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Aug092014

4 big ideas from the 2014 Content 2 Conversion conference

Earlier this year I attended the Content 2 Conversion conference in New York City to get the buzz on content marketing and lead generation. It’s not often you get to take a day out of the office to mingle with the best content marketers in the business (cue Pam Didner from Intel, Lee Odin from TopRank and Jacky Saayman from Open Text, winner of two Killer Content awards) and eavesdrop on how to drive greater lead generation from content.

Here are the four big ideas I took away with me:

1. Repurpose, Reuse, Refresh.

A whitepaper or webinar is a huge undertaking on their own. They are meaty, lengthy, and rich in depth and detail. But once published it it would be a waste to leave them in their static, stand alone form, waiting for downloads.

If you aren’t already, leverage these ‘big rock’ assets into a multitude of other formats to extend your content’s reach, increase the frequency amongst your target audience, and drive your dollar further. How you might ask? Some ideas:

  • Graphs and statistics can become infographics
  • Headlines or intro sentences can become social media nuggets
  • Executive summaries can become blog posts
  • Topics from webinars can be chaptered into individual videos or podcasts
  • Images can have quotes applied and used in visual social networks like Pinterest and Instagram
  • Q&A from webinars can become blog posts
  • Webinar slides or key messages from the whitepaper turns into a Slideshare deck

Dayna Rothman shows how she does it at Marketo with some very visual examples:

 

There is also a great piece on repurposing content on the HubSpot blog.

 

2. Give the buyers what they are looking for.

We’re probably in agreement that there is a place for content in your marketing plan and with 65% of buyers wanting to see 4+ pieces of content before shortlisting (2013 Media Consumption Study), we need to be creating more than one quality pieces.

But if this content isn’t mapped to your buyer’s journey, then you may not be answering your customer’s questions, challenging the status quo, and positioning your company as the solution. And if you aren’t doing that, you aren’t maximizing the potential for lead generation, and ultimately ROI on your activities.

Trip Kucera, VP & CMO of Harte Hanks/Aberdeen Group did a great job of taking us through the specific questions B2B buyers ask themselves during key stages and which types of content are best used to address these. I have summarized this part of his slides in this table:

Buyer Stage

Buyers Critical Qs

Content Criteria

Types of Content

Discovery

 

What don’t I know, How can I be successful and helpful at work? What skills do I need to be more competitive?

Content should be vision forming, challenging the status quo, shorter for, attention earning

Video, blog posts, infographics, trends, analyst coverage, 101 education, how-to guides

Consideration

Which problem should I solve? They have their sights on something – what should they prioritize, how do I solve it and what’s important for us?

Capabilities and best practices (buyer becomes a mental user of your product) use-case examples

Longer form content emerges

Whitepapers, 3rd party research, online assessments, ROI calculators,

Evaluation

Who can help me solve this problem? How can I reduce risk, maximize ROI, etc

Solution-centric

ROI (risk of doing nothing perceived as higher than risk of action), need to help them avoid inertia

How to choose a vendor?, Solution comparisons

Selection

How will I success, are we making the right choice? Are you right for me?

Customer success/testimonials, peer-driven insights (usually for after sale, but being brought forward)

Case studies

 

This certainly helps me map things out in my content plan!

3. Time to actually develop a strategy, my friend.

It’s very easy to just start bashing out content. What I learnt during this one day, was that with content marketing (and like almost anything really!) it pays off to develop a strategy, and a then a tactical plan to support.

It comes as no surprise that B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective (66 percent vs. 11 percent), based on CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, 2014.

Here’s how:

  1. Decide what you want to achieve from your content plan – whether it’s awareness, leads, sales, retention – and be clear about what success looks like
  2. Figure out your buyer personas
  3. Map your customer’s typical buying process
  4. Do a content audit with what you have already got
  5. Look for the gaps
  6. Repurpose, recycle and reuse what you can

When you are creating new content, as Ardath Albee from Marketing Interactions said in her presentation (see below), what will resonate with your buyers, is content that has relevance, value, new ideas, expertise, insight into solving problems, less vendor bias and less sales pitches.

 

 

4. Recruit subject matter experts.

You don’t have to write it all yourself. I loved this clever way Dayna Rothman was able to recruit thought leaders from within her company, Marketo, to participate in writing content.

She created an internal communications campaign called the ‘Blog Wars’ (very Star Wars-esque in it’s design) to generate interest in contributing and created a way to reward those who contributed.

 

Pretty cool!

 

Moving forward with great content

I bet it all sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well the good news, is that it is. From the first printed newsletter you edited together, to now, the strategy is the same, we’ve just got so many more tools to take advantage of and more data to see if it’s working.

For more big ideas from the conference, take a look at the slides and videos that have been archived.

 

What’s your big tip when it comes to content marketing?

Share it in the comments below.

 

Note: I was glad to be an invited guest at Content 2 Conversion thanks to Kim Zimmerman and Alicia Fiorletta from DemandGen Report where you can find even more ways to leverage content for lead gen. Sign up to their newsletter for more ways to optimize your demand gen program with content and to hear about the next C2C conference.

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