Achieve Marketing stardom.
The biggest killer for any marketing department, marketing campaign, or marketing professional can best be described using one word — complacency.
I’m guilty of it. If you’re honest with yourself, so are you. There is just so much going on in our day-to-day lives, not to mention the non-stop meetings, social posts, networking events, coffee talk, and general gossiping, that we don’t have time to learn something new. After all, if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s why we become complacent. I mean, nobody intentionally wants to be complacent. We all want to be trend-setters and ninjas of the marketing world. We want to see our Klout score rise dramatically, not to mention our LinkedIn influence. We want the corner office with the mega salary. And we all know that the only way to achieve all of our professional hopes and dreams are to be recognized as the great marketers we are by the success our strategies and tactics will surely generate. Right?!
So, why do we all stink at being innovative? Why do we only offer feeble excuses for not doing what we know needs to be done? It’s simple. We don’t make time to try new and bold tactics. We’re scared. New technology, and new approaches, are intimidating. We don’t re-prioritize our time to develop the necessary skills to enable ourselves to execute our vision and our plan. We resign ourselves to our own ineptitude by denying the issue even exists.
We become complacent.
Welcome to the club.
Alright, today we’re going to change this. You and I are going to discuss what you need to learn, and do, to take your skill set, your career, and your success to the next level. Are you with me?
Here we go.
Be the internal change agent
Change starts with you. It’s a mindset. You need to influence the culture within your team, your department, or your company to embrace change. Educate those around you that you’re going to experiment. Some of what you do will be amazing. Other aspects of your efforts…well…not so much. In fact, you might fail. You might spend stupid crazy sums of money and outright bomb. But, you’re doing it for the right reasons. You’re going to learn what works and what doesn’t. You’ll eventually have a competitive advantage over your industry peers. Your prospects and customers will recognize you as the leader you are and will reward you with more business. However, before the Hollywood ending, you’re going to endure hardship and frustration as you devote yourself to learning your craft and refining your campaigns. Like a Hollywood blockbuster, it will take time for the story to play itself out. And you will need the support of those in power. You need to be transparent. You need to get people excited and supporting you. If you do not set expectations now, you will fail at the first sign of a challenge. You need the organization to buy-in to your initiative. So, before you do anything to overcome your complacency, ensure you’ve got the support necessary to succeed.
Video is where it’s at
Are you doing video? Please tell me you’re doing video. I mean, like, really, really, really doing video? No? Why not? Oh right…complacency. Okay, let’s talk about why the heck you need to do video.
- 65 % of executives have visited a vendor’s site after watching a video
- 59% of senior executives prefer to watch video over reading
- 52% of marketers name video as the content with the best ROI
- Using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates 19%, CTRs by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%
- Including video in introductory emails reduces subscriber opt-outs by 75%
- 70% of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other medium
- Video increases people’s understanding of your product or service by 74%
So…that’s why you should be doing video. Let me ask this: why haven’t you been doing video more (beyond complacency)? Is it because you’re scared and don’t know how to do video well? Do you think it has to be expensive and you assume you can’t afford it? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. What would you say if I told you that you could use your own smartphone to make world-class video content? I’m serious. You can. The tools, apps, and online tutorials available are crazy good and easily accessible.
Do you mind if I make a confession? Don’t tell anyone, but almost everything I know about video I learned from Wistia. And they’re just one amazing resource. Check out YouTube, the original video innovator. There are hundreds (actually, probably thousands) of video experts who’ve already posted how-to videos about video. And, best of all, get this…it’s free! Crazy, eh?!
So, the next question you should be asking yourself is how can you use video to your advantage. That’s a great question. There are so many ways. I’ve used video for all of the following reasons:
- Customer testimonials
- Live event capture and playback
- Product demonstration
- Case studies
- Explainers for difficult concepts
- Webinar capture and playback
- Website greetings
- Character profiles for VIPs or key advocates
- How-to guides
- Third-party expert endorsements
Assuming you have a content strategy (we will talk more about that later in this article), part of that strategy should be the medium your content will utilize. You need to ensure video is a huge part of your content medium mix moving forward. By doing so, you’ll engage your audience so much more you’ll be amazed. And, best of all, we haven’t even talked about the uptick you’ll get in your SEO rankings as a result.
One final thought around video. While YouTube is a great place to find as many cat videos as you can consume, it shouldn’t be the only host of your corporate videos. Use a video hosting service such as Wistia or VidYard or Vimeo. The ability to professionally embed your player, match your branding, and analyze the video plays, not to mention the ability to incorporate gates or calls-to-action, more than justify the investment these services require. If your’e going to do video, then all I can say is “do it right”.
Make your content consumable
This one is easy. All I’m saying here is that you need to package your content the same way you like to consume it. If you’re like me, and supposedly I’m like the masses, I like to skim. I don’t have time to read lengthy white papers or watch videos that are longer then films like Logistics. So, before you lose me and I start checking out your competition, make sure your content is quickly and easily consumable.
Like video, infographics can be overwhelming. Again, the objection about having the skills, budget, or resources to create them will come up. However, if you recall, this article is about squashing those lame excuses that keep us complacent and instead kick some serious marketing butt by accomplishing the very things that scare us. So, for infographics, if you do not have the in-house abilities then I simply say outsource it. A good example of an affordable option would be Fiverr. They’re just one option of thousands of vendors that will do it for you. If you prefer to use somebody local then simply get on LinkedIn and ask your network of fellow marketers who they use and you’ll be inundated with incredible graphic designers who will turn your napkin concepts into works of art that even Banksy would be proud of.
Alternatively, if you are feeling adventurous, you can use a variety of services to create your next infographic. Some examples include:
What I would suggest you do is determine where, in the Buyer’s Journey, are some areas that need help in moving the conversation along. Maybe you’ve difficulties engaging the prospects at the start of the dialog. When you determine those challenges, rest assured that is a great opportunity to use an infographic.
Similar to infographics, as mentioned above, are the delightful listicle. Keeping it simple, a listicle is simply the process of taking a complex or beefy topic and breaking it down into a series of bullets, or lists, to convey the key talking points you’re trying to convey. Have you noticed how many bullets I’m using in this rather lengthy blog post? It’s not an accident. I’m trying really hard to keep you here, reading, skimming, perusing, and engaging with me. If I’m successful, you’ll get the information you require and you might even reach out to me to help you along the way.
Engage your audience in a dialog
This is an easy one but it will have a huge impact. Are you ready? Hold on because it’s going to rock your marketing world.
Stop posting every press release, company news, and boring factoid about your product, service or firm on social media. Nobody cares. You’re a vendor. You’re biased. You have an agenda. And, frankly, you’re annoying and cluttering up my social media feed.
Instead, be the expert you are. Nobody knows what you know better than you. Others are desperately wanting to learn from you. They’ve followed you for that very reason. They’ve sought you out for your expertise. They really want to leverage your expertise because they have pain themselves and they’re hoping you can help them out.
You know what’s interesting about that last statement? It tells you that your followers have pain. It tells you that you can help them out. I’m pretty sure that’s the start of a purchase decision. It may even result in a sale. Whoa! That’s crazy!
Okay, I know I’m being cheeky but the fact of the matter is that you need to engage in conversation with your audience.
- Be humorous. Share the moments that make you smile.
- Be transparent. Share your own challenges and personal anecdotes.
- Be encouraging. Help them overcome their issues by giving advice and pep talks.
- Be an expert. Your followers are going to find the answers they seek from somebody. It might as well be you. Hence, don’t horde your answers like a prepper hordes meals that are ready-to-eat. Instead, share your knowledge without hesitation. All it does is build up your credibility and causes your followers to trust you, eventually leading to followers becoming customers.
- Be real. The key word in social media is “social”. It’s all about relationships. Talk to them the same way you open up with your favourite pet, except maybe without all of the cutesy pet names and baby talk.
This tactic really isn’t new, or innovative, nor does it cost a lot of money. What it does take is time. Make the investment. The traction you will get will blow your socks off.
Brag, educate, inform and spread the word
You’ve heard about how content is king. While it is a bit of a cliche, it truly is the best tactic out there to drive new leads. However, with such an explosion of content now available to the masses, you need to make good content, consistently.
If you stumbled a bit on my usage of the phrase “good content” I’ll tell you that you should have instead stumbled on the term “consistently”. Content quality will vary from piece to piece, and author to author. However, it truly is the consistency of your publishing that will make the biggest difference. Search engines will reward a consistent publication schedule. Opt-ins will grow dramatically on a predictable rhythm of new content. Sales cycles will continually have something new to engage the prospect and move them through the sales funnel with an ongoing supply of new content.
Creating content is a challenge. Nobody seems able to craft content. Everybody is too busy. Nobody prioritizes it within your firm even though you’ve tried to tell them how critical it is. Let me tell you how to overcome these challenges.
- Identify your personas. Who will be the people reading your content? Once you know that, you can create content, and source subject matter experts, that can appeal to that audience.
- Plan your publishing schedule. If you have two key personas you’re appealing to, then schedule one blog post, per persona, per month. Some will say that publishing frequency is not enough. I say you gotta crawl before you can run. We can always increase the frequency in the future once we hit our publishing schedule consistently. The bottom line is that you need to create a schedule and hit your dates without exception.
- Make it easy. If your subject matter experts don’t have time to write the content, then simply grab your handy-dandy voice recorder and sit in from of them with it turned on. Ask them all of the questions your readers will have on a particular issue. Encourage them to provide examples and to be specific. Steer the conversation to match how you envision the content piece will be written. For example, if I need a case study I’ll ask my subject matter expert questions like: what issue were they having, what options did they consider, why did they select us, how did the implementation go, what challenges did they need to overcome, what successes did they experience, what was the reaction of the stakeholders after the process was complete, and what would you do differently next time. Like a good lawyer, these leading questions will ensure your jury hears what you want them to hear and they’ll decide in your favour when it comes to a buying decision.
- Segment your lists. If you decide you want to promote your new content to your audience by using a massive email blast once per month, take my advice and don’t do it. Instead, segment your audience by job title, or industry, or product, or service and create multiple emails — one for each segment. I typically advise people to identify four industries to start. Send your email out once per week, with each week targeting one of your four industry segments. That means we have four emails going out per month utilizing the same piece of content, but with language and calls-to-action in each email that resonate with that focused audience. It also means you have a continual feed of new leads instead of those monthly spikes that sales hates.
- Mix the mediums. Don’t rely on email only, or just blog posts. Instead, have a mix of video, and infographics, and listicles, and webinars, and live events, and blog posts, and case studies, and so on. Keep it interesting. Not everybody likes the written word. The variety ensures your content will appeal to somebody, and that there is a collection of content that will appeal to everybody.
- Design for re-use. In other words, be smart about what you produce. When I produce a webinar, I identify a key topic, and then break that topic into five talking points. During the webinar, we tackle each talking point one at a time. The entire webinar is recorded. I now can publish the webinar, or I can break the webinar recording into five segment-specific videos, thus giving me six pieces of content. I can then take each of those five segments and write a blog post using what was discussed during each talking point. Now I have eleven content pieces. I can then create listicles or infographics from the content discussed. That may give me one to three more pieces of content. I then post them on Buffer and suddenly that one webinar has given me a whole lot of fresh content that will be published over the next year and it all started with one original piece of content — the webinar. With this approach, you quickly learn that you do not need to have 365 new topics per year but can instead leverage your effort across mediums and topics and segments while still retaining your sanity and your production schedule.
Finally, and this is the biggest aspect of content marketing, you need to syndicate your content. Get it out there in the hands of the influencers. In fact, get them involved in its creation; this way they’re invested in it and ultimately your success. Submit it to a variety of content sites. Submit it for publication by any associations you may belong to. Use it in your search engine marketing campaigns. Issue a press release about it. Cross reference your content in your blogs and your social posts. Talk about your content, and include links to it, in the various forums and discussion you participate and comment in. While Google can be a great friend when it comes to getting your content found, it can’t be your only source of distribution. If you’ve gone to this much trouble to make it, then be sure to cross the finish line in your content race and get it out there with the other winners.
Build up your groupies
You probably thought I was going to talk about building up your social media followers with that headline but you would be wrong. Instead, I’m talking about building up your opt-in lists. Every chance you get, you need to be asking people to opt-in to hear from you. You need to ensure you are Can-Spam, or CASL, compliant. You want them wanting to get your content. The only way you can syndicate like Rupert Murdoch is to ensure you have the subscriber base to receive your publications.
This needs to be a relentless, non-stop pursuit. You need legal opt-ins and you need clean data. You need to gate your content so that they will share their contact information. You need to ensure your forms link back to your master lists, whether you use email services like MailChimp or Constant Contact, or you use marketing automation solutions like Marketo, Pardot, or HubSpot to manage those lists and trigger follow-on nurture campaigns.
When I say you need clean data, I mean it. At the submission of each form, you need to immediately clean the data and ensure compliance with standard nomenclature and formats. There are several tools out there that can help you with this including Data.com from Salesforce.com. Make that investment. If you don’t, you’ll spend more than double what you’d spend cleaning it at the time of form submission to clean it after the fact.
Complacency is a killer. It sneaks up on you despite your objections that you suffer from it. If affects your success and your job satisfaction. Fixing it can be hard. But, like that diet you started on New Years Day, the payoff will be there just like the first time you wear that new swim suit on your summer vacation and realize you did it! When you get frustrated, simply reach out to your friends. They’ll encourage you. They want you to succeed. After all, if you do ultimately get that professional athlete’s salary because you’re now the world’s greatest marketer, your friends will gladly let you express your gratitude by showering them with gifts. That’s what friends do. Now…go forth and slay the complacency dragon.