Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Out to Lunch - back mid-August

taking a sabbatical between now and the beginning of the next big journey...see you some time in mid-august!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Twitter 101 - A Guide for Businesses

I was just recently having a conversation with a social media skeptic who believes that twitter holds no value for businesses, and isn't much more than a service with which people can share the most mundane and unimportant details of their daily drudge with others.

Of course, the truth is that just like any other tool, twitter, by itself isn't good or bad, personal or professional, or anything else - it just is.

That said, the value that you can get out of twitter is simply the result of how much you know about it, and how you apply that knowledge (btw - that's pretty much how everything in life works).

So thanks to the nifty marketers over at twitter, if you're interested in learning more about how you can use their tool to socially brand your business, you can start by checking out Twitter 101 - A Guide for Businesses.

Check it out if you're interested in:

* What is Twitter
* Getting started
* Learn the lingo
* Best practices
* Case studies
* Other resources

You can even download the slides.

Here's the link: http://business.twitter.com/twitter101/

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's really quite simple: Just help people

I've only just recently realized a couple of important things that I wish someone had pointed out sooner - at least in a specific enough manner that I could have understood them.

The first (and probably less important of the two) is this: Professional growth can only come from personal growth. Period. No matter how great you are in your role, if you're not growing and becoming more inspired in your own personal life, then the professional bar, quite simply, isn't going to move up very much - at least not relative to the goals and aspirations most of us have.

The second thing - which I've learned in my personal life, but which is (not coincidentally) having a tremendous impact in my professional life is this: The goal in life is to help as many people as much as you can. And the more you do that, the more successful you will be.

The bottom line is that in both our lives and our professions, we value help above most all else. It's why marketing is awash with terms like "pain points", "problem statements", "empathy", and "challenges". And it's also why business people allocate or influence the allocation of substantial portions of their companies' budgets to solutions that will make their jobs (and lives) easier.

So once you recognize that the individuals you are marketing to are people, and not "just businesses", consider what they really need help with - and here's a hint - it likely goes far beyond the solution you're selling to include things like best practices, peer networking, complimentary education, a good night's rest...the list goes on and on.

But if you can identify what those things are, and give them away freely, you will ultimately find that you are highly valued in your space, and success won't be far behind.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Must-Read post for social media marketers from Viralogy.com: Chris Brogan vs. Seth Godin

Whether you're just getting started with social media or you've been plugging away at it for years, Seth Godin and Chris Brogan are the two most important names you need to know.

Lucky for you, Viralogy just posted a phenomenal comparison of the two experts today, with the ultimate conclusion that "the best strategy as a marketer might be: do what Seth Godin says, but follow what Chris Brogan does."

Essentially - follow Godin on strategy and Brogan on tactics. But beyond that conclusion, Author Yu-Kai Chou goes on to give specific examples of exactly that that means, in the most comprehensive and insightful analysis I've ever seen of these two gurus.

This is one worth bookmarking and revisiting - as there is a tremendous wealth of information and insight to be culled.

Link to the full article on Viralogy.com site is here.

(P.S. - The argument could be made that Malcolm Gladwell could contend for one of those two spots as well - but the truth is that you should keep up with Malcolm anyway - not because of his social media prowess, but simply because of his uncanny gift for exploring and explaining the human psyche in the greater commercial context - as evidenced in this presentation on spaghetti sauce)

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Word-of-Mouth-Marketing in a Nutshell

Thanks to Marketo and xkcd for this comic that sums it up perfectly.

Marketo Interview with Robert Bell - B2B Sales & Marketing Alignment

Of the many marketing blogs I follow, the Marketo Blog, Modern B2B Marketing is consistently one of - if not the most insightful, timely, and relevant.

Yesterday, they posted a terrific interview with Robert Bell, a B2B marketing expert, and co-author of the book, B2B Without The BS.

Immediately I found myself nodding as I read his first answer about our perpetual fascination with "The Next Big Thing" - and how that relates to social media and, specifically, Twitter, in the current marketing environment.

But I quickly became defensive when I started to read the second question that was posed to him:

2. Your book, B2B Without the BS, calls out B2B companies that errantly go to market and try to play by B2C marketing rules...

Since the primary focus of Uncommon Marketing is to improve B2B marketing by learning from B2C, I was certain that my short-lived alignment with this fellow was soon to end. "Errantly"? Give me a break...

Fortunately - I was wrong. In his response to this and subsequent questions on sales and marketing alignment, Robert makes it clear that B2B marketers fail when they borrow strategy from their B2C counterparts - because the fundamentals of B2B marketing are absolutely different, and according to David Meerman Scott, do not change.

Of course we all learn as we go - and so I was thrilled to have read Robert's perspective, as it helps me to clarify my own position on the matter - namely, that the language, the style, the messaging, even the energy - all those tactical components of B2C marketing are where we should look for inspiration. Strategically , however, the two disciplines are worlds apart, and unlikely (if not downright inappropriate) models for one another.

I've already ordered my copy of Robert's book, and look forward to seeing what else he helps me clarify.

Link to the full Marketo Interview is here.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

LinkedIn Secrets for PR - from Bulldog Reporter

This is a great article from Bulldog Reporter on how to more effectively build your brand and reach both consumers and journalists through Linkedin.

What I most like about this article, is that it inherently points out the challenge so many b2b marketers face: truly understanding and leveraging social media as a new paradigm rather than a new channel.

The author, Chuck Hester, explains that if you're just out there trying to promote your own brand, without actually contributing to the community, then you're not going to see any results. He states:

"Talk about the issues important to the community, instead of "promoting." LinkedIn, just like any other social networking service, is all about the community. You have to contribute to the community, rather than promote a company or product. Go in with that mindset."

Translation: In the world of social media, if you're not delivering value, then don't expect to receive value.

The great news is that Linkedin makes it very easy to contribute value, and if you can take advantage of that opportunity, you will be quickly rewarded with very real value in the form of brand equity.

The easiest way to do this is to make a habit of scanning Linkedin Answers to see what questions are coming in from your network, and then answering those that best enable you to display your thought leadership and expertise - (and here's the catch) - while actually helping others in the community.

Before you know it, people will be seeking you out proactively and asking you to help them, but not until you've proven you can actually do so.

Direct link to the Bulldog Reporter article is here.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Great Presentation from Hubspot Marketing - Marketing Detox: How to Get Off Google AdWords PPC Crack

The title of this presentation really doesn't do it justice. It explains why Paid Search shouldn't really count as inbound marketing and reveals real world b2b social media options and strategies.

This is a great refresher for any web 2.0 marketing expert - and a must see primer for the executives that you're pitching social media to.

Kudos, Hubspot!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

One simple idea that can bring your dead marketing content back to life

In my current role, we're heavily focused on nurture marketing. At the core of this strategy is an ongoing series of white papers and articles from experts in our space that we deliver via a monthly email newsletter and periodic email campaigns.

Of course, we pay for a lot of this content, and to some extent, once we've sent a paper to our audience, we tend to avoid re-purposing it to ensure that we maintain a reputation for fresh, high-value content.

Recently though, like everyone else, we've had to try to do more with less. And in trying to figure out just how to do that, one of my co-workers came up with an ingenious idea for packaging 2-3 similar papers together to create a "Master Series".

We realized that many of our audience members had downloaded at least one (if not more) of the papers in each group, but as our contact list grows, we also realized that many new contacts hadn't seen all the papers in each group, and that by repackaging and positioning them as a master class, we could get more mileage out of the content we already had.

And the results were fantastic. In fact, the masters series we've put together so far have performed better than any of the individual papers included.

Here's the first one we rolled out:

These were literally just 3 papers that we had "hanging around" - but we packaged them together, threw together a new hero shot, and the next thing you know, we've got marketing gold.

Next, we put together a "Field Guide" in the same way, using multiple papers from a single author and actually achieved even better results:

Do you have any "stale" content hanging around that you can re-purpose? What was the value your audience got from the content the first time around? If you know the answer to that, then just consolidate your best relevant assets, up the ante on the value prop, and watch the leads roll in.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We are, each, in this together

Personal relationships and contemplations of recent have reaffirmed my belief that in every context of human pursuit, we are, indeed, all in this together.

After my last post, I had an offline discussion with a commenter who rightfully asserted that at the end of the day, it's all about value.

And that's most certainly true. My understanding of value is that it is the individual's interpretation of benefit, relative to their current condition - and differs for each of us as variably as our fingerprints.

So what then is left for the b2b marketer seeking to prove value - a relative construct as elusive as truth? Empathy alone: not for your audience, but for each individual your audience contains.

If we really are all in this together (and it's tough to argue that we're not) - then the only way we can produce and thus PROVE true value, is by honestly considering the help our constituents need - not as a group - but for each individual contained therein, according to his or her role, burdens, needs, and wants.

Common marketing typically acknowledges the importance of segmentation. Uncommon marketing always offers true value to each individual. Who are you really selling to? What do they really need?

If you can honestly answer those two questions, and your goods or services can honestly provide that solution - then proving value should be easy...but perhaps it would be helpful to consider, in the greater quest for empathy, that we are, each, in this together.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

The Golden Formula for Career Changing Subject Lines - and why it matters now more than ever

Author's note: (This post took on a life of its own once I started writing...so if you don't care about the context and just want the goodies, scroll down until you see a picture and start around there.)

Let's face it - while we all maintain several lead gen channels, few receive as much of our blood, sweat and tears as our email campaigns - and for good reason: Not only has email proven to be one of the most effective lead gen channels (when well executed), but best practices like leveraging an opt-in strategy place you squarely in the realm of permission-based nurture marketing - a virtually invaluable position in today's over-exposed, over-spammed, over info-mercialled culture. And if you're managing email in-house, then it's likely a fixed-cost as well, meaning that there's little or no incremental cost associated with new campaigns.

So why isn't EVERYONE using email non-stop? Why isn't everyone hitting their lists 2 or even 3 times each month? The answer is - they are - and now more than ever. I've read countless articles and blog posts lately that reveal that as b2b marketers are pressured to help get sales back on track - and also to do so at a minimal cost - that email rates have gone through the roof. And the evidence is in my own inbox. I've never received so many marketing emails in all my life.

And the inevitable reaction of the recipient, is that with the exponential increase in noise, comes an equally exponential decrease in attention. If you're like me, then you've started hitting the delete button, if not the unsubscribe button with an enthusiasm and alacrity of previously unknown proportions. And guess what? Your contacts are doing the same thing. And the more you currently rely on email as your primary lead gen channel, the more terrified you should be.

So what option are you left with? Other programs typically mean incremental dollars, and you are very unlikely to achieve such targeted reach - so what can you do?

Given all of the dynamics at play, your only option may very well be to make your email marketing programs effective, despite the noise and tuned-out constituents, by figuring out how to get people to actually OPEN your email. Simple right?

Well it may be easier than you think - thanks (as usual) to some guidance from the world of b2c marketing. As I've stated previously - we're all marketing to human beings - not businesses, but for some reason, most b2b marketers cling to the notion that their marketing must be more sophisticated, more polished - and ultimately more highfalutin than that of their peers in the b2c space. But here's a newsflash for you: Your peers in the b2c space are EXPERTS at marketing to people. Just look at the success of the snuggie - Seriously.

In my experience, the subject line is the single most critical element in determining the ultimate success of any email campaign. If they aren't opening your email in the first place, then the other metrics (like click-through or effective rate) are going to be dismal anyway. So last year, I began researching effective subject lines, and eventually found salvation in the most unlikely of places: Cracked.com.

For those of you who aren't aware, Cracked.com is a humor website, most notable for their outrageous, but entertaining lists, like 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen, or 7 People From Around the World With Real Mutant Superpowers.

So when I found their article, The Top 7 Secrets to Writing a Cracked.com Top 7 List, on the front page of Digg, I knew I was on to something. I'd recently been hearing more and more about the effectiveness of lists in marketing content, and even using some, but without much success, so I was anxious to see what I was doing wrong.

Suffice it to say, that out of the 7 secrets listed, I only remember one - but it was so impactful that it has become an integrated part of our email strategy over the last year, with the result that our open and effective rates are up to such an extent, that without a significant change in email frequency or distribution, we are on target to equal our 2008 lead gen number in July of this year - roughly a 181% increase over the same period last year.

That secret - as ridiculous as this may sound - was #7 Use the Golden Formula. So what's the Golden Formula? Did you notice any patterns in the lists I mentioned above? Here it is:

"The" + (Number) + "Most" + (Over the top adjective) + (Subject) + Of All Time (Synonyms like "in History" or "Ever" will also be accepted) = Popularity

That's it. It really is that easy. Take the formula, and apply it to your b2b content. Count the number of items in the table of contents if you have to, then simply plug in the appropriate words for your subject line, and I guarantee that you will see a marked improvement in your open rates. If the article or whitepaper is of the same name - even better - your effective rate and lead capture will increase as well.

So the next time you send an email, instead of "Great Deal on Software or Widget XYZ", try "The Top 7 Ways XYZ Will Save Your Job" or something equally audacious and see if it works.

Then when it does, just lather, rinse, and repeat your way into the marketing hall of fame.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Inspiration seems like a good place to start

I was thinking about what a good first post would be and asked myself, "what sort of content would you want from an 'uncommon marketing' blog?"

The truth is, that the very reason I follow so many different blogs, both of the marketing ilk and otherwise, is typically that I need inspiration just as much (if not more) than information. These days, information is not all that difficult to come by for even the least savvy among us. Inspiration, on the other hand, can remain elusive at times. So as I build out the content here, my goal will be not only to share my own experiences (and learn from yours), but also to pass along the gems which I've found along the way that inspire and encourage me in my life and in my marketing career.

One of my favorite websites for sheer, unadulterated inspiration is TED Talks, a site whose central mission is simple: 'spreading ideas.'

In this 20 minute talk, Clay Shirky reveals (dramatically) how technology has completely changed the way that we collaborate, how even the smallest contributor can add tremendous value to the whole, and what that implies for the future of the institutions with which we are all associated.

In many ways - that theme is highly appropriate to my own perspective as I begin this new endeavor. I'm no more a marketing expert than the next guy, but if I can pay back my community by simply sharing what I find as I seek out new ideas, perspectives, and inspiration - then perhaps I can do my part to add to the collective whole.

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