The Modern Marketing Manager – A Forerunner

The Digital Marketing Manager a forerunner

The tasks, skills and abilities required of the modern digital marketing manager, online manager or webmaster are broad. T shaped skills sets are squared off and it is the same for any marketer – on or offline. The influence of technology everywhere means speaking tech and having EQ is the equation for success.

We are required not only to have a technical understanding, but also the skills to wrangle: tech upgrades, shiny new social networks, integrations, content, user experiences and the teams or relationships involved in creating them.

That said, the most powerful approach/skill/technique that a Website Marketing Manager can take is that of being a forerunner for: his leaders, his team and his customers.

They’re the forerunner and Product Owner for their tools – the website, social media and online channels

As the forerunner for an organisation’s online presence the Website Marketing Manager champions best practice. By ensuring the overall consistency of look and feel, that image selection and copy reflects the tone of voice and brand guidelines of the organisation the manager creates harmony. An experience for the user that is consistent throughout the website, across social media platforms and through the various mediums of copy, image, video and interactive.

They understand that a post with an image is more credible, they understand heuristics like scarcity, anchoring and abundance, but most of all they craft a better online experience.

A forerunner respects rules and regulations, but also appreciates that a new audience or network will respond better to content designed for them. Ancient forerunners learnt the languages, dialects, customs and body language that appeased their new audiences, carving a path for their leader.  They master the technology and tool available but also know how to hammer in a nail with a variety of tools and quickly repurpose.

The forerunner not only tailors but they develop and implement an overall content strategy into which they meld the requirements of various stakeholders. All whilst addressing the needs of their buyer personas (the target audiences of their organisation).

They’re the forerunner for customers online

First and foremost the forerunner is customer centric.

The forerunner rolls up their sleeves for the customer ensuring they find resolution for their pain points with products and services, or information and content, should their needs be met elsewhere. They ensure the experience is as painless as possible.

They understand the various customer journeys that buyer personas take, they optimise sales funnels on the site to maximise conversion rates and they do so to ultimately please the customer.

They’re the forerunner for their team

A forerunner likes to roll up their sleeves. In posting content, status updates and A/B testing the forerunner keeps tabs on the user experience for internal customers too. Those that have to deal with cumbersome workflows, ageing tools or inefficient processes. The manager spots things like:

  • folksonomy editing
  • the pairing, deleting or formatting of tags
  • category management
  • approval bottlenecks
  • duplication
  • batching synergies
  • and workflow inefficiencies.

They keep a backlog of process and system improvement to implement that will streamline publication processes and minimise risk.

The forerunner creates a scaffold for his team to work autonomously towards well communicated joint goals.

They’re the forerunner for their leaders and peers

Forerunners are ahead explaining complex scenarios in a dialect the audience can understand and they manage stakeholders needs. Be that senior management, HR with careers branding, or legal with compliance. They communicate efficiently with each.

Like a good auctioneer the website forerunner has his eye across the digital room remembering all parties, their bids and their interests. With an eye on all facets of technical and content needs, prioritised backlogs are built of:

  • technical improvements
  • content features
  • content types, their audience, trends and seasonality

The forerunner has contacts in all camps and bridges sales, marketing and IT to meld the an optimum website within technical and budgetary restraints.

They’re the forerunner for the future

Through constant research – the forerunner has a backlog of potential new ideas for the site, social media and all digital touchpoints. The forerunner is a connector not only of people but also ideas through loose ties. Leveraging industry but also global and hyper local trends as they fit with the goals of the company, the forerunner proactively shares ideas to guide their leader.

As the champion of his website the forerunner isn’t afraid to challenges roadblocks and those deviating from what is currently considered best practice. He has the brand standards, site standards, usability and overall site design at the forefront of any decision.

They’re Agile

The forerunner has become an expert at iterative decisions. Taking big decisions and testing them with MVPs. Trialing on a low risk asset or A/B testing to integrate new features or content.

Constantly improving. Continuous beta.

 


This post is prompted by a recent Tim Ferriss podcast on the canvas strategy and a quote: “The person who clears the path ultimately controls its direction, just as the canvas shapes the painting.” – Ryan Holiday.

Good Marketing

say less to be remembered more

HR

Good marketing uses technology, insights and the right questions.

It gives the right audience, the right message, at the right time.

It shows us how a brand can solve our problems. Sometimes problems we didn’t know we had.

It can either entertain you or make you feel more inclined to buy from a brand. When it does both, you’re onto a winner.

HR

Why do we do this Content Marketing thing?

With content marketing we try to address our audience’s problems at various stages of the buyer’s journey. We help them discover a solution to their problem and keep them coming back to us – their trusted solution provider. Our constant battle is for the attention of that audience. Big companies are realising that they need to build or acquire their own audience, so as to not fall foul of Facebook Edge-rank or Google algorithm updates.

Companies need to start thinking of themselves as retailers AND media companies

One company that has done this well recently is Surfstitch. They acquired two media properties Magicseaweed and Stab Magazine (great names). Combined they have around 3 million visitors a year and they are interweaving articles featuring their products to become not only surfing’s biggest online retailer, but also the biggest industry content network.

If this video is anything to go by, they will have me discovering a whole range of solutions they have to my problems.

It seems I didn’t realise I needed a custom bike to ride up the Indonesian coast to go surfing. They’re appealing to the hearts and emotions of their audience – not to the features of their product.

Oh and if surfing/bikes/the open road is your thing – check this out

Their latest film – North To Noosa.

I can see there being more brands that will take to content creation as a source of brand value and distinction.

Netflix even paid journalists a good sum to create great editorial – like this piece on women in prison to link to their new series Orange is the new black

Empathy, respect and love will ultimately keep your audience, clients, coworkers, lover friends and family EVERYONE coming back.

If you can interweave your unique purpose, principles and pet peeves into entertaining them – you’ll stand out as their trusted provider.

Stop The Nontent – Create Epic Content

turn your nontent into great content - Value your tribe

You, as a member of my tribe intimidate me. I’m scared into not posting, through fear of as my friend AJ puts it – posting NONTENT. You know, that: meh, blah, filler, “like or share if you agree” type content. I need our connection and the learning I get from consuming your content. I want to share value to get value.

But it struck me. That is the exact message I want to give this week.

Create Epic Value And Give It Away

As many will know by now the rationale behind inbound or content marketing is to create content that answers questions that potential customers may have. In essence you are aiming to be the subject matter expert for your product, industry and niche. The main aim being to subscribe them to a content journey that ultimately converts them to purchase or partner with your brand.

The byproduct of creating answers to questions your customers may have is a bank of SEO rich pages for Google to index. If you are checking the terms people use to find your website, and using Google’s keyword planner (or other optimisation tools), over time this bank of content should ultimately help push you up the SERPs. Getting you closer to number one in Google.

The trouble now, more than ever, is that we are all creating content and competing for eyeballs. Facebook and Twitter are overloaded, YouTube is flooded, even the TV has far too many channels for us to watch. We need to go beyond just answering problems to actively adding value with our content.

One answer is to create unique audience specific content – go niche.

One great example of giving away useful content is the website www.backofanapkin.co.nz created by Sacha Judd of the law firm Buddle Findlay.

Back of a napkin - a startup tool

The website, aimed at start-ups, provides a boilerplate company document. It outlines the main points of a company’s structure to ensure its is documented – covering things like: the parties involved, who gets what share of ownership, who gets what profits and how decisions are made.

Lightly branded with a Buddle Findlay letterhead, it’s a valuable tool for startups and connects them with a community.

I also made a little form last year to help people conduct a Digital and Social Media audit. It is designed to help small businesses check that they are on the right path and to develop a short roadmap to getting their digital presence right. I hope it has some value for a small business looking to get their online profile right.

Even though it is in essence the exact same strategy I would use with a multinational company or personal brand – it’s ingredients. It’s not the mix, nor the exact methods i’d use to bake my online cake. Hopefully it entices a few more people to check me out as a potential chef. Digital marketing chef that is.

Although that epic piece of valuable content can be related to your core business it could equally be about a unique technique, skills or knowledge you have developed. Brett Kelly was an avid user of Evernote – so much so that he decided to create Evernote Essentials a book that sold 16000 copies. This ultimately led to him being employed by Evernote.

Here are a few others that have already gotten in on the game:

  • John Deer with their Furrow Magazine
  • Adobe with CMO.com
  • Lego with The Lego Club Magazine
  • Copyblogger.com
  • American Express Open Forum
  • Entrepreneur on fire

So my challenge to you is to take what you think is IP – Intellectual Property and turn it into something VIP – Valuable Interesting and Popular.

eCommerce, advertising and messaging to the phase your buyer is in

When it comes to shopping and buying – be it online or offline – there’s are distinct modes or phases in which we operate.

  1. Researching – what do I want?
  2. Searching – where can I get it?
  3. Purchasing – how do I get it now?

Much like taking the wrong bus or missing the express, being driven to the wrong part of your website or shown the wrong message can really ruin a user’s experience. So creating distinct or at least relevant experiences for each of the three phases is key.

Traffic coming in from search engines to your website – and the keyword terms used – can give a very strong signal of the intent a customer has to purchase. It can in some cases tell us exactly which mode a buyer is in. So lets look at the various phases.

Educate your potential customers with Content Marketing

When people are arriving at your website from broad search terms they are in the first of our phases as a buyer – discovering what’s on offer and what potential solutions there are to my needs.

It is here that through content marketing you can educate clients of the benefits of your products, help solve their problems, and make them aware of your brand and your solutions.

You should be answering any questions clients have around benefits of our products. You could help out by comparing products through a comparison infographic or article. This should all be created with the intention of easily sharing on Facebook and Social Media.

On social media you can support the discovery of your brand by sharing answers to their question. But given that at this stage many may not be aware that your brand has answers to their problems (and that we don’t go to Facebook to shop – we go to be entertained and informed) your social media posts should also create brand awareness. Videos around successful customers, or posts about your brand can help to create an affinity with the WHY of your organisation.

LEGO, Johnnie Walker and Apple are notoriously good at tapping into deeper underlying needs that we surface as needs for their products or at least to connect with their brand. Check out their brand videos on YouTube for ideas.

When they’re searching – make sure they know the great range of products you have – right now!

If a customer is in the searching mode, providing a faceted search of your full range of products is key. eCommerce experts and successful eCommerce platforms are such because they have mastered the art of displaying products in a way that is easy to navigate, search and refine. Even so, as buyers we can often find the breadth of products on offer too much or too hard for us to decide, so as customers we have methods that we use to simplify difficult decision making (Heuristics).

There’s two Heuristics here that can play to your advantage – abundance or availability and scarcity.

Abundance

You need to ensure that a potential customer can see you have a broad range of products, and that in shopping with us they’re not missing out on options elsewhere. This could be through displaying the number of results on a page, the number sold today, the number of similar items and the social proof of likes or shares of an item on Facebook. These would indicate a wide range, and that others have purchased here before.

Scarcity

Conversely, scarcity can be used here to push a customer through to purchase. Maybe with a count beside each of the number left in stock (be it real or fabricated as I’m sure many websites do).

Some companies ensure exclusivity from suppliers of a certain colour, team logo or model that will appeal to audiences. Limited editions like Jordans, the Sebastian Vettel Lexus FX50, or Jamie Oliver cookware.

While in this mode shoppers know some things they might be after – but you also have to support those who as Henry Ford is misquoted as saying – might not know they need your product.

“If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse”
– Not said by Henry Ford.

If a customer is purchasing – stay out of their way!

A customer that uses the phase “iPhone 6 white 64GB” has a strong intent to purchase that item and already knows the model, colour and memory size she is after. She also knows that memory is a distinct feature of iPhones.

If you are supporting the organic or natural ranking of your web pages on Google with paid advertising, an advert for this phrase should point directly to your eCommerce shop and to the page of the White iPhone 6 with 64GB of memory. The landing page should have a clear call to action to add to cart and purchase. Even better you could pre-populate a guest cart with the phone already added.

A large image of the phone should confirm you’ve got what they’re after. As this is a filtered results page of your own product search, there should be the ability to X out some of the filtered items – like the colour or memory – BUT DON’T let this get in the way of the main call to action.

BUY NOW

So remember to address your buyers just like a good bricks and mortar shop would do.

  1. Have a display for those just window browsing who may not even know they need your product
  2. carefully lay out your store in sections for easy browsing and searching
  3. and get your express self checkout isle humming for those that just want to buy.


Image courtesy of St3f4n

6 Awesome Ways to Rejuvenate Old Content on Your Blog

Ways to repurpose your old blog content

There is one thing that Google and its assorted trawling bots love, and that is fresh content. If that fresh content is also linked from established websites, then Google has every reason to believe the content is quite good, assumes it has some kudos, and will rank it higher.

This, of course, is brilliant good for the content creator, and the website where the content is housed. Fresh content is the key to this process – the oil that keeps the engine running if you like – and is critical in a healthy inbound marketing strategy.

But often, creating bespoke singular content is an expensive process. So how do you get the most out of new content?  Hopefully this blog will go some way to identifying new content opportunities from old or existing content:

 

1. Switch the format up

As an example – if you’ve run surveys of your clients or market then reformat them. Oh and tweak for SEO as you go. Here’s some options:

  • Video summary of the findings to YouTube
  • Press release
  • Segment the full report – show industry cuts
  • Social media sharing of research nuggets. Social Media B2B do this very well embedding tweetable nuggets into an article. Like this article on content marketing stats.
  • Create an infographic from the summary
  • More social media sharing and discussion
  • Micro poll your users as to if the results still stand true
  • Publish results from the micro poll

2. The Friday roundup / in depth piece

Give followers a lean-back post to digest on Saturday or Sunday. Branding Magazine sends out a summary listing of their hot posts of the previous five days. Good for those relaxing on a Saturday morning with bacon and coffee. In contrast to a round up – the economist has a lean back section for a more in depth read on existing topics and themes.

3. Get all analytical

Find out which of your posts were the most popular in terms of traffic from various search terms. Promote them on social media.  Rework those that are off target.

Use Topsy to compare trending hashtags, or trending phrases and really target your next article.

4. Think of your old posts

Continuing the analytics theme – give your old posts will little traffic a tweet or a share if there’s something relevant in the news related to that post. Use this one sparingly though as it could annoy your close followers. And tailor it to each audience!

If your blog is on WordPress, you may even want to consider the plugin Tweet Old Post which will automate it for you.

5. Newsjack

Your products or services might not be famous yet but helping out someone in a broadcasted bad situation can be powerful content. Oakley sent a new model of sunglasses to those leaving the Chilean mines a few years back – it was global news and everybody saw it. It gave others the chance to create loads of content around them.

It could also be a way to reassure your clients that this won’t happen to them – like password protection. A great example of newsjackking was Lastpass providing a tool to check if your LinkedIn password was stolen. They re-purpose this piece each and every time a new website is hacked or comes to the limelight for security breaches.

 

6. Croudsource an article from your comments area

I love when people point out an idea you’ve missed on a comments section from another article or blog. Use those ideas and expand on them in another post.

Your Turn

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section. I’d love to create another post!

Digital Marketing Strategy and The Product Owner’s Vision

Last week I touched on brand storytelling for businesses. Conveying the ‘why’ you are in business – and how you got there – to your target audiences. This ‘why’ for many companies is core to their business internally as well. Not just in their outward facing sales/marketing/recruitment pitch.

Converting that ‘why’ into strategic digital marketing goals is paramount for an affective web presence. Knowing what success looks like enables you to define key metrics to validate success. It can in most cases influence tactical decisions as well. Guiding your design and execution.

20130505-195454.jpg

Today we sat in the castle grounds and I’m pretty sure from this shot, even blurred, you can tell it’s a castle. Understanding it’s a castle you know what is needed or entailed in the creation of a good castle. Turrets, fortified, gate, maybe a moat, and 9 times out of 10 made of brick or stone. You also know what you don’t need and potentially after building a few, know what works and what doesn’t.

Product owners and their clear vision

Your strategic goals should have a similar broad stroke definition. They should tell you it’s a castle, but not how to build the windows or the finer details of execution. If your site is about new business generation, it should be highly optimised and proportionately text rich. If it is about sharing images it will have a whole different shape. As a lead in digital marketing or product owner for digital, this story belongs to you.

The vision should be well articulated, regularly, to the team.

The clearer the vision, the easier it is for those working on the website to make decisions and proceed. This also extends to epics, and then individual stories or groupings of work.

The vision and prioritising the most important features to users (internal or end users) means that even for release one your website is providing value to users. Much like the journalists inverted pyramid.

From there the vision will dictate your next iterations and the success of the site.

Today’s podcast

A few extras on evaluating you tactical adjustments and refinements against your core goals.

The Locomotive Revolution and Agile Project Management

I was watching a program last night on the evolution of the train, from the first steam trains to the current Shinkansen and AGVs. It was a great story of evolutionary steps to get us to today. Yet one stood out beyond the others. Revolutionary.

Bluebell Railway

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

Right before the invention of Stephenson’s Rocket the current train (sorry) of thought was: the most efficient way to move goods and passengers on tracks from one point to the next is the cable car. You would hook the carriages up to steam engines constructed at regular intervals along the track and reel in the cable to bring them up. Then uncouple, ready for connecting to the next engine. Stephenson suggested the engine could in fact travel in front of the carriages pulling them along. Revolutionary.

As I watched I couldn’t help but see correlations to Agile and Scrum. The fix mounted engines gave waterfall progression to targets and the locomotive was Agile. Exploring this metaphor a bit more I now have a far greater empathy for those that have troubles adjusting to an agile project management style. It’s revolutionary.

Fixed steam engines

  1. There were fixed costs for each mile of track and steam engine.
  2. Destinations (results) were defined from the start.
  3. If one steam engine breaks down you could not complete the journey.

The locomotive

  1. Costs would vary with the length of the journey.
  2. Destinations could change. The train could even switch tracks (pivot).
  3. The locomotive was independent.

This shift in focus is polar. Switching from focusing on cost savings to revenue creation is a big change in mindset. Yet taking the jump from emphasising defined costs and outcome to flexibility and incremental value puts clients and users at the forefront of projects.

This places organisations in an even better position to give value in return for value.

Perspective and Timing

This is actually a jellyfish that floats upside down. It is not the wrong way up. Or from downunder.

MedusaWe only consider this jellyfish to be wrong as we’re conditioned to see them floating bell up, tentacles down. But it could be onto something, maybe it catches falling food better that way?

Over the next week I have decided to switch perspective wherever possible and switch polarity if I can.

We are always conscious of our visual identity and branding in organisations, yet I think switching up the palette can be enough of a surprise to entice readers to read our email shots. Save it for special occasions  – but what about inverting the logo colours and body colours.

Put out a black paper for a change. People rarely print them right? It could even provide no answers at all to an issue, just pose questions for a change.

Timing needs a switch up too!

Hence a Saturday blog post instead of Monday or Tuesday. Why not. The boys are eating dinner and relaxing, I’ve got the time, let’s see what engagement it gets.

The other week we sent a timed email shot set for the wrong 9 am. Instead of going out prime time it hit senior HR directors Blackberrys at 9 pm. Statistics tell us never send after five, and never on a Friday if you’re after good open rates.

Yet just to prove the rule, this one had great open rates as they were all second screening, checking their Blackberrys after dinner during the blizzard. Click thru rates were amazing.

We’re now recommending either a follow up or the initial invitations to events go out at this time too.

Having said that a consistent stream of content is today’s marketing reality as @dmscott rightly points out. Constant engagement.

Tried and true vs. something new on Pinterest

It’s often possible to try something different in beta. Soft launch or A/B test your marketing campaigns and  in fact turn them into iterative waves of content.

I’m into residential architecture and my Pinterest board Modern Residential Architecture has been gaining real traction since Pinterest added the “Also pinned to:” feature. From 100 odd  followers last week to 801 today. The site really seems to be taking off. Stats about it being the third largest are highly believable. With good content the instant gratification of a like or repin comes with ease, vs. getting someone to retweet my posts.

Yet I digress, a few days back I posted this to another board, as a tester. Something new. It was far more popular than my architecture pins in plain likes and repins.


So the challenge this week is to find an architecture related motivational pin. The combination of the old and new that doesn’t alienate my followers and target audience.

Being agile, I can always tweak the idea as I go. Launch, analyse, learn and adjust. Of course if the analytics don’t support it I can still roll back to my tried and true without investing in a big campaign.

Follow me if you want to see where the iterations lead.

Excite customers with video storytelling in your content marketing mix

Storytelling has been around for many years and used by smart marketers to hook you on their brand messaging. Aligning your message with stories that: resonate, entertain, educate or delight your clients, can be used to pull clients through the purchase cycle and enforce bonds with brand advocates.

Typically they focus on a company’s history, morals, virtues and what they stand for. The best, step away from “me, me, me” messaging and yet, you are still left unequivocally knowing that was a “Kodak moment” or “just do(ing) it”.

The combination of storytelling and content marketing is however still in its infancy. Creating compelling stories that move you (hopefully towards a purchase) be it short or long format, is rarely tied into an overarching story, strategy or company raison d’être.

For others though, storytelling and the brand story even takes them as far as changing the company’s direction. For example, Red Bull is now a publishing and media house in my mind.

But there can be subtle new areas to explore too.

A mini pivot through content and storytelling

Here are the results of a collaboration project by Marcio Kogan and the team at Studio MK27 that houses (sorry, bad pun) a story within the results of their services. Portraying a day in the life of their V4 house.

Originally designed for the Brazilian pavilion at the Venice Biennale architecture festival, the film was segmented into snippets that attendees could view through screens. This encouraged them to explore the pavilion and Brazil’s offerings. A neat form of experiential marketing.

Coming home, the clips were merged and re-purposed into a clip that is now with a good 28 K plays on Vimeo. A great case of cross platform marketing. Offline, online, in social media and embedded in a number of key architectural website and blogs. They’ve also sparked a new tangent for the practice and a push in the short film direction. 

The results

NOTE – It’s not really suitable for work, featuring some of the rooms in full ‘use’.

Still it entertained me, and I got a good feel for some of the spaces, dimensions and ambience of the house. I’m now even more convinced Márcio is top of my list to design my future house.

PEEP_ film exercise #1_ La Biennale di Venezia from studio mk27.

The key opportunities

Storytelling is an art all marketers need to master.

The notion of your product as a platform for storytelling is compelling and provides a number of opportunities and angles to explore.

  • It gives you the opportunity to subtly communicate features through benefits.
  • You can educate clients on how to get the best our of you product throughout the story.
  • You can entertain them, give them a feeling for the people behind the brand, while showing off your product

Scaling and ensuring consistency in messaging is the hard part .So ensure your story and strategy are robust and well told. You’ll need fans internally to build support your marketing efforts before that content goes viral.