Tag Archives: #cmworld

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.

Distilling the Magic of Content Marketing #cmworld

Marcus Sheridan, aka @TheSalesLion, sells in-ground fiberglass pools.  He also happens to be an instinctive content marketer who dispenses with theory and goes straight to tactics that work.   His presentation kicked off the second day of Content Marketing World 2012 with raw truth and unbridled energy.

Marcus started out emphasizing the absolute requirement that we think about how our customers behave.  Where do they turn when they’re looking for information?  Google.  And what  questions do they Google?  A prospect’s questions usually follow a pattern:

  • Price – They want to know how much it costs
  • Problems – Consumers want to know if it solves a problem.
  • Comparisons – They want to compare you to your competitors
  • The Best – They want to know what product/solution in the space is considered “the best”
  • Reviews – They want credible reviews.

In sales, Marcus noted, we don’t hear questions, we hear our answers.  As marketers, this translates into publishing what we want our market to hear.

The questions customers ask should be at the center of your approach to content creation. As  your teams to tell you what the questions they hear every day from customers?  Turn those questions into titles of blog posts and get going, says Marcus.  Within 30 minutes of mining your organization for questions, you’ll come up with dozens and dozens of ideas for blog posts and other content.

The golden rule of content marketing, according to Marcus, is “They ask, you answer.”  People who are good listeners never run out of content. There’s a dearth of content that actually answers consumers’ questions.

Author Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik)  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.

3 Tactics For Integrating Online & Offline Content to Own the ZMOT #cmworld

The Zero Moment of Truth is that moment in time between a customer’s first exposure to your brand (e.g. an ad, a piece of content) and the moment in which they make the decision to buy.   Being present in that moment enables brands to capture this potent opportunity to influence the looming outcome.  Being absent from this moment all but ensures a brand is overlooked.

The pervasiveness of mobile devices has changed how people consume content and make purchasing decisions, giving rise to the “cross-platform consumer”  — and the ZMOT. This fragmentation of our audiences’ attention between devices — and the simple fact that people can pull the information they want whenever they need it via the phone in their pocket – requires communicators to think differently about the content they produce, with respect to the role of content in the marketing approach.

Bridging digital & analog – anticipating online behavior 

Despite the fact that we often create distinct campaigns and content for print and digital, it’s important to remember that our audiences don’t fall into one category or the other. In most cases, they readily consume analog and digital media, and bounce freely Back and forth between different types and formats of media.

So rather than using an “either or” mindset when planning content, a more anticipatory approach is useful.  Anticipating what behavior content will inspire and planning accordingly is an effective means of bridging online and off-line media.

A simple way to begin this approach is to think about three things:

  1. What actions will the content drive?
  2. What opportunities will these actions create for the organization?
  3. What tactics need to be in place to convert actions to opportunities?

Here are some examples of different actions content can produce, and the requisite opportunities and tactics for each.

Potential action #1 — social discussion:

Action: Content creates social discussion. People on social networks are talking about the content you published.

Opportunity: Social discussion affords the brand a number of opportunities, including:

  • Building awareness & word of mouth volume
  • Generating leads
  • Solidifying a relationship with some readers

Tactics: To capture these opportunities, the content creator needs to employ a variety of tactics, including:

  • Defining and publicizing a hashtag for the subject (or using one that’s already established) will help people find the content on Twitter.
  • Creating smart, relevant presences in other social networks where you know key audiences are present (e.g. Facebook, SlideShare, Pinterest) will cultivate an audience likely to amplify your messages.  Be sure the teams administering those presences are informed of key messaging well in advance of deployment, and that related content and images have been shared with them.  The best way to annoy your social teams – and to reduce the impact of key messages – is to loop them in after the message is deployed and put them in the position of playing catch-up.
  • Researching related search terms, buying them as part of an SEM strategy and incorporating them into messaging will have an important dual effect – audiences will be able to more readily find your content, and the search engine rankings for related web sites may improve.

Potential action #2 — cultivating (& converting) consideration

Action: Consideration. The content you publish triggers purchases, or (at least) strong consideration of a purchase of the product, event or service you’re promoting.

Opportunity:  Active consideration triggers a variety of new behaviors, many of which start with a search of some type, including:

  • Sequential search – An interested audience member conducts a search after coming into contact with the content.   They may use their PC for the search, or they may use a mobile device.
  • Spur of the moment search – An interested member of your audience whips out their mobile device to kill time, and starts looking for information related to what you’re promoting.
  • Calls to action: Your reader is eager to learn more, and is seeking a path to follow to access additional information.

Tactics: Capturing people in the consideration phase requires the company to deliver information crucial to supporting the decision process – where and when the prospect is seeking it.

  • Decision affirmation:  Related content, such as testimonials and case studies, provide decision support and inspire confidence.
  • Decision affirmation from the crowd: It’s not at all uncommon to see people querying others on Facebook, Twitter and other networks about a potential purchase.  Providing content that is readily shared will help spread your message among other potential prospects, even as the original prospect continues gathering feedback.
  • Especially if the product or service is purchased through a retail location, providing hours of operation, location details and a phone number are key.  Search your business from a mobile phone. If a map to your location with other key details doesn’t show up at the top of the screen, it’s time to improve the mobile version of your web site.
  • And even if your product or service isn’t sold in retail establishments, your customers are using mobile devices.  Ensure you have excellent mobile content that works across all platforms.

Generating social discussion and triggering consideration are just two of the actions the content you publish can inspire. Audience behavior and preferences, desired outcomes and other actions sparked by your content marketing programs will vary by organization and industry.  However, the cross-platform information consumer is a reality for all communicators, and integrating our online and off-line communications to capture opportunity and maximize results is an important aspect of any communications strategy.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Amplifying ROI … Return on Influence! #cmworld

Mark’s new book, “Return on Influence.”

What do you, me, Derek Jeter and Eva Longoria have in common? (Hint: The answer isn’t “nothing”.) We’re all – or have the potential to be – influencers.

“This is the era of citizen influencers,” declared Mark Schaefer during today’s Content Marketing World session. As a marketer, this wasn’t news to me, but it struck me. ANYONE has the opportunity to influence. What a powerful statement! And what and immense opportunity for the content marketer inside each of us.

Among many of the non-traditional influencer examples provided were:

> A Mommy Blogger commissioned to Bolivia to help raise awareness for an orphanage — resulting in 150 children being sponsored as a result

> A shy government employee in California who tweets 2oo times each day and has been sought after by notable brands such as Audi

As content marketers, how can we learn from these real-world examples to increase our level of influence, and thereby increase ROI (return on influence)? An educator at heart, Mark provides a valuable framework for amplifying influence:

1. Meaningful Content: “Content that moves is power on the Internet,” he notes.

2. Relevant Audience: You have to ignite your content to build power and influence. Relevancy is what will spark that flame.

3. Consistent Engagement: (Does the term agile engagement come to mind?) Keep the conversation flowing through content that follows Mark’s RITE principle: Relevant, Interesting, Timely, Entertaining.

Building your influence likely will not happen overnight, but by following the above guiding framework, all of us can ignite a flame to shine ever brighter.

Author Christina Griffo is a marketing manager for PR Newswire.

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.

How a Clown Fish Can Unlock Your Company’s Content Marketing Budget

When Drew Davis of Tippingpoint Labs first brought up how Finding Nemo could act as the rationale for securing added budget for content marketing I thought something was fishy. Why would a Pixar fish flick – albeit the most successful DVD ever – provide suitable ammo to change the budgetary habits of a CMO?

Here’s why.

Most companies invest a huge percentage of their budget in buying time and space – advertising, PR, and so forth – but much less on creating the actual message. Consider the Geico example that was shared in the session.

  • Geico has a $745mm marketing/advertising budget.
  • Geico has 19 types of insurance. That’s $39mm (and change) for each insurance type if they were to divide the budget equally.
  • $35mm goes to buying time and space – blank pages, air, and so forth. Only $4mm for the messaging.

Now invert that budget allotment.

Finding Nemo had an $87 million budget. 80% of the budget, according to Drew, was spent on making the film. The remaining 20% was spent on marketing the film.  Again… 80% for creating the actual content. 20% on marketing it.

The results? Great content triggered significant action and created a demand. Finding Nemo is the #1 selling DVD of all time and a term, “The Nemo Effect” – a rush to purchase clown fish that depleted clown fish counts worldwide (this really happened!) – was coined.

Geico has been wildly successful – you can’t swing a gecko without hitting some form of Geico outreach. Is this attributed to deft messaging or massive amounts of placement? But how much better could it be? What if Geico invested $35mm in ongoing content creation/messaging and $4mm in marketing/advertising? What if your company inverted this kind of messaging vs. marketing/advertising spend and invested in content creation for your audience(s) that creates demand?

Drew’s message to a CMO is this: If you want to increase awareness, buy ads. If you want to increase demand, create content.

I’d put my money on demand.

What do you think?

Author Malcolm Atherton is one of PR Newswire’s account partners with long expertise in social media, PR and multimedia content distribution.

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.