Is Your Marketing Content Worth Receiving?

The marketing content we used to create compared with what we are building now is vastly different.  Yesterday’s marketing content was about communicating, today it’s about building things that are useful. The way it used to be Early in my career as a product marketer, the keystone piece of content related to a product was the brochure. The purpose of the brochure was to communicate information about the product.  I remember brochures that listed technical specifications, key points of value, some description of the intended markets and quotes from some happy customers.  This brochure got used at events, trade shows, seminars, in sales meetings with customers and it lived in pdf format on our website.  It was general purpose, intended for any audience, anywhere, anytime. Things are Different Now The way marketers think about content is so different now.  Teaching prospects about our product has taken a backseat to creating content that useful to prospects.  When I say “useful” I mean it helps prospects in one of the following ways It helps them understand different ways to solve a problem and which approach might be the right one for them It teaches them how to be better at something and how experts might approach a particular task/problem It shows them how other people or companies in similar situations have approached a problem and what the results were It explains a new trend or technology that’s confusing It helps them connect to other people who have similar problems The content we are creating now is less and less about our products and services (at least not directly) and more and...

Should You Teach Your Customers How to Buy?

Sometimes buying software can be like buying a car.  All of the car marketing that you used to ignore is now suddenly interesting now that you are car shopping.  At one time you had no idea what dynamic traction control is and the next thing you know, you MUST have it.  Remember the first time you bought a camera or a cell phone?  You lived your entire life not needing to know a darn thing about GSM or 3G or resolution or HD and suddenly, you’re an expert (or at least you are working hard at being one). Much like other purchases, when customers go to buy software, typically it’s an infrequent event and there’s a period where customers are figuring out what they need to worry about and what they don’t.  Vendors selling something new and innovative have to move potential customers through the process of first understanding what they need to know in order to make a purchase decision before they can then convince them that their product or service is the best of many alternatives. Smaller companies I work with are often reluctant to try to influence customer buying criteria.  The customer knows what they want and doesn’t want to be “sold.”  I don’t believe that’s the right way to look at it.  One of the main things prospects do is try to figure out a set of criteria they should consider.  There’s no question in my mind that customers understand their pain and problems much better than you do.  However, they aren’t always the experts in the different ways that those problems might be solved. ...

13 Ways to Run a Kickass Webinar

When your marketing budget is microscopic, every product marketing tactic you run needs to be optimized, yet for some reason webinars are often executed on autopilot.  Don’t fall into the trap of running mediocre webinars.  Here are a few ideas to give your webinars a kick in the pants: 1/ Ask for questions ahead of time – You know who’s signed up to attend, you might as well ask them what they’d like to hear. 2/ Get a great speaker – Over and over again I see companies putting lousy speakers in their webinars because that person happens to be the in-house expert on the subject.  Delivery is really, really important.  Use the best presenter you’ve got and bring in some backup to help answer questions if you have to. 3/ Have a timely and provocative topic – The more you can tie your topic to things that are on people’s minds right now the better your attendance will be.  Don’t be afraid to pick challenging or provocative topics. 4/ Have a script, practice like crazy and do a test run – Unless your speaker is Anderson Cooper, don’t let him/her just get up there and wing it. (If your speaker is Anderson Cooper, please invite me to your webinar, I’d like to see that). 5/ Promote it through all of your channels – In addition to sending email to your lists, make sure you promote the webinar on your website, blog, Twitter, Facebook groups, newsletter, and any other customer-facing communications you’re running. 6/ Bribes work – Give-aways and contests work when it comes to getting folks to attend...

Collateral Damage: Building a Content Plan

I remember when building collateral used to be a large part of a product marketer’s job.  A lousy part.  I remember the last brochure I worked on like it was yesterday.  Getting it done was a nightmare of epic arguments over screen shots, customer quotes and whether or not to include the mailing address for the European office we expected to close within a month.  The project went on for weeks and once it was done we didn’t look at again for a year, mainly because we didn’t have the budget to update it but also because we were traumatized. Old-style collateral was all centered around the product rather than the customer.  It was designed to be as generic as possible, making it only mildly relevant to the majority of customers and regardless of what was happening in the market, the brochure only got updated when there was a new version of the product.  How backward is that? Thankfully we’ve moved into a new era where the barriers to creating and distributing content to customers and prospects are coming down and we marketers can focus on the business of creating and delivering content that is relevant, useful and engaging to the customers and prospects that consume it. I think every product needs a content plan.  The content plan should include delivery of the following: Web content – I still see a lot of generic web content out there.  Different segments and different buyers are looking for different types of information.  Informational needs also change as customers progress across the buying cycle.  Product marketers need to step into the shoes...

Press Releases, Launches and Seth Godin

I have a love/hate relationship with Seth’s blog.  I love the way that he distills down complicated concepts into bite-sized chunks of wisdom that very often get me thinking.  I hate how utterly theoretical and non-practical this wisdom is and therefore fear that no matter how great his ideas are, nobody could ever figure out how to actually apply them to real, live, functioning businesses. Today’s post, First, 10,  is one of those that manages to get me thinking and drive me crazy at the same time (which I suspect is the desired result).  In it he states: Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you… Those ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it, you win. If they love it, they’ll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat. If they don’t love it, you need a new product. Start over. So far so good. Most folks selling B2B have been doing the shortlist of first reference customers thing for ages.  I don’t buy that those customers are actually going to get out there and close million dollar deals for me but they sure as heck are going help me get into my next 10 accounts (either directly or indirectly), so I’m good with this.  Then he says this: The timing means that the idea of a ‘launch’ and press releases and the big unveiling is nuts. Instead, plan on the gradual build that turns into a tidal wave. Well, in my opinion that depends on what...

Unhappy Customers Complain

The last few days I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations about Twitter because what I am now referring to as “the incident”.  This has already discussed way beyond what it deserves but there is one point that has been missed that I feel like I need to clarify. The reporter did not call me because I was in marketing.  He called me to comment on a story he was writing about an ex-employer of mine.  He called late in the afternoon and I returned his call the next day right after I picked up his message.  I happened to be in a meeting that went ran all afternoon and later into the evening.  If Obama had have called me that afternoon, he also would not have gotten a call back until the next morning. I don’t have an admin doing this stuff for me and I don’t do PR so when you call me sometimes it takes a day for me to return your calls. He answered the phone and was extremely rude to me.  He yelled at me.  He cursed at me.  I have the feeling he had forgotten why he called me and thought I was a PR person who should have returned his call within an hour instead of a day, instead of a regular citizen that happens to be an ex-employee of a company that he covers for his newspaper. He was at work, doing his job representing his company and I had just had an amazingly negative experience.  I complained about it on Twitter without mentioning the reporter’s name nor his publication.  He...
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