social media

Social Media, and lead generation, is all about the humor


I hosted a webinar yesterday for our partner OnPath.  The guest panelists were Tim Washer (@timwasher) and Deborah Strickland (@deborahs) ofCisco. It was a fun 29 minute discussion (not counting Q&A) about social media and the lessons that Cisco - the 2010 B2B Twitterer of the Year - has learned. These people were really honest and transparent, and I might add, very funny. I hope we can work together again and I suggest you follow them on Twitter. With that said, the webinar attempted to tackle the following six questions in our relatively tight timeline:
  • How does Cisco use social media and why?
  • Does a higher volume of views, fans, followers, subscribers, translate into more sales?
  • How many people does it take to manage a successful social media strategy?
  • What can a small-medium size company do to get started? Do they need a plan or just jump into it?
  • How do you coordinate the technology of scheduling posts, building lists, and measuring clicks with team collaboration?
  • Should a company consider outsourcing these activities?
Sidebar: If GoToWebinar is listening, you folks really need to work on your conference call technology.  The webinar started 7 minutes late because of major issues and tech support never get to us until after we had resolved the matter. That said, a big shout-out to all of those who patiently waited for the webinar to start.  We didn't lose a single audience member! Thanks!
What Tim and Deborah shared can best be summarized as follows:
  • Use humor to engage: whether it's in your posts, or in your content you create (videos, blogs, etc.), people react better, and engage more, with a touch of humor.
  • Be transparent, be relational: don't just push your posts out there non-stop, rather you should be conversational and honest with your audience. It should be a two-way dialog but not necessarily an ongoing diatribe of your daily existence.
  • Sit back and watch while you're getting started.  You'll soon figure out who is worthy of watching and engaging with compared to who is simply shouting/spamming with no interest in being "social".
  • Use services like Technorati to find cool blogs to follow, and then get active contributing.
  • Look at your competitors and see what they're doing.  There is a good chance that you should be following some of the same people they do.
  • Create a schedule and stick to it.  Consistency is critical.
  • Social Media takes a lot of effort.  Don't let others in your organization make the false assumption otherwise.  Assume at least an hour or two per day.  If you don't have the time, or the additional resources or budget, to make that commitment then consider eliminating something else from your existing marketing mix or daily obligations.
  • Social Media does not necessarily result in a dramatic increase in lead generation activity.  It does, however, positively impact your search engine optimization (SEO), your thought leadership, and your exposure.  It's great to get a handle on what customers are saying about you or your services and products, and it absolutely allows you to respond to any concern they may have.
  • There is lots of technology out there, so use it.  The usual suspects like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite are good, but so are more analytical tools like Radian6 or PostRank.
  • Outsourcing of social media is a challenging thing, as the vendor will never know your business like you do.  That said, it can be safely done in controlled circumstances with sufficient checks and balances.
  • Foremost, what I took away, was a comment that for social media to be successful, you have to have a goal.  Once you start the program, always be measuring against your goals. What was very interesting was the observation that your goal may not be the same as what others in your organization believe the goals should be.  That means you need to get consensus early in the process.
Of course, I'm just hitting the high notes.  The actual webinar is worthy of a quick listen.  The questions submitted by the audience were powerful and the answers were honest.
Thanks to
@onpath for the opportunity to host. 
If you want to hear it yourself, you can
find the recorded version here.

What is the number one rule of content marketing?


Recently, I stumbled across a fantastic discussion on LinkedIn, in the group “Inbound Marketers – For Marketing Professionals” that asked this very simple question “What is the number one rule of content marketing?”. The discussion was started by Rey Tamayoof, and it has over 200 posts at the time of this blog writing. That tells you that Rey has hit a nerve with this question. That also prompts me to ask “Why?”
For context, let me summarize the most prominent answers that appeared in the posts:
  • Relevancy
  • It must be compelling
  • Remarkable content
  • Address the needs of the reader; it's not about you
  • Utilize keywords and key phrases
  • Fresh content
  • Use understandable language; shoot for high school readability
  • Visuals
  • Solve a problem
  • Authenticity
Now these are just a summary of the more common responses, however the largest response expressed, over and over again, was “Relevancy”. I love it. Of course, you know they’re right. Need a simple example? How many times are you reading a social media discussion, only to see somebody post something that is completely off topic and self-promoting? It happens a lot. If you’re like me, you probably completely ignore such posts? Why? They’re not relevant to the discussion. They don’t add value. Further, whoever made the post has lost any credibility with you in terms of future conversations.

Perhaps this answers my earlier question of "Why". The implication is that too many people must feel that too much content in existence today is simply not relevant. Would you agree?
I fully agree the relevancy is critical, however I do not believe it is the number one rule of content creation. In fact, I think it’s merely an attribute. It’s something you strive for when you generate your content, as are the other attributes like being compelling or authentic or fresh. While all of these attributes may help your content to be consumed, they do not necessarily help you achieve your goals, which is why you’re creating content in the first place.
Think about it. What are your goals? Are they to...
  • Generate awareness?
  • Establish thought leadership?
  • Increase your search rankings?
  • Feed your social media engine?
  • Contribute to your lead nurturing programs?
  • Engage your target audience?
Upon reflection, I think you will all agree that these goals are, in fact, designed to ultimately generate more leads for your sales teams, or to help in the conversion of leads into paying customers, such that you hit your revenue targets. In other words, it's all about demand generation.
Therefore, I submit that the number one rule of content marketing is to generate content that will help you fill your pipeline and close more deals. That’s it. Easy. Simple. End of story.
How would you do that? Well – I posted about that on the discussion group and summarized it accordingly:
“Content needs to start with your Sales Funnel. Analyze your sales funnel. What is the leakage and the lag from sales stage to stage? What are the common objections you get at each separate stage? What are the frequently asked questions your sales teams get asked? Once that's done, you can map your current content inventory against how each piece supports the sales funnel stages. Do they address the sales objections? Do they address the FAQs? Will they help you reduce the leakage or the lag? Is the content serving the top of the funnel or the middle of the funnel? How can your content help your Sales team be more successful? How can your content increase your conversion rates? To answer your question directly, the number one rule of content marketing is to help Sales close more deals. Everything else - relevance, thinking like the content consumer, personality, etc. - are aspects to what content should be produced and how it should be created. If you don't know the content you need, if it doesn't help achieve your end-goal of sales (I'm assuming it's sales but you may have another end goal), then your content will not be effective. Hence, always start with your sales funnel and figure out what you need to make, how your audience wants to consume it (which channels - video, podcasts, white papers, etc.) and how it addresses the challenges of the sales cycle.”
Those who read my blog posts know I often have pretty strong opinions, but perhaps my opinion is wrong on this. What do you think? Better yet – what would your sales team think?

3 Reasons Why you should be hosting webinars

One of the most common questions we get asked is “Why should we do webinars?!” The premise behind the question is that they’re already doing other activities and they do not necessarily have time, or resources, to add more to their sales and marketing mix. It’s a fair question. If you’ve attended any webinars, you’ll know, and appreciate, that many companies do webinars really, really bad.  Let’s be honest – have you ever left a webinar minutes into it because you were falling asleep, or it just wasn’t giving you any value-add? We understand.  These types of experiences can leave you not wanting to produce something if you can’t do it well. Doing something well takes time, and that’s often the one thing we’re all in short supply of.
How about we let the facts speak for themselves when it comes to why you should be doing webinars? In a recent study conducted by MarketingProfs, the following facts were uncovered, based on the 46% of companies that were actively doing webinars:
Why does your company conduct webinars?
  • 69%    Generate Leads
  • 69%    Increase brand awareness
  • 57%    Build loyalty
  • 40%    Drive website visits
  • 37%    Build in-house database
  • 28%    Drive offline business
Do you find webinars effective for:
  • 50%    Generating cost effective leads
  • 47%    Generating quality leads
  • 38%    Producing large volumes of inquiries
So there you have it — point #2 above gives you the answer to the question raised in our headline. If you have time, continue reading this blog because we’re going to take it to the next level.
What’s really interesting about this research is that it doesn’t even address how webinars can be repurposed for numerous additional pieces of content. This is critical! Understand that a webinar is typically a live event. Once its broadcast, everything said on that broadcast is now part of the public domain.  That means you can use this content to quickly and easily produce additional content without seeking any additional approvals. Let me repeat this – you can use this content without seeking any additional permissions. Examples of this additional content would include:
  • Podcasts
  • Transcripts
  • Quotes
  • Case Studies
  • Whitepapers
  • Press Releases
  • Blog Posts
What other piece of content can you produce that can be as easily, and affordably, repurposed? The answer is – nothing.
Why do you want to create additional content? Because now you can use this content in your lead nurturing programs, in your social media outreach, in your sales objection handling, and in your website Call To Action banners.  All of this content, and utilization, starts with a simple webinar.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective.  Let’s be really pragmatic about this. You’re busy. You don’t have time to call all of your target prospects, let alone your existing clients. You’re busy delivering on client commitments. Yet, despite all of this, you understand you need to be regularly communicating with your target audience if you want to keep feeding the sales pipeline. Even more frustrating is the fact that you often spend cycles with email, social media, or on the phone explaining the same concepts over and over again to your clients and prospects.  You’re not working efficiently or effectively.  When we talk to our clients, they readily admit this truth. They also acknowledge they’re frustrated.
With a webinar, you can reach your entire audience – customers and prospects and partners – for an investment of approximately one hour of your time. Best of all, the content is archived and then becomes available on-demand, suddenly freeing you up from explaining concepts over and over again in the future. Now you simply send them a link to the content and then follow up to see if they have any questions.
Webinars are not a cost. They are an investment that generates substantial ROI. You can measure it in increased sales and marketing productivity, or increased lead flow, or increase sales volume, or increased revenue.
It’s time to letter your on-air personality out. See you on the airwaves.