Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Which marketing content delivers the best ROI?

We’ve talked about the rapid adoption of content marketing lately, but not all thought leadership content has the same perceived value. When it comes to featured articles, new research finds that “who said it” is just as important as “what was said” if not more so. Let me explain.

According to the new Copy Press State of Content Marketing Study, two-thirds (65.6%) of the 329 surveyed marketing decision makers said that authorship played a key role in their strategies. They preferred articles that contained a byline as opposed to articles posted under a brand name only. In fact, 41 percent said they would pay at least TWICE as much more for content created by a popular author. And with all due respect to popular social networking platforms, the word “authorship” is far more likely to be associated with blogging (56% agree), than with Google (31%), Facebook (9%), Twitter (3%) or Tumblr (1%).

Thought leadership content with best ROI

In terms of ROI, bylined feature articles topped the list, cited by 62 percent of respondents. Video was next at 52 percent, followed by white papers (46%), photos (38%) and interactive media (36%).
 -- Bylined articles 62%
--Video 52%
--White papers 46%
--Photos 38%
--Interactive media 36%

Note: While video and interactive media scored high on ROI scale, they also topped the list of content considered “Difficult and expensive to create, but we want to do more.” You don’t have to overpay to get great results. Our Free Resources page has examples of low-cost, high impact videos that we’ve created for clients.

Macro View

Markets quickly swung back into record territory yesterday, shrugging off a series of bogus Associated Press tweets alleging that there had been an explosion at the White House and that the President had been injured. All BS of course, but enough to spook traders temporarily.

More good economic news: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that existing home sales in March were 10.3 percent higher than a year earlier. Housing analysts said low supply, combined with rising demand for housing, could accelerate construction in the months ahead. According to NAR, buyer traffic was 25 percent higher than a year ago.

Meanwhile, the median home price rose 11.8 percent from February to March to $184,300, the biggest one-month gain since 2005. Things look even rosier at the high end of the market where many of your clients and prospects reside. For instance, sales of homes priced from $500,000 to $750,000 jumped 25.3 percent from a year earlier. By contrast, sales of homes priced from $100,000 to $250,000 rose just 7.1 percent.
What’s more, according to the American Affluence Research Center’s semi-annual tracking study of the nation’s wealthiest households, more than half said they do NOT plan to reduce their expenditures in major categories over the next year (including autos, homes, home improvements, vacations and travel) and 60 percent expect their incomes to be the same or higher over the next year.


Whether it’s an article, video, white paper, research report or tweet, putting your name behind what you say substantially increases your credibility and the potential for being shared by your clients, prospects and professional colleagues. If you decide to enlist the services of high profile authors or content production experts, don’t be cheap. Quality always wins out in the long run, but remember everything these days is negotiable. Get the best help you can possibly afford, but always cut yourself a good deal. You’ll be glad you did.

Tags: Fake tweets, White House Explosion, American Affluence Research Center, blogging, Copy Press State of Content Marketing Study 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Life Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Yesterday’s tragic events at the finish line of the venerable Boston Marathon will do little too diminish the spirit of the international running community, large city event organizers and the American public at large. If you’re currently training for a marathon or other major personal goal, don’t let yesterday’s senseless tragedy curtail your plans. If you’ve ever considered training for a marathon or major personal goal, now might be a good time to do so. If a friend or loved one is soon planning to participate in a major milestone test of their mettle, don’t be afraid to go out and cheer them on. They need you out there. We need you out there. Otherwise the coward(s) who planned yesterday's events will have won. 

You can’t live your life in fear. No matter how diligently we try to secure, insure, lock down and risk-manage our public spaces, there’s no place that can be made 100 percent safe. Humans are social animals and they’ll continue to congregate in large numbers to cheer their everyday heroes on. The coward(s) who tried to derail Boston’s largest annual celebration of human achievement will soon be forgotten like a blister on a proud finisher’s instep or the 4 year-old smelly sneakers at the back of your closet. Unlike the runners, the wannabe terrorists who cooked up yesterday’s disruption fell far short of their intended goals. Hats off to Boston’s race organizers, emergency personnel and good Samaritans in the crowd for that.

What B2B professionals can learn from runners

From the international elite runners to back-of-the-packers, marathon runners are a hard-boiled, nose-to-the grindstone resourceful lot. They train mostly in obscurity, battling their inner demons more so than their competitors. They draw attention to themselves only begrudgingly. They thrive on consistency, goal-setting and perseverance, pushing their limits both mentally and physically.

Distance runners generally don’t have super-human size, strength, blazing speed or extraordinary leaping ability. They don’t slam dunk, hit home runs, do touchdown dances, hit holes-in-one or throw down 720s from the top of the half-pipe. They’ve simply found a way to get the most of the endurance gene we all have inside of us and put one foot in front of the other on days when others hit the snooze button, pull the covers over their heads, skip the gym and go out for brunch.

Like any successful marketing campaign, runners know you need to be consistent, stick to your discipline, make midcourse corrections when needed and suck it up when things go wrong. No excuses.


Like B2B marketing, running’s an incredibly simple thing to do. It’s also a very hard thing to do well. What the bad guys don’t get is that all 25,000 runners accomplished their goal just by making it to the starting line. The race itself was simply  the icing--the reward for months of personal sacrifice, nagging injuries and long lonely miles leading up to the event. And for those who were senselessly injured yesterday, they’ll find a way to recover and come back stronger and more determined than ever to toe the line. That’s something the bad guys can never take away.

Disclosure: The author of today’s post is a former national class age-group runner who has completed 18 marathons, including Boston twice and is listed in Who’s Who in USA Track & Field.

Tags: Boston Marathon, #boston marathon explosion, Overcoming adversity. What B2B marketers can learn from runners.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sponsored Content Is Here to Stay

Do it the right way and you’ll be rewarded in spades. Disrespect the rules and your brand, or firm reputation will be punished.
Whether you call it branded content, brand journalism, advertorial, sponsored editorial or native advertising, sponsored content is gaining more and more adoption as an effective way for marketers to tell your story to an audience that’s increasingly immune to intrusive banner ads, broadcast commercials, sponsored links and social media.
In this form of marketing, an advertiser/sponsor will create, or hire outside writers to create, articles, videos, blog posts or white papers and more that talk about solving a problem that your industry peers face. You can hint at the benefits of your product or service category without specifically touting your brand or company name. In many cases the sponsored content can run alongside or commingled with the regular editorial content.

Sunday’s New York Times addressed this trend
(“Sponsors Now Pay for Online Articles, Not Just Ads”). While geared toward a consumer audience and big media enterprises, the article contained some valuable lessons for those of you in B2B marketing, particularly technology, finance and professional services.

While traditional journalists find this approach a violation of “church and state,” sponsored content is proving to be very effective when executed well and as readers, viewers and followers become increasingly comfortable with this medium.
Here are some reasons why you should consider adding sponsored content to your overall marketing mix:
·         Fill a content hole. Many of the outlets in which you would consider advertising are in need of high value content. Staffs are being cut back at a time when their news cycle is increasing.
·         Expertise. It’s very simple. Follow the money. Many of the top experts in your field work for the best paying companies or firms in your business—they’re  not journalists, analysts or academics who simply follow the business. They’re in the trenches every day, just like their peers.
·         Sharpen your message. Creating sponsored content, or helping your outside contractors create it for you, forces you to really nail down your messaging points and key value proposition. It’s a great exercise.
·         Gain a following. Creating high-value sponsored content consistently for a respected publication or website will keep you on the radar as an industry thought leader.  Twitter followers, Facebook Likes and Pinterest pins are nice, but nothing’s going to bring you client leads like being a “published author” or “frequent commentator” for an industry-leading media outlet.

*** IMPORTANT: When utilizing sponsored content, always keep it above board—the way you would if presenting at an industry conference. If you do, you’ll be perceived as sharing knowledge with your profession, not shilling your product. 
Whatever you do, just don’t insult the reader’s intelligence or disrespect their time. Kindly spend the time to create an accurate headline, subhead and some key bullet points at the top, so your piece can be quickly scanned for future consideration. Don’t waste time with a lengthy abstract

Macro View

As earning season gets under way, the stock markets passed a good early test this week, recovering most of its losses from last week to close midweek at or near their all-time highs. Three other things caught our eye this week. First, wholesalers may have reduced their inventories too much in February the Commerce Department said, suggesting that businesses had underestimated consumer demand.
Second, many analysts are projecting that consumer spending rose at a 3-percent annual rate in Q1/2013, far ahead of the 0.4 percent pace in the first quarter of 2012.

Finally, collector car sales are booming in the luxury market. For the year ahead, as all the major auction houses have sales in Arizona. Statistics from the 2013 Scottsdale/Phoenix sales indicate that the year is shaping up to show strong results:
  • Number of auctions: six over five days
  • Number of lots sold: 2,234
  • Total sales: $223.8 million, up 22% from 2012
  • Average sale price: $100,176, up 18% from 2012
  • Total sales neared the record 2007 levels
  • Knight Frank, a UK based consultancy, published a luxury index in March 2013 which noted that vintage car prices rose 395 percent in ten years leading up to September 2012. That growth outpaced gold coins, fine art and collectible wine. The current ten year return on the S&P 500 is roughly 80 percent.

Writing is easy. Writing well is hard work. Who knew? Take the time to tell your story right, respect your audience’s time and intelligence and the benefits will come back to you in spades.

Tags: Sponsored content, content marketing, car collectors, 2013 Scottsdale/Phoenix sales, Knight Frank luxury car index


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Generation Gap or Gap in Understanding?

For marketers, it’s not who they are, but what makes them tick

Bill Schroer, head of social marketing firm
WJSchroer Company has new definitions of the generations that make up our diverse population. Since many of you are in financial services, technology or trade associations, these generational differences can have significant implications for how your sell, market and support your services. Again, these age year cut-offs do not strictly distinguish one group from the next, but we’ve found they can be  very helpful for your long term planning and budgeting. If nothing else, see how these different age groupings vary when it comes to how they view things like trust, respecting authority and the word “join.”

1.The Depression Era: Born 1912-1921
(11-12 million population and declining rapidly)

Depression era individuals came of age in the 1930s. These 90-somethings tend to be conservative, compulsive savers, maintain low debt and use more secure financial products. Tend to be patriotic, oriented toward work before pleasure, respect for authority, have a sense of moral obligation.

2. World War II: Born 1922 to 1927
11 million population declining quickly)

People in this group, aged 86 to 90, which came of age in the early 1940s, shared in a common goal of defeating the Axis powers. There was an accepted sense of “deferment” among this group, contrasted with the emphasis on “me” in more recent cohorts.

3. Post-War Cohort: Born 1928-1945
(41 million population, declining)

This generation, aged 68 to 85, had significant opportunities in jobs and education as the War ended and a post-war economic boom struck America. The growth in Cold War tensions, the potential for nuclear war and other never before seen threats, led to levels of discomfort and uncertainty throughout the generation. Members of this group value security, comfort, and familiar, known activities and environments.

4. Boomers I or The Baby Boomers
: Born 1946-1954
(33 million population)

The much-celebrated Baby Boomers are really two groups, according to Schroer. Boomers I, aged 59 to 67, were born between 1945 and 1964. It doesn’t make sense to compare those born in 1964 with those born in 1946, he argues. Attitudes, behaviors and society are vastly different. The first Boomer segment is bounded by the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, the Civil Rights movements and the Vietnam War. Boomers I were in or protested the War. Boomers I had good economic opportunities and were largely optimistic about the potential for America and their own lives.

Boomers II or Generation Jones: Born 1955-1965
(49 million population)

This first post-Watergate generation, aged 48 to 58, lost much of its trust in government and optimistic views the Boomers I maintained. Economic struggles including the oil embargo of 1979 reinforced a sense of “I’m out for me” and narcissism and a focus on self-help and skepticism over media and institutions is representative of attitudes of this cohort. While Boomers I had Vietnam, Boomers II had AIDS as part of their rites of passage.

5.Generation X: Born 1966-1976
(41 million population)

Sometimes referred to as the “lost” generation or “latchkey” kids, these 37 to 47 year-olds were exposed to lots of daycare and divorce growing up. Known as the generation with the lowest voting participation rate of any generation, Gen Xers were quoted by Newsweek as “the generation that dropped out without ever turning on the news or tuning in to the social issues around them.” Gen X is often characterized by high levels of skepticism, “what’s in it for me” attitudes and a reputation for some of the worst music to ever gain popularity. William Morrow cited the childhood divorce of many Gen Xers as “one of the most decisive experiences influencing how Gen Xers will shape their own families.”

7. Generation Y, Echo Boomers or Millenniums: Born 1977-1994
(71 million population)

The largest cohort since the Baby Boomers. Gen Y kids, aged 19 to 36,are known as incredibly sophisticated, technology wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales they not only grew up with it all, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood. Gen Y members are more racially and ethnically diverse and more segmented as an audience aided by the rapid expansion in Cable TV channels, satellite radio, the Internet, e-zines, etc. Gen Y are less brand loyal and the speed of the Internet has led the cohort to be flexible and changing in its fashion, style consciousness and where and how it is communicated with. One in nine Gen Yers has a credit card co-signed by a parent.

8. Generation Z: Born 1995-2012 (
23 million and growing rapidly)

While we don’t know much about Gen Z yet, says Schroer, we know a lot about the environment in which these kids 18 and under are growing up. Their highly diverse environment will make the grade schools of the next generation the most diverse ever. Higher levels of technology will make significant inroads in academics allowing for customized instruction, data mining of student histories to enable pinpoint diagnostics and remediation or accelerated achievement opportunities. Gen Z kids will grow up with a highly sophisticated media and computer environment and will be more Internet savvy and expert than their Gen Y forerunners.

Macro View

Auto sales in March surged to the highest level in five years and the factories orders rose to the highest level in five months, according to the Commerce Department. So, with this positive news on the “tangible goods” side and stock markets trading at or near their all-time highs, many wonder why unemployment is still persistently high (U.S. and abroad).

Jeffrey D. Sachs, a professor of sustainable development and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, cited “deeply disruptive forces” in his New York Time op-ed piece Monday. According to Sachs, “rapidly evolving information technology, globalization and environmental stresses — are radically reshaping the jobs market. Decent jobs for low-skilled workers have virtually disappeared. Some have been relegated to China and emerging economies, while others have been lost to robotics and computerization.” As a result, we have two sharply diverging jobless measures. According to Sachs, 3.1 million new jobs have been created for college graduates since 2008, while 4.3 million jobs have disappeared for high-school graduates and those without a high school diploma. He predicts this education and employment gap will continue and become even more severe.


Now more than ever, there’s no longer a one-size-fits-all marketing solution for your products and services and there’s no longer a one-statistic-fits-all measure for the health (or lack thereof) of our complex global economy. Be smart and do your homework making any important business decisions. Even in this hyper-competitive business climate, it’s still better to be right than to be first.

Tags: Jeffrey Sachs, Earth Institute, Columbia University, Boomers, Generation X,Y,Z, Echo