What does good content marketing look like?

Content-MarketingI recently read this article which suggests that using blog posts as a basis for LinkedIn content marketing is basically spamming. Although I agree with much of what it says, I believe the issue is less to do with what people are putting on LinkedIn, and more to do with what they are putting on their blogs. If your blog simply contains promotional copy telling everyone how wonderful you are, they will lose interest very quickly. Good blog posts should be informative and should reinforce your position through demonstrating that you know your stuff and can help your clients. Personally I don’t see an issue with linking this type of copy to social media! So why do people post this type of “spammy” content on social networks? The simple answer is because it works (At least based on the way we are encouraged to measure success in these things). And herein lies the problem….. Content marketing analytics are almost entirely quantitative. Views, Engagement (measured by number of likes & comments etc). The principle is that if you can add it to a chart, then its a good metric! This approach may work for B2C and social metrics on Facebook etc. But in the B2B world things tend to be a bit less altruistic. Does this mean we are missing a trick? Using established approaches to analytics, to be a deemed a success your content marketing copy has to get a reaction, and if your audience view your B2B copy in a positive light they are less likely to react. this can mean that good, informative, unprovocative posts are likely to deliver less favourable metrics! This response is actually out of line with their value in the real world. As an example, let me take a linked Group (Business Peak District) that I moderate. This is a group dedicated to those doing business in and around the Peak District National Park in the UK, and members are predominantly SME businesses within the region. Most of the posts on this group are links to informative (hopefully) blog posts. Not surprisingly (as there is (intentionally) no real call to action) they get very few comments. I do however know that people find them of interest, because they tell me so. I also know that LinkedIn is no 3 on our websites referrers list, so it is driving traffic to our site. Traditional engagement stats would tend to suggest that these posts are not worth doing. However, through knowing what I am trying to achieve with them, and taking a broader, more joined-up view of their effect, I know they are. Now take another post on the group:

Free Social Media Lessons with SocialMyna. This is quite blatantly a promotion. The post itself delivers little value to the readers, other than informing them of the services offered by the poster’s company. In contrast to most posts on the group, this one had illicited comments from a second user, again blatantly using the comment to promote their services.

The post that inspired this article is “two ways to post blogs on linkedin that could get you banned“. According to that post, the SocialMyna post above should have been moved to the “promotions” area, but it wasn’t, and I will tell you why not. Assuming that promotions are relevant to the group they are targeted at, then I believe they have value. Marketing is about communication, and if you are running a business delivering a product or service, then you must think it delivers value to your target market. The issue I have is that posting ONLY promotional stuff on your blog or social media is bad marketing. The promotions do little or nothing to enhance your standing in the market, and do nothing to suggest why people should listen to/use you, and will not encourage people to come back to your blog in the future. They do however perform well based on the standard engagement stats. Mixing informative & promotional content will maximise the marketing benefit, enhance your brand position & sustainably deliver leads. However on this example the metrics culture only recognises the benefit of the promotional content. These posts are not moved to the promotions section because I believe this and other promotional “discussions” do add value to the group, informing them of what is going on in the area, and thus they are not spam. However it would deliver a more rounded and sustainable marketing message from the posters if they posted a mix of promotional and informative stuff. This said, on balance this group is better with these discussions than without them, so they stay in. If it appears that a contributor is abusing their status by posting nothing but promotional material then this can affect the core value proposition of the group and consequently action must be taken.

More funding for SMEs who want to think strategically

GA   Despite our long held view that marketing is:

 

‘A process, NOT an event’…

…the reality for most SME businesses is that their marketing tends to be a series of  (at best) loosely connected events:

  • Build a Website
  • Do some web marketing
  • Place an advert
  • Do some networking
  • Do a mailshot
  • Build some Social Media Contacts

etc., etc… Yet consult any successful business owner and you will always get the same answer:

Make sure you have a plan and make sure you drive it!

This doesn’t mean set an action plan then blindly stick to it; There is always room for the creativity that can keep you on track and make good into great. The key thing is that a documented strategy  gives you focus and a basis on which to reflect future decisions and avoid the drift away from your core objectives that only becomes visible when it is too late! Now is a great time to think strategically and get the plan in place for your business. As a registered and approved GrowthAccelerator coach, I can help you develop a clear, realistic business development strategy for your business. There is generous support funding available meaning the process can cost less than you might think. What is more, once you have your strategic plan in place, you can access further funding to make sure your key staff have the skills and knowledge to keep the business on-plan and drive your success. Give me a call on 01457 851111  if you want to find out more.    

The importance of including a marketing budget

maybemarketingThroughout my time as a marketer, I have always found it surprising how in so often marketing comes as an afterthought in many projects, especially those that are focused on capital development. Whether the project is launching a new website, developing a building, launching a new product or delivering an event. Too often, the focus is on the delivery of the project, rather than on the marketing of it in the longer term. In my opinion, this is a big mistake! If I can take two examples (admittedly from very different markets) to illustrate my point.

How it should be done…

The latest Bond film, Skyfall, reportedly cost $200m to produce, and they then spent an estimated $100 (50% of the production budget) on marketing & promotion. The result was that the film grossed over $1 billion worldwide, which in anyone’s books is a pretty healthy return!

….and how it should not be done

Recently, I have heard reports of a centre developed as a resource  providing flexible office space an associated services to local business in order to deliver growth and to drive local economic development. The building was developed with a seven figure capital budget and a marketing budget of less than 2% of the capital cost. The result -a significantly under-utilised resource.

The moral of the Story!

There is no doubt that in the modern world, to be a success a project needs to be marketed effectively, and this process should be considered as an integral part of any capital project. You wouldn’t undertake a significant capital project without a carefully considered plan & budget. All I am suggesting is that this plan should extend to include the marketing of the project once complete in order to ensure that it is a blockbuster rather than a flop!

Social Media Image Sizing – A Definitive Guide

Getting the graphics & profile pictures right on social media profiles is key to presenting the right image, but they are all different, and with the advent of cross platform content, getting the correct specs for these images is not as straightforward as it used to be! With this in mind, when the following infographic came to my attention, I headed straight for the “add new” button on marketing matters blog. Originally published on Visually, the guide goes into all the detail you need to make sure those profile images look the business wherever they are displayed. I hope you fine it useful: profile_pic_infographic

Celebs, Brands & Fake Fans or How Not to do Sustainable Marketing

The C4 programme Dispatches recently ran a story about how brands use fake Facebook fans, and paid for celebrity endorsements via Twitter, to boost their appeal. Effective in the short term, maybe (as long as nobody notices), but sustainable marketing? Probably not! 4od You can watch the programme on 4OD until the end of the month:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od

3 things came out of the programme for me:

  1. If nobody realises you are doing it, (sadly) it works! A Facebook page with 5,000 likes will carry more weight than one with 5 likes, and a Tweet from a celebrity or influential person in your field about your product/service will drive people to your website.
  2. When people realise that you are doing it, it can destroy the trustworthiness of a brand
  3. In most cases brands undertake this activity unwittingly, by naively believing social media agencies who claim to be able to quickly boost like numbers and relatively low cost!

This activity is no different form the practice a few years ago of buying links to boost SEO performance. And we all know where that has gone, with site owners now desperately trying to disavow all these bogus links! Agencies who were selling links last year, are now selling facebook likes, and next year will be selling something else, equally valueless in the medium term. Good, sustainable marketing takes time & effort, but need not cost the earth. When done well will deliver real results in the long term. On the flip side, buying into the lastest on-line marketing “magic wand” may seem a great idea at the time, but history shows that either it won’t work, or you will live regret it.  

6 reasons why I would leave your website in 10 Seconds

web_design_crimesThis week, e-consultancy published a list of reasons why someone would leave your website in 10 seconds, it could also have been entitled “Pet hates of website design”. Although I agree with everything on the list, I thought I would draw out those most relevant to our readers. Here are my top 6 :  

1. Sketchy contact links

In our world, your website is a marketing tool, and as such it should make it as easy as possible to make contact, and the options for making contact should be varied. Contact page should include email, phone, address and contact form options, and where appropriate, a map. In addition, I believe that it is good practice to put basic contact links in the header or footer so that they appear on every page. Making it difficult to find contact details is a real no no in my book!

2. Sign up to our newsletter pop-ups

This is really the flip-side of the “Sketchy contact links” crime. Some sites are so keen to get to know you better that they will pop up a “Sign up for our newsletter” or “Want to chat” popup within seconds of you visiting a site. These can both be useful features of a website, but you should allow people to make their own choices. Make the links to these features obvious & easy to find, and by all means pop them up in a corner of the site if a user spends a significant amount of time on the site, or maybe as they go to leave, but leave it up to the visitor whether they use them. Think of the last time you went to a shop and had an assistant on the door pounce on you as you try to enter, not very user friendly!

3. Survey pop-ups

Yes surveys are important, but I find that having them pop up on a site and forcing people to either fill them in or cancel them is just pain irritating. You are saying “My need for information is so important I am happy to butt in to your day and demand it”. Again, it would be like the shop assistant stepping in front of you as you are browsing, and saying “Hi, will you fill in a survey please”. VERY irritating. If you want people to complete a survey, invite them to do so via email, or via engaging content in the body of your site. By all means give them an incentive, but make sure that they can do it on their terms.

4. Websites that disable copy & paste

For anyone who does this I would say, please don’t! Firstly it is very irritating, and secondly it is pointless. If I want to copy content of a site I can do it, disabling copy and past will slow me down for about 5 seconds. Alternatively, why not encourage people to use content from your site, but ask them to reference the source, this way you can get some great, high quality links into your site, and if people plagiarise your site without referencing it or breach copyright, then take them to task, but its futile & irritating to try to stop people copying & pasting.

5. Stock images in place of real staff

Why do people do this? It is so obvious when they do, and a real turn off.

6. Sites which don’t date blog/news posts

There is a lot of content available on the internet now, and much of it is quite old. It is therefore important to know how up to date a piece of information is (especially when researching web/technology related subjects), so content that does not have a date attached becomes much less trustworthy. The other reason why this would put me off a site is that there is only one real reason for not dating posts on your news feed, and that is that you are not planning to keep it up to date! If you want to read the full list of “22 more reasons why I’ll leave your website in 10 seconds” you will find it on e-consultancy

LinkedIn stats just got a whole lot better

LinkedIn can be a great tool for promoting your company but historically the stats provided by the network were very limited. With LinkedIn stats, not any more!

Introducing LinkedIn Stats

A recent LinkedIn update has introduced a whole new set of statistics for measuring engagement on your company page.

On Page Stats

The LinkedIn company page now has on page stats under each update

LinkedIn stats deliver real marketing insight

Through these on page stats you can quickly see which of your updates are engaging people.

Going Deeper

If you are looking for more in-depth analysis, you can now get detailed stats on your pages too. Just go to the new ‘analytics‘ link at the top of your company page. As well as more detail on the engagement information, you can also check out the demographics of you follower base:

LinkedIn stats deliver real marketing insight

We believe that BSA’s services are most relevant to the SME (0-250) companies. This is certainly where we target our marketing. These stats suggest that, through LinkedIn, we are engaging with our target market. The stats also allow you to analyse by job function & seniority (amongst other things).

In-depth Insights

insightsThe final section to look at is the detailed insights page. To get to this page, simply click on the “xx followers” link next to the Follow button at the top right of the page, and then on the “See All Insights” link on the right hand side of the page. This will bring up a dashboard with detailed stats on all of your followers. A great feature of the internet is the feedback data you can get. You can really see how effective your marketing is being. The new LinkedIn stats definitely deliver in this respect.      

Strategy plus Communication – The essence of effective marketing

Strategy plus communication - The essence of effective businessAfter more than a quarter of a century in marketing (Scary), it still intrigues me that strategy and action are so often separated in business, particularly in the case of SMEs. The consultant helps you with your strategy but often has little involvement with delivering any action plan while marketing service suppliers are keen to deliver their services (design, web, print, communication etc) without any real reference to your strategy. Real success in marketing comes when a clear strategy is converted into a dynamic and well managed action plan. Strategy plus communication is what really works. In big corporates, this process is usually handled by a marketing team that that will ensure resources are effectively utilised to deliver marketing results in line with overall corporate objectives. In the world of SMEs, this “Marketing team” usually translates to “A Director” who does marketing amongst other things or or ‘a marketing person’ whose salary IS the marketing budget! “Your Marketing Department down the road” is an offer from a number of marketing agencies, but too often this translates as “Your Creative Department down the road“; well able to deliver great creatives, but again falling short of the goal of a “clear business strategy joined -up to a dynamic and well managed communication action plan.” At BSA we join-up strategy and communication in the real world to deliver:

Clear strategy – the essence of business

  1. Clear objectives as to what you wish to achieve
  2. An understanding of the resources you have available
  3. A plan of action as to how you will use your resources
  4. A process to monitor, control and focus your action plan

plus

Active communication – the essence of marketing

  1. The essence of marketing is communication.
  2. If you are not in communication with your target market, you are not marketing.
  3. ‘In communication’ requires that a message is both sent, and received.
  4. If your target contacts aren’t receiving (and hopefully understanding) your messages, you still aren’t marketing

In essence, if you have a strong business proposition that delivers clear and relevant benefit and value to your target market and you effectively communicate this proposition such that your targets hear and understand your proposition, they WILL do business with you. Easy isn’t it! If you want to turn this theory into reality for your business, let’s have a chat.