Tag Archives: #cmworld

Content Creation Strategies for eCommerce Success

cmw rei

Paolo Mottola, Jr. at Content Marketing World

Outdoor retailer REI knows how to be creative when it comes to visuals. The retailer’s Zombie Survival Gear Infographic offers up the 13 essentials to prepare you for the next zombie outbreak.

From the Moleskin/First Aid (one blister is more dangerous to you than 10 zombies) to a Signal Mirror (be ready to flash one when the rescue chopper flies overhead), there’s a complete kit. The campaign became such a hit in 2012, REI started offering Zombie Apocalypse classes to teach the basics of surviving in the wild.

It’s okay to be a little disruptive according to Paolo Mottola, Jr. (REI’s Digital Engagement Program Manager), speaking on “Content Creation Strategies for eCommerce Success” at Content Marketing World. Offering up unique and inspiring classes is just one way REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers.

Search drives commerce for REI in a big way and they are open to spontaneity. In April, REI announced that it would be selling Adventure Kitten Gear including “Rugged Kitten Boots” and a “Wild Cat” backpack to hold 100 cubic inches of kibble and catnip.

“We got 25,000 shares on Facebook with no paid media in 24 hours,” Mottola said. And REI was included in top tech April Fools’ Day roundup stories – an unexpected perk.

REI’s content streams include lots of video and Mottola says they see a significant lift when putting video on product pages.

“Member stories are not just customer stories ,” said Mottola. “We hired a freelancer to go across the country — we wanted our stories to be told in a bigger way.”

Stories like A Cool Mother’s Day Story: Climbin’ Mamas Remind Us Why We Love Our Moms or this Junior Ranger story which will melt your heart.

Content married to category equals success for REI.  The company’s collaboration with Merrill shoes led to videos on how-to outdoor exercises – an idea they actually borrowed from the Marines.

“We invest in these stories to tell,” says Mottola. “We’re authentic to our brand.”  In October, Mottola revealed they plan to feature videos in a major REI-member event.

Some questions from Mottola to ponder though when developing your content creation strategy:

  • Does your content marketing objective align with customer expectations?
  • Do you have resources to develop, moderate the content and scale?
  • What are legal considerations?

Mottola admits they haven’t been afraid to kill campaigns early on when they saw fast results that customers did not like what they were doing.

Vlogger Diane Harrigan (@dianeharrigan) authors the Postcards from SF blog, and is also an account manager with PR Newswire.

The Elusive Purchasing Time Horizon: Or Why Driving Content Discovery Really Matters

Source: Business.com’s Small Business Pulse Report: 2013 Lead Generation Insights

Source: Business.com’s Small Business Pulse Report:
2013 Lead Generation Insights

A recent report on B2B lead generation by Business.com doesn’t offer a lot of clarity on which content marketing tactics generate the most valuable leads.  Generally speaking, the survey respondents were fairly evenly split on which tactics were most – and least – valuable.  Some believed webinars were useful, but whitepapers weren’t, others relayed an opposing view.

The one standout stat is that most B2B lead buyers want – but don’t get – information on their buyers’ purchasing horizons.

It’s easy to overlook the overwhelming and significant fact this report reveals, because that fact isn’t expressed in numbers or charts.  Some tactics work really well, some of the time.

Mix it up.  Rather than relying on one tactic that’s worked well in the past, it’s crucial to keep experimenting with timing, channel and content format, for a few reasons:

-          Different people have different preferences.  Communicating via myriad channels and formats multiples your opportunity to connect with prospects in the method they prefer.

-          Each platform and network has its own audience.  While searches on SlideShare.com represent a small percentage of the total views to the content we published there received, we have to assume the people who got to the content via a deliberate search are well qualified. Skipping one network reduces visibility among people who are truly engaged, and that’s not a tradeoff I’d personally like to make with my brand’s content.

Be present, because your prospects are.   According to an interview published by eMarketer, a significant majority – 88 percent – of B2B decision makers research potential purchases online prior to the buy.  And according to another study, buyers are deep into the decision process before they contact vendors.  I believe that it’s safe to assume that marketers will never have access to batches of leads with ideal purchase timelines.  But the fact is we still have plenty of opportunity to communicate with prospects that are at crucial points in their buying journeys, simply by being present with the right content online.

Seed discovery – atomize and distribute content.    Driving discovery of the content your brand publishes requires its own strategy.  Break apart white papers, webinar transcripts and other big blocks of content, and surface interesting messages and facts.  Develop simple graphics, promote content via online press releases, and share the myriad facts, snippets and assets you’ve created in order to develop the maximum amount of awareness and interest in your messages – across multiple audiences and platforms.

Done well, content marketing will bring people to your brand, familiarizing them with what your organization has to offer well before they identify themselves, and well before they are swept into the nurture stream.    However, effective content strategies require brands to constantly test, experiment with and use a variety of platforms and channels to publish messages.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books Unlocking Social Media for PR and the newly-published  New School Press Release Tactics.  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Sarah is presenting on the topic of content discovery  at Content Marketing World, in session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   We hope to see you in Cleveland at the show!   In the meantime, follow the conversation on Twitter, hashtag #CMWorld.   She’ll be offering 19 (instead of the previously advertised 10) ways to build an element of discovery into your content strategy, and to drive the discovery of the information your brand publishes.  Here’s a sneak peek:

CMW session snippet



Fill in the blank: Content is ____ .


You’re creating it.  You’re curating it.  You’re publishing, tracking and sharing it. It’s playing a central role in your communications strategy.

How do you define content? 

We’d like to hear your take.  Fill in the blank “Content is ___”  either by leaving a comment on this post, or tweeting with hashtag #ContentIs.   [Tweet this!]

CMW_SocialNibbles-ContentIs-Brand-builderWe’ll be selecting some of the answers (along with names or Twitter handles!) for a slick infographic, and will be displaying them on the screens in our booth at Content Marketing World.

And while you’re at it, enter our sweepstakes for a chance to win a multimedia news release from PR Newswire, and really show off that content you’ve worked so hard to develop.

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Just because you’ve published your content doesn’t mean your target audience will see it.  Making content discoverable by the right people is a stumbling block all content marketers face.  I’ll be digging into how to drive content discovery next week at Content Marketing World, in a session titled “10 19 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.

Learn how to surface your content so your target audiences can find it, using tactics and best practices derived from my own experiments, smart things I’ve seen others do, and what the data tells us is most effective.   Hope to see you there!

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books Unlocking Social Media for PR and the newly-published  New School Press Release Tactics.  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

The Kick-Ass Guide to Cleveland for Content Marketing World Attendees

PRN_Guide_ClevelandContent Marketing World Special Edition:  In the run up to Content Marketing World, we invited Amanda Hicken, our Cleveland-based manager of media relations and the author of the Clue into Cleveland Blog to recommend her favorite must- see (and must-eat and must-shop) places near the Cleveland Convention Center, especially for Content Marketing World attendees.  

Cleveland's lakefront, home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Goodtime III, Great Lakes Science Center, and FirstEnergy Stadium

Cleveland’s lakefront, home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Goodtime III, Great Lakes Science Center, and FirstEnergy Stadium

I didn’t believe in love at first sight; then I met Cleveland. The Forest City, The Northcoast, The Rock and Roll Capital of the World.

When I moved here in 2007, I got the same questions you may be asking yourself: “Cleveland?!? The Mistake by the Lake?” “Have you seen the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video?” “Didn’t your river set itself on fire once?”

Although Cleveland has had a tough past, I love that Clevelanders don’t know the meaning of quit and always look for new ways to adapt, innovate, and succeed.

A few years ago I started the blog Clue Into Cleveland, and with the world’s largest content marketing conference returning to Cleveland this month, I’m here to share my and my coworkers’ picks on where to go when you’re in town for Content Marketing World 2013.  We’ve also summarized my picks into the infograpic you see at the top of this post, and have plotted them on an interactive map for you, too. 

cl map cmw

Click on the map to pull up an interactive guide we created for you.

Where to Eat

Fun Food Fact: It was in Cleveland that Ettore “Hector” Boiardi – better known as Chef Boyardee – opened his first restaurant and started bottling the spaghetti and meatballs that would soon launch an empire.

Stop by James Beard Awards Finalist Chef Jonathan Sawyer's Noodlecat for happy hour specials on noodles, steam buns and sake.

Stop by James Beard Awards Finalist Chef Jonathan Sawyer’s Noodlecat for happy hour specials on noodles, steam buns and sake.

Recently, Cleveland has been going through a dining renaissance.  Fans of the Food Network and The Chew will want to head to Lola (downtown, East 4th Street) or Lolita (a short ride to the Tremont neighborhood) to eat at nearby restaurants of Cleveland-son-turned-foodie-celebrity Chef Michael Symon.

Other downtown dining recommendations include:

“Go Fourth” to East 4th Street for your pick of 14+ restaurants like Greenhouse Tavern (adventurous eaters should share the Roasted Pig Head with a friend), Chinato, and La Strada.  Society Lounge is a must for cocktail lovers, where you can find well-crafted cocktails, tapas and sophisticated nostalgia. Erie Island Coffee, on the other hand, will give you that jolt of caffeine you need in the morning.

In addition to being the second largest theatre district in the U.S., PlayhouseSquare is a dining destination with Cowell and Hubbard, District, and Dynomite Burgers. After dinner, grab a pint at Parnell’s Pub.

Food truck fans can grab lunch from CLE food trucks like Umami Moto, an Asian Fusion truck voted best in Cleveland

Food truck fans can grab lunch from CLE food trucks like Umami Moto, an Asian Fusion truck voted best in Cleveland

Hodge’s is home to Food Network Star and Great Food Truck Race finalist Chris Hodgson, as well as 2-for-$40 Tuesdays featuring 1 starter, 2 entrees, and 1 bottle of wine for only $40.

Cleveland’s playful noodle house, Noodlecat, offers excellent happy hour specials on ramen, udon, and soba noodles, steam buns and exclusive sakes.  (This writer is particularly fond of the Japanese Fried Chicken Steam Bun, College Ramen Noodles, and Spicy Octopus Udon Stir-Fry.)

Looking for an excellent sandwich? Try Cleveland Pickle at 850 Euclid Ave. or take a short drive down St. Clair for the biggest and best corned beef at Slyman’s.  Flaming Ice Cube specializes in quality vegan cuisine, Blue Point Grille in fresh seafood, and Colossal Cupcakes in dessert (try a cupcake shake for something especially indulgent!).

If you’re short on time and need food on the go, check out Cleveland.com’s guide to 31 of the city’s food trucks.  Weekly food truck gatherings like Walnut Wednesdays and Lunch by the Lake Thursdays are popular with the PR Newswire Cleveland office.

What to Do

Downtown Cleveland is more than just a foodie paradise.  After you check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at CMWorld’s Opening Night Reception, squeeze in a little sightseeing.

If you arrive in Cleveland over the weekend, enjoy the best 360 degree view of the Cleveland skyline from the Terminal Tower Observation Deck

If you arrive in Cleveland over the weekend, enjoy the best 360 degree view of the Cleveland skyline from the Terminal Tower Observation Deck

At the lakefront, visit the Steamship William G. Mather, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the International Women’s Air and Space Museum.

If you arrive in Cleveland early, see Cleveland from above with a visit to the Terminal Tower Observation Deck or schedule a Lake Erie cruise on the Goodtime III.

Lolly the Trolley and Take a Hike offer weekday guided tours of the city, but if you’d prefer to sight see on your own, our picks include the Old Stone Church, Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, PlayhouseSquare, the Cleveland Arcade, and the Cleveland Public Library’s magnificent Main Library Building.

Just need a few moments of peace and quiet? Cleveland is called The Forest City for good reason. Escape to over a dozen parks and green spaces in Downtown Cleveland, including three spacious green malls and Voinovich Park on Lake Erie. You can also take a drive around the Cleveland Metroparks (nicknamed the Emerald Necklace) or the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for scenic running and nature trails.

Take a tour, see a show, or enjoy dinner at Cleveland's PlayhouseSquare, the country's second largest performing arts center behind New York's Lincoln Center.

Take a tour, see a show, or enjoy dinner at Cleveland’s PlayhouseSquare, the country’s second largest performing arts center behind New York’s Lincoln Center.

Travel Tips

Get Around with RTA: The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority makes it easy to get around downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. RTA’s trolley lines are your answer for convenient downtown travel, and you can hop on a bus or train to visit nearby West Side Market or University Circle’s world-class museums.

Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s City Visitor Guides: While Positively Cleveland is your go-to resource for all of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance focuses specifically on the neighborhoods you’ll be spending most of your time in at CMWorld.  Take a look at their Sensational Places, Historic Spaces guide or Downtown Navigator for more ideas.

Bring Home a Souvenir: When you get home from CMWorld, show off your love for Cleveland with a t-shirt, tote or other merchandise from CLE Clothing Co. Their store is a short walk to the corner of East 4th and Euclid or you can shop online.

We have one last recommendation for Content Marketing World attendees. Learn how to drive discovery of the content you’ve worked so hard to create in my c0lleague Sarah Skerik’s session.   Sarah is our vice president of content marketing, and she’ll be giving data-driven tips and proven tactics for improving the results content generated in the session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that will Get Your Content Promoted.”

Create Discoverable Stories Using Editorial Calendars

8 21 edcal

The MarketWatch/Wall St. Journal editorial calendar provides a great framework for content ideas.

Story timing plays a crucial role in determining whether or not your story is discovered by your audience.  For years and years, media outlets have been publishing their editorial calendars, to help brands manage ad buys and PR pitches.   Those same editorial calendars are a rich resource for content marketers, too.

Time = Opportunity

As you peruse editorial calendars, you’ll notice that the lead times are generally pretty long, even for daily newspapers.  Special sections are planned and “in the can” well in advance of publication. There is opportunity for smart content creators within these timeframes, including:

  • Earned media:  Reporters covering the space will be starting to develop story ideas.  If your brand’s content plans will generate newsworthy content, get your PR team involved.   Surveys, market research and tips/advice are examples of owned content that can earn media when pitched to the right outlets.
  • Accelerating audience interest: In the run up to an event or season, audience interest increases.   Savvy brands can tune into early conversations to identify hot-button topics, and build content around those topics.  A well-structured content plan can also help the brand get ‘out in front’ of the conversations as well.
  • Opportunity to trigger and shape discussion:  As audience interest swells, brands can also trigger and shape discussion with content derived from research, polls and surveys.   Trends pieces and related tips can surface new topic angles with audiences and trigger new conversations.
This smart press release from CCH includes a state-by-state list of tax holidays, making it relevant both in terms of timing and geography.  (Click the image to see the whole story.)

This smart press release from CCH includes a state-by-state list of tax holidays, making it relevant both in terms of timing and geography. (Click the image to see the whole story.)

Developing content that supports the brand’s key themes credibly can create the foundation for shaping the direction of the conversation. The relationship between timing and the ultimate discovery of brand messaging is clear.  There’s a lot to be gained for the brand that is prepared and catches the wave of attention around an event or topic as it’s developing, not waning. However, it’s also important to remember to seed discovery with distribution of message components.   Tactics you’ll want to have in your toolbox include:

  • Social and traditional media monitoring:  Keep tabs on conversations, stories, influencers, new trends, and new players.
  • PR savvy:  Don’t overlook the opportunity to generate valuable earned media.  Pitch relevant journalists newsworthy facts, data and trends.   Generate more visibility for assets you produce, such as surveys, white papers and infographics with a press release that outlines a few key points and offers readers a link to the rest of the information.
  • Visual development:  Don’t forget to develop visuals.  An infographic is more than just a great way to illustrate a trend or make data more tangible.  Multimedia assets attract more viewers, and can develop lives and audiences of their own.

One final note:  a strong social presence for the brand is especially helpful for capitalizing upon ultra-timely, news-driven topics.  Make building and bolstering your brand’s social presence and the relationship with the audience an ongoing priority – these are important assets that deliver tremendous value to the organization and provide ongoing visibility for the brand.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books “Unlocking Social Media for PR and the soon-to-be-published “New School PR Tactics.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Sarah is presenting on the topic of content discovery next month at Content Marketing World, in session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   Stop by the PR Newswire booth to see what’s new (and enter a great give away!) In the meantime, follow the conversation on Twitter, hashtag #CMWorld.

4 Ways Newsroom Tactics Can Help Marketers Drive Content Discovery

One of the most significant changes today’s connected, digital information marketplace has wrought upon marketing and PR teams is in timing.  A few years ago, an organization’s communications calendar was dictated by the company, according its schedule of events, partnerships and product launches.    The audience consumed the messaging the company pushed, and the message was conveyed via specific channels, such as industry media or a big trade show.

Today, the audience has seized control of much of the timing.  They are able to select their information sources, and frequently tap friends and peers for information and opinion.   They research their purchases on their own timing, often tuning out brand messaging until they’re ready to engage.  In many cases, the brand doesn’t initiate the first touch with the prospect.  Instead, that first touch originates with the prospect, in a social network or via a search engine.  As a result, brands need to evolve to being ‘always on,’ rather than relying solely upon episodic campaigns.

Additionally, search and social are good relevancy filters, which creates another challenge for brands. In such a fluid environment, how does one gain credible attention that is relevant to audiences and can keep the brand top-of-mind?  Put another way, how does one drive ongoing discovery of a brand?

Content marketing, newsroom-style

Adopting a newsroom mentality can help you surface timely content opportunities for your brand (tweet this.) Simply put, it means allowing trending and timely news stories to inform your content calendar, and calibrating your organization to deliver responses in near real time.

To start, get cozy with your friendly neighborhood PR team, or pay attention to the stories you’re seeing in the same media your brand is targeting in media and ad campaigns.  In particular, note which stories are the most popular on those different web sites, and model your editorial calendar accordingly.  If the top stories are all trends or tactics pieces, that is a clear signal that you should steer clear of (or at least, de-emphasize) theory, for example.

In addition, you’ll find other sources of ‘breaking story ideas’ within other areas of your business.  Here are a few possible sources:

4 sources of ‘breaking’ content ideas

  • Responses to legislative or industry developments.   Monitor industry trends, pending legislation or regulatory developments.  Round up experts and issue your responses.  If you’ve taken a multi-channel approach toward publishing your responses, such as issuing the official response via a press release, publishing a thought piece on your blog, creating a video or infographic offering a look into specific details and supporting all of the above in social networks, it will be difficult for anyone searching for related information to miss seeing your message. Example: Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Post Mixed Results 
  • The story you wish that reporter would have told.  It’s happened to all of us.  You pick up a magazine or see an online article that is strongly related to the brand you represent – and yet, your brand is absent from the piece.  Once you’re done with the obligatory gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, you can start to formulate your brand’s point of view, filling in the gaps you wish had been filled, and offering your brand’s point of view in the process.  Pro tip:  Interview a few socially connected industry influencers, to deliver additional credibility, and further amplify your message, as chances are good the quoted influencers will share the content.
  • Events and seasonal opportunities.   In the summer, corporate types start thinking about their budgets for next year.  Families wrap up vacations and start making back-to-school plans.  Football enthusiasts count the days until the first game.   These things happen each year, and can provide news hooks  and ideas for content that is relevant and useful at that moment.  A B2B company can survey customers, and release a report on trends, ahead of budgeting.   A company selling to families can find numerous angles for their back-to-school stories.  A fitness company could translate pro-football moves into a workout for fans at home.  Example: Hotwire Unveils Top 5 Sleeper Cities for Labor Day Weekend
  • Social conversations – a new barometer of public opinion, and a new way to inject “man on the street” perspective. We all know that we need to keep an eye on social channels.  However, instead of simply monitoring brand mentions, keep an eye on topics that are emerging (and growing legs) within your business segment, and which topics garner more attention amongst social network denizens.

These tried-and-true tactics are borrowed from the public relations playbook.  PR pros use them to fine-tune the relevance of the stories they pitch, according to media outlet and journalist preferences and beats.  Employing these tactics to inform a content strategy will similarly help marketers develop timely and relevant content that resonates with the audience and keeps the brand top of mind.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books “Unlocking Social Media for PR and the soon-to-be-published “New School PR Tactics.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Sarah is presenting on the topic of content discovery next month at Content Marketing World, in session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   We hope to see you in Cleveland at the show!   In the meantime, follow the conversation on Twitter, hashtag #CMWorld.

Peruse the Content Marketing World speaker line up – plus see top tips from each – right here: 

Related reading:  How to Become a Great Brand Journalist to Augment Your Content Marketing Strategy 

Lions, Leopards & Life Lessons from Content Marketing World

Jack Hanna & co. treated the Content Marketing World to a live appearances of several exotic and endangered animals, including this gorgeous cheetah.

What an amazing three days I’ve had in Columbus, Ohio for Content Marketing World 2012. Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe) and his team deserve so much credit – from the seamless programming to the fantastic speakers to the entertainment and the lessons. I call them lessons because while I honed my knowledge on content marketing – where we’ve been, where we’re going and how we can do it better – I am walking away with some timeless, yet valuable, lessons from two of the keynotes.

Marcus Sheridan (@thesaleslion) reminded me to find my why. Why are we doing what we are doing? If you sit down to write content for your job and hate every minute of it or can’t seem to find the time or are not sure how it’s helping you or anyone else for that matter, then why are you doing it? Perhaps it’s because you’ve always dreamed of being recognized in your field. Or perhaps it’s to grow your business so you can spend more time with your family. That was the why for Marcus.

And Jack Hanna (@junglejackhanna) – What an amazing and authentic man. Turns out his dad raised him with two core beliefs – hard work & enthusiasm. And, boy, does he work hard.  Sometimes 18 hours a day, and he says he’s never missed a day of work.  But Jack found his why when he was just 11 years old – enthusiasm. He absolutely loves what he does.

We all want to be good at what we do. Heck, some of us want to be the best. And, Marcus and Jack reminded me that working hard, loving what you do and knowing why you do it are the keys to getting there. So, I’m looking forward to the plane ride back to Chicago where I can meditate a bit on my why. What an unexpected, but wonderful, takeaway.

@StaceyLawson is an account manager for PR Newswire.

The Gift Economy & What it Means For Communicators

At Content Marketing World 2012, Mark Bonchek (@MarkBonchek) described two economies – market and gift – how they relate to social and why some brands simply aren’t getting it. While many of us understand a market economy, he offered an example to help us understand what a gift economy actually is. While there are others, I have to use his. There is nothing more universal than helping a friend move. Did you pay that friend in cash money? What about a tough move? Like from the first floor to the third with no elevator? Of course you didn’t. You didn’t write your buddy a check or dole out dollars. As Mark put it, you “paid” your friends with what is traditionally the going currency for helping a friend move – pizza and beer. You wouldn’t pay professionals movers with pizza and beer, because that relationship exists in a market economy, while the other in a gift.

Mark summed up the differences between the two economies this way:

Market Economy –  contractual, transactional, the individual’s status is bought

Gift Economy – communal, relationship-based, individual’s status is earned

If we look at the world of social media, it’s apparent that it exists in a gift economy. We join groups or platforms because we want to engage with like-minded people. We are interested in communities. Our likes, shares and retweets are relationship-based. We want to hear from others, and we want them to listen to us. The experts that we follow or friend earned that position in our life by proving themselves as the go-to on topics that we, personally, care about.

On the other hand, if we are engaged in a transaction, these characteristics don’t exist. We want it. They sell it to us. We walk away. Mark explained that this is exactly why some brands are finding social so difficult. They are trying to engage in financial transactions in the universe of a gift economy. Of course, no one is saying that you can’t sell your product or service to someone through a social channel.  But to do it successfully, you must first build an engaged community. Mark provided some simple tips for doing just that.

  • Build relationships. One-to-one relationships are great, but allowing individuals within your community to build camaraderie with each other is even better.
  • Earn status. Promote your own work or successes, but allow others in your network to do the same thing. This helps to build a shared sense of community.
  • Create a social currency.  What is important to your fans or followers? Is it a discount? A free trial? Is it a competition among each other? Get creative.

While these three tips seem obvious, there are so many brands that simply aren’t doing it. Incessantly pushing your product out to me doesn’t work. And begging me to “like” you certainly doesn’t cut it anymore either.  If you want to be successful in today’s gift economy, you must look for ways to build trust with those who are interested in your brand and find creative ways to engage that community.

Did I mention I’m a sucker for pizza and beer?

Author Stacey Lawson is an account manager with PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter at @StaceyLawson

Content Marketing World: Lunchtime Shootout! #cmworld

Notes from the thought leader shootout sessions at Content Marketing World.  Fun stuff!

Tom Stein  (@tom_stein) Stein Partners Brand Activation

Content – is it the new merlot, or the new black?  There’s lots of conversation about content being the new black.

Wine consumption increased by 66% percent after 60 Minutes did a show on the health benefits of wine.  Casual drinkers went with merlot.  Demand went up, supply went up, and the quality went down.  It became synonymous with crappy wine.

Today we’re seeing a glut of content.  And quality looks like it may be on the decline.  It’s incumbent on content marketers to ensure the quality stays high. Let’s make sure content doesn’t become merlot.

Megan Leap (@meganleap) Online Marketing Institute

The best races are the ones you finish. What does content marketing have in common with marathon running?

1)      You must commit to your crazy goal.

2)      Stay consistent.  Start small, and nurture your program over time.  Build up.

3)      Set milestones to keep you focused along the way.

Focus on your first mile, and get running!

Toby Murdock (@tobymurdock)  Kapost

Content marketing is still a new discipline, and people still don’t fully understand it.  It’s often confused with social.  What’s the difference between content marketing and social media marketing?

Content is a much bigger thing, and over time will be more revolutionary. Key differences:

1)      Where’s the center of gravity? For social, it’s inside the social networks.  In content marketing, social is an important distribution channel, but the center of gravity is on our web sites.

2)      Type of content:  Social is very short form that’s catchy.  It’s eye candy.  In content marketing, it’s longer form and more substantial.  We’re behaving like publishers.

3)      Overall objective: Social works for awareness.  But it’s not turned the corner in terms of delivering results in terms of generating leads, opportunity and new business.  Content marketing does generate business results. It develops relationships with prospects and showcases thought leadership.

More important than any channel is the message we deliver.

Michelle Malcho – Chevy Volt

The Volt is being showcased at a variety of different events like Content Marketing World  and SXSW.

We have this great technology, and we talked about how fantastic this car is to drive.  But the car didn’t take hold until Chevy changed the perspective to talk about the customer.

What’s more exciting:

I drove a Volt for 1,000 miles on one tank of gas?

Volts have gone 100,000 EV miles?

All the content on the Volt web site has the customer at the center. And last month they posted record sales of the Volt.  (Yay!)

One imperative: make sure all your efforts across PR, marketing, social, content and the web.

Josh Miles (@joshmiles) Miles Design

Are we looking at a content marketing bubble.

What’s awesome?  Balloons.  Kids think balloons are awesome, and they’re passionate about balloons.  Look how they freak out over balloon color, or if something happens to their balloon.

Driving down car dealership row, and they see a car dealer that has a balloon tied to every antennae.  There’s probably some great consumer research around using balloons on Saturday mornings.

But he’s pretty sure the bubble on car balloons popped a long time ago.  And nobody told the dealers that balloons aren’t working.

Is content marketing coming up on a bubble?  The good news is that we have lots of diversity – designers, brand guys, PR, journalists, marketers.   But there are traps – follow the research, and do the same thing over and over.  And heaven forbid that the headline you write doesn’t have a numeral in it!  These tactics are becoming balloons.  And they’re not working.

The content marketing bubble isn’t about to pop, but some of the tactics are growing stale.  Content marketing is awesome – but beware the balloons!

Heather Meza (@heathermeza) Cisco

A B2B BDM walks into a bar.  He says to the bartener “I’m looking for a cost-optimized drink of a fruity nature.”

The bartender says “What?”

People don’t talk like that, but we’re filling the world with language that kills the soul.

We’re all in the P2P space.  We’re all human, and we crave the same things.  Throw away the work persona! Be real and connect with people. It’s fun.

And the content you create should be fun.  And it should be fun for the people who are encountering it.

Be bold, be courageous.  Be a real person all the time. Just be you, out there in the world. Inspire the people you work with and the company you work with to be human.

Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik) is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Demand Gen: Creating Content that Converts #cmworld

Top selling and start helping.  According to Rachel Foster (@copywriterTO) these are the words content marketers need to live by.  In her session at Content Marketing World 2012 on demand generation, Rachel offered a simple content framework designed to create content that captures customers – and converts.

  1. Create content for multiple audiences.  In addition to your decision makers, think about all the other people who have a stake in the decision (e.g. IT, finance, and people who will use what you’re selling.)  TechTarget – number of people in the IT buying process – 7-10.  You have to answer all their questions.
  2. Create content for different stages of the sales cycle. (e.g. Suspects/prospects/leads/customers.) The most effective marketers speak to each stage.
  • Early stage leads: May not even be looking or realize they have a problem.  They need educational information – education them about their challenges. Blogs, white papers, webinars, videos.
  • Mid-stage leads – they’ve opted in, they know they have a problem.  They may have opted into your list or seen your web site.  They need to make a business case for the purchase.  They need to prove the ROI. Case studies, testimonials.
  • Late stage.  They are making the decisions.  This is where all the other stakeholders will come in. You need to address their questions.  They will also compare you to your competitors.  Data sheets, comparisons work for them.

Rachel also advocated storytelling, and challenged the audience to discover our brand stories — and our customers’ stories.  Why?  People are looking for community.  They want to interact with like-minded people.  Customers want to engage with like-minded companies that understand their needs and quirks.  Storytelling makes your content and your brand more relatable.

How to discover your customers’ stories: Subscribe to what they read.  Subscribe to Google alerts to get their news.  Go to the same events, or at least see what the hot topics at those events are.  Study how competitors interact with them. Join groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and interact with them.  Pay attention to your blog comments. Analytics.

How to discover your story:  Find your story gaps.  Make your wish list.  A product with no case study?  No blog posts?  No testimonials? Ask others for help in filling these gaps. Mine social media for happy customers.

  • How to get testimonials?  Come up with a process and make it REALLY EASY for the customer so they don’t have to do work.  Phone call, go through questions, type up, send for approval, et voila.  Put questions in order so it writes itself.
  • Don’t play it safe.  Many B2Bs play it safe.  “That’s not the way things are done” is pervasive thinking.

Author Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik52)  is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

At PR Newswire, content marketing is powered by an agile communications approach – built on effectively listening to online conversations, targeting of active influencers, creating content based on the insights gleaned and syndicating content that is relevant, compelling and trustworthy on an ongoing basis to drive visibility and deliver results.