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How to Feed Your Content Channels without Going Broke

Feeding Your Audience

Anyone who writes for a living has never doubted that great content can move you to laugh, cry, covet – and buy.  The rest of the world has finally caught on.  The result? There’s a ravenous horde of content channels growling at your door, keeping your PR and marketing departments scrambling for the right kind of meaty bits to feed the beasts.

According to Content Marketing Institute founder and author Joe Pulizzi, on average an enterprise now uses 17 different channels for publishing content. As new channels and platforms proliferate, Pulizzi forecasts that this number will continue to increase.

Content isn’t just the latest shiny object.  Every current statistic supports the rush to put a stake and money into compelling words and visuals: research from IDG suggests that the value of content now impacts over 50 percent of purchase decision (and many research firms peg it at an even higher number).

All that tweeting, blogging, pinning, posting, bylining, white papering and what-not-ing has not gone unnoticed.  In fact, some argue that this tidal wave of text and visuals is putting us into content shock, as marketing consultant Mark Schaefer has warned.

Still, when a tactic “delivers, per dollar, three times the leads of traditional marketing avenues, costs 62 percent less, and has been ranked as the single most effective strategy for SEO,” the bandwagon gets full, fast. Schaefer says that “content marketers are now creating 27,000,000 pieces of content per day, doubling (depending on who you talk to) the entire amount of available web-based information every 9–24 months.”

Whether you’re a brand manager, digital marketer or corporate communicator, feeding and caring for your content channels will take up more of your or your agency’s time. Unless you’re an Intel with a huge in-house 24/7 newsroom, you will never have enough resources to feed multiple channels, so narrow your focus.  Here’s how:

  1. Segment your customers. Before you pay someone for that thought leadership piece or video, identify your customer segments so you can make good targeting decisions. Traditional segmentation identifies shared needs, attitudes, behaviors, or demographics.  Value-based segmentation looks at groups that produce your largest revenue. If you don’t have existing customer segmentation data, get it.  If you can’t afford it, try to find third-party data from an industry association or a syndicated research study that covers your category.  Failing that, hypothesize likely market segments using the expertise of you or your colleagues.
  2. Choose your engagement points. Purchase funnels have been replaced by decision journeys. Whatever you call your prospective customer’s path to purchase, map out the top stops along the way and focus your attention on targeted segments and their key engagement points.  For a target segment, key engagement points could be the social media platform where the most conversation about your product or industry takes place, a third-party review site that delivers a healthy portion of your site traffic or the top trade publications in your business.
  3. Go deep or go home.  It’s easy to be overambitious when you’re faced with multiple market segments and channels. Remember that your content needs to be constantly refreshed. Whether your tactics include blogging, webinars, a video series or branded content, budget the time to update frequently, with original (not simply regurgitated) words and visuals. Better to build out your content deeply one channel at a time then fragment resources.
  4. Don’t count on luck. The “build it and they will come “ approach may work once in a million, but most content strategy requires effective distribution through both earned and paid channels. For example, distribute earned content like media coverage through promoted posts or share it through an incentive-based brand ambassador network.
  5. Track and respond. Measure what’s working and rethink what’s not. For example, if your CEO loves to hear herself talk, but analytics show that others could care less about her blog, perhaps a webinar, podcast or online industry expert panel would be more effective. There’s no place for corporate vanity in an effective content strategy.

Image “dog+steak=awesome” by Ed Schipul via Flickr used by CC BY-SA 2.0 / Resized from original.

DealerRater.com Guides Car Buyers’ Decision Journey

January 21, 2014Elke MartinNews0

Our newest client, Boston-based DealerRater.com, created the world’s first auto dealer review web site. Today, they’re the #1 resource for car shoppers who want to see what others are saying about a specific dealer team’s performance, from staff friendliness to pricing and overall experience. Every month, millions of in-market buyers visit the site to get the latest unbiased (and thoroughly screened and vetted) reviews  about dealerships in their area – as well as who’s offering the best deals. Businesses today cannot afford to be left out of the online conversation – and when it comes to car buying, no one does it better than DealerRater.com.

MyAssist is At Your Beck and Call 24/7

January 21, 2014Elke MartinNews1

Personalized service, where and when you want or need it, is an art. Our newest client MyAssist is an amazing company that adds rich technology, such as predictive and location intelligence, to their anytime, anywhere live-agent concierge services. They’re the caring and helpful voice (yes, a real human being) that helps you rebook missed flights, get emergency services or medical help stat, or score a last-minute restaurant reservation. With great clients like Ford, Allstate, Mercedes-Benz, Spirit Airlines and Verizon, MyAssist is all about creating real-time customer happiness and satisfaction at the frontend, with superior technology fueling  the backend.

Hot Stuff: Cowboy Cauldron Company

January 8, 2014Elke MartinNews0

 

Every outdoor lifestyle enthusiast, whether urban pioneer or avid frontiersman, craves the lure of a blazing fire. For Mike Bertelsen, who grew up in the high desert of the American West, gathering around a campfire was a way of life. To honor that tradition, Mike invented and built the world’s finest outdoor fire pit and grill. The Cowboy Cauldron is handcrafted in the USA and produced from 100% American steel. Made to last for generations, it’ll be your, your friends’ and your family’s favorite spot to gather and make memories (along with some darn good meals). Want more info or interested in an upcoming media event? Give us a call.

 

Three Auto Shopper Trends that Matter in Any Industry

LA Auto Show Blog

When a ballroom filled with car dealers and automotive industry types erupts in applause to the question: “Who in this room thinks it’s a great year to be in the auto industry,” you know that despite all the talk of Washington dysfunction and consumers’ lack of confidence, optimism is back. It’s still cautious in many quarters, as Automotive News reporter Mark Rechtin pointed out in his coverage of yesterday’s 2013 JD Power Western Automotive Conference, held in conjunction with the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Many of our clients, from Porsche Cars North America to The Tire Rack, are in the automotive industry, so we attend numerous conferences and events each year to gauge trends and learn what the people whose daily business it is to design, manufacture, market, sell and service cars and trucks are thinking. For me, the various panels and presentations during this annual gathering offered up three key themes that aren’t just unique to the auto industry. They are valuable considerations for any marketer whose job it is to influence consumer shopping behavior. Here’s what I heard:

1. Mobile Optimization Matters More than Ever

Online shopping is moving to the dealership, just as it has and is in every other category of retail. According to JD Power’s 2013 Sales Satisfaction Study, 32% of shoppers researched dealers digitally first. Among tablet and smartphone users, 23% of users are looking for dealership information. When you add that 75% of auto retail customers are looking at 3rd party ratings and reviews, and over 50% are not committed to any brand at the start of the online shopping process, it’s clear that retailers whose websites are information rich, who post and promote positive reviews and whose content is fully optimized for mobile have a clear edge.

2. Multi-Cultural Marketing isn’t a Trend, It’s Everyday Business

Los Angeles is an epicenter of multiculturalism, and the rest of the country is catching up fast. Yet, as Toyota’s Bill Fay pointed out, multi-cultural doesn’t mean a monolithic approach to marketing. Every segment from Hispanic to Asian consumers has multiple segments within it, so national brands should take advantage of local retailers for the right intelligence on what works within specific communities. A panel of multi-cultural marketers, moderated by Univision Communications VP Paul Sellers, reinforced the importance of integrating multi-cultural messages as part of every campaign. One thing every panelist agreed on is the importance of social and digital channels for reaching these audiences. Whatever their native language, consumers are already comfortable using these “borderless” channels to communicate and data shows they over-index when it comes to mobile usage. One very bright spot: millennials bring a “built-in” multi-cultural mindset and embrace diversity marketing.

3. Traditional Sales Approaches Don’t Work with Millenial Shoppers

Veteran wheels and wings CNBC reporter Phil LeBeau moderated a panel of automaker and auto dealer leaders and one thing is clear – figuring out how Gen Y buyers prefer to do business preoccupies a lot of very smart folks. As well it should: by the end of this year, Gen Y will account for 23% of all U.S. new car sales. From ditching the watch (apparently a key giveaway that you’re not on a Gen Y wavelength) to offering up product information on a tablet versus talk, adapting selling techniques to millennial preferences is critical at retail. Auto marketers and dealers agree that millennial shoppers arrive at the store fully armed with info and with a clear idea of what they want (thanks to all that advance online research). They don’t want to be sold again – they want to complete the transaction, so make it fast, simple and painless.

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