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If You Aren’t Doing Content Marketing, You’re Missing The Boat

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

The Content Marketing Institute together with Marketing Profs and Curata released an essential study recently.

You need to read it.

Why? Because it found that 75% of companies are increasing their investment in content marketing, and 43% are increasing staff levels. Content marketing works, and I’ll show you how and why in the next 3 minutes.

Chief marketing officers have repeatedly recognized the need for a core content marketing team. And this team doesn’t need to be led by a CCO — chief content officer — a role which is being retired at many companies. Instead the successful content leader typically has a marketing operations manager or writer/editor title. Their job is to develop and orchestrate a content strategy across the company.

What’s Your Marketing Mix? Credit: Bluewire Media http://www.bluewiremedia.com.au/web-strategy-planning-template

Content Marketing Works

Content marketing is all about non-egocentric (i.e., end-user-focused rather than product- or company-focused) content that helps buyers with their jobs and careers. This content adds value—that’s why it works. Yes, you can include a smidge of product content woven in with the value-based message. Also be sure to publish via multiple content channels. As a result you will speed up the process of providing the necessary nine to twelve high value touches, which is a rough standard for B2B conversions for marketing efforts.

Four Keys To Successful Content

1. Use SBM (safety, belonging, mattering) in your messaging

2. Use meta-programs: when you have a blend of different meta-programs you need to use them all, since the brain deletes information not relevant to it. The good news is that this actually works!

4. Have three or more of the five curve elements:

C for Curiosity: does the content make the recipient curious?

U for Urgency: does the content make the recipient want to take action?

R for Relevance: is the content relevant to the recipient’s situation or context?

V for Value: does the content reflect the recipient’s values and/or is it valuable to the recipient?

E for Emotion: does the content evoke emotions in the recipient? Is it funny, fascinating, surprising…?

In addition to multiple channels you’ll also want to repurpose your content to ensure your reach is to the greatest potential relevant audience. As we know, if you only post one type of content in one specific way, you are only reaching a small percentage of your entire audience and potential prospective customer base. Let’s look at some examples of content marketing that worked.

Blogs

According to Content Marketing Institute, 80% of B2B marketers include blogging in their marketing and 53% of B2B practitioners say they are achieving greater success now than in previous years. They attribute that increase to spending more time on content marketing, which includes blogs. The trend from “snackable content” to “sumptuous feasts” is rising. Consumers want to trust their information sources and are expecting that content be researched, accurate and worthy of their time and attention.

After many years of blogging, I have found that posting value-added blogs, on a regular basis, continues to deeply resonate with my audience. Based on views and comments, I am able to determine which blog content resonates the most and repurpose this information so that it can be shared on different channels and in different ways (infographic, SlideShare etc.) to reach a larger audience. When you create content that works well, reuse it in at least six different ways (including webinar, podcast, guest blog, video, etc).

Infographics

One of my clients posted their first infographic on LinkedIn. It had 3,674 views in the first 72 hours, which resulted in 22 leads. Conversations are now in process and we’ll see how many of those convert. Next, they emailed the infographic out to their list and had open rates 83% higher than usual.

Emails

One of my company’s clients held a reception after a conference and had a goal of setting up meetings with those that attended. He sought my help in crafting an email that would compel the recipients to agree to a meeting. After we edited the message, using a blend of different meta-programs, this email received a 20% response rate—meaning 20% of the recipients agreed to the call to action (CTA), which was a meeting with our client. This was a new record for the company!

LinkedIn

We created a case study that celebrated the success of one of our clients. We used a combination of channels to distribute this information. First, we posted the case study to LinkedIn with a CTA that took the recipient to a LeadPage. The LeadPage had a CTA asking them to opt-in to our list to receive one of the resources that was mentioned in the successful case study of our client. The conversion of the LeadPage was 68.5%. The automated email that we sent out to those that opted in (which contained the value added resource promised) had a 92.9% open rate and 82.1% click rate. These numbers, combined with the feedback from those that received the resource, showed us that our content, which combined safety/belonging/mattering, meta-programs and high-value, resonated with our audience.

Slideshare

We started using SlideShare 90 days ago. We have posted two presentations that contained content that was repurposed from popular blog posts, and have had a total of 2,672 views. Our one presentation had over 300 views over the course of two days. We now know that SlideShare is a social media channel that resonates with our audience and will continue to post on a more frequent basis and test different CTAs to determine what resonates the most with our audience and what is compelling them to convert.

Customer-Centric Marketing Is Emotional: 5 Steps To Understand Emotions In The Sales Process

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I run across a tool that’s just too good not to share. This is one of them.

I have taken hundreds of my clients and their teams through an exercise called the “Customer Journey.” It’s a powerful process and clearly illuminates what’s missing in sales and marketing messages. Thanks goes to Paul Boag for the clear layout above.

Me-Centric Marketing

Here’s the essential difference. Often, when we think about marketing our focus is on ourselves. How much can we sell? What is our target market? Who is our ideal client? Even when we describe customer needs we are often seeing customers through our own eyes and filters.

The Customer Journey process walks us through our customers’ experience and asks questions that force us to see ourselves through a different lens. Through their lens.

And the structure of the process means you can’t “lead the witness” either.

Your first step is to determine your basic customer personas, for example: corporate executives, IT managers, purchasing managers. Then either cover a huge wall with paper, or project a template from a pc and type in the results together.

How you divide up the work depends on how large your group is. However, please don’t assign any chunk of the work to just one person. The point is to work collaboratively. So ideally you have diverse teams work through the entire grid for one customer profile or a section of a profile.

You-Centric Marketing

Across the top of your customer journey grid (the column headers of the grid) will be the stages a customer moves through as they select a new partnership/vendor:

  • Discovery: This is where your customer first becomes conscious that they have a problem/need. They are beginning to look both internally and externally for ways to achieve their vision. This is where they’ll “discover” you, so be sure you are visible! Some marketers call this the Awareness stage.
  • Research: Here the potential customer understands their problem/need and is seeking information about you, your competitors and possible solutions. You’ll want to make sure your info is easy to find.
  • Selection and Justification: At this stage the potential customer feels that your solution meets their need and the solution can be justified. They’re selecting you. Hooray!
  • Delivery and Partnership: Now you and your customer are in it together, you are partners. It’s time to deliver on your promises and work through any challenges together.
  • Post Sale: The courtship is over, how will the relationship grow and deepen over time?

On the left side of the grid (the rows of the grid) we have the info we want to understand at each stage. They are:

  • Tasks: What is the customer trying to achieve at this stage?
  • Questions: What does the customer want to know at this stage?
  • Touchpoints: How does the customer interact with our organization at this stage?
  • Emotions: What is the customer feeling at this stage?
  • Weaknesses: How does our organization let the customer down at this stage?

I also have my clients track at the bottom of the grid how long customers typically spend at each stage and compare it to what they would like to have happen. From here we can uncover where prospects get “stuck” and then create neuroscience-based marketing messages to help them regain/keep momentum.

Tricks Of The Trade

I have found that answers tend to move around a bit so if you’re putting things on a wall, you’ll want to fill in the grid with post-its so that you can move them.

Use a neutral third party to facilitate and maintain momentum. They will see things and ask questions that you can’t possibly think to ask. You’re too close.

Once the grid is filled in, it is crucially important to validate the findings. Again, use a neutral third party to have calls with your customer personas—these take about 30-45 minutes and you’ll want to send the completed Journey to them in advance. And be sure to reposition the “Weaknesses” section—we edit it to say “Opportunities” for how we can serve customers even better before we send to the customer for validation.

Make sure to schedule a follow-up meeting where your sales and marketing plan will be reviewed relative to the validated findings. Things will change for sure!

The Case Of The Tragic Sales Force

One of my clients brought me in because they just couldn’t understand what was happening. They had been working continuously on their culture and the team had become a true SmartTribe.

Yet sales continued to languish.

The team began by defining each profile clearly and applied Meta-programs to flesh out the profile definitions and deepen our understanding of the different customer types. They then walked through the “Customer Journey Grid,” discussing each profile at each stage and getting more and more honest about what the customer was experiencing and where they were letting them down.

After validating their findings by talking with their customers, they met and made several major changes to their marketing message and sales process. The findings even eventually affected how they deliver and how they follow up. And for the first time ever, sales and marketing are aligned with the customer’s true experience.

And the best news? Now sales are zooming due to deeply connecting with their customer. My client is now consistently hitting their Targets and sometimes even their Mind Blowers.

I’d love to see you achieve this too!

See the Customer Journey as a storytelling tool. The better we can understand the customer’s experience, the better we can serve them on their journey

*Interested in diving deep into the  brain-based tools you need to deeply connect with prospects and customers, forge trust quickly and expedite the sales process for producing phenomenal results? Join us on April 12-14 for our E-learning series. Double Your Sales & Crush Your Competition: Using Neuroscience to Sell Better, Market Better, Close Faster!