Content Marketing World Keynote Interview: John von Brachel, Bank of America

John von Brachel Bank of America

One of the most valuable resources for just about any company is the talent, expertise and insight from internal experts and executives, especially when it comes to content marketing. However, understanding the best practices and putting them into action within a large, complex organization is another thing entirely.

That’s why we are fortunate to hear from Content Marketing World 2016 keynote speaker John von Brachel. John has a deep editorial background at companies ranging from Time Inc. to Merrill Lynch to his current role as SVP and Content Marketing Executive at Bank of America. These roles have positioned him with very unique insight into the role of content marketing at the enterprise level.

In this interview, John talks about his editorial background, how he stays current, motivating executive participation with content and a preview of his keynote and breakout session presentations at CMWorld.

As Senior Vice President, Content Marketing Executive at Bank of America, what role does content marketing play in your responsibilities?

I manage the content marketing center of excellence within Bank of America. The content marketing center of excellence was created to help Bank of America better deliver education and insights to the audiences we care most about. That means being more efficient at creating higher quality content experiences.

“My job is to connect our content marketing teams so we can work together more seamlessly and effectively.”

For instance, my job is to connect our content marketing teams so we can work together more seamlessly and effectively, whether it’s through processes that help with collaboration, or new technology platforms that make our work more accessible and transparent.

What is great about the bank is that we have so many people who are considered experts in the investor relations industries-people want to hear their stories and what they have to say. To help make that happen, we work to package their reports and thought leadership in creative ways that makes it easy and compelling for people to access when and where they want it and, ultimately, share that content with others.

How has your editorial background best helped to prepare you for your roles in managing content marketing programs?

“Good content marketers need to have both left-brain and right-brain skills.”

I believe good content marketers need to have both left –brain and right-brain skills. It is especially important to be able to identify higher-quality content and to provide strong direction to both your internal teams and your agency partners. In fact, helping your partners and teams create great content starts with the clear and confident direction you give them. My editorial background has given me the perspective to recognize what great content looks like.

Information overload applies to content marketing advice as much as it does to consumers. What kinds of information sources do you rely on to stay sharp, current and on top of content marketing best practices?

I try to connect with peers as much as possible in and outside of the industry for best practices. I also rely heavily on agencies to inform me on what they’re seeing. I read a lot of trade publications and blogs like yours. And, of course, I attend conferences like Content Marketing World, which offers a great opportunity to connect with talented people and talk about where they see the proverbial puck is going in the content marketing industry.

I’m also a social media wonk – mostly because it helps me stay connected with my two daughters. It is important for me to know how to connect with them – I learn a ton from that.

“Learning is all about having a sense of humility – be open minded and assume there are others who know more than you.”

But to be honest, I think that learning is all about having a sense of humility – be open minded and assume there are others who know more than you. Then it’s your job to find and connect with them. That’s how I try to stay ahead.

Considering your work on ensuring internal thought leaders inform content programs, what advice do you have for other marketing executives that want to collaborate with executives more on brand content initiatives?

I’d tell them that it’s their job to socialize the value of what they’re doing and offering. I am often in meetings with the sole purpose of talking about how content marketing adds value to our business, employees and customers. And do it with empathy – these executives have a ton on their minds and their plates. Go into these meetings with the goal of solving their problems. Empathy matters.

What do you think are some of the fundamental obstacles companies face when trying to execute an integrated content marketing strategy? What are some possible solutions to those challenges?

“A compelling and consistent story allows you to build better relationships with your audiences.”

They have to have volition to create a strong strategy and to truly connect their teams and agencies teams. It takes work and resources to do this. The benefits are clear-you have a compelling and consistent story to tell, one that allows you to build better relationships with your audiences.

You can also do more to sequence these stories to your audiences in ways that keep them connected to you and your brand over longer periods of time. They are coming back to you because they value your stories and the innovative ways you are delivering them.

At this year’s Content Marketing World you are giving a keynote presentation, “Take Notice: What it Takes to Inspire Audiences and Distinguish Your Brand”. What can attendees look forward to most from this presentation?

This presentation will focus on what it means to understand your audience and to understand a new form of storytelling. I will also talk about the importance of differentiation your company through higher-quality content –and what that means as content quality evolves and changes.

You are also presenting, “How to Build an Audience-First Approach to Content Marketing”. Care to share a few of the most important takeaways?

In this presentation I will focus on contextual relevance; what it means and why is it important. In a world where people are looking for personalized information in context, every day, it’s important for brands to be contextually relevant. I’ll share my perspectives on how to do that.

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s Content Marketing World conference?

I’m looking forward to learning from the smart people who are there, and networking between the sessions. I am always looking for top talent, people who are doing great things with content marketing. I will attend sessions as well, looking for great ideas I can borrow or apply.

Any predictions about what the state of content marketing will be by 2020? Will it have something to do with Pokemon Go or VR?

Absolutely. Those are two good examples of audience based connection – being where and how people want to consume content.

“More companies will work directly with distinguished media brands to help tell their story.”

But it’s not just about the technology or the platform. I think you’ll see more and more companies looking to work directly with distinguished media brands to help tell their story.

Basically, it will likely move from creating a ton on your own to curating via closer media partnerships. Companies who stay close to these media companies and their audiences can go along on the ride with them. And think differently about the definition of ‘media giant.’

For example, General Electric (GE) took over Lena Dunham’s newsletter to honor women in science. That kind of partnership could happen between companies and other brandividuals as well.

Now let’s play a little social network word association. After each platform, share the first word or short reaction that comes to mind.

  • Facebook – Reach
  • Vine – Concise
  • LinkedIn – Career
  • Periscope – Voyeur
  • Twitter – Connected
  • Google+ – Option
  • Snapchat – Ethereal
  • YouTube – Must-see TV
  • Instagram – Moments
  • Flickr – Archives

John von Brachel is Senior Vice President, Content Marketing Executive at Bank of America.

John leads content integration for Bank of America Global Wealth and Investment Management businesses, as well as Content Marketing for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Prior to joining Bank of America, John was Group Managing Editor at Time Inc. Content Solutions. John joined Time Inc. from Individual Investor magazine where, as senior editor, he covered equity investing. John has also served in Germany as the Foreign Correspondent for Faulkner and Gray. He earned his B.A. at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Masters in Science from New York University.

You can connect with John on Twitter: @vonbrachel

Content Marketing World

If you would like the opportunity to learn more about an audience focused approach to content marketing as well as anything and everything else to do with content marketing, then Content Marketing World Sept 6-9 is a must attend event.  There you can learn from any of over 150 industry experts in a variety of presentations and workshops on everything from strategy and planning to content and media creation to measurement and optimizing ROI.

You can also network with a group of over 4,000 attendees from companies of all sizes. I’ve been to every CMWorld conference and it is a great networking and learning opportunity!

In case you missed one, here is a list of Content Marketing World 2016 keynote speaker interviews we’ve published so far:

Be sure to watch for the next in our series of keynote speaker interviews coming next week.


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The Key to a Successful Digital Marketing Agency and Client Relationship

digital marketing agency client success

Digital Marketing success is more dynamic than ever and companies embracing everything from content marketing to predictive analytics seek outside help for strategy, implementation and consulting. However, it takes a lot more than savvy sales pitches, charismatic account management and smart creative to make a client and agency relationship work.

We’ve been in the thick of the digital marketing world at TopRank Online Marketing for nearly 14 years and I’m happy to say our biggest growth so far in 2015 has come from client retention and program expansion. Thanks to an incredibly talented team, we’ve delivered great results for clients and have weathered numerous changes in the industry and within client organizations.

There are no shortcuts to great client agency relationships though and at BMA15 I attended a presentation offering some really useful advice:

According to Robin and Steve Beohler of Mercer Island Group, there are 4 reasons clients change agencies:

  1. Client side leadership change
  2. Troubled business results from the engagement
  3. Strained relationships between those involved
  4. Agency performance perceived as sub-par

Not all of these areas are controllable, but some are.

Chemistry and capabilities both need to be a fit for a successful client / agency relationship.

What many digital marketing agencies miss is in the on-boarding process – in terms of the business and the culture. What are the expectations, communications preferences and what does the end of the day look like? Clarity on these from the start as well as continued attention is essential.

What are the causes of most digital marketing agency and client issues?

Partners often view the relationship differently. According to research presented at BMA15 by the Beohlers, in 2/3 of the relationships, views of the relationship are very different. How different?

Agencies with the strongest reviews from clients were characterized by:

Top service, strategy, creative capabilities.

Lead strength: SERVICE.

Agencies with weak reviews:

Service was the biggest issue 100%.

Strategy and creative issues 63%.

Clients that received strong reviews:

9 out of 10 agencies cited that the partnership was strong.

Client guidance (client gave great briefings and feedback) and knowledge were also strong.

Clients that received weak reviews:

Guidance from the client was the biggest issue.

Alignment of the client to the agency, followed by client’s processes (mostly approval) were also problematic.

According to a new report, Enhancing Client Agency Relationships (PDF), released by the ANA:

  • Clients and agencies don’t agree on the quality of agency briefings. Not one agency reported receiving excellent briefings.
  • Only 2% of agencies strongly agree that the client approval process works well.

So, how can digital marketing agencies and the clients that hire them improve?

The most important thing is to put the relationship first. How people feel about the others they work with is paramount. Focus on building strong relationships and make sure people feel valued.

Also recommended was to do client / agency 360’s to collect ongoing feedback and conduct routine relationship enhancement sessions.

Deep feedback during these sessions is important, because clients aren’t always direct. Sometimes agencies don’t “hear” what the client is actually telling them.

Early warning systems are critical: pick up on early warnings and get the straight scoop information. Develop a way to capture deep, qualitative feedback on what’s really important – relationships and program results.

When things are going good, the ‘importance’ scores on relationships are low. But when things aren’t going well, everything is important.

It’s essential to invest in the processes of managing expectations and the relationship. There are significant costs to change agencies for both clients and the agency:

Client Costs:

  • Added expense
  • Distraction from other work
  • Work interruption
  • Reputation hit

Agency Costs:

  • Lowers revenue
  • Staff risk
  • Growth plan interrupted
  • Reputation hit

There are positive impacts from doing client / agency relationship 360’s. For clients, sharing and capturing feedback fuels business growth, better creative, strategy and service from the digital marketing agency.

For agencies, a relationship check can contribute to business growth, referrals, references, profitability, and reduced churn.

Overall, marketing agencies need to be more strategic in how they manage relationships with clients. Look beyond the day to day of tactics and program management to the bigger picture of how the client agency partnership has mutual impact.

Improving relationships is not all on the shoulders of agencies. A few things most clients who hire digital marketing agencies can do to improve both the relationship and the performance of their investment include:

  • Improve guidance – give better briefs and clearer feedback
  • Internally aligned creative feedback (reduce disconnected junior staff approval vs. the actual decision maker)
  • Streamline the approval process

It takes more than smart consulting to make a digital marketing client and agency relationship work. Without a healthy understanding of expectations and clear communications, all that smart consulting goes to waste if it never gets implemented. Invest in both high performing consulting and an understanding of expectations to make the client / agency relationship work.

Agencies that focus on service as well as strategy and consulting will be more valuable to the companies that hire them. Clients that provide excellent briefs and that can streamline review/approval processes will get a much better return on the digital marketing agency investment.

Great relationships drive great work. Great work drives great business results.

Image: Shutterstock


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Social Media Marketing for Business: Expectation Vs. Reality

Social-Media-Expectations-vs-Reality-Header-Image

When a fast food chain releases a new menu item, there is typically a lot of hype and promotion around the product. These efforts can lead to certain expectations of what consumers can expect when purchasing the item.

Sometimes reality meets the expectation, but more often than not, it doesn’t.

Anytime you explore new opportunities within digital marketing, it can lead way to a certain set of expectations for performance, audience reaction and a host of other variables.

While the reality may not always meet the expectation, there are many benefits to incorporating social media into your digital marketing routine. According to Social Media Examiner’s latest report, these benefits include:

  • Increased exposure
  • Increase in website traffic
  • Development of loyal fans
  • Access to marketplace insight
  • Lead generation

That same report found that Facebook (52%), LinkedIn (21%) and Twitter (12%) are the most important social media platforms for marketers.

The examples below provide a glimpse into some common expectations that new (and even more seasoned) marketers have about social media marketing and the sometimes harsh reality.

#1 – Set Publishing Expectations

Social-Media---EVR-2

Expectation: When tackling social media for business, it can be easy to assume that you’ll have endless ideas for content and will be a publishing machine.

Reality: More often than not, companies are strong out of the gate and then quickly tire from the attention needed to create and curate compelling content.

Solution: One way to engage your audience is to consistently publish content on your social channels. If you create a routine for publishing, they’ll know what to expect. Tools like Buffer are great for scheduling out your social media content for the week. You can also set up rules for posting frequency and time of day within your preferences. Additionally, Buffer has a handy content curation feature that makes it simple to choose a piece of content that is relevant for your audience and incorporate it into the publishing schedule.

#2 – Assess Organic Conversions

Social-Media---EVR-3

Expectation: Based on all of the awesome content you’re producing, it’s only a matter of time before those contact forms are flying in!

Reality: More realistically, a strong social media presence will likely lead to an increase in referral traffic to your website (if that is where you’re pointing followers).

Solution: An organic social media can be used in combination with content marketing efforts to drive lead generation. While it may not always be a direct conversion to sign up for services, there are other conversion opportunities. For example, use social media to lead your audience to gated content on your website or to a subscribe form to receive updates from your company.

#3 – Effective Community Management

Social-Media---EVR-4

Expectation: Responding to brand mentions and inquiries is easy.

Reality: Keeping up with brand mentions manually can become incredibly overwhelming.

Solution: Continue to create quality content that your community will find useful and use Social media monitoring tools like SproutSocial, Topsy and Social Mention to help identify and respond to mentions of your brand.

#4 – Improve Advertising Effectiveness

Social-Media---EVR-5

Expectation: Using paid social automatically means that you’ll have more conversions (likes, shares, comments) for your facebook page and website.

Reality: Social advertising merely provides access to more people, it doesn’t change the quality of your message.

Solution: To get the most out of social media advertising consider the following best practices:

  • Use clear and concise messaging
  • Incorporate strong visual assets
  • Beta test ads by publishing organically first
  • Use platform targeting features
  • Rotate ads frequently to avoid ad fatigue
  • Design ads with mobile users in mind

#5 – Don’t Take the One & Done Approach

Social-Media---EVR-6

Expectation: You can successfully publish all of the exact same social messages on every platform.

Reality: People use different social media sites for different reasons.

Solution: You need to understand your audience and the social media sites that they use in order to get a true sense of how to position messaging for each platform. The way that most users interact on LinkedIn is vastly different than they would use an Instagram account. Keep this in mind when creating messaging for your business social media profiles and pages.

Begin Setting Realistic Expectations for Social Media Marketing

True social media marketing success requires hard work, patience and attention to detail. Chances are, if you invest your time and money wisely, you’ll begin to see some of your social media expectations become realities.

What have you found to be the most shocking reality about social media that you hadn’t expected?

Images Via Shutterstock: 256990276267812159152294633172622741174332258173481875168059315


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Engage More Customers By Becoming a Content Marketing Sommelier

content marketing sommelia

A sommelier is known for having extensive knowledge about wines, and how to complement the sensory experience of each type with perfect food pairings. Many train for years in hopes of finally becoming a Master Sommelier.

When embarking on a content marketing initiative, it’s important to know how to maximize the sensory experience of your content. A Master Content Marketing Sommelier knows what will best engage their customers, be it a complex, full-bodied blog post or a light, crisp infographic.

Demand Metric found that content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less. This means marketers have a ripe opportunity to create content that expertly meets the needs of their audience.

Below are 6 tips to help you become a sommelier of content marketing.

#1 – Balance: The level of harmony between acidity, tannins, fruit, oak, and other elements in a wine; a perceived quality that is more individual than scientific.

wine balance

Content marketing can be a great tool for lead nurturing if implemented correctly. Successful content will harmoniously create value for your audience and move them toward a purchasing decision.

First and foremost, it is essential that your content offer useful and relevant information for your audience. If your message doesn’t help them solve their problem or meet a current need, they’ll move on to someone who does.

However, that does not mean there isn’t an opportunity to incorporate a call to action, where it makes sense. In fact, many marketers are leaving leads on the table by offering a piece of content without asking for contact information in exchange for the download.

Another often overlooked opportunity is adding calls to action within your blog post. This can be as simple as asking a question that helps your reader internalize the information and engage with your content by sharing their opinion. As long as you achieve balance between your promotional element and the value you add for the reader, you’ll create a pleasant experience.

#2 – Blend: The process whereby two or more grape varieties are combined after separate fermentation; common blends include Cotes de Rhone and red and white Bordeaux.

wine blend

Content marketing should not be a stand-alone program within digital marketing. In order to truly be masterful, it must be combined with other digital marketing efforts such as:

  • SEO
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Paid Search & Social Media Advertising
  • Conversion Optimization
  • Website Analytics

Just as a good blended wine combines the strengths of each vintage to enhance the flavor experience, a good marketing blend puts the different elements of marketing to work to amplify your message.

#3 – Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wineglass after drinking or swirling.

wine legs

Even if your customers aren’t ready to buy right now, you want to remain top of mind when they are ready to make the leap. So the question is; how can you create stickiness with your content marketing?

One simple way is to create a consistent posting schedule. If you continue to offer relevant information and sound advice on a consistent basis, your customers will come back to you when they have another need.

#4- Table Wine: A term used to describe wines of between 10 and 14 percent alcohol; in Europe, table wines are those that are made outside of regulated regions or by unapproved methods.

Table Wine Image

If you are an avid wine drinker (like myself) then you know that you’re typically better off skipping the table wine or house wine. It’s usually the cheaper option, but it’s definitely made for quantity rather than quality.

When it comes to your content marketing, you’re better off doing a few things very well, than trying to do too much and falling short. Prioritize your content marketing for impact and form an understanding of what you can handle in-house, what may need to be outsourced and what needs cut from your plan. A few high-quality pieces of content are more valuable in the long-run than high-quantity “table wine” content.

# 5 – Yield: The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.

Yield Vineyard

The vintner who fails to measure their vineyard’s yield and adjust their plans accordingly won’t be in business for long. If you don’t measure the yield of your content marketing, it will be difficult to see how it is performing and what you can do better. As with any sales or marketing program, you must:

  • Determine your critical measurements based on business goals
  • Define both short and long-term goals
  • Tie performance back to leads and sales metrics

There is no replacement for content marketing measurement and it should always remain top of mind when deploying new tactics. For each piece of content you create, make sure to ask yourself: Does this align with my objectives, and what do I hope to achieve?

#6 – Pruning: The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.

pruning vines

Vintners prune their plants to enable them to grow and thrive. Once you’ve given your content marketing time to mature, it’s time to go back and decide where to “prune” your program. You may find that your audience responds really well to long-form blog content but does not care much for video, for example.

Take the time to find which tactics are performing the best and weed out those that are not effective. A little strategic pruning can make sure that you focus on creating the content that resonates most with your audience.

Pour Yourself a Nice Crisp Glass of Content Marketing

Understanding what makes a successful content marketing strategy can be as tricky as mastering the appreciation of fine wine. Both take practice, dedication and attention to detail. What have you found is your biggest challenge in creating successful content marketing that inspires action?

All definitions are courtesy of WineEnthusiast

Photos via Shutterstock: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh


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Content Marketing: 4 Tips for Creating B2B Content When You’re at a Loss for Words

writers-block

Content marketing has rapidly become an essential piece of the B2B marketing puzzle. Buyers are more connected and more self-directed than ever before, and informative, engaging content is key to making sure your organization becomes part of the buyer journey.

Creating a steady stream of quality content can be challenging for any marketer, but especially for those in B2B marketing, where buyers expect to be informed and entertained at the same time. So it’s no surprise that Content Marketing Institute’s latest report found that 54% of B2B Marketers rated producing engaging content as a top challenge, and 50% said producing content consistently is a challenge.

If you’re a B2B content marketer, sooner or later you’ll likely find yourself facing a blank screen with a head full of complex information that won’t move to the keyboard. So what do you write when you don’t know what to write? Here are a few strategies to remove the block between your brain and your fingertips:

#1 – Start with Structure

If you’re like me, you hated writing outlines for school assignments. I would always draft first, then reverse-engineer the outline.

But as a professional content creator, outlines are your new best friend. Take your complex topic and imagine what your sub-headings should be to discuss the topic. That way, you won’t get hung up on word choice or phrasing and can focus on the key information you want to get across. Once the structure is in place, it will be far easier to fill in the content.

#2 – Write the 5-Year-Old Version

Recently I was writing content for a client about the importance of balancing marketing efforts across the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel (sometimes called ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu marketing). I was having trouble explaining it in a clear and concise way. Finally, I thought, how would I explain this to my 5-year-old son? In a matter of minutes, I wrote the following little fairy tale:

“Once upon a time there were three little goats named Tofu, Mofu, and Bofu. Tofu trip-trapped happily through the meadow all day, blissfully unaware of the troll under the bridge nearby. Mofu knew the troll lived under the bridge, but wasn’t sure how the troll affected his day-to-day life and wasn’t ready to do anything about the monster. Only Bofu had seen across the bridge to a beautiful meadow of green grass, and was ready to take steps to get rid of the troll.

The local heroes who got rid of trolls focused their attention on Bofu exclusively. He knew he had a problem and wanted someone to solve it. The heroes didn’t see that it was important to offer their services to Tofu and Mofu, and so they missed out on getting the other two goats to start thinking about their troll problem. The heroes would have had better luck selling their services to all three goats.”

Obviously, I didn’t forward my fairy tale to the client. But writing it enabled me to lay out the argument for full-funnel marketing that I was trying to make, and I finished the client draft within the hour.

The “5-year-old-version” strategy helps you to explain what you’re trying to write to yourself, which makes the grown-up version far easier to write.

#3 – Write the Conversational Version

If you don’t have a 5-year-old in your life to use as an imaginary sounding board, write the way you would talk to an old friend. You don’t ever have writer’s block in a casual conversation, right? So write the way you would talk. Even better, exaggerate the tone—let yourself be silly. Try to make yourself smile.

For example, when I get stuck I’ll write something like: “Okay, so check it out bro, this new eBook is the bomb dot com. I know you’ve got some mad problems with your content marketing, but this book is gonna drop knowledge on you. Get it, yo!” After about a paragraph of that, I’m ready to reign it in and write the professional version.

#4 – Write the Garbage Version

Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Sometimes the source of writer’s block is that perfect version of the content you see in your head. So you write a few lines, they don’t measure up to the standard, and you erase everything. It’s easy to convince yourself that the version in your head is so much better than anything you could put on the screen.

But the truth is, any version of the content that exists is better than something that isn’t real. So don’t let that imaginary ideal form of the content stop you from writing.

When you get stuck trying to write the perfect words, turn off your inner editor and just write garbage. Type with your eyes closed if you can, so you’re not tempted to edit. Whatever clumsy, error-riddled, clichéd garbage you put on the screen is still better than a non-existent perfect piece. And now you have a start, something you can edit and refine until it’s worth showing to the world.

Content marketing is a business function, but it’s also a creative endeavor. As such, it’s just as subject to writer’s block as any other form of writing. When you’re stuck with that blank screen, stop thinking about creating the perfect finished piece and try for a different perspective. Write an outline to make sure your structures solid, or write a simplified version to help organize your thoughts. Write a silly version, bro, for reals. Write absolute trash. Just write something. Even the messiest first draft is the start of creating an amazing piece of content.

What is your favorite way to get past a block in your writing?

Image: Shutterstock


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Blockbuster Content Marketing Success: Xerox Marketing VP Jeannine Rossignol #CMWorld

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Everything is bigger on the silver screen: hopes and dreams, heroes and villains, successes and failures. Simple human drama can become mythical when projected onto a giant movie screen. We go to the movies to laugh, cry, and gasp along with our fellow moviegoers, all of us sitting in the dark together sharing the experience. It’s a powerful example of how great content can create an experience that not only informs, but makes you feel. Creating those experiences is a whole crew of specialists, actors, director and producers, each playing their part.

Similarly, every successful content marketing program has a team of people working behind the scenes to create quality content that connects with customers. One trailblazing example of a marketing leader creating great content experiences is Jeannine Rossignol, VP of Marketing for Large Enterprise Organizations at Xerox.

Jeannine will be making her first appearance at Content Marketing World this year, discussing how senior marketers and CMOs can structure marketing around content. I connected with Jeannine to talk about content marketing strategy, top challenges facing content marketers, and content marketing lessons to be learned from Charlotte’s Web.

I work with amazingly talented people to tell stories that start conversations with the right people.

Can you share a little more about your role at Xerox and what you enjoy most about it?

At Xerox I lead demand gen, content marketing, digital, social and sales enablement globally for our Large Enterprise Operations division. I work with amazingly talented people to tell stories that start conversations with the right people. I get a rush when I think about all the changes that have happened to the practice over the past few years and can’t wait to see what the future holds… and maybe even help shape it a bit.

The key is that content provides insight, and valuable information they need.

How do you define content marketing?

Content marketing provides our clients and prospects with the insight they need to make a decision. It doesn’t have to be the decision to buy. The key is that the content – whatever form it takes – provides insight, and valuable information they need. Otherwise, we’d simply keep calling it marketing brochures (collateral). When you’re elbowing for position in the early stages of the consideration, good content marketing works hard. It creates brand awareness, differentiation and credibility.

When it comes to approach, never forget the customer is in charge.

It seems many brands’ approach to content marketing has focused mostly on creating more content with a recent emphasis on better quality content. What do you think are the major drivers for content marketing strategy and approach to content?

I have a hunch that the brands producing the most content are often the ones that lack a clear content marketing strategy. A clear strategy should include who you target, what their buyer’s journey looks like, and most importantly, what are the questions they need to answer to move from one stage in the journey to the next. Every piece of content should go back to that strategy.

When it comes to approach, never forget the customer is in charge. Be engaging. Add humanity.

Content is an integral component of every aspect of marketing.

How does content marketing relate to the overall marketing pie?

Content is the golden thread that brings marketing together, not just marketing but marketing and sales. It isn’t a separate program, but rather an integral component of every aspect of marketing.

Content marketing is growing for two reasons. 1) Many disparate marketing components are now taking roles within a larger content marketing strategy. With some adjustments and refocus on customer interest, they have become content marketing tools. 2) Content marketing is also taking on a bigger role because so much of it can be tied to measurable results.

We have to recognize that not everyone wants to consume information the same way.

How important are non-text content marketing assets to your marketing? For example: audio, video, and interactive.

Critical. We have to recognize that not everyone wants to consume information the same way. Just as important as understanding the type of content your audience wants, you also have to know what format they prefer it in. Added to that, we are a visual society. Memes. Instagram. Buzzfeed. Pinterest. Emoticons. They help us connect in ways that can often feel more real than words. Which is great news for international marketers, by the way.

What are some of your own content marketing examples that you’re proudest of?

In B2B marketing, especially for services, we talk to our clients about their challenges. We took a different angle with Optimism. One that is focused on the opportunities for that business … looking past the challenges and focusing on opportunities … We were excited about it, our management and sales organizations were excited, and the feedback we’ve received from customers demonstrates they like it as well.

We brought the idea of Optimism to life with a publication called Chief Optimist.   We needed to get in front of decisions makers with our content. The idea of the publication seemed like a great way to get past the gatekeeper and end up in the “to-read” pile. We partnered with Forbes to publish the magazine. We knew their name would add credibility to the magazine, and most of all it would help us supplement our original content with theirs. As it turns out by partnering we are more credible than trying to do it on our own.

Do you have any advice for marketers who feel overwhelmed by the challenge of consistently producing a variety of engaging content?

  • Don’t do it alone! Partner – internal SMEs, 3rd party experts, your agencies, trusted business resources, analysts, etc.
  • Editorial calendar – map it out for the year, it won’t seem as overwhelming
  • Remember at the end of the day it is a person reading your content. Make sure it is interesting and has a point.
  • Never be afraid to fail. In today’s digital world it is easy to make course corrections, but you can’t correct (or learn from) what was never done.

Great technology can’t fix bad content, nor can great content deliver results without technology.

What are some of the biggest content marketing challenges facing large companies today? Or the biggest misconceptions. What should they do about it?

Content marketing can expose your “ugly baby.” If you have a product or service that doesn’t have a unique value prop or truly meet the needs of the marketplace, coming up with insightful content will be near impossible.

Great technology can’t fix bad content, nor can great content deliver results without technology.

Data hygiene is critically important. The best content is highly targeted and relevant. But if you can’t trust your data, you can make some silly mistakes on a massive scale.

Forgetting the first rule of content marketing: take your brand out and put the customer in.

Companies seem to be most challenged by measuring content marketing performance and ROI. What advice can you share?

Marketing went from not being able to measure anything, to being able to measure everything. It is overwhelming, but pick a place to start… pick one question you want to answer and go from there. Get it roughly right, and keep refining.

What are you presenting on at Content Marketing World? What do you like best about the conference?

I’m on the panel discussing “How Senior Marketers and CMOs Are Structuring Around Content Marketing. This will be my first CMWorld. I’m beyond excited; it has been on my list to attend for years. I would love to hear from veteran attends, tweet to me what you like best about the conference.

In the spirit of the CMWorld conference theme of vintage Hollywood “Big Lights, Big Content”, what is your favorite movie?

There are so many to choose from… I’m the mother of 4 small children so bear with me; the only movies I see these days are children’s movies! Let me give you a favorite that is not only a great movie/story, but also a great example of content marketing in action: Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte’s content, the words she spun in her web were creative, powerful and beautifully targeted to save the life of Wilbur the pig. It perfectly showcases that content can deliver powerful results, or in this case, save lives!

Ready to Become the Star of Your Brand’s Content Marketing Movie?

Reserve your space at Content Marketing World 2015 to learn strategies from over 200 top experts in the industry.

For a preview of coming attractions before the conference, dim the lights, silence your electronic devices, and read our new eBook, Measuring Your Content Marketing Box Office Success.

Binge Read the Entire Content Marketing World Triple Feature!

eBook covers - cmw15

Sometimes when you get really into a series, there is nothing more tortuous than waiting for the next release. By clicking any of the links below, you’ll get immediate, on-demand access to each of the eBooks in our series.

The Big Picture of Content Marketing Strategy

Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing

Measuring Content Marketing Box Office Success


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Blockbuster Content Marketing Success: Xerox Marketing VP Jeannine Rossignol #CMWorld | http://www.toprankblog.com

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How to Create Oscar-Worthy Content Marketing: Ann Handley of MarketingProfs #CMWorld

AHandley---interview-header-

My pal Ann Handley has made it her life’s work to, in her words, “wage war on mediocrity in content.” Her best-selling book, Everybody Writes, is a practical guide to writing the kind of content that truly engages an audience.

As the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs (the world’s first Chief Content Officer, in fact), Ann advocates quality over quantity in all of her content ventures. She also spreads the gospel of good content at speaking engagements around the world, including the upcoming Content Marketing World conference September 8-11 in Cleveland.

To get a sneak preview of Ann’s Content Marketing World presentation, Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight For Sore Eyes, I did my best to catch up with her during some pretty crazy travels. Along the way, she shared her journey on learning to write compelling content, the role of technology in content marketing, and the death of the marketing funnel.

My mission is always to make the complicated way simpler.

As the CCO of MarketingProfs, best-selling author, keynote speaker, lover of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the most influential woman in Social Media (according to Forbes), when you look back on your journey throughout your career what are three things you never lost focus on that helped you get to where you are today?

  1. When I was in journalism school, my professor Charlie Ball used to tell me, “Remember: No one has to read this.” That perspective changed my writing from self-indulgent (all about me) to reader-centric (all about the audience). It’s been invaluable as a content-centric marketer and blogger and (frankly) as a person.

(Side note to parents — of either a human, dog, cat, ferret, lizard, llama, or otherwise: Parenting reaffirms this idea. Because nothing is about you. Ever again. And I say that in the best possible way.)

  1. Charlie also told me: “No one will complain that you made things too simple to understand.” Life is complicated. Business is messy. “Solutions” are multi-faceted. If I’m being honest, most things in life confuse me. My mission is always to make the complicated way simpler.
  1. Finally: Deliver. Seth Godin calls this: Ship.

When I was in high school, the Pope visited Boston. I went to Catholic high school, where I was the editor of the school paper. I told the school I’d cover it for us. (The nuns were thrilled!)

But then I changed my mind, and I blew off the Pope’s visit to go hang out with my local public school friends. And when I got home that day, my Mom was unusually annoyed at me. I didn’t understand why — who cares? The Pope’s visit was all over the news anyway.

And my mom said, lips pursed and on the verge of losing it, “Because you had a responsibility to your position, and you ignored it for your own pleasure.”

At the time, I thought she was being ridiculously prissy. (I still feel bad to this day about my eye roll in response.)

But now, I get it. I said I’d do something, and then I didn’t. That’s not cool.

How I internalize that now: If you say you’ll do something, do it. Your word is more important than you might imagine it is.

You can’t code creativity. And you can’t program publishing. And quality definitely trumps quantity.

Your session at Content Marketing World will focus on helping marketers nail the basics of creating good content. What do you anticipate are the primary challenges for marketers today in creating quality content versus a quantity of content?

I’ve been thinking lately about technology. Because increasingly it’s heralded as the savior (or legitimizer?) of marketing.

Robots can write your posts. Tools can optimize them. Solutions can amplify them.

Awesome. I heart technology. I built my career on it, too.

But guess what? Technology is only as good as our story.

You can’t code creativity. And you can’t program publishing. And quality definitely trumps quantity. Always has. Always will.

Your story is the thing that sets your apart. So the question is: What’s your story? And how do you tell it?

There’s a growing rumbling in the marketing industry about the death of the funnel. Yea or nay?

The funnel was never a funnel. It’s always been an ecosystem, because the people who buy (the people at the end of the “funnel”) have always had the capacity to influence the decision of others. Social tools and technology make that information way more accessible, is all.

Which makes your sales and marketing efforts like the song that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friend, to quote Lamb Chop. (Is this the first time Shari Lewis has been quoted in a marketing context?)

What are your favorite examples of B2B or B2C brands that are creating great content for marketing?

B2B

B2C

Nonprofit

Government

  • This was a failed attempt, because the candidate didn’t get elected. But I believe it was groundbreaking storytelling in political marketing – The Best Political Ad Ever

What’s ordinary to you isn’t often ordinary to others.

Incorporating storytelling into content marketing has always been a big focus of yours. What advice would you give to marketers to help uncover these stories, even if they think they might not have any worth sharing?

Every company has a story to tell, if you look at the world from your customer’s point of view. The designer Michael Wolff says, “What already exists is an inspiration.”

Train yourself to look at things differently. What’s ordinary to you isn’t often ordinary to others.

What is the best piece of marketing advice that you’ve ever received personally?

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” — Tom Fishburne (Marketoonist.com)

He didn’t say it to me personally — although he’s a friend, so he probably would if I asked him to. Regardless, I’ve internalized it as if he did. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think of it every day.

Content Marketing World attendees, you are my people.

What do you like best about attending and speaking at Content Marketing World?

Content Marketing World attendees, you are my people. It’s not quite like being with family — but there’s a similar feel of a kind of posse.

“Community” is one of those words that’s overplayed in marketing. But CMW (and a few other select marketing events throughout the year) embody it for me.

Thanks, Ann!

Ready to Create Oscar-Caliber Content Marketing?

Reserve your space at Content Marketing World 2015 for inspiring and informative presentations from 200 superstars of marketing.

For a sneak preview of Ann and 13 other marketing matinee idols’ presentations, grab your popcorn and settle in with our new eBook, Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing.

Stay Tuned For the Thrilling, Final Chapter in Our Triple Content Marketing Feature!

CMWorld 2015 eBooks

On June 22, we will premiere the final chapter in our content marketing triple feature: Measuring Your Content Marketing Box Office Success. Featuring content marketing stars such as Joe Pulizzi, Andrew Davis, Michael Brenner and many more, you’ll be able to connect the content marketing performance dots with the strategy and tactics shared in the first two eBooks.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
How to Create Oscar-Worthy Content Marketing: Ann Handley of MarketingProfs #CMWorld | http://www.toprankblog.com

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