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Repurpose your content to get more mileage

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Are you coming up short on ideas for your content strategy? Having a calendar of content about your company’s activities and products and services  – press releases, white papers, case studies, articles, videos – helps to fill the pipeline. Still to maintain an active presence on social media channels requires having content daily or at least several times a week to keep followers engaged. Let’s face it; it’s not easy to be brilliant, witty, insightful and interesting all the time – for most of us anyway.

So just how do you keep content following to all your necessary content channels without causing yourself undo stress? You could hire a muse (run an ad on LinkedIn), get some cats (seemed to work for Hemingway) or you could repurpose existing content and you should. You can get a lot of mileage by taking your best content and turning it into something new and different and fresh to use on your various social channels.

The benefits of repurposing, in addition to getting more out of your content investment, are:

Reach a broader audience. People absorb information differently. Some are more visual and like images and charts and graphs; others are auditory learners and respond better to videos or podcasts. And then of course there are those of who like the written word. By repurposing your content, you can appeal to a wide range of followers. You can take a white paper and turn it into an Infographic or turn a video into a blog post. The same message in different formats attracts a wider audience.

Improve your SEO: You have more content assets to attract more traffic from those who are searching for the information you provide. You help to boost SEO by cross-linking your content. For example, you can create a blog post and encourage your visitors to check out a podcast that provides more information on the topic or includes an interview with an industry authority.

Explore new angles: As you repurpose your content, you may find a new angle. A blog post on how to implement a flexible work policy could spawn a white paper on creating office policies for remote workers.

Repurposing best practices

· Research: Understand your audience and what is important to them. Choose a topic that has several angles that you can repurpose into different content assets.

· Evergreen: As you are developing your content, aim for topics that are evergreen – will never become dated – to drive traffic to your site for a long time.

· Get creative: Determine the platforms you plan to use – blog, social media posts, YouTube or email campaigns – and then repurpose the content to get the maximum results from each.

· Add value: As you repurpose your content for different platforms, aim to add value each time.

Good luck repurposing. And if you still have problems coming up with fresh content, see if getting a cat inspires you.

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 2nd, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Building a Case Study Campaign – Making the Most of Your Content

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To leverage a good story, you need cooperation from all the participants

One of the truths of successful content marketing is you never waste a good story. Some of your best stories will be customer case studies – nothing sells like a real-world application. However, case studies are only implicit testimonials. For most of our clients, their customers will not endorse a product or service, although they will explain, in detail, how they use that product or service to improve their own operations and promote their own brand. The trick when working with customers for case studies is making sure that everyone gets to shine and tell their story, but without detracting from the objectivity that gives the case story its value.

“What’s In It for me?”

When I interview case study candidates, I try to make sure they have a chance to shine and tell their own story in their own way. I look for ways to make sure that the interviewee gets to promote his company and its brand in an appropriate fashion.

Usually, the case study needs to show how the customer is outperforming the competition thanks to your product or service. The objective is to make them look smarter and a leader in their industry because they were wise enough to use your product. Sometimes, a middle manager is seeking to build his reputation, his personal brand, and by being featured as the expert in a case study his or she gets to strut their stuff.

However you approach any case study, everyone has to look like a winner.

How far will they go?

As part of the case study qualification process, you need to assess how far the customer will go in talking about your product or service. Some customers will only speak as anonymous vendors, while others are willing to talk to analysts, editors, prospects, and even stand up at trade shows and brag about how they use your product.

You need to ascertain how enthusiastic your customer contact is about the vendor relationship and the product, and more importantly, how much authority they have to speak for their organization. More than one case study has been quashed by legal, the PR department, or somebody in the C suite.

Once you find the right spokesperson – someone in authority who is an enthusiastic evangelist, the sky’s the limit! You can use that contact for sales referrals, interviews, and other strategic opportunities. However, be judicious about bringing out your best customer advocates. You don’t want to go to the same well too often; it will run dry.

Rinse and repeat

Once you have the case study approved and in the can, and your customer spokesperson primed and ready, what’s your next step? How do you get the most value from a case study?

1. The web site – Of course, you want to make sure that online visitors can read your latest tale of triumph. Consider using a teaser approach, so visitors get part of the story but they have to get the payoff after becoming a Facebook follower or subscribing to your newsletter.

2. Campaigns – If it’s a good story, use it for a direct marketing campaign. Build your mailing list by providing a PDF of the complete case study in exchange for an email address.

3. Article placements – No good story should be wasted, so why not place it in a trade magazine? Editors are always looking for good user stories, if you are willing to remain objective and tell the story without flourishes or hyping your product. (Don’t worry, the readers will know it’s your product.)

4. Videos – If your customer is willing to tell his or her story in front of a crowd, make a video. Video content is very powerful and can be used and reused for a variety of marketing programs.

5. Webinars – Better than a printed story is a demonstration. Webinars featuring case studies are a great way to promote your products.

6. References – Industry analysts, editors, and even sales prospects want to talk to customers. They need reassurance that your value proposition and product claims aren’t just empty promises. Having a catalog off referencable customers you can rely on for references can be invaluable. Just be sure to keep them informed before you drop their name, and be sure they stay happy.

Happy customers with an interesting application story can be gold for any marketing program. Be sure to spend them wisely.

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Written by Tom Woolf

February 14th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

How an editorial calendar helps your content marketing

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Think like a publisher and plan ahead to ensure fresh content

If content marketing is important to your marketing effort then you need to start thinking like a publisher. Creating fresh content on a regular basis requires planning to ensure you  feed your social media channels, turn up in search and nurture customers and prospects through each stage of the sales cycle.

An editorial content calendar helps you manage your content marketing process. It ensures that your content  – press releases, white papers, case studies, articles, blog posts, videos, and more – are ready when you need them for maximum impact.

Determine your annual content needs

Plan your calendar with a year-long view. Consider the following dates or milestones as you plan the content you need:

  • Product or service offering launches: Figure out what content you’ll need to reach targets with your new offerings. You might need a mix of press releases, blog announcements, updates to your website, videos, a white paper and more to support the launch.
  • Company events: Factor in your attendance at trade shows or conferences.
  • Selling cycle: Determine if you need to disseminate specific information to support selling cycles in your industry.
  • Industry announcements: Decide if you need content timed to counteract competitors’ planned launches or coincide with the release of annual research.
  • Be opportunistic: In addition to the above, allow for developments within your industry that might create a need for new content.

Create and manage your calendar

To ensure you stay on top of your calendar and that the content supports your marketing objectives:

  1. Appoint a calendar coordinator: Put one person in charge of the calendar to keep it up to date and ensure content creation meets goals and deadlines.
  2. Assign responsibilities: Each piece of content needs a producer who is responsible for seeing the content through to development and, if necessary, design.
  3. Identify audience: Align your content with the appropriate audience(s) based on their need for information to furthering the engagement and/or the buying process.
  4. Determine distribution: Determine the best channels for distributing your content and re-purposing it for other materials. A blog post should also be targeted for appropriate social media channels and bookmarking sites and can be included in an email marketing campaign or newsletter.
  5. Set metrics: Establish metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your content in meeting objectives.

You can create your own calendar; content calendar templates also are available from a number of sources online. Once your calendar is complete, make it available to your team on your company server or in the clouds. Used properly, your editorial calendar is an invaluable tool to keep you on track to provide content that connects with your audiences.

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 12th, 2013 at 1:52 am

The Elements of a Successful Case Study

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Adults tend to learn best by example, so tell a compelling tale.

There is no single formula for a successful case study, but there are common elements to tell a compelling story that that connects with readers in a way that prompts positive action.

The beauty of case studies is they are concrete, and provides newfound knowledge in a real-world context. Adults tend to learn differently from children, acquiring new skills because they want to in order to grow and expand their knowledge and capabilities. Case studies help facilitate that growth with “hands-on” application of knowledge.

Research shows that adults learn differently. Malcolm Knowles, the famed adult educator, based his theory of andragogy on four basic premises.

  1. Adults tend to learn best when they understand why they are learning something.
  2. Adults learn best through experience
  3. Adults tend to view learning as an opportunity for problem solving
  4. Adults learn best when the subject is relevant and can be immediately applied.

That’s why case studies are so powerful – they provide knowledge based on experience that solves a problem and can be immediately applied. Hence there are common elements that are required for any compelling and successful case study:

  1. The problem – What specific issue needs to be overcome? Typically you want to state the problem in terms that your intended audience will recognize, and with which they can empathize. Remember that a good case study requires good storytelling, so your problem should create a commonly understood conflict that needs resolution.
  2. The organization – Provide a profile of the case study subject, including background, how long they have been in operation, setbacks, and other details that give the subject company character. Remember, your case study subject is the protagonist in your case study drama.
  3. Process – How did the company come to identify their problem and what steps did they take to try to solve it? This is where you get a chance to highlight your strengths over the competition without actually calling them out. Explore the characteristics of potential solutions and why they were rejected.
  4. Discovery – How did your case study topic achieve that “a ha!” moment when they encountered your solution? What led to the epiphany that you could solve the problem? This is an important part of building the drama of the case study story and the journey your customer/protagonist had to go through.
  5. Solution – Here is where you have the opportunity to show why you shine. Present your solution to the problem as a logical extension of the discovery process. Explain what features deliver the benefits the customer was seeking, but be sure to keep the tone educational and informative, and not promotional.
  6. Implementation – What steps were required to implement the solution, including dependent elements and other factors? The objective is to promote credibility by honestly revealing how much time, support, and training might be required.
  7. Results – This is where you get to make your case. Be concrete and try to provide metrics that will be compelling to the reader, e.g. savings of time, money, improved efficiency, or some other factor that affects the bottom line.

The specific elements and returns will vary based on the example, the industry, and the metrics that will be meaningful to your case study subject. However, the storyline needs to have universal appeal so the reader can identify with the problem and the solution. A skilled storyteller can help you reveal the problem, benefits, and solutions in a way that will allow your case study to appeal in a way that it will support a call to action, which is the next topic in this blog series.

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Written by Tom Woolf

February 7th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

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