Did I miss another memo?

‘What do you know about content marketing?’

Those of us with a background in marketing have been watching as the discipline changes and adapts over the years. But, recently, I have the feeling I missed another memo, this time about content marketing. When did outbound become unfashionable and inbound become the ‘in’ thing?

I don’t think any of us have missed the memo, if I’m honest. Content marketing is becoming ‘the big thing’ for marketers today. A lot of companies are adopting an inbound/content marketing strategy today, next year it’s likely to be mainstream for all* B2B companies

I recently attended an event about content marketing where the presenter, Stan Woods of Velocity Partners, talked about the changes in buyer behaviour driving this change. He shows us a video which contained some amazing facts and figures to back this up and then went through some great examples of how to make content marketing work for your company. The lightbulb moment for me was talking about getting marketing off the rails. You know the kind of marketing I mean, when a company broadcasts why it thinks its products are fantastic and why everyone should agree… Content marketing is the kind of marketing I’ve always believed in. The kind I’ve always tried to do. And now, it seems, it’s the ‘revolution’ we need to help our companies survive.

The big mindset shift has yet to come with companies who are bound to their product release schedules. Can they really get to the point where they understand what a content marketing strategy is and why ‘me, me, me’ or ‘me too’ marketing won’t work anymore?

Buyers will research products, benefits, features, pricing, customers and reputation before they purchase. Your press release or advert won’t necessarily tip the balance in your favour, but showing your expertise, demonstrating value and having a ‘voice’ in the market, will.

The secrets of success? Creating great content is a must. Having outstanding copy is a must. Utilising analytics is a must. Understanding your customers is a must.

There’s still much to learn as content marketing evolves, but I’m ready. And, no, I didn’t miss the memo! I’m passionate about the change, I’m happy I’m involved and looking forward to what’s next in marketing.

Stan ended his presentation with the following words of wisdom: ‘We’re only as good as our last piece of content.’ How very true!

*all being my view of the world.

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The Social Media Debate

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ represent a growing number of social media/social networking sites. Whether you like them and use them or not is irrelevant, their growth and popularity shows they are here to stay. When I was a fresh-faced graduate the chatter was about having an email address. Networking within an office was unheard of and sending an email to someone sitting at the desk opposite wasn’t the done thing. But today, everything is shared, communicated, written, developed and discussed using social networks – both from personal and professional perspectives. And so the lines blur between our personal and professional lives. Where do we draw the line? Both from a business and an individual perspective?

Recently there have been a few headlines about handing over a Facebook ID and password prior to interview. Should Facebook have any bearing on your job prospects? And Twitter? When I joined my previous company I was already Tweeting about everything to do with marketing. It was my ID, my followers, my network and therefore nothing to do with my company, right? I was happy to carry on Tweeting about my exploits in marketing but was always careful to keep my company’s name out of it. My ID, my decision. But, if your company encourages you to Tweet about your company from your ID and you build followers on that basis the lines become blurred. Who really owns the ID? The legalities of ownership are being challenged in the courts as companies seek to make the very best from the rise and rise of social media.

As a marketer, I want to encourage my team to Tweet, to use LinkedIn to engage, share content and to build relationships. I would argue that if you build Twitter followers as a result of interesting, thought-provoking, humorous or fun Tweets, then those followers really won’t care where you work. They follow you, the individual. But what does your company think? Can your company influence your Tweets (or other social media interactions) to enhance its own reputation? Is it OK for your company to take advantage of your followers, your reputation and your relationships?

Does your company have a social media policy? Have you read it? Do you understand the limitations of what you can / can’t Tweet about from a work perspective? Does your marketing team provide you with Tweets that you are encouraged to share? Do you retweet your colleagues? Or comment regularly on LinkedIn groups?

All of these questions have been posed recently by various people, groups, associations and companies. Who has all of the answers? There isn’t one definitive policy that covers these. So, for the moment, be mindful of what you Tweet, where, when and how much you talk about your company. ‘Social’ is here to stay. What you say today on the Internet won’t just go away tomorrow – it too is here to stay.

Mobile Marketing: huh?

Mobile Marketing is a term that conjures up many different opinions when you ask people what it means to them. Ask them what return they want from it and those opinions differ too. With consumers and businesses making use of smartphones and iPads to access websites and a plethora of apps wherever and whenever they choose, getting your mobile marketing strategy right is becoming more and more important.

You have a website already and you’re ready to think about mobile, so what next? To app or not, that is the question.

If you have a website, review your digital strategy before you jump in with an app. Think about what your website does today, how and where people use it and the journey you want to take people on. Does your website achieve the objectives you have set for it? What would an app deliver in addition to what your website does today?

Apps are cool. The devices we use to access them are cool. But, does that justify the development expense? Or ongoing costs for new versions? How will you show a return? For most of us with a responsibility to show return on investment (ROI) it will come down to results.

Rather than building an app to it is better to ask ‘whether your website is mobile friendly or not’? Does it play well on multiple formats? Has it been designed with the customer in mind? Do you give your customers a single view regardless of how that customer interacts with your company? If we don’t deliver what the customers what to see, in a format that they prefer, we lose out.

When it comes to your digital strategy, think about that you want to get out of your website and the journey you’ll take customers on. Cool comes later.