It was a wonderful day at the Philadelphia Content Marketing Summit held May 13 at the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. It was the first of I hope many such workshops that I put together to help businesses large and small optimize their marketing and lead generation strategies properly.
I was happy to lead the event and discuss the importance of content marketing in all aspects of a digital marketing strategy. Highlights of the event:
NuSpark Marketing strategist Gerry Lantz discussed the power of branding and storytelling:
- Marketing is not top down any more. Clients, customers are looking for and selecting you. What’s the best way to involve potential customers—hard benefits, sure that satisfies the intellectual decision to purchase—but the emotional decision to buy in or buy you is the other half of the selling equation.
- Marketers don’t talk at prospects anymore; you’re starting a conversation—have useful information, but not necessarily all the answers. Invite people into the conversation.
- Be where customers are looking: even if you start with just a smarter, SEO savvy website—that has engaging offers of insight and information. You can’t give enough away—customers can’t do what you do or they wouldn’t be looking for you.
NuSpark Marketing strategist Oliver Picher discussed effective content mapping
Keep it simple at first, then get more complex
Early in the sales cycle, ‘awareness messages’ delivered in compelling ways, such as video, will work just fine to get attention and draw your prospects in. However, as they move down the purchasing path, you need to provide more complex information, like case studies and white papers.
Figure out your buyer personas, then target them with content
You may be marketing to purchasers, users, influencers and gatekeepers, so you must have specific content that appeals to each of them. An easy way to do this is to start with job titles. Put together an e-book or white paper titled ‘5 thing every CFO needs to know about cutting IT costs.’ Another example would be ‘An IT Director’s guide to gaining better efficiency with cloud computing.’
Remember to map your delivery mechanisms
It’s also important to map your delivery mechanisms to the buyer personas and stages in the sales cycle. Early stage awareness messages might be delivered by your company blog or online banner ads, but more complex messages should be delivered via nurture e-mails and even direct mail.
NuSpark Marketing strategist Carolyn Frith discussed the importance of market research and content planning
Content marketing is all about attracting and retaining customers.
There are several insights you need about your target audience before you can attract anyone.
First, and this seems really simple but is a crucial step that’s often missed, you need to define who you want to attract and engage online. It may be one or several market segments.
How and why does your buyer buy? This includes what they research during the buying process and how they act on available content.
Where do your buyers hang out online?
Are different content types used at different stages in the buying cycle?
What are the buyers’ goals? This includes pain they’re trying to avoid and dreams they want to achieve.
Who are your top competitors? What is their online strategy? And, what are their strengths and weaknesses? Whether you want to beat them at their own game or emulate their successes, it’s best to know what your business is up against.
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can create buyer personas which help you to keep the buyer in mind as you develop your content strategy and create the content.
NuSpark Marketing strategist Apryl Parcher discussed the importance of blogging in a content marketing strategy.
Poor, Apryl she was sick for the event, so thanks to today’s technology, we have her on the IPad via Skype. Very cool way to have her with us as the photo shows below.
NuSpark Marketing strategist Steve Lubetkin discussed how to integrate podcasts and video into a content marketing plan that results in lead generation.
Here’s a piece of my keynote speech, explaining the importance of content in a buying decision:
Let’s say I’m a COO of a large law firm, and have been slightly frustrated on my document and case management needs. Slightly inefficient and doesn’t cater to my needs. I haven’t been considering any changes, and have been carrying on with my business. So what are my media habits?
So here’s the deal- if I’m not searching for my solution, I’m a passive prospect. I can still be reached; maybe it’s still my beloved trade journal; maybe it’s a law management enewsletter I signed up for from a publisher’s website? Direct mail? Perhaps. All those elements combine editorial content with marketing content. I can be swayed!
Well, I’m now starting to think about my business needs. Now that I am an active prospect, I’ll go to the Internet to research some solutions, like 90% of my fellow b2b buyers do! I have three main choices. A search engine; My LinkedIn group; a website portal focused on my industry.
Let’s start with search engine. I’ll do a search- Case management software firms. Hmmm. This is my first impression on what’s out there. I’ll start at the top and investigate. 3 pay-per-click ads. I scan. Text ads are Content- promotional content. Here’s one for a free white paper on case management for larger firms. Cool- I’ll click, but first let me scan the organic natural listings. I look at the page titles and company descriptions. Here’s two more companies who’ descriptions are written so compellingly with the keyword I queried, I’ll click them as well. That’s content. I have 3 choices now to research- no need to go to the second page unless these first three don’t pan out. Hello SEO. So far, the pay-per-click ad attracted my click because it was offering content in the ad. The Natural listings attracted my eye because the listing descriptions were written to cater to my needs specifically.
Ok there are two destinations now. The pay-per-click ad goes to a specific landing page where I can read a little about the company, the benefits of working with that company, and an easy-to fill out web form where I can download that content. So, we have two elements of content marketing in play- the landing page content that engaged me and encouraged me to download the second element- the white paper itself.
The second destination is the firm’s website itself, found when the natural listing was clicked. Now I am in charge of what pages I view. I’m busy so I am a scanner. I don’t have time to read all that copy. I need to see bullet points; I need to see what this firm does to satisfy my needs. I’ll look at some testimonials. Review the software screen shots. I need to feel like the content is speaking to me, in my language. Ahh- a resource page with white papers. I’ll download one and learn more about this firm’s approach. Another email captured, because the site engaged me with relevant content! I’m educating myself.
Ok, we just showed how content leads me to a destination, and how content engaged me and persuaded me to download more content, and now I am a “top of the funnel” lead.
Now I am in the consideration mode. I need to prepare a detailed analysis on my options on who to do business with. I haven’t called a sales guy yet. The landing pages and websites are giving me initial content to base my research on. Next, I’ll go to that LinkedIn group, and ask a question on what other folks in my shoes use, or what considerations I should keep in mind when making a solution decision. At the same time, I’m researching my 3 top choices further. I subscribe to blogs, as long as they’re focused and updated. I’ll do a blog search and a Twitter search using Google’s social media search tools. I’m reading or downloading case studies. I need to make sure of my decisions.
A few days later, I received an email from two of the firm’s I had been researching. One invited me to a webinar, where they are explaining how the right case management software can save my firm money. I’ll check it out. More relevant content! The other sent me another white paper on a “how to choose a solution”. I haven’t heard from the third firm in a month. I’ll cross them off my list.
So what happened here? When I downloaded my initial content or subscribed to a newsletter, I was put into third part of a lead management system- called lead nurturing. Content is now moving me through my buying cycle, after I am a lead, but before a sale. Since I downloaded a white paper and viewed a webinar, it shows that I am indeed interested in the firm’s solutions, and the next day after the webinar, a sales person called me. I was ready to engage, but not ready to buy yet. As months go by, I’m getting various content sent to me; compelling articles, an invitation to an online trade show, another case study, an interesting blog post, a podcast. In between, I get the touching base sales calls. Once I have engaged with the content a certain number of times, I am deemed ready to become a sales qualified lead as compared to a marketing lead.
So I prepared my proposals for my firm with the top two. Did more research; read more case studies (content), and finally made a deal with the firm that educated me the most. Content Marketing. Don’t communicate with me; I forget about you. Send me relevant content? I remember…
For a two hour event, we covered many topics, and will continue to educate audiences through ongoing workshops, ebooks, and content from our blog.