Tag Archives: marketing

The Missing Piece in Content Marketing

Lisa Dennis Content Marketing“While content marketing is one of the most effective and interesting marketing tactics to come down the pike, I have to confess that I have a bone to pick with it.  Content marketing isn’t only about marketing.  While marketers have all the responsibility for strategy, creation and execution, which is no small thing, there is another very important aspect that’s missing…”

I recently wrote this while pondering the strengths and weaknesses of content marketing, and why it has not been fully embraced by sales people.  I came up with a few ideas on the matter that I’d like to share with you.

Click here to read my entire article on TechTarget’s Mktr2Mktr site.  Thanks!

We’ve Been Busy…

Lately, we’ve been asked by customers, partners and colleagues pretty frequently about what kinds of things we’ve been working on.  We’re usually so busy creating, developing and delivering, we rarely take the time to share what we’ve been up to.  Here’s a taste of how we have helped our customers over the past twelve months.  Perhaps it will give you some ideas on new ways to tackle your own markets in 2015. We’ve had the privilege to work with some amazing companies to help do amazing things.  Give us a call – we’re happy to share more detail. 

Value Proposition Development: We worked with a global leader of next-generation information technology services and solutions to help them develop a compelling value propositionval prop mirror (3) platform for a new workplace solution tailored to different workstyles, including deskless workers, innovators, knowledge workers and more. We conducted a two day workshop, bringing together teams from product development, marketing, strategy, sales, analyst relations, and others to collaboratively develop a value proposition for the services category, as well as the individual workstyles. Post workshop, we worked with key individuals through virtual editorial sessions to fully develop, refine and test the messaging.  Outputs included a set of highly differentiated value proposition statements, top customer value drivers, quantification of those drivers, and proof points.  We then moved into a subset of vertical markets to customize the messaging platform for selected industries. 

Value Proposition Coaching: We helped a SMB Insides Sales Training company develop a new value proposition to better leverage their name and more clearly differentiate themselves in a noisy and competitive market.  In this project, we provided them with modular orientation and tools to draft each piece of the value proposition platform.  Then we reviewed and coached them through the development process.  This enabled them to create, iterate and develop a new messaging platform semi-independently, with the benefit of expert guidance and input. According to the customer, the live coaching was a value-add that enabled them to go further with the creation process than they had previously been able to on their own.

Digital Content Assessment:  Working in tandem with one of our partners, we conducted a number of digital content assessments over the past year, evaluating anywhere from  15 to over 100 content assets across a set of best practice content attributes developed and market tested by our partner. With each project, we simultaneously surveyed technology buyers in each customer’s specific target market space. Upon completion of the assessment and the survey, we then compared the results to reveal the strengths, weaknesses, gaps and opportunities of their current content asset array, and how they mapped to their buyers’ content preferences.  We also provided a set of recommendations on the top ten assets across the set, as well as ideas for content improvements, extensions, and new assets.  The end result of these projects was a digital content road map for each client to use to refine, better leverage and improve their content marketing mix to drive better target engagement.

Account Based Marketing: This year we became certified in a partner’s Account Based Marketing methodology and started jointly delivering this program to clients.  Our first engagement was with the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors. Together we worked on a single strategic account to develop a highly customized account based campaign plan.  The program included advanced research, a workshop with the account team, marketing and product management.  Together we build a set of account imperatives (business, operational and IT based) around which we crafted potential plays to address each imperative.  Finally we created a campaign plan for each selected play to drive these new messages and enable the account team to have deeper, more solution oriented conversations to uncover and drive deeper account penetration and revenue.

conf speaker (3)Sales Enablement and Sales Kickoff Training: We built a sales enablement program for a mid-market integrated marketing services and solution company to help drive evolution in their sales team from selling predominantly print  and promotional materials to adding interactive services (digital, web, social).  This was phase 2 of a two year effort to bring the sales team up to speed in this new arena.  The program included developing a new Discovery Model geared to prospecting within existing accounts for new interactive marketing opportunities, a bundled offering strategy with sales enablement tools to help sales more easily integrate interactive services into their selling mix.  The program was initially piloted for three months with a select set of account executives, and then rolled out to the entire national sales team at their annual sales kick-off meeting. The effort t included two workshops, sales tools (Quick Reference Guides, Offering Brochures, Discovery Model, Discovery Questions), and a post training coaching program.

Strategic Content Development:  Working with a partner, we developed a set of branded content components for a global Fortune 100 technology company.  The content was used in a multi-touch campaign for a key solutions offering to drive multi-country lead generation.  Working with their subject matter experts, we developed and executed an industry survey aimed at vice presidents of IT Infrastructure and IT Operations.  The results of the survey were utilized to craft messaging in the development of an infographic, an interactive white paper, and a branded interactive assessment tool to be used by the customer’s prospect audience.  All asset and activities focused on two things: the insight of buyers, and their current adoption status, plans and expectations around potential benefits. The content was translated into 11 languages – providing the means to execute this multi-touch program globally.

New Product Launch: We helped a global information company to execute a fast-track pre-launch of the world’s largest online information source for news, insight, content and community for engineers and technical professionals.  This fast-track project demanded a 4 week turnaround of sales content while the product itself, simultaneously, was in concept development. The goal was to be able to pre-launch to their top partners at one of the most important annual trade shows in their market space.  Launch materials included value proposition development, a high-level product sheet, an internal product briefing presentation, an external partner presentation deck, and a product FAQ.

As we dive head-first into 2015, it makes sense to jump-start your sales program now, so it pays off at the end of the year.  Let’s talk.

   — Lisa Dennis

Business Tip: Don’t Annoy Your Customers!

angry businessmanI recently read an interesting article called 10 Surefire Ways To Annoy Your Customers.

As I reviewed each of the 10 ways, I was easily able to identify a company or two that fell into at least one category.  Some pretty prominent ones, too.

In the rush to get campaigns out there, and execute, execute, execute, these blunders get skipped, or not planned for.  Check them out – is YOUR organization inadvertently making your customers and prospects annoyed?

If so, cut it out!  Correct these errors now!  Don’t wait until you notice customer defections!


— Lisa Dennis

Science or Marketing?

I recently read an interesting article titled Engagement Energy: 10 Ways to Power Up Sales and Marketing to Capture Attention and Drive Action, that looks at engagement as “activating the brain” of the desired target.  This is based on psychology and neuro-science – but sounds like smart, externally focused marketing to me!

MyTop 5 of their Top 10:

1.  Ask questions

2.  Present problems

3.  Tell stories

4.  Paint Pictures

10. Add WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)

The full article is posted on MarketingProfs.com, and you will need a (free) log-in to read it in its entirety.  Well worth it, and if you’re a marketer, you should already be a member of this site. Lots of great ideas and resources here!

Lisa Dennis

All I Want for Christmas is… a customer-focused value proposition?

Some of you in reading this will question whether what I’m proposing is really a marketing responsibility or a sales responsibility. But the point is that the buying climate out there is forcing marketing and sellers to engage and partner more closely than ever before. It takes a village of marketing and salespeople to land and keep happy customers. Marketing has the power and expertise to lead the way on that journey.  So please read this and let me know what you think!

• Customer-focused value proposition that clearly states the prospect’s challenge or goal, your company’s specific offer to address it, and what differentiates your offer from available alternatives;

• Customer-focused benefits (not features) tailored to individual personas/titles of target prospects;

• List of key value drivers that guide the prospect’s decision process, quantified with verifiable proof (customer testimonials, case studies, or third party validation). Qualification tools make all the difference in streamlining the sales process and driving closeable opportunities into the pipeline. While it is sales’ job to qualify, there is a role for marketing to play in driving the process.

• Create a “Prospect Fit Index,” which provides an easy and consistent method for sales to determine whether a prospect is worth pursuing. The index should outline what is a poor fit versus an optimal fit based on a set of 5–7 key criteria that describe the best and closable sales targets for your products or services. Any prospect can be quickly assessed or scored based on where they map across the index.

• Develop a lead measurement tool that allows both marketing and sales to score a lead to be able to assess the quality of leads coming in, and to determine which leads should be pursued versus nurtured until they are ready to go to sales.

Oh yes, there is more!  Click here to continue.

Dear Everybody – Sales & Marketing Letters

Marketing and sales writing needs to be written for the masses but sound like it’s written for the individual.

We want to be sure it’s not too long, but not too short.  Does it cover all the key points, and include a call-to-action?

While we too often focus on correctness – we need to spend more time on what actually generates response.  Personal, prospect-focused, informational content will get letters read. Understanding what your specific target is motivated by personally will increase readability as well.  Include proof of what you say – third party, objective proof that your offer has real utility that is true and documented.

In other words, write a letter to me, not to everyone you know.

— Lisa Dennis

PS – Peter Shankman coincidentally addressed this very issue in his blog recently – as usual, he hits the nail on the head.

Are Generic Testimonials Any Good?

As a "valued customer," I was recently asked by VistaPrint if I would be willing to provide a testimonial.  I'm a big believer in the power of testimonials.  Because I have used the service many times in the past, I said yes.  I think there is a bit of an art to getting and giving a good strong testimonial.  So, I took the time to write a meaty one with some specific points that I thought would make it more powerful.  Here is what I submitted:

Quick turnaround, great quality, and low cost is always a winner. But service is the glue that makes things stick.  VistaPrint has been a terrific resource for both my company and my clients.  I’ve used the service to produce materials for my own business – but being in the marketing services arena, I’ve also had needs for my clients that need to be addressed.  Everything I’ve done for them using VistaPrint has turned out perfectly.  Tracking and service have been great. And the ability to go to production when I want to, at any time of the day or night, has been key. I’m submitting another customer order next week! The website is well designed and very easy to use.  I’ve been using VistaPrint for several years and will continue to turn to you to help me deliver high quality work.

Now, I'm both a marketer and seller, and think I do understand the need for getting to the point.  But I also know that many testimonials could be said by anyone – and often don't have specifics that sound like they came from an actual customer.  The last think you want is someone asking "did the customer really write this, or did the marketing department do it?" 

VistaPrint later got back to me and said they, "wanted to thank you for your reply and interest in becoming a VistaPrint customer testimonial! We’re thrilled with the overwhelming number of replies and are enjoying reading all the comments.  I’m interested in using your quote and will be in touch with you again soon, as we work out the details."

So far so good.  When something nice is said about you, mom always says to say thank-you quickly and enthusiastically. Two weeks later, they got back to me with an edited version of my quote for approval.  Due to space limitations, they wanted to use some pieces of the original quote.  So the new quote looked like this:

Quick turnaround, great quality, and low cost is always a winner.  But service is the glue that makes things stick.  VistaPrint has been a terrific resource for both my company and clients.  I've been using VistaPrint for several years and will continue to turn to you to help deliver high quality work.

We marketers love to edit, it's true. But sometimes we go too far.  Take a quick quiz with me.  If you remove the name "VistaPrint" can you actually tell what the company does?  Hmmm. How many other companies do you think could use the exact same quote? 

So instead of approving it as is, I commented on the heavy editing, and the issue of boiling it down so it sounded generic, and invited them to take the same quiz.  I also asked them to correct the misspelling of my company name after the quote.  (a DEFINITE testimonial No-No!)  I approved it as is if generic was their goal, but suggested they reconsider.  They responded diligently and said they were sorry and wished they could use the full quote, but had a 300 character limit (which they never informed me of in the original request).   They might have another spot for it, but would have to talk to their developers about it.  (Marketing & IT – that's a whole other post!)  They invited me to re-edit or or submit a new quote.  All of that sounds reasonable, but as a customer who took the time to actually write a testimonial, it was a bit of a turn-off.  A testimonial should speak to what the customer experience was like – specifically.  The important part of the quote was the description of my experience: 

Everything I’ve done for them (my customers) using VistaPrint has turned out perfectly.  Tracking and service have been great. And the ability to go to production when I want to, at any time of the day or night, has been key. I’m submitting another customer order next week! The website is well designed and very easy to use.

Instead they latched onto the basics:  Quick turnaround, great quality, and low cost. Is that enough?  Maybe for some – but as a customer myself, it's not the whole enchilada.  So, as you think about your own customers, and how they might read and write a testimonial for you – what's important?  The experience of being a customer, or the standard and generic descriptors that anyone could say about any company?  I know what gets my vote!  So, I dare you:  take your company name out of your testimonials.  Would they apply to Joe's Pizza just as well as to your company? 

  –Lisa Dennis

Apple – A Company that “Gets” Its Customers

While we are not currently Mac or iPod or iPhone users, we have a lot of respect for companies that focus on their customers, and inspire loyalty from them. 

Fellow blogger Rich McIver, in his blog InsideCRM, writes about this in his entry 12 Effective Strategies Apple Uses to Create Loyal CustomersHe discusses some of the techniques used by Apple to create customer evangelists.

    — Chuck Dennis

The Colonel and the Pope

Recently, global fast-food chain KFC decided to offer a fish sandwich during the period of Lent (the forty day period of Christian fasting that precedes Easter).  Not satisfied by merely cashing in on a religious holy period, KFC has requested a blessing of their fish sandwich from the Pope!  Holy Endorsements!

Now, certainly, I can see the marketing appeal for hard-core Catholics, but could this have a reverse effect on Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Devil-worshipers, Atheists, Agnostics, and members of the Saint John Coltrane Church?  And anyone else who does not see the Pope as an infallible entity?  I mean, how much sense does it make for a fast food chain, or any secular business, really, to draw a line in the sand and ask for a Papal endorsement?  You run the risk of alienating as many, if not more, people than you attract.

And, not to delve too deeply into religious matters, but what does it say to Catholics everywhere if the Pope does offer his endorsement to the KFC fish sandwich?  Can we expect to see a Nike Swoosh symbol on his mitre?  Stock car-like logos all over the Popemobile?  This is a slippery slope, and I am surprised at KFC for even venturing to ask the Pope for such an endorsement, and I am surprised that the Pope’s office has not immediately and categorically refused the request.

  — Chuck Dennis

Homophobia Sells???

A while back, in this space, I commented on the Dodge commercial with the little Tinkerbell type character who flew around, changing big powerful things into cute things, but she couldn’t change the Dodge automobile, which apparently was so tough that the blast from her magic wand knocked her into a brick wall, where a tough-looking guy laughed at her, calling her a silly little fairy.  She then zapped him into a wearing a matching sweater and shorts ensemble, and changed his macho dog into a group of three pekingnese or poodles, as he squealed "Ohhhhhh!"

Well, apparently, Madison Avenue still thinks homophobia is a big hoot, and will sell product.  During the Super Bowl a few days ago, where companies roll out their big money commercials, the Mars candy company ran a commercial for their Snickers brand candy bar.  The ad had two big burly guys working under the hood of a car.  One guy popped a Snickers in his mouth while working, and the other guy was so enamored with the candy bar that he bit the other end of it.  Then both guys proceeded to take bites of the candy bar until it was all consumed, and their lips briefly touched.  They were horrified when they realized what had happened, and decided they needed to do something "manly" to compensate for this accidental buss.  So they decided to rip out handfuls of their chest hair.

Curious.  Is this funny?  Is it zany?  Is the thought of two men kissing so preposterous to some ad writers, producers, and executives, that they think it will sell candy bars?  I continue to be stunned that in this day and age, homophobic ads still get written, and more incredibly, produced and approved, for airing on national TV.  And for the Super Bowl, where millions are viewing, and the ads cost gazillions of dollars… what genius decided that Snickers would do well to be known as they official candy bar for homophobes? 

Political correctness aside, is it good business to alienate anyone? 

Tonight, I heard on the news that Mars has pulled the ad.  I did not hear that any apology was given. http://money.cnn.com/2007/02/06/news/companies/snickers/?postversion=2007020614  Basically, all they had to say was that the intent was not to offend.  Wonder what the intent was?

  — Chuck Dennis

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