Driveway moments – how podcasts capture listeners in a content-laden world

With so much digital content competing for our attention in multiple social networks how do brands connect with their audience. What is the key?

In this era of disposable content, memes, vines, snaps, whispers, secrets and now ‘YO‘s, many brands are swinging to the polar extreme to keep users attention and to keep them interested. Thankfully there’s light at the end of the tunnel, in fact it’s an illuminated journey.

White shelters / \ #convergence

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

There is a resurgence of long format content and a lot of it is supported by rich media like interactive graphics, videos and podcasts.

With a relatively short bus commute as part of my morning journey I have been consuming a lot of podcasts. Although not as rich as video, the format means I can tune in with a single sense and still go about my morning/evening commute and not feel too guiltily about mobile data charges. It’s a format that thanks to Soundcloud is simple to do with your phone, laptop or iPad.

A number of the podcasts I subscribe to really bring a rich narrative to their existing blog posts and or a closer look at a topic. Often, hearing about something is also a lot easier to digest than reading about it.

The luxury of a podcast is that you can compile segments as and when you get time. You have time to form a holistic narrative and unlike with video you don’t have to worry too much about matching sections, cutting intros and outros etc. There’s no other conflicting posts. Scheduled news, announcements and down time messages don’t interrupt it – you can focus on a singular message, or two.
The art is in creating enough value and keeping users entertained, hopefully creating a driveway moment.

What’s a Driveway Moment?

Hopefully I’ve encouraged you, if only just a little, to think about podcasts and consider them in your digital mix. If not, then maybe this list and their inspiring long standing podcasts will help.

Here are 5 exemplary podcasts that I find really interesting. Their topics challenge and I think improve my digital marketing knowledge, and help me grow. I’m on a journey too.

99percentinvisible.org
I have a lot of time for @romanmars and the crew at 99percent. Their mixture of informative and eclectic topics has me hooked and I get excited when their latest release appears in my soundcloud feed. Covering everything from walled cities to shoe design and the Chrysler vs Empire State building feud.

thewebpsychologist.com
Nathalie Nahai is the Nigella Lawson of the web theory, UX and UI design space. Her sultry voice and the amazing guests she has talking all things digital come psychology are awesome.

cc-chapman.com
C C picks me up and motivates me. He’s all about doing the right work and valuing connections. He’s also the source of my favourite content marketing quote. The miniskirt philosophy for content: Long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting.

forimmediaterelease.biz
Although a long listen The Hobson & Holtz report is digital from a PR perspective. Two very smart minds from either side of the Atlantic cover the latest developments in the digital and online space. Seeing a UK and USA perspective in one is insightful.

newrainmaker.com
Brian Clark of @copyblogger fame also talks of the Hero’s Journey and explains well why we should not be social sharecropping – building your digital home base on land you don’t own.

I’d love to hear what podcasts you like or your Soundcloud / iTunes address so we can connect!

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.

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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.

Strategy vs. tactical implementation in digital marketing

We face a fine line right now between Minimal Viable Product or Post and launching something with no sequel.

For those close to the software and technology sectors Eric’s Lean Startup and Agile principles push us to launch a product that will bring SIGNIFICANT value to the user but under the premise of minimal viable product. Make it “good enough”.

Costs, ROI and resources are ever more scrutinised. Despite this the #agilemarketing hashtag and the cause is still grass roots in volume despite the Klout scores of those involved and its ability to provide measurable returns.

I am scrum trained and an agile proponent as a product owner. Yet I can’t help but feel that there is a scalability issue vs. overall business strategy. Unless agile is embedded throughout the organisation.

Agile is a project management method that is hard to beat at a tatictal level. A Kanban or agile approach to “what needs fixing” on an existing website can be very effective and a base for building an understanding of agile within the organisation.

Yet try to explain this or fit it into an annual marketing plan or 5 year strategy and well…

In a way some of the basic principals of agile can be refreshing to an organisation battling priorities.

  1. Your backlog (list of things to do) is prioritised and you do the most valuable things first, not by who shouts loudest with the most seniority. Things that add value to the end user. It is however good to note that clients are not the only user. Your product or digital marketing has many users: clients, prospective employees and current employees. Fixing your CMS so that internal users can post content could be a high priority for example.
  2. The INVEST acronym defining a good story (the agile term for a set volume of work) means you’re investing in the right manor.
    • You break tasks in to Independent bites, you don’t end up waiting for someone else before you see the project complete.
    • You Negotiate, to understand how difficult those who have to do the task feel it is, conflicting values mean there’s more to it than meet the eye, and is raises flags.
    • Tasks must deliver Value to the end user or why do them at all!
    • Your tasks must be Estimable. To that end you should not attempt tasks who’s dimensions of success and scale are not well defined. E.G. “Make the website pop”
    • Small or sized, means tasks or “stories” are small enough to fit on a post-it. Refining a “register now” button to make it black is far easier than “fix our events site” as a task
    • finally the stories are Testable. Each one can be independently tested. Meaning we can see what ROI did we get from changing the register now button to green from red. This was possible because we defined success (and acceptance criteria) for the task before it was started

Starting out with Kanban, or Agile, and building your team into the process is the first step. With success and ROI your case builds and the groundswell develops. Those who’ve adopted agile see it as common sense, yet they all understand that common sense is rarely common or sensical.

But it’s with perseverance that the rest of the organisation will follow.

Light thoughts: A B2B Web Presence

A B2B web presence should be at least a collection of: targeted, integrated, interlinked, ongoing interactions.
For a B2B Consultancy to stand out from the masses and warrant a premium price, the company must stand out. Be it for: knowing the most, offering the best service, consistency, innovation or quality. And their Online presence should express this, be it at a corporate level, or extended to that of its associates, alumni and fans.
The tools are there – PDF thought pieces, ebooks, quick email updates, in depth analytic material or tools, insights into current market developments, events, forums, networking groups, surveys and web-casts. The hard part being creating themes and learning paths to take your clients down – something that engages the client and links to their interactions with their account manager/consultant. Something that rings home with their current issues and the wins they’re after.
A plan might roll out something like this.
  1. Marketing translates and polishes great though pieces into quick to market, well thought out, easy to digest (and share) nuggets.
  2. Events are booked to discuss the emerging themes.
  3. LinkedIn groups form post event, and webcasts or one to ones are booked for further dissection.
  4. Collections of nuggets are turned into publications for distribution and sent with Deep Insights to clients to devour offline.
  5. A full record is kept of client interactions preferences, consulting, thought pieces received and the events they have attended – even what they browse, how much they read and what’s their favourite topic.
  6. Marketing augments client engagement and supports Account Managers with “your clients may like this – please forward or add them to our distribution”.
  7. Possibly networks of clients and consultants form, discussing relevant themes, formulating areas of interest and shaping a companies offerings.

And harking from my Rework chapter today (37 signals)  – Who knows, the company may even start to think like a famous chef, and publish their best recipes for all – knowing that even if a competitor tires to do what they do –  only they know how to really mix the ingredients.

the online space – according to nickwallen

Leaders

Leaders of online marketing – future leaders of all marketing – develop their online brand to create a following.

The following in turn buy their products and information because they are an expert their field – as evident from information freely available on the web.
To be considered leaders and experts valuable information needs to be readily available from them.

Creating their brand online in a Web 2.0 age means transparency and honesty – followers will be quick to drop anything they dislike and their word of mouth – extended by web 2.0 and social technologies can have drastic effects. Yet if they OWN their space their word and brand are the ultimate sales tool.

Being a leader and owning your space – places you at the top of clients’ minds – they’ll scourer your site for information and you’ll be the first person they "reach out to"/contact when they want something.

You need to be listening!

“answer every single email and every single comment on your blog’ for the rest of your FREAKING life.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

Converting/making money

An open, transparent and honest leader has no need to shout or hard sell their insight/consulting/research. But how do they convert people who access their site freely – gathering up information – into not just loyal followers, but ultimately paying customers?

The issue we face

We want things on our terms and to feel like we wanted it – we weren’t sold into it. If we’re slowly brought into the fold as a loyal follower, the end sale seems like a logical purchase. We also won’t return the item or argue price, as we’ve seen the value all along as we’ve been following the leader.

Online and offline we want to keep ourselves anonymous and avoid sales, even face to face contact at all costs. Privacy is paramount.

We will accept however a little intrusion to our privacy – and maybe relinquish our email for future updates

  • if that source of information could be sent to us daily
  • if the information they reveal is so compelling that we want the full copy
  • if there’s an anonymous webinar we could watch without the threat of actually hafting to talk to a salesperson

An opening

This inital step, to relinquish even a little privacy, is the window. The key
is that value for money balance and being prepared to give your followers what they want, valuable information, in return for their custom in the long haul.

Using insight gained from their downloads/browsing/IP we can tailor messages, offer relevant articles, even invite them to exclusive events (webinars). We can do all this would even mentioning the product/service or even bringing a consultant or salesperson into the scene. This will keep followers happy, web 2.0 expanding and our online brands alive.

The test for traditional marketers is to avoide temtation. Provide enough tasty information to wet their appetite, and unlearn the hard sell!