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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Unleash the Power of Content: MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2010

MarketingProfs B2B Forum - BostonContent is powerful, particularly with respect to the sales cycle. Unleashing the power of content to engage your prospects was the subject of a fascinating presentation at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2010 that took place in Boston. It, too, was powerful!

Here follow my notes from this session on content marketing which broke into two parts:

..The theory behind content marketing presented by Stephanie Tilton and Michele Linn.

..Two case studies: from Pam O'Neal, Breaking Point Systems, and Amy Black, Kadient, which reinforced the points that Michele and Stephanie made.

    Part 1: Content Marketing Strategy to Unleash the Power of Content to Engage Your Prospects

    Content marketing makes intuitive sense to me. What better way is there to answer customer questions than through content? [See Digital Visibility: The Reason Behind Content Marketing for more information.] Buyers want information; they seek out relevant content to help them make sense of the options available. As Linn and Tilton explained, business people need to deliver high quality relevant content that answers buyer questions based on where they are in the sales cycle.

    What is most important is accepting that the sales process has nothing to do with your products and services and everything to do with where your customer is in the sales process and what related issues s/he faces. To help craft an optimal content marketing strategy, consider the following 8 steps:

    1. Listen

    Pay close attention to what customers are saying. Use Google alerts, search Twitter/tweetbeep, don't forget Google blog search and consider following the top 10 sources [i.e., blogs] in your industry.

    2. Develop buyer personas

    Next, you want to understand your audience. That's where developing buyer personas can be valuable to help bring customers to life.  Your goal in developing buyer personas is to know as much about them as possible.

    3. Map content to the buying cycle

    Once you have a sense for who your customers are based on developing buyer personas, spend time understanding your customers' buying cycle and then map your content to that buying process. Remember, customers and prospects may have very different needs.

    4. Think like a publisher

    Next, get organized and think like a publisher. Fully understand content preferences. Do your readers/visitors prefer video content? Do they prefer another source? Understand how that affects your business and your content.

    Develop an editorial calendar that maps out to potential customers' buying cycle. Don't forget to include a call to action.

    5. Commit to remarkable content

    Be aware of what is relevant to your buyer, understand at which stage of the buying cycle s/he is and create the best possible content to answer questions, address objections and generally help your customer feel comfortable with the purchase and the process.

    6. Extract maximum value from every asset

    Repurpose your remarkable content as much as possible - from a white paper to a series of blog posts, to a video to a podcast. Think about the different ways to communicate your message and the different ways to understand something. Don't just regurgitate; make sure you add value to the content in its new form.

    7. Make your content easy to find, access, and share

    Be sure to choose the best possible platform for the content based on your customer's needs and preferences.  Don't ask for any more information than necessary to facilitate the sharing of content.  Test different approaches.

    8. Measure

    Be sure to measure the impact of your content marketing.

    Part 2: Case Studies that Unleash the Power of Content to Engage Your Prospects

    Pam O'Neal from Breaking Point Systems, a cyber-security firm, shared a case study titled " How BreakingPoint Leveraged Technical Content to Increase New Customer Acquisition by 240%".  Pam's first point: be interesting; be what people are interested in. That will help you be found.

    To be interesting: ask customers, understand buyers, monitor and engage influencers, analyze trends, test content and copy, measure results.  Easy, right?

    A few pearls of wisdom:
    • Marketers need to become peers to their audience. Too often, data sheets lie.
    •  Develop personas to better understand buyers.
    • Attack marketers! Become the company that doesn't overstate anything!
    One level of interaction at Breaking Point led to another. The Breaking Point Blog called out to customers in an edgy way. Based on how engaging certain topics were with readers, Breaking Point would develop more content. From there, SEO objectives were managed and optimized to meet different business objectives.

    [Pam brought up the value of coordinating company descriptions and key words in LinkedIn used in the profiles of company employees.]

    Breaking Point develop a 'content engine': starting with MarketWire, then Pitchengine 3 weeks later, don't forget to use Twitter, RSS, email, include top content in newsletters, upload diagrams to Flickr and presentations to SlideShare [e.g., presentation guides, sales #s], and update status on LinkedIn.

    Integrate content with drip marketing approach so you can drive people to specfic content.

    Breaking Point is doing 100 events because of new business and is starting to see better quality leads coming in from content created for the web.

    Amy Black formerly with Kadient addressed "Building a Content Library that Maps to the Sales Cycle" in her case study.

    Her objective had to do with building a content library that maps to the Kadient sales cycle and represented a major shift in offering as well as to whom and how. She had in mind creating a sales playbook and the best way to do that was by developing a content library.

    She urged the audience to think about the key objective for content and how else to make value out of it.  She had in mind a How To guide, in a fresh format that was somewhat provocative in that it promoted new ways of thinking [e.g., Confessions of a Sales VP]. Next, she created a video series based on "There's a playbook for that." Benefits led to lead generation, sales and also reputation building.

    Important, too, to nurture and harness customer voices thereby highlighting 3rd party validation.

    The content library converts leads to opportunity; it connects prospects with internal expertise and then creates a better opportunity to close a sale by demonstrating how Kadient is different and addressing customer questions and objectives in a credible manner.

    Her parting thoughts:
    • Remember who you are “talking” to
    • Keep your key objective front and center
    • Break through the clutter – stand out!
    • Entertainment
    • Provocative POVs
    • Video – short, sweet and interesting
    • Create content you can repurpose
    • Listen to your sales team
    • Pay attention to what is & isn’t working
    For notes about the first part of the presentation, do visit the notes that Stephanie and Michele put together with copious additional resources re: Unleash the Power of Content Marketing from the MarketingProfs 2010 B2B Forum.

    I've also embedded the slide presentation so you can dive into more detail.

    Stephanie and Michele shared some additional content marketing advice:

    1.  How well do you know your ideal reader and his/her concerns?
    2.  Does your content answer the question "what's in it for me?" from the perspective of your target audience?
    3.  Have you created content for each role and stage in the buying cycle?
    4.  Have you developed an editorial calendar to make sure you consistently publish content?
    5.  Do your titles and design draw the reader in?
    6.  Does your content have a call to action?
    7.  Can prospects easily find, access and share your content?
    8.  Do you need to require registration? If so, which information do you really need to collect?
    9.  Does your content engage while educating?
    10. Are you extracting the most value possible from your content?
    11. Can you measure the effectiveness of your conent?

    I wish you the best as you unleash the power of your content marketing! And when you do, I hope you'll share your learnings with us here.

    Image credit:
    MarketingProfs B2B Forum - Boston originally loaded by Bob_Collins.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    The New World Order Online: Floor Covering Institute Blog

    The New World Order Online: Floor Covering Institute Blog
    If you have a chance, I'd love for you to read my latest post on the Floor Covering Institute Blog.

    The post is titled "Floor Covering's New World Order Online" and discusses the web phenomenon in consumer and business terms.

    You won't be too surprised to learn that I consider the web intensely significant.

    For that matter, not just for the floor covering industry, but for every industry around.

    So, although my post has a flooring perspective, you may find it relevant to your non-flooring world, too.

    Would you let me know one way or another?

    Thank you for reading!



    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Press Release: Nufloors Turns Flooring Customers Into Advocates

    For Immediate Release: September 21, 2010

    Canada Nufloors Group Focuses on ‘Turning Flooring Customers Into Advocates
    Keynote highlights importance of customer service “Before, During and After the Sale

    Kinnelon, NJ – Canada Nufloors Group Inc., an organization that includes leading Canadian floor covering retailers with locations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, held its annual meeting in Kelowna, British Columbia on September 11 & 12, 2010. The theme of the meeting was ‘Turning Flooring Customers Into Advocates’ and featured Christine B. Whittemore, chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now, as keynote speaker. She discussed the customer retail experience in a presentation titled “Retail Hospitality or Customer Service Before, During and After the Sale”.

    Whittemore’s presentation to Nufloors retailers addressed marketing to women consumers, the in-store and online retail experience and the importance of building strong relationships with customers. “Customer service – or ‘retail hospitality’ – is the ultimate means for a retailer to differentiate his or her retail experience in the marketplace,” said Whittemore. “As in the US, Canadian women shoppers have high expectations for quality of service and consistency of experience when making any kind of purchase decision - particularly complex, high involvement ones like flooring. Those retailers able to deliver high levels of satisfaction will be rewarded with customer loyalty and advocacy.”

    “Nufloors retailers have built their reputations on great value and solid customer service,” says Barr Hall, Canada Nufloors Group General Manager. “They are relentless about consistently delivering memorable customer service to their customers and implementing state-of-the-art customer service tools. Christine’s presentation reinforced the importance of finding solutions for the female consumer and staying in touch with that consumer long after the installation is finished.”

    Nufloors store owners and managers reacted enthusiastically to Whittemore’s presentation. Also presenting were Nufloors Coquitlam General Manager, Cynthia Dean, Rock Solid Business Coaching CEO, John Cameron, Spring Advertising account services director, Richard Bergin and Barr Hall.

    For more information about Canada Nufloors Group Inc., contact Barr Hall via email at

    For more information about Simple Marketing Now LLC, contact chief simplifier Whittemore at or visit the Simple Marketing Now website and companion weblog & newsroom – Simple Marketing Blog

    # # #

    About Simple Marketing Now LLC

    Simple Marketing Now, a marketing communications consultancy, helps organizations integrate social media and content marketing with traditional marketing to better connect with customers and improve business profitability. For more information, visit

    About Canada Nufloors Group Inc.

    For more information about Canada Nufloors Group Inc., visit

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    LinkedIn Advanced on TalkFloor Social Media Marketing Interview Series

    LinkedIn Advanced on TalkFloor Social Media Marketing Interview Series
    The social media marketing series on TalkFloor continues with Advanced LinkedIn! Here is a link to the three interviews in this Advanced LinkedIn segment.

    In the last session, we did an introduction and overview of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful social networking platform as we discussed in the last session.  It's considered the #1 resource for marketing your business.

    In Advanced LinkedIn, we cover some of the advanced features – Groups, Answers, Event, Search.

    Dave and I are both on LinkedIn, so please do connect with us.

    Dave Foster
    Christine B. Whittemore

    As a reminder, you should definitely set up a profile on LinkedIn – it’s free. Complete it 100% paying attention to using relevant keywords and include a photo. Claim your personalized URL; link your website and blog to your profile. Connect your Twitter account if you have one. Then, update your status regularly – I use Outlook to remind myself. Connect with people you meet and share relevant links and resources.

    *** Note: this is true for all of the social networking tools we discuss, remember to focus on offering others value. Don’t self-promote or you’ll turn people off.***

    LinkedIn Groups

    Within your individual LinkedIn profile, you can join up to 50 groups.  Groups are a great opportunity to reach and engage with potential customers online.

    The first step is to search existing groups based on keywords your consider relevant to determine if one already exists. If yes, join it. Familiarize yourself with the group’s guidelines; read through existing conversation threads; do some research on those who actively participate and start getting involved.

    Definitely consider researching successful groups so you understand what makes them work, what kinds of questions does the moderator ask? How frequently do new discussions start? What are the group’s dynamics? Just a few people or a wide range of perspectives? What is the tone of the discussion?

    If a group doesn’t exist, create one!

    + pick a name with keywords relevant to your audience
    + make it an industry group rather than a company group
    + add a logo
    + invite coworkers, friends, colleagues to join
    + be sure to promote it online and offline

    For a group to be successful, it’s important to actively manage it and encourage discussion. If you don’t it will become overrun with spammy self-promotion rather than valuable insights.

    It’s a good idea to develop and post guidelines for group interaction [be respectful, no self-promotion, what topics are acceptable, etc.]. Post those as a featured discussion so everyone can find them. When you welcome new members, send them a link to the guidelines. By the way, you can send announcements to the members of the group; you can import your blog feed into the News section. You can also directly message group members even if you aren’t connected to them. LinkedIn has added a lot of rich functionality to groups.

    Please note: as with all social media and social networking tools, this will take focused time and effort to generate success. You are building a community.

    It’s a good idea to spend time beforehand determining what your objective is and how you will add value. You can then prepare a content plan and develop a content calendar.

    For example, let’s take the TalkFloor group which has ~ 518 members. You'll notice a wide range of flooring related conversations: from green cleaning, to window treatments in flooring stores, to some self-promotion. You have prominent industry people engaged [e.g., Warren Tyler], but it isn’t actively managed.

    What you might do is develop guidelines and post them as a featured discussion. You might add a feed from TalkFloor. You might go through all 518 existing members and says thanks for being part of the group, here are the guidelines for discussion and what would you like to hear more about. Going forward, you might welcome new members with a note and the guidelines. For those who are self-promotional you would want to remind them that this isn’t the forum…

    Then, consider one new industry topic per month. Let’s say for September it’s ‘Cash for Caulkers”; develop 4 subthemes for each week of September related to Cash for Caulkers.

    1. Recap legislation. How does this affect you?

    2. Implications for consumers? How can you benefit?

    3. Environmental repercussions. How can you benefit?

    4. How does it relate to the flooring industry reports on the state of the flooring industry?

    Perhaps each theme/subtheme relates to TalkFloor interviews that Dave has done.

    Dave might invite industry experts to help ask and answer questions with each sub-theme. Possibly CRI Government Affairs can give a big picture overview of Cash for Caulkers from a legislative perspective?

    Dave might invite Stuart Hirschhorn to answer data questions about the flooring industry.

    By the way, you can make your group private and use it as an ongoing focus group discussion. You can also ‘follow’ individuals within a group [as you can companies now].

    LinkedIn Answers

    These are particularly effective for lead generation, demonstrating expertise.

    Access Answers from the “MORE” tab.

    Interestingly, you won’t find much that is recent relating to carpet or floors. That suggests to me an opportunity – especially given that there are plenty of groups related to floor, floors, flooring…

    When you respond to relevant questions, your answers will appear in your network updates.

    You gain expertise points

    You can include links to relevant articles, blogposts, etc. [e.g., you can add value].

    LinkedIn Groups & Answers Reminders

    Don’t spam
    Be helpful.
    Don’t self-promote.
    Be aware of rules of behavior
    Do your homework so you know who’s asking the question.

    You can also ask your own questions for research; you can make your questions private.

    LinkedIn Events

    You can use LinkedIn Events to promote your activities and invite your connections. When they RSVP, it shows up in their home profile so all their connections see it.

    To access, go to MORE and follow the steps/answer questions to Add an Event.

    LinkedIn Search

    Search is powerful in LinkedIn. You can search people and companies [as well as groups, jobs, answers…].

    Other LinkedIn Features:

    LinkedIn now offers Direct Ads. Access them through MORE. Allows you to target specific parameters with ads.

    Your Advanced LinkedIn Assignment:

    Go explore groups; pick one to get involved in. [Maybe TalkFloor?] Get involved in the conversation.

    Explore Answers and pick one to answer.

    Additional LinkedIn Resources:

    LinkedIn Takes Groups To The Next Level With Likes, Follows And More
    How to Use LinkedIn for Business from Hubspot
    17 Invisible LinkedIn Tricks Revealed
    3 ways to expand your reach on LinkedIn
    10 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn to Generate Business
    6-Step Corporate LinedIn Strategy
    Top 5 Ways to Market Your Business With LinkedIn
    11 Tips for LinkedIn Business Development

    Let me know of any questions.

    Next:  LinkedIn Success Stories

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    AMA Podcast Series: Social Media Marketing GPS

    AMA Podcast Series: Social Media Marketing GPS

    Now available from the AMA Resource Library: Social Media Marketing GPS Podcast Series with Toby Bloomberg! 

    Toby Bloomberg, Diva Marketing extraordinaire and author of Social Media Marketing GPS, the first ever business book written on Twitter [see Social Media Marketing GPS: A Must-Read Guide], contacted me recently with exciting news! 

    Toby explained that Dennis Dunlap, CEO of AMA, loved Social Media Marketing GPS. As a result, AMA would partner with her to produce a series of podcasts to support the book.  All 40 prominent marketers from Canada, England, India and the United States who participated in Twitter interviews for the book were invited to take part to further develop the conversations started on Twitter.

    I can't imagine a more exciting development. As I told Toby, it feels as if the whole process is coming full circle with these podcasts.

    Here is the link to the page listing all of the interviews in the AMA Social Media Marketing GPS Podcast series.

    If you haven't already, definitely download a copy of Social Media Marketing GPS, by Toby Bloomberg.

    Last Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, Joel Rubinson and I recorded our podcast with Toby on the subject of listening. Nancy Pekala, AMA Director of Online Content, introduced the session.Ours was the eighth in the series.

    In true Toby innovative fashion, the podcasts reinforce the short Twitter concept of Social Media Marketing GPS, lasting only about 14 minutes. We each started out reading a few of our original interview tweets - Toby read from her introduction to the chapter. [The idea of reading tweets came from what Neville Hobson did in his original post describing the series.] From there, Toby introduced discussion questions about listening...

    Social Media Marketing GPSFor example, 
    • Who owns listening?
    • How does listening fit into traditional research?
    14 minutes goes by fast. Especially with a topic such as listening.  To be continued, I hope.  The three of us had so much passion for the topic and the importance of listening in social media marketing and business, we are considering a longer format forum to continue. Stay tuned for more info.

    Here is the link to our podcast on Social Media Marketing GPS: Research Insights. Social Media Research: Crafting an Actionable Listening Strategy.

    If you're a member of AMA, I expect you'll be hearing about the podcast series in weekly and monthly e-newsletters, through tweets [follow AMA on Twitter], in social media focused events, and with AMA's 76 chapters.

    If you aren't, you might consider joining.

    Regardless, do listen to the podcast series. Social Media Marketing GPS - both book and podcast series - are fabulous resources for those looking for a road map to social media success.

    Would you let me know what stands out for you?


    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Social Flooring Index on

    Social Flooring Index on
    The Social Flooring Index is featured on TalkFloor! What a terrific opportunity to describe the latest update to the Social Flooring Index on with Dave Foster...

    Dave describes the session as follows:

    Christine B. Whittemore, Simple Marketing Now on Social Flooring Index

    Christine B. Whittemore, Chief Simplifier, Simple Marketing Now discusses the most recent update to the Social Flooring Index, a guide which analyzes, examines the tone and conductivity and ranks the social media marketing tools of the floor covering industry on blogs and platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

    You can access the interview on the Social Flooring Index by clicking on this link. It lasts approximately 15 minutes.

    I find that time truly flies when I speak with Dave. Perhaps it's because he's such a good listener and allows me talk about subjects I'm passionate about.

    In any case, this interview was prompted by my recent Press Release: Social Flooring Index Tracks Flooring Social Media Conversations and allowed me to describe the benefits of Analyzing Social Media With eCairn Conversation.

    It was also a chance to talk about relevance online and creating value for our customers, to reinforce the points that are cropping up in our social media marketing interview series, and emphasize how critical it is to develop a sustainable social media and content marketing strategy. This stuff takes effort and commitment and better to think through all of the implications of your online activities so they truly support your business strategy.

    I also got a chance to talk about BuildDirect's Rob Banks being featured on Mashable for his use of online video!

    Thank you, Dave Foster, for another wonderful conversation!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Simple Marketing Blog: Junta42 #11 Top Content Marketing Blog!

    Back in April 2010, when I shared with you that Simple Marketing Blog had become a Junta42 Top 42 Content Marketing Blog, I never imagined that the delight could become even more simply intense. But, it has!  Simple Marketing Blog is now ranked #11 among the Junta42 Top Content Marketing Blogs...

    I am very excited and honored.

    As Joe Pulizzi explains in Brian Solis Rocks Latest Junta42 Top Content Marketing Blogs, his post announcing the latest ranking, the list of blogs included in the ranking has grown from 350+ to over 400.

    I like how Gavin Heaton puts this listing into perspective in Content Marketing and the Junta42: it's a "handy reference to some of the leading content marketing blogs – a very useful resource for those marketers working with social media as part of their strategy."

    For reference, the Junta42 Top Content Marketing Blogs are based on these criteria.

    Here are the August 2010 Junta42 Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs:

    RankBlog NameFocus
    Brian Solis  
    Social Media/Public Relations
    Copywriting - Blogs/Blogging
    Conversation Agent
    Marketing - General
    TopRank Blog 
    Search Engine Marketing
    PR 20/20  
    Public Relations/SEO
    Marketing Experiments 
    Convince and Convert 
    Social Media
    Spin Sucks
    Marketing and Advertising
    Marketing Interactions 
    Content Marketing
    Simple Marketing Blog
    Social Media Marketing
    Influential Marketing Blog 
    Marketing - General
    Direct Marketing Observations 
    Direct Marketing
    Post Advertising 
    Content Marketing
    Web Ink Now
    Content Marketing
    Social Media Explorer 
    Social Media
    Writing on the Web   
    Content Marketing
    Inbound Internet Marketing Blog
    Content Marketing
    eMedia Vitals
    Online Media
    Vertical Leap 
    Search Engine Marketing
    Conversation Marketing
    Writing and Blogging
    Mack Collier  
    Social Media
    Buzz News
    Buzz marketing
    FASTforward Blog
    Social Media
    Content Marketing
    Site Booster
    Online Marketing
    Freelance Copywriters Blog
    Social Media Examiner 
    Social Media
    Priority Integrated Marketing Blog
    Marketing - General
    Branding & Marketing 
    Shopper Culture 
    Vertical Measures
    Internet Marketing
    Public Relations
    Web Marketing Therapy  
    Internet Marketing
    Content Marketing
    Servant of Chaos
    Ducttape Marketing
    Marketing - General
    TippingPoint Labs 
    Social Media
    Content Marketing
    The MineThat Data Blog 
    Marketing - Multichannel 

    I encourage you to go explore these content marketing resources!
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