Insights (Page 31)

Our investment in AI-fueled global research means we know what keeps CEOs and CMOs awake at night. It also enables our experts to provide you with helpful advice and insights to solve current communications challenges.

Filter by

At this point in my career, I’ve had literally thousands of meetings with clients about marketing content.  Typically, there are lots of questions about what success will look like, but very little air time is devoted to anticipating, overcoming and even leveraging mistakes.

In our experience, only a thoughtful evaluation of both success factors and common mistakes will lead to the development of useful, inspiring and empathetic marketing content. (Read here for more about how one of my favorite thinkers, Ann Handley, further defines innovative content.)

Let’s start with the easier part:  what are the key success factors for great content marketing?

Develop differentiated thought leadership that gives stakeholders actionable insights: The most crucial element in any content marketing program is to start with researching audience needs and then develop messages and stories that help your target improve their own business outcomes. Unfortunately, many B2Bs don’t find thoughtful research a critical investment and instead want to rely on old or piecemeal information.

Commit to the technical work that underpins every good content marketing program: All that glitters is not gold in content marketing. The quality of your “behind the scenes” information may make or break success. Typical “boring but necessary” work includes SEO and correlated competitive keyword analysis, link acquisition, ongoing assessment of your web analytics and careful planning of the Calls to Action (CTAs) that will drive your visitor journey.

Embrace the broad universe of format opportunities: While the white paper still reigns supreme for many professional services firms, there is a dawning awareness of a rich palette of colors offered by new formats like videos and interactive quizzes.  For one of our clients, we migrated his planned book series into an ebook series. Another client wanted to launch his new blog with a bio that truly reflected his personality. Inspired by a TED project, Bliss worked with a musician to write a song and video about our client’s professional mission. In both cases, our clients were excited to “dream bigger.”

Leverage emerging tools that offer marketers new insights: The explosion of digital has led to an almost daily launch of new tools that help marketers achieve more. As an agency, it’s our job to stay on top of emerging tools that could benefit our clients. A few of our recent favorites include Sysomos (arguably the best social monitoring tool), Clicktale (allows companies to see a heat map of where visitors click on their website) and WordTracker (keyword research tool).

Now, let’s look at the harder-to-accept mistakes you may already be making:

Default to internal assumptions about audience motivators: It’s very easy for sales and marketing professionals to believe they already know what matters to their audience. But even rainmaker status or a fully developed sense of empathy does not give you an exemption from identifying independent, factual research to confirm your stakeholders’ needs. In one SEO project, the client consistently used one phrase to describe audience needs. But we discovered that their target audience did not actually use that phrase in search queries.

Assume marketing content is only built for the bottom of the sales funnel: The B2B sales process is complicated, and the professional services sales process is byzantine. It often takes years to convert a multi-million dollar consulting engagement. Yes, you need to create marketing content that will help convert interested buyers, but you really need content that’s designed to meet their needs at every stage.

Expend collective Practice/Platform energy on marketing but ignore necessary individual investment required for success: When a company begins a significant marketing effort, it feels exciting, fresh and even emotional. The natural ambiguity of marketing means that the various internal stakeholders are energized, even if they don’t always agree on priorities. The group dynamic can be a powerful accelerant that benefits the program. However, that momentum is often derailed when the group must become individual ambassadors charged with carrying forward parts of the initiative. Developing a new video is exciting, but cleansing your personal email list is not. Marketing may start as a group, but individuals need to carry the program to the finish line.

Spend more budget on format development than on distribution: By the time the content strategy is solidified and the individual assets are built, it’s easy to lose sight of the significant efforts involved in distribution and outreach. We had one international client who spent significant money on building new content, only to realize it had no Euros left when it came time to share the content with bloggers.

It’s important to save money for the “connect” phase of the program. Who are the right influencers and/or bloggers? Who are our most promising employee ambassadors…and do they need to be trained for outreach? Where do traditional media fit into the program, since we know how desirable their links are? The list is long, but the best programs ensure there are funds available for touching your audience by every possible penetration point.

Now, it’s your turn.  How often do you discuss mistakes in your marketing meetings?

To read more on B2B marketing best practices, read my April 3rd post here: B2B Marketing to the C-Suite: Why Are We Doing it Wrong?

Connect with Elizabeth: Phone: 212.840.0017

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @elizabethsosnow

LinkedIn: Elizabeth Sosnow

29 Jul 2015

Stop Pretending You Don’t Need to Learn from Your Content Mistakes

At this point in my career, I’ve had literally thousands of meetings…

Read more

When working in B2B marketing, it’s always important to understand your client and to whom you’re marketing your product. Marketing to engineers is no different. As a daughter of an engineer, I know firsthand that it’s not always easy to think like they think. Their technical mindsets are always looking for the most efficient way to create, fix or revolutionize their product, whether it’s an airplane for global use or a birdhouse for their backyard (and, take it from me, they always have the best ideas). Here at Roberts, we work closely with engineers to market products and services to industry professionals. Just recently, the PR team sat down to view a webinar presented by Marketing to Engineers called “New Survey Data: Identifying Content Needs along the Engineers’ Buyers Journey and Preferences for Webcasts.” I want to share the valuable lessons I learned, and how these strategies can be applied to just about any industry.

Cold, hard facts

It’s not surprising that when engineers are in the market for a new product or service, they’re looking for the cold, hard facts. Infographics might be pretty, but they’re not practical and they aren’t what engineers find useful. Social media and blogs might be hot right now too, but the majority of engineers aren’t using these tools to get their information. Engineers can see right through your advertising strategy and aren’t going to be “tricked” into buying your product. Instead, they’re looking at webinars, trade magazines, white papers and other informational tools. A common thread between these sources? They are valuable tools for engineers because they are educational and include practical information like product specs and case studies.

“Just Google it”

More importantly, these engineers are self-educating. The first place they go to research a product or service is Google, not a sales rep. Think about it, when you’re looking for a new computer or car, where do you go? Engineers aren’t any different. According to the webinar, they start researching products well before a purchase. Marketing to Engineers found that engineers on average start their research 8 months before a large-scale project, and 3 months before a small-scale project. Having this information well before a purchase is made, and in the format or platform they find useful, is necessary to effectively market to these individuals.

What are they looking for?

The most important factors Marketing to Engineers found to be effective in, well, marketing to engineers, wasn’t the product’s aesthetic or color – but you probably didn’t need me to tell you that. First and foremost, product quality was the reason why a purchase was made. Close behind was the service and support available, previous experience with that company, manufacturer reputation, lifecycle cost and more. What does this tell us? Engineers want a product that is reliable, from a reliable company and for a significant period of time. Your reputation as a company and how well your product is made will be deciding factors when an engineer is making a purchase. Look at how you’re marketing your product and company. Will it be effective in reaching your audience? When working in the B2B industry, you may not always work with a client who has similar interests or ways of thinking. Do your research, survey industry professionals and find out what makes them tick. These research strategies can be applied to any client in any industry. As long as you understand who you’re marketing to and implement effective strategies, your campaign is bound for success. To learn more, contact the Roberts Communications public relations team at: [email protected] or 585-246-0256

15 Jul 2015

How to Market to Engineers (And Think Like One Too)

When working in B2B marketing, it’s always important to understand your client…

Read more

As I flew home from a business conference this summer, I kept thinking about the same question: In today’s business environment, is risk to crisis what preparedness is to opportunity? I had the pleasure of attending a National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) event that focused on potential risks and strategic opportunities created by environmental and competitive disruptive forces. Corporate boards and senior leaders are having more conversations about disruptive forces on their organizations and their reputations – which from their perspectives, they can’t anticipate or control. I was disappointed that much of the conversation strayed away from the opportunity of reputation management and instead came down to crisis management. Don’t get me wrong: Crisis management is an essential part of a comprehensive risk strategy for an organization. And, yes, we can all cite examples where a company’s reputation was damaged by disruptive forces outside their control. But time spent on preparedness – assessing your reputational risk and identifying critical stakeholders in those risks — allows organizations to capitalize on the opportunities these disruptive forces also create. That preparation doesn’t just prevent crisis – it safeguards your corporate reputation, considered to be your organization’s most valuable intangible asset. Reputational risk can only be managed and opportunities realized if there is a common understanding of the risks that exist to your organization, the impact they can have and the likelihood of those events taking place. Reputation risk management strategies are guided by an organization’s appetite for risk and the willingness to invest a significant amount in strategy now or the chance to incur even greater costs in the case of a crisis later. It’s a trade-off between making a proactive investment in times of normal operations and a reactive investment when adverse situations happen. It’s a familiar give-and-take to most organizations. After all, traditional risk analysis is generally similar. But unlike traditional risk analysis, when I’m meeting companies struggling with how to manage their reputations, I see huge variances in how companies identify reputational risks are identified, how they are managed and who’s involved. Every organization seems to handle it differently: what internal stakeholder should be involved, what stakeholders need to be engaged externally and how to track the success of the reputation program. The most important thing organizations can do to mitigate their reputation risks is to be inclusive and open a dialogue with their various stakeholders. Because they hold important insights to help you identify where your reputation might be vulnerable. They judge you, evaluate your trustworthiness and their support or criticism is critical to the resiliency of your organization. Before you can build a preparedness and reputational risk management program, there needs to be a willingness to collaborate with various internal and external stakeholders to gain perspective and build mutual trust. Being proactive in anticipating future challenges can help organizations reduce cost, avoid being forced into reacting and create opportunities. So, as you consider how to prepare for your reputational risks here are some questions to ponder:

  • What level of risk is your organization prepared to accept?
  • How vulnerable are you?
  • What options can address these risks/opportunities relative to what is currently being done?
  • What support is needed, and from whom?
  Read other Worldcom Partner insights about Stakeholder, Public Relations and Employee Management.

19 Jun 2015

Risky Business: Managing Reputation

As I flew home from a business conference this summer, I kept…

Read more

I’ve talked to a lot of CEOs and business leaders who don’t believe their communications operations are addressing their priorities. And to a lot of CCOs who feel that planning has become a luxury – it’s essentially been replaced by the annual budgeting exercise. Clearly that’s a disservice to both parties and to their organizations. Imagine the opportunities that are being underserved and the resources that are being wasted because communications strategies haven’t been reset. How do you address the CEO’s issues and adjust your approach without adding another months-long effort? We’ve developed a streamlined approach to planning that has worked for a number of clients. Here are the keys:

  1. Get the CEO and CCO to explicitly agree to the next year’s communications priorities. We like to do that by facilitating a 60- to 90-minute discussion that covers long-term aspirations, major business objectives for the coming year, any concrete goals that should be addressed and, finally, agreement on where communications can contribute the most.
  2. Use those priorities as a filter for existing communications programs. Boost those activities that fit and, more importantly, weed out or scale back on anything that doesn’t.
  3. Brainstorm new approaches that will better support the newly agreed-upon priorities. This is an opportunity to engage, redirect and energize the full communications team, as well as colleagues from marketing and other relevant functions. Again, this is one meeting.
  4. Give your CEO a high-level summary of the priorities you agreed to and plans for addressing them. Tell him or her in the beginning that you’re going to produce a simple overview – one or two pages. Part of the idea is to provide a reminder of what you agreed to and to show the alignment of communications and business priorities.
In a few hours of meetings and a day’s worth of drafting you can have a shared picture for the coming year, context for your annual budget that’s built on leadership’s priorities and a better chance of seeing communications have maximum impact. It’s easily worth the time – do you see ways to improve the process?

07 Jun 2015

4 Keys to Streamlined Communications Planning

I’ve talked to a lot of CEOs and business leaders who don’t…

Read more