Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Seven Seductions of Podcasting

I ran across Jon Buscall’s website this morning. Jon is a first-rate marketer from Sweden and on his blog, Jon shares his experiences in running JontusMedia, a sole-proprietor communications, content, and marketing business.
Jon features a content channel that too few of us exploit: podcasting. The podcast I listened to was episode 20, which focused on “productivity.” It ran for about 20 minutes and offered four tips for business owners who “do it all.”
I’ve featured those tips below, but, for now, let’s talk about the Seven Seductions of Podcasting, to wit:
1. Makes your wisdom portable. Your customers/clients can listen to your podcast while they are driving, exercising, cooking, etc. If you’ve got good solid information to share, your window of opportunity to communicate grows exponentially when you podcast.
2. Allows you to multi-task while marketing. You can communicate convincingly via podcast anywhere, anytime: at midnight, in your pajamas, while folding laundry, recovering from the flu – you name it.
3. Barriers to entry are zilch. Podcasting requires very little equipment. If you’ve purchased your computer in the past three years, you’re equipped to record an audio file with a microphone and save the recording as an MP3 file, which you can post to your website or blog.
4.  Quick start-up is facilitated by online training videos. You’ll find many “how to podcast” videos on YouTube. This one takes you through the steps to create a podcast. It’s a bit tedious, but if you can sit through it, there’s a good overview. Note, the speaker on this video talks about Audacity, which is a popular program used for recording. Most of the Audacity-related videos are quite good.
5. Keeps your wisdom coming and going. podcast, which can be listened to during lunch and/or downloaded to an iPod, helps your customers bypass the info overload and consume your message effortlessly.
6. What a refreshing break in the onslaught of monitor myopia! How nice would it be for your customers/clients to be able to listen quietly, wherever they are, whatever else they are doing? This is a very nice nod to your “customer relations.”
7. Podcasting puts you on yet another marketing channel. This is the day of integrated marketing and you need to give your customers/clients a choice.
And now, Jon Buscall’s Productivity Tips. Thank you, Jon, for these tips and for the inspiration to write about what you do so well: podcasting.
1. At the beginning of the month, use a spreadsheet to schedule a month of blog posts. Write a few if you feel like it, but get 30 emotionally-charged blog titles down from which to get the creative juices flowing.
2. Tend to Twitter every day. Call up older blog posts if you must, but aim for 10 tweets per day. Note: Jon recommends the “Buffer Up” app for Tweet scheduling.
3. Weekly, spend an hour looking at the data and analytics of your business. How many visits, comments, retweets, follows, etc. did you get? Don’t obsess. Just make a note of the data to use as reference points.
4. Set up an infallible “to-do” process for project management. Jon likes Basecap and Hi-Rise by 37 Signals.

Video Content — a.k.a. Content TV — Explodes

Here are three terrific examples of content marketing via video.
Target Marketing Magazine launched its newest initiative, DMIQ TV in mid-May. Featuring the “Direct Mail Package of the Week,” content is built on Target’s extensive “Who’s Mailing What” archives. DirectMarketingIQ uber-editor Ethan Boldt stars in the first episode.
The fold factory is already in the act, with Chief Folding Fanatic Trish Witkowski presenting her “Fold of the Week.” Check out this episode. Other great videos at the Fold Factory website offer additional video tricks to unfold.
If you’re into swimming underground, this video is for you. Obviously this one is professionally shot and edited, with a BIG budget, but it does demonstrate the trend to “your own TV channel.”
I see a move to the DIY model demonstrated by Target Marketing, to wit: proprietary-yet-public broadcast channels that feature an ongoing series and/or recurring educational content.
We’re all gonna need a very complex remote control.

Yummy Content Makes My Mouth Water!

I’ve been coming across all kinds of content marketing projects that are certainly doing a tremendous job for their clients and organizations. Here are four of my recent favorites.
This fantastic little video from the editors of Printing Impressions enewsletter is a tremendous testament to educational value that costs very little, uses in-house talent, makes a great point, and knocks the whole thing out in 120-seconds flat. Part of PI’s “Fold of the Week” video series, this video features Chief Folding FanaticTrish Witkowski demonstrating a beautiful pop-up mailer from Westland Printers in Laurel, MD. Nice job guys! Lesson: Simple and authentic makes great content.
The WhichTestWon “landing page optimization” webinar series has been outstanding. I got not just one, buta second blog post out of this superb free content from Anne Holland, publisher of, and her co-presenters. Lesson: Webinars are free-for-all, mini-lessons that can work wonders.
Nobody rounds up infographics better than Randy Krum, president of InfoNewt. If you need an illustrative way to say something, take a look at Randy’s blog, Cool Infographics. You’ll still need a graphic designer to execute a good infographic (it’s much harder than it looks), but at least Randy’s blog will give you an idea what a good infographic looks like. Lesson: When you can deliver content with a picture, you’ll save a thousand words.
This week, I put up a few web pages using the beta version of Shareist, a new content aggregation websitethat lets users “build” web pages based on content that’s pulled from around the web. It took me about 10 minutes to build Content Marketing and Content Curation pages that I can refresh whenever I want by clicking “curate” and then selecting what strikes me.  Lesson: Like blogging, (a.k.a., “citizen journalism”) content curation and marketing are now for the masses.

Is Content Marketing Making Us Dumb?

Writing on his rethinc.k, blog last week, Jason Wilson posted “Content Marketing Will Kill the Law.” Not a question, mind you, a declaration.
Wilson, vice president of Jones McClure publishing in Houston, likens much of today’s “content” in the legal field to a golf course, “overrun by trees, grasses, and weeds clumped together in patches.”
Wilson is describing what he perceives as a dearth of those “weighty tomes” that, traditionally, feature a substantial body of analytical material. “Now, thanks to the Internet,” he says, “lawyers spend their time writing SEO pieces. Lawyers are no longer scholars organizing and explaining the law, but brand developers and managers.”
I can’t disagree, but I am compelled to point out the competitive jungle out there. What’s an ESQ to do?
Wilson acknowledges that his detractors say lawyers are producing more content than ever. He remains skeptical. “Where is the insight, how far does it extend?” he wonders. “You use terms like content, curation, and real-time as if these are the Three Kings that will lead us to a new era of knowledge and understanding. But I’ve actually tried to understand areas of the law using only the content marketing I could find, and it has failed me up to now. Have you tried to practice law from it?”
I wouldn’t argue with Wilson. Not a bit. In fact, I applaud him. But I do need to underscore  that content market is just that: marketing. It’s a way for people “in the know” to connect with and influence prospective and currentcustomers.
Let’s say it again. Content marketing is, indeed, “information,” but it need not be “analysis.” It can be statistics and definitions, case studies, and opinion. It can provoke thought and even probe, but its purpose is to offer the reader an overview, a synopsis, a round-up, and a quick look. In short, content marketing is a lot closer to public relations that it is to education. Those of us who do content marketing know that.
To his credit, as Wilson moves through his blog, he acknowledges this point. But he makes another poignant observation that actually scares me. “The end result of the shift from weighty tomes to content marketing is this: the disparity between the haves and the have nots is going to grow. Large law will compensate for the dearth of comprehensive analytical content by creating its own and using it in-house, or selling it to others at a steep cost.”
I fear that as much as Wilson does. Sadly, I think we’re already seeing this trend in areas both inside and outside the law. The deepest research – the most detailed, investigative, and diagnostic – is saved for those who can afford it. For-profit outfits like Gartner, Forrester and even MarketingSherpa (to name only a few), give away information in executive summary or teaser form, but reserve the complete deal for folks who can pay $499 and (way) up. That’s not a criticism at all. It’s the reality of economic survival in a capitalist society.
Besides, hasn’t this always been true? Haven’t the best educational resources always been primarily for those who have money – the elite schools, the brainiest professors, the costliest books, the in-depth research, and the pricey trade associations?
We experienced a bright shining moment there for a while, when the middle class was finally gaining access to some of the educational perks traditionally reserved for the rich folks. But the economy has exploded that populist notion. Meanwhile, the volume and speed of information – thrown at everybody, all at once – has nurtured the trend to shallow. Filling in the gap, at least partially, is the Internet, with its free “content.”
The legal field may have some peculiarities, but I think Wilson’s concern about content marketing is a scapegoat for more serious issues – namely, society’s move from a growing to a shrinking middle class, along with a decline in thinking, analysis, and self-examination replaced by the quick fix. That worries me, too.
Nobody so far seems to have a solution for the dumbing down of society, but it’s probably a blessing that content marketers are available to help overwhelmed attorneys – and the rest of us — stay in the race.

It’s All About the Database. It’s All About the Marketing.

Everybody is raving about Groupon’s speedy domination of the old-fashioned coupon business. Some consumers are wondering what the fuss is all about. Marketers know. The fuss is the same brouhaha that’s accelerated Facebook’s valuation to $75 billion and rising. It’s the database.
This morning I received an email from my credit card company offering me 15% off my next purchase at a local department store. Last week, I spent $200 at that department store. My credit card company knows that. I’m sure the department store is a partner in this joint promotion. They may have paid for it. The point is that my credit card company knows where I shop and what I buy. I’m in their database.
Groupon knows what my credit card company knows… except they know even more. Groupon knows what Idon’t buy. They know who bought what I bought on a given day (my consumer cohort). And every time I buy or don’t buy, they know even more. Investors are drooling.
Groupon offers a range of products and services – and the range is growing. On Saturday, I saw a local business show featuring a real estate broker from Chicago who has partnered with Groupon to offer a $1,000 rebate on closing costs for $25. The catch? The deal has to close with either the buyer or the seller working with the real estate firm. For now, it seems as though Groupon is getting it on with anybody who sells anything.
And then there’s the reality TV show, Georgetown Cupcake, which features a couple of cute sisters from Canada who have customers lining the street to scarf down little treats with big calories. Somehow these two women have become an overnight sensation in a superficial city known more for its wonkiness than its cuisine. Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis are now baking 5,000 cupcakes a day. At $3.00 apiece (guesstimate, probably low knowing Georgetown prices), that’s $15,000/day gross. Working 365 days a year (and why wouldn’t they?), these entrepreneurs are grossing $5,475,000 a year. Are their cupcakes to die for? I’m sure they’re tasty. They say the cupcakes are baked on site, using Valrhona chocolate, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, European sweet cream butter, gourmet chocolate sprinkles (yeah, like we know what any ofthat means, but, hey; it sounds exclusive … I’ll take a half dozen).
But, really, that’s not the point. Wait! Actually that IS the point. These business owners market themselves brilliantly. They have an aristocratic location, a darling logo, personality, accessibility, a friendly attitude, and singular pink rubber boots. They knew zilch about professional baking when they started the business, but they have terrific branding experience tailor made for the label-conscious D.C. market segment. Katherine Kallinis, 29, was an event planner for Gucci, and Sophie worked in private equity. These sisters know their status-desperate market and they speak to it just right.

Certainly, these tales are no-brainers for smart marketers, but there’s a lovely reminder here for our profession.
The Mad Men of 2011 can sell snow to an Eskimo because they know their Eskimos. That’s why investors love Groupon and Facebook — and anybody else who’s got a rich database. And that’s why the DC cognoscenti (who absolutely must be in the know about absolutely everything) shop at Georgetown Cupcakes. It’s all about the marketing.

Which Content Works At Which Stage of Marketing? Tips for B2B-ers.

April Brown, president/CEO, Rubicon Group, presented at the April 6 Marketing Automation 101 webcast sponsored by DM News with Eloqua.
The webcast focused on automated lead management systems (technology) designed to boost prospect conversion and loyalty/retention.
Brown says that automating the marketing process improves results. She cites statistics achieved in key marketing/sales efforts, including: sales forecast accuracy up 17%; lead conversions up 107%; revenue per sales rep up 20%; increase in “deal size” up 40%.
One dimension of the marketing process involves using content (fresh or repurposed) to pull a given prospect into the buying cycle, and then track the stages that prospect goes through in becoming a loyal customer. “What matters is that you are delivering content at the right point in the buying cycle to match with the stages of decision making,” she says.
Brown identifies ten types of content that can be delivered, as well as the various stages of decision-making most affected by each type, in her experience. “In general, here is [the type of content] we have found to work in the various buckets [buyer awareness, comprehension, consideration, preference, loyalty],” she says.
  • Industry trends – awareness/comprehension
  • Data sheets — comprehension
  • Case studies – consideration, preference
  • White paper—comprehension, consideration
  • Analyst reports – awareness, preference, loyalty
  • Demos/pilots – comprehension, consideration
  • F2F meetings – preference, loyalty
  • Newsletters — loyalty
  • Promotions – preference, loyalty
  • Social media – awareness, consideration
Brown also discussed lead scoring, the process that helps marketers rank one prospect against another and identify where a given prospect sits within the buying cycle. For example is the prospect: a) the right customer, but not interested; b) not the ideal customer, but very interested; c) a good fit and very interested; etc.?
Lead scoring fuses explicit and implicit scoring.
Explicit Scoring relates to the “profile fit” and stems from what prospects say, for example:
  • job role
  • industry
  • pain/need identified
  • lead source
As defined, content plays a key role in implicit scoringImplicit Scoring relates to a prospect’s behavioral characteristics or what they do, for example:
  • attend industry events
  • download a high-value asset with last 30 days
  • visit high-value content
  • click through from an email campaign.

The Faceless Interview Pens A New Chapter in Content Aggregation

I follow Laura Dodd on Twitter, but I don’t know her personally. Still her simple Tweet caught my eye. It read, “My new book is in stores tomorrow!”
I clicked through, of course, and found a video featuring a twenty-something (her description, not mine) telling how she had aggregated content for her new book, Dig This Gig. The self-help manual is designed to show first-timers evaluate what’s actually going on in the job market they’re entering: what do titles really mean, what are employers really looking for, etc. etc.
Dodd says the process that culminated in her “book” grew organically, beginning in conversations to her twenty-something friends already in the marketplace. As such online conversations tend to do, the process webbed outward via social media to an ever larger group from whom she drew material. In other words, she gathered empirical evidence — commentary, opnion, and “sharing” — from friends and friends-of-friends online.
This is quite a contemporary approach to expertise, but one that the twenty-somethings reportedly trust more than information from distant “experts.” To this cohort, somebody you don’t know personally definitely needs to know somebody you do know or somebody you know who knows somebody else.
The empirical road to book publishing isn’t anything new, or course. Helen Gurley Brown took this approach all the way to the bank when she wrote Sex and the Single Girl in 1962. Still, Laura Dodd’s book – which may or may not be successful – exemplifies a growing (and likely permanent) trend in content aggregation: the faceless, joined-at-the-web interview.
So, business execs everywhere: Add social media aggregation to your content development strategy. Perhaps, over time, we’ll have less respect for this “friends” approach to expertise. But for now, I give kudos to Laura Dodd. Like all success stories she’s got the first step down – she’s early to market. I wish her the best.