New talk: Bootcamp – The role of PR in digital marketing, 5th November (Manchester)

PR & blogging

Join me on the 5th November at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, (All Saints Campus, Oxford Road) as I deliver some new content aimed at closing up the gap between PR and digital marketing. 

Session details:

The huge focus on social media marketing may have overshadowed the key principles and best practice of PR as a discipline. In this bootcamp we review the critical role of traditional PR techniques in the digital marketing context with leading exponents of the art of PR in digital marketing. Learning key tips, advice and best practice to apply in your own role with the author of Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing and some special guests.

The session will cover:

• Managing a crisis online
• How to measure and evaluate your PR activity
• Is conventional media still relevant in the social media age?
• How to make your organisation’s blog more effective, drive more traffic to it, and make it work from an SEO point of view

 

Registration is from 09:00; the event starts at 09:30 and finishes at 13:30. Click here for more information and booking details.

Your best brand storyteller? Ask the expert!

Your business might be telling an exciting, captivating and helpful story… but is the right person telling it?

 

Successful companies already know that people buy people.  In my experience, professional buyers seeking product and service solutions will look at the people providing it and make subjective decisions based on how assured they are by the specialism and specialist knowledge they exhibit.

Specialist knowledge comes from an in-depth understanding only built up from previous experience of facing up to and conquering similar challenges.

So, thinking about how businesses marketers brand their companies in a bid to commercialise their offering, isn’t it a good idea to actually put that brand offer in the hands of the people who have created it? The people who are best placed to build strong credibility because of their inherent capability?

There is a commercial benefit to going down this route too; experts with highly prized knowledge can demonstrate value and attract a potential premium.

USE YOUR expert

But who is the real expert in your business? Who’s expertise brings in the money?

Many company owners know where the revenue sits, and who creates the products and services that are successfully monetised. Yet many companies keep these people at arm’s length from customers and clients.

I wonder why.

  • Is it because they are somehow not competent or not credible with customers?
  • Is it that we don’t trust them to stick to the script? 
  • Is it that we would rather they focus on the solutions despite the fact those solutions are best informed by direct customer feedback?

The reality is that the model most companies use to manage customer relationships is broken and the experience we are delivering is actually risking the relationship long term.

Fine margins

Long term success in the modern consultative sell means understanding that many B2B buying decisions often come down to fine margins. Whilst, the primary driver may well be for products that deliver improvement, save time, reduce waste, use sustainable materials and more, the value add and interpersonal chemistry matter.

There has been a strong track record of companies using key people in their marketing (as heroes) and this, depending on the type of company you are, can be a real winner. Prominent examples in the UK include Boeing, Halifax and B&Q.  

A little bit more contact with the ‘brains’ of your operation is increasingly being seen as a more viable option to to the usual Chinese walls created by armies of call centre workers, field sales representatives, account handlers and other people designed to help traffic process.

Replace selling with serving

My advice: Be daring and place the experts in your business in a position to engage in customer dialogue. Adopt a model where you tap into their expertise and begin to demonstrate the value you profess to bring by replacing selling with serving.

And, for your next marketing campaign, regardless of whether you are setting acquisition, retention or engagement KPIs, think about what is going to resonate most with the audience you’re targeting.

Think about telling stories. Think about having your people who do amazing things day in day out, bring that story to life – and in doing so, begin to place them right at the heart of the narrative.

**Also, check out this post on watering holes and establishing where your customers hang out.**

Image: Ollie Heath

 

 

Watering holes

Do you know where your customers hang out and what keeps them awake at night?

One of the phrases I use the most when I’m consulting, training or speaking is “watering hole”.

For me, watering holes are one of the most important, yet frequently overlooked elements of any marketing or content marketing program.

Watering holes are the places online and off-line where our customers, prospects and influencers go to satisfy a number of needs.

It might be where they reside, hangout, go for advice, information, ask questions, seek conversation, engage in dialogue, and look for anything from reassurance, help, support or guidance.

Not just for PR

For the most part, it has been savvy PR consultants and agents looking to carefully place PR in front of the right people that have been the most successful at identifying watering holes. Watering holes have tended to be sector press, business press, industry and member associations, websites, conferences and exhibitions, online groups and forums to name a few.

Good publicity and public relations will, however, only get you so far.

Increasingly, working your way into the watering hole, being accepted by the community there and putting credit in the bank is less about disrupting the conversations already taking place.

Nobody likes the loud, self absorbed person at a party. With conversations and discussions already taking place between people who have given permission and earned the right to do so, arriving and seeking to divert attention is just plain rude.

People, especially Brits, are generally suspicious of companies and their motives in communities. Just think about ‘the rules’ prescribed by Linkedin group owners to prevent spamming. Brand owners need to take the time to study and listen to what is going on before ploughing in.

Lead with your experts

Participating in community discussion and becoming one of the trusted counsellors can be a challenge for companies where sales and marketing professionals represent the company publicly. For this reason I think it is better to use your experts.

Think about it. Every company has them. Positioning on expertise and being able to discuss and solve customer problems is the ethos that underpins the modern explosion in ‘content marketing’. Only experts have the credibility to achieve this, as people (not brands) solve problems.

The best way, I think, to join any watering hole community is to first listen, ask questions, offer advice, offer recommendations across the community and build a facilitator profile.

Don’t ever try to sell straight away. Trust always comes before transaction.

[More on marketing with expertise to follow…]

 

Two new b2b marketing webinars

The Marketing Assassin blog needs some love. And it’s coming. But right now, I’ve got a couple of new webinars coming up 19th and 20th November that I wanted to share with you.

Webinar’s are a great way to get a message out to a hard to reach and diverse group as well as being an enduring content asset. I’ve been using them with great success through 2014.

19th November, 2014: (12:00 GMT and on demand afterwards) Six ways to turbocharge your b2b marketing.

Are you looking to raise profile, create traffic or drive engagement? In this free webinar in conjunction with Dave Chaffey and SmartInsights, I’m going to reveal, using examples, how to apply six of the critical elements of the modern B2B marketing toolkit. Secure your place here.

20th November, 2014: (16:00 GMT and on demand afterwards) The Advocate Factor – Ensuring your customers become your best salespeople in b2b.

In this all new webinar, I’ll be talking about how to build sector leading customer advocacy programmes in the b2b sector, exploring do’s and don’ts and shining a light on best practice. Webinar attendees will leave equipped with a stepped process to creating their own customer advocacy programmes. Book your free spot here.

If you’re joining one or both of these free sessions, use the comment function below to ask questions in advance.

Ten ways specialist European b2b companies are winning with content

I’m delighted to report that I’m preparing the next (of several webinars) that I’m going to be giving on the BrightTalk channel in August and September, 2014.

Coming up as part of a day long content marketing summit on Wednesday 13th August, I’ll be talking at 2pm GMT on the thorny issue of content marketing in b2b.

To me there is no doubt that the most pressing imperative facing modern marketers is engaging the business as a whole in the practice of marketing. Businesses trade in expertise which is locked in people that are not always customer facing.

People ultimately buy people. This webinar sheds light on how to use content to build a robust customer focused marketing platform – that itself positions your experts right at the forefront.

In this webinar, that will run live and be available for on demand viewing afterwards, I’ll be looking at how ten major European b2b businesses have successfully traded in expertise. I’ll take you through what they did and how their experience can be applied to your business.

Spoiler: These b2b companies aren’t the usual b2c-b2b hybrid or b2b service companies. These are nuts and bolts, engineering, building and manufacturing companies that need to use content marketing to tell a benefit story before selling a functional product.

I hope you can join me. Registration is open here. If you have questions or observations on what you would like covered in the webinar, leave a comment on this blog post.

New speaking event: Content marketing for SMEs

Thrilled to announce the first of several speaking events, where I’ll be previewing some new material.

Tues 15th April, 2014: 5:30 – 8.00pm

In conjunction with One Circle Communications, I’ll be taking up residence at Virgin Lounge, 92 King Street, Manchester to discuss Cost (and Time) Effective Content Marketing for SME’s.

Limited ticket availability. Booking link here.

Customers have got wise to interruption product led promotion. They don’t want to be sold to. They have problems that need resolving. All the experts say using content to position yourself as a problem solver for customers is the new best way to market. But with time, budget and resource limitations, how can you hope to do this effectively?

This event is ideal for small business owners, soloprenuers and those looking to build an effective business online using the latest digital marketing techniques.

I’ll take you through a number of ways to build profile, influence and reach online using some very specific and often overlooked tools and tricks.
It’s a capped event so book early to avoid missing out.

 

What’s hot in content marketing in 2014?

In December, I was asked to contribute to NewsReach’s ‘Changing state of content marketing in 2014 infographic‘. A supplementary and more detailed blog post where I was quoted, was also published here.

I thought it was useful in providing links to the NewsReach piece to also share my other observations on where I think marketing needs to move to in 2014. Content marketing, the process of positioning yourself or your business as expert through providing help, counsel and insight, is where your battle will be won and lost.

Type #contentmarketing into Google or Twitter and you’ll get scores of soothsayers talking about it. Here’s my two pence worth from a specific b2b marketing perspective.

There are four trends that businesses need to get onboard with and switch on to:

1/ Companies need to focus on creating a content funnel, mapping content to the different stages of influence and decision making – but it will need to be very carefully tailored (if not completely personalised) to achieve effective resonance and critically, create action in target niches.

2/ Successful content marketing companies will move to longer, less frequent ‘evergreen’ content when blogging. Evergreen means it is good advice that will endure. No more blogging for blogging’s sake. You want your content to hang around – or as Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner calls it ‘nuclear fuel’.

3/ As much time will need to be spent on going off page to seed, share and build influence as it is spent on curation and creation of content. Being part of the right crowd/s will be the single most important challenge moving forward.

4. Creative, graphic content will increase as use of sites like Pinterest increase in business. Just remember that an infographic needs two things – information and a nice, engaging, professional look and feel.

We’re already a couple of days in to a new year. Forget campaigns. How are you going to build your position for the future?

Ten ways to breathe new life into your B2B marketing blog

An infinitely credible approach to driving customer engagement with your brand is through repackaging your expertise as helpful advice. This blog post looks at ways to re-energise your blogging and content marketing.

For me, the intricacies of the B2B decision making process coupled with the often long gestation period demand an integrated approach.

Carefully crafting a blog that regular provides useful insight and advice sits at the heart of the modern B2B marketing agenda. Great blog content provides for social and CRM rocket fuel and can be packaged at the end of the month and delivered to opted in subscribers as a newsletter and used for press release purposes.

Sometimes we can’t get started. Sometimes we can’t maintain momentum. Sometimes we need a jump start. Whatever the reason, it’s useful to have an agreed number of topics or styles to pull off the shelf in order to avoid writers block and to continue to deliver.

Here are ten things you could plan to do over the next week or so to give your blog fresh impetus. Do let me know how you progress – keep in mind the twin aims of delivering help and advice in a way that keeps visiting audiences interested.

1. Repurpose a piece of existing content into a new format – press release to blog, upload a presentation, create a manual/data sheet download.

2. Comment on a news story affecting your industry – even better if you can find an industry watering hole in which to do it.

3. Comment on a current piece of research or data.

4. Write a round up and publish at the end of the week.

5. Provide an industry resource list – this could in fact be a great evergreen piece of content that with incoming links could return traffic to your site for years.

6. Report on an event, conference, trade show or seminar.

7. Write up a customer case study.

8. Diagnose and solve an industry problem.

9. Offer a distinguished industry voice a guest post opportunity (and reciprocate).

10. If all else fails, take a provocative stance on something that needs to change.

Image: http://www.nothingtoblogabout.net/

Help – I’m a content marketer!

It may well have passed you by, but there are two revolutions taking place that will have a devastating effect on your ability to effectively market your business.

The first is the rise of citizen journalism. The era of 24-7 real time news has meant that everyone now sees themselves as a journalist and commentator on the news as it happens. How often do we see news stories break with a whirlwind of comment, hyperbole and analysis before the facts of the story come through confining all previous activity around the story to the bin?

The second is the reality that everyone (and every business) can and should become a publisher. Adopting a publisher mindset in how you being to redefine your relationships with customers and prospects brings enlightenment as you focus more specifically on their needs than your own. Media owners, by definition, have to provide their audiences with what they want or they go elsewhere – and the title into terminal decline.

Content marketing, as I taked about at length at the recent On the Edge digital marketing conference in Birmingham, is the method by which we repackage our expertise and counsel in a way to make what we do truly helpful to the people we want to serve.

It’s a hot topic as everyone is reading, writing, talking and thinking about it. But examples of people doing it well across a wide variety of sectors are few and far between.

If you’re a content marketer and don’t know where to start, my slides [and video] should help.

I’ll be posting a lot more on content marketing over the coming weeks, but for now consider these five steps to getting an effective content led inbound marketing campaign off the ground.

1. Assign a managing editor to own and determine tone, messaging, platforms, topics, calendar. Impossible for the new graduate arrival to have the gravitas to do this and engage the necessary stakeholders.

2. Research what customers want/need by visiting industry watering holes – trade media, Linkedin groups, trade press and events.

3. Review what assets you have in the business and repackage them. Go back twelve months if you need to. Press releases, presentations, news, brochures, video can all be repackaged to power a blog, email outreach and social media accounts.

4. Curate industry news, information, insights, research and use it to drive your content programme.

5. Above all, focus on customer problems and helping them. Does your content add value by informing, educating, inspiring, entertaining?

How do you go about structuring, informing and implementing your content marketing efforts?

Digital marketing trends in mobile, social content and search [infographic]

Posted originally on visual.ly by DCI, I thought this infographic updating us on the latest trends in mobile, social, content and search was worth a share.

Whether you’re a digital native or a digital newbie, it offers some interesting statistics (admittedly most US based) on the “key tools and technologies that will define the digital marketing landscape this year”.

The infographic looks at overall use across B2B and B2C and how tools are being used to help ensure marketers make the most of mobile marketing, social media, content marketing and author rank, to deliver high quality content across a range of platforms and devices.

I think, for one, modern marketers are dead in the water if they don’t start embracing responsive design and really building user experience into their marketing.

What do you think?

 

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