Tag Archives: Blogging

Social Selling on LinkedIn Doesn’t Work When…

My LinkedIn inbox is currently full of pitches from people I’ve never met or engaged with. These folk have asked to connect with me and once I press that little yes button, within five minutes too many think it’s a green flag to send an unsolicited pitch selling a product or service. It’s never targeted. It never works. And it annoys the hell out of me, because it means I don’t get to the emails that actually do matter to me.

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Are you Content Marketing or Marketing?

The stats are pretty clear:

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Content marketing is about earning people’s time

There is a GREAT deck on Slideshare right now. It’s called “Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge” by Velocity Partners. I love this deck for many reasons, but mainly because it spoke my language – irreverent, but makes a very strong argument – and that is: as more B2B brands turn to content marketing, the consumer is going to be faced with a proliferation of mediocre content and inevitably, they’re going to disengage.

Content Marketing

Let’s face it: content is the new kid on the block, and “content marketing” the vogue terminology of the moment. We’re in a time where many agencies are re-branding themselves as content agencies. But creating awesome content – focused on and relevant to the customer – is a completely unique skill that a re-branding doesn’t necessarily meet. It pains me to say it, but I agree with Velocity Partners – we’re “all about to be buried in crap.” Especially so in Asia.

 

To be the best, hire the best

So, how do you ensure that you’re not investing in and creating mediocrity? After all, anyone can create content, the challenge lies in creating great content. Those skilled at content succeed because they are customer-centric communications professionals – and they know how to create relatable content that their audience responds to. As an example, many journalists (and former journalists) will ignore commercial interests and publish information for the audience they are writing for, because this is what they’ve been trained to do. It’s in their DNA. It’s how they think about information every day.

This is important, because it is the people who have an eye for the customer that will help the world’s businesses standout in the coming content deluge. No one wants to be in the gang burying their customers in crap – right?

To be successful, organisations must put together a team that understands the content marketing fundamental: it’s not about speaking about your brand; it’s about speaking to the whole customer. Help your customer succeed. Make them more intelligent. Improve their lives. Answer their questions – especially the ones they didn’t know they should be asking. Content marketing is not about talking about your product features or services. Not yet. That comes once you win people’s hearts and earn their loyalty.

Velocity Partners

Image: by Velocity Partners

Be the consumer, but be yourself

A phrase I particularly liked in the Velocity Partners’ presentation is “Marketing Defense Systems”. It refers to the natural barriers people put up when they perceive they’re being sold to. This is exactly right. If your business’s content creators are not trained to focus on the audience (versus the client), then the more content you create and share, the greater the likelihood Marketing Defense Systems will come up. We’re already experiencing this content fatigue, with too many people excessively posting sales-driven, irrelevant content. And it’s very hard to get a second chance today. Time is valuable.

We’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer. Ask yourself: Who are they? What do they do? What do they care about? How can I help them? What information is of value to them? What conversations, within the mix of what they care about, are aligned to my brand? Which of those conversations can I own?

For example, a luxury travel group asked Novus Asia for some ideas on content. Our first step was to ask: Who is your customer and what do they care about? What content makes sense for them? In this instance, we knew the travel group was conversing with individual business travelers, but their customers also included the event industry, HR and training teams, procurement, as well as leisure travelers, millennials and specific country segments.

What conversations are relevant for a global luxury travel group to own across all these customer demographics? We believe our writers and strategists came up with some awesome ideas around luxury travel, but the conversations we suggested the group own were specifically targeted. There are many conversations a global luxury travel group should not own. And not all conversations are aligned to a brand. Targeting is critical.

Your consumer’s time is a currency, earn it

We’re all consumers of content. We know what captures our imaginations as individuals. Whether it’s K-pop or the latest Mashable or Huffington Post article, we know the sites we trust and go back to. That’s exactly the same process your customer goes through. They know what they want and are open to information sources they can trust. However, if you get it wrong – say you launch a tantalizing campaign that draws your excited customer to a site and you’re just selling a product (we’ve all experienced this disappointment right?) – do you think they’ll return? Or have their Marketing Defense Systems come up against your brand?

Recognise the finite amount of time your customers have and ask, “Is the content we’re creating worth their time?” If it’s not, why bother at all? You’re competing for that time. To get that investment, be awesome and challenge the status quo. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and do something completely different. Work with amazing content creators who understand both your business AND your customer.

Brands are awesome at speaking about themselves, but that time has gone. Talk to the customer and address their needs, not yours. That takes a whole new set of skills and insight, but it’s worth the time.

What do you think? Are you feeling the content deluge? What brands have earned your time?

Cheers

Andrea

Like my posts? Follow me here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

This blog originally appeared on the Novus Asia blog.

 

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Content marketing and personal branding are inextricably linked

Simon Cholmeley and I were thrilled to be invited to speak at the Microsoft Platinum Partner Summit 2015 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last week.

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What’s holding Asia’s businesses back from content marketing?

I’ve had the great privilege to do a few speaking spots recently, and it’s given me an opportunity to really hone my thinking around how I present about content marketing, as well as to hear perspectives from other professionals in the field. Content marketing is actually a massive topic, with lots of different angles to consider – personal branding, social selling, storytelling, the brand editor, etc are all part of it – so it’s not a simple discussion and the deeper you go, the more complex it appears. However, the good news is we’re having the discussion in Asia and that’s terrific.

 

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Why McKinsey is One of my Favourite B2B Content Marketing Brands

I’m doing another content “audit” for technology companies, and as I did last time, my starting point is LinkedIn. Why? Because if a brand is in the B2B space, this should be the only place I need to go to find amazing content focused on enterprise business professionals.

I believe that any B2B business should be focused on delivering rich content, relevant to job functions, on company LinkedIn page as a first port of call. Prospects on LinkedIn are not really that interested in your press releases, your people, or your community activities, although that is nice. Instead, content on your company page must first be solutions focused for the audience you want to reach.

If I explained it very simply, I would say: LinkedIn is the place I go for answers to help me, not to be sold by you. That comes later, once you’ve got my loyalty.

Alas, I don’t believe the majority of brands are understanding this yet and the company pages on LinkedIn reflect this. I’m so passionate about it, I want to ring them all and say hey, do you appreciate what a big miss this is for your business? Not utilizing LinkedIn company pages today is a massive missed opportunity, not just for business, but for executives who aren’t using the blogging platform. Businesses and leaders need to focus on having a social voice now – one speaking to your customer’s challenges – and LinkedIn is an obvious place to start this journey. Let’s change it in Asia in 2015 huh?

Content marketing

One brand that IS doing world-class content marketing is McKinsey & Company – and I’m not just talking about its LinkedIn page. If you move between McKinsey on LinkedIn to its company page on Facebook, you’ll uncover a rich feast of information on leadership, business technology, marketing and sales, strategy and organisation, investment, and so on. I also greatly value how global it is (not all global companies get this mix right), the vertical and country focus, and as someone who loves the technology sector, how it delves into the business case around hot trends – cloud, data, enterprise mobility, IoT, 3D printing, and more. Its great fodder for my curious brain, which loves to makes sense out of how technology is transforming the world.

Of course, McKinsey isn’t just on LinkedIn and Facebook. There are plenty of Twitter handles @McKinsey, @McKinseySociety and @McK_MktgSales to name a few. Google+ is also utilized across its various focus areas as well. I couldn’t find a Pinterest page, but McKinsey content is definitely being shared on Pinterest – I’m sharing it here. Its great information.

However, a reason I admire McKinsey’s more is its human page: Real Life at McKinsey. This is where it tells stories of the people who work at McKinsey and what they value in both their professional and personal life. What I find interesting is that very few companies can do content like this without looking completely corny. McKinsey have mastered this art and the segmentation from other corporate content makes a lot of sense to me. If you want to see how it’s done, subscribe to this Facebook page. It will make you want to work at McKinsey.

McKinsey is doing great work and have fully grasped the concept of content marketing. It’s not about creating more of the same marketing content and pushing it out over new social channels, it’s about creating content focused on helping the customer and building their loyalty to your brand. That’s what content marketing is fundamentally about.

Content marketing

Very briefly, two other businesses of note who are doing interesting content marketing include The World Economic Forum and the BBC – yep, a news business. Let me tell you why.

Where Fox News’ #OverIT2014 campaign on Twitter was a horrible failure – a case of really not understanding those who hate your brand (not dissimilar to McDonalds #McDStories back in 2012) – the BBC gets social and content. If you watch the BBC, its fully embraced social media from the beginning, and new platforms are picked up relatively quickly – which is impressive for an old, established icon. Over the Christmas/NY period I noticed a lot of crowdsourcing of content, which was then shared, and it went spectacularly well.

My top three:

  1. The Beeb asked for pictures where ever you were celebrating NY resulted in: In pictures: How you captured New Year celebrations
  2. In Pictures: India through the eyes of its children. You may not agree this is content marketing, but I do because it’s not journalists creating this content, but a story wrapped around the photographs children have taken. Very nice
  3. And probably my favourite “Drawing the News

The BBC is providing a few seconds of fame to its contributors and curating great, human content – smart move. It does a lot more than this with its deep social media integration, but I appreciated the holiday sharing.

Content marketingI’d also like to shout out The World Economic Forum. A new addition to my reading list, check out the World Economic Forum Agenda – a rich information resource, covering leadership, business, IT, the environment, the region, and so much more. Definitely one I track daily for interesting content.

The goal of this site? “The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.”

I’m sure this blog has built an enormous amount of traffic to the site, from communities they would probably never have attracted before. Bravo.

So there you go, three of my favourites, with McKinsey tops of the pops in the B2B space. Which brand do you value for your content marketing? I’m always happy to take on new recommendations – especially in the B2B space.

Cheers Andrea

You can connect with me on Twitter or like the Communicating Asia Pacific Facebook page.

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Dear Analysts, Please Get More Social

As I’ve recently “retired” from yet another chapter as an analyst relations person in the technology industry, I wanted to share a few thoughts with my friends, the analysts. As some of you know, I sincerely believe there is a massive opportunity for everyone on social media, and I’d love to see you all embrace it. I’m an evangelist, what can I say?

What I’m suggesting is for you to get A LOT more active at utilizing social media to build your personal brands, as well as the brands of your firms. I ask this for your benefit, as well as for the benefit of the tirelessly working AR people you deal with every day.

To give you some context, when I first did AR (back in London in the 90s) we didn’t have social media, however the challenges getting vendors to pay attention to you hasn’t changed much at all – something that I know frustrates you. I’ve always seen the reason for this being the fact that much of the influence you have cannot be “seen” or measured. In Asia, that problem is exacerbated even more.

Social media

I’ve always seen industry analysts and AR people like a marriage. To have a good marriage, it’s got to work both ways

 

If I might just put you in the shoes of the average AR person.

It’s very challenging getting internal attention, because in the region, vendors are running at a million miles an hour, not everyone has access to your research, we can never know about your closed door conversations with customers/prospects unless they tell us about them (and that requires someone to capture it – impossible), and we can’t capture your media results because there’s just too many countries and languages to monitor. Fundamentally, the analyst community in Asia is a massive group of people with a massive influence, and there never seems to be enough resources on the AR front for most vendors in Asia, so it’s all just a little bit challenging.

And that’s where social media comes in.

But what’s in it for me, I hear you ask? Well….

  • Career opportunities – you may already be a leading analyst (and I’ll get to you in a moment) but for those building their reputations – internally and externally – there is no better way than to harness the power of social to help you achieve that. Influencers are on social media, so that’s where you become one, and those who do this will have much greater career opportunities. Social influence is becoming critical when being considered for career opportunities, so if you want to build your career, social media is one of the greatest tools to let everyone know what you stand for
  • If you are a super star analyst, then it is an opportunity to share your wisdom, inspire your juniors, provide your organization with a compelling message for customers/potential customers and the media, as well as a platform to get vendors switched onto you. Not everyone has access to your research and not everyone has access to you, so this is a way to reach a big audience quickly and maximize your personal influence, your organisations influence and elevate the importance of analyst’s full stop. You are the smartest guys in the room, so if you can share a little piece of that knowledge with all of us, we’d be super grateful
  • You are influencers – social media is dominated by people calling themselves ‘thought-leaders’ and ‘influencers’ and the people considered this in the technology world are the analysts, so please join the party
  • The media track social media (esp. Twitter) for opinion leaders and influencers to comment on news stories. If you want PR opportunities for yourself/your company, then social is where it’s happening today

There are many more reasons, but the essence of my message is: it’s time. The world is changing – as you are predicting – and being active participants in this new social world is more important than ever before, for everyone in business.

Now let me tell you how an AR person can benefit if you get more social.  As you know, an AR person has many responsibilities, but the most important (in my view) is to PR you and the work you do in Asia. Therefore, your involvement on social media helps AR folks, which benefits you/your organisation in return. How?

  • Blogs – one of the best tools available to analysts is blogging. Blogs provide an opportunity to capture the essence of the area you research, what end-users are saying, good experiences with vendors, bad experiences with vendors, etc… The AR person can share this internally (and externally) because it’s something tangible about your influence. It doesn’t have to be positive for a vendor, because the criticism provides an opportunity to learn. Naturally a positive piece is a great opportunity for an AR person, and your blogs provide a measurable piece of information AR people can utilize
  • Vendor events – you all attend events and I know sometimes it feels like this is all you do. Why not blog about the event, what you heard, what you liked, what you didn’t and what surprised you? IDC provides an event recap but it’s not socialized – why? Forrester is great at event recaps. Gartner I’ve never seen one. Phil Hassey is hot on this and that’s great. After an event is over, this content is gold as proof of success (or learnings) for an AR person
  • Social media – LinkedIn is a very powerful medium for analysts, so is Twitter. The IDC team are strong on Twitter, as is IBRS, CapioIT, with Ovum, Frost & Sullivan, Forrester and Gartner there as well. Just so you know, after the Analyst Summit last year I clipped every single Tweet you shared into the final wrap up report – the good, the bad and the ugly. Yes it took me a really long time, but it was terrific proof of the event’s success and learnings, so it’s valued
  • Media coverage – one thing I always appreciated is analysts sending me coverage they appeared in that was relevant to me. Obviously if it was positive I would send it over my social channels, but equally, I would share it on the internal Yammer network too – that’s why it’s a great thing. AR people can help you too

If I think of the analysts who really get this stuff, I’d definitely say:

Social media

Facebook Thinks I’m Fat

(Facebook thinks I need plastic surgery by the way – you?)

Of course, when compared to some of the global heavy weights – Tiffani Bova, Brian Solis or Ray Wang – lessons could be learned. But for everyone I’ve copied here, all are worth following, and bookmark Gartner’s blog site. A great information resource.

Concluding now. I write this knowing the analysts are super busy, and if Dave Noble’s recent blog is anything to go by, it’s only going to get busier. BUT this is about YOU. It’s about taking care of yourself and your personal brand. It’s kind of like taking care of your health, but for your career instead. Your firm obviously benefits too, but that’s not as important as what you get. I also appreciate that some of your firms have restrictions on what you can and can’t do, but you know, perhaps it’s time to have discussions to get that changed? It really is redundant thinking.

I believe in the power of social media to change the world, but it changes careers too. I’d be thrilled to know my blog helped you love social just a little bit more, because I miss working with you, but I still want to “hear” from you!

Take care, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to those celebrating.

Cheers

Andrea.

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