Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Content Marketers Need Marketing Analytics

StockSnap / Pixabay


Content marketing is a well-established marketing strategy for generating leads, increasing brand awareness, and establishing an organization as a thought-leader within their industry. By now, most organizations have deployed at least some form of content marketing strategy. These strategies can range from the barest of bare bones to sophisticated efforts that are the result of entire teams. Whatever the level of effort, marketing teams and organizations have bought in wholesale to the idea of content marketing. A new report from Content Marketing Institute reports that 91% of B2B organizations are currently using a content marketing strategy.


Buyers have also shown that they prefer content marketing as a way to engage with organizations. Content Marketing Institute also reports 70% of business decision-makers say content marketing makes them feel closer to organizations. Buyers, and especially high-level decision-makers, simply don’t have the bandwidth to spend time reading things that don’t intrigue them or impart valuable knowledge. Content marketing is simply the most effective way to reach the right audience and engage with them.


However, by its very nature content marketing is a difficult strategy to measure in terms of ROI. Because content marketing is designed to create awareness and influence their remains difficulty in measuring exactly how those efforts directly lead to closed deals. If a decision-maker initially reads a piece of content that then sets that person on their buyer’s journey which ultimately ends with a closed deal, it’s unlikely that anyone will realize where the journey began, or how content marketing figured into the win.


To this point, content marketing needs marketing analytics. Marketers need information on what pieces of content are actually driving revenue, moving buyer’s along their journey, and contributing to the bottom line. To discern these important metrics, marketers need access to insights such as content engagement stats and content usage analytics. Content engagement statistics let marketers know exactly how buyers interact with a piece – which section they engaged with most and how long they spent viewing the content. Content usage analytics provide insights into how Sales interacts with content and which pieces are most effective for them.


However, the same Content Marketing Institute report found that 47% of respondents do not measure the ROI of their content marketing efforts, and 18% said they are unsure – and if a marketer is unsure if they’re measuring their ROI, so is their boss.


The reasons as to why marketers don’t measure the ROI of their content present an opportunity for organizations to begin measuring. The top answers for why they don’t measure ROI were: no formal justification required, we need an easier way to do this, we don’t know how to do this, and too time-consuming. All of those problems can easily be remedied by implementing a solution that provides deep insights quickly.


The results of those who do measure their ROI reveals that it is an incredibly important step for improving many areas of an organization. 77% of respondents said their marketing analytics increased audience engagement, 72% said it increased their number of leads, and 51% said it increased their organization’s sales.


Clearly marketing analytics has an outsize effect on not only improving an organization’s content marketing strategy, but also its bottom line.




Source: B2C

How to Newsjack in an Infographic Without Being a Jackass

If you’re human, you’re probably glued to the news, current events, trends, and pop culture happenings all day, every day. People have an insatiable appetite for this type of content—and the conversations surrounding hot topics—so it’s no wonder brands want in on the action. Hence, newsjacking has become a common occurrence in marketing, whether in a brand infographic, blog post, or video.


The Value of Newsjacking in an Infographic


It’s true that newsjacking has gotten a bad rap in recent years. But aside from the aggressive name, newsjacking isn’t inherently bad; creating content around current events can certainly be beneficial for brands. It can help you engage with people, stimulate conversation, create community, and give people a sense of your character and values.


The problem is that most brands don’t know how to do it authentically. They think newsjacking means capitalizing on current events when what it really means is connecting through current events. Some brands have seen enough newsjacking disasters (think Pepsi’s protest ad or AT&T’s 9/11 tweet) that they shy away from it entirely. This is understandable and, depending on the subject, might be the right call. But there are plenty of cases where newsjacking can work if you do it honestly and authentically.


The Dos and Don’ts of Newsjacking


If you want to try newsjacking in your next infographic, follow these tips to make sure it’s a success.


The Don’ts…


DON’T be a slime ball. It seems common sense, but too many brands are guilty of this. It’s ironic, too, seeing as the entire point of newsjacking is to share your unique voice and connect on a one-on-one level—to be the opposite of a greedy, faceless corporation. But somehow newsjacking often reinforces that exact reputation.


DON’T write about things unrelated to your brand. Good content marketing is about delivering interesting, relevant content that people care about. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s popular with your crowd. Do CMOs care about Beyoncé’s hot new video, or would they be more interested in the unique marketing strategy she used to release that new video?


DON’T tackle sensitive subjects. Controversial topics and tragedies may be in the news, but adding your two cents is rarely worth it. Viewing these topics as fodder that’s “hot right now” will more than likely get you in some major hot water.


That said, there are opportunities to express your brand values in relation to some of these issues. For example, for National Women’s Health Day, we created an interactive experience addressing the stigma around menstruation for women and girls around the world. Menstruation may be considered a taboo subject (especially for a creative agency), but we felt it was important to discuss.


DON’T wait too long. Brands that act quickly can win big in newsjacking. Remember the famous tweet Oreo put out during the power outage at Super Bowl XLVI?




But it only works if you strike when the iron is hot. If you wait too long, you just waste energy on something that people are already over.


The Dos…


DO stay informed. It sounds obvious, but you can’t come up with great content if you’re missing it. Keep up on the news, and create an infrastructure or way to mobilize your team to spot opportunities.


DO vet your ideas. How many times do we see a brand’s newsjacking fail and think, “Who the f**k approved that idea?” It happens all the time. No matter what you come up with for an infographic idea, always get a second opinion. Outside perspective can help you 1) spot holes or potential issues in your concept or 2) offer ideas to improve it.


DO take a “value first” approach. How will people benefit from this infographic? If you don’t have an answer, you don’t have a strong idea. One of the most surefire ways to successfully newsjack is to create something that will help people better understand a timely story. An infographic is a great way to do this, as its inherently visual nature makes it easier to break down concepts and visualize data, which can bring great clarity to certain stories.


DO use the right tone. Even a seemingly benign topic can still get you in trouble if you don’t approach it in the right way. Humor, sarcasm, and wit can be great ways to express your brand personality, but use them with caution.


DO use the right keywords. Newsjacking lets you get higher visibility and rank, but only if you optimize it as such. (The same goes for any piece of content you make.) Make sure your blog post and infographic filename uses the right keywords, meets SEO requirements, includes the right hashtags, etc. to increase reach.


DO start small. If you’re new to it, start small. A series of mini-graphics or a single post can help you dip your toes in and learn how newsjack well.


DO recycle if relevant. You don’t always have to newsjack from scratch. If an interesting topic is in the news and you have a piece of content related to it, share it again to join the conversation. This helps you offset the biggest frustration of newsjacking (all that work for a limited run).


For example, one of our most popular infographics is on how to grill meats and veggies. We like to repost it for every summer holiday or three-day weekend, as it’s useful information for any BBQ or get-together.


How to Newsjack an infographic


Always Use Common Sense


No matter what you do with newsjacking, always trust your spidey sense. If it feels off, don’t take the chance. Remember: There are many ways to make a great infographic, and it’s always a good idea to experiment.



Source: B2C

Creepy Clowns Planning Purge On Halloween Night Is A Viral Hoax


Creepy clowns planning a purge on Halloween night if a hoax. There is no truth to a story that clowns are planning to murder trick or treaters on Halloween. Rather, this is a recycled hoax circulating social media intended to scare people as the trick or treat night approaches.


Where did this hoax originate? ActionNews3 published the hoax article falsely reporting that creepy clowns had planned a purge on Halloween night and that police warned people to stay inside. You can read the hoax which circulated social media below.


Creepy Clowns Plan Halloween Night Purge “If you value the safety of yourself and your children, stay inside on Halloween night,” warned the Sgt. William Stein during a meeting with the Department of Homeland Security. “We have escalated these threats to acts of domestic terrorism and are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to keep Americans safe this Halloween season.”


According to Stein, several threats about a “Halloween night purge” have been sent to schools, businesses, and even churches all across the United States. Local and state authorities are urging parents to not take their children out on October 31. Concerned parents are pushing for a mandatory curfew on the 31st which will begin at 5 PM. Others say this should not ruin their children’s Halloween tradition.


However, there is no truth to the above story, according to Hoax Alert. It should be noted that the above hoax story was previously published by Now8News in October 2016. Even the “Now8News” logo on the original image was strategically covered up with a “Special Report” badge, as you can see in the original image from that site.



Here are some examples of people sharing the hoax on social media.








ActionNews3 is a fake news website that consistently publishes hoaxes in an effort for them to spread on social media. There is no truth to the above story.


Florida deputies have issued a warning after an 11-year-old boy in Volusia County was nearly attacked by a man dressed as a clown, WESH 2 reported.


“Warning to evil clowns and anyone considering creepy clown activity: We will not be there to save you if your intended target defends himself or herself, and you may face other penalties as well,” the sheriff’s office said, according to WESH 2.


Halloween is a celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.


What did you think of the hoax that clowns were planning a purge on Halloween night? Did you believe it or see people sharing it falsely on social media? Let us know in the comments section.



Source: B2C

The 5 Step Process For Effective Sales Coaching

In today’s hyper-competitive sales market, forward thinking sales professionals are always looking to get an edge on competitors by constantly finding new ways to stay relevant and updated on the latest trends and strategies. A great sales team is the driving force behind a successful and profitable company. An effective sales coach can help the team get there. It’s comprised of a cohesive, tried and true combination of sales leaders and sales reps that are battle-hardened to understand their sales market like the back of their hands.


coaching-quote


With that in mind, we all have to start somewhere. How do you fine-tune your sales team? While there are a variety of ways to sharpen your arsenal of skills and strategies, by far the most tried-and-true method is professional sales coaching. You won’t always have perfect sales reps, but effective sales coaching can certainly improve the performance of sales reps and help them be more effective, sell more successfully and with less stress and greater client engagement and satisfaction. If you’re looking to mold a sales dream team, these 5 steps will help guide you on how to effectively coach your sales team.


Step 1: Observe The Team


Conducting reconnaissance in any project or scenario is vital to effective sales coaching. One of the most important steps in the sales coaching process comes from the observations the sales coach makes on the individual who need sales coaching. Gather, analyze, and interpret the performance of the individual and have a discussion on any unique gaps in their sales techniques. Highlight the most important changes the individual can make in order to improve and use the appropriate metrics within the organization.


coaching-guide


Step 2: Measure Strengths and Weaknesses


Your sales coach will then observe the operations of your sales team and provide you with an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual sales reps performance in relation to the operations of your team. A crucial aspect of the sales coaching process is observing what is working and what isn’t between the team and your market. This step is crucial for your sales coach because it will allow them to develop a customized plan that will improve individual operations which benefits everyone in the organization. Here a few things to keep in mind when making observations:


  • Point out what you saw. Try and make objective statements on things you noticed.

  • Try to explain your observations as a cause and effect (because you did this, that happened).

Step 3: Develop and Implement The Appropriate Skills


Productive sales coaching requires a vigilant and attentive eye towards a sales rep’s best and worst attributes. Sales coaches should communicate their observations and suggest new tactics to help the sales rep improve. Sales coaches can also try role-playing exercises to help simulate the interaction between buyer and sales rep. After the scenario, sales coaches should observe how well their sales reps reflect on their own weaknesses and if there are any improvements they can make. Observe how the sales rep implements these changes.


Step 4: Observe How Well the Candidate Absorbs and Applies Feedback


After carefully watching the candidate during sales calls or role-playing exercises, sales coaches can provide one area of positive feedback that highlights what the sales representative did well and one area of improvement. Sales coaches should also make note of how responsive sales reps are to their feedback and highlight common mistakes that they are making. Make note of the amount of effort sales reps are making to correct problems and if there any significant improvements.


coaching-quote


Step 5: Ongoing Mentoring


Sales coaches should not only help sales representatives succeed within the organization but also support and mentor them with their career goals and objectives. The sales coach can ask a few questions to help facilitate a healthy ongoing relationship with the sales rep and to also get a better idea of their motivations and what they are striving towards. As a sales manager, understand that the success of the individuals in your team is directly connected to how well your organization runs and is well-managed for peak sales performance.


A sale involves a deep understanding of the product and customer, excellent communication and presentation skills, and a positive mental attitude. Developing the right sales skills to take your team to the next level can be honed to perfection with practice and effective sales coaching. Effective sales coaching requires hard work, discipline, and training from the sales coach and the sales representative. Sales coaches should take a close look at each of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses and be on the lookout for specific things to coach. Great talent can be forged with the right amount of focus and the determination to learn.


 



Source: B2C

Using Competency Modeling to Enhance Leadership Development

geralt / Pixabay


Talented and skilled leaders are the lifeblood of any organization. But according to Brandon Hall Group’s leadership development report, “Only 25% of organizations reported they have a ready and willing successor for at least one critical leadership position.”


To establish a strong pipeline of capable leaders, an organization needs to identify the capabilities that are needed to perform a specific job. This is where competency modeling comes into play.


In a nutshell, competency models matter because they pinpoint the relevant behaviors, skills, attributes or capabilities of your top performing employees and can be used to identify high potential leaders and help them develop those leadership characteristics. The models help to clarify expectations, provide valuable feedback for critical areas and ensure your development activities and related initiatives will have the greatest impact.


Competency models essentially provide human resource professionals with the foundation to develop effective human resource management systems for their business or organization.


By implementing a competency-based training and development system, you can ensure your training and development programs are aligned with your company’s values and strategies, and that your training dollars are being used most effectively.


Competency models are most effective when they are integrated into your organization’s Human Resources processes. The real value added of these models is when they are used to tie your HR systems together so that your hiring, leadership and management development, performance management, and succession planning systems are aligned and focused on the same attributes and characteristics.


Let’s take a closer look at one of these HR systems and how you can effectively leverage a competency model to develop and enhance leadership development at your company.


  1. Identify “Gaps” in Competencies

The first step is to see how people are performing with regard to the competencies. This can be assessed at the individual level using a 360 survey and by reviewing current performance appraisal data. The aggregate 360 data will help you identify development needs at an organizational level.


  1. Identify Opportunities to Close “Gaps”

By reviewing the needs of your overall organization and individual employees, you can determine the most effective types of initiatives and training opportunities that can be implemented on the individual or organizational level to help close the gaps. The individual data can be used to drive the creation of development plans that include coaching and on-the-job assignments. The aggregate data helps you decide which formal skill development programs would be the best place to invest scarce training dollars in order to get the most impact.


  1. Follow-Up to Ensure Closing of “Gaps”

You will want to follow up at least six months after any training or development activities to determine whether there are any discernible differences in behavior and to determine the effectiveness of your efforts. You can do this by implementing a 360 “post test” or following up to determine the effectiveness of any ongoing coaching or mentoring opportunities that have been implemented. Additionally, you can review the feedback from performance reviews.


By leveraging a competency-based training and development system, you can ensure that your organization’s HR training budget and your employees’ time are being used most effectively. This also helps increase employee’s willingness to invest in developing the important and relevant skills they need to perform their jobs and be successful in future leadership roles.




Source: B2C

Security Negligence: Failure to Patch

Security Negligence: Failure to Patch


By now, most of the world has heard of the monstrous security breach that occurred at Equifax. Its CEO recently took ‘early retirement’ which is no surprise since the debacle exposed millions of consumer’s personal data. If the incident never happened, he would probably still have his corner office. In the last few weeks, large breaches have been uncovered at Deloitte and the SEC, and malware was inserted into CC Cleaner Software aimed at large tech giants such as Cisco and Intel. This is in addition to the numerous DDoS attacks that are reported daily.


Many of these episodes could have been stopped. We know this because organizations, including Equifax, frequently note that they should have patched up the weak spot… but didn’t. To sum it up, businesses admit to suffering from security negligence.


Many of the recent cyberattacks involve data exfiltration – when hackers siphon out valuable intelligence from a business. Oftentimes the most insidious path is to go through the Domain Name System (DNS) – the way that Internet domain names are located and translated into IP addresses and vice versa. Cybercriminals manipulate the DNS protocol to act as a ‘file transfer’ protocol and by default is seen as legitimate. Most businesses don’t even know it is happening until it is too late. It’s like a leaky faucet – drops of confidential data coming out slowly and unnoticeably until there is enough to fill an entire bucket.


Recently, a global DNS threat report revealed that 76 percent of organizations (80% of businesses in the U.S.) have been subjected to a DNS attack in last 12 months with 28 percent suffering data theft. DNS attacks ranged from malware (36%) to DDoS attacks (30%) and DNS tunneling (20%). One fifth (19%) stated that in the last year they experienced five attacks or more, with most enduring between 11 and 15 separate attacks. The study also revealed that a large organization spends on average over $2 million per year fixing the damage caused by these attacks. The most shocking revelation was that almost ALL U.S. organizations (98%) did not apply the necessary security patches and only 86 percent applied half of the required patches on their DNS servers. There you have it: Security Negligence. Businesses are opening themselves up to risk each time they skip an update.


Every IT vendor releases patches – a lot of patches. Some are more critical to a business than others. Companies need to prioritize updates especially those that can protect a company’s intellectual and digital property. Organizations need to stop putting their primary efforts into maintaining systems that continue to fail against attacks – such as firewalls and virus scanning. An educational initiative about patching and the repercussions of certain failures must be embraced to shift the current mindset.


IT departments also need to change the way they secure the infrastructure, especially the DNS. Case in point, research points to the fact that IT departments that experienced a DNS attack took almost a full day to mitigate it – taking the affected part of the business offline for 6 hours or more. Isn’t that accomplishing exactly what a hacker set out to achieve? Organizations must amend their playbook and learn to play a stronger offense in this game of cybersecurity. Otherwise they can add their brand to the long list of names that have been hacked.



Source: B2C

A Guide: 9 Ways Your Personal Life Can Affect Your Startup

There are plenty of articles out there about how running a business can ruin your personal life, but not much about how your personal life can affect your business if you are the entrepreneur. When running a company, it’s especially difficult to find a balance between one’s work and personal life. With all the stress involved with running your own startup, it’s easy to forget that how you act outside the professional space affects how you perform inside the company, as well as the professional image you portray. Being mindful of how you behave outside of the office can greatly benefit you in your startup.


  1. Your communication skills

Even if you make it a point to use a more “professional” communication strategy in the office, hints of how you communicate with people in your normal life will eventually slip out in the professional sphere. This can be a good thing if you’re a friendly, outgoing person who has no problems expressing opinions or suggestions in a healthy way, but if you’re not, you might need to adjust how you communicate in your personal life if you want to create strong relationships with your clients, partners, and/or employees.


  1. How you manage problems

If you’re not able to face conflict, sadness, inconveniences, or even sometimes tragedy in your personal life, it will be hard for you to address these at work, too. Being the founder and director of a startup means that you have a very special attachment to the company, and sometimes the habits you have in your life outside of your job will translate to the business world. If you are great at addressing issues and finding a solution, this skill will help you a lot. Hard as it may be, you must also learn to deal with your personal problems outside of work and leave them at the door before starting your work each day.


  1. Who you surround yourself with

If you surround yourself with people who support you and your goals outside of your business, you will be more likely to hire people who will support your company and be happy to help it grow. Likewise, knowing you have a solid core group in your personal life (it could be just your parents) whom you trust and whom you can always fall back on for some kind of support will allow you to be more motivated to make your vision a reality. If you lack this support, it is easy to get discouraged and give up.


  1. Your image on social media

This is a tough one. On one hand, the independent, creative, individualistic nature of startups is what makes them so attractive. But on the other hand as the founder of the startup, it is you who is representing the company. If the message you send on one social media platform is wildly different from the one you send on another, all you’ll be communicating is a mixed message. You are an individual human with a personal life, but try to remember that you are the face of the startup and that anything you share online can be viewed by anyone.


  1. Your connections

This is a no-brainer. If you are great at making friends in your personal life, you have the ability to be great at professional networking. It’s a matter of attending the right events, getting to know the right people, and making the right people think you’re the right person too. And like friendships, professional relationships require care. You wouldn’t make a friend at a party once, never see or talk to them again, and expect them to do something for you later on right? The same thing goes for professional relationships.


  1. How you manage your time

If your friends or loved ones are always frustrated with you because you can never manage your time well enough to fit them into your busy schedule, you’re going to make the same mistakes with your career. Learn how to manage your time and balance your personal life with your work life. It just takes a little bit of prioritizing and planning. And trust me – the boss with no life is not a fun boss.


  1. How you manage your personal finances

As the owner, director, founder, etc. of your own startup, you are the one in charge of pretty much everything – finances included. If you have financial troubles in your personal life already, there is no time like the present to go and get a financial advisor. There’s also no better time than now to start saving money – this goes for your personal life and as the owner of a company.


  1. Who you’ve chosen as a partner

Your partner in your personal life can be a great asset to you as an entrepreneur. Not only can you greatly benefit from the emotional support you get from them, they typically are someone whose opinion you think highly of and can be a great person to ask for advice on some of the ideas you might have.


  1. The boundaries you set for your personal life and your work life

Although it’s extremely important to have a healthy, happy personal life in order to have the same in the workplace, this doesn’t mean you should give your significant other/best friend/mom 50% of shares in your company. Unless you actually started it together and trust this person as much as you trust yourself (because really, starting a company is like having a baby), leave the people you love outside of the workplace.


Keeping up a healthy personal life while trying to run a successful business is quite a daunting challenge already. Managing your time in and out of the office a difficult task as well, not to mention balancing the variety of relationships you’re bound to have in your life. But if you spend only a little of the amount of energy you spend on your company on improving yourself outside of the company, the improvements will definitely transfer to the workplace, and you’ll be glad you made the effort.



Source: B2C

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Solving Complex Challenges through B2B Customer Experience

customer experience challenge


“Our customer experience team really wants to make systemic and strategic changes that span the company, so we only tackle situations that our normal business-as-usual processes are not normally suited to tackle. Those tend to be situations that span multiple parts of the company, span multiple processes, and where there is no one that is holistically looking at a problem, that’s where our customer experience team steps in.”


Take a page from VMware’s playbook. In my 2015 Customer Experience Transformation talk show with Eric Wansong, VMware’s Vice President of Customer Advocacy, he explained how his team adds strategic value across all company departments. “To warrant the investment that the company is putting in our team, we need to be doing significant things to change the company, and to do significant things you have to involve multiple parts of the company, you have to create a collaborative situation to solve complex opportunities.”


Transformations this team has brokered within three short years include changes to their software development cycle, structure of R&D teams, and new product development positions focused on human factors and user experience (novel approaches for the company). Eric explained: “Behavioral change needs to first happen within. Prove yourself first, and that will ultimately improve the customer experience. You’ve just got to get to the root of a problem and it’s often very deep in the organization and not on the veneer. Only changing or improving the veneer that surrounds the company is a pretty fragile approach.”


My commentary: This is a departure from prevalent practices of many companies’ focus on changing customers’ behavior and on optimizing customer touch-points and customer-facing staff. VMware’s practices are a more strategic type of customer experience transformation relative to the typical one-by-one follow-up with customers who gave low survey ratings and single departments chipping away at voice-of-the-customer insights they unilaterally control. VMware does that, too, but the focus is on cross-functional transformation. While rare in today’s mainstream customer experience management practices, VMware’s approach is shared by several other companies. These firms comprised the best-practice profile in the four-year study conducted by ClearAction. Note: systemic means holistic, whereas systematic means step-by-step. Both are needed in customer experience management in order to produce sustained growth.


A major driver of VMware’s customer experience methodology is the fact that customers now own more than one product across the VMware portfolio of solutions. “Now as customer’s use cases span multiple VMware products, their desires of us are not just functionally-oriented but they are becoming more experience-oriented.”


Cascading Sponsorship & Action

“If you ask any leader here at VMware what they could do better, they probably have a list as long as their arm. There are time constraints, resource constraints, and financial constraints, so which ones do you tackle first? The biggest value that my team brings is saying ‘Here are the top two or three things that, if improved, would move the needle the most for our customers. Contextual information about the voice-of-the-customer helps to prioritize people’s thinking to change how programs are funded and resourced, and how projects are prioritized in response to that customer feedback.”


My commentary: Adding context to customer feedback ideally includes both internal and external data about what was going on in your operations and with competitors and other forces that preceded or accompanied customers’ perceptions. One of the best ways to do this is to present line graphs over time and super-impose contextual data on top of the customer feedback data. Percentages will be more compelling than averages because managers are motivated by seeing the size of their business that is at-risk or otherwise growing.


“After our analysis of our semi-annual relationship survey, the very first thing we do is we read out to our CEO and his leadership team. Then, based on the top drivers, we go out into the organization to the next level of leadership. We relay what was communicated to our executives, and we go into further levels of detail. Then we expand to every group within the company. So it is a cascade of information, and it typically takes about two months from the time the analysis is done.”


My commentary: A roadshow is a great way to build shared interpretations of customer insights. Cross-functional action planning workshops are one of the most powerful things you can do to inject customer-centricity into your culture, and simultaneously broker significant changes that your whole customer base will reward. After the first two or three roadshows you can train and coach people within each organization to conduct their own presentation as if you were there, in addition to driving progress within throughout the year.


“We’ve been doing this for close to three years now. First, we had to earn the trust and confidence of the executives that what we are doing is trustworthy and credible. Everything must be evidence based. Prioritizing top customer drivers of satisfaction and loyalty is key, keeps the company focused. Makes action planning easier. We often must bring disparate parts of the company together, for meaningful and systemic change to happen.”


My commentary: Prevention of issue recurrence is the best way to drive customer experience ROI. Recurring issues are costly for many reasons: as your customer base grows so does your servicing of these same old issues, they take a toll on employee productivity and satisfaction, and they erode customers’ trust and the hard work of your branding team, and they incur great remedial expenses by marketing and service in attempts to make up for what should have been done right the first time.


“This job and this organization is a privilege. VMware existed before our team was in place, and did very well. We are evidence of VMware’s commitment to continuous improvement and the growing importance of the customer experience. But, we must smartly use the money that’s being invested in this team by delivering value that is not already being delivered by another part of the company. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be a good user of corporate resources. Therefore, we uniquely solve complex, multi-faceted issues that require cross-company collaboration and coordination.”


Image licensed to ClearAction by Shutterstock.



Source: B2C

You Can Create Successful Digital Content With a Limited Budget — Here’s How We Did It

This is a Facebook ad I helped create for one of our clients.


An example of a Facebook ad


That’s actually Scott Patten, our VP of Strategy, in the photo. It’s funny how little you actually have to do to make a clean-looking ad. For us, we needed the product, a model, some iPhone photos, and wizardry in the photoshop effects department to create that ad. What we saw was that people want less of the unattainable outdoor lifestyle and more of what they typically see out on their own adventures. Here were the results:


Results of ad


The flashy, stylized shots work too, like this ad I also had a part in making.


Example of ad


My point is not that one side is better than the other. No, it’s that companies need to realize something about this new digital age and the people they’re trying to sell to: sometimes, just sometimes people want to see more content that mimics something they might see — or produce — in their everyday life. I’m seeing it everywhere: magazine cover-esque shots, impossibly clean gear, and UV filters. My life definitely doesn’t look like that. I’ve got a hole in my Osprey pack from when mice decided to raid my Cliff bar stash, my boots have pretty hefty sweat stains, and I typically leave foundation (the cosmetic kind) off my backpacking checklist. But that’s just me.


My overall experience in following these outdoor brands has led me to adopt these three guiding principles when marketing for outdoor brands:


  1. Approachability Over Prestige

  2. Utility Over Style

  3. Means Over Dreams

Diving into the first principle…


Approachability Over Prestige


Again, there’s nothing wrong with making your product look epic, but that’s not all it’s good for.


It’s all some companies ever do, though, and it’s frustrating for few reasons:


1. I feel too intimidated to interact with the product.


2. I feel like I’ll never get to the level of expert you’re looking for.


In fact, most people will only end up using your waterproof jacket or boots when the forecast shows rain tomorrow, so what use is it making your product solely for one buyer? My climbing backpack doubles as my work pack because I’d rather not spend the money on two packs, and it has all the features I’d want for both activities – even if it does smell a little funky…¯_(ツ)_/¯


When Patagonia rolled out their High Alpine Kit, they could’ve easily gone the route of making it out to be just for mountaineers. See for yourself.



Now, I still won’t buy the entire alpine kit, because I wouldn’t use it all, but Patagonia doesn’t require you buy the full kit. If you just want the sleeping bag, you can do that. And if you just want the base layer, you can snag that too. Here’s the moral of the story: Patagonia took a product that could’ve easily been reserved for only the most intense outdoorsmen and made it accessible to their entire audience base. Think about your own line of products and how you might be able to break out aspects of them to different audiences.


Utility Over Style


I get it. You’re hung up on how good or cool or sleek your product looks — but that’ll only last your consumer maybe one or two uses before a tear or stain shows up. They’re using it in the outdoors, after all. I would hardly recognize most of my gear if it was put up right next to its brand-new counterparts.


Here’s where Arc’teryx comes in clutch. How do you showcase every intended, and unintended, use of your product without actually doing it yourself? You go to your customers. What a brilliant idea, right? Here’s the execution:


Example of Arc’teryx website


While the rest of the world slaves away at incorporating technology to show how a product will look on a potential customer, Arc’teryx took a simple Instagram plug-in and showcased the many places you might take their jackets.


The reality is that you can’t predict every use your customer base might find with a product, but integrating something like photos of real customers using your gear helps a little in that department. It’s a win-win for both you and the customer, and that’s the goal after all, right?


Means Over Dreams


We didn’t originally have the budget to produce this kind of content. Instead, we took a long, hard look at how we were allocating those dollars and cut out areas we felt were out of alignment with the client’s goals. Instead of hiring expense-heavy talent, we took our in-house crew. Lucky for us, we had a team of people who loved the outdoors and owned some nice-ish DSLRs.


Point: You don’t need a studio or photographer to get the shots you’re looking for.


We planned staff retreats to trails far north — because who wouldn’t want a free trip out of the Arizona heat? We made time in the office to take shots of products for upcoming campaigns by using the floorspace in our office.


Author Tyler Norris taking photos


Did we naively think we could re-create some of the work that The North Face and Salomon produce? Of course. Then we came back to reality, outlined the shots we wanted, and the product worked out pretty well.


It’s not impossible to get there yourself — you just to have to look at your budgets, maybe find a photog friend who’s willing to help, and find a trail. That’s it.



Source: B2C

On Ice: Michelin/Tire Rack Winter Driving Experience

On the campus of the University of Notre Dame.


Winter Driving Experience: Kia Cadenza

Kia Cadenza sedans on ice. One fitted with all-season radials, the other with winter tires.


Think “winter driving school” and you might imagine yourself navigating switchbacks in the Rockies on studded tires or with all-season radials wrapped in chains. Indeed, how else might you learn whether a four-set of Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 tires will you keep you planted as you peer cautiously over the slimmest of all guard rails — the only thing separating you from a craggy precipice and an 8,000-foot vertical drop below?


Well, winter driving school can also be conducted indoors and while the experience is certainly different from outdoor programs, you can learn a lot about tire safety, including just how well winter tires work on icy roads. That’s something I learned recently when Tire Rack and Michelin teamed up to present a winter driving program on the grounds of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.


And despite an unusually humid and hot September day just as summer was giving way to fall, a team of journalists managed to experience treacherous driving conditions within the chilly confines of the Compton Family Ice Arena.


No, this wasn’t “Disney on Ice,” but something entirely different — the opportunity to compare two Kia-supplied products — Sportage SUVs and Cadenza sedans — and how each vehicle operates on the ice when outfitted with either OEM all-season radials or Michelin winter tires.


Find your recommended tire for winter driving in the US and Canada.


Tire Rack Tire Distributors


But first, some context about the event. When approached by a PR representative about the experience, I realized I was very familiar with the Michelin brand, but not so much with Tire Rack. A few years back when replacing tires for both vehicles, I went with two complete sets of Michelin radials, purchased at BJs, not Tire Rack. That I could have had tires shipped directly to my home never crossed my mind. Even if it had, I’m sure I would have thought that such shipments were limited to specialty tires and wheels, but I quickly learned otherwise while in Indiana.


Tire Rack is the largest distributor of tires in the US and is also headquartered in South Bend. On the other hand, French company Michelin’s North America headquarters is located in Greenville, South Carolina, where they also manufacture some of their tires. Michelin is an important client for Tire Rack, but they also stock tires from more than two dozen other brands, including Goodyear, Bridgestone, Hankook, Continental, and Cooper, to name a few. BF Goodrich, owned by Michelin, is another Tire Rack choice.


Notre Dame Stadium and a Curling Guest


The evening before the main event, our hosts treated us to a tour of one of the most important shrines on Notre Dame’s campus — that hallowed place wasn’t the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (a tour of the basilica was held separately the next day). Instead, our hosts pushed all the right buttons and used their pull to fling open the gates of Notre Dame Stadium just for our group.


Winter Driving Experience -- Touchdown Jesus

One of the most famous of all murals,
visible from Notre Dame Stadium.


What a pleasant surprise this was for everyone present, myself included — I grew up hearing tale after tale about the Fighting Irish from my Roman Catholic family and community. Many years later and I found myself at Notre Dame, standing on the same field where such legends as Knute Rockne, Joe Theismann, Raghib Ismail and Joe Montana had coached or played.


Immediately after our time on the field, we were shepherded to the stadium’s press boxes where dinner was served. What a terrific view of the stadium, the surrounding area and of a well-known mural popularly known as “Touchdown Jesus.”


While we were still consuming our appetizers, Michelin and Tire Rack introduced a celebrity of sorts — none other than Tom Howell, a 22-year-old man from New Jersey vying to represent the US men’s curling team at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, next February.


The affable Howell shared everything about the sport, including its origin, how the game worked and explained what the screaming teammate phenomenon was about. It turns out the hollering on ice has everything to do with giving players instructions as the 42-pound stone slides across the surface with sweepers working feverishly to ensure the rock comes to a rest in its proper place.


Curling may be the the most misunderstood of all Olympic sports — the next day Howell provided us with an on-the-ice demonstration, removing much of that frozen mystery.


Winter Driving Experience: Kia Sportage

These Kia Sportage utility vehicles were also tested at the Compton Family Ice Arena.


Winter Tires or Radials?


So, do you really need winter tires where you live? That was the general question as well as the overall thrust of what was officially known as the Michelin/Tire Rack Winter Driving Experience program.


For starters, if you live in Florida, Southern California or in any place in the US that never sees snow or experiences winter conditions, then that answer is clearly no. At the same time, if you live in an area that’s regularly assaulted by winter’s fury, then the answer is yes.


But there is a huge middle ground where winter tires can still prove beneficial and that’s in locations where average temperatures fall below 44 degrees Fahrenheit. We learned that winter tires are much more than snow tires as they provide improved grip on icy roads. Ice may form at 32 degrees, but it can hang around during warmer temperatures. Hit a patch of ice on radials and you may be in trouble.


Winter Driving Experience: Michelin Man

A touch of irony: Tom Howell gives Michelin Man pointers on how to play on ice.


Contrast that with winter tires placed at all four corners and you stand a far greater chance of avoiding a dangerous spin. In all road conditions, winter tires provide shorter braking distance on a variety of winter driving surfaces, ice included.


You can thank the science of improved tread pattern design and technologies for the superior grip as well as tread compounds engineered explicitly to handle snow and ice. And unlike snow tires of years past, winter tires are fine to drive on dry surfaces and at highway speeds — just install them on all four wheels to ensure even handling and ride comfort.


On the Ice


So, driving on ice is nothing new for me, although now that I’m living in central North Carolina, ice is a relatively uncommon event. Still, when it does arrive, I know to stay home — local roads are treated, but not as well as in my native New Jersey, which is firmly in the “get winter tires” belt.


Winter Driving Experience: Tire and Wheel

Wheel and tire combinations wrapped and ready for shipment.


Driving on an ice rink was something new for me and I hadn’t been on a rink of any sort since I was young. Our multiple tests involved driving SUVs on one rink followed by sedans on the other rink. One each of the two pairs of vehicles came with OEM tires (Kumho) — specifically radials — with the other two shod with Michelin winter tires.


Through our various driving scenarios, we were able to judge for ourselves just how well (or poorly) each tire type handled in a variety of driving situations, including acceleration, braking, and cornering. Most impressive were the shorter stopping distances of the winter tires, what will prove especially helpful when driving in heavy traffic on slick wintry roads.


Notably, the front-wheel drive Cadenza equipped with radials got off to a faster start than the winter tires, then followed by significant fishtailing. Keep in mind that you are not purchasing winter tires for performance, but for driving safety. One further note: Michelin recommends rotating your tires when you swap out your radials in the fall and again in the spring when you store your set of winter tires.


Parting Thoughts


I would be remiss if I failed to mention that our South Bend adventure concluded with a trip to the Tire Rack headquarters and warehouse where we witnessed firsthand how tires are distributed. Not to mention men were on forklifts nearly everywhere — moving pallets, pulling orders and sifting through stock. Specialty wheels, including some already set within tires, are also part of that stock.


The grand finale, though was the behind-the-scenes tour and driving experience of Tire Rack’s own test track. A pair of handsome BMW 435i Gran Coupes were on hand with instructors behind each wheel. After a brief lap orientation, we enjoyed our own wheel time. Did I say the tracks were wet from soaker spray? They were, which only added to the experience. Switchbacks, slaloms and tight corners beckoned, inviting us to push each Bimmer to the limits, supplying a fitting conclusion to this Michelin/Tire Rack event.


Winter Driving Experience: Tire Rack Track

Track time on the very wet Tire Rack track.



Disclaimer: The cost of this trip was funded by Tire Rack and Michelin, who provided air transportation, food, lodging and swag.



This article was originally published by Auto Trends Magazine.



Source: B2C

The Flip Side of AI/Machine Learning

GDJ / Pixabay


Everyone in sales and marketing is jumping on the AI/Machine Learning bandwagon. Mistakenly, too many think of these technologies as the silver bullet that will enable us magically to increase engagement, increase our ability to connect with customers, and fill the ever widening gaps in quota and revenue attainment.


Every day, I see dozens, if not more articles on the power of AI/Machine Learning in sales and marketing.


What is ironic, even comical, is most of the thinking is only about sales and marketing. I get the feeling these tools are the secret discovery of sales and marketing, that give us the edge on the customer.


It’s not surprising to see this. After all, sales and marketing have a propensity to be very self centered and internally focused. It’s always so difficult to put ourselves in the customers’ shoes or behind their desk to look at things from their point of view.


But just as we see great promise in leveraging AI/Machine Learning technologies to help us in engaging customers, doesn’t it stand to reason there is a great opportunity for our customers to apply and leverage AI/Machine Learning in their buying processes?


If I were a customer, one of the first applications would be to combat the overwhelming volume and outreach inflicted on us by sales and marketing. Stated differently, my AI will block your AI. Perhaps, I can “teach” the machine to only let in a select small number of communications that are meaningful and relevant to me.


Second, I would teach my AI to be insight developers–delivering unique insight about my business, my markets, my customers, my competitors, trends, issues in the markets that impact me. It could marry our internal operational performance, our strategies, our priorities, with signals from the outside world. Perhaps not giving solutions, but helping increase our awareness to opportunities and threats to our specific functions, and our business.


Third, I would simplify my web research, when I’m looking for answers. I’d expect my machine to cull, filter, interrogate, consolidate the things most impactful to me, freeing me up to focus on the things most meaningful to me.


Fourth, I would find a way to leverage AI within our buying group, to help us more effectively align our diverse priorities, goals, agendas and manage our buying process to more successful outcomes. I’d seek to extend this capability to drive greater success at internal problem solving/project success and internal effectiveness.


If I were an entrepreneur seeking to exploit the capabilities of AI/Machine Language, I wouldn’t waste my time with sales and marketing. The market is already too crowded, too fragmented. I’d focus on creating meaningful buying tools to help our customers be more successful in their own efforts? Doesn’t seem that anyone cares about our customers ability to exploit AI/Machine Learning.


Any VC’s reading this, contact me….I’ve got a notion of a business plan/solution.


Any smart data geeks/entrepreneurs interested in attacking a greenfield space, contact me, could be an interesting ride.



Source: B2C

Giving Your Employees A Path To Retirement Is Good For Your Company

Financially Stable Employees Are More Dependable


If you want to help employees learn about their personal finances, they need to know that they could be spending too much on goods and services [they] don’t need; or make savings in critical areas.


In America alone, personal debt averages more than $130,000 per household with debt. Now that’s going to impact your business. Sometimes employees will come to work even when they’re sick because they’ve got to pay that debt back. They may unknowingly spread a bug that knocks other employees out of commission, ultimately costing your business money.


Additionally, repossessions could force your employees out of a job, which is something else that’s surely intolerable. It’s reasonable to assume there is a certain quotient of cost your business must deal with in collateral expenses which result from debt-ridden employees. This can become especially pernicious if an employee doesn’t have any retirement plans.


When they’re working for your business without any idea where they’ll ultimately end up when they can no longer work, they may quit before your investment in them matures, or develop a substance issue through psychological dissonance based on age and uncertainty.


It turns out there may be a connection between financial issues, depression, and substance abuse. If you can help cure the primary instigator here—depression—through security financially, you may end the cycle. Sometimes, you can nip things in the bud by helping employees consolidate several small loans into a single payment through a personal loan, a practice that has been more present each day. There are a lot of options, and educating employees now will help them become secure in terms of later retirement.


First Things First: Where Does Your Business Stand?


Oftentimes there isn’t a retirement solution in place with new businesses. When you start doing well, savvy employees may ask whether you offer a 401(k) plan. If you’re a small enough business, you may not be able to afford this. There are smaller retirement plans out there, you may just have to look for them.



Get this part of your operational infrastructure figured out before you start educating employees, as this helps to give them a solid path toward success. Look for a flat fee organization offering such benefits; you should be able to find one that is affordable to your business and can keep employee costs at about .5%.


Helping Employees With Debt


With this ironed out, you can help your employees get their retirement plan in order by showing them statistics pertaining to real situations. For example, did you know the average amount of savings households are able to derive is only $2,500? That’s not enough for years of retirement; an individual in this situation is going to have to bend over backwards in order to make ends meet.


When you’ve got a better plan to offer, this endears your employees to your organization, as you’ve suddenly taken on a role as a saving agent. You’ll be able to mature and even reap benefit from your investment in them as living capital. They’ll stick around much longer if there’s pay going into a 401(k), or something of the kind.


Next, you want to appraise employees of debt relief solutions. You might have a special meeting during lax times in operations where employees can choose to attend whether than being out “on the floor”, or what-have-you.


If you follow strategies like these, you may be able to help stabilize the lives your employees. This has many collateral benefits, the finest of which being a reduction in expenses sent toward filling the hole employees leave when their financial troubles impact your business.



Source: B2C

Electronic Documents Aid in Disaster Recovery

ProSmile / Pixabay


I often talk about digital transformation as a way to help businesses preserve documents and streamline processes, but the customer experience is the driving force behind the transformation. And the customer experience goes beyond daily transactions – it extends to their personal life and the ability for the business to make the customer’s life easier in any way they can.


Each day, thousands of people are affected by some form of disaster. This time, disaster hit home for me and my family. Hurricane Harvey slammed Houston hard and it deeply affected my family and friends. From our family restaurant being in the line of destruction to seeing friends and family who needed assistance from local aid organizations, it was an eye-opening experience. I realized just how big of a role digital transformation can have in improving lives and experiences.


Even in the wake of natural disasters, it’s important that people can return to some sense of normalcy quickly. Electronic documents, forms, and processes can enable organizations to help people do just that. And not only help people but help people help people.


How Organizations Can Use Electronic Documents to Aid Efforts


Disaster relief is no small effort. It takes support from aid organizations on the national and local scale and requires thousands of man hours from volunteers as well as astounding amounts of tangible goods and cash. While many organizations are prepared to handle disaster recovery on a large scale, it’s still important that they continually streamline and adjust their processes to increase their support capacity and cut down on response time. Mobile technology, for example, is crucial to those efforts, and my colleague Dan Puterbaugh recently wrote about the important role it plays in a catastrophe.


In addition to mobile preparedness, electronic forms and documents are another, small way that national organizations are simplifying their processes so that they can serve more people faster. The Red Cross is an example of a relief organization using electronic forms and documents to efficiently facilitate their recovery efforts. Among the digital elements they’ve enabled to better serve their communities are electronic volunteer management tools. Electronic volunteer forms enable them to bring in volunteers quickly and without much overhead so that they can serve populations affected by disaster without the impediments of standard paperwork.


But it’s not just large organizations that benefit from electronic documents and digital processes. During the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, one of the local organizations on the ground, the Texas Lighthouse Charity Team, was able to pursue their mission uninterrupted because of digital processes they put in place ahead of time. From taking online donations to establishing a digital network of vendors and volunteers, the team provided life-saving relief, including emergency rescues and food deliveries, to those in need and extended their reach by enabling others to use their network to serve in other ways.


Even organizations that are not normally associated with disaster recovery can help ease the process for those affected. Banks that utilize electronic forms and documents can conduct better outreach to their customers in affected areas and ease the burden of making payments or conducting business while they are recovering. Electronic forms can help people apply for payment deferral, apply for financial support, and many other tasks that help ease the burden of recovery.


Document Preservation – A Small, but Critical Part of Recovery


Businesses are in a uniquely vulnerable position when disaster strikes. On one hand they are concerned with their personal welfare, but on the other they have to focus on continuing or preserving their business operations. Documents play a key role in daily operations for businesses to run and by using electronic document services, they enable operations to continue with minimal delay. They also allow businesses to protect their most important documents from natural elements out of their control, such as flood waters from a hurricane.


However, as I pointed out previously, automating forms and documents isn’t just for large organizations. Small businesses and organizations can leverage their power as well. For example, by creating digital forms for donations and volunteer sign up, local non-profits can make it easier for people wanting to help to give both financially and with their time.


Small businesses are often the most affected by disasters and digital transformation can be a large component of getting their business back up and running. Tasks such as payroll are often overlooked in digital transformation, but if you’re in the middle of disaster recovery and are unable to get out paper checks, your business and your employees will suffer when they need help the most. Automating your business processes, such as payroll, can keep everyone on track when times are hardest.


Electronic Documents Serve Organizations Large and Small


Many organizations are already using these technologies to better serve their clients and benefactors – some on a massive scale. Though electronic documents are a small piece of the puzzle, they can be an important step toward bringing normalcy back to those in need.


The Global Fund, a not-for-profit that mobilizes nearly $4 billion annually to fight the diseases, is speeding up delivery of life-saving medicine and assistance with help from Adobe Sign, an Adobe Document Cloud solution. When budgets and plans need to be executed on quickly, having digital document processes such as concurrent signatures and preserved formatting (via PDF) are critical to delivering aid. Having a digital process also enables the organization to complete recruiting activities in less than a day, which helps to staff the fast-growing areas where they serve.


Digital transformation is one of the key components of enabling organizations and businesses to deliver their services without interruption and allow them to serve a greater number of people in less time. Both characteristics that are crucial during disaster recovery.



Source: B2C

Monday, 16 October 2017

Public Relations Trends: How to Explode Your PR with Visuals

Public Relations Trends_ How to Explode Your PR with Visuals


Visual content is one of the public relations trends that has exploded recently. Put simply, if your content doesn’t include a visual component, you’re losing a huge chunk of your potential audience!


People are more visual than ever in their communications — think emojis, GIFs, and video calling. So it’s unsurprising that this has trickled down to business to business public relations and communications.


Yeah, sure, visuals may take extra effort, but you’ll be well-rewarded by journalists, bloggers, and prospects.


Why Are Visuals So Important?


Let’s break this down a little. Say you’re in front of a business’s physical door — what is more likely to draw you in? A long paper posted on the door, singing the company’s praises? Or a poster or some other visual showing how the business will improve your day-to-day professional life? Personally, the latter would engage me more — and I’m not alone!


Consider this stat: People process visuals 60,000 times faster than they process text. Add to this the fact that 65% of people today are visual learners, and that color visuals increase readership of a piece of content by a whopping 80%. It’s no wonder that visuals are one of the fastest growing PR trends in recent years!


These statistics show the powerful impact that visuals have on audiences. If you’re not using visuals, you’re only hurting yourself.


Visuals are intrinsically linked with human emotions.Tapping into those emotions is a key part of public relations, and an excellent way to boost such PR metrics as engagement and lead generation. Numerous studies have shown the effect of images — and even certain colors — on people’s actions and purchase decisions.


What kinds of eye-popping visuals can you use in your pr campaigns and other content? Here’s just a few examples of how you can get more visual:


  • Blog images

  • Graph or charts

  • Infographics

  • Videos

  • Product demos

Now that we’ve considered why visual content is important, let’s now look at 5 actionable ways to be more visual in your PR campaigns.


5 Visual Public Relations Trends That Will Make Your B2B Public Relations Pop


1. Use More Video


Video is a tool that gains more and more traction every year. However, some hesitate to implement it in public relations thinking the time and resources aren’t worth the effort. That belief couldn’t be more wrong.


With the prevalence of smartphones, tablets, and new technology, making video has never been easier. Shoot short segments from your phone or tablet, and use inexpensive software or apps like Powtoon or Animoto to transform your footage into a professional-quality masterpiece.


Would you like to learn how to do a PR campaign that leverages video? Consider some of the ways you can use video to draw in prospects and customers?


  • Product demos

  • How-to segments and tutorials

  • Audience Q and A

  • Behind-the-scenes tour

  • Case studies

Consider this example from Salesforce. Their customer success story really comes to life in this case study video. What would have otherwise been just words on a page pulls at our heartstrings with a real customer’s voice, professional-quality video graphics, and appropriate background music.



Let’s now take a look at another example from HubSpot. Here this inbound marketing company shows exactly how to do a PR campaign with video. Their use of fun animation to overlay their real-life video underscores the importance of their point — that the marketing scene is changing, and companies need to get on board.



2. Include Visuals in Your Pitch


This PR trend even ripples out to how you engage with journalists.


Journalists are often under a tight time crunch to produce articles that will speak to their audience on an emotional level. Visuals help them to do so. When they come across pitches with no visual content to speak of, they’re looking at a tighter time crunch to write the story and produce their own visual content.


Whenever you assemble your pitch, think about how to make it more visually accessible. Do you have stats and figures that can be conveyed in a chart or graph? If it’s a product launch, do you have how-to videos that explain your product in an engaging way? Can you create a colorful infographic that summarizes the key points of your pitch?


However you choose to do it, visual content has a vital place within your press release. Journalists have been known to work with companies repeatedly based solely on the visual content they receive.


Rather than simply inundate a journalist with video content, we recommend asking permission as part of your pitch. Simply mention that you have an infographic or whateve your visual element is, and say you’d be happy to share it.


When you do send it, ensure that your visual content is easily accessible. Double check every downloadable link. Make sure that content is sized appropriately to send via email. And everything should be sized appropriately for journalists and bloggers to use right away.


Take IBM as a superb example of this. Not too long ago they released a news release unveling its first-ever global trade digitization solution. The company’s news release not only clearly identifed contact information and resources, but also included the following infographic to underscore the impact of the solution on industry.


Infographic The Paper Trail of a Shipping Container.jpg


3. Branding


Every visual you create — from infographics to video — gives you a branding opportunity. Visual content is great way to slip your brand’s logo and coloring into your message. Every piece of visual content should represent your brand well, no matter where it is posted or who reads it.


Consistency across all of your visual content is another key to successful branding. From blog images to infographics, your visuals have the power to engage.


Emarketer is a great example as the research firm uses its charts and graphs to imprint its brand on its audience.. Every chart or graph is immediately recognizable in terms of its red and black design — just check this one out.


Chart From eMarketing.gif


4. Use Colors Wisely


Colors have the potential to impact your audience — in good ways as well as bad. The colors you choose can make the difference between a click-through or a pass. They even have the power to influence purchase decisions.


So how can you wield that power successfully? Learn more about the psychology of colors and how they impact your audience.


Choose what message you want to convey to your audience. For example, green is often associated with competence, reliability, and intelligence. Red, on the other hand, is often associated with exciting, trendy, and cool.


Take this logo from Salesforce as an example. Blue is often associated with sophistication and class — the kind of confidence and attitude that a cloud computing company like Salesforce would want to portray.


salesforce-logo.png


Or consider this logo from Recast Energy, an energy company that focuses on turning biomass into green electricity and thermal energy for industrial businesses. Its two-tone green logo plays off of the energy field that they operate wtihin, and highlights its go-green initiatives. Plus, it imprints a sense of competence and reliability that customers look for in energy companies.


Recast Energy.png


5. Always Be Honest


None of us like click-bait — it’s dishonest and downright frustrating! So don’t do the same thing with your images.


You wouldn’t write a title that had nothing to do with your blog. So why would you create an image that was misleading or even completely misrepresented your topic?


Choose images that complement your written content.


This shouldn’t quelch your creativity or the emotional impact of the image on your audience. For example, say that you’re a B2B financial institution with a blog post on 10 Wise Business Spending Practices in Today’s Economy. You could choose an image for that blog that resonates with the pain points of your audience — the stress and worry that budgets and spending create for business owners.


On the other hand, an image of a businessman in a gigantic pool of money might misrepresent the overall message of your post. Think about what your image portrays in the first glance, and if that’s not your intended message, change it.


Key Points to Remember…


  • People process visuals faster and more effectively than text

  • The colors you choose can have a major impact on the purchase decisions of your audience

  • Use video to present product demos, tutorials, case studies, and more.

  • Always include your brand’s logo on every piece of visual content.

These public relations trends are just a hint of how visual content is exploding in the world of business to business public relations. How do you plan on taking advantage of this trend?




Source: B2C

Why You Need To Create Great Content Your Customers Will Trust

Your website has a tough job. It must appeal to your site visitors in a way that encourages engagement and moves those visitors toward action, and it must do this without necessarily knowing anything about your visitors when they first arrive.


It must appeal to your site visitors in a way that encourages engagement and moves those visitors toward action, and it must do this without necessarily knowing anything about your visitors.


Once a visitor has been on your blog or connected with you via social media or email, you have much more information to work with — assuming you have good CRM and marketing automation tools in place.


But even without that information, your site needs to do the following:


  • Address prospects’ problems or pain points

  • Educate

  • Demonstrate your experience and expertise

  • Prove effectiveness of your solutions

  • Build trust

  • Provide a way to reach you

With all that is required of an effective marketing website, the planning and strategy that go into the site before the first line of code is written will have an enormous impact on how well your site performs. The tips below will make the process more productive.


Good Website Copy will Make or Break You


When it comes to content marketing, having great website content can make or break all of your marketing efforts.


You not only have to create copy that resonates with your current customers but you also have to keep your future customers in mind.


With only a few seconds to grab website visitors’ attention, your website content needs to tell a story that engages, adds insight and educate your visitors. Copy should be memorable, thought-provoking, useful, and interesting.



If you can’t capture your visitors’ interest, they will quickly leave your site to go to your competitors.



To get you on the path to writing great website content that your future customers will love, I’ve outlined a few tips below.


Focus on Your Customers’ Interests


When people are seeking information online it’s to find answers, to relieve their pain points or solve a problem.


problem

HypnoArt / Pixabay


Website copy needs to address the questions that your visitors have.


You need to anticipate their needs and focus all of your content on the reasons why these visitors are coming to your site in the first place. So, while you’re writing copy, take yourself out of the equation and focus on the future customers that might be reading it instead. There should be more “you” than “we” in your writing.


Take yourself out of the equation and focus on the future customers and focus on your customer’s needs and what they are looking to read instead. Your website copy and blog articles should be more about the customer and their problems and pain points than about you.


Let’s be honest; no one cares about you or your brand.


Accuracy is a Must


Factual mistakes, half-truths, and outright misleading information can and will do real damage to your company’s reputation.


You’re putting out information to be known as a thought leader; if your content isn’t correct, you’ll be known as the opposite: as a company that people can’t and will not trust.


Accuracy is critical with grammar and spelling. You don’t want preventable and dumb mistakes to make you look bad, so have someone else proofread content before uploading it to your website.


Put Thought into Your Headlines


Your headline is the first glimmer of information that your website visitors will see.


The headline needs to capture their interest and make them click on your link to read more.


You want to excite and engage them.


The headline maybe the sole reason someone decides to read your content or not.


You need to make sure your headline is actually related to the information you’ve written on your page—no one wants to feel like he or she was tricked into coming to your website with a click-bait headline.


Originality Matters


Creating original content will not only help you with your search engine rankings, but your visitors will appreciate it too. Rehashing the same old ideas and concepts as your competitors won’t help you stand out in the crowd. No one will seek out your information if he or she has heard it all before.


Rehashing the same old ideas and concepts as your competitors won’t help you stand out in the crowd. No one will look at you as a thought leader if your information if they have heard it all before.


Bring Value


education

Hermann / Pixabay


Unless information is useful to the reader, what’s the point of writing it? Your website content should be educational, so your readers can learn from it. After all, they’re seeking out information so they can become more knowledgeable. It should also be actionable, with tips and advice that they can apply to their own lives—but without telling them what to do. Simply writing down your thoughts without truly thinking about how valuable it is, will be a waste of time and resources.


Your website content should be educational, so your readers can learn from it. It should solve a pain point or assist with managing a problem.


People are seeking information so they can become more knowledgeable and make better, more informed decisions.


Content should also be actionable, with tips and advice that they can apply to their own lives—but


without telling them what to do.


Simply writing down your thoughts without truly thinking about how valuable it will be a waste of time and resources.


Use Different Mediums


Not everyone wants to read a blog post to figure out an answer to a question.


Some people would rather watch videos, view infographics, or listen to podcasts to gain knowledge.


So when you create website content, mix up your delivery methods so you can target as the many types of learners as possible.


Gain Traffic with Great Content


Poor quality and misinformation on website content will get you nowhere. In fact, it will damage your reputation, potentially permanently.


Taking the easy path and not putting in the time and effort it requires to create awesome content won’t attract and entice your future customers. To gain traffic, your website content needs to be exceptional, so focus on your future customers, pay attention to headlines, be original, provide value, and create different types of content.


To gain traffic, your website content needs to be exceptional.


Focus on your future customers, pay attention to recent headlines, blog comments and similar for ideas of what their pain points are.


Most of all, be original, provide value, and create different types of content.


Ask for Action



Every page of your website should lead naturally toward one thing: the next step in the buyer’s journey.



That might simply be the next page on the site, subscribing to an email or newsletter, downloading a white paper or eventually reaching out for contact with your sales team.


The difficult task here is balancing the need to maintain this tight focus while also presenting the visitor with reasonable options for their next steps. Again, planning and strategy will determine what those options should be and how they should be presented.


If you’re successful at defining success, moving prospects toward that end goal and giving them opportunities to engage and commit, you will have created all the elements for success.


You’ll have a content marketing site that converts visitors to subscribers, subscribers to leads and leads to clients.



Source: B2C