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How Mark Schaefer Made a Splash with Content Shock (And What You Can Learn From Him)

January 29, 2014

This post was originally published on the DNN Software blog.

Insights for Content Marketers

I consider 2014 “The Year of Content Shock and The Conversation that Ensued.” Mark Schaefer is Executive Director at Schaefer Marketing Solutions, where he provides marketing consultation to businesses. He’s the author of the {grow} blog, along with a number of books.

Photo: Mark Schaefer on Twitter (@markwschaefer)

Shortly after the New Year, Schaefer published a blog post, “Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy.” The post received 400+ comments, along with thousands of tweets and hundreds of articles. This week, Schaefer followed up with a new blog post to address all of the dissenting opinions.

My Quick Take on Content Shock

Content Shock
Image via Mark Schaefer.

Too many dissenters took a “black and white” view of Schaefer’s piece. Either content shock will doom us all or it won’t. In fact, this was my original interpretation. As Schaefer’s follow-on piece notes, however, we don’t live in a world of absolutes – there’s grey matter in between the black and white.

As a content marketer for a “small” brand, you’re not doomed to hopeless failure. In fact, if you’re a small fish in a big pond, Schaefer prescribes the following:

“If you are facing a possibility of content saturation in your market, you need to be thinking of ways to change the game.”

Mark Schaefer’s Winning Formula

Mark Schaefer
Image via Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

Schaefer Marketing Solutions operates in a highly crowded space. First, consider their direct competition: individuals and agencies who offer similar consulting services. They’re blogging and publishing books, too. On the agency side, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of agencies with far bigger budgets.

Next, consider the “indirect competition” – the rest of us who are publishing related content. Whether it’s social media marketing or content marketing, Schaefer competes with HubSpot, Marketo and KISSmetrics for attention and readership. It’s not a zero sum game, but it’s competition nonetheless.

So with the two blog posts alone, let’s consider how Schaefer combats content shock for his own business.

Find a Timely Topic

While some trace “content marketing” back to the age of cavemen, it’s hard to avoid the fact that the discipline and the term are getting a lot of buzz in 2014 (and, earlier in 2013). We’re all talking about “content marketing” – but more importantly, brands are putting serious dollars behind it. I’ve worked with journalists in past jobs and many of them (today) are heading up content marketing at B2B brands. So January 2014 was a good time to introduce “content shock.”

Take a Well-Reasoned Stand

Taking a stand garners attention. Taking a well-reasoned stand gets attention, but also drives dialog and conversation. If you wrote a blog post about “Why World Peace is Overrated,” you’re taking a stand, but you’ve lost credibility with most people in the title alone. Schaefer presented a well-reasoned argument that combined with a timely topic and a little controversy, generated a firestorm.

Side note: a search on Google shows that the original Content Shock piece has 12,500 inbound links pointing to it!

Be Open, Inviting and Genuine in Your Interactions

If he had enough time in the day, I bet Mark Schaefer would reply to every single blog comment and every single tweet. If you look at his blog posts, he gets rather close to doing just that. It takes a lot of time for Schaefer to respond to people.

blog comment

But consider his competition: other marketers, agencies and vendors like Marketo and HubSpot. They might have bigger budgets than Schaefer, but some of them do NOT interact as much – or if they do, they don’t do it in the inviting and genuine style of Schaefer.

Advantage: Schaefer.

To combat content shock: having a plan in place to genuinely engage with the readers of the content you produce. Schaefer, “predicted” all of this (in a sense) with an earlier post  that he published, “How to beat Hubspot at its own game.”

Follow Up

Sometimes, it’s not enough to reply to comments and engage with your readers (and dissenters). If you were fortunate enough to have your content spark a conversation, then take the time to carefully review all of the input (both in favor and in opposition of your stance) and follow up. Your follow-up should summarize the dialog, then provide your response. Just like Schaefer did.

Conclusion

So how can smaller fish survive in the larger content pond? Consider what Mark Schaefer did:

  1. Find a Timely Topic
  2. Take a Well-Reasoned Stand
  3. Be Open, Inviting and Genuine in Your Interactions
  4. Follow Up

What are you waiting for? Go do it!

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Ten Blogs Every Marketer Should Read

October 25, 2013

Ten blogs every marketer should read

Introduction

As marketers (or aspiring marketers), we have it pretty darn good. Why is that? Because marketers, by our very nature, are accustomed to sharing information, insights, tips and best practices. In fact, sharing (and publishing) knowledge is one of the things we love most about our job.

What can you do if you don’t yet have a body of knowledge to share? You follow and read the marketing thought leaders. Learn from the best, while getting a sense for how they share their knowledge. One day, you may find your likeness etched into the Mount Rushmore of Marketing thought leaders.

Let’s highlight ten blogs that every B2B marketer should read.

Follow Our Twitter List: Top 10 Marketing Blogs

Amy Porterfield: Social Media Strategy

Amy Porterfield is a social media strategist who helps clients “maximize the power of social media and increase the success of their online marketing efforts.” Amy provides actionable tips on social media engagement. She’s a great storyteller, as well – just read through the About page on her site.

Selected post: What to Do After People Opt In to Your Email List

As marketers, it’s quite easy to take our email opt-in list for granted. Source 1,000 new opt-ins last week? Great. We just completed a white paper yesterday, so we’re going to email all 1,000 of them, with “hot off the presses” in the subject line.

Instead, Porterfield encourages marketers to give email subscribers great value over time and make sure your messages resonate with them: in other words, treat them like gold. Your email subscribers should be valued on par with your customers. In fact, many of your customers are already on your email list. Wouldn’t it be bad if they opted out?

Moz: Content on SEO and More

Moz began life as an SEO consulting company and has grown into a content site, online community and software provider. For me, Moz has become a go-to site for all things SEO and Google, from Penguin to Hummingbird to “Not Provided.”

Selected post: Taking Advantage of Google’s Bias Toward Hyper-Fresh Content – Whiteboard Friday

While my schedule doesn’t always sync up, I like to set aside some time on Friday’s to catch the latest “Whiteboard Friday” from Rand Fishkin, Moz’s CEO and Co-Founder. Fishkin always has timely and interesting things to share – and the depth of his content is always impressive. As just one measure of content effectiveness, take a look at the number of Comments he receives (61 comments in the selected post above).

Ann Handley: Social Media and Content Marketing

I’ve been a reader of Marketing Profs for quite some time. I read the book Content Rules, which Ann co-authored with C.C. Chapman. I’ve also attended a number of Marketing Profs webinars and online events.

Selected post: A Simple Content Marketing Org Chart

My selected post is not from Marketing Profs, though. On her personal blog, Ann provides an org chart for the content marketing team. Some organizations have a single person allocated to content, while others may have teams of hundreds. It’s not the numbers that are important here, it’s the roles and personas that Ann outlines. Did you see a role here that’s not filled on your team? Think about filling it.

Seth Godin: Best-selling Author and Thought Provoker

Things I look forward to each day: the sun rising. And Seth Godin’s daily blog post. I’ve enjoyed a number of Seth’s books. On his blog, he takes a different approach. Each post is short and succinct. They deliver a key insight, or they make you think (or both).

Selected post: Marketing good…

This one made me think. My takeaway is: good is no longer good enough. Our marketing, along with the products we’re marketing, need to be great.

Jay Baer: Best-selling Author and Social/Content Guru

Jay Baer is founder of Convince & Convert, who “help you get better at social media and content marketing through audits, strategic planning and ongoing advice and counsel” (source: http://www.convinceandconvert.com/about-us/).

Selected post: 11 Big Myths About Social Media and Content Marketing

I’m not a big fan of myths: after all, if something’s a myth, I shouldn’t pay attention to it, right? Except that I should, when peers, colleagues or industry contacts believe in such myths. I may need to dispel a myth in order to gain budget or project approval.

KISSmetrics: Analytics, Marketing and Testing

KISSmetrics provides web analytics software. Each blog post they publish is so rich in detail, I almost feel guilty getting it for free. Their blog content covers a fairly wide range of topics (i.e. more than analytics and testing). Because I need to allocate a fair amount of time to read and digest their content, I usually save pieces for later (i.e. outside of the work day), when I have dedicated time to read them in full.

Selected post: 58 Resources to Help You Learn and Master SEO

Sometimes, content curation can be as big a task as writing original content. This post features a broad and comprehensive set of SEO resources. I may need to allocate an entire weekend for this one.

Paul Gillin: Speaker, Writer, Consultant

I’ve been reading Paul’s blog ever since I worked with him (a number of years ago). Paul has published a number of books, consults with brands and speaks and writes frequently.

Selected post: 8 Data Points about the Importance of Customer Experience

When assembling a presentation, I often need to find interesting and relevant statistics to include. Sometimes it can be very challenging to find them! If I was doing a presentation on customer experience (or, the related field of Customer Experience Management), Paul’s post would be my go-to source for related stats.

Brian Solis: Author and Analyst

Brian Solis is a best-selling author and principal analyst at Altimeter Group.

Selected post: Broadcast Yourselfie: How teens use social media and why it matters to you

If you’re in B2C, you probably know about the technology and social media habits of teens. If you’re in B2B, your knowledge of teens may related to the ones in your household. I’m in B2B and don’t have a teen at home, so I found this post fascinating. Today’s teens will be your target customer in a few years. It’s best to understand them now.

Jeremiah Owyang: Entrepreneur and Thought Leader

Jeremiah Owyang is Chief Catalyst (and founder) at Crowd Companies. Formerly, Jeremiah was a research analyst at Altimeter Group.

Selected post: Meet the Resilient Corporations

Jeremiah always seems to be at the leading edge of what’s coming next. His current focus area is the collaborative economy and in this piece, he explores the advantages gained by resilient corporations. They gain advantages “by reducing risk through variability, being agile by flexing when needed, and scaling by leveraging others to handle the load.”

I read Jeremiah’s blog for a big picture view of things coming down the road.

Marketo: Best Practices in Online Marketing

Marketo is a leading provider of marketing software. Nearly every week, I learn something new about Marketing via their blog.

Selected post: Here’s How to Maintain Your Email Marketing List for Engagement and Better Deliverability

Whoever proclaimed “email is dead” must not have been a marketer. For demand and lead generation, email is still an important tool in our arsenal. And I think a lot of marketers still struggle with things like subscription management and deliverability. Read this post from Marketo co-founder Jon Miller and your email management will be the better for it.

Our Infographic

We’ve assembled an infographic of these ten extraordinary thought leaders. Enjoy!

Originally published on the DNN Software blog.



With Lead Generation and Virtual Events, It’s a Journey, Not a Project

October 23, 2010

Introduction

Virtual Events can be highly effective in generating leads to fuel your sales pipeline.  Here’s a 5-step process that I call the “Virtual Event Lead Generation Virtuous Cycle“:

  1. Generate
  2. Engage & Qualify
  3. Score
  4. Re-Engage
  5. Assess

Step #2 (“Engage & Qualify”) is quite unique for virtual events, compared to other online lead generation activities.  Virtual events allow you to generate leads (Step #1) and engage and qualify them on the spot.

With a white paper download or an on-demand webinar, the engagement and qualification occurs after the prospect has requested your content.  Note that I said “requested” – with a white paper download, you don’t even know if the prospect read the paper.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

As the diagram above illustrates, effective use of virtual events for lead generation is done in a circle (or cycle), where you begin the next event with learnings from your prior event.

By knowing what worked and what didn’t work from your last event, you fine tune and optimize your strategies and tactics and become more effective in generating and engaging leads with each event.  So think of virtual event lead generation as an ongoing journey and not a discrete project.

To help on your journey, here are some useful resources that I’ve come across.

Generating Leads (Step #1)

  1. From BetterCloser.com, “Sales is Personal, Why Isn’t Your Lead Generation?”
  2. An eBook from Brian Carroll, “Eight CRITICAL Success Factors for Lead Generation
  3. From BtoB Online, “2010 Lead Generation Guide
  4. An interview with The Funnelholic, which includes insights on lead generation with virtual events.

Lead Scoring (Step #3)

  1. From Brian Carroll, “Lead scoring thoughts to share

Lead Re-Engagement (Step #4)

More commonly referred to as Lead Follow-Up, also includes Lead Nurturing

  1. From Marketo,  “Perfect Timing – When to Call a Prospect
  2. From LeadSloth, “What Lead Nurturing Content to Send When?”

Lead Assessment (Step #5)

A subset of Lead Management

  1. From The Funnelholic, “Lead Management: 67 tips from the biggest experts in the field

Lead Generation and Virtual Events – A Book

I’ll soon be publishing a book that provides related advice on generating sales leads with virtual events.  For further information on lead generation and virtual events, “Like” the book’s Facebook page.  Updates on the book’s availability will be posted here.  Best of luck on your own journey!

Eight CRITICAL Success Factors for Lead Generation


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