Content Matters

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Archive for January, 2013

What Is the value of a case study?

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Customers are risk-averse.  They want a proof of value before they buy

Case studies are one of the most effective forms of marketing content. People feel more confident about a  product or service when they can see demonstrable results from someone who ‘was there before them.”. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Paint a picture or tell a story about a customer success, and you reinforce your marketing messages and brand image.

Customer testimonials and success stories have been a component of marketing for centuries. No matter what your brand promise, no one wants to be the first to step forward and try something unproven. Even the earliest of early adopters don’t want to pay to be guinea pigs for something unproven. Case studies provide a degree of assurance, demonstrating the potential value of a solution, with the understanding that “your mileage may vary.”

I always think of Geoffrey Moore of the Chasm Group and author of Crossing the Chasm, and his model of the technology adoption cycle. There have to be a few brave souls who are the innovators and are willing to try something new. Once you have proven value for your product or service from the innovators and early adopters, the majority of your customers will follow.

Buyers want reassurance before making a buying decision. A Forrester Research survey shows that 90 percent of buying decisions begin online, and 71 percent of buyers base their decisions on trust and believability. Unbiased, informative content helps establish immediate reliability, and relating other customers’ positive experiences help build trust and credibility. That’s why sellers scores on eBay, Yelp! evaluations, and Amazon reader reviews have become so important to potential customers; prospects want reassurance and validation before making a buying decision.

A well-crafted case study demonstrates why happy customers love your company and its products and help build empathy with other customers and online visitors. They can be one of the most effective tools in your marketing program, and they are very easy to craft.

In future blog posts, we will discuss the elements that go into a winning case study, and ways to use case studies to convey your brand value and build sales.

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Written by Tom Woolf

January 31st, 2013 at 3:00 pm

What does ‘Les Mis’ tell us about good content?

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When it comes to content, success is measured in mass appeal

Among a number of film critics, hating Les Misérables has almost become a raison d’etre. They are about as dogged in their condemnation of the movie as Inspector Javier’s relentless pursuit of Jean Valjean. David Denby said in The New Yorker, said, “This movie is not just bad….. It’s terrible.” David Sexton of the London Evening Standard wrote, “… Les Misérables is exhausting, if not infuriating (it made me bad-tempered for two days, a personal record).”

Could this be a different Les Mis than the one I saw? I wasn’t the only one in the audience who shed more than a tear or two and applauded at the end. And my moviegoing experience was by no means a singular one. Michael Moses, co-president of marketing for Universal, the studio behind the film, told USA Today that the film powerfully connects with people. He witnessed standing ovations in addition to the tears and applause. Folks are going back for a repeat performance.

So what’s up? In fairness, Les Mis was even panned by critics when it came out 150 years ago but the Parisian masses ate it up. That’s because, as USA Today also points out, Hugo was not writing to the intellectuals of the time; he was writing for the people about social injustice – an issue we still grapple with in the 21st Century.

As a movie musical, Les Mis clearly demonstrate its enduring ability to grab audiences from the opening scenes and not let go until Jean Valjean’s life on the run ends with his redemption. The demand is global. Les Mishit the $300 million mark at the worldwide box office as it continued to rise up the chart of the most successful musicals of all time.

Despite the critics’ vitriol, it’s pretty clear that Victor Hugo was on to something. Could he have sown the seeds of successful content marketing back in 1862 when he wrote the novel? In my last (and my first post of our new Content Matters blog), I wrote how great content evokes an emotional response. That being the case, Victor Hugo was dead on. Not only does Les Mis – the book, the play and now the movie — hit the emotional mark, it tries to answer questions – another requisite of good content about redemption, forgiveness and humanity. And it educates. Who knew there was more than one French rebellion?

Let the critics damn Les Mis all they want; the audience doesn’t care. While clearly no fan, Anthony Lane also of The New Yorker predicted its mass appeal,. Lane wrote, “Fans of the original production, no doubt, will eat the movie up, and good luck to them. I screamed a scream as time went by.”

Les Mis is a powerful emotional experience. Audiences connect and keep coming back for more. If you haven’t seen the movie; do. It may inspire your content efforts. It did mine.

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Written by Barbara Kohn

January 29th, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Give your customers the content they want

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Content needs to address customer’s basic needs

Is your content giving your customers and prospects what they want? Considering the competitive content landscape – two million blog posts are written each day – you can’t afford to miss the content mark. Content that connects addresses four basic needs:

  • Solves a problem
  • Educates,  informs or offers insight
  • Answers a question
  • Entertains

Content that connects also might ask a thought provoking question or introduce a new concept or idea. Here’s one that shatters the groupthink myth: Is Brainstorming Brain Dead?

Engage on an emotional level

Fortunately it’s unlikely the demand for knowledge will end anytime soon. That means your content, if it addresses the above and engages the reader in some emotional way,  (James Blute online marketer advises you tap into the customer’s emotional psyche) can help build a bond and inspire customers and prospects to take the action you want.

Get to know your customers

Start by asking questions. Use face time to ask questions and listen rather than pitch your products or services. Ask thoughtful questions to get the insight you need.  You’ll find out a lot more if you ask how does your company use cloud computing than are you planning to expand the cloud services you use?

Consider a survey: If you do, keep questions brief and easy; focus on one objective (customer satisfaction, purchasing plans, expansion); avoid open ended questions and try to be entertaining.

Leverage social media:  Post questions and comments on your social media channels — Facebook, Twitter,  and LinkedIn — to find out what your customers are thinking and want. Even when someone hits like on a post on your page or shares you are getting valuable insight. Review your blog stats.

Check in with other sites: Check out companies that offer products similar to yours. See what is working in terms of comments and shares.

Once you know what your customers want, you can begin to develop the content that matters to them.

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

January 24th, 2013 at 4:38 am

Why Content Matters

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Good content drives meaningful conversation with customers

Good content is crucial in a web-driven market. You need to participate in the conversation of the Web to engage with your customers. Good marketing is a product of good storytelling. You need to connect with customer in a way that resonates and creates a compelling reason to do business with you (or at least give you a second look) as opposed to the other guy. That’s why good content means more business.

Having a meaningful conversation with your customers means you have to have a story to tell. That’s content. Conversation with customers is the result of superior content delivered through the right channels to promote interest. You use content to generate web traffic, and then you use content to convert traffic into leads, leads into prospects, and ultimately prospects into customer. At each step of the sales cycle, it’s the content that tells your story and keeps visitors coming back for more.

And it doesn’t matter if you are targeting consumers of business customers. According to the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute, use of strategic marketing content is on the rise across the board – 54% of B2B marketers are increasing their content marketing spending and 55% of B2C marketers are increasing their content budget. Tactical spending will vary between B2B and B2C programs (as shown in the bar chart), but all marketers agree that social media, blogs, and in-depth articles are where they need to focus their content marketing efforts.

The same studies show that both B2B and B2C content marketers are facing the same challenges:

· Lack of budget (59% of B2C versus 39%of B2B marketers);

· Producing enough content to meet the need; and

· Producing content that engages customers and executive decision-makers.

That’s why many companies are outsourcing content creation – according to the Content Marketing Institute that’s 46% of B2C marketers and 44% of B2B marketers.

That’s why content matters, and that’s why we are providing a new resource to support content marketing programs. We understand storytelling, and how to engage customers and prospects with messages that speak to their needs and concerns. And we can usually create expert content faster, and more cost-effectively than in-house resources.

The ongoing challenge with any marketing program is creating fresh content to keep the program going. That’s why more organizations turn to experts like Write On Content for fresh material to feed their programs.

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Written by Tom Woolf

January 22nd, 2013 at 7:29 pm