Content Must Sit at the Heart of Business

I was very fortunate to be invited by LinkedIn to do a keynote speech at its first ever social selling summit, INtro: Elevating Sales, held in Singapore on 18 June, 2015. To say I was anxious about delivering this to such a senior sales audience is an understatement, however the main reason for my anxiety was because I just didn’t know how the message would resonate. I put hearts and lots of lovey stuff in my deck… but for good reason.

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Capture Professional Moments to Bolster Personal Brand

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8 Tips to Build a Twitter Presence From Scratch

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Six Tips for Identifying Your Perfect B2B Content Partner

I’ve been in the content marketing game since 2003, when I launched IDC’s Marketing Services business into Asia. It wasn’t called ‘content marketing’ back then, and I didn’t actually identify myself as a content marketer until 2009, when I was running my own business. Of course, for the dynamic region of Asia, it’s only in the last 12 months that the term has really taken off. We all know about it now.

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Social Selling on LinkedIn Doesn’t Work When…

My LinkedIn inbox is currently full of pitches from people I’ve never met or engaged with. These folk have asked to connect with me and once I press that little yes button, within five minutes too many think it’s a green flag to send an unsolicited pitch selling a product or service. It’s never targeted. It never works. And it annoys the hell out of me, because it means I don’t get to the emails that actually do matter to me.

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Are you Content Marketing or Marketing?

The stats are pretty clear:

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Content Marketing is About Earning People’s Time

There is a GREAT deck on Slideshare right now. It’s called “Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge” by Velocity Partners. I love this deck for many reasons, but mainly because it spoke my language – irreverent, but makes a very strong argument – and that is: as more B2B brands turn to content marketing, the consumer is going to be faced with a proliferation of mediocre content and inevitably, they’re going to disengage.

Content Marketing

Let’s face it: content is the new kid on the block, and “content marketing” the vogue terminology of the moment. We’re in a time where many agencies are re-branding themselves as content agencies. But creating awesome content – focused on and relevant to the customer – is a completely unique skill that a re-branding doesn’t necessarily meet. It pains me to say it, but I agree with Velocity Partners – we’re “all about to be buried in crap.” Especially so in Asia.

To be the best, hire the best

So, how do you ensure that you’re not investing in and creating mediocrity? After all, anyone can create content, the challenge lies in creating great content. Those skilled at content succeed because they are customer-centric communications professionals – and they know how to create relatable content that their audience responds to. As an example, many journalists (and former journalists) will ignore commercial interests and publish information for the audience they are writing for, because this is what they’ve been trained to do. It’s in their DNA. It’s how they think about information every day.

This is important, because it is the people who have an eye for the customer that will help the world’s businesses standout in the coming content deluge. No one wants to be in the gang burying their customers in crap – right?

To be successful, organisations must put together a team that understands the content marketing fundamental: it’s not about speaking about your brand; it’s about speaking to the whole customer. Help your customer succeed. Make them more intelligent. Improve their lives. Answer their questions – especially the ones they didn’t know they should be asking. Content marketing is not about talking about your product features or services. Not yet. That comes once you win people’s hearts and earn their loyalty.

Velocity Partners

Image: by Velocity Partners

Be the consumer, but be yourself

A phrase I particularly liked in the Velocity Partners’ presentation is “Marketing Defense Systems”. It refers to the natural barriers people put up when they perceive they’re being sold to. This is exactly right. If your business’s content creators are not trained to focus on the audience (versus the client), then the more content you create and share, the greater the likelihood Marketing Defense Systems will come up. We’re already experiencing this content fatigue, with too many people excessively posting sales-driven, irrelevant content. And it’s very hard to get a second chance today. Time is valuable.

We’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer. Ask yourself: Who are they? What do they do? What do they care about? How can I help them? What information is of value to them? What conversations, within the mix of what they care about, are aligned to my brand? Which of those conversations can I own?

For example, a luxury travel group asked Novus Asia for some ideas on content. Our first step was to ask: Who is your customer and what do they care about? What content makes sense for them? In this instance, we knew the travel group was conversing with individual business travelers, but their customers also included the event industry, HR and training teams, procurement, as well as leisure travelers, millennials and specific country segments.

What conversations are relevant for a global luxury travel group to own across all these customer demographics? We believe our writers and strategists came up with some awesome ideas around luxury travel, but the conversations we suggested the group own were specifically targeted. There are many conversations a global luxury travel group should not own. And not all conversations are aligned to a brand. Targeting is critical.

Your consumer’s time is a currency, earn it

We’re all consumers of content. We know what captures our imaginations as individuals. Whether it’s K-pop or the latest Mashable or Huffington Post article, we know the sites we trust and go back to. That’s exactly the same process your customer goes through. They know what they want and are open to information sources they can trust. However, if you get it wrong – say you launch a tantalizing campaign that draws your excited customer to a site and you’re just selling a product (we’ve all experienced this disappointment right?) – do you think they’ll return? Or have their Marketing Defense Systems come up against your brand?

Recognise the finite amount of time your customers have and ask, “Is the content we’re creating worth their time?” If it’s not, why bother at all? You’re competing for that time. To get that investment, be awesome and challenge the status quo. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and do something completely different. Work with amazing content creators who understand both your business AND your customer.

Brands are awesome at speaking about themselves, but that time has gone. Talk to the customer and address their needs, not yours. That takes a whole new set of skills and insight, but it’s worth the time.

What do you think? Are you feeling the content deluge? What brands have earned your time?



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This blog originally appeared on the Novus Asia blog.

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Content Marketing and Personal Branding are Inextricably Linked

Simon Cholmeley and I were thrilled to be invited to speak at the Microsoft Platinum Partner Summit 2015 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last week.

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What’s Holding Asia’s Businesses Back from Content Marketing?

I’ve had the great privilege to do a few speaking spots recently, and it’s given me an opportunity to really hone my thinking around how I present about content marketing, as well as to hear perspectives from other professionals in the field. Content marketing is actually a massive topic, with lots of different angles to consider – personal branding, social selling, storytelling, the brand editor, etc are all part of it – so it’s not a simple discussion and the deeper you go, the more complex it appears. However, the good news is we’re having the discussion in Asia and that’s terrific.

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A Basic Rule of LinkedIn Participation we Need to Heed

My colleague is complaining about people swamping his LinkedIn feed with too many updates. He showed me his screen and two people posted five pieces each before lunchtime. The worst part is the content wasn’t even that good – you can forgive excessive posting of great content, but you can’t forgive salesy, irrelevant content right? Apparently this is not the first time these particular connections have done this and he’s feeling extremely annoyed, talking about de-friending them. I don’t blame him, because for one, these connections are not thinking about their ‘customer’ – the people on the receiving end of these posts. Their very own LinkedIn community.

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