Start Treating Your Content Like Gold Now!

Content has been a big topic the last few years.  It seems every time you see a survey of the things that CMOs are concerned about, producing enough quality content is usually their number one concern. We even have a style of marketing now called “content marketing,” which of course doesn’t actually market content, it uses content to market other products.  Are you following this?

Content is Gold

Content is the fuel that makes today’s marketing work.  Simple as that may sound, not everyone has swallowed the Kool-Aid yet.  Can you do quality marketing without quality content?  Perhaps.  There are some businesses that are not in the stage of the market that content earns it’s keep.  Some products don’t really lend themselves to the written word; others fail in diagrams.  All is not created equal.

So to help you understand the landscape, here are 5 important points to contemplate:

You can calculate and communicate the exact value of your content.  You can learn in pretty good detail exactly what kinds of content resonate with your audience.  Especially if you hold some other variables constant (audience, medium) while you vary the content.

You can pass content as value to your channel partners.  Everyone wants and can use quality content.  Especially your channel partners.  It used to be that channel partners would look to their vendors for MDF or “leads” and while money still talks, compelling content that supports the marketing effort benefits everyone.

Use different content for the top and bottom of the funnel.  It’s best to use broad subjects and provocative subjects to entice people to enter your funnel where you can educate and nurture them.  Bottom of funnel content will be more product based; reviews, case studies, technical white papers.

Content can be reused.  I know it’s crazy to overstate the obvious, but quality content can be used in much more than one was.  Snippets of a white paper make blog posts; a reworking of a brief can make a contributed article.  Some folks are absolute artists at doing this.  Find one for yourself and stretch your content!

You buy it once, it pays many times.  This is my favorite. Having quality content is a bit like having money in the bank.  You can use it to make money in a campaign, you can use it to make our channel partners smile, you can use it in your PR on your website and in your emails.  And you only have to buy it once!  The inventory that never depletes.

Today’s marketing not only  requires the ability to find, write or purchase content that gets the most out of your campaigns.  It also requires a knack in actually using that content..

How does your content stack up?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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8 Secrets to Becoming a LinkedIn Group Star!

It’s kind of an understatement to say that LinkedIn groups have become popular: there are over 1.9 million of them.  They cover (obviously) a wide range of topics.  The best ones are thriving communities where industry professionals interact with one another and share valuable ideas and insights from their professional worlds.

LinkedIn Groups

For some an online community such as LinkedIn can be ominous to the point of non-participation.  This means missing out on the valuable connections and learning that LinkedIn Groups have to offer.  LinkedIn is much more than an online resume site and the groups are a major part of the community.

So here are some hints you can use to get more out of your LinkedIn Group experience:

  1. Join groups that match your interests.  With 1.9 million groups there a good chance you will find a group that matches your interests exactly.  Search out those groups.  If there are several groups in your topic area, try them a few at a time.  Leave groups that do not keep your interest.
  2. Not all groups are created equal.  You may join some groups to keep in touch with college or company alumni or to get updates from a specific organization.  Not every group requires frequent interaction; the LinkedIn tools allow you to choose the frequency of interaction.
  3. Watch a group’s behavior before posting.  You’ll want to fit it, not stand out, at least at first.  Watch the tone and style of posts and comments, etc.  See what kinds of topics get commented on most often.
  4. Stay on the topic of the group.  The best groups do not approve posts that are not of specific interest to the group members.  The closer you stay to home with your post topics, the more often you will be approved and the more often group members will comment on your posts.
  5. Do not “self-promote” Unless the group was specifically created to post your home carpet cleaning business or your catering success, you should not be sharing it.  You should post things that will be interesting to other readers.
  6. Bring new information to the group.  Find and post articles that bring new ideas to the group, don’t rehash the same old topics.  You also want to look like a thought leader and by posting articles about new concepts and up-to-date marketing techniques, etc., will help you get there.
  7. Post insightful comments.  The writer certainly enjoys the “Great post, Bob” comments, but the whole community on the group enjoys a well thought addition to the discussion.
  8. Focus on creating and participating discussions.  The best contributions are those that promote interaction and discussion between group members.  It’s a beautiful thing when it works.  You should look for these discussions and get involved.  When creating a discussion, ask questions that are food for thought, make it easy for people to comment.

LinkedIn is here to stay and offers each of us an opportunity to promote our personal brand and grow our networks and the LinkedIn groups are central to that.  Each of us should spend some time learning to get the best from the LinkedIn community.  The effort pays off!

Have you gained from the LinkedIn groups?  What are the topics you like to see?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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What’s So Cool About Marketing Automation, Anyway?

There’s been a bunch written about this topic.  Creating the tools has made several companies really big.  Oracle paid $810 million for Eloqua in 2012.  Marketing automation has been touted as a marketing revolution.  But what does it all mean?  Why do I need it?

I was an early adopter to the marketing automation world.  Tied a big system to a big system and reaped the benefits.  Yes, it was cool.  But many of the same functionality can be obtained in other packages and gosh, you only really use 20% of the functionality.

CRM adjusted

Before you go off and purchase a system without thinking the whole marketing automation process through, take a few moments to go over each of these capabilities.  How important is it to you?  How do you do it now and can that be improved?  You may find that you have tools in place to do many of the aspects of marketing automation.

  • Email tools.  Within any marketing system you’ll want to send out emails and track when they are open-end and clicked on, etc.  This is the core of a marketing automation system.  Automatically sending out follow up emails, based on if the original email was opened, is a key marketing automation task.  Some email programs can do these as well.
  • CRM integration.  It’s ideal to have all data on each prospect stored in the CRM; every website visit, every email received every phone call and trade show visit logged.  Not every combination of systems will yield a fully integrated  view, however, the CRM remains the place to store your customer data.
  • Website analytics.  You will want to integrate date from your website visits, especially these who have responded to your offers.  If your system is a bit more sophisticated, each known prospect’s web visits will be added to the CRM, giving you a much more full view of what prospects are doing.
  • Lead scoring.  Finding the ripe prospects in your CRM based on their “digital body language.”  This works most effectively with a large number of prospects who interact often with your website and emails.  You set rules of how points are assigned and also the point levels when actions, such as sending additional emails, or a phone call, will be taken.
  • Lead nurturing.  This was cited as the feature most companies wanted from marketing automation.  It’s the automated equivalent of keeping in touch with the customer and at it’s best implementation, it is an automatic education of the customer, leading him or her down a predefined content path.  Some folks called this “drip marketing” but the concept has evolved to a more involved science.
  • Landing pages.  Some marketing automation platforms offer landing pages, some do not.  It’s kind of a nice to have, since many cloud services call effectively fill in the blank.  Creating quality landing pages quickly and getting them solidly linked to your CRM is an important and repetitive task.  The automation part of the system can make a big difference here.

Once you have thought through your needs, you will be better able to match up the systems available to your specs.  You’ll likely get the most for your money and the least disruption this way.   You might find that you can already do many of the marketing automation tasks with your current tools.

What marketing automation tools do you use?  What functionality do you use the most?


You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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5 Easy Ways to Achieve Excellence in Your Sales Support

I have always believed that one of marketing’s most important activities is to provide the sales team with support.  A large part of that support takes the form of sales materials; leave-behind brochures, email attachments, case studies, PowerPoint decks and the like.  These items touch every sales prospect at some point.


Often, I have found that these items are forgotten about and are older than they should be or have been modified by the sales team with less than perfect results. I vividly remember the look in the eyes of my partner, the VP sales, while on a train ride outside of London.  We were on our way to a major presentation, one that we had traveled 5500 miles to present.  He was reviewing (and trying to fix) the presentation his salesperson had put together for the meeting.  It was horrid.  The salesperson modified my team’s slide deck with different fonts on each slide and a real lack of proof reading.  Needless to say, he wasn’t our salesperson for long after that.

How then to turn sales support into an advantage?  Try these 5 tips to get started:

  1. Listen to the sales team and address their needs.  Some of the best marketing materials can come from salespeople asking for something in detail or explaining to the marketing team what the elements of their pitch seem to resonate most with customers.  I recommend listening to them and their experience and creating materials they know they had a hand in creating.  It goes a long way to make them feel supported.
  2. Gently coach them on basic branding.   The basics of branding do not come naturally to many people.  I find it helpful to explain in advance the full story and reasoning behind every tweak of the tagline or change in the look of the website. The sales team must buy-in and assimilate these things for them to fully take hold.
  3. Keep top-quality presentations in your sales team’s bag of tricks.  Whether your sales folks are road warriors, forever visiting potential customers’ offices or they do what they do over the phone and WebEx, PowerPoint presentations are often a key tool for them.  They establish credibility for the company and present an structured overview of product offerings.  I believe it is marketing’s job to keep these fresh, up-to-date and on target.  I have gone to the extent of changing the PowerPoint format and background every year, so that both I and sales management could recognize out of date presentations immediately.
  4. Focus on having excellent follow up materials.  Again, whether after in-person meetings or phone conversations, salespeople can emphasize key points when they have the right follow up brochures, case studies and article reprints.  A steady supply of good content helps them do this.
  5. Make sure salespeople actual get the message.   I experienced one extreme situation where I went into a company 6 months after a poorly-executed name change.  I walked around the sales area and realized that some salespeople where still using their old-name business cards and announcing themselves on the phone using the old name.  When I asked, I was told “Well they don’t know us by the new name.”  I’ll leave you to guess my reaction to that.

The marketing team has the same responsibility to the front line salesperson as our armed forces has to our fighting men and women at the front lines of battle.  They must have confidence that they are armed with the best possible tools. Make sure your team is doing their part.

What has been the best sales support you’ve seen?  Where does it fall down the most?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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How has B2B Lead Flow Changed?

Recently I have had the opportunity, more than once,  to consider and explain what’s different about today’s B2B marketing.  It seems the standard that exists in the mind of many outside of the marketing discipline is a lead flow where marketing played a much smaller role.  In that mindset, marketing found leads and sent them all off to sales.  Aside from the occasional last-ditch follow up campaign most of those leads fall dormant.

Now, that mode of operation helped grow a number of great companies, some would say.  The time-honored tradition of following up on leads became a B2B pastime.  So did complaining about lead quality and executing poor follow up.

For example, in the “old days” marketing would set up a trade show, do a promotion or devise a game that brought booth traffic, and then sales interacted with prospects in the booth.  Out of a show came a small number of “hot leads” and a larger number of lesser quality “scanned leads”  Of course the “hot leads” got entered in the system and followed up on quite quickly.  The larger number of “scanned leads,” not so much.  Really, marketing’s role was to instantly hand off all leads to sales.

Marketing Funnel

Enter the 21st century marketer, armed with advanced marketing automation and lead nurturing tools, carefully-created content and end-to-end CRM visibility.  These tools have changed the nature of the game for B2B marketing forever.  Now a “lead” stays in marketing for long periods of time, being nurtured by steady and consistently-applied campaign rules dictate each email, call and question.  This is the middle section of the chart.

Marketing then can “watch” the digital body language of leads and, in a lead scoring environment, can automatically move these to the sales process when they are ready.  The systems can also dictate and advise when a potential customer should be called in the process.  In that manner they can also feed the exact right content for the prospect’s stage of the purchase process.

Within a campaign executed by an automated marketing system, you take different paths based on feedback from the prospect; did they open the email?  Did they click on any links?  Have they visited the website?  All of these actions can be input the lead nurturing campaign and each result can dictate different reactions.

Back in the stone ages of marketing “sales” did these tasks.  Often poorly or inconsistently.  Using a process that was basically untrackable.  But we’re over that now.  Take a deep breath.  We can move on now!

Using one of these systems also allows the marketing team to work on new and creative campaigns rather than executing repetitive marketing execution tasks. It’s all good!  Consider bringing it into your world!

What is the state of your marketing lead engine?  Are you nurturing your leads properly?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm

The Top 4 Reasons CEOs Don’t Get Social Media

Social media is no longer something new.  It’s not the cool thing we all should look into any more.  It’s a live, breathing world where fortunes have been made and marketing professionals have been focused. Small companies have become large companies based on the strength of their social media reach.  Even Mom and Pop restaurants know the importance and power of social media.

Why is it then, that CEOs and other smart industry leaders often totally miss the facts?  Completely oblivious to the trends going on around them.  Yes, they know it’s happening, they just think it has no relation to their business or they recognize the importance, have “put their best people on it,” but don’t understand any of it from a personal level.  Social media is in fact “for somebody else.”

5 Reasons CEOs Don't Use Social Media and Domo conduct research annually on Fortune 500 CEOs and where they sit on social media.  This year’s report shows an interesting state of affairs.   Here are some findings from the report, as well as descriptions of some other forces involved.

  1. Most Fortune 500 CEOs do not have a single social media presence.  Yup, you read that right.  In this example “most” is 68% as in two-thirds.  It’s real hard to understand social media if you do not participate in any way. If  a company used television advertising, the execs would watch television, wouldn’t they?  Kind of shows how important social is to them.  After all is it quite easy and simple to, for example, sign up for twitter, get an app for your phone, follow a few folks you know and like.
  2. Of the CEOs that are engaged, most are only on LinkedIn.  The report found that 2/3 of them are on one network only and 74% are on LinkedIn.  Now that’s good in the sense that it is an excellent social network that a CEO could find useful, etc.  It’s not a full view of social media, however.
  3. These trends trickle down.  In smaller companies, my impression is that age is a better determinant of social engagement company size.  In the study, there is obviously a lack of younger folks in the sample.  (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the only F500 CEO on all five major social networks.)  While there are certainly companies headed up by 20-somethings; it’s just not the norm.
  4. Social networks are a challenge for anyone trained traditionally.  The way you extract value form a market via traditional “interruption marketing” tools is much different in today’s “in-bound marketing” world where companies seek to educate the target market and bring valuable tools and content.   I’ve also noticed that the more traditional among us (a group over-represented at the top of all size companies) are not comfortable with the lack of in-your-face “Buy Now!” signals in social media.

I guess it isn’t that this is this particular state of affairs that is the bad news.  No, the bad news is that it’s not changing very fast and is not likely to anytime soon.

What is your CEO’s level of knowledge on social media?  Is it an active part of their personal brand?


You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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Productize Everything Now!

I’m going to admit it up front; I really like both the word and the concept of “productization.”  Love to “productize” things.  To me, it speaks to making something the best that it can, using the core techniques of product management.  These techniques can be applied to (almost) anything and used to manage and enhance that “thing.”

My thesis applies to your daughter’s annual Girl Scout cookie sale, your corporate staff department or your book club.  It can be applied to every service your company offers.  Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO and one of the Silicon Valley’s breed of new talent, did just that in her 13-year career at Google; methodically productizing Google’s portfolio of services into industry leaders and building that company into a powerhouse.  Maybe you can do this at your company?

Productize definition

Still not convinced?  Let’s go a little deeper.  Here are some specific elements of basic product management techniques that can help in a wide range of situations.

Finding what and where the opportunity is.  Product managers might refer to this as “market assessment.” Does the market have a need for what we are providing?  Is there an opportunity to differentiate the product or go to market with a superior design and gain market share? While these concepts sound like “business buzzwords” to the layman, they are real questions that should be addressed about every outgoing entity.

Create a product roadmap.  A product roadmap for a 4-person accounting department might sound crazy to some, but it’s not.  It’s a good way to set goals for improvement and upgrade of skills to meet customer’s needs better, etc..  Even the Girl Scout Cookie example can use a roadmap; looking at the sales as a three-year project that you want to get better at each year likely yields a whole different mindset and strategy than just getting it done and off your plate ASAP.  What if your daughter is the one who maintains and grows an email list of interested customers and communicates with them regularly with attractive emails or accepts credit cards and PayPal as payment.  It’s all quite easy to do.

Understanding requirements.  The product manager is the customer’s advocate within a business. They need to understand the needs of the customer inside and out.  Every product, service, business or institution can gain by understanding their customers’ requirements better than their competitors.  How do your Girl Scout Cookie customers want to order, pay for and receive their Thin Mints?

Monitor product performance to goal.  Metrics and analyzing results are a big part of what product managers do. It’s an important part of this concept as well.  How do you determine the success or failure of a venture or project?  You create ways to monitor performance and create goals for the resulting performance gauges, then compare.  As you drill down from there, the numbers show you where to spend your time improving the product for maximum positive effect.

As I like to say, there is “some there there” on this productization  idea.  I hope it turns into a movement; long live those who productize.  Each of us can learn from watching what product managers do and applying the same techniques to your world.  Start now!

What aspects of product management do you already use in your world?  What unique situations can you see product management techniques being helpful?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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