t feel the pressure of “too many things to do, not enough time to do them.” I know that I wrestle that particular demon all the time. We’re all going to be called upon to create more and more content as marketing continues to shift in that direction. That means, even more reading and more writing.

I certainly wouldn’t say that I have all the answers but I’ve worked hard to find efficiencies where I can. Because I write/publish a lot of content, people are always asking me how I find the time. So I thought I’d offer up some of my tricks to see if they can work for you.

Consuming Content: For my job and just because I’m wired that way, I like to consume a lot of content, from many different sources. For me, having all of the content aggregated in one place is a huge time saver. I use an RSS feed reader (my preferred option is Feedly) that allows me to consume 100+ blogs, news alerts, and articles all in one place, at one time. I can skim the headlines and first few lines and determine if I want to read more. If it doesn’t interest me, I can just mark it as read and it goes away. This is a key tool for helping me get it done.

Writing: I do three kinds of writing – scheduled, project-related and correspondence/email. For this column, I’m going to focus on the content type of writing or what I called scheduled writing.

The scheduled writing are things like my column for the Business Record and my blogs, that have a regular and reliable due date. I block time on my calendar for these and honor that time commitment like it was any meeting or appointment.

I do this sort of writing at the same time/same days every week. I also try to bunch up the writing – so I am doing a lot of it at once. Today, I’ll write this particular blog post and about three other blog posts all in one sitting. I find that once I get in the groove, I can stay in the zone and really knock a lot of content out.

My goal is to make sure the well never runs dry, so I need to keep it primed. I use tools like Evernote (www.evernote.com) and my feed reader to archive little tidbits that might spark an idea for a post or column down the road. I also rip a lot of articles out of magazines and keep them in an ever-growing pile in my office. I use the productivity app Wunderlist (www.wunderlist.com) and keep a running list of things I want to write about there as well.

Everyone is wired differently but I write best after 10 am. So I build my days accordingly. I schedule calls and meetings in the morning and do my writing in the late morning and early afternoon. I’ve learned that only under the direst of deadlines should I force myself to write outside of my natural rhythm. I can get there, but it takes twice as long and just isn’t as good.

After I’ve written a piece, I run it through a website called Grammarly (www.grammarly.com). Even after I’ve proofed something a few times, the site often spots a minor error or two. This tool makes sure that I don’t embarrass myself with a silly mistake.

Last but not least…once a month, I carve out an entire day to write. I seclude myself someplace where I cannot be found or interrupted.  And on that day, boy do I get it done!

Have some tips for how you consume or create content? Email it to me and I’ll share the ideas I get here in the column.

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The future of personalization

January 20, 2016

The future of personalizationIf you haven’t been thinking about the future of personalization — you should. The CMO Council released a fascinating study today, looking at how marketers are viewing/using personalization and what that means for all of us down the road.

 The study, done in partnership with Pegasystems, is entitled “Predicting Routes to Revenue, and found that nearly half of marketers say their current analytics programs have the ability to give a clear view of past performance but do little to shed light on the road ahead.  The study is based on insights from more than 150 senior marketing executives surveyed primarily across North America and Europe during the fourth quarter of 2015.  You can download the complete study here.

The study also found that marketers looking to deliver exceptional customer experience will increasingly turn to personalization as the key driver to maximize customer value. This will require redefining data¹s value and primary role, moving away from using data as a vehicle to calculate past performance metrics and into a critical tool to uncover new, real-time insights about customer behavior.

The study also found that marketers looking to deliver exceptional customer experience will increasingly turn to personalization as the key driver to maximize customer value. This will require redefining data¹s value and primary role, moving away from using data as a vehicle to calculate past performance metrics and into a critical tool to uncover new, real-time insights about customer behavior.

Gone are the days of simply including a customer’s name in an email and considering that to be personalization. Today, customers expect that brands will understand who they are, what their habits are, what they want to see on their device screens, what they want, how they want it, when they want it…and the list of expectations goes on. These requirements are making it all the more imperative for organizations to be able to craft robust experiences that are targeted to the needs and desires of all of their customers.

A one-size-fits-all approach reveals to the customer that a brand does not understand them and opens the door for customers to defect and leave a brand’s fold in favor of one that does. In a world where customers have a multitude of options for nearly everything they are looking to purchase—and where new contenders are willing to offer almost anything to gain their business and loyalty if given the opportunity—the demand to know and effectively engage customers has never been greater.

Read more about the study’s findings and the recommendations from the CMO Council and Pegasystems and then identify personalization opportunities inside your own organization.

Seems like the time is now if you’d like to be an innovator in this space.

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Are you leveraging visual content?

September 8, 2015

visual contentIf any of the trend reports from the last five years are accurate — visual content should be a critical element in your marketing and content strategy.

If’ve you’ve master this — you’re in the minority.  While a picture may be worth a thousand words, marketers have not turned a strategic lens on optimizing the return from their visual media content investments.  While 65% of senior marketing executives believe visual assets are core to how their brand story is communicated, only 27% have the ability to aggregate, organize and manage these assets across marketing and non-marketing teams—including those outside of the organization.

A new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council—entitled “From Content to Creativity: The Role of Visual Media in Impactful Brand Storytelling”—reveals that marketers believe visual assets, including photography, illustrations, infographics and videos, are core to customer engagement and will increase in usage in the coming year. Video will most dramatically increase in importance in the near future, according to 79 percent of senior marketers. Infographics (60 percent), photographs (50 percent), and illustrations (41 percent) will also increase in usage. The 17-page strategic white paper is available for download today by clicking here.

Conducted in partnership with Libris, a PhotoShelter business unit, the study reveals that internal silos, disconnected content development strategies and a vast list of other marketing priorities have prevented visual assets from being fully leveraged across the organization.

“Marketers have been remiss in approaching the visual asset dialogue as part of the strategic customer experience and engagement dialogue,” said Liz Miller, Senior Vice President of Marketing for the CMO Council. “Perhaps because visual assets have long been the domain of creative or agency resources, the conversation around maximizing value across the organization has fallen off of the priority list. But as customers continue to react in meaningful ways to visual media, marketing cannot afford to stand idly by and not include visuals in the content ROI agenda.”

Consumer research shows that 40 percent of customers will respond better to visual information than plain text (Zabisco). Marketers have, in turn, shifted content production to include vast quantities of graphics, videos, photography and illustrations. Infographic production, by one estimate, increases by 1 percent every day (Zabisco). Yet according to the 177 marketing executives surveyed by the CMO Council in the second quarter of 2015, current investments in centralization of these assets do not reflect this level of priority.

The audit, conducted through the CMO Council’s Content ROI Center, tapped into the insights of 177 senior marketers, with 52 percent from B2B organizations, 18 percent from B2C companies and 30 percent from hybrid organizations selling to B2B2C. A quarter of respondents hail from organizations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, and 41 percent hold chief marketing officer, head of marketing or senior vice president of marketing titles. Areas explored in the paper include:

  • The role of visual content in marketing and brand storytelling strategies
  • Anticipated shifts in the importance of visual content
  • Budget allocations and anticipated shifts in spend for visual content development
  • Key challenges and obstacles to maximizing ROI
  • Impact and value of visual content aggregation and consolidation

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is the only global network of executives specifically dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of global industries. The CMO Council’s 9,000 members control more than $450 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include more than 35,000 global executives in more than 110 countries covering multiple industries, segments and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, India and Africa. The council’s strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE), Mobile Relationship Marketing (MRM) Strategies Forum, LoyaltyLeaders.org, CMOCIOAlign.org, Marketing Supply Chain Institute, Customer Experience Board, Digital Marketing Performance Institute, GeoBranding Center and the Brand Inspiration Center. Learn more at www.cmocouncil.org

 

About Libris

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5 tips for getting over stage fright

August 14, 2014

tips for getting over stage frightHave stage fright?  You’re not alone.

They say that our greatest fear, once you’ve eliminated death as a choice, is public speaking.

And yet many of us are called to take that plunge on a regular basis. Whether you are speaking to group of two in a sales presentation or you’re standing at a podium, with hundreds of eyes on you – the intent is the same.

We want to impart knowledge, persuade, entertain and be remembered. And above all else, we want to get through the presentation without looking like a fool or being paralyzed by our stage fright.

I’m one of those rare individuals who isn’t freaked out at the idea of speaking to a group. I like it. But I think I enjoy it because I have a very set routine of prepping for each speech. By the time I step up to the podium or approach the next sales call, I’m confident that I won’t embarrass myself or be nervous to step up on that stage.

Here are my secrets to prepping and delivering a presentation that gets them to ask you back.

Know your audience: One of the easiest ways to get off track with a presentation is to either talk over the audience’s head or at a level that is insulting because your audience is way ahead of you. Not only do you need to understand where they’re coming from, in terms of knowledge, but also in terms of personality. Are they an audience who asks a lot of questions? Are they open to small group activities or sharing information about their work?

Grab them right up front: You need to quickly take charge of your audience. In a large group setting, you might tell them a powerful story. In a sales presentation, you might lead with a stat or fact that is guaranteed to grab their attention. Too many speakers limp into their presentation – either by telling a lame joke or by getting too technical too fast. You want an emotional reaction of some kind to kick you off.

Assume the worst: I’ve watched many speakers melt into a puddle of goo right in front of an audience because their PowerPoint didn’t load right or their video worked but there was no sound or the internet connection was faulty so they couldn’t demo something. When it comes to speaking and technology – assume it will fail. Always have a back up (your presentation on multiple jump drives, the YouTube video on-line but also on a DVD, etc.) You need to be ready to deliver your presentation in the pitch black with no power, if need be. If you’re that prepared, you’ll worry a whole lot less.

Think sound bytes and repeats: In today’s “tweet while you are talking” world, you want to give your audience plenty of tidbits to share. Give them key facts, stats and catch phrases. Imagine someone from your audience going back to the office and re-telling a story you told during your presentation. Which one would get retold? If you answered “none of them” then you’d better come up with a story that is so funny, compelling, astounding or illuminating that people won’t be able to help but repeat it.

Be ready to improvise: You can do all the prep in the world, but sometimes that nagging stage fright had it right — something could still go wrong. At the end of the day, there are many elements of giving a presentation that are out of your control. So even though I am advocating ample prep time, you also have to realize that sometimes you just have to go with the flow. It might be a tough question during the Q&A or a technology malfunction. If you can keep your sense of humor and your balance – your audience will reward you for it.

Odds are you were invited to make the presentation. So remember that your audience is anxious for you to be successful as well. Do the prep work, have faith that you know what you’re talking about and try to enjoy the conversation.

Even if something does go wrong — remember at the end of the day — your audience doesn’t expect you to be perfect.  They just want you to be real and share something of value.

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Should you be a content marketer?

February 12, 2014

Content marketing.  It seems like everyone’s talking about it. But what exactly is it and what can it do for your business? Odds are, if you’re doing any marketing at all — you’re at least accidentally dabbling in content marketing.

But, should you be a content marketer?  Let’s look.

First — it goes by many names.  Some people call it custom publishing or branded content.  Other people slap the label of social or digital marketing on.  And all of those names are accurate.

Content marketing is a broad term for any marketing technique that creates and distributes valuable, helpful and relevant information that demonstrates that you know your stuff.  These tactics draw the attention of people who are already your customers or could be your customers and they consume, share, and value the content.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is to create a sense of trust and comfort that will lead to someone making an initial purchase, making an additional purchase or referring you to someone who’s ready to make a purchase.

The way you build that trust can differ, however. Let’s look at four of the main goals of content marketing and the types of content marketing tactics you can employ to accomplish each.

If you want to entertain your audience, you might:

Make a branded video

  • Create a game
  • Give them a quiz
  • Start a competitions/contests
  • Invent a playful widget or app

If you’d like to inspire your audience, you might:

If you would like to educate your audience, you could:

  • Write an ebook
  • Publish some articles
  • Create an infographic
  • Generate media releases
  • Create guides or how to documents
  • Produce trend reports
  • Record a podcast
  • Send out an enewsletter

In you need to convince your audience, you could:

  • Host an event
  • Create some interactive demos
  • Put on a webinar
  • Create useful calculators or checklists
  • Share some case studies

This list is neither exhaustive nor is it exclusive. A speech can do more than inspire, it can also educate or entertain. A webinar can do more than convince – it can educate or inspire. The subject matter, the delivery style and the intent will dictate the outcome of your efforts. And hopefully, if you produce quality content – it will accomplish more than one of the goals.

But this isn’t something you should just jump into. Like any marketing strategy – content marketing requires forethought and planning, especially because producing a blog or podcast or even putting on a contest requires a significant amount of time and effort. You don’t want to exert that level of effort and not maximize your gain.

The effort and planning are well worth it. Content marketing allows a business to connect with a prospect long before they’re ready to buy. It gives them a sense of your product, service and expertise. It also lets them “sample” you and see if you’re a good fit. Good content marketing tools communicate not only your expertise but it also gives them a very good sense of your brand’s personality. It will attract the best customers for you and, as odd as it sounds, repel those customers who wouldn’t be a good fit long term.

There are a lot of benefits packed into this marketing strategy. Every business can find a content marketing tactic that is the perfect fit for your industry. It takes some time and effort – but the up sides are hard to ignore.

 

 

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