It’s become incredibly in vogue to classify different marketing channels as “dead.” Sounding the death knell for traditional media was first, whether that was 30 years ago with the rise of cable TV, or more recently with content streamed online, to multiple devices, on demand. The press release has been metaphorically buried over and over again, only to rise from the grave. More recently, digital channels, such as email marketing, have been called dead (despite data to the contrary), and the latest earnings reports have people putting Facebook (and social media altogether) on life support.
The most recent target seems to be Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as an article on Forbes.com last week stirred the pot with the attention-grabbing headline,The Death Of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, And Real Content. Journalists/soothsayers seem to be particularly enthusiastic about pounding nails in coffins, and it was only a matter of time before SEO got the treatment.
In my eyes, much of the talk of the “death” of any of these channels – whether it’s the press release, PR, or broadcast, revolves around misunderstanding the way they work, and what each vehicle’s goals are. Take broadcast TV for a moment. NBC has taken considerable flak this week for tape delaying most of the Olympics, including the opening ceremonies. And yet, the Olympics are off to a record start from a ratings standpoint. So, while there have been issues around revealing results on the same station that hasn’t even shown that event yet, the fact is that NBC’s goal is to maximize viewer audience and sell profitable advertising time to those viewers. And, on that they are delivering. Of course there are kinks to work out, and live streaming of events, mobile and tablet viewing, and social media/broadcast integration are still in their very early innings, but NBC’s primary job is to maximize the return on their investment of broadcast rights to the Olympics, and for them it looks like a success thus far.Tweet
Everywhere I turn these days, content marketing is a hot discussion topic. While we’ve been preaching the benefits of content marketing for a number of years, agencies and brands alike are scrambling to turn themselves into content-producing machines. Content marketing done right can be one of the most effective forms of marketing, but all too often companies are kicking out content that is mediocre at best, and it’s costing them business.
Content Marketing Spend is Increasing
According to research from The Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, the growing confidence in content marketing effectiveness is one of the factors driving content marketing budget increases. Their research shows 60% of respondents plan to increase content marketing budgets over the next 12 months, up from 51% in last year’s study.
With these increased budgets comes increased opportunity, but also increased expectations. The rush to get on the next hot thing more often than not then leads to a “get it done now” or “ready, fire, aim” approach, rather than a well-planned, well-executed strategic approach to content marketing. Without the proper plan in place, it’s awfully difficult to hit the target (remember – we fired before we aimed!), and the outcome is likely to be mediocre—at best—content, and mediocre—at best—results.Tweet
In a recent marketing assessment we performed for a technology client, we learned the company’s blog hasn’t been as strong a business driver as they would like it to be. Reviewing the past two years of blogging, we found that nearly all of the posts were highly technical—great for CIOs and IT staffers, but what about the other key decision makers in the buying process?
Talk to Everyone at the Party
We see this situation all the time. As companies move forward with content marketing, they tend to target only one set of players in the buying process. Information technology companies tend to just create detailed, step-by-step content. The needs and potential objections of the business user/manager, CFO/Controller, and others aren’t addressed. By ignoring half the room, companies miss building the business case for their offering across all of the decision makers. So the internal developer may appreciate the detailed technical pieces you create, but the COO and CFO can’t understand what the heck the offering is to begin with and why they need it — and your content doesn’t help them to address those objections.You’re ignoring at least half the room.
Mapping Your Buyers and Their Needs
So what’s the solution? Don’t isolate yourself with only 1 of the 3 buyers in your “Iron Triangle” of Technical User, Business User, and Economic Decision Maker. Instead, use your content to accelerate the sales process by mapping it to the each of the buyers’ needs at different stages of the cycle. Remember, this approach applies to your entire content mix, not just blogs. If you’re new to content marketing, a fundamental step is building out your key messaging and buyer personas. You can then create content targeted to each that address those objections at each stage to accelerate the sales cycle. If you’ve done this before, it’s always helpful to revisit your messaging and persona and mapping to see if they’re still relevant.Tweet
A few weeks back, my wife and I had the rare opportunity to go out to dinner with another couple, and without the kids, which meant we got around to discussing topics for grown-ups at the table rather than juice boxes, straws, and crayons. As we ordered our food and settled in, the couple we were with asked me how the real estate market was doing. My confusion and blank look must have thrown them, so they followed up by asking, “Aren’t you in the commercial real estate business?” I responded that no, I was in marketing, and the confusion continued until we realized how they had arrived at the idea. When asking my wife about my work a while ago, she responded that I started a business and lease office space in the Canton area of Baltimore. In her mind, that made sense, as it describes how I got out of the home office and into an office space in an energetic area of Baltimore, but in my neighbor’s eyes they immediately interpreted that message to mean that I was in commercial real estate.
While this was a very casual occurrence, and something we have been getting a good chuckle out of the last few weeks, it reinforced a key point that we see all the time with companies – that your message is more important now than ever.
The Messaging Guide – Alive and Well
In the digital age, all too often the messaging guide is now neglected, incorrectly discarded into the marketing trash heap with the 4Ps and athletes pitching tobacco products. But whether it’s for crafting the elevator pitch, describing to your neighbors what your company does, or serving as the go-to reference for how you talk about the company, in the era where content is king you need a consistent set of key points where all language flows from. The messaging guide serves that purpose, and gives you the key points to talk about the company in a way that is unique, stands out, and resonates with your clients and prospective clients. The more complex the offering, and the more crowded your space, the more important it is to have that unique value proposition and supporting messages in order to stand out from your competition.
How Your Messaging Guide Drives Your Content Marketing
When we talk about the value of content– whether it’s website copy, blog posts, eBooks, white papers, webinars, videos and a host of other formats – it’s imperative that you clearly and consistently articulate and support your company’s value proposition and key messages. These key messages should serve as the ultimate bellwether for whether that content advances the company and the business, or is essentially useless filler. The messaging guide helps to truly serve as the checkpoint for all of your content – is it in line with the business, does it support the way that we work and think, or is it just fluff?Tweet
As I look back, it wasn’t that long ago that Right Source Marketing was in the phase I now call “2 dudes and a website.” Mike Sweeney and I first co-founded the business to address what we saw as a hole in the market between in-house marketing resources, strategic consulting firms, and marketing agencies. Fast forward a few years and we’ve been fortunate enough to experience significant growth and make a name for ourselves in marketing overall, and content marketing in particular. Today we’re excited to continue that growth with the acquisition of Baltimore-based BMore Integrated.
There are a number of reasons businesses decide to come together through merger or acquisition, whether it’s to acquire proprietary technology, offer complimentary services, expand a geographical footprint, or a host of others. In our case, this wasn’t Facebook acquiring Instagram, but rather a way to bring BMore Integrated and founder Michael Teitelbaum into the fold to expedite our growth.
One of the things that attracted us to BMore Integrated is that they are guided by the same principles that guide Right Source Marketing—strategy before tactics, messaging before communication, education before execution, and a relentless focus on the client and results—and that makes this a perfect fit. We have aggressive growth plans for 2012-2013, and the addition of BMore Integrated and Michael to our leadership team comes at a critical time—his experience guiding companies through high growth periods will reap benefits for our staff, clients, and partners immediately.
We’re excited to continue to improve our digital marketing consulting and services, and stay ahead of the content marketing curve. We welcome BMore Integrated. You’ll be seeing more of Michael on the blog and as an active leader in our business.
For more information:
- To learn more about what we do, visit the Right Source Marketing website.
- View the press release.
- Subscribe to receive our monthly email newsletter with marketing advice, news, and updates.
- Download our latest eBook How to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing.
- Or of course, just pick up the phone and give us a ring. After all, isn’t a conversation one of the most critical pieces of content?