Best Practices

Jay Baer on Content, Marketing and More

By PRSA-SV President Mar Junge

@PRSASV connected with Youtility Author Jay Baer on our #PRSAvoices lunchtime tweet chat. Jay said he was “. . . wearing chambray, drinking iced tea and ready to fly to Napa tomorrow for a speech” and confessed, “I’ve never been to Silicon Valley. Only SF/EastBay. I may be the most active VC that’s never been!”

The conversation was lively and his insights appreciated. You can find Jay at convinceandconvert.com or jaybaer.com. Stay useful!

In your book, Youtility you talk about being helpful. Can every brand be helpful?

Every brand SHOULD be helpful, but not every brand CAN be helpful. And that’s not because they can’t do it tactically. Brands must provide content of value and that helps! Brands that aren’t good at helping don’t have a corp culture that supports long-term customer relationship-building. I think you can be a brand evangelist without being helpful, but it doesn’t hurt, for sure. Helpfulness comes from listening: “strategic eavesdropping” on Twitter, talking to customers etc. Just listen!

Is there too much content out there?

I don’t think there is too much content, but there is definitely too little content that matters.

What is the best way to break through the clutter?

The best way to break through the clutter is by being useful. #Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it if you asked them. That’s the bar you have to try to reach. The path to success now is paved with marketing people cherish, not marketing people tolerate. Look at these vine videos from @Lowes…totally useful. They are #Youtility. Being useful with your marketing requires courage and trust, and not every brand has those things.

What do you mean when you say marketing people cherish vs. tolerate?

“Strongest pieces of creative content connect w us as humans in a way that computers cannot understand”

What is your best advice for getting clients who are less socially savvy onto social?

I have found it is hard to “convince” someone that social media matters, but showing them customer usage helps. If you don’t love social media, you probably suck at social media.

How do you manage the client/exec/legal approval process that often transforms cherished content into mundane content?

You have to embrace the value of not turning marketing into a trojan horse, and sometimes that’s hard!

How does content differ B2B vs B2C? Key tips on how to address each?

B2B content must be more comprehensive, and cover more buyer stages because the purchase has more consideration behind it. B2C content needs to be more obvious and snackable. Decisions to buy/not buy are made more quickly, with fewer inputs.

What’s a metric to show how “deeply a person engages?”What’s beyond a “like”?

Here’s an ebook I wrote on the 4 types of content marketing metrics at slideshare.net/jaybaer. Think Net Promoter Score. Measure NPS for peeps connected to the brand in social vs. not. Friend-of-mine awareness is replacing top-of-mind awareness. Brands can be useful, like our friends are.

How do you measure success with content?

Make sure that what differentiates you is hyper-relevant to customers. Breaking through the noise vs. information overload. But remember, we are surrounded by data yet often starved for insights. “Listening” doesn’t mean download spreadsheet People don’t want to be sold to anywhere, not just in social media. See both sides. Check out @HiltonSuggests for the best example of “strategic eavesdropping” in the world.

What is one trend you are seeing as it relates to investment in social startups?

I’m seeing a lot more interest in aggregation, curation, filters used to make sense of all the content.

As a VC what social media advice do you have for SV startups? Should they be doing more or less of anything?

I have LOTS of advice for startups, but I’ll stick with the marketing advice here. 1st, do your homework. A lot of startups haven’t really researched competitive landscape. 2nd, realize that sales>>marketing in early stage. 3rd, create marketing that transcends the transaction. http://blog.bufferapp.com blog is HUGE, isn’t about their product. As a startup health & wellness network we saw competition, but we stand apart & that keeps us motivated/encouraged.

What tools do you recommend to do marketing research? Any favorites?

Four research tools I use: http://rivaliq.com #investor, http://getlittlebird.com #investor & http://grouphigh.com I’m very bullish on brands using Slideshare, actually. Lots of untapped potential there. Instagram and Instagram video. Perfect for short-form #Youtility.

Any advice for navigating social media in highly regulated industries, like healthcare?

The key is getting customers/fans/advocates to create and spread the content.

Curious to hear what you and others think about Medium, a new platform to share stories in an easily digestible way. Don’t you love how how Ev Williams (former Twitter founder) went from 140 characters to “long-form” content platform?

I like @Medium. Great format. Challenge is that you are building relationships on rented land, but that’s pretty common now. Twitter/FB are so link-driven I’d argue they are amplifiers for content residing elsewhere. Medium is a content hub itself.

What is on your reading list?

“DuctTape Selling” by @johnjantsch. Then “Marketing the Moon” by @dmscott. Read “SpinSucks” by @ginidietrich recently.

Do you sleep? No, really, how do you keep up with all of your “social” life?

I’ve gotten good at diving in/out of social in short bursts via mobile. And I have an AMAZING team http://convinceandconvert.com.

 

Quantifying Benefits is Like Flossing Your Teeth

By Melissa Junge, Moog Animatics Marketing

In addition to brushing your teeth, you know you should be flossing regularly. But this task takes extra time and effort and is easy to overlook. Same thing goes for quantifying benefits. Most marketers promote their features and competitive advantages, and good marketers remember to equate those with benefits. But how many take the extra time to really clean up their value proposition by quantifying those benefits? Especially in B2B marketing, where what you sell directly affects your customer’s bottom line, quantifying benefits can have a tremendous influence on the buying decision.

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To develop a FAB-Q (Features, Advantages, Benefits – Quantify) that differentiates your product or service from your competition, start with the FAB that’s most important to your customer.  For example:

Our motors have an integrated advanced motion controller (feature), so there’s no need for cables and a large control cabinet (advantage), which reduces the cost of materials and required floor space for the customer (benefit).

Now go one step further to quantify the FAB: Machines built with our integrated motor use 50% less floor space than competitive solutions, resulting in $118,000 annual savings in overhead. Plus our integrated motors save customers up to $100,000 in cabling costs.

To arrive at those figures, I used the following quantifiers:

  • Average machine square foot space is 40 sq. ft. compared to 20 sq. ft. with integrated motors
  • Cost of leasing factory in Silicon Valley: $0.99/sq. ft. per month.
  • Average factory floor size filled with competitor’s machines is 20,000 sq. ft. compared to 10,000 sq. ft. with integrated motors.
  • Savings on factory overhead is $118,800 (20,000 – 10,000 = 10,000 sq. ft.  x $0.99/sq. ft. per month  x 12 months)
  • Cables cost $50 each. Competitor’s machines use eight cables compared to four with integrated motors = $200 savings per machine.
  • 10,000 sq. ft. could hold 500 machines (20 sq. ft. each). Saving $200 of cabling per machine = $100,000.

Quantifying and calculating benefits takes time, research and a little creativity. Start by using your best estimates. Remember, those estimates can be changed as more information is gathered. The key is to start somewhere quantifying your benefits. Make FAB-Q a marketing habit and, like flossing, you’ll inevitably see long-term gains.

 

2013 Will be Full of SMAC

PRSA Silicon Valley’s Media Predicts Event honored a premiere panel of  journalists, including Ina Fried (All Things D), Michael Liedtke (Associated Press), Jordan Robertson (Bloomberg News), Maryfran Johnson (CIO Magazine), Bruce Upbin (Forbes), Nicole Perlroth (New York Times & Bits), Joseph Menn (Reuters), Scott Budman (NBC Bay Area, Tech Now!) (Master of Ceremonies),and Jon Fortt (CNBC & TechCheck) (Moderator). While there was a lot of tweeting about one panelist’s comment that Oracle is like Kanye West (no one is really interested but we watch the award shows anyway), the memorable acronym for the night came from CIO Editor-in-Chief Maryfran Johnson. She predicted that 2013 will be full of SMAC. (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud.)

SOCIAL — While using social media to connect, share, bookmark and tweet has been going strong for years, Johnson wondered how long it will take before these services are monetized. As long as a prospect or customer remains in the social media system, companies are very restricted on how they can market to them. To monetize those fans, companies need to find ways to move Facebook “likes,” for example, into their own marketing and sales systems.

MOBILE — Currently about half of the U.S. population uses smart phones. That means more often than not websites are being viewed on small mobile phone and tablet screens instead of on PCs and laptops. Also worth noting is that more companies and events are implementing BYOD (bring your own device), making user-friendly apps and easy-to-read-in-miniaturized websites even hotter in 2013.   

ANALYTICS — Big data is going to continue to be “big” this year. Major retailers and grocery chains such as Target, Walmart and Safeway analyze mountains of data to calculate what coupons to send and when to email prospects. They probably know more about our shopping habits than do our close friends or spouses. As many large enterprises are also analyzing big data to predict key trends, everything connected with IT will be on the rise.

CLOUD – Storing data and images online in Google Docs and DropBox is nothing new. In 2013, more companies will offer additional “cloud” services such as automatic backups. With more vendors in the mix, the variety of services will go up and costs down.

By Melissa Junge, Marketing Coordinator, Moog Animatics

Amplify Exposure: Landing Media Coverage

Landing a mention about your company or product in an industry publication is good for business. But considering the competition for shrinking space and the attention of overworked editors, receiving the right kind of exposure is easier with a good PR agency on your side.

c3PR recently attended PRSA Silicon Valley’s “Inside the Newsroom” event at Facebook’s headquarters. The panel of experienced editors from the online technology publication, All Things D, explained that maintaining good long-term relationships with editors and reporters is critical. In fact, wasting a journalist’s time with inappropriate pitches is a sure-fire way to damage a business relationship and discount your brand’s potential.

The panel offered a few suggestions – all of which we put into practice daily at c3PR. Here is a sneak peek at the checklist we use to make sure our clients make a media splash:

  • Can you sum up your story in a tweet? 
    • If so, the editor may be looking for something with a little more meat.
  • Do you really know your editor? 
    • We research the person we’re pitching to discover what they’re interested in and connect your story to that interest.
  • Find the human angle. 
    • All good stories feature people, so we include something that makes your story resonate with the reader. For example, did your software developer come up with the idea for his new app while cleaning the catbox?
  • Why should the readers care? 
    • Remember, we must convince the editor why they should spend their time writing about your company. It’s their job to provide readers with relevant content. It’s our job to help editors do just that.

For more information about how to add good media relations to your PR plan, contact mar@c3pr.com

Use Opinion Research to Guide Marketing, Create News

The upcoming presidential election is a good reminder of the impact of public opinion. Both parties frequently use poll results to demonstrate the popularity of their candidates. Customer surveys can be just as useful for a company’s marketing and PR efforts. At a recent PRSA Silicon Valley Professional Development Workshop on “Surveys, Research and Measurement,” David Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates explained how opinion research can be used to test and determine a company’s:

  • Market Position (Where are we currently?)
  • Strategy or Message (How do we go further?)
  • Campaign Performance (Did we get there?)

 To generate new ideas, make real-time adjustments to an ongoing campaign, or gain deeper insight into your audience, Metz suggests using a combination of survey methods, i.e. focus groups, ad testing and field polls. To determine which method will produce the most relevant data, first decide on whether the survey needs to be formal or informal and the data qualitative or quantitative.

 Let’s assume you’re going with an informal, qualitative approach. To reduce survey costs, we can help you leverage existing resources such as incorporating publically available data, including published social media polls, integrating customer feedback from your CRM system or website, and more.

 Metz reminded us that opinion research is only as useful as your ability to act on the results. So once you’ve gathered and analyzed your data, it’s time to generate the news. Reporters love polls, and many publications cover newsworthy research. Survey results that can be tied to a trend are even more interesting to editors.

For more info about different ways to enhance your brand through opinion research, email Mar Junge.

Make ‘Em Laugh, Get More Reads: Humorous Hashtags

After a long day at the office, no one wants to read a tweet saying “Our company X just released widget Y for problem Z.” Not only are you probably saying the same thing as 100 other business Twitter accounts out there, but more than likely that post will receive a few more ZZZZ’s than you’d hoped for. So stop taking yourself so seriously, and make your followers laugh!

A great way to spice up your tweets is with humorous hashtags. As you may recall, hashtags are like keywords searches in SEO. Trending topic hashtags can usually be found at the left side of your homepage. Want to know what’s going on with the #Olympics? Does your tweet include a #Video? Just add the little ‘#’ before the word you want to be noticed and you’ll show up in any search with that word. Hashtags are also used at events such as #SEMICON2012.

But there’s another way to use hashtags that is on the rise: humorous, individual hashtags. Trendsetters have started to use hashtags to bookmark their own funny thoughts about their tweets, and it’s just starting to catch on in business as a great way to spice up a tweet. Take a look at the examples below:

Do Your News Releases Work As Hard As An Olympian?

It’s hard to believe that after four years of grueling training some Olympians will compete for mere seconds at the London Olympics. That’s a lifetime of dedication building up to a single event – talk about pressure! In the business world, news releases are our client’s time to shine, but if you don’t know how to write a news release for the digital age, it can feel like your hard work is being wasted.     

For more than half a century, news releases were written to get the attention of editors and journalists, hence the name “press releases.”  But modern news releases are written primarily for search engines, with only about a fifth read by an editor. According to Ann Wylie, President of Wylie Communications, many news releases are “unreadable” because they’re not written for online audiences. The best news releases are written for humans, not search engines. While that may sound simple, many companies find this difficult to achieve without breaking portal regulations. For example, overloading a news release with links and keywords can be interpreted as spam and will limit the audience that receives your release. Below are a few straightforward tips to increasing your client’s name recognition and website traffic, through your news releases. With these in mind you’ll be sure to whip your news release into Olympic shape in no time!

  • Use strong verbs
  • Keep it short
  • Don’t drop the deck
  • Never repeat links
  • Match your media to the message
  • Skip fluff phrases

For more info and tips on writing news releases for your organization, contact Mar Junge.

Moving the Needle at NYSE

When our client ION announced their involvement in the Moving the Needle event aimed at increasing diversity in public corporate boardrooms, we knew it would be a success. After all, the kickoff event took place at the New York Stock Exchange and a group of attendees had the honor of ringing the closing bell. Check it out:

The Moving the Needle initiative seeks to connect diverse board candidates with public corporations across the U.S. So why should you care? As successful entrepreneurs and business execs, it’s critical that the companies you lead are functioning at full capacity. For most corporations, electing diverse board directors opens doors for well-rounded boardroom discussions, strategies and business performance. In fact, numerous studies have shown that diverse boards directly impact the success of a company. In “Gender Quality as an Investment Concept,” Pax World President/CEO and ION Advisory Council Member Joe Keefe cites a 2007 Catalyst study that found companies with the highest proportion of women board members “outperformed those with the lowest percentage of women by 66% on the basis of return on invested capital.”

The word “diversity” can be tricky. While ION focuses on increasing gender diversity on public corporate boards of directors and in the C-suite, it knows that diversity of thought, experience and ethnicity is also critical to a company’s performance. Sadly, seated around many boardroom tables is a group of senior-ranking white men with virtually the same background – even at some of the most well-known companies.  Bottom line: there’s no excuse for lack of board diversity. While many people argue that the pool of qualified women directors is too shallow, there is an abundance of qualified women who are ready, willing and able to sit at the table. A good board is balanced with directors with expertise in marketing, human resources, capital markets, corporate governance, and community affairs, along with industry and financial experts. And guess what? Women seem to be the dominant players in these fields.

So what can you do? We’ve touched just the tip of the gender diversity iceberg. But you can start by visiting www.ionwomen.org and taking a look at the Diversity Toolkit, Best Practices and Articles pages. Also be sure to sign up for the quarterly ION newsletter to get the latest updates. Share these things with your colleagues, investors, friends, and even with people you meet on the street. You never know. You could help move the needle.

Did You Miss the Ides of March?

Are you being extra careful to peek around corners? Today in 44 B.C. Caesar was assassinated in Rome by conspirators. Shakespeare immortalized the moment in his play, Julius Caesar, when a clairvoyant warned the dictator to “beware the ides of March.” Fancying myself a bit of a clairvoyant, every year on March 15 I lightheartedly caution others to heed this warning. Turns out this year I was too late, says the International Business Times.

Apparently the Roman calendar measured months by the phases of the moon. During March, May, July and October, the full moon always fell on the fifteenth. When Caesar died on March 15, it really was the ides. But since our Gregorian calendar is based on earth’s orbit around the sun rather than the moon’s orbit around the earth, the ides can happen on any date. This year, it was on March 8. And there won’t be another full moon on March 15 until 2052.

Point is, it pays to do a little research before issuing warnings – or news. Prior to sending out a news release for our clients, we check out what else has been said or announced on the subject. Sometimes we find an angle that makes our client’s new product or service more interesting and newsworthy. Research also helps ensure the news is really “news” – not last week’s event, like the ides was this year. Fortunately, in 2013 the ides of March is on the 27th, giving us a dozen extra days to beware.

Mind Game For Thinking Around Corners

In many parts of Europe and Japan, streets are narrow, curbs nonexistent and buildings butt right up to the road. Blind corners are everywhere. Sometimes there’s a mirror on the other side of the intersection to give you a different perspective that helps you see what’s around the bend.

This same concept can be applied to marketing challenges where we need to come up with a solution without being able to see all aspects of the problem. Looking at the situation from a different viewpoint helps us “think” around blind corners.

This high-powered technique was created by Tom O’Leary and described in his Pick the Brain blog. The underlying premise is that by imagining how others would solve a problem, you can better determine the most effective way to move forward.

It’s easy – you can do this in less than ten minutes. Think of three people who are as different from you as possible. They can be famous people, or people you know, or even 100% stereotypical, politically incorrect characters you make up. Create an index card for each one with a photo or caricature on one side and a list of their personality traits, mannerisms, habits, achievements, attitudes, etc. on the other.

When faced with a conundrum, pull out your index cards and ask each person, “What would you do?” Then write down the first three things that come to mind. When you finish, you’ll have nine possible solutions.

“Simply because you are attempting to answer the question on behalf of someone very different from you, you will come up with some remarkable solutions that would not naturally occur in your thoughts,” says O’Leary. “Then all you have to do is decide which of the suggestions make sense when applied to your real world problem, and put the solutions to work.”

Want to try it with me? Next month I’ll tell you about my three characters and if they helped me think around corners. I’d love to hear if this technique works for you.