Marx Communications, B2B Public Relations
 

7 WAYS A STARTUP CAN SCORE WITH ANY MEDIA OPPORTUNITY

August 6, 2013 by

This post originally appeared in a slightly different version on
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A recent article in the New York Times reminds us that we are living in a culture of coaching. There are coaches to clean out your closet, build your personal brand, firm your abs, get your child that dream internship…anything you could ever imagine.

Yet, when it comes to doing interviews, many people tend to feel they can wing it without the benefit of of a mentor or coach. Because it approximates the format of a conversation, it’s easy to view a media interview as a simple conversation. Don’t.

A journalist will have a particular objective in interviewing you, and it is most likely not what you had in mind. The journalist or blogger has a story to write. You, on the other hand, are there to promote yourself, your company or your brand. I don’t care how good a speaker you are or how knowledgeable you are about your business, you have to your best foot forward. Subtle business promotion is a learned skill that takes practice to make perfect. In our experience, people often talk too long in interviews. Being succinct, as any writer knows, is also a learned skill.

How do you ensure that your startup company’s messages don’t get lost during an interview? How can you avoid being railroaded or blindsided?

Here are 7 tips on how a startup — or any B2B company for that matter — can turn a media interview into a true opportunity for you:

1. Ask for information ahead of time. Many reporters, particularly those working for trade publications, will provide them in advance if you ask. If you can’t get the questions, do clarify the focus and purpose. Don’t go into an interview uninformed.

2. Determine what your core message is. What do you want to get across in the interview? How do you want to portray your company? You want to address both questions in an interview. Carve out some time in the beginning of an interview to explain your company’s vision. You can also add key points to any answer by doing what’s known as “bridging.” That’s an industry term referring to seamlessly transitioning to your key message with “bridging words.”
Here are a couple of examples of bridging: “And what’s key here,” “Let me put this in perspective,” “What this all means is,” “Before we continue, let me underscore.”

3. Come prepared with a sound bite or two. Do you think the phrases that draw the most applause in a presidential debate are off the cuff? The better they are, the more likely they have been carefully prepared and rehearsed to perfection. So too in an interview. Work on a catchphrase that makes what you have to say more memorable.

4. Prepare backwards. What headline would you like the article to say? That can help you martial your points and organize your thoughts around a compelling, relevant message.

5. Practice, then practice some more. Do several mock interviews before the real one so you can demonstrate firm control of your subject matter and sound at ease, not rehearsed. Ironically, once you feel confident you can make the material your own and come across as polished and informed, not rehearsed.

6. Don’t be afraid to to not know the answerYou don’t have to know everything and you certainly don’t want to give false information. It is always better to be safe and say “I’m not sure, let me check and get back to you,” rather than sorry.

7. Avoid using “no comment”. It may look cool on TV but all a phrase like that does is send a signal to a media person that you might have something to hide. This is an example of why you need to be prepared for a media opportunity. If you had done your prep work, you would have an answer in your pocket for any sensitive questions they throw your way.

In our experience, you can never be prepared enough. That’s why we’re running a special Media Training Workshop. For details and to register, go to PRos media training.

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, B2B PR, B2B Public Relations, Startups | 2 Comments

2 Responses to “7 WAYS A STARTUP CAN SCORE WITH ANY MEDIA OPPORTUNITY”

  1. Torrey Dye Says:

    Wendy, great tips for interviewing. I’ve been on both sides of interviews and your points are spot on. I think a lot of people try to wing it and that they are missing an opportunity to get the optimal message across. Thank you for the interviewing tips!

  2. Wendy Marx Says:

    Thanks, Torrey. Glad you found it helpful. Unfortunately, too many people, as you put it, think they can wing it.

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Stand Up, Stand Out: 7 Ways To Make Your Startup Get Noticed

July 17, 2013 by

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This post originally appeared in a slightly different version onFast-Company-logo.

A press release no longer cuts it. Here’s what to do to cut through the noise.

Once upon a time, a startup could issue a press release and get the word out.

If it were only that easy today . . .

Just like everyone else, a startup is confronted with a never-ending information stream from Twitter to YouTube to Yelp to Facebook and on and on. It becomes a challenge to rise above the noise, not to mention controlling the message across all media channels. Add the need to cost-effectively manage its communications, and you have a perfect recipe for startup agita.

So what’s a startup to do? Here are 7 ways a startup can raise its profile without breaking the bank:

Take an unorthodox approach. Remember Dollar Shave Club’s breakthrough video that caused the company to get 12,000 orders in the first 48 hours?

Why was it so effective? “The video is irreverent and funny, the CEO likeable and also the chief evangelist sales officer–and is everything an officer could be,” says Maha Ibrahim, general partner, Canaan Partners, a global venture capital firm.

Obviously, most new enterprises won’t benefit from the initial bonanza of a Dollar Shave Club. However, anyone can exercise creativity and a little boldness in marketing.

Accentuate the difference. One example is Kabam, a late-stage gaming company that issued a press release detailing its financial performance. Normally private companies shy away from opening the kimono. But by doing so, Kabam sharpened the difference between itself and some of its better-known, yet poorly performing competitors, like Zynga, according to Ibrahim, whose company is an investor in Kabam. Rather than differentiating by focusing on an obscure feature no one cares about, draw attention to a feature, benefit or expertise that matters to customers.

Founders need to evangelize what they do. Often lacking the budget to employ a full-time marketing or PR person, founders need to assume the marketing mantle. Marketing and PR must be incorporated into a startup’s culture so they are “talking up the company to everyone they meet and ingesting ideas,” advises David Beisel, partner at early-stage investors NextView Ventures. Cross a politician’s zeal and charisma with a business person’s product knowledge, and you get some idea of what’s required.

Avoid stealth mode. Avoid stealth mode. Startups can’t afford to be in stealth mode where everything is kept hush-hush. Doing that deprives them of valuable feedback, ideas and support when they need it most.

Time and control the message. Wait to throw a launch party until you’ve launched your product. Who will care, especially if three months later the first product launched is a dud? “You need to be sure you have a viable product and a few customers before you launch,” counsels Ibrahim.

Determine who your customer is and how to get the customer’s attention. “There is not one company that doesn’t struggle from the get-go to identify who the customer is and its message, and how to get the customer’s attention,” says Ibrahim, whose firm helps its clients better define their messages. A unique challenge is having both to explain what they are today and their future vision. “Specific to startups is a trade-off between what you’re doing today and what you’re doing six months, a year even, 10 years from now, what your grand vision will be. You need to pack all of that into a story,” says Beisel.

Excite people with a compelling picture of your company that has a story’s plot elements–a beginning, middle and end with a challenge or conflict thrown in.

Don’t bash the competition. Startups need to have a compelling enough story to stand on their own without roughing up the competition.

Ultimately, these efforts more than pay for themselves. They become a way to raise your profile among customers, prospects, investors and the media. Done right, startups will be better positioned for success for both now–and in the future.

[Image: Flickr user Lee Stacey]

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7 Steps to Help B2B Marketers Get Up to Speed on Social Media

June 9, 2013 by

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This post originally appeared in a slightly different version onFast-Company-logo.

Who cares if 25,000 people follow you on Twitter if you’re not engaging with any of them?

Amazingly, many B2B marketers still don’t get social media.

A recent CMO Survey reported that while B2B social media spending increased 9.6% last year, the majority of B2B companies failed to integrate social media into their business practices.

“The biggest challenge is that many companies view social media as a cute promotional activity rather than a strategic marketing activity,” says Christine Moorman, director of The CMO Survey and T. Austin Finch senior professor of business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

According to Brian Kardon, CMO, Lattice Engines, “We’re in the ‘silo’ stage, where most social is generally segregated from the rest of the organization.”

A big problem is that most B2B companies don’t understand that this rapid-fire media requires a combined technology and business approach. Rather than strategizing how to engage with their followers, many companies leave the heavy lifting to “some kid out of college who tweets but has no knowledge of business processes,” says Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at Kinvey.

B2B companies pay a price for the lack of integration. A 2011 global survey of senior B2B and B2C managers found a significantly high correlation between financial performance and social media integration, says Steven Van Belleghem, author of The Conversation Company, and former managing director of InSites Consulting, which fielded the survey.

So where does that leave marketers? Here are 7 steps to take to help you increase your social media effectiveness:

1. Understand why social matters. “Social media is becoming a real competitive advantage for the companies that do it well; the gap is widening between the companies that have been organizing around social media and those that have not,” says Kardon.
2. Create goals. What do you want to achieve from your social media? Do you want to track sales, monitor customer complaints, grow brand equity? Do you want to push or pull?
3. Get top management buy-in. “You need a champion to get people from across the organization to pay attention and act,” says Moorman.
4. Give social media a home. In our experience and that of many experts, it belongs in marketing so it can be integrated with other marketing channels.
5. Structure your social media team. The need to prioritize what to do and get it done quickly has disrupted the traditional setup of the marketing organization,” says Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO, Mindjet, which has developed “scrum teams” comprised of design, media buying, development and all the other resources necessary to executive a strategic campaign. Regardless of the approach, however, there has to be a built-in workflow system linking social to customer service, sales, operations and other business processes.
6. Train employees. Don’t just assume they get and feel comfortable using this media form.
7. Get accountable. Establish an accountability system that demonstrates social media’s impact on your objectives.

Social media is not an indulgence. Companies that fail to take these steps will find themselves outflanked by their competitors.

How Can You Improve Your Social Media Results? Take a second to complete this form to reserve your  *free* social media consultation.  

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Filed Under: b2b marketing, b2b social media, Blog, Insights, organizational structure, social media | Leave a Comment

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How PR Can Help B2B Start Ups

May 22, 2013 by

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This post originally appeared in a slightly different version on Fast-Company-logo

PR Done Right Makes a Difference, From the Start

Recently, I attended NY Tech Day where 400 hungry startups sought to garner some love, along with media and VC attention, at their respective booths.

The zealous self-promotion raises an interesting issue: How do you make your business stand out in a sea of entrepreneurial energy? How do you get people to care about your company?

Consider these facts:

- A survey of CEOs found startup companies that engage in PR are 30 percent more successful in securing early funding than those that don’t.

- Well-known VC firms are diving into the publicity game, with firms like Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, and Sequoia hiring in-house PR talent.

One simple reason startups and their financial backers are entering the PR arena? Publicity done right works. Over the years, my B2B PR firm has launched many startups. We’ve found PR can truly make the difference in attracting new customers, increasing revenues–and catching the ultimate brass ring–funding.

Don’t for a second, however, think PR for newcomers is a slam dunk. No one cares about the latest whiz-bang product or service released by an unknown company unless it does something amazing. And most new products or services won’t knock your socks off. This is where public relations shines. A good PR person can properly position your product or service–or yourself–so people care. Great PR–and yes, there is such a thing–transforms a product or service into something meaningful.

Consider the term “Certified Pre-Owned Car.” I’m old enough to remember when the term didn’t exist. You simply bought a used car. It didn’t give you a lot of bragging rights. The geniuses who created the terminology “Certified Pre-Owned Car” turned the negative connotation into a positive. Suddenly, a used car had to meet certain standards and criteria. Better yet, it often came with a warranty. Of course, all those goodies were folded into a car’s price. But at least you received something solid for your money. You didn’t worry that the car was a clunker, and you could take pride in your “like new” car.

Let’s look at another example–this from a startup called lettrs (a client of my agency, incidentally). The company recently launched an iPhone app it positions as a “post office in your hand” that lets you write and send digital and postal letters directly from your phone, turning the iPhone into a mobile writing desk. The positioning and analogy turned what could have been just another app into something immediately understandable and compelling. Most of the press coverage highlighted the digital-post office positioning, as this Mashable piece illustrates.

So before you start hawking your new venture, develop your messaging and positioning. This will help you stand out and help make your product memorable and engaging. After all, you can be just another has-been company, or you can Think Different.

 

Filed Under: b2b marketing, B2B PR, B2B Public Relations, Blog, Startups | 1 Comment

One Response to “How PR Can Help B2B Start Ups”

  1. PR FOR START-UPS | Ask a PR Expert Says:

    [...] do you need a strategic PR program?  Here’s one reason, courtesy of Wendy Marx, CEO of Marx Communications in Trumbull, CT,  a fellow member of PR Boutiques [...]

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Surprising B2B PR Survey Results + Infographic

April 12, 2013 by

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The results are in for our survey of B2B PR practices. The key takeaway: Social media is taking a big bite out of traditional PR methods.

The informal survey, which was conducted online in March 2013, showed that social media is far and away the favored news distribution tactic with the press release lagging far behind.

  • 94% of those surveyed said they use social media to promote announcements vs. 71% who report using press releases.  Seventy five percent said they post a release on a company website while 68% send a release directly to reporters.
  • 45% said they would use social media if they could use just one promotional vehicle vs. 24% who said they would issue a press release.
  • 49 % report using an online distribution service  like PR Web, while 40% report using  one of the traditional services like PR Newswire, Business Wire or Marketwire
  • 45% said LinkedIn was the most helpful social media tactic; 35% favored Twitter, 13% Facebook and 2% Google+.

While the respondents are not necessarily representative of the PR practice universe, they are typical of a rising generation of social media-savvy PR practitioners and open a door into the future direction of B2B public relations: It is more and more becoming a socially-driven world. This can have large implications for B2B company PR practices. Going direct to customers and prospects via social media can be one of the most effective ways to get the word out.  The survey also has potential implications for traditional PR distribution services with lower cost distribution services overtaking the traditional channels.

However, don’t assume you should completely abandon established PR practices.  What the survey reinforces is that news announcements can be amplified through multiple free channels including social media, free PR distribution sites, company websites and reaching out directly to reporters. It also suggests that the days of simply sending a press release over a wire service are over. In our experience, a traditional wire service such as PR Newswire, Business Wire or Marketwire, can amplify a message particularly if you are a publicly traded company and need to get in front of analysts and investors. The online distribution service PR Web provides its own version of this via its financial service package. However, if you are not a publicly-traded company you may do just fine using free press release distribution services along with social media, your website and your own media outreach. We urge you to test it yourself.

What have you found to be most effective in terms of promoting your company? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. But first, check out our infographic with the survey results!

Click HERE to make larger

My Infographic_79

2013 B2B PR Practices Survey – An infographic by the team at MarxCommunications

 

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Confusing Jargon And The Branding Challenges Of B2B Companies

March 16, 2013 by

This post originally appeared under a different title on Fast-Company-logo

confusing-street-sign1Why do so many B2B companies, especially those in the fiery ad-tech space, talk as if their mouths were stuffed with chewy caramels? That is, their websites and marketing copy, laden with jargon, require a mega large cup of java to get through.

Now, I know these companies are filled with lots of highly intelligent people who can walk circles around the average person when it comes to technology. In fact, they may be too smart for their own good. They don’t know how to write about what they do in a way that’s easy to understand…that stands out…that engages…that begs you to want to know more.

I thought I would have a little fun and took a look at some of the websites of ad-tech companies on the famous Luma Partners landscape. That’s the ever expanding diagram of the ad-tech space popularized by Luma Partners Chief Executive Terence Kawaja that gets more and more difficult to read as more companies enter the space. Names here have been purposely omitted since the purpose of this is not to point the finger but to demonstrate an endemic problem.

Here are examples of how a few ad-tech companies talk about themselves on the homepages of their websites:

We don’t just press a button and let the technology do the work. We drive media campaigns with intelligence and finesses to reach your targeted media objectives. And, ultimately, help brands reach consumers smarter and more efficiently.

X enables advertisers and agencies to Build, Run, Measure and optimze retargeting-driven display campaigns from a single platform. Now that’s efficiency.

Do Better Advertising. Do X.
X’s mission is to help brands execute better advertising. Better advertising starts with good customer insights and X provides the tools to make those insights actionable.

Part of the problem in my experience is that B2B companies are often insular. They are so accustomed to talking about themselves one way that it sounds perfectly normal. It reminds me of what my husband says about his Queens accent. He never realized that he had an accent until he left Queens and people informed him he sounded “funny.”

There is also the mystique of jargon and highfalutin’ language. Creating your own nomenclature and acronymns like DSPs, SSPs, RTB, DMPs, and DDM, as the ad-tech world has done, provides a veneer of arcane magic that intimidates the outsider. Ultimately, however, it makes everything more complicated than it needs to be.

On the other hand, B2C companies sometimes indulge in jargon, but it’s jargon everyone gets. It’s all part of the fun. After all, how difficult is it understand Starbuck’s Tall, Grande, and Venti designations for the size of its coffee? In that case, it’s good branding and differentiates Starbucks from its competitors.

The best B2C marketing companies also have memorable slogans. Think Nike’s “Just Do It” or Apple’s “Think Different.” They simplify while defining the product and ethos. B2B companies, especially ad-tech firms, would be well advised to take a lesson or two from their B2C brethren, and Just Do It!

Filed Under: B2B PR, Blog | 4 Comments

4 Responses to “Confusing Jargon And The Branding Challenges Of B2B Companies”

  1. Joe Stamler Says:

    Kudos on a good piece, Wendy. I got a real chuckle out of “Build, Run, Measure and optimze retargeting-driven display campaigns from a single platform”! And I’m glad you didn’t include McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” in your list of memorable slogans!
    –JOE STAMLER

  2. Penny Haywood Calder Says:

    Spot on Wendy! I once had a tech client with a website full of gibberish. When I sought clarity on the benefits to the buyers, I was told, their equivalents in the buyer companies expected this jargon – and lots of it.
    I pointed out that the ones who spoke tech were probably not the ones signing off the checks: they were vulnerable to a bean-counter at board level asking: what are we buying? If they were fobbed off by this guff, it would be an emperor’s clothes moment, and one that was unlikely to bode well for the client relationship in the long term. All for the want of a good clear overview in layman’s terms. I suggested layering the information so the tech specs were included, but a click or two down from the top level on the home page.
    I pointed out that even engineers with the same degrees specialized and were unlikely to admit they didn’t fully understand all the terminology in what was a very narrow specialism.
    They didn’t buy that at first but came back later and really applied their first class minds on clarity, so something must have sparked them off. I was too polite to ask!

  3. Wendy Marx Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it Penny and glad to hear of your persuasive skills getting techies to make their copy more understandable.

  4. Wendy Marx Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, Joe!

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The Key to B2B PR Success: Just Ask!

February 12, 2013 by

 

You can never tell when you might learn something new.

Dining recently at Mt. Snow, Vermont’s summit lodge after a fun morning of skiing, I was given a lesson in persuasion from an audacious 8-year-old named Sara. I overheard Sara and her older sister Lisa devising a way to convince their ski instructor to let them go on their favorite ski trail. Her idea was simple yet brilliant: Eagerly ask the instructor if he would take them. Guess what? It worked. After approaching the instructor, he went back and asked who’d like to try their trail of choice. Can you guess who screamed the loudest that she did? Sara confidently looked at her sister and said, “I told you. All you have to do is ask.”

The art of the ask is a topic on which folks have written countless books and “how to” articles. One of those basic truths, it easily gets lost or confused in our tendency (as adults) to overthink. Even PR professionals, the supposed “communication experts”, can easily get things mixed up and actually forget “the ask.”

PR, no matter the type, has many facets because it caters to multiple masters. The client is obviously the top dog, the last person a PR pro has to please. With that being said, you’re not a “Yes man,” doing whatever the client wants, but you offer discerning advice. Just like any professional consultant, you suggest the right tactics to meet a client’s goals.

Don’t think of that as a given. When making recommendations, you have to ask for your client’s agreement. If you don’t, there’s no give-and-take dynamic. And in doing so, you need to employ tact by understanding your client’s style and the best way to make the ask. Do you try to have it come out as client’s idea? Should you do it aggressively or in a more casual manner? It all depends on the personality of your client. Ultimately though, part of your success depends on how well you master the ask.

Where PR gets sticky is when you have a bunch of other folks to ask–including reporters, event coordinators, journalists, employees, associations and probably others as well. You want all of them to be on your side so together you can achieve the client’s goals. In this instance you should also be aware of the style and wants/needs of those you work with.

Last but not least, remember to ask for what you need to run your PR campaign. It could make the difference between a shining success or dismal failure.

Have you asked for something to make your campaign more effective? Please share your story!

 

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Man Vs. Machine: The Brave New World of B2B Content Marketing

January 21, 2013 by

There’s something ironic happening in the world of B2B PR. Sometimes it seems that just about everyone is hopping on the bandwagon of creating engaging, individualistic content. Other times, it’s as if there were tons of folks lining up to hand their content generation over to mass automation technology.

Here’s the latest point in favor of the techies, pulled from a post by Scott Redick in Forbes predicting the rise of automation:

“News writing will increasing become the domain of automated software programs…PR firms will hire technical experts to manipulate code on content farms, search algorithms and copywriting bots.”

The end result: public relations professionals will function as “truth engineers,” to use Redick’s terminology, spinning the truth to suit their client’s wishes.

Some cynics may believe that’s what PR professionals do now, albeit with words, instead of code. Yet there’s a major discrepancy between putting your best foot forward – something most B2B PR professionals strive for – and explicit deceit. This form of complete distortion has no place in any PR pro’s toolkit.

In the meantime, let’s return to technology and content.

Content can definitely be machine-manipulated to dupe search engines. In addition, content automation companies like Automated Insights excel at writing data-driven stories, though they reportedly have people touch up the work when necessary. Considering the caliber of some human-written (so old fashioned!) press releases, I’d imagine a machine could produce better work than some of those lengthy, terminology-intense mounds of jibberish.

With that being said, there’s much more to content marketing than simply writing articles. Content, in order to be distinguished among the deafening roar, should have a bit of idiosyncrasy–a smattering of whimsy or artistry. As Joe Pulizzi says,

“Epic content is all about stories that inform or entertain, that compel people to action and truly makes a difference in people’s lives. It positions the company as a trusted leader. It makes the buying process easier.”

Beyond riveting content, B2B content marketing must be structured around a strategy. If it isn’t, it’s simply copy, not marketing with goals and deliverables.

It’s great when technology serves our goals and makes processes more convenient or better. However, the “marketing” in content marketing–and in many cases the “content” aspect too– depends on the qualitative judgments of real people. A machine might be spectacular at processing data but it can’t make the subtle distinctions (not to mention witty rhetoric) that we can.

A classic Winston cigarette ad had a grammatically incorrect word, using “like” instead of “as.” It went: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” A logic-driven machine would make the sentence grammatically correct and by doing this, lose the rhythm of the phrase.

By the way, I wrote this post on my own — entirely without the aid of a computer, a machine, or a droid from Star Wars.

I’d love to hear how you are using technology to enhance your content marketing. Please tell us about it in the comments!

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3 Crucial Steps For Content Marketing Success

December 6, 2012 by

Everyone in marketing tries to do it. What most folks don’t realize, is that very few do it well.

What are we referring to? Content marketing, of course. Otherwise known as branded content, brand journalism, or business story-telling, among other monikers.

It’s apparent a phrase is popular when it spawns its own lexicon. Or when mega brands like Coca-Cola embrace it. The soft drink empire recently revamped its website in homage to content marketing.

You can tell “content marketing” has entered the list of marketing terms when you find any number of conferences devoted to the topic. Take the example of the all-day content-marketing event given by the Content Marketing Institute in cooperation with Target Marketing and Publishing Executive. The event, titled Content Marketing World NYC, brought in a plethora of content marketers (and those seeking to become content marketers). It was also chaired by two content marketing industry elites: Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. The two co-authored one of the foremost books on the topic, along with other accomplishments.

You may be wondering to yourself, “OK, so what’s so great about content marketing?”

Advertising, it seems, has lost much of its effectiveness. We live in a world where the average person is bombarded by some 3,000 brand impressions a day. According to research firm Altimeter Group, advertising needs to function together with other media, including company–created content and user-generated content. Content marketing in its most fundamental definition, is content a brand owns or publishes without any media buys, according to Altimeter.

That of course is the baseline. In order to be truly effective, content marketing, as Pulizzi and Rose stressed at the Content Marketing World event, must tell a story that allows people to engage with a brand. Moreover, it can’t be a one-time wonder but should be a long-term commitment, or as Rose phrased it, “Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.”

In fact, a marathon is the perfect analogy. Besides being a time-consuming process,  it also requires some heavy lifting. It’s no surprise that a survey by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs discovered that only roughly a third of over 1,400 B2B marketers surveyed said they believed their content marketing campaigns effective.

Here are 3 key elements from Robert Rose to increase the effectiveness of your content marketing:

 

  • Tell a story. A story is a natural way to grab people’s attention. It draws you in and captures your emotions as well as your mind. What’s more interesting – a list of facts or a story that weaves the same elements into an engaging narrative?
  • Implement a strategy. Like any effective program, content marketing must be supported by a solid strategy. A company should understand its audience, business needs and what will appeal to its various market segments. According to Rose, the reason why most content marketing doesn’t succeed is that many companies dive right in without a strategy. Once you have a strategy in place you need a replicable process to produce your content.
  • Use channels to tell your story. No longer can you tell your story exclusively on your website. As Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang observe in the Altimeter report on The Converged Media Imperative: “Brands are challenged to intercept this elusive customer and cut through the media clutter, regardless of whatever channel or medium consumers are engaged with.”

 

What are you doing to accelerate your Content Marketing? I look forward to hearing from you.

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, b2b marketing, B2B PR, B2B Public Relations, Blog, content marketing, Insights | Leave a Comment

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5 Ways to Create a Successful, Integrated B2B Marketing Campaign

November 20, 2012 by

How can you convert a humble, sales-focused company into a B2B marketing dynamo?

Take for example Lincoln Financial Group, a historically, sales-based organization, which made a complete, 180-degree turn over the last year. The financial services, insurance, and annuities business – over a century old – stormed out with an innovative marketing campaign that transformed it into a major media and marketing player. Among other accolades, the corporation was recently named Communicator of the Year by the Business Marketing Association of New York.

Credit Jamie DePeau, the company’s CMO, who joined the team around a year ago from TIAA-CREF. She clearly brought a strategic marketing focus with her. Although Lincoln had already begun heading in a new direction before DePeau grabbed the reigns, DePeau introduced the integrated marketing mindset to PR, advertising, and social media.

Earlier, Lincoln Financial had done research indicating that the more control people have over certain aspects of their lives, including their finances, the better they feel about their life’s direction.

Lincoln Financial, in cooperation with its agency, gyro, used findings from that research to develop a “Chief Life Officer” campaign. It aimed to empower consumers by appealing to their optimism and ability to take charge of their lives. In past times, Lincoln, which offers its products through intermediaries like employers, advisers, and agents, had targeted the middlemen instead of the end user: the consumer.

“On launch day, our new campaign promoted everyone to CEO of his or her own life. A position we refer to as the “Chief Life Officer,” said DePeau. “It recognizes the fact that our lives are in many ways like a business. We’re in charge of making major decisions, managing our finances and keeping morale positive. The primary message is that you’re the boss of your life, and Lincoln Financial is here to help you take charge.”

After the launch, DePeau initiated additional research. To Lincoln Financial’s surprise, consumers, especially women, were more optimistic about their ability to influence their future than Lincoln had expected. In fact, the MOOD of America Survey showed that about 75% of women said they were optimistic about the future compared to 66% of men.

Based upon these findings, Lincoln Financial created an integrated campaign of PR, advertising, social media, as well as educational content, all geared towards Lincoln Financial and women.

“We tend to believe that because we’re speaking to the business or consumer community, our advertising doesn’t have to be emotionally driven,” said DePeau. “You must incorporate the emotional component, plus help educate the consumer, instead of merely talking to them.

“While others in the category tended to use fear in their advertising, we believed the time was right to try a different, more optimistic approach.”

Integrating public relations, social media, and advertising, the campaign featured a video of women of all ages showing how they take charge of their lives. It also provided educational content to help women do just that. The PR was driven from the research results. The Chief Life Officer ads carried on the “take charge, optimistic theme,” which was restated through social media.

And how has the integrated campaign turned out?

After having been released for four months, brand awareness is up, according to DePeau, and among the consumers aware of the campaign, all key attributes that influence consideration and purchase behavior have increased by double digits.

5 tips from Jamie DePeau on creating a successful integrated marketing campaign:

1. Research-centric approach: “The entire time we researched our target audience and watched our competitors to make sure we completely understood American’s attitudes after 2008 and expectations for their financial services partner, plus how to significantlydifferentiate a financial services brand from it’s competition.”

2. Emotion first: Appeal to people’s emotions as well as logic. Finance is an extremely emotional and personal issue. “We weren’t afraid to initially approach it with emotion and then provide tools and education after the emotional appeal.”

3. Integrated campaign: PR and internal brand communications are just as crucial as advertising.

4. Media partnerships: Initiated focused, vertically cohesive media partnerships that lengthened reach while experimenting with new media channels.

5. Inside out: “Internal branding started first and our November 2010 launch was focused on employees. We wanted to get employees across the country engaging with the new campaign and turning into brand ambassadors for Lincoln.”

 

PS - Do you want to grow your marketing database? I’ve recently partnered with lead generation expert Jeff Ogden to offer an exciting new program to help you do this. Check out this brief video below to learn more.

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