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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What to do when blogging becomes a chore

I’ve been away for a while. This is a personal blog. It’s time to get personal.

I took my eye off the ball. What I have been doing has been important, but I’ve not been following my own advice.

I’ve been busy doing a whole load of interesting things. Set goals for the financial year ahead. Delivered some great work for existing clients. Won some new clients. Did some talks. Chaired some conferences. Read alot of stuff. Tweeted alot of stuff. Networked. Alot. All of it would have found a great home here on the blog and would have probably informed, entertained and even amused one or two readers.

But while I often thought about the blog, I couldn’t find the inspiration to get started. Blogging had become a chore.

Lost momentum

Which is strange because I’ve got a rich body of my own content to draw on – weirdly I wrote a book before writing a gazillion blog posts and then seamlessly turning them into a book. I’m opinionated. I follow a bunch of interesting people online and read extensively.

In losing momentum, I’ve probably lost subscribers. At its height, this blog was hitting 1,000 visits a day (before syndication and social really went mainstream in 2011). I know that a lost audience is a very hard one to gain back. If this has arrived in your inbox today and you read it before deleting it, thanks for your time.

‘Moment of clarity’

I’ve had a moment of clarity, one aided by what I’ve seen online in recent months. And I’ve learnt much through not blogging – perhaps more than I did when I was actively pushing out posts 3-4 times a week (or more).

So, if, like me, you want to develop a blog based content asset, rich in relevant SEO and customer material, but have either run out of gas (like I have) or don’t know where to start, this one’s for you.

What to do when blogging becomes a chore

I’m not going to make any sweeping statements or grand pronouncements about what is to come. But here’s the way I’m going about it from now on.

1. Face it head on. Accept it slipped and put a plan in place to get it going again. Tell someone about it. I’m telling you.

2. Be realistic about how to get going. I’m not going to get back on the horse and write 5x a week. I have commitments, plus as you’ll read later, 5x a week may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

3. Focus on a specific topic. I’m not going to try and write about everything under the sun. Being a specialist is better. Pick a subject and stick to it, selecting relevant keywords to build it around. Calendars and mindmaps help organise a blogger’s thoughts. I’ve also used RSS feeds to stay up to date with news and comment in specialist areas, but now need to shop around. Always used Paper.li to condense my Twitter feed once a day and tools like Evernote to help capture ideas when on the go. Just need to make more of them.

4. Write frequently. Not every day like Seth Godin or Michael Hyatt. They’re professionals, yes, but I get their daily emails and don’t always read them! And also not every day or twice or three times a day like big brand US content marketing sages suggest. I’m going to write frequently enough for it to have a positive impact on readers and frequently enough to rebuild the platform.

5. Write evergreen pieces. Ever wonder why, when you run a long tail search, you generally get an article that might be a year or more old? It’s because it is relevant and because people (probably in your Google+ or social circles) liked it. Evergreen pieces avoid the trivial, topical day-to-day and focus on meatier issues that are more likely to stand the test of time. They are also a good deal longer and need time spending on them so they are of greater value to readers. So, I’m going to write less, but write better.

6. Deliver rich content. We know what makes for a richer experience online and we know search engine bots and people like photos, video, audio, animation, infographics, slides and more. Mix it up a bit, remembering you don’t have to be Sam Mendes directing the next Bond movie.

7. Embrace social. I’m not done when I’ve written and posted. This amazing content needs to be seen. I’m going to get back to putting it out through social networks and syndicating it to popular article sites like Yahoo! Contributor Network, trade websites, trade associations and more. I’ll see a surge in traffic from unlikely places – so will need to update my enrolment and subscription call to actions here on the blog!

8. Above all, I’m going to make it personal. I was as guilty as most other bloggers when I set out, opting to fill a hub crammed with the express intention of creating mass. The reality is most of the content on the web, uploaded and shared on a daily basis is sh*t. It serves no relevant purpose to most readers but gives the publisher the critical mass they crave whilst providing the masses content to curate –  helping to build connector profiles. A vicious circle of sh*t content consequently becomes the norm.

Not for me. I want to make this blog matter. Make it my home on the web. Make it a force for better marketing and an outlet for ideas, thoughts, initiatives and more.

Maybe it’s a grand pronouncement afterall. Thanks for waiting for me.

Q: Have you had a ‘chequered’ blogging history that you now want to kickstart? What ideas do you have to overcome blogger’s block? Please share below.

 

Image www.laundrycompany.co.uk

Going beyond the status update – content marketing for b2b marketers

So this is my first blog post in a while since migrating the blog in it’s entirety from wordpress.com to a self hosted platform.

I wanted to share my presentation from the recent B2B Marketing Summit, in London on 14 June 2012. At this multi stream event, 150 b2b marketers had the opportunity to attend conference presentation across 4 streams including content marketing, social media, data and lead nurture and generation.

In opening up the day in the content marketing stream, I talked around an eight step approach to get people thinking more strategically about content – focusing on audience and their information needs at different stages of the buying process.


Please share the presentation if you agree with the central proposition and offer a comment or two on your own b2b content marketing challenges below.

Why your business needs a content marketing strategy?

Content marketing is a phenomenon that isn’t going away. If you’re a business to business marketer, using content marketing is a great way of rethinking and re-tasking some of press and sales support material in a way that stimulates inbound inquiry.

Need five reasons why your business needs a content marketing strategy? Here you go.

1. Quality regular content builds trust. There are undeniable SEO benefits of persistently talking about the same topics. But it’s at the human interaction level, rather than technical level, where the benefits of content marketing are most interesting. Talking frequently and in  detail about particular topics creates credibility which leads to you being trusted. Trust is the first step on the path to transaction.

2. Companies need to use people to tell stories that resonate. People do business with people they trust and like. Shared and personal experiences can underpin relationships and can be effectively used to build engagement. Advertising in the 1960’s looked to profile particular people and sell them solutions to their problems and this has largely remained the same in marketing today.

3. Broadcast PR is dead. All communication needs to be two-way. It’s not enough to tell all the time, you need to listen, react and respond. Social has spread right through all facets of modern business and modern marketing. In CRM, companies like Salesforce.com have bought into social media with outfits like Radian6, whilst the latest version of Google throws back recommendations from your contacts in amongst your search results.

4. The web finds liars out, quickly. Social media has balanced the playing field and created an outlet for disaffected customers. Whilst great viral commentary can make a business, one bad experience can destroy it as let-down customers realise they are not alone. Best to be open and transparent from the start.

5. Content converts. Most business to business products and services are conceived to solve a problem for a particular type of customer. Addressing the problems and offering ways to solve them, minimise their impact and disruption and actually remove them from the equation is a powerful way to drive trust and transaction. In B2B, there isn’t a transaction as such, but white papers, downloadable content and subscriptions emails are great ways to obtain data which can be followed up later.

 

Packaging your story: Social media for b2bs

Espresso do a great job of using Slideshare and have a real knack in producing slides that can be effortlessly clicked through but that leave long in the memory. Packed full of ideas, tips and examples, here’s a great deck giving a useful overview to social media for the uninitiated which can be skimmed in minutes or talked at for an hour.

If you know someone who needs an overview – a boss, manager or team member – do the decent thing and pass it along. Only when good ideas go viral do they have a chance of taking off.


 

RSS/email subscribers may need to visit the blog to see the slides.

Ten social media trends for 2012

An interesting set of slides from Comscore which previews/summarises the key findings from their latest social media report. (Using SlideShare to preview downloadable paid/free content is itself an interesting example of content marketing in action that will be explored more in a future post).

It’s not a surprise to me to see data which supports claims such as

  • Social networking is the most popular online activity in the world
  • Microblogging platforms like Twitter have emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking, news and entertainment
  • Mobile devices are fuelling an addiction to social

Slides 20-26 detail how Facebook truly dominates the social scene. How the site is even winning in most individual countries and regional markets is pretty astounding too.

What trends are you expecting or hoping for in 2012?