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video production | Brand Content Studios
Purpose compass

THE sTORIES

  • Brands know the importance of having a purpose, but they aren’t activating it.
  • The newest stats on how B2B is making and consuming content can help you shift your content strategy.
  • Why are storytellers so important? Because they deal in the critical arena of evoking emotions.

 


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of march 17, 2020.

 

The Critical Nature of Having a Brand Purpose

Why are you here? Now I know you didn’t come to the Content Marketing Quickie to get hit with an existential crisis but let me put the question to you another way, what’s the purpose of your business? Does it have one? Or is the only purpose to make money? That would be a very honest answer and I bet for most businesses, that is the real and true answer. But if serving and helping your customers in some way can be your purpose, there’s a lot to be gained from that. You know, if you’re able to successfully communicate it and be sincere about it. You see purpose drives customer loyalty, which businesses often ask for and expect, but do nothing to earn. It forms a real connection between brand and user. And now we’re learning it’s no different for B2B. The ANA reports 86% of B2B professionals think purpose is important to their business. Marketingcharts reports the ANA defines purpose as “a company’s reason for being, beyond profits, that guides its business growth and impact on society.” Got anything like that? 57% of B2Bs say well, we’re more focused on purpose than we were 3 years ago. 42% say they’re in the early stages, which means they’re at least talking about purpose internally. Beyond sales, 75% say having a purpose really helps with recruiting and retention, and it’s motivating for sales teams. Research shows consumers have a more positive image of – and are more likely to trust and recommend – companies that have a believable purpose. But only 24% of B2B companies say they’ve activated a purpose that’s embedded across the business. And there’s a reason that’s so hard to do. Most B2B orgs say when they start talking about purpose, it feels like a calculated PR exercise. They aren’t wrong. Research shows a lot of consumers think when brands suddenly take a stand, it’s probably a slick marketing move. That’s where authentic storytelling comes in. Instead of just latching onto the hot cause of the moment, if your purpose is driven by something that personally happened to or affects one of the founders, then that becomes a believable purpose. And going back to the employees, if they know there’s a purpose behind what they’re doing and that it’s real, 67% of them will gladly rave about where they work on social media. So many articles about how to “get” employees to be social media advocates for their companies, and the answer is really simple. Give them an actual reason to admire the company they work for and promote its purpose.

https://www.marketingcharts.com/industries/business-to-business-112072

 

B2B Content Consumption and Production Stats (New)

So let’s just say, making a wild assumption here, that you’re a B2B business that wants to know the latest content consumption and production trends. Lucky you, because you stumbled across this! Chief Marketer put out their 2020 B2B Marketing Outlook and since it takes, from what we hear, an average of 18 touches to convert a customer, knowing what you’re doing content-wise out there is probably going to make a big difference for you. For instance, do you know what content is most effective for moving people through the sales funnel? Okay, since we’re friends, I’ll tell you. It’s articles and blog posts. That’s followed by reviews and customer testimonials, then whitepapers coming in third. Who should you send your content to? C-suiters? VP’s? Managers? Who will pay attention to you? Well a report from Centerline Digital says c-level execs spend 21% more time consuming content than managers do. But managers and VPs consume content sooner—usually within 24 hours of being exposed to it. So if you want a quick response, it’s managers and VPs. If you want someone really going deep into what you’ve put together, that would be the c-suite people IF your content makes its way into their que. Do you know what kind of content work best early in the funnel? It’s infographics. But past that, 59% of senior execs prefer to watch video over read text. Speaking of the stages of the funnel, the later stages are getting neglected. Half the content made by B2B marketers is early stage stuff. Only 14% is made for late stage and a meager 11% is made for customers after the sale. Can anyone say renewal problem in the making? Now let’s look at what tech matters and what doesn’t. The top 3 technologies people think really helps content marketing are analytic tools, email marketing software and social media publishing. The least used were content performance and recommendation analytics, digital asset management systems and integrated content marketing platforms, all of which I was kinda surprised to find living there on the bottom. Half of B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity; mostly its content creation. The top content performance metrics used are email engagements, website traffic, website engagement, social media analytics and conversions, while the top 3 goals for content marketing are brand awareness, educating audiences and building trust. And as your friendly host often says in this podcast, there is no sale without trust.

https://www.chiefmarketer.com/b2b-content-consumption-trends/

 

The Role of Emotion in Content Marketing

emotional balls

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Lastly, and quickly, your friendly host also talks a lot in this podcast about emotion and the role it plays in content and winning trust. I’m not alone. Manveer Singh Malhi at HiveMinds says emotion plays a critical role in making an indelible impression on the customer’s mind. They have mega short attention spans and tsunamis of content coming at them constantly, so emotion is the only way you can hope to cut through. And it cuts through because our brains were built to connect with really interesting stories that make us feel something. Malhi says consumers make decisions about a brand using emotional intelligence, not data and logic. Emotions are also almost a requirement for any kind of brand loyalty. In your personal relationships, do you trust and are fiercely loyal to people you don’t particularly feel one way or the other about? Doubtful. Now, does all this touchy feely stuff about humans being driven by emotion negate the importance of technology? Hardly. It’s the tech that makes it possible to reach customers and prospects with those stories in the place, time and manner in which they’ll be most effective. Social and mobile facilitates an always-on brand/customer connection that you can use brilliantly or abuse by just shoving emotionless facts and details at them all day and night. Your choice. And here’s where the tech is really becoming an emotion tool. You know consumers can reach brands directly these days, and they do. Some brands now not only know who these customers are, they’re using emotion recognition technology to determine how they feel. When you know that, you know best how to talk to and respond to them. You’re taking how they feel into consideration so you can make them feel better. Have you ever tried feeling better? I highly recommend it. That emotion recognition tech is predicted to become a $65B industry by 2023 by the way. So eventually, someday, somebody will care how you feel.  

https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/marketing/business-has-no-emotion-emotion-is-big-business/74635649

 

That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. I hate the whole idea of social distancing. I’m like Olaf, I like warm hugs. But since we’re currently burrowing into our holes, subscribe to a new podcast or two. Back next week.

 


 

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THE sTORIES

  • Think it doesn’t matter if your B2B content is lousy? It’s smacking you right on the bottom line.
  • It’s hard to create content that helps the CX strategy if there is no CX strategy.
  • Instagram is still red hot, so make sure you’ve got the marketing basics there covered.
  • SMBs are using video in their marketing…in a way.

 


here’s your Content Marketing Quickie for the week of March 10, 2020

 

The Cost of Getting B2B Content Marketing Wrong

They don’t come right and say it, but I encounter the unspoken attitude again and again and again. Our content is fine. We’re making stuff, we’re pushing it out. No, it’s not necessarily good, or effective, and no we don’t really think we need a content strategy, we actually just call whatever it is we’re doing a content strategy. But in the end, we don’t really think that quality or having rhyme and reason to our content matters that much. Yeah? Well Forrester just said B2B firms risk losing 19% of their annual revenue if Millennials find their content useless. So it like, bottom line matters. Janice Tan walks us through the report which shows 57% of Millennials saying a lot of the content they get from B2B firms is in fact useless. And while you’re so proud of the volume of lameness you’re putting out, 65% say vendors provide too much material. Who cares what Millennials think? Well they’re 33% of global technology buying decision makers and 73% of them have a say in those decisions. And because Millennials like what they like, Forrester suggests short-form content, videos, and content contributed by their peers. Reggie Lau, Forrester’s director of content marketing consulting in Asia Pacific said Millennials are bringing their consumer nature to B2B buying. What does that mean? They want credible content backed by data and research, but they also want to be emotionally inspired and motivated. Brands are out there trying to win with cold, impersonal, inhuman, logical selling, when buyers are wanting to feel something. Lau says brand need to be humanized to evoke an emotion about them. That’s where icky human storyteller types like me come in handy. I love slashing through corporate BS and jargon. What else did we learn from Forrester? Well, that Millennials and B2B buyers in general prefer substance over style, and 64% say the content they get is design-driven yet weak on messaging. The good news, they do want content from you. 53% like hearing directly from vendors but it’s most important those vendors understand their business, give them a custom ROI analysis, and know what’s most important to the buyers’ own jobs. And they want vendors to show them some kind of vision for what success looks like and have a point of view that’s different from every damn body else’s. But to be most effective, 83% want you to give them a solid story about how you helped someone like them. And if the people you helped will vouch for you, you’re golden. So in summary, I guess stop making content your audience can’t use and couldn’t care less about so you’ll stop losing money.

https://www.marketing-interactive.com/forrester-b2b-firms-risk-losing-19-of-revenue-when-content-marketing-misses-the-mark

 

Here’s Why CX is Still a Complete Mess

CX! Customer Experience! It’s the thing that really proves there’s seriousness about customer centricity, putting the needs of the customer first and super-serving them. So this guy Rob Allman, who’s SVP Customer Experience at NTT, recently talked about the results of their CX Benchmarking Report. And the verdict is it’s pretty much broken. At least how things stand now. He said, “The results indicate most companies still see CX as a competitive edge and primary differentiator. Yet, we’re finding the aspiration is greater than the execution.” Sounds like all my dates in high school. Stan Phelps covered the story for Forbes and in the Americas, only 14.4% say CX is a crucial part of their strategy. Only 26% say CX’s value is defined and tracked. Which make you want to ask, “How come?” Well let’s see, we’ve got lack of harmony. We love our silos and will defend them right up to bankruptcy, so the customer is the one who gets screwed for that. They aren’t going to get on-demand, intuitive and personalized experiences because less than a third of businesses can, or will, connect data relationships between channels. We have the people who are good at CX raising expectations. Maybe that’s why only 12% of customers rate customer experience at ‘advocacy’ level. Businesses refuse to care or listen. 56% have no formal process for considering voice of the customer data and 18% don’t gather any of it period. We’ve got businesses frozen like deer in the headlights, waiting for the miracle of AI to come rescue them. But if CX isn’t the core of the business strategy, you won’t even know what to do with AI if you had it. And check this statistic from the report out; 74% of companies are operating without CX analytics. So, never mind AI, they aren’t getting the intelligence that’s already available. Why do I even talk about this? Because content is such a powerful part and driver of customer experiences, and if the CX is a wreck, it’s hard to make effective content for it. I’m sure the content will get blamed though.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stanphelps/2020/02/27/cx-is-broken-five-takeaways-from-ntt-ltds-2020-customer-experience-benchmarking-report/#4abafea86f5d

 

Essential Instagram Marketing Tips

You can never get enough Instagram marketing tips right? At least that’s what Michael Gorman at jeffbullas.com thinks, and I tend to agree since that’s the reddest of the red-hot social marketing platforms at present. First, why don’t we all gather around in our N95 masks and think about Instagram’s algorithm? There are 3 things it looks at to decide where to put what. 1, interest. It looks at your search history to figure out what you like. 2, time. The latest posts go first so if your posts don’t get seen pretty quickly after posting, they’ll slide into the land of the forgotten, like Carly Rae Jepsen. And 3, interaction. If you interact with someone even a little, Instagram will just assume you adore them and put their posts first in your feed. And by the way “interact” means you liked a post, you DM’d them, commented on their post, used the same kind of hashtags, or tagged them in one of your posts. Remember what Instagram users want, to spend .03 seconds looking at a picture. You gotta grab ‘em and grab ‘em fast. They like portrait more than landscape. And even if your text is genius, it needs a great picture to get people to scroll stop. You want captions but keep them short and don’t go hashtag bananas. Since posts do go stale nearly immediately, posting infrequently will pretty much make you invisible. But if you over-post, you become annoying. Now get out there and thread that needle! Hopefully you know who your audience is and Instagram analytics will help you figure out when they’re mostly on Instagram. That’ll help with your timing. And don’t underestimate how much your profile pic matters. Mine is me in a bikini on the deck of a yacht.

https://www.jeffbullas.com/best-time-to-post-on-instagram/

 

How SMBs are Using Video Marketing

Lastly, and quickly, Sarah Evans at Social Media Explorer gives us the results of a Promo.com study of how small businesses are using video marketing. Here’s something that will make you experienced, professional, high-dollar video production companies’ blood boil. 76% of SMBs spend less than 20 minutes making a video. Just think of the planning, messaging work, artistry and craftsmanship that’s going into those less than 20-minutes-to-make videos! But hey, at least they’re making videos, and rumor has it the kids want fast, sloppy and amateur these days anyway. To make these instant grits versions of video, 58% use a little bit of their own footage filled out with stock video. Most of them use Unsplash. Now while SMB’s aren’t willing to pay more than $5 to produce a video, they are happy to give up the credit card info to promote them. 38% spend up to $500/month getting them seen, mostly on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The good news for SMBs is video production is becoming commoditized, cheap and easy to do on all-in-one video marketing platforms. The bad news for SMBs is that allows businesses who believe it takes no specialized talent to make videos audiences will value to crank out videos that prove, yes it does.   

https://socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/how-smbs-are-using-video-marketing-in-2020/

 

That’s the Content Marketing Quickie for this week. I got some subscribers and it’s like a drug, the ones I have only make me want more. Come on man, give me a hit. Back next week.

 


 

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content marketing writer working on laptop and notebook

THE KEY POINTS

  • If you treat storytelling as just another content marketing buzzword, you’re going to miss out.
  • Do you know in your heart your content is adding to the noise? That it needs…something?
  • There are huge differences between storytelling writers from the entertainment and journalism worlds, and the marketing writers we keep to entry-level because gee, anybody can write, right?

 


Why You Should Care: Because writing is more than making some words happen. It’s how you communicate and thus, how you’ll be perceived and whether you’ll be understood. To get writers that will really matter, you’ll need to know what makes a great one.

 

“Storytelling.” Blah blah blah. Sadly, it’s become the latest in a long line of content marketing buzzwords that seemingly gets loaded into every blog post and convention speech. As happens with most buzzword flavors of the month, it’s inserted casually, a fully expected and accepted cliché, with little hint as to the real power behind it.

 

Why did we start saying that term so much? What is it that we’re trying to convey when we whip it out of our verbal holster? It arose from the notion that using content marketing to aggressively sell wasn’t as smart as building trust using content that deepens the understanding of and connection to the brand. “Storytelling” became shorthand for “something other than salesy copy.”

 

Fair enough. But there’s a whole lot more to it than that. There’s evolutionary science that shows why humans organize and process information in narrative form. There’s brain chemistry science that shows the impact of emotional triggers…IF you can trigger them through story.

 

What are your thoughts as a communications leader about such things as story, narrative, message, emotion, entertainment and journalism? For many, that’s all just fluff that doesn’t warrant serious consideration because there’s no appreciation for the difference it can make. You’re writing the same stuff the same way, you’ve just started calling it storytelling because well…that’s what you say now. For others, you look at the copy your organization keeps cranking out across your many channels, and you know in your heart it’s mostly just pablum that adds to the noise and will goose egg with the desired audience. You know something’s missing.

 

Where exactly is effective communication NOT necessary? How many times do we have to watch non-existent or poor communication drive teams and projects off the rails?

What’s missing is real, experienced, professional writing talent. The ones who know there are essential elements of story that must be present for content to matter. The ones who know there are goals for storytelling and expected outcomes for the successful kind. The ones who have studied the tactics developed through eons of writing for the page and screen. Such writers are needed not just in marketing, but across every aspect of the org. Because where exactly is effective communication NOT necessary? How many times do we have to watch non-existent or poor communication drive teams and projects off the rails?

 

But for now, let’s focus on marketing, specifically content marketing. What is the difference between the kind of marketing writers we tend to hire now and the storytellers that give you a decent shot at attention in our uber-crowded content world?

 

  1. Pull vs. Push

Marketing writers primarily concern themselves with such things as selling and branding. After all, they answer to a marketing director that is probably increasingly tasked with driving revenue. Their job is to talk about the brand and convince.

Storytelling writers understand that if they do their job right, branding will be stronger than ever. The prospects will have a firmer grasp on who the brand really is, as if it were a human character. It will be clear to the prospect how having a relationship with that character can make their life richer. It’s pull vs. push. They will have been moved to act on the CTA driven by their own motivations, not the brand’s needs.

 

  1. The Things That Can’t Be Taught

Marketing writers are often commoditized as low paid, entry level role-fillers. That is a mighty peculiar way for a company to view the role of writing considering the entirety of what prospects learn about you, see in you, and hear from you is in their hands. Go ahead. Have the greatest product, value proposition, staff and technology you want. Nothing can tank it all faster than your public gateway being someone who’s just cutting their teeth. That’s crazy.  

Storytelling writers are professionals whose intrinsic value is in the experiences of past work and experimentation, plus the soft skills of audience empathy and maintaining the audience POV. It’s almost hard to even put a price on that, as empathy is a natural trait that’s quite hard to teach.

 

Storytelling writers are obsessed with the audience. All of the reward is in being able to attract them, move them and matter to them.

  1. Let’s Be Clear Who We Work For

Marketing writers go through their average day mostly trying to please bosses and internal stakeholders. That works if all you care about as the boss is loving your own content regardless of what the audience thinks.

Storytelling writers are obsessed with the audience. That’s who they’re looking out for. That’s who they’re working to please. They are the stakeholders. All of the reward is in being able to attract them, move them and matter to them. Beyond that, they also care about earning and building audience trust as a content publisher.

 

  1. Seeing You Through the Audience’s Eyes

Marketing writers are highly susceptible to echo chambers, internal verbiage, and high-minded industry jargon that tries to win with complexity and logic. They’re insiders…which isn’t a good thing.

Storytelling writers maintain an outsider’s perspective. They see the brand and the message through the audience’s eyes. They win with clarity, brevity and emotion – which is after all what motivates human beings to take an action. 

 

  1. There are No Captive Creatives

Despite technology and modern ways of working, marketing writers are largely still expected and willing to suffer spirit-consuming commutes, sit in their assigned area for designated creative hours, serve as warm bodies in unproductive meetings, and generally participate in corporate culture theater. The signal is quite clear they are not trusted, nor is what they do understood.

Storytelling writers are pragmatic free spirits. Their professionalism and need for full understanding will have them gladly attend any meeting or collaboration session. But they also need to live real lives and be wherever inspiration might strike. They know that to deliver their very best work and be of maximum value, they need to work where/when they’re most productive.

 

  1. Writing is Not a Nice-to-Have Bonus Skill

Marketing writers typically have to also be something else. Writing is PART of their job. You’ll often even see UX designers who are expected to provide all their own copy to populate the boxes and pages they’ve designed. It’s another symptom of the dismissive disrespect the craft of writing and communication often encounters in our organizations. Writing is easy, anybody can do it and it just kinda happens by magic, right?

Storytelling writers see nothing else as being more important than the message, the narrative, the characters and the words. Yes, they work very well with other practitioners with an eye toward final product. And yes, many storytelling writers will have additional skills to offer. But they’ll always see the ideas and the writing as the foundation of the house.

 

Storytelling writers know some ideas are worth fighting for and that encouraging creative chances is how you bring real value as opposed to taking orders that pursue “fine” over “fantastic.”

  1. Tom Petty Was Wrong: I WILL Back Down

Marketing writers will normally acquiesce when challenged. They pretty much have to. They serve at the pleasure (mercy) of stakeholders even if those stakeholders do not have the entertainment and journalism experience to render qualified judgment on what will and won’t please audiences. Internal stakeholders know what they want, make the assumptive leap that external audiences will feel the same way…and authority over the creative is thus asserted.

Storytelling writers will always fight for the impactful, the different, the creative, the interesting and the compelling. They know what their content will be out there competing against for time and attention (Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, etc.) They know some ideas are worth fighting for and that encouraging creative chances is how you bring real value as opposed to taking orders that pursue “fine” over “fantastic.”

 

The Challenge: You’re counting on telepathy and it’s not working. The value of your company and product is in your head, but it has to be communicated to others. You have to get them as aware and impressed as you are. Of course you love your own company. Maybe you’re proud of any content your company makes, like a parent putting a child’s artwork on the fridge because hey, their kid made it. But just making something isn’t the job is it? You want to make something that matters. Which is why who you get to craft the narrative MATTERS. Is it possible your audience has been shrugging its shoulders because you’ve been settling for marketing copy? Do you know what it means to make “storytelling” something more than a buzzword?

 

And oh yeah, when was the last time you read something about your brand that gave you an emotional rush?