The Best Branding Idea You’ve Never Heard Of

The competition for your audience’s attention is fierce. In today’s multi-channel, multi-device world, breaking through the noise can feel impossible. Most businesses are focusing their marketing efforts online – which makes sense when you consider that over 40% of the world’s population is online. But if you’re looking to build a meaningful relationship with consumers that lasts, you’ll need to do more than purchase a few banner ads or promoted posts.

brand marketing

While flashy graphics and contests might grab an audience’s attention, it doesn’t help build a relationship with your audience. When a company is able to make a sincere connection with a consumer, that connection helps create a relationship of long-term advocacy, loyalty, and a sustainable bottom line. And no company is making a genuine connection through a banner, advertising placement, or inserting their commercial into YouTube videos (we’re all just waiting to hit the ‘skip’ button). In fact, 51% of people have a lower opinion of brands that use auto-playing video ads. So then how can businesses make a more sincere connection?

As a marketing professional myself, this is often a question that I ask myself when discussing different initiatives or tactics. And up until recently, I didn’t have a compelling answer — but then I met Ross Petty. Ross Petty Productions Inc. (RPPI) was incorporated in 1986 with the objective of producing unique family entertainment for the stage and for television. A holiday tradition in Toronto, the RPPI brought thousands of captive audience members to the theatre, but financing a theatre production doesn’t come cheap.

2016 Production

To inject some additional revenue, Ross has come up with a truly unique concept: shoot commercials with the play’s cast and run them in the middle of the show. I know – it sounds crazy – but it’s the perfect way to make a connection with consumers. By incorporating the play characters into the commercial, the audience was much more accepting than if it was a 30 second television spot. The reason? Context.

The audience stayed engaged because they saw characters from the play they were watching interacting with the different brands and products. They were more inclined to give their uninterrupted attention because it was the right content, at the right time. A completely customized experience that connects brand with consumer.

And don’t just take my word for it. I was not so surprised to find that several big name brands have partnered with Ross Petty to create a totally unique experience for audience members. On his website, one can find a variety of testimonials, quotes, and commercial videos from companies like Lowe’s Canada, Tim Hortons, MasterCard Canada, BMO, P&G Canada, and Aviva – just to name a few.

As the end of 2017 closes and businesses start thinking of ways to connect with their consumers over the hectic holiday season, incorporating one of these commercials into an integrated campaign could help your brand break through the chaos and clutter. It’s likely one of the few moments that you’re almost guaranteed to have your audience’s undivided attention – and a unique opportunity that’s sure to build a stronger relationship between your brand and consumers.

I highly recommend checking out one of the commercials on the Ross Petty website by clicking here.

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The Generation Gap: How to Create Compelling B2B Content for Different Generations

The modern workforce is dominated by three generations; Millennials (born 1982-2004), Generation X (1961-1981), and Baby Boomers (born 1945-1960). Each generation has their own preferences and expectations in terms of content. This means, in addition to segmenting your content by target buyer personas, role within the buyer team, position within the sales cycle, and consumption preferences, you’ll need to account for age. No sweat, right?

To make your content marketing life just a little bit easier, we did the legwork for you by compiling a list of the most impactful B2B content for each generation.

Baby Boomer

Baby Boomers 

Types of Content: 

  • Baby Boomers spend more time consuming content than any other generation.
  • The type of content they consume the most are blog posts, followed by articles and eBooks.
  • Once you write more than 300 words, you’ll start to lose them – so keep articles on the shorter side.

Where to Reach Them:

  • Baby Boomers rely heavily on trade shows when it comes to B2B buying, so make sure you have a great piece of collateral on hand!
  • Laptops and Desktops are the most common devices used to view content.
  • They spend a lot of time on Facebook, surprisingly.

Buying Power: 

  • With several Baby Boomers counting the last few years till they retire, this generation dominates the senior or executive positions within the company. As you can safely assume, this means they hold a lot of buying power. However, they’re coming to rely more heavily on Gen-Xers when it comes to technical buying decisions.

genx

Generation X

Types of Content:

  • For this generation, it’s a tie between third-party websites for reviews and comparisons and articles, papers, or blogs from industry experts.
  • Most Gen-Xers will spend 5-10 hours per week engaged in online content.
  • Again, the magic length is around 300 words, but this generation also enjoys reading articles over 500 words. So give them a little or a lot to read!

Where to Reach Them:

  • This generation has an affinity for Twitter, and spend the least amount of time on Facebook compared to Baby Boomers and Millennials.
  • Like Baby Boomers, this generation uses their laptop and desktop computers the most to view content.
  • It’s best to reach out through email, phone, or online meetings rather than trying to arrange a face-to-face.

Buying Power:

  • The buyers in this generation aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions, so content created by subject matter experts will help your business establish credibilities. This generation is in the era of middle to upper management, which means they have a heavy hand in the buying process (they may even be the final decision maker).

milennials

Millennials

Types of Content:

  • Millennials rely most heavily on information provided by vendors when researching products and services.
  • Like Gen-Xers, a majority of this age group will spend 5-10 hours per week engaging with online content.
  • Once again, the preferred length is 300 words when reading – so no long-form content.

Where to Reach Them:

  • This generation would prefer for interactions to be remote or virtual instead of face-to-face, with email communication being their most preferred.
  • It’s all about being mobile for this generation, with laptops coming in second place.
  • If Google trusts you, so do Millennials. This is the generation that coined the term “Google it“, so make sure you optimize your content for search engines!

Buying Power:

  • This generation is a growing force, with 87% of Millennial workers taking on management roles in the last 5 years (vs. 38% of Gen-Xers). Typically, this generation takes on the role of initiator, being the first to identify an issue and/or a possible solution.

How Does Content Marketing Generate Revenue?

CS-Moneybag

Businesses are quickly adopting content marketing as a way to drive brand awareness and increase sales leads, but how exactly does content marketing generate revenue? Marketers and business leaders alike are struggling to tie their content marketing efforts to their bottom line – which is a huge problem. In order to understand exactly how revenue is being generated, you’ll need to understand the two major components of successful content marketing; quality and tracking.

I can’t stress to you enough how important it is to produce quality content. If you provide material that is genuinely good, people will talk about it and share it with their networks – all of which contributes to generating brand awareness, directing traffic, and ultimately increasing sales. Now – I should mention that it’s also very important to promote your content, but promotion is ineffective unless you have something valuable to offer your audience and convert them from visitors to customers. This bring me to the second major component; tracking. Once you’ve created great content, you’ll need to monitor and track everything in order to understand how your content is being received and consumed by your target audience.

The analytics derived from tracking and monitoring will allow you to see how many more visitors your site is attracting, the number of email subscriptions you’re collecting from your blog or website, as well as the number of leads or conversion points you’re getting. Almost any analytics tool will allow you to track conversions based on entry sources. You’ll also be able to view which pieces of content they consumed during their buyer journey – giving your sales team extra intel on what that prospect might be looking for (aka – a qualified lead).

But it all starts with good content. Attracting your target audience and generating word of mouth is important for increasing traffic and sales. Marketing Charts conducted a survey that found 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know, so creating “word of mouth” buzz is very effective. Once you’ve attracted readers to your site with quality content, you can begin tracking their consumption, maybe even obtain their email address, and start nurturing them through the funnel.

This is how content marketing generates revenue — through a continuous cycle of creating quality content and tracking. By building a foundation of quality content, you give your audience a reason to engage with your brand. Meanwhile, monitoring and tracking will give you insights on which content your audience is consuming along their journey to becoming a customer. Having those two major components in place will enable you to drive revenue through content marketing.

Hiring a Content Marketer: Setting Expectations

what is content marketing

With the popularity of content marketing, it’s hard to believe that there are still several companies out there who are getting it wrong. But I assure you, this problem exists. However, it’s hard to put a finger on where this “problem” is originating from – the company or the content marketer? Or both?

Reviewing some of the content marketing positions posted online, I found that several of them included a sales material support component or content management. A majority of the time, the role was 50/50 – which meant that almost half the time would be dedicated to creating sales materials, like collateral, product sheets, brochures, and so on. This isn’t to say that providing sales with materials isn’t important – it’s just not content marketing.

For the record, content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content; content that attracts and retains a clearly defined audience – to ultimately drive profitable customer action, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). I feel that the key phrase in that definition is “strategic marketing approach” – meaning that content marketers aren’t just production houses — there’s a method to the madness.

This could be where the rift is occurring – companies are lumping all content under content marketing instead focusing on creating and distributing content strategically. A study conducted by CMI found that 60% of content marketers who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of effectiveness, compared to 32% of those who only have a verbal strategy. Documenting your strategy makes it more tangible for senior team members and gives you the opportunity to clearly define your role and set expectations.

But before you even accept a content marketing job, make sure you have a full understanding of what the expectations are for your role. If half your time is dedicated to creating materials that don’t support your content marketing initiatives, then it may not be the role for you. Having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for and what a company expects is the best way to make sure everyone is happy.

Be a Networking Ninja and Boost Your Content Marketing

Consumers have access to an increasing amount of content, making it more difficult for companies to stand out from the crowd. You may spend hours crafting the perfect blog article to engage your target audience, but how can you be certain that they’ll actually see it? Instead of utilizing a variety of content dissemination platforms to “spray and pray”, marketers need to start building relationships and trust with their audience.

What’s the best way to build trust? By aligning with the experts and thought leaders in your industry. It’s been found that 85% of consumers seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase. Combining content with industry influencers can help increase your content’s exposure, grow your social media communities, and increase your brand’s influence.

But how do you identify and connect with influencers? By becoming a networking ninja:

1. Infiltrate the community: You can’t just burst onto the scene and start blasting the community Infultratewith content and invites to connect — you need to ease into it. Start making your presence known by commenting on influencer blogs posts, engaging with their social messages, or joining relevant groups. Influencers are more likely to collaborate with you if you’re already on their radar.

2. Spy on the community: Monitor the community as well as the influencers – observe how the two groups engage each other, take note of the type of language they use, and network ninja
document what topics they discuss. All this information will allow you to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” when you start reaching out to experts and creating relevant content.

3. Select your targets: Every industry has it’s leading experts, or thought leaders, that have the targetability to influence their community. By aligning your brand with these expert individuals, you’re using their influence to increase awareness – and ultimately increase sales. Learn who’s the most active, who has the widest reach, who has the most impact on their audience, how often people engage with them, and how active they are in engaging with others. This will help you determine which influencers you should direct your efforts on.

4. Make your move: It’s time to reach out and say hi – or hiya – to the identified influencers. Send them a private message that’s creative and succinct, ensuring that you include details on how their participation will benefit them. Whether it’s promoting their personal brand or sharing their opinion knifeon a topic they’re passionate about, you need to make sure you “bait the hook” – or should I say, “set the trap”.

5. Be a master: Learn from your networking – what worked and what didn’t work? What
kick itbarriers did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? And how was the experience for the influencer? You want your experts to have a positive experience so that you can build a relationship. That way, you can team up with them again in the future on a variety of projects.

Now go forth, my networking ninjas – and give your content marketing a kick.

How to Kill Content Marketing

You’ve finally done it! You’re a content marketer! Even better – you’re one of the lucky few who have the opportunity to build your company’s content marketing from the ground up. However, once the new car smell of content marketing has left the air – you may find that your efforts might have been in vain.

How does this happen? You’ve been keeping up to date on the latest trends – content marketing is so hot right now (especially in B2B)- building your strategy, creating amazing content, growing the company’s audience —- and then it all changes. After reading quite a few blogs on the subject, I’ve surmised that there are 3 ways to kill content marketing.

  1. Micromanaging: This is the kiss of death in any work environment – but having someone watch over your shoulder while you make edits is Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 4.51.08 PMthe best way to undermine someone. Great content marketing needs great writing – and I can see how micromanaging would create self-doubt. I recent survey also found that micromanaging can lead to demotivation and self-doubt — which aren’t good for any employee and can have a serious impact on productivity. Even more alarming is the fact that 93% of engaged employees are clear about the organizational goals and therefore, can communicate with customers better (Harvard Business) – so if your writer/content marketer is not engaged, the quality of the content they create can suffer. Which leads me to my next point….
  2. Poor Writing: Quality content is essential in differentiating yourself from your competitors. Writing is the lifeblood of content marketing, and creating content that is useful and engaging to your readers while still conveying your company’s brand, messaging, and values (while also generating leads) takes some expertise. Experienced writers are also able to convey a personality while communicating a company’s messaging to an audience – but not many. Ann Handley of meshmarketing determined that a great exercise to test this is by covering your company’s logo and reading the content: do you sound different? Or do you just sound like your competitors?
  3. Creating Content without Marketing: There’s no doubt that quality content is essential – but this also isn’t Field of Dreams, you can’t just create it and wait for readers to come – that’s where the marketing portion comes in (duh). You need to create a content marketing strategy, with clearly defined tactics, goals, and metrics. Once you have a plan, you can make your attack and disseminate your content to your audience. Otherwise, your content will just sit there – unread and unused – and not bringing in any revenue.

Google Results

Avoiding these pitfalls on your own can be a challenge, but it’s important that you try. Otherwise, you’re just going to kill your content marketing.

What Content Marketers Need to be Successful in 2015

In 2015, content marketers need to ask themselves one question above all else: who cares? Because if the answer to that question is anything other than “my target audience” – then stop what you’re doing, because it’s a waste of your time and efforts.

Content Marketing Cat

The success of content marketing is heavily reliant upon the engagement of your target audience or market. No matter how you do it – whether it’s with whitepapers, infographics, videos, podcasts, memes, or any other form of content – getting your target to read, watch, share, comment on, like, or click on what you’ve created is the name of the game.

Content marketers must listen to their target audience, because creating content with the sole intent of making a sale instead of answering a question or helping in some way isn’t engaging. In order to be in touch with your audience, you need to do a few things:

  1. Form a strong relationship with your Sales team: The members of your company’s sales team are your “boots on the ground” – especially in the B2B market where the sales cycle is typically longer and requires a more consultative approach with prospects. Since the sales team is in constant contact with a variety of prospects, they can offer the greatest insights on the problems, requirements, and interests of your target markets.
  2. Get Comfortable with Alerts: Whether you use Google, Hootsuite, Twitter Counter, LinkedIn, or newsletter subscriptions – you need to stay on top of the latest topics and trends in your industry. Relevance and timeliness contribute to establishing your company as a thought leader, which builds trust with your prospects and customers. You don’t need to read every single email that enters your inbox, but even reviewing the subject lines can give you a good indication of what’s trending and what your target audience might be buzzing about.
  3. Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to talk to your customers! Sure, they may not be interested in having a 20 minute conversation – but they likely wouldn’t mind asking a few questions about the challenges their currently facing or what trends they’re excited about. Keep it cool and casual, and I bet you’ll learn more than you expect! Not only will this help you in creating content that your target audience wants, but it will increase the satisfaction of your customers. I mean, who doesn’t like venting about their latest frustrations or gabbing about an exciting new product or trend.
  4. Learn to Write — Or Hire a Writer: Nothing will kill your credibility more quickly than spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, awkward sentences, and plain old boring storytelling. Be honest with yourself; if you’re not a good writer, hire one. There are multiple websites, such as Kayak, Skyword, NewsCred, and Elance, that provide content creation services or allow you to connect with freelance writers. With so many resources at your disposal, there’s no excuse for poorly written content.

Once you’ve mastered the tactics listed above, you’ll have the tools and information to create content that truly engages your target market and audience.