As a marketing leader, how do you break the bad habit of providing ho-hum content and hosting events that look like your competitors’?
Let’s turn to television for some answers. For the past five seasons in the U.S., actor Bryan Cranston played Walter White, a hapless chemistry teacher turned megalomaniacal crystal methamphetamine maker in the TV series Breaking Bad. The show’s creators essentially invented a brand-new genre they call cowboy drama. The series is also unique because the protagonist turns antagonist.
This series exemplifies compelling, groundbreaking content, which Breaking Bad's Creator/Executive Producer-Writer-Director, Vince Gilligan, has masterminded. Millions voted with their remote controls.
Much as the series outlined grave consequences for Walter White’s errant behavior, marketing leaders will also experience negative (although less fatal) consequences for creating marginal content.
Thankfully for customers, B2B companies are slowly recognizing and breaking their bad content habits. We can find guidance from organizations such as the Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and a variety of marketing automation companies.
It’s important to identify these bad habits before we can eliminate them. These beliefs can ruin a content campaign, and they are especially counterproductive when they inform live events. Here are the most common myths I hear:
1. Marketing needs an internal "crack team" to create and disseminate the content. In reality, marketing cannot go it alone. That’s an inefficient use of marketing resources. Instead, turn to a plethora of sources, including product marketing, analysts, external experts and authors, customers, customer support, and sales. They can become part of your content ecosystem, as outlined in this graph:
2. Focus your marketing on a handful of tactics, and do those tactics well. This is no longer true. Thanks to agile marketing methods and "test and learn" models, marketer's can experiment, measure, and retool rather quickly. MarketingProf’s 2013 Content Marketing Trends study revealed that today’s B2B marketers average 12 marketing tactics. The top five most effective tactics used today are social media (other than blogs), articles, e-newsletters, blogs, and case studies. Companies that want to stand apart from the crowd should seriously consider short webcasts, executive breakfasts, e-books, screencasts (using tools such as Articulate’s Studio), and educational videos.
3. Webinars and other live streaming events should be broadcasts. This may have been the case five years ago. Today, they need to facilitate conversations. Kathy Meara, Content Manager for CA Technologies, has witnessed a shift in how professionals interact online during webcasts. "People talk more confidently when they are typing and can jump into the conversation." At times, Meara notices that some customers want to hijack the webinar agenda and critique the company’s products. That’s when she intervenes and introduces herself. This makes a big difference and guides them back into the conversation at hand.
4. Content needs to reflect your point of view. While provocative thought leadership pieces are essential to staking a claim in your market niche, they are not the only form of communicating. MarketingProf’s study also proved that today’s marketing leaders named "engaging our audiences" as their second biggest challenge with their content management strategy. Live polling, offering giveaways in exchange for input, contests, and surveys can allay these concerns. Companies such as ON24, one of my clients, provide an excellent platform with these features.
5. Content has a shelf life. This is also a myth. In today’s marketing environment, some of the best content can influence prospects for months, if not years. For example, ON24 publishes an annual Webinar Benchmarks Report. Findings derive from a database of more than 20,000 customer webcasts delivered within a 12-month period. Industry experts and customers often rely on the annual updates to design, launch, and measure the results from their own events.
These five old habits were meant to be broken. In my next post, I will share seven strategies for creating positive content chemistry.
[Image: Flickr user Dávid Sterbik]