19 Pieces of Content from One

At a content marketing conference I attended last month, Readytalk’s Bo Bandy talked about how the company turns each piece of content into 19. An infographic diagrams the process.

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It’s not just a cut and paste job; some finesse is required. Customize the content to take advantage of the medium and drive traffic. For instance, I might do a blog post that refers to an article I posted. The blog post would be highlights, with a link to the article. Think about the intent: do you want to tell the whole story, or lead readers to the article?

And replicating the article without editing would look like duplicate content to the search engines.

The infographic shows how the 19 uses vary in time. If done well, you can not only multiply the article’s content, you can spread its impact over time. Do that for all your content and you have achieved a drumbeat of marketing that your desired audiences cannot fail to notice.

Present to the Boss’s Boss’s Boss’s Boss…

When presenting a proposal, Shawn Herring of METAventure Group suggests a practice he calls “2Up”: presenting to the manager of whomever you’re presenting to. Chances are the person to whom you sell your idea has to sell his or her boss, so why not equip them with what they need?

Smart business people are always looking at how they can make their managers successful — and if we’re thinking ahead, their manager’s manager. As with many top truths, it’s obvious once it’s been said, yet takes some practice to keep in mind.

I often tell my team to “think like a shareholder.” When faced with a decision, ask, “What would a shareholder want you to do?” It’s kind of the ultimate expression of 2Up, since ultimately, all of our higher-ups report to the shareholders.

Be the Customer

Since we’re talking about empathy (well, I am), here’s a great example that happened yesterday. Answering customer requests is good empathy — anticipating them is great empathy.

top-of-the-mark

I was having drinks with friends at the Top of the Mark, atop the famed luxury Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. The waiter asked one of our party, “Can I top off your phone?” The phone was on the table, powered on, and we think he must have noticed the battery indicator showed a low battery. He came by with a charger and a cable but with no place to plug in near the table, he offered to take the phone to his station. He came back with a plate and a folded napkin, which he used to take the phone. When we were ready to leave, he returned with the charged phone.

It’s the question smart marketers ask over and over: “What is the customer’s problem?” As in this case, sometimes the customer doesn’t even know. When you can spot and solve a problem before the customer, that’s the big win that takes you from A to A+.

Empathy FTW

In my last post, Customer Service: Emotions Matter, I reported on my experience at Microsoft’s store, where they spent the money on the service infrastructure but overlooked the free human touches.

I had a more positive example today. I had a technical issue with email, which is hosted by Dreamhost. Their support form has two questions I have not seen before. Perfect examples of customer-centric communications, they address customer concerns and do so in a humorous, friendly way.

Instead of asking the customer to define the priority of the request, they ask in this customer-centric way:

dreamhost-priority

And they asked the customer’s expertise. Clever idea — this way they know how to frame the reply:

dreamhost-expertise

Pretty smart, huh!

As marketers, we should always be thinking about everything from the customer’s point of view. Dreamhost gets it, for the win!

Customer Service: Emotions Matter

The latest fad in satisfying customers, taking the place of authenticity, is empathy. Most of the empathy I observe is decidedly inauthentic, which I think is a sad misfire, but the idea is sound: Let the customer know you understand the problem and you’re going to help.

Sorry to pick on Microsoft (no, I’m not) but they have a curious tone deafness about customer service and about process; things Apple has down to a science.

I was at the Microsoft store with a dead, in warranty, Surface RT. The service I experienced was adequate, but missing the human touches. Ironically, they’re spending the funds, implementing competent programs, but falling short.

Their first comment was not empathetic, did not acknowledge there was a problem, did not suggest they would take care of my problem. It was, “When did you buy it?”

The person I saw tried a different charger. The person she sent me to tried a different charger and made me an appointment to see a technician. When I saw the tech, he tried a different charger. None of them communicated with the others.

When the tech came out, he didn’t say hi, didn’t acknowledge the customer’s problem, he just went to work.

Finally having confirmed it was dead, they offered to replace it on the spot! Excellent! But then they found they did not have any replacements so they would send it to the repair facility. Once it arrives there, they will immediately ship me a replacement unit. I asked, “Since you have this unit in your hands now, can you have them ship the replacement now?”

“No, this has to arrive there first. The system won’t allow us to ship one immediately.”

“Apple does,” I said. Grin.

“I know,” he said. Shrug and grin.

I will be getting a replacement in a week or so, which is adequate performance (though Apple does it in a day). But it could have been superior performance and stellar customer satisfaction — at no increase in cost! It would not cost them to smile and say they will help me. Eye contact is free. Shipping when the computer said the unit was in the store’s custody instead of waiting several days costs not a penny more.

But they’re not inclined to think that way. It’s a company-DNA issue. Not unlike their software. They have some of the best user interface labs in the world but they don’t fix the problems; they just layer on a new wizard.

Tone deaf.

Postscript: It’s been a week 10 days and the replacement unit is still not here and we have heard nothing. Sadly for Microsoft, I’ve been conditioned to expect better.

Any Business Can Use Amazon’s Four Pillars of Success

In Amazon’s Performance Secrets, Bryan Eisenberg posts Amazon’s four pillars of success. He says, “What we most admire…is that it is duplicable by just about every other business.”

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Bryan Eisenberg’s notes on Amazon’s Four Pillars of Success

Not complicated:

  1. Customer Centricity
  2. Continuous Optimization
  3. Culture of Innovation
  4. Corporate Agility

(P.S. Don’t you love Bryan’s notes? Way better than an infographic.)

Bold Branding for B2B

A couple of years ago, I was part of a rebrand for Maxim Integrated, which we called “a 2.5 billion dollar company no one has ever heard of.” I was also at Hewlett-Packard when they ran their first television ads in the 1980s. It’s not easy. It takes a ton of money, or imagination and innovation. 

Check out AdAge’s article on Arrow Electronics’ campaign, developed by Olgivy.

Arrow Electronics is looking to ditch its self-proclaimed “biggest electronics company you never heard of” label. One year after its first national TV campaign brought down its corporate website, it’s using animated digital ads to help tell the story of what the company does.

In this phase of its rebranding effort, Arrow sales staff have been showing off the YouTube animated shorts on their iPads for the past few weeks — with the latest incarnation set to release this week. The 30-to 60-second pieces are part of Arrow’s “Five Year Olds on Five Years Out” campaign, which highlights the company’s various services as told through the mind of a five-year old.

Don’t believe it? Leonardo DaVinci wouldn’t lie:

Content and the Big Idea

Great essay on Rebecca Lieb’s blog today about focusing content on One Big Idea.

The best way to draw quality, valuable traffic and move it toward a profitable end is content marketing. It’s also expensive, so it needs to be done well. By “well,” I mean it has to be driven by a focused and cohesive strategy. How to do that? The “Big Idea.” Rebecca uses IBM and GE as examples. If companies as diverse as IBM and GE can focus their messages, surely we all can, too.

It’s not easy to do but once you have your Big Idea, it makes everything else much easier. But getting there is the hardest marketing challenge for any business because in order to focus on One Big Idea, a dozen ideas become sidebars. And they are your precious babies! But the truth is that when we try to make a dozen great points, we end up successfully making none. We need to trust that when all our ideas report to one, the harmony amplifies all our precious points.

My own business is a good example. What does “marketing consultant” mean? Not much, given all the marketing specialties. Over the course of the past year, I’ve focused more and more on the offering prospects and clients are most responding to: Straightforward Marketing, taking the mystery and opinion out of deciding what marketing tactics make sense for each client.

Does your business have a single identity and a singular focus?

 

 

Big Data, Little Insight

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I cringe when I see most discussions of “big data.” Color me skeptical.

Recommended reading: Moneyball by Michael Lewis. It’s not really about baseball. It’s about the difference between data and insight.

The problem with Big Data is you can’t see the trees for the forest. In my experience, Big Data focuses on answers; insight focuses on the questions. Big Data complicates; insight simplifies and clarifies.

The best insight comes from little data. Watch individuals (not the whole analytics stream. Talk to your customer-facing staff, ask open-ended questions. Bit by bit, you see the smart questions and develop intelligent hypotheses. Then you can dig into the data to learn the answers.

The Most Fundamental Marketing Mistake

booth-message

I was at a large tradeshow today (Dreamforce). I’ll bet I asked at 30 booths: “What do you do?” I wasn’t trying to be a smart aleck — in each case, I really wanted to know.

Booth after booth had the company name and some clever slogan that said not much, or a complex set of bullet points that only made sense to people who knew the product category well. Some used insider terms like “Document Management” that mean little to new prospects. Even when the booth said what they did, there often were no benefits and no hint at how the products solve customer problems.

After a while, I started asking a followup question, “Do you get that question a lot?” They would laugh and agree, not realizing they were staring a huge problem in the eye. After they told me what the company did, I asked some of them why the signage didn’t say that. (OK, now I was being a smart aleck.) Mostly blank stares. A few said something about “the marketing guys.”

You know your product or service. You live with it every day. But prospects may not even know the basic terms your industry uses. They certainly won’t know why they should be interested in you, unless you tell them. Look at all your materials through a novice’s eye and ask yourself if your most attractive prospect will find it enticing enough to ask a question more useful than, “What do you do?”.