Archive for October, 2008

Content Marketing: Think MULTI Media

IStock_000006547643XSmallOne of the benefits of living in a Boston suburb is that you meet smart people wherever you go.  Even on the neighborhood soccer field – where I share cheering duties with Frank Cutitta, the General Manager of IDG Connect.  Our talented daughters are on the same team.

IDG Connect is an “information technology resource for the latest research and product information in the IT Industry. The library includes technical white papers, webcasts, podcasts, case studies and product information.”  And more to the point, Frank is always smiling.  Yes, even nowadays, through the gyrations of the stock market and all that. 

According to Frank, what IDG figured out is how to help marketers meet the expectations of prospects who are seeking various levels and types of information, about industries and products.

“You need to understand the buyer’s precise knowledge needs.  What does your buyer expect at each stage of the purchase process?” Frank explains.  “Once you know that, you can optimize content in the best format to match the buyer’s learning style.”

In other words, you may need to create a white paper and/or a podcast and/or a videoblog and/or a webcast of the same content because different types of prospects will have different engagement preferences.

It all starts with a “content asset audit.”  With an average tenure of just under two years, most corporate marketing executives can’t even find most of the content on file at the corporation, much less map it to a strategy.  Think, “random acts of content.”


IStock_000007088949XSmall“Once content assets are cataloged, marketers need to map assets into a sequential lead nurturing ‘curriculum,’ i.e., moving prospects through a series of content-focused engagements – each of which signify a higher degree of complexity/value and a closer proximity to sale,” Frank notes.


Here’s an example of that “sequential lead nurturing” … Rather than create a 45-minute webcast (zzzz), why not create smaller content bundles delivered in “chapters?”  A 2-minute introductory webcast can lead to the prospect to “graduate” to a more in-depth 10-minute video demo or a slideshow, and so on… Each request for the “next in the series” signals additional movement through the sales funnel, and can be tracked accordingly (which videos work best? which are responsible for the most drop-offs?).


IStock_000005986220XSmallLet’s get tactical.

Say you head up marketing for a CAD/CAM software maker.  Various types of buyer types (and purchase influencers) come to mind: design engineers, CTOs, CEOs, pencil-pushers from purchasing, etc. 

What content marketing strategy can you employ to meet the highly variable information needs of these audiences, across different stages of the purchase process?

Well, design engineers and CTOs are a technical audience, right? They are likely going to want to see white papers and demo-style webcasts.  But, these folks are also on-the-go and of many different industries, so you might also want to develop a podcast series that literally talks them through your product demo, in chapters that synch-up to the prospects’ needs.  You can also “verticalize” the content, by making tweaks that speak to specific industries.  Spice it all up by asking a couple of customers to submit to interviews that you can splice into the dry stuff.

Now, you’ve got those customer interviews on-hand, and you realize that CEOs and Purchasing execs who don’t understand what your product does will still appreciate assurances of your product quality, viability and customer support!  If you’ve got those customer interviews on video, these snippets can become part of a vlog; they can be IStock_000004664514XSmall_smallemailed by salespeople during the courtship; etc.

And if part of your strategy does include white papers and other text-based content, be sure to offer both prettified PDFs as well as “atomized” HTML versions.  The former can be printed or forwarded to old-school executives, whereas the “atomized” version ensures that bloggers and/or prospects can point their readers and colleagues to specific datapoints that help them make the case for your CAD/CAM solution.

The right content delivered to the right people, at the right spot in the sales cycle.  Sounds so simple, right?

Ideas for a Rainy Day

Throughout my travels in Google Reader, I often “favorite” a post – which is as much about reminding me to really, really read something as it is about IStock_000002447639XSmallsimply finding a new favorite.  I promise myself that a “deep ponder” is due, and that these starred posts will guide my thinking when I find the time.

I’m not one to use tools like Google Shared Items.  Blogging on a regular basis is commitment enough for Yours Truly.  But, I do like to share.  It’s not all about me.

Here are some of the posts that I’ve starred for future ponders…

Starting with today’s entry, I want to dive deep into the 2008 Forrester Groundswell Award winners.  If these are the current best-of-show in Social Media and Marketing, they deserve our admiration and analysis.

From “first to worst,” I want to think some more about B.L. Ochman’s disgusted analysis of my PR industry competitors’ thinking.  Here’s a choice nugget: “PR people are still woefully behind the sea change that has taken place since the dawn of new media.”  What does this mean for SHIFT? For the industry? When and where and how will change happen?  (I sometimes wish Shel Holtz would make “defending and improving the PR industry” his full-time gig.  There’s probably no money in it, though.)

Jason Falls is one of the most under-appreciated Social Media Marketing bloggers out there. Among the many posts that I’ve “favorited” from Social Media Explorer is this one about Measurement.  “The problem with trying to determine ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable.”

Then again, Chris Brogan makes a good case in his brief but compelling Measurement How-To.  He makes everything seem so simple.

Some of my favorite posts are very tactical, like this post on Video SEO by Kyle Flaherty.   Lee Odden also offers great tips on the interplay of PR and SEO.  Practical advice which comes in handy as we think about the rise of Content Marketing (and the continued importance of “findability.”)

IStock_000004832923XSmallAnd then there are brain-sizzling posts like Jeremiah Owyang’s take on “The Many Challenges of the Social Media Industry.”  Any single one of the 14 challenges listed by Jeremiah are enough to make you want to crawl back under the covers.  But then again, most all of these issues can and will be solved by a cadre of smart entrepreneurs.

Speaking of smart people (and only coincidentally another Forrester analyst), Josh Bernoff’s recent updates to the Social Technographics data is a must-read.  If you think Jason Calacanis is full of hot-air when he talks about “the coming boom,” Bernoff provides some actual proof: 

“Looking at the U.S. data, the big news in 2008 is that … social technology participation has grown rapidly. (P)eople untouched by social technologies have shriveled … to 25% of the online population (while) those who read, watch, or consume social content have ballooned … to 69%. If you think social technology is about to become a universal phenomenon, we just handed you a nice little bundle of evidence.”    

Last but not least: I’ve read this Seth Godin post on “Avoiding the Passion Pop Gulf” about 50 times, and I’ve promised myself that I must figure out how this type of thinking should guide our li’l agency’s own future.

What posts or articles are you “saving for a rainy day??”

Get Hired, Get Famous!


Some good news from ReadWriteWeb, which is launching a new channel called the ReadWriteWeb Jobwire, with reporting on hires in the tech and new media industries. According to Marshall Kirkpatrick, who is leading the charge, they expect to make 10-30 posts per day, one of which will be featured and analyzed as the “hire of the day.”

Interestingly, some of those featured hires will be written up by special guest editors, including former Financial Times reporter Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher and Sam Whitmore, tech media analyst at Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey.  Now that’s a quality effort.

I am most especially psyched about the plan to “make 10 – 30 posts per day.”  They wouldn’t make such a commitment without having taken a look at current trends.  In other words, yea, times are tough, but investments in people are still being made at a decent clip.

With all the current news about lay-offs, this new RWW Jobwire channel will be a refreshing read.


The Coming Boom

CalacanissadEntrepreneur and serial scallywag Jason Calacanis sent out his latest email today, and while I won’t “pull an Arrington” and republish the entire thing, there were some choice bits that I hope Jason won’t mind me sharing.

As part of a longer treatise on how the recession will affect us all, Jason points to some potential good news (he has plenty of gloomy thoughts, too).  He predicts “a boom in traffic, engagement and participation.”

“ … People will have time on their hands and the desire to socialize. Group behavior makes people feel better…


“Blogging became a phenomenon not because of some technological advance, but because between 2002 and 2005 there were a lot of unemployed–and underemployed–individuals with a lot to say and a lot of free time. Bloggers like Peter Rojas, Michael Arrington, Nick Denton, Rafat Ali, Xeni Jardin and Om Malik broke out in the down market–not the upmarket.


“Social networking and podcasting were born and boomed during the last internet winter.


“Bottom line: Folks with time on their hands–and anxiety in their hearts–will be drawn to communications, content, and community offerings.”

IStock_000000609908XSmallThis concept harks back to recent rantings about Marketing through a Downturn


If you look at these tough times as an opportunity to gain marketshare while the competition is weak, and combine that posture with the understanding that your prospects will be “more online than ever,” then dropping-off on digital marketing (in the form of PR, social media engagement, etc.) makes little sense.


In a related note, if you are interested in more recession-proofing advice, ProBlogger Darren Rowse shares thirteen terrific tips.


Mo' Marketing

Your_dad_was_not_a_metrosexualCanadian Club Whisky is an iconic brand, the favorite of MAD MEN’s Don Draper, but perhaps best known to you through their brilliant “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It” ad campaign. 

And damn right, they’re a SHIFT client.

Our upcoming project for CC is in support of Movember.  “Mo” is slang for moustache, and Movember is a moustache-growing contest that takes place next month, to raise money and awareness for men’s health.


As part of the promotional efforts, SHIFT created a Movember Facebook application, with which you can graffiti your friends’ Profile pics with an assortment of moustaches… 


Incredibly silly, but incredibly fun.  Throughout this post, you can see the fun I had messing with Steve Rubel, Aaron Strout and even B.L. Ochman (sorry, B.L.!).


Mo-ochman(To be clear, once you’ve done your dirty work, you can send the “defaced” pic to your victim, or post it to your own Profile: you can’t make a change to your friend’s actual Profile picture.)


Creating Facebook applications is not the type of service you’d normally expect from a PR agency.  Yet as our industry evolves, small-scale application development projects like this one may become one of a host of advanced services that we’d never expected to tackle.


Mo-rubelImagine if this cute little Facebook app creates thousands upon thousands of moustachioed Movember supporters?  Imagine if such a grassroots Mo-stroutgroundswell caught the attention of USA Today, leading to even more mainstream pick-up.  Imagine if one of Perez Hilton’s friends stuck a ‘stache on the gossip king’s pic – leading him to blast the word out to his legion of followers? 


Would such results (from such humble seeds) count as a PR victory or as an application development victory?  Will such distinctions exist?


Evolution can be fun. 


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