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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Are you ready to podcast?

April 7, 2016

podcastingAccording to wikipedia a podcast is a collection of digital media files distributed over the internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers.

Here’s my definition. A podcast is an incredible marketing tool and a great way to generate new leads for your business. It can enhance your marketing in many ways. People consume podcasts in a big way.

Apple reports over a billion subscriptions to podcasts via iTunes and they’re hardly the only access point. It’s estimated that over 31 million Americans are regular podcast listeners.

Branding: An effective podcast series is an excellent way to reach our generation’s tech-savvy consumers. Podcasts can be used to position your company as an industry leader, assuming your content is relevant and timely for your target audience.

Lead Generation & Lead Nurturing: These seem to be buzzwords for the coming year. People are thinking more and more about their sales cycle and how to keep moving prospects closer to the sale. Podcasts are a smart way to keep prospects engaged with your brand while you earn their trust by demonstrating your expertise.

External Communications: No matter who you need to stay in touch with — investors, board members, the media, industry pundits, or your current customers, a podcast is a simple and interesting way to do that.

Website Content Improvements: Want your website to be seen as an important resource? Adding content like podcasts will not only add stickiness to your site, but Google and the other search engines will love that you’ve got a mix of media on your site.

If those benefits have you thinking that it might not be a bad plan to think about adding a podcast series to your marketing efforts, then stay with me. I want to give you some tips on attracting and keeping an audience. But even if you follow all of these suggestions, you’re going to have to be a little patient. This isn’t a marketing tactic that you try once or twice and then figure it didn’t work.

Don’t even start this if you aren’t going to give it a good year to take seed and grow. Here are a few ways to help make that happen.

Keep it Short: Most people will have an attention span of 15-30 minutes at the most for any given topic. Don’t be afraid to be brief. Even a 5-10 minute podcast can be very effective. One way to do that is to remember – one podcast, one key message.

Use MP3 for your file format: Most rich media players can play an MP3 formatted file. You can offer other options as well, as long as MP3 is there.

Let Them Subscribe: Don’t count on your audiences continually coming back to your site. Give them subscription options so every time you produce new content, they receive it automatically.

Teach, Don’t Sell: I know this is tough, but if your podcast is a sales speech, no one will stick with you. If you think about what you could teach your prospects and give them that education freely, they’ll gladly endure a little information about your product or service.

Putting together a podcast series does take some effort. But it can yield incredible results too. You can use the same podcast with many different audiences and you can even slice and dice some of the content into blog posts, sales material and other marketing tools. Why not give it a try?

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Storytelling, storytelling, and more storytelling

October 24, 2014

storytellingSeems like every marketing book, blog and study is talking about how we should be using storytelling as a marketing technique. I couldn’t agree more.  Unfortunately, I think most attempts fall short.

Marketers clearly believe that storytelling is a critical component of their marketing efforts.  It’s one of the most talked about topics in marketing circles today.

So — no argument that marketing’s version of storytelling is critical to a business’ communications success. The question is — why are so many companies doing it badly and not experiencing the results they want?

The stories don’t evoke an emotion: There’s not a memorable story around that isn’t seeded in emotions.  For some businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, it’s hard to imagine what emotions their products or services might trigger.  That’s because the marketers are staying at the features level of sales, not delving into the benefits that lie beneath.

It might be as simple as your prospect is afraid if they make a bad decision, it will cost them their job.  Or it could be that what you sell is helping your clients fulfill their reason for existing — which to them is very emotionally motivated.  If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the emotions behind your stories.  Be sure you expose those in your storytelling so that your audience can relate to and empathize with the people in the tale.

The stories don’t use data to lend credibility: What makes true stories so dramatic and grabbing are the facts that are dotted throughout the telling.

Data can be used in a variety of ways to tell your story.  Think visual data like an infographic or let the data suggest a new angle or insight for both you and your audience.

The story doesn’t take us on a journey: In marketing’s version of storytelling, we often take shortcuts to get to the big reveal.  But in taking the shortcut, we rob the audience of story’s arc. Every story is, in essence, a journey that chronicles the problem, the fight to solve the problem and how things are better once the challenge is resolved.

But a great story lets the journey also help the audience see the motivations, frustrations and worries of the characters while they try to face the problem. The outcomes are also wrapped in more than just the tangible results.  When the story is rich with details – we also learn more about the intangible results and ultimate value of delivering the right solution.

The story doesn’t include a next step/call to action: Here’s where most marketers really miss the boat.  A well-crafted story draws the audience in, helps them connect with the main character and feel their common pain.  As the story evolves, the prospect is pulling for the character — because in reality, the character bears a striking resemblance to them.  They experience the ups and downs within the story and as the story delivers the happy ending — the prospective customer is thinking and feeling relief and a desire to share in that sort of outcome.

So marketing’s version of storytelling is all too often, a big tease.  You led them right to the edge — get them hungry for what you’re selling but don’t give them a clear and defined next step.  Ask yourself — what do I want them to do next and be sure you make it easy and quick to take that next action.

What do you think? Can you tweak the way you’re telling your company’s story so that it actually drives leads and generates sales?

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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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Why isn’t marketing’s version of storytelling working?

November 11, 2012

Storytelling, storytelling, and more storytelling.

Seems like every marketing book, blog (including mine if you’ve been reading this week’s posts) and study is talking about how we should be using storytelling as a marketing technique.

I couldn’t agree more.  Unfortunately, I think most attempts fall short.

Earlier this week — I made the point that A) It seems that despite all the hype — we’re doing less real storytelling today and B) storytelling is hardly a new tactic.

Marketers clearly believe that storytelling is a critical component of their marketing efforts.  As you can see (click here to see a larger version of the chart above) by the chart above, according to a 2012 B2B Content Marketing Trends survey conducted for Holger Schulze for Optify, 81% of respondents listed engaging and compelling storytelling as one of the three most important aspects of content marketing.

So — no argument that marketing’s version of storytelling is critical to a business’ communications success. The question is — why are so many companies doing it badly and not experiencing the results they want?

The stories don’t evoke an emotion: There’s not a memorable story around that isn’t seeded in emotions.  For some businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, it’s hard to imagine what emotions their products or services might trigger.  That’s because the marketers are staying at the features level of sales, not delving into the benefits that lie beneath.

It might be as simple as your prospect is afraid if they make a bad decision, it will cost them their job.  Or it could be that what you sell is helping your clients fulfill their reason for existing — which to them is very emotionally motivated.  If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the emotions behind your stories.  Be sure you expose those in your storytelling so that your audience can relate to and empathize with the people in the tale.

The stories don’t use data to lend credibility: As we discussed in my post about the Revolutionary War book — what made those stories so dramatic and grabbing was he facts that were dotted throughout.

As the folks at the Content Marketing Institute points out in this blog post — data can be used in a variety of ways to tell your story.  Think visual data like an infographic or let the data suggest a new angle or insight for both you and your audience.

The story doesn’t take us on a journey: In marketing’s version of storytelling, we often take shortcuts to get to the big reveal.  But in doing that, we rob the audience of the arc of the story. Every story is, in essence, a journey that chronicles the the problem, the fight to solve the problem and how things are better once the challenge is resolved.

But a great story lets the journey also help the audience see the motivations, frustrations and worries of the characters while they try to face the problem. The outcomes are also wrapped in more than just the tangible results.  When the story is rich with details – we also learn more about the intangible results and ultimate value of delivering the right solution.

The story doesn’t include a next step/call to action: Here’s where most marketers really miss the boat.  A well crafted story draws the audience in, helps them connect with the main character and feel their common pain.  As the story evolves, the prospect is pulling for the character — because in reality, the character bears a striking resemblance to them.  They experience the ups and downs within the story and as the story delivers the happy ending — the prospective customer is thinking and feeling relief and a desire to share in that sort of outcome.

So marketing’s version of storytelling is all too often, a big tease.  You led them right to the edge — get them hungry for what you’re selling but don’t give them a clear and defined next step.  Ask yourself — what do I want them to do next and be sure you make it easy and quick to take that next action.

If you don’t include this as a part of your storytelling — the whole point of telling the story in the first place is wasted.  You aren’t a court jester earning your supper.  You’re trying to help someone decide whether or not you hold the answer to their problem. Once you demonstrate that you are the right choice — be sure you give them a chance to tell you so.

What do you think? Can you tweak the way you’re telling your company’s story so that it drives leads and sales?

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Social Sharing – what and when works

October 28, 2012

Figuring out what is best for your company’s social sharing accounts can be tough. Not only do you have to figure out what to share, but you also need to know how and when to say it. The folks at Compendium crunched the data of over 300 companies’ social sharing statistics, to identify some social sharing best practices.

One additional thing they did was break this data down as a B2B vs. B2C comparison, as they learned while going through the data that there were some significant differences between what works for B2B companies and B2C companies.

Check out this info graphic that outlines some of the findings. If you’d like to review their social sharing guides that looks at some of these results, click here.

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