A big mistake I made when I started using Twitter was that I mistook content distribution as social engagement. For months I dutifully tweeted links to content (my own and those of others) to my followers. The result of my efforts amounted to a hill of beans. No response. No leads. Nothin.’
When I dug deeper into Twitter and researched how people were using it for business purposes, I began to see where I was going wrong. Distributing content is only half the story. You need two-way engagement—and some good manners.
If you find Twitter hasn’t lived up to your expectations, you might want to learn from the mistakes I made in the early days …
1) No Acknowledgement–
When you receive notification of a new follower, you do nothing to contact her and thank her for following.
Send a personalized message to each new follower. Avoid using programs that send an automated “Thank you for following” message. It’s the Twitter equivalent of getting a form letter with Dear Sir or Madam at the top. By all means, send her a thank you message, but include her first name so she feels like another human being is talking to her.
2) No Gifts–
Did your thank you message also include a link to your website and an offer to help? Let them know of resources on your website or blog, such as special reports, case studies or white papers. Gifts like these build rapport and trust.
3) No Reciprocation–
You never retweet followers who have retweeted you. This is really important for pumping up engagement on Twitter and warming up the conversation with followers. Return the favor.
4) No Fresh Content–
I signed up for a writing newsletter I saw mentioned on a website, but when I looked at the publisher’s Twitter feed it consistently repeated the same tweet, “Sign up for our ezine.” But I had already “been there, done that.” I wanted links to new content, not the same newsletter pitch. Vary both your message and content. Keep direct self promotion to 10 percent of your daily tweets.
5) No Action–
Does your Twitter account look inactive? Do you post daily? Do you follow others? If not, you may be driving away potential followers. While the right number of daily tweets you should send varies, most of the research I’ve reviewed suggests a minimum of five tweets each day. And be sure to follow others. Having a steep, lopsided follower-following ratio can actually work against you.
When you practice some basic business etiquette and ramp up engagement with your followers, you’ll discover the true power of Twitter. Let me know if you see better results.
October 11, 2013
October 4, 2013
According to the recent report 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, marketers were asked to rate the effectiveness of their content marketing on a scale of 1 to 5 (not effective – very effective). Only 9 percent of marketers rated themselves a 5; most (41%) rated themselves a 3.
The middling rating by the majority of marketers could be linked to another revelation in the study: only 44 percent of them actually have a written content strategy. But those organizations that produced a plan were more effective and less challenged by the content marketing process.
I had a related discussion a couple of days ago in a LinkedIn group. We chatted about trying to get executives and other stakeholders to reach consensus on the importance of developing content, and it came back to producing a strategy before discussing which media — articles, blogs, white papers — you’re going to use.
Without a plan, many companies spread themselves too thin. They dabble back and forth on the distribution channels with no consistency. And they soon discover the whole process becomes unwieldy without first laying the foundation.
There’s lots of other interesting finding in the report. Have a look at this Slideshare overview:
September 26, 2013
As I mentioned in my previous posting on unique selling propositions, B2B content marketing generally has a low tolerance for hype. Expanding a bit further on this theme, I have a writing technique I use sometimes to flush out text that might be too sales oriented. It may seem a bit unorthodox, but I do find it works…
Write your ideal customer a letter, as if you were writing to a friend.
This doesn’t mean that your completed marketing piece has to be a letter. But writing content in the personal letter form reduces hyperbole in your text that you might find in more sales oriented marketing material.
Assign your imaginary customer a first name, and start with the standard salutation “Dear [FIRST NAME].” (Spending time first developing a buyer persona can focus your picture of your ideal customer even more strongly. Here’s an example from Hubspot.)
Try the letter technique for the early drafts of your marketing content to see if it keeps your tone genuine.
September 12, 2013
How does your product differ from your competitors? Could you name at least three differences off the top of your head? Many companies struggle to clearly identify their product’s unique selling proposition (USP).
A recent online article published by Marketing Profs indicates how costly this problem can be. The article quoted a survey by Corporate Visions that revealed “68% of respondents ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ their inability to create clear competitive differentiation was the main reason for unwanted discounting.”
Devoting time to drill down to your product’s USP may pay off in many ways, including maintaining profitable pricing. But with the sales-neutral tone of today’s B2B content marketing, it can be tough to get across your USP without sounding like a sales pitch.
So what is the solution?
One method you can try is having your customer reveal your USP rather than you telling it. Or course, you don’t want to put words into your customer’s mouth. That would be unethical and inauthentic.
Mining Your Customer’s Thoughts for Support of Your USP
Well-crafted customer questionnaires are a great way to extract USP nuggets. (Just make sure your customer agrees to have his comments published in your content marketing projects.)
Here are examples of USP themed questions you might use…
What differences have you noticed in [product name] compared to similar products you’ve used before?
What is the most useful benefit of [product]?
Why didn’t you purchase from the following companies?
Why would you purchase your next product from us?
Avoid multiple choice responses to your questions as these don’t really provide enough insight. (View other possible questions at Survey Monkey)
After compiling them, you can quote your customer’s USP related answers in your content marketing, such as case studies.
One More Tip…
When you create a case study or similar content marketing, you should quote your customer directly rather than explaining it from your point of view. Quotes make writing look active and present tense and they attract the reader’s eyes.
Instead of writing…
Ken Wells, General Manager of Axis Equipment, has reported a 75 percent reduction in downtime since installing (product name) three months ago. He said he’s never had that type of success with any other product.
“Since installing (product) three months ago, we’ve seen equipment downtime reduced by 75 percent,” says Ken Wells, General Manager of Axis Equipment. “We’ve never had that type of success with any other product.”
June 20, 2013
Of the many ways to structure a marketing piece, my favorite is The Motivating Sequence. Direct marketers have used it for decades, but you can also apply it in many types of B2B marketing content.
This is how the Motivating Sequence is organized:
1) Get attention – with a headline or title emphasizing valuable information or similar benefit
2) Problem – What is the challenge the prospect is facing?
3) Solution – Position your product as relieving the prospect’s problem
4) Benefits – The advantages your product offers
5) Proof – support your benefits with credible third-party information (see below)
6) Call to action – What’s the next step the prospect should take?
Proof is a Must
Number 5 of the Motivating Sequence is what makes it especially appropriate for our age of skepticism. Testimonials from satisfied customers have long been the choice for this section. But you can boost the impact of customer acclaim by including…
- Specifics. Back up each product benefit with a customer testimonial specifically supporting that benefit. For long testimonials you may want to include a headline to encapsulate the strongest benefit described in the text.
- Use the customer’s full name, title and company under the testimonial
- Include a photo of the customer
But you don’t have to stop with testimonials. Here are several other ways to prove the credibility of your product:
- Show the problem before the solution was found. Then show after your product solved the problem. (This is especially effective in video.)
- Are you the leader in your industry? Include this fact, but use customer testimonials that support your leader position rather than engaging in idle boasting.
- Mention years of experience in the industry you serve as well as awards, media coverage and positive reviews.
- Got jargon? If you’re selling products to a business sector that has its own jargon, use it in your content as a way to show your industry knowledge.
- Show similarity to prospect: Provide evidence that you’re part of the prospect’s world. For example, here’s an excerpt from a product brochure I wrote for Thermo Fisher Scientific, whose target market is technical personnel:
Scientific is Part of Our Name for Good Reason
We are also scientists and engineers and have 50 years of experience in producing solutions as well as creating scientific instruments and equipmentThe next time you’re unsure how to structure a content marketing project, try the Motivating Sequence. By including strong proof elements, it’s an excellent format to both inform and persuade your target audience.
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May 21, 2013
When I tell people I work in the marketing business, they’re either dismissive (“Marketing doesn’t work”) or slightly baffled (“What’s a copywriter?”). Even within a company, other staff may not really understand what’s involved in the marketer’s role.
This infographic on the modern marketer sums up the two hats most of us wear. It’s especially true in the corporate environment, where resources are often overstretched and budgets shrunk to the size of a nanometer.
For artist (I would’ve substituted the word “craftsperson” for the word “artist” but that’s a nit picky point.) and scientist, marketing requires constant learning and education, since few of us are evenly split between left and right brain functions.
I’m probably more of the artist type, but the scientist in me knows that creativity in itself does not necessarily equal effective marketing. I recently signed up for a six-month certification program in social media marketing strategy to keep up with the complex science of social media analytics.
In researching this blog post, I came across some quotes on marketing and many of them weren’t too positive about the topic…
“Marketing is what you do when your product is no good.”
“In marketing you must choose between boredom, shouting and seduction. Which do you want?”
“Marketing is the devil.”
Ouch! I’m not feeling the love. But I’m willing to endure the slings and arrows aimed at marketers because the topic still fascinates me after 20 years. How words and graphics can motivate people to take action to achieve their needs and wants.
If you feel self-conscious about working in the marketing and advertising business, take heart from this quote by one of America’s most famous authors, Mark Twain,…
“The spider looks for a merchant who does not advertise so he can spin a web across his door and lead a life of undisturbed peace.”
February 2, 2013
I don’t write a lot on branding, but I had the opportunity to chat with an expert: Ute Preusse, Director of Strategic Planning, with the ad agency Cossette. In the social media age, it can be a challenge for companies to develop a consistent brand, and that’s why advertisers need to give hard thought to their reason for being.
In our discussion, I also asked Ute…
- How social media has impacted branding
- What will happen to traditional mass media advertising like TV, radio and print in the next five to 10 years?
- Despite the rapid changes in technology, what things remain the same in the world of advertising?
To read the full article, visit the Marketline Blog of BC Chapter of the American Marketing Association at http://www.bcama.com/resources/marketline-blog
November 20, 2012
I just published the November issue of The Multichannel Marketer e-newsletter.
One of the most pressing problems for B2B marketers is how to develop social media as an effective way to generate sales leads. This topic is addressed in the newsletter, as Marketo has developed an free e-book that covers this subject. Some of the statistics published about social media in the book include…
- Marketers rate social media as the second-most important factor (64%) in organic search success, behind only effective web pages (82%).
- 60% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Linkedin, followed by 60% through company blogs, 43% through Facebook, and 40% through Twitter.
- One-third of global B2B buyers use social media to engage with their vendors, and 75% expect to use social media in future purchases processes.
Other topics covered in the November issue include a marketing tool to develop an accurate buyer persona, how the best bang for your buck with B2B video, and choosing the right website colors to improve your conversion rates.
October 30, 2012
I‘ve posted my most recent issues of the Multichannel Marketer Newsletter on my site. Sign up for this e-newsletter and receive a free copy of my handbook Video Project Planning: A Guide for B2B Marketing Managers.
In the October issue of the Multichannel Marketer...
- How to Market Your Case Studies
- Sales-Generating E-Mail Templates for Your Sales Team
- 8 Ways to Improve Your ‘About Us’ Page
- Content Marketing: The #1 Driver of Leads for B2B Marketer
In the September issue…
- What’s the Objective of This Marketing Channel Anyway?
- 2012 Lead Generation Report Excerpt
- Taking on a B2B Marketing Buzzword: Conversation
- Free Template: The Social Media Publishing Schedule
- 8 B2B Content Marketing Faux Pas
- Marketing Website of the Month
August 3, 2012
I just completed this 14-page guide that covers issues related to creating video content for the business-to-business sector and have made it available through my website.
I divided the video guide into three sections.
1) Brainstorming: This section lists questions to help jumpstart your creative juices and shape the content of the video. I also include common tasks that you often need to complete along the production path, such as developing keywords and phrases for your video, clarifying your call-to-action and promoting your video through various communication channels.
2) Video project template: Contains quick reference information to be completed for each video, including key dates, deadlines, objectives and contact information for those involved in the production.
3) Tips for creating a quality video: A series of short articles I’ve written based on my own experiences as a video scriptwriter and producer. Some of the article topics are …
- Script or No Script? Do you always need a script to produce a video?
- Should YOU Write the Script? Questions to ask yourself before you decide to write the script instead of hiring a professional scriptwriter.
- How to Keep the Video Script on Target. After you’ve assembled all the information you need to create a video script, you may feel overwhelmed by it all. Here’s advice to help stay on track as you write.
- Video: Is it Show or Tell? Ideally, it’s more show than tell, but here are three situations where you might rely more on audio.
- Best Practices for Video. Guidelines for creating compelling audio-visual content.
Currently, I am making the video planning guide available only to marketing managers, but I may release it to a wider audience in the near future.