Category Archives: B2B Marketing

What 5 Years of Content Marketing Has Taught Me

I can’t believe that 5 years ago, I started this little blog in the hopes of cms-265127_640promoting myself (back then) as a digital ad sales consultant.

Fast-forward to the present and I am now a full-time B2B content marketer who has worked with brands like the Canadian Digital Media Network, TELUS, Influitive and Shopify.

And I’m proud to say that they are all Canadian brands that I am thrilled to support.

Never in a million years did I think this is what I’d be doing when I started by own business.

But I am so glad that I am exactly where I am today.

So, to celebrate my love of writing and working with customers to tell their brand story, I thought I’d share a few of the hard lessons on blogging and content marketing that I have learned over the years.

  1. Never stop writing and never stop learning

    Even if I am not constantly writing on my own blog, I write at least 3 posts a week (in addition to working on ebooks, case studies, etc.).

    So, I keep trying to perfect my craft. Likewise, I read at least 10 blog posts a day from other writers who I admire.

    There is always room to improve, so I want to see what the pros are doing try to incorporate it into my own writing style.

  2. Only write for brands that you believe in

    Although I also do a lot of ghost writing for companies, I choose to only write for industries and brands that I am passionate about.

    That’s because I only want to put my name on something that I am proud of and I believe that passion is a huge motivator.

    Why bother writing about something you aren’t passionate about? If you aren’t passionate, it will certainly show through in your writing.

  3. Case studies: The customer is always the hero in the story

    This is something I’ve learned over the past few years in writing case studies for clients.

    It’s not the client/software solution that needs to be the protagonist in a story, it’s the customer who has been through some sort of struggle, which led them to that solution, that needs to shine as the hero.

    Basically, the customer is the rock star and the software solution is the roady or sound technician behind the scenes who makes them shine on stage.

  4. Have coffee with your target audience

    Ok, so it doesn’t have to be coffee, but you need to speak (in person) with the people who are likely to read the blog, ebook, whitepaper, etc. for which you are writing.

    You need to understand their pain points and what messages might resonate with them or get them to move from the awareness phase to the consideration phase of the purchase funnel. And that takes some time and experimentation with your content as well.

  5. Let the trolls keep on trolling

    I think I’ve said this before but you can’t please everyone with your writing. Ultimately, if you get more positive comments than negative ones, you are doing just fine.

    That being said, you can always learn something from what the haters are hating on – even if it’s just how to be the opposite of what they are as a human being.

    But sometimes there is a shred of truth to what is being said and you can always use that information to improve for the next piece that you write. Just don’t let the negativity get you down for too long.

    Thanks for continuing to follow my blog and I look forward to share more of what I have learned in the years to come.

    Have a question about blogging or content marketing? Please share in the comments below.

Image via Pixabay

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2 Tips for rescuing your sinking B2B marketing strategies #ConvRoadTrip

Ever feel like your B2B marketing results are headed for disaster? One of the best ways to avoid failure is to learn from those who have already made a gazillion Sinking shipmistakes but have lived to tell the tale. As a freelance writer and B2B marketing strategist, I enjoy taking a break from my regular routine to find out what’s new in the world of digital and content marketing. So, last week I spent the day at the Toronto stop on the Unbounce North American Conversion Road Trip tour.

I was especially inspired by April Dunford‘s presentation entitled “Marketing Strategy Hacks: What to do when all your marketing results are complete crap.”  I completely identified with her explanation that sometimes the strategies and tactics that you develop just don’t pay off. And it can be extremely frustrating if you’ve seen those same strategies work out with other companies or clients that you’ve worked with in the past. So, it was refreshing to hear her recommendations on what to investigate first when you discover that your results are tanking, despite your best efforts. I’ve provided a summary of her tips below. Enjoy!

Dunford suggests that there are two ways to hack your marketing strategy when things go sideways:

1) The easy way is to look at your target “buyers”

2) A more advanced approach is to look at your market

1. Have you been targeting the wrong customers all along?

Dunford told the audience that she once had a huge ephiphany when investigating why her hyper-optimized and targeted B2B marketing campaigns just weren’t working. She decided to look at every channel to figure out where things had gone wrong.

One day, she spent a morning with the inside sales team and discovered that one of the sales reps was calling prospects and asking to speak with the head of sales, rather than the Chief Information Officer (CIO) – who they thought were the ideal customers for purchasing CRM software. She soon found out that Sales executives were far more interested in learning more about the product that the CIOs they had been targeting. It was at that moment that she realized her team had been spending millions of dollars to reach the wrong buyer. That revelation helped to get her team’s campaigns back on track and convert more leads into customers.

2. Your target market will change over time

Dunford explained that marketers can expect your target market to shift as the market shifts.

In order to determine your ideal target market and positioning, she recommends that businesses consider the following:

1. Who does your value proposition resonate with the most?

2. Who is the easiest target market to reach?

3. Who influences the purchase the most? In some cases, this person is the better target – even if they are not the end-buyer.

4. Are your competitors underserving an untapped market?

To demonstrate that sometimes businesses simply target the wrong market, Dunford showed a photo of a sandwich board outside of the restaurant“Eggspectation” in Toronto which read “Try our burgers.”  She pointed out the irony of the sign and the fact that if she wanted a burger, there are lots of burger joints in the city. She said she’d never “eggspect” a burger at a restaurant that specializes in making eggs. Cue the laugh track 😉

How to test your market positioning

1. To determine if your prospects “get what you do,” Dunford suggests to test if your messaging sets you apart versus a similar but competitive product.

2. Concerned that your value proposition is week? Dunford recommends to conduct interviews or surveys to ask your customers why they love your product? You can then compare their answers against your current messaging. If it’s way off, then you can make tweaks to tell the right story.

3. To avoid the dreadful “me too” messaging/product trap, you can interview prospects and current customers to ask them what sets you apart from competitors. Dunford was once told by a prospect (whom she was pitching) that her database software was more of a “data warehouse.” This helped her company to re-position their product in a much less competitive market. 

4. Finally, if you’re concerned that your competitors are eating your lunch, you can interview/survey your customers post-purchase to find out why they bought from you. Perhaps there is a different market that would be more likely to buy from you based on their answers.

Do you have a tip to help save sinking B2B marketing campaigns? Please share in the comments section below.

Image: By USN [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Content Marketing Spokesperson (or Influencer) Can Help Legitimize Your Business

A lot of business-to-business (B2B) startups and small businesses use content marketing as a 2legit2quitstrategy to generate new business leads and to increase search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. But it’s important to remember that achieving those goals can take a lot of time. And it can be frustrating if you aren’t reaching your desired results fast enough.

What’s important to keep in mind is that while emails may not be flooding your inbox just yet, you are still contributing to an important part of the purchase funnel – the consideration stage. So, even if most of your leads are still coming in through word of mouth, you can bet your sweet aunt Susan that businesses are evaluating your services through your website, blog, social media following and other content channels.

The key is to produce content that provides valuable insights and advice on how businesses can achieve greater results by tapping into your services. This does not mean directly selling your product. Instead, you should sell your vision and tips on best practices related to your industry.

Content marketing is also an opportunity to show prospective clients who you are as a person (if you are a solopreneur) or leader of a service provider. That’s why some of the most successful companies that use content marketing as a strategy have a person, or group of people, lending their voice and perspectives via a blog, social media or other content channels on behalf of the business.

After all, people want to work with others whom they like and trust. And if you come across as friendly, competent and trustworthy in your content, new clients who are evaluating your services will achieve peace of mind – knowing that their investment in you will pay off.

To give you an idea of how to do this effectively, I’ve put together a list of Canadian spokespeople and social media influencers who have successfully helped to legitimize their business to prospective clients through content marketing. Their storytelling skills, expertise and charisma help to showcase what it would be like to work with or buy services from their company. Check them out below.

  1. Peter Aceto, CEO of Tangerine (blogger, speaker, author, and social media influencer)
  2. Erin Bury, Managing Director of 88 Creative (blogger, speaker, TV personality and newspaper columnist)
  3. Tony Chapman, former founder and CEO of Capital C (now a motivational speaker, TV personality, columnist and consultant).
  4. Tara Hunt, Director of Audience Development at Totem (author, blogger, and speaker)
  5. Mitch Joel, President of Mirum (blogger, speaker, author, podcaster, radio personality and newspaper columnist)

Have a name that should be added to the list? Please share it in the comments section below. Or, send an email to andrea [at] therunningstart [dot] ca.

Image source: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/