Influence people

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ruined Your Relationship with Readers?

Has your relentless pursuit of eyeballs ruined your relationship with readers?

I bet it has.

If all you do is dangle click-bait and recycle sales-talk, you're driving readers away―and wasting your chance for romance on the biggest social network of them all, email.

Only value keeps the relationship alive.

Newsletter publisher Inside proves it. In less than a year, the startup has attracted 300,000 readers. Its newsletters garner 40% open rates, 10% click rates.

The secret sauce? Good content.

"We think news on the internet is broken," the company's website says. "Too much writing is optimized and incentivized for traffic and virality, instead of impact and quality."

By focusing on value instead of hits, Inside keeps readers reading. And a happy reader shares her love―causing your list to grow.

So how does Inside do it?

According to Austin Smith, Inside’s general manager:
  • Five full-time staffers and 10 freelancers produce all the content for 28 newsletters. Staffers are generalists with multiple beats.
  • Each newsletter comprises 70% curated content, 30% original. The content is "deep dive," business-only, and written for an advance audience.
  • Staffers favor stories readers may have missed because other news outlets have ignored them.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Pleasing the Gods

Several years ago, I hired a cabinetmaker to construct half a dozen cherrywood built-ins with adjustable shelves. Handsome, beautifully-crafted things.

I noticed the man was finishing every edge of every shelf―all 60 of them―and asked, "Why bother to finish all four edges, when you can only see the one facing you?"

His reply was dour. "Because I see them."

It's delightful to encounter mortals who won't run in the race to the bottom.

The sculptor Phidias was commissioned in 440 BC to create statues for the roof of the Parthenon. 

After the installation, the city accountant refused to pay his bill.

"These statues are on the roof of a temple on the highest hill in Athens," the accountant complained. "Nobody can see anything but their fronts. Yet you have charged us for sculpting them in the round―for sculpting back sides nobody can see."

"You're wrong," Phidias replied. "The gods can see them."

There's danger in the race to the bottom, as Seth Godin says: y
ou might win.

And whether you do or don't, the gods can see you.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Stirred, Not Shaken

An angel investor and a tradeshow producer, Marco Giberti and Jay Weintraub, have pooled their considerable talents to write the 185-page book The Face of Digital, a look-see into the turbulent tradeshow industry and the changes that will be wrought by technology in the coming five years―a time they agree "will redefine the way we think of digital media in connection with live events."

Tradeshows, "the original social networks," can stand a stirring, the authors insist. Exhibitors, who foot the bills, cannot calculate ROI; and attendees, shows' raisons d'etre, can barely navigate them.

But the improvements wrought by tech will be gentle, the authors say.

"The events industry is not ripe for a disruption, in the mold of Uber or Airbnb," they write. "Instead, it's more likely that hundreds, even thousands, of small players will emerge to solve individual problems."

Among the problems solved by digital technology:
  • No attendee will ever again stand in a line to get in; apps will let them buy their badges weeks in advance, in seconds.
  • No attendee will ever again feel lost in a crowd; apps will signal when friends are nearby.
  • No one will waste time scrutinizing inscrutable signs; apps will recommend the best path to the next booth you want to visit.
  • No attendee will ever miss a speaker's session; livestreaming will let her watch it on demand.
  • No attendee will ever go home empty-handed; matchmaking apps will connect her to other attendees and exhibitors even after the show.
  • Exhibitors will no longer pay a penny for drayage; products will be demonstrated in virtual reality.
  • Follow-up will no longer be dismal; CRM systems will automate and personalize the activity.
  • Exhibitors will no longer grouse about foot-traffic; beacons will smooth crowd-flows.
  • Rainforests will no longer fear tradeshows; digital will replace paper exchanges 100%.
The solutions to these problems aren't imaginary, the authors point out: they exist now. 

Tradeshow producers just don't know it―or care much.

"Like the newspaper industry," they write, "the events industry is still very much in transition between the predigital age and an era in which digital integration will become commonplace in every aspect of our lives and businesses."

But competition against digital marketing for exhibitors' dollars will wake complacent producers up, just in time for "the Cambrian explosion of digital tools for events."

Giberti and Weintraub's book is a must-read for every tradeshow producer and exhibitor, as well as anyone whose livelihood is derived from face-to-face. Their viewpoints are sensible and admirably realistic.

My own is that the changes ahead will be less incremental; that the tradeshow business is less like the newspaper business and more like the apartment-rental one; and that an Airbnd-ish "disruptor" lurks just over the horizon.

Yes, tradeshow producers have a lock on things for the moment.

But, as James Bond might say, the industry's about to be "shaken, not stirred."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How to Draw a Crowd

Drawing attendees to events remains producers' runaway biggest challenge, as Sam Lippman's latest ECEF Pulse proves.

Six in 10 producers name attendance acquisition their Number 1 challenge, according to the study, while numerical event attendance has declined three straight years in a row.

That's a pity, because drawing a crowd ain't rocket science. The formula goes as follows:

Step 1. Build an evergreen e-list by promoting your event year-round. Use e-mail marketing and social media. Smother prospects with great content. Supplement those tactics with retargeting. And rent prospect lists, to be sure you're covering the universe.

Step 2. Mobilize your speakers, sponsors and exhibitors to help spread the word. Tap influencers to do the same. Make it easy for them to help you. If some resist, move on: there are more than enough enlightened ones out there to make a king-size dent in your universe.

Step 3. Telemarket VIPs. They merit a special touch. And roll out at the same time some targeted direct mail―attendee marketing's Old Faithful.

Step 4. Hire a decent agency. Attendance acquisition isn't a DYI project. If you want a recommendation, I have one.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Power Corrupts

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

― Lord Acton

Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich has accused President Trump of "trying to start a civil war" to forestall his impeachment for treason.

It can't happen here, you say?

I have two words for you.

Aaron Burr.

A Revolutionary War hero, Burr lost the 1800 presidential election to Thomas Jefferson, becoming his vice president.

Jefferson rapidly distanced himself from Burr, withholding support for his renomination to a second term in 1804.

Alexander Hamilton, quoted by a newspaper at the time, called Burr "a dangerous man, and one who ought not to be trusted with the reins of government.”

Burr killed Hamilton in a duel over the remark, and fled from New Jersey to New Orleans, where he met with an agent of America's old nemesis, Spain. Together, the two men plotted to create their own independent republic in Texas, and began assembling a militia to seize the land.

In 1807, while leading that militia, Burr was arrested for treason in Alabama by the federal government (his co-conspirator had snitched on him), and taken to Richmond for trial.

As it happened, Burr was acquitted on grounds that he had not waged war against the US.

Chief Justice John Marshall argued that Burr had a First Amendment right to voice opposition to the government, and that merely to engage in a conspiracy against it isn't enough to be convicted of treason: you have to wage actual warfare. "There must be an actual assembling of men for the treasonable purpose, to constitute a levying of war," Marshall wrote.

After the trial, Burr fled to England, where he tried without success to convince several foreign governments to provide him an army with which to seize Texas.

He returned to America five years later, when the incident was all but forgotten, and lived to age of 80.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Break with the Past

If you don't contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you're not thinking.

― Malcolm Gladwell

Three months ago, I insisted the 1,500 Confederate memorials peppering public spaces throughout the South should be preserved.

After Charlottesville, I have changed my opinion.

The monuments represent not only an eyesore to most African Americans, but a threat to public safety. They should be removed from the streets and parks where the former Confederates placed them.

Enough souls―625,000―perished in our Civil War.

No more need do so.

RIP, Heather Heyer.

What's your opinion?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Don't Follow Leaders

Looking back, you can usually find the moment of the birth of a new era, whereas, when it happened, it was one day hooked on to the tail of another.
― John Steinbeck

To many observers, Charlottesville feels like the birth of a new era.

But we've known for years―
since 1965, to be exact―don't follow leaders.

That was the year credulity died, the year we entered 
The Age of Suspicion.

Since then, we've experienced The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Enron, Iraqi WMDs, subprime mortgages, Madoff and, now, Trump.

It's no wonder customers―no matter their ages and demographics―are bred-in-the-bone non-believers.

Yes, you hope they won't deflect your message; but hope's not a strategy.

If they're not already of your tribe, customers discredit your message before they’ve even taken it in.

To capture their attention, you must adjust for mistrust. You must:
  • Harmonize your message with customers’ notions of “truth;”

  • Speak authentically; and

  • Achieve artless clarity.
To achieve those three things, you must:
  • Get out of the office and talk to customers. Lots of them. Large ones. Small ones. Happy ones. Not-so-happy ones. And don't stop until you have a firm grasp of the "scene" they’ve painted inside their heads. For better or worse, that's the world they inhabit, and the only one they know.

  • Revise the premise of your message to conform to the customers' worldview. When you next tell your story, begin with their "truth." And when you speak, at all costs resist the temptation to challenge that worldview. Customers will dignify your message with a moment of their attention only if your message meshes with their notions of who’s sincere, honest and caring.

  • Tell stories. Customers spot disingenuous organizations a mile away. Your words trigger their BS detectors—even if you’re squeaky clean. They no longer tolerate the expert opinion, the reasoned argument, the manufacturer’s warranty, the “act now” deadline, or the product-claim based on the avoidance of pain. So skip the superlatives, ambiguities, unsupported claims, advertising clich├ęs, jargon, legalisms, fine print, and fear-based sales-talk. Just tell stories. "Once upon a time..."

  • Speak as tersely as possible. If you keep it simple, you’re trustworthy; if you don’t, you’re not. Don't say, "Membership in the association provides professionals the opportunity to pre-register for our annual conference at the member-only rate of $495 instead of the non-member rate of $595.” Say, "Membership saves you $100 on our annual conference.”

  • Include context, to assure you’re understood. Don't say, "We serve more than 100,000 dentists.” Say, "We serve more than 100,000 dentists, two-thirds of all dentists practicing in the US today.”

  • Omit unimportant facts. Don't say, "With more than 300 programmable features, the MLX is a workhorse that directly replaces our SP-88 series.” Say, "The MLX is a powerful new workhorse, with more than 300 programmable features.”

  • Use plain, crisp words and lively figures of speech. Don't say, "Our exhibition is the most comprehensive and efficient way to see the industry’s latest offerings.” Say, "A day at our show gives you a year’s worth of trends, tips and technologies.”

  • Minimize tech- and corporate-speak. Don't say, "Our face-to-face and e-learning opportunities will provide leading-edge techniques to expand your skill set through world-class experts." Say, "Learn the latest techniques from experts in our seminars and Webinars.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Coaches who love coaching teach players to love learning.

— The Coach Diary

Can you run a successful business from the sidelines?


That’s the message of Lessons of an Entrepreneur: How to Grow, Take Risks and Survivethe new book by The Expo Group’s chairman and CEO, Ray Pekowski.

Pekowski's 113-page book is full of personal stories and anecdotes, which makes it breezy and entertaining.

At its heart are teachings only a coach could concoct:
  • Innovative customer service, not growth, should be your business's goal.

  • A servant's mentality in a CEO goes hand in hand with steady growth.

  • Humble leaders are strong leaders.

  • No matter your specialty, you're really in the training business.

  • Only leaders who are mentors can influence corporate culture.

  • Teamwork comes from setting goals specific enough to influence performance.

  • Plan for failures and mistakes—they're inevitable.
It's little wonder Pekowski has published this little book: teaching and coaching are in his blood (he did both before joining the event industry in the 1980s).

And teaching and coaching underpin nearly all his success formulas.

"If you can teach or coach the group or department that reports to you, then in turn, that group can go out and teach the next group and so on," Pekowski writes. "I called it 'Teach the Teacher.' If you have ever taught someone something, then you are both teaching and reinforcing what you have been taught. It is the transformation of both knowledge and culture."

In this era of narcissistic CEOs, it's refreshing to learn some business leaders still put employees and customers first.

In an interview, I asked Pekowski what he'd be doing, if he weren't running his company.

"I’d be coaching in the NFL," he said. "That’s what I really wanted to do. I just love coaching and football. After I graduated, I coached in three different schools. But it’s a tough industry—it certainly didn’t pay then what it pays today. I had an opportunity to work for the Chicago Fire—a one-season team in the World Football League—but the job paid less money than I was getting paid as a teacher, and I had two children at the time."

Lessons of an Entrepreneur: How to Grow, Take Risks and Survive is available from Amazon. Proceeds will be donated to charity.

Monday, August 14, 2017

8 Insider Tricks to Get More of Your Emails Opened

If the people don't want to come out to the ballpark,
nobody’s going to stop them

— Yogi Berra

Because email marketing lives or dies on opens, you need to maximize them. Here are eight ways insiders do:

Qualify. Don't induce people to join your house list who won't love you, and don't expect much from prospect lists. Use "lead magnets" that attract only target customers, not every Tom, Dick and Harry; and rent only high-quality e-lists, such as those owned by magazines. The results if you do this right? According to the Direct Marketing Association, house lists enjoy an average open rate of 21%; prospect lists, 16.4%.

Segment. Don't broadcast; narrowcast. Segment your lists based on product interests, job titles, company size, locations, etc. Segmented campaigns outperform non-segmented ones by 14%, according to MailChimp.

Synchronize. Send your emails at the time of day people will open them: 8:30-10:00 am, 2:30-3:30 pm, or 8:00 pm-12:00 am. Avoid times when people are rushing to clean out their inboxes, deleting everything in sight. (NOTE: Times may differ for C-level audiences.)

Captivate. Tell or tease. Tell readers clearly what to expect in your email, if you believe it's an offer they can't refuse ("5 signs it's time to change LMS vendors"). Play to their curiosity, if it's not ("I heard you're a leader. Is it true?"). Here are more examples.

Clean. Low inbox rates necessarily dampen opens. Delete complainers and inactive subscribers on your list regularly. Using a cleaning service makes it easy.

Optimize. Design your emails for mobile devices. More than half are opened on them. Keep Subject lines short, too (6-10 words).

Infiltrate. Avoid spam filters by avoiding practices that trigger them. Here's a list.

Brand. Most readers don't open emails from senders they don't recognize. So, unless you're lucky enough to have an in-house "celeb," use your brand name in the From field.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Online's Goal is Offline

Eighty percent of success is showing up.

― Woody Allen

B2B marketers―smart ones―know online must lead to offline.

Because unless prospects experience your brand, there's little likelihood of large sales.

Digital alone doesn't cut it.

Digital's too delible.

As GE's CMO, Linda Boff, told Chief Content Officer this month, "Experiencing a brand versus just seeing something in the media is more and more important. It's more indelible. We think a lot about that. How do we bring the brand to life? And how are we going to show up?"

How will you show up?

You've got an online plan.

What's your offline plan?


He went off to Congress an' served a spell, fixin' up the government an' laws as well; took over Washington so we heered tell, an' patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell.
— Thomas W. Blackburn

Walt Disney aired the first of three one-hour telefilms, "Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter," in December 1954, and kicked off a nationwide craze for the coonskin cap.

The craze erupted in an era when Americans hungered for a return to times when protectors walked the land.

Parents and grandparents didn't count. Although they'd beaten the Nazis only nine years earlier, they chose in large part not to speak of it. They were too busy buying us coonskin caps. So we settled for Davy Crockett.

Sixty-three years later, protectors again walk the land, but they don't fight Indians or take over Washington. They assemble instead in our streets and parks, and fight Neo-Nazis and Klansmen.

My cap's off to them.

Patch up the crack in the Liberty Bell.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mind the Gap, B2B Marketers

Nurturing leads is as important as nabbing them.

But a lot of B2B marketers, under the gun to generate leads, forget this. They ignore the "Content Consumption Gap," and blitz leads with premature follow-up calls.

NetLine examined 7 million long-form content downloads and concluded it takes 38 hours for a lead to read whatever he requests (C-level leads take 48 hours).

Dubbing the timespan the "Content Consumption Gap," NetLine urges marketers to practice patience and wait at least two days before following up a lead.
"Don't smother content-sourced leads," says NetLine's David Fortino"Suggest that your sales team wait 48 hours before contacting, to ensure that the prospect is well informed enough to have an educated discussion."

Instead of dialing, Fortino recommends sending leads "a light-touch email:"

Thanks for checking out our white paper. I’ll check in with you in a few days to see what you thought. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tar Water

The philosopher George Berkeley (after whom the California city is named) thought tar water could cure every ill.

Famine and disease wracked his native Ireland in the 1700s, prompting Berkeley to propose a cheap and easy solution in his book Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflections and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar Water.

Siris—the title referred to the Nile, whose waters the ancient Egyptians believed a cure-all—became a best-seller, making every literate man and woman in the British Isles, in the words of Horace Walpole, "mad about tar water."

The book claimed tar water was a "distillation of divine fire,” originating from a “secret and occult source.” Like the waters of the Nile, it could cure anyone of any affliction. Berkeley stopped short of calling tar water a panacea, but noted that “twenty-five fevers in my own family [were] cured by this medicinal water, drunk copiously.”

As prescribed by the philosopher, this cheap and plentiful elixir had the power to turn impoverished Ireland into a medical utopia.

Our own brand of tar water—courtesy the GOP—is freedom, a cure-all with the power to make America a medical utopia. Freedom from federally-backed health insurance, to be specific.

As Congressman Mike Burgess, referring to his party's plans to gut Obamacare, insists, “If the numbers drop, I would say that’s a good thing, because we’ve restored personal liberty in this country."

Little matter 50 million citizens could go uninsured, the GOP says: they're free. Live free or die.

Or maybe, live free and die.

As Granny said, "When you have your health, you have everything."

As Bobby said, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fierce Competition

Are you mad enough to launch an event?

RAI Amsterdam wants to encourage your madness.

Entrepreneurs and would-be event producers can enter its juried competition, Start up Your Event, through early September.

Think Shark Tank for trade shows.

A jury of event professionals will judge the ideas for first-time events submitted in terms of opportunity, feasibility, audience reach, value proposition, brand positioning, innovation, and other success factors.

RAI Amsterdam will award the winner not only six days' free space—2,000m² net for an event in October or November 2018— but, more importantly, free consulting in experience design, community management, and attendee and exhibitor marketing.

The winner will be announced at the mammoth broadcasters' show, IBC, at RAI Amsterdam in mid-September.
"There is definitely room for new shows, maybe not necessarily in the traditional exhibition format that we are used to," says Denise Capello, RAI Amsterdam's head of business development. "The world is changing and innovation rules, so there are plenty topics to be found. You need to figure out the trends and needs. Your destination is just the final piece in the puzzle.

Capello says most would-be producers who fail do so because they lack insight into their audience.

"Over the years, we've seen a number of startups, and find lack of in-depth knowledge to be a key indicator of failure. Would-be producers need to produce better feasibility studies to support their ideas, better event concepts, and better audience insights, which come from canvassing."

To date, three event concepts have been entered into the competition, which was announced in June.

"We've also had a number of inquiries from consumer event producers, whose concepts unfortunately do not meet the entry requirements of the competition," Capello says.

"But they have inspired us to come up with a new partnership model for consumer events, the first hopefully launching in the summer of 2018."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Digital Indecency

I imagined the web as a platform that would allow everyone, everywhere
to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate.

— Tim Berners-Lee

Starfleet General Order 1, you'll recall, was the
Prime Directive: all personnel should refrain from interfering with the natural development of communities.

Marketers, by cravenly ignoring the web's Prime Directive—to help users share and collaborate—are destroying the medium, says Kirk Chayfitz this month in Chief Content Officer.

Marketers "have failed to see that digital requires a creative approach that is diametrically opposed to the blunt-instrument sales messages of traditional ads," he writes.

As a result, users are demonstrating their "exponentially growing disgust with an industry that has admitted showing little or no regard for people's needs and desires."

They're blocking ads.

Chayfitz prescribes these six rules for restoring "digital decency" to web advertising:

Take responsibility. Marketers must stop blaming agencies; they write the checks.

Do no harm. Ads shouldn't fan users' frustrations. Keep data loads light, don't block content, and don't distract with needless video and animation.

Bust silos. Integrate all digital advertising under one officer.

White-list the sites you want to support. Don't fund fraudsters, charlatans and extremists by running ads on their sites.

Audit. Put the right to audit ad buys in your contracts with agencies. Insist on accountability.

Be useful. Provide users valuable experiences, not repetitive sales pitches. "The dream of digital was always to democratize communication and help make a better world," Chayfitz writes. "Take that to heart."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Did You Know Phyllis Diller was Once a Copywriter?

In the mid-1950s, Phyllis Diller worked as a copywriter for a radio station in Oakland, California, KSFO.

She needed the meager money to help support five kids and a ne'er-do-well husband she fondly called "Fang."

"He was a talker," Diller told a biographer. "He sounded like he would rule the world, but he couldn't hold a job. He just sat there and drank beer all  day. He didn't even do that well."

Although the station's low man on the totem pole ("I was an Office girl to them. They couldn't see me at all."), Diller caught people's attention.

"Early on, she was one of the funniest dames, marvelously brittle," said Terrence O'Flaherty, a critic for The San Francisco Chronicle who always picked up her copy verbatim. "She writes some of the best and most delightful commercials in the broadcasting business."

For a fancy Oakland restaurant named Sea Wolf, Diller wrote, "The chefs are so temperamental, the wolf has a psychiatrist in attendance at all times."

Evenings, she would rehearse her stand-up act in front of a mirror after making dinner and putting the kids to bed.

Diller's show-biz break cameand her copywriting career endedin March 1955, when she was asked to perform at The Purple Onion, one of the Bay Area's hottest comedy clubs. The invitation followed Diller's appearance as a contestant on Groucho Marx's game show, You Bet Your Life.

NOTE: This post is the 6th in a series of 5 (what, you never heard of inflation?)

Monday, August 7, 2017

How 3 Brands Found Their Content Niche

Kara Whittaker contributed today's post. She is a content marketer with Ghergich & Co.

When you think of Red Bull, what do you think of?

You probably associate the brand with its energy drinks, of course. But Red Bull has an interesting backstory that provides key lessons for content marketers looking to make more of their brands.

Red Bull actually got its start in Europe, where extreme physical challenges—biking, hiking, mountain climbing, and sky diving—are already an established part of the culture.

When the company realized it was in the sports, not the beverage, business, it decided to capitalize on that heritage, creating a series of extreme sports events that challenged the stamina of participants.

The events were so successful, the company created an entire division dedicated solely to producing edge-of-the-world content.

It's worked, which is why Red Bull is one of the globe's leading brands—and one of its foremost content marketers.

Content has been part of marketing for more than a century.

When Michelin realized it was in the travel, not the tire, business, it published travel guides; and they gave rise to a what has become a worldwide cultural phenomenon: the Michelin Star rating system for restaurants.

And when GoPro realized it was in the user-generated content, not the camera, business, it leveraged UGC to build a fanatical fan base—and a world-class brand.

You can emulate brands like these by asking, "What business are we really in?"

And, yes, it takes time, testing and chutzpah to find your content niche.

But once you do, the sky's the limit.

How to Follow the Lead of the Most Powerful Content Marketers

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Thought Leadership: It's Not What You Think

Content marketing agency Grist asked 200 execs to assess thought leadership. Their responses will surprise you:
  • 84% say thought leadership adds value to their roles as executives, and 66% say they count on it to stay ahead of trends. Only 36% say they use thought leadership to gauge the expertise of an author; but 40% will contact an author, if they find a piece worthwhile.

  • 46% want thought leadership that offers fresh perspectives; only 26% want content that's action-oriented. 63% say thought leadership fails when it's conventional; and 58%, when it's unoriginal. Only 31% ever read all the thought leadership they uncover; and only 28% say it actually influences their decisions.

  • 63% prefer short (800-word) articles; and 57% prefer short (300- to 500-word ) blog posts. Only 45% will read 1,200-word pieces; and only 28%, 4,000-word pieces. Only 26% will devote attention to videos; and only 25%, to podcasts.
So how can you please executives?
  • Create thought leadership content that's provocative, original, forward-looking, and issue-oriented. Execs don't need one more post on "10 Ways to Modernize Your [Fill in the Blank]."

  • Avoid not only stale, but fluffy topics; and shun sales-talk. Create content your industry's leading media outlets would reprint.

  • Don't just record (as in videos and podcasts). Write. And write short.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Stuck inside of Mobile with the Email Blues Again

B2B marketers, why—when your email has a snowball's chance in hell of getting attention—do so many of you reduce the chance?

I see it every day: emails designed for desktop email clients, instead of mobile ones.

So stop sending them:
  • Use a 300 pixel-wide template. Mobile screens are small and many smartphones don't automatically resize big emails.

  • Use images sparingly. Mobile devices load slowly. The overall file size of your email should not exceed 70k.

  • The top 250 pixels are prime real estate. Don't waste them on some gargantuan masthead. State your offer here in plain-text words.

  • Use a clear call-to-action button near the top. Also include a text call-to-action linked to the same landing page (visible when images are disabled).

  • Include a one-line pre-header to state your offer. Include as well the URL for the mobile-friendly version of your email you host on line.

  • Avoid weird fonts, big fonts, reverse type, and red type. That stuff doesn't render and can trigger spam filters.

  • Code short (basic HTML with tables).

  • Write short (Anglo-Saxon words, and few of them).

Friday, August 4, 2017

10 Years a Blogger

Chris Brogan's advice—to make blogging the bedrock of your social media outreach—spurred me to start blogging 10 years ago.

In those years, I have learned to:

Thursday, August 3, 2017

What's the Right Content Mix for B2B?

Apps. Blogs. Case studies. Digital tools. E-books. Events. Games. Graphs. Infographics. Newsletters. Photos. Podcasts. Presentations. Reports. Quizzes. Videos. Webinars. White papers.

What's the right content marketing mix?

Begin with the essentials:

Blogs. The Number 1 source of leads, says Search Engine Journal. Without a blog, your strategy's spineless.

Events and webinars. What's better than blogs? Three of four B2B marketers say events. Webinars are a close second. A single event can pack more punch than 100 blog posts.

Newsletters. Newsletters help you keep customers, and keep prospects interested. Weekly is the best frequency, if you can manage it.

Videos. Six in 10 decision-makers visit a brand’s website after watching a video, according to Inc. And four in 10 contact the company.

White papers. White papers trumpeter your authority, essential to persuading customers to buy from you. 

Case studies. Case studies provide social proof, equally essential to persuading customers.

E-books. E-books can gather repurposed blog posts. They offer an outlet for dazzling design work, inviting to readers turned off by other formats.

Other content. Apps, digital tools, games, graphs, infographics, photos, podcasts, presentations, reports and quizzes are all just icing on the cake.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Admit You're a Hack

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative,
original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.

— David Ogilvy

Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert, wants you to believe storytelling is hack work.

"I’m absolutely on board with storytelling as a content marketing device," he says. "But just because you understand story arcs and can riff on Joseph Campbell doesn’t mean you’re now Francis Ford Coppola or William Faulkner. Content marketing is a job, not an art form."

I suspect Baer doesn't know that Faulkner, with over a dozen dependents to support, wasn't above sports writing, travel writing, and movie scriptwriting (he's credited for, among other films, 
The Big Sleep).

But I get Baer's point: marketing's kind of storytelling ain't art-making; it's hack work.

"I see more and more content marketers straying from this perspective," Baer says, "thinking that they are newfangled hybrid players, straddling the line between fine art and commerce. They are not.

"The only job that content marketing has is to create behaviors among target audiences that benefit the business. Content must prod behavior, or it’s a useless exercise."

Or, as
my agency's website says, "“It’s not creative unless it sells."
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