Tag Archives: Spada Inc

How to learn content marketing best practices

The Content Marketing Strategies Conference is happening in Berkeley May 8 and 9. If you want to get a quick but deep immersion into the topic of content marketing, this is the place for you.

Digital and social tools are changing the way companies of all sizes position themselves to customers.  That’s why there are a lot of clichés getting thrown around in the branding/marketing sphere.  Content marketing simply means using your company’s facts to connect with your markets online.  For the purpose of doing business.

To market your content via all the channels available to you, there are three things you need to understand.  And this conference will help you with that, through case studies from companies like SAS, Dell, Ogilvy PR, Kelly Services, HiveFire, and Altimeter Group.

  1. How your customers and fans gather information about you and your products – so you can share the content they want on their terms
  2. How your customers use content about your products and services to make a buying decision – so you can engage your customers more effectively
  3. How to integrate online content marketing practices with your offline sales and marketing activities – so you are delivering a consistent message and leveraging your entire marketing spend

I’m really pleased to have been asked to serve as a media sponsor of this gathering – and I’m even more pleased to be able to share with you a discount opportunity.  Just click on the image below to learn more about the Content Marketing Strategies Conference and register using the discount.

The Content Marketing Strategies Conference

Advertisements

The next generation of Internet startups

In March 2012, I read about a new startup called BrandYourself and signed up.  Inspired by one of its founder’s negative search engine results — he was being confused with a drug dealer — BrandYourself is nonetheless about much more than deleting bad search results.  The company is one of several new startups that enable regular people to optimize their online activities and/or make their lives easier.  I am so impressed with BrandYourself that I talked with CBS Interactive about it.

There are plenty of so-called reputation management plays out there, well-funded, in fact, but BrandYourself represents a super-important shift in technology — what I see as the next generation of startups.  It is one of a bunch of companies that were born where their customers live, and they enable customers to manage and optimize their content — giving them a bit of control they did not have.  In BrandYourself’s case, you tell them what you want turning up in a search, so the Internet is not just happening to you.

Another new generation startup, Citrus Lane [my client], packages and delivers products for babies and their parents monthly, saving them time and money.  This is great, but Citrus Lane also invites customers into a community of parents who share their experiences and wisdom.  The so-called mommy bloggers are running with it, taking to their sites and YouTube to talk about their experiences with the brands that Citrus Lane packs — and talking about how Citrus Lane covers all their bases:  monthly surprises, good things for their babies, product research.

Wix.com [I use it for my consulting practice], makes it possible for anyone to create  a beautiful, compelling, differentiated website for a small business.  Their designers and programmers work on the art and the underlying engine, giving you templates to follow that extract the content that makes for a good story.  At the same time, you have a creative outlet that gives the world a picture of the real you.  This is essential to strong marketing [something I always tell my clients].

These startups use technology to pull ideas from you to shape your presence and your circles online.  And while BrandYourself and companies like it do have the luxury of following the quirky programming geniuses who perfected web platforms, they are very wisely taking those innovations a step further, not copying them.  They are addressing what regular people need, now that we have Facebook, LinkedIn, et al,  and providing services on top of those platforms that meet real expectations.

Social media and business strategy: What I learned from professional services marketing

Traditional, conventional business strategy has relied upon one kind of marketing for decades:  broadcast.  The advent of social media is doing more for what creative marketers have advocated for years — the actual engagement of each and every stakeholder in a conversation, or a debate, or a brainstorm, not a one-way blast.  But traditional marketers are afraid of anything they cannot control, so most are still waiting for the pioneers to show why we should embrace social media instead of fear it.

I think the real problem is that traditional marketers, some leaders among them, are actually threatened by the fact that social media is making it possible for communication between a company and its stakeholders to occur independently.  You can just hear them asking, "what about my job?"  Well, this post isn't for them.  Or for anyone who believes that the best route to job security is to keep corporate marketing in the dark ages.

I was fortunate to have learned marketing not in a college classroom or a consumer conglomerate but in what some would have considered a stuffy sanctum, the executive suite of an accounting and consulting firm.  The longer I'm at this, the more I appreciate my unconventional background.  It has given me the fuel to look at every new innovation, real or trumped-up, with an eye to what it will do for the relationship between my clients and their stakeholders.  Because relationship is where it's at with professional services.

This is the first of a couple of posts I'm planning about social media and the corporate marketing function.  I'm inspired by a couple of things right now:  my work with startups and the need to look at every penny spent on marketing, and an afternoon I spent this week as the guest of KickApps at a really terrific seminar they hosted for their clients, potential clients and the social media community.  It's great and it's fun that companies like KickApps even exist.  Great because it's about time the best marketers create firms like this that really help companies maximize their involvement in the worldwide web — fun because marketing is going to be fun again, thanks to the early case studies to which we were exposed.

Before I go into sharing what we learned this week, though, here's what it made me remember, courtesy of my still-relevant experience at Andersen Worldwide.

  1. The best marketers are not parked in the marketing function, they live at the front of the company.  This means all employees.  They are the actors, not just the symbols, of the brand.
  2. Relationships are the most meaningful platform for marketing.  When you look to establish a relationship with a customer or an influencer, like a journalist or blogger, you get yourself out of the sales or publicity mode and into a real conversation.  You learn what interests them and what they need.
  3. Whether a sales cycle is long or short, establishing a relationship depends upon understanding what the customer [or stakeholder] really wants, not what you want them to think or do.  You build a brand by understanding what your people and your products or services can do for the stakeholder, not how much money you can make from the relationship.  The money — and the success — will follow organically and easily.
  4. The best marketing happens face to face or one on one, which means that the social network is perfect for building and sustaining a relationship.  What we have today is akin to what we had yesterday — a means to connect over content.  It's perfectly fine that the connecting happens via digital correspondence.
  5. Authenticity will out.  You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
  6. Some of your best ideas will come from listening to what your critics, including dissatisfied customers, say.  Whether it's about your company or someone else's, or even if it's about you.  Play on a team of rivals.

On the McKinsey leadership model for women

This summer in Silicon Valley saw a lot of conversation about the quality of visibility women now enjoy here.

While many women and the companies they lead or help to manage work invisibly to produce — and thus contribute to the community at large — they do so without calling attention to their gender.  Some prefer it that way and mark it as a sign that women are finally integrating seamlessly into management ranks.  I tend to be one of these people, and most of the women I respect are.

Then we have the segment of women at work who want to flex muscle in the limelight.  This ranges from provocative dress to provocative behavior.  On the way to workplace equality, they have taken a detour.  In the worst misplaced person scenarios, they get used by the folks I call the master bloggers.  These are the boys who have achieved some success and even more of a following — thanks mainly to what I believe is their desire to act out and outrageously, validating the geek myth of socially inept males finally getting some attention.  We are patiently waiting for this to get old.

Meanwhile, THE MCKINSEY QUARTERLY featured an article on how talented women thrive in business, based on research the consulting firm just completed.  As I read the article, it struck me that the leadership model McKinsey articulates — based upon interviewing women in leadership positions — is something every organization should consider for their executive teams. It's also something every person should consider as he or she shapes a career.

McKinsey calls it "centered leadership" and identifies five dimensions:  meaning, managing energy, positive framing, connecting and engaging.

Of great interest, too, are what McKinsey calls the pre-conditions for success of the centered leadership model:  intelligence, tolerance for change, desire to lead and communication skills.

What's significant for women here?  As we have injected gender balance into management ranks, we also have delivered a more useful, productive approach to leading people.  We are adding depth.  This is not just about the female perspective — this is about adding value via skills developed in the background, out of the limelight, from time served in the ranks and lessons learned through sharp powers of observation.

The McKinsey centered leadership model is something we in Silicon Valley must study as we build our companies from the ground up.  Startups and small businesses everywhere have more leverage than ever to improve the model for running companies.  I hope Silicon Valley will become headquarters for centered leadership.  And Ground Zero for responsible communication via the social media invented here.