Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy
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Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy
We have put together this collection of articles to help our visitors better understand what content marketing and inbound marketing is about and the importance having a content marketing strategy. We also include articles on how to do content strategy work, news and ideas about content marketing and its future, and how to improve your content marketing efforts.
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Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly? Time to Act.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly? Time to Act. | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Starting April 21, 2015, Google’s mobile search results will penalize non-mobile-friendly websites. So if you’ve been putting off “going mobile” with your website, it’s officially time to make it happen.

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Nekhia Christian's curator insight, April 13, 2015 10:38 AM

Google’s “mobile-friendly” update is intended to please mobile users. Because they’re a large and growing part of our audience, it’s an update that makes good business sense.

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How to Help Sales Follow Up With Consideration Stage Leads

How to Help Sales Follow Up With Consideration Stage Leads | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Once you've established your reputation as a marketer who delivers quality leads to sales, you'll be every sales person's best friend.

But not every new lead is destined to make a beeline to the bottom of your marketing funnel and request follow-up with a helpful, appreciative sales person.

And not every industry has a marketing funnel that lends itself well to online qualification beyond the initial consideration stage.

The consideration stage is the second of three stages in the buyer's journey. So what does the savvy inbound marketer do in the hazy, hazard strewn top of the funnel? What's the right model for sales and marketing alignment when a lead is actively considering your product, but not sure whether they are ready to commit?

 

Helping sales follow up effectively with awareness stage leads is a crucial part of sales and marketing alignment. Here's how to do it.


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Why Short-Term Content Campaigns Are Doomed to Fail

Why Short-Term Content Campaigns Are Doomed to Fail | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it
Content campaigns need a fair amount of time to gain traction, and once that starts to happen, you need the requisite resources to continue to publish consistently and build momentum.

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Important (but unasked) Content Marketing Strategy Questions

Important (but unasked) Content Marketing Strategy Questions | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Last week, we held our inaugural CMI Executive Forum in San Francisco. Content marketing leaders from some of the largest B2B and B2C brands came together to talk about the challenges and opportunities they see for content marketing.


We asked attendees to keep our discussions during the meeting private — no tweets, posts, or social media updates allowed. This also means we won’t be sharing the bulk of the meeting details (well, not just yet). But I did want to share a number of questions I came away with — questions worth mentioning because most content marketers don’t seem to be addressing them.

And Update My Website's insight:


Why Read This Article?:
What important questions about content marketing strategy is your company or organization not addressing?

Who Should Read This?:
People who lead their company's content marketing efforts, or who want their company to do more and more effective content marketing.

Key Points of Article:

  • Most businesses don't have a clear content marketing strategy.
  • Content strategy should align with the company’s overall business vision and goals.
  • Content that doesn't really help your audience is a waste of time — yours and theirs.
  • Read all of the content your company creates.
  • Add value by taking a definitive position whenever you create content.
  • Focus your writing on issues in your industry.
  • Provide training to your marketers and all employees who contribute to your content marketing efforts.
  • Develop tools to help communicate your content marketing vision throughout the organization.


Evaluation:
Effective content marketing strategy requires concentrated effort. As this article shows, even large companies with dedicated marketing departments have a hard time with content strategy.

Asking the right questions and putting in the time required to answer them is key to developing an effective content marketing strategy. In this article Joe Pulizzi, a content marketing expert, identifies strategy questions even experienced content marketers often overlook.

While all of the questions Pulizzi proposes are important, two really stand out:

  1. Are you training your employees to be comfortable and proficient in referencing your companies content?
  2. Have you developed a communication tool or process for spreading your content marketing vision throughout the organization?


To tap into content marketing’s full potential, your company should develop a content marketing mindset. This means getting buy-in from management and other personnel — not just from marketing staff. This happens only through training and education.

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How to Research & Create Detailed Buyer Personas

How to Research & Create Detailed Buyer Personas | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Buyer personas help us all -- Marketing, Sales, Product -- internalize the ideal customer we're trying to attract, and relate to our customers as real humans. Understanding your buyer persona is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.


Okay, so personas are a really important part of your business. Got it. So ... how do I actually make one?

And Update My Website's insight:


Why Read This Article?

Learn practical information about how to research and create buyer personas.


Who Should Read This?

  • People familiar with the concept of buyer personas, but who aren’t sure how to get started creating them.

  • People who have created a few buyer personas and want to get better at it.


You’ll Learn How to:

  • Identify the right people to interview.

  • Improve your response rate from interview requests.

  • Determine how many people to interview.

  • Plan the questions you’ll ask in the interviews.

  • Incorporate the #1 Tip for conducting a successful interview.

  • Conduct effective research to flesh out persona details.


BONUS:

There’s a link to a free, buyer persona template.


Evaluation

At first glance, conducting research for a buyer persona seems straightforward:

  • Set up (or borrow) a persona template.

  • Identify customers who match your target audience.

  • Ask them some predetermined questions.

  • Fill out the information fields in the template.


But that process really amounts to a customer survey; it’s not a complete, authentic persona interview.


Buyer persona interviews are not about simply gathering statistics. When you create a buyer persona, your goal is true insight into the concerns and behaviors of your customers and potential customers. And you can gain this insight only by asking open-ended “Why?” questions, by engaging in a real conversation.


For many, these conversations with customers are the most difficult part of the buyer persona process. And because they’re difficult, they’re often conducted in an unorganized, haphazard manner; more often, they’re not done at all.


However, with planning and a little know-how, setting up and conducting buyer persona interviews can become less painful and more productive. The practical information and tips in this article offer a solid foundation for that process.

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The 10-Step Checklist for Awesome Website Redesign

The 10-Step Checklist for Awesome Website Redesign | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it
How to redesign your company website as an inbound marketing tool that generates traffic, converts leads, and increases sales.
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Employed Media: How Internal Advocates Can Share Your Content Marketing

Employed Media: How Internal Advocates Can Share Your Content Marketing | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it
Owned media, paid media and earned media have made up the content marketing tripod for a long time, but now the stool has a fourth leg: employed media. Find out how you can give your content effort...
Robert Hirsh's insight:

Want to expand the reach of your Content Marketing efforts? Why not tap those who care most about your company or organization's success: the people who work there, whether they're employees, consultants, or volunteers. This article introduces the concept of "Employed Media," describes it, and offers a process to begin putting it to work. 


"The idea is simple: If all sorts of folks in your company would and could use your great content in their interactions with the world, they’d amplify its impact many times over."


This is a concept we at AUMW believe in, and we've been encouraging our clients to embrace it. Here's why:


It's an axiom that everyone in your organization who talks to customers is a "salesperson," whether they're aware of it or not. For the same reasons, everyone in your organization is also a "marketer." The challenge is to make sure they're aware of that role, and of the responsibilities it entails and the possibilities it offers.


How? Begin by taking the time to educate your employees on the content you're creating and show them the benefits — to the company and to themselves — of finding opportunities to include that content whenever and wherever they interact with customers or potential customers. Your content assets can even serve as a "conversation starter" with customers and collaborators, a way to open a meaningful dialogue about what you have to offer and why it's important to them.


To build your Employed Media, start with sales, PR, and corporate personnel. Then, expand the conversation to include those in production, service implementation, customer service, HR, and others. And don't forget those at the "top": owners, board members, etc. Remember the key: whether they're paid for their efforts or not, these people have a keen interest in the organization's mission and success.


It's also important to remember that you're not creating a blind mandate where everyone just shares everything with anyone. Rather, help people understand what content you're producing, the strategy behind it, and where to find it. Let them determine how to best to use it. With the right process, you'll learn as much about your Content Marketing efforts from them as they learn from you.


Note to small and mid-sized organizations: Much of what this article recommends is targeted to larger organizations. But don't be intimidated. Even the smallest organization can benefit from the advice it offers. If you're not sure how you can apply it, we'd love to discuss it with you.

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How Content Marketing Success is Blocked by Antiquated Beliefs

How Content Marketing Success is Blocked by Antiquated Beliefs | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

As content marketing becomes an increasingly important means of propelling our businesses forward, I’m finding that many marketers are still struggling with the operational issues associated with the discipline. In almost every meeting I attend these days, I’ve come to find that a few antiquated ideas about content are still ringing true:


  1. Content marketing is still considered to be separate from “real marketing.”
     
  2. Marketing and measurement are still solely thought of as ways to increase transactions, rather than as mechanisms for creating deeper relationships with consumers.
     
  3. Businesses still view content as an attribute of marketing, rather than as a distinct discipline that offers value in and of itself. 
And Update My Website's insight:

This article by CMI’s Robert Rose features an interview with Tom Asacker, author of The Business of Belief, and offers some helpful reinforcement and direction for the approach AUMW takes with our clients.

 

Ross says that, “…more than 50 percent of marketers said they were not at all equipped to handle new trends in marketing technology.” Yet, fully 70% of them were “very confident” that creating customer-centric experiences would “positively impact the organization.” They “get” what they have to do to transform their marketing efforts, but find themselves unable to make the necessary changes.

 

That’s where Asacker, an expert in organizational change comes in. He argues that the key to the future success of many businesses will be their ability to change their belief systems, allowing them to change their behavior. (A more common term for these “belief systems” has been “organizational culture” or “business culture,” which have been fertile research areas for business theorists, social psychologists, and psychologists for some years now.) Asacker also makes it clear that the belief and behavioral change has to encompass the whole organization — from management to branding, from marketing to customer service. (This last point corresponds nicely to AUMW’s emphasis on Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing Strategy — i.e., a strategy that encompasses every facet of corporate-customer interactions, as opposed to a strategy isolated within the marketing effort.)

 

Asked about how to achieve these changes, Asacker says something that reinforces what we at AUMW are trying to do: “…where I’ve seen success is where there’s been some outside force — whether it’s an agency or consultant or someone who has figured out how to push a particular leader…They lead them down, if you will, that bridge of belief, making them comfortable the whole time until they release something that’s powerful. And then, the interesting thing is that once they get this notoriety for this creative endeavor, then the rest of the organization, they use that as an example for everyone else, saying, ‘See, we can do it.’”

 

Ross summarizes the challenge: “We too often feel like we just have to deliver facts to customers. When in fact, in addition to that we have to change beliefs, as well.”

 

Do we BELIEVE?!?!

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Why You Need to Conduct a Full Audit for Successful Content Marketing

Why You Need to Conduct a Full Audit for Successful Content Marketing | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it
It takes time, dedication and patience to conduct a website audit that is thorough enough to help refine your content marketing strategy, but it's worth it.


If you are ever approached by a content marketing agency that says they have conducted such an audit and would like to create some content for you, just say no! Conducting a “quick” content audit is like trying to figure out why your car won’t start by glancing at the paint.


To help you make sure you don’t miss any steps along the content audit journey, here are a few tips to take with you to your laptop.

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Content Design: How To Improve Your Content Effectiveness

Content Design: How To Improve Your Content Effectiveness | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Content design matters.


If you’re a content creator, you feel that once you've finished writing, your piece is done.


Yet the reality is that the work has first started. You've a raw piece of content but it needs more work to achieve your business goals; to break through and grab your audience.


Want to improve your content effectiveness? If so, here are 7 content marketing tips to help you with your content design.

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The Six Stages of the Consumer Buying Process and How to Market to Them

The Six Stages of the Consumer Buying Process and How to Market to Them | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Far too often, retailers think that consumer buying is randomized. That certain products appeal to certain customers and that a purchase either happens or it doesn’t. They approach product and service marketing in the same way, based on trial and error. What if there were a distinctive set of steps that most consumers went through before deciding whether to make a purchase or not? What if there was a scientific method for determining what goes into the buying process that could make marketing to a target audience more than a shot in the dark?


The good news? It does exist. The actual purchase is just one step. In fact, there are six stages to the consumer buying process, and as a marketer, you can market to them effectively.

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What B2B Buyers Want From Vendor Websites

What B2B Buyers Want From Vendor Websites | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it
Web Sites - Easily accessible contact information is the most import thing on a B2B vendor website, according to a recent report from Dianna Huff and KoMarketing Associates.
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Five Traits of Guest Content That Audiences (and Editors) Can Actually Use

Five Traits of Guest Content That Audiences (and Editors) Can Actually Use | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Guest article or post submissions can be a great asset to a publication, but they can also be an excuse for bad content to slip through the cracks. Editors as well as guest-post writers must therefore take special care to ensure that they do not lower their usual standards.


As the editor behind the Wistia blog, I wanted to share a more thorough breakdown of how we think about guest content, what we've found makes for the best guest posts, and the suggestions I'd give to someone writing guest content for any publication.

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How to Build an Email List That Generates Revenue

How to Build an Email List That Generates Revenue | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

As a marketer, entrepreneur, or business owner, you’re always looking for a way to keep the fire going between you and your customer. To keep the connection alive.


You’re also looking for ways to build connections with new customers, for ways to stay in front of both new/old/potential customers.

 

What if I told you that you can do all this at the same time?

 

Well, you can. It’s all about building and maximizing your email list.


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3 Lessons Learned From a Titan of Copywriting

3 Lessons Learned From a Titan of Copywriting | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

I was on the phone earlier this week with copywriting legend John Carlton and we were ranting about all sorts of topics.

(You know, like you do when you’re on the phone with John Carlton.)

He made the observation that the next “big thing” in marketing may not be in the areas of whiz-bang technology, but rather in the blocking and tackling techniques of adept career direct marketers.

That’s not to say that technology won’t continue to move at the speed of light. But certain methods just don’t change.

Great writing still rules. As they say here at Copyblogger, The writer runs this show. And those who spend more time storytelling and less time figuring out the next big “Ninja technique” will be the winners for the long haul.

Ninja techniques create revenue events. Great copy and creative approaches create businesses.


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7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Content Marketing Strategy

7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Content Marketing Strategy | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

We have tremendous potential as content marketers. But there are so many aspects of the business to juggle in an ever-changing industry. It can be incredibly difficult to bring it all into focus.

Use these 7 ideas that (if done right) will make a lasting impact on your content marketing strategy.


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3 Tips for Keeping Your Buyer Personas Fresh and Alive

3 Tips for Keeping Your Buyer Personas Fresh and Alive | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Whether your content marketing program is targeted to B2B or B2C audiences, one thing will ring true when it comes to old assumptions: Your audience, like your strategy, could be undergoing its own continual shifts, evolutions, and transformations, as well. This can certainly affect the buy personas you have created in the past.

And Update My Website's insight:


Content marketing gurus across the internet agree that a key component of content strategy is keeping your content fresh through regular publication of original or curated content that’s appealing and useful to your audience. This article by Content Marketing Institute’s Anna Ritchie is a timely reminder that the effectiveness of even the “freshest” content depends on its meeting the needs of the audience you have today.


That means consistently refreshing your customer personas to make sure they match your current business strategy and environment. As Ritchie puts it, “…it’s important to regularly update your personas to reflect shifting audience trends, as well as to account for adjustments…to your overall business goals and strategies.”


Ritchie reminds us that personas are vital elements in deciding the types of content to create, the tone and style of your content, topics and targets to focus on, and content delivery strategies.


Ritchie’s key ingredients to keeping personas fresh:
 

  • Move your personas from the strategy bin to the drawing board. Regularly re-examine all of your personas to make sure they “accurately reflect your target audience’s current life situation and purchasing needs.”
     

  • Prioritize direct conversations. Keep this simple. A few quick phone calls or emails, or browsing expeditions through customer comments on your website and blog can offer fresh insights. Ritchie recommends calendaring these activities to make sure they’re done and done regularly.
     

  • Visualize your audience (and keep those mental pictures updated!). Ritchie suggests keeping photos of actual customers where you can see them. They’ll represent your target personas and remind you that you’re creating content for real people.


Whatever specific approaches you adopt, keep this essential point in mind: you’ve developed those customer personas to play a crucial role in your content strategy. Their effectiveness — just like that of the content you develop for them and provide to them — depend on their “freshness,” on their congruence with your current and constantly evolving business strategy and environment.

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Where Content Marketing Fits in Your Marketing Plan

Where Content Marketing Fits in Your Marketing Plan | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it
To help you understand how content marketing should mesh with your organization's other marketing efforts, the Content Marketing Institute team took a fresh look at the discipline and examined how ...
And Update My Website's insight:

“Content marketing is not a standalone marketing technique…Rather, it [should] be integrated into your overarching marketing plan, as its principles will strengthen all your other marketing efforts.”


In this article, Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, clarifies the integral role of content marketing within the larger scope of a company or organization's marketing efforts.


Pulizzi grounds his perspective in a coherent, constructive definition of content marketing: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”


He then demystifies the concept. “Content marketing,” he insists, “is marketing.” In other words, they’re not separate disciplines.


At AUMW, we appreciate what he’s saying here, because we’ve found that much of the avalanche of information about content marketing makes it seem like a new or radical idea. But, if you have a website, you’ve already been doing content marketing at some level. What’s important is to do it well. For Pulizzi, and for us, that means integrating it thoroughly into every marketing-related activity, including your strategy and plan.


Pulizzi notes that — because its primary activity is producing and distributing high-quality, valuable content — effectively integrated content marketing will support and enhance all other marketing efforts, including SEO, paid advertising, social media, and public relations.


We’d add that content marketing also supports the sales and customer service teams, and any other component of a business or organization that interacts with customers and potential customers — because through those interactions they’re all marketers, too.

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Five SEO Steps to Take Before Redesigning Your Site

Five SEO Steps to Take Before Redesigning Your Site | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it
Search Engine Marketing - Many companies attempt website redesigns to boost their search engine optimization. In reality, though, redesigns can have a negative impact on prior SEO achievements. Luckily, you can take steps to ...
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Content Marketing for the Customer-Focused Marketer

Content Marketing for the Customer-Focused Marketer | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

You must embrace connected consumers, or as I like to refer them, the new CMOs (chief marketing operatives). I often tell brands that if that idea isn't on your radar, somebody is eating your lunch and you don't even know it. The brands that will ultimately end up winning are the ones that fully embrace this concept, understand the power of those new CMOs, and employ a content marketing strategy that enables and empowers that connected customer.

Robert Hirsh's insight:

AUMW agrees with this author that companies must embrace and incorporate personalized marketing tactics and communications.


The article is more of a call-to-action, rather than a how-to guide on the author's proposals. Here are some compelling key points:


  • Privacy will always be a concern; but in today's digital landscape, customers want to be "catered" to. That means they seek and value customized communications.
     
  • Providing consumers with relevant information throughout the purchase cycle accomplishes more than just helping sales along. It connects consumers to your company and its products and services, and it reinforces the emotional and lifestyle associations customers respond to as they make purchasing decisions.
     
  • Recent years have brought remarkable advances in available marketing technology and in data collection and evaluation tools. A refined understanding of the content your customers want — and the platforms through which they seek and use that information — is increasingly accessible and essential.
     
  • There are many ways to personalize content for customers. Effective strategy requires learning about these means, testing them, and determining the mix that matches your customers wants and needs.


Here's a quote from the article summarizing the ultimate goal. (It's a bit dense, but we find it worth re-reading until it makes sense.):


"...how do we, in a very [conscious] way, use all the data available — behavioral, transactional, and social — to build long-term relationships with customers and prospects so that we are not only serving them with personalized experiences but anticipating their needs with ancillary communications?"

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4 Steps to Audit Online Content After Hummingbird and "Not Provided"

4 Steps to Audit Online Content After Hummingbird and "Not Provided" | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

It’s possible to measure the effectiveness of content marketing efforts without keyword data — something we’ve had since 2011 to think about — but it shouldn’t just be a case of damage limitation for people who work with web analytics.


For content marketers, the removal of keyword data from Google represents a huge opportunity to overhaul the way we report on our online content. With this opportunity in mind, now is the perfect time for a content audit.

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7 Ways to Get Your Boss on Board with Inbound Marketing

7 Ways to Get Your Boss on Board with Inbound Marketing | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

You're sold on Inbound-- but what about your boss?


Inbound marketing works. You know it; your whole department knows it. But the boss isn't convinced. He or she doesn't see the worth of adding a business blog to the company website.


Where traditional marketing grabs attention, inbound marketing provides value while bringing the consumer closer to your brand. It's all about connection. Read on to learn more about seven ways you can get your boss on board with inbound marketing so he or she can see the benefits you already know it will bring.

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Why Your Web Content Strategy Should Include Answering Questions

Why Your Web Content Strategy Should Include Answering Questions | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

Social networks like Twitter have ushered in a new era of customer-care content. Unfortunately, for many businesses, this has come to mean that a social media manager’s time might be completely consumed by answering customer questions on all of the many platforms on which your company operates. While there will always be a place for social media in crisis management, there are more productive ways for marketers to use their time than by spending it on personally addressing customer complaints.


As an alternative, including carefully compiled frequently-asked questions lists (FAQs) and other Q&A content as part of your web content strategy provides a much greater opportunity to expand your brand’s influence — as having the right people answering the right questions in the right places for your customers can achieve much more for your brand than just damage limitation.

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10 Strategies to Battle Content Shock - Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}

10 Strategies to Battle Content Shock - Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow} | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it
We are entering a world of increasing marketing complexity as information density explodes. Here are 10 strategies to break through.
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Buyer Personas: The Foundation of Content Marketing

Buyer Personas: The Foundation of Content Marketing | Content & Inbound Marketing and Strategy | Scoop.it

We say it all the time – your marketing needs to be audience-centric.  By focusing on delivering information that the audience craves and wants, you’ll build a relationship and draw them in closer. But first, you have to be able to answer the old Jerry Seinfeld question: Who ARE these people?


The reason this matters is that the sales cycle has changed from those glorious cold-calling days of yore. Today, 6o percent of the buying process is complete before the sales department ever hears from the prospect. Prospects spend that time educating themselves, developing ideas and preferences. Smart organizations that want to build a relationship with the audience and ultimately make the sale are feeding this appetite for information


Step one is to figure out who these people are. That means identifying buyer personas. You have to do that as the foundation for your content strategy.

Robert Hirsh's insight:

Successful Content Marketing focuses on what the audience — the customer — needs and wants; it's about building a relationship. Developing buyer personas creates a constructive understanding of your audience, enabling you to deliver targeted content that will be embraced by your potential customers.


Buyer personas are not complete until they're validated with your sales force.
 "Building these personas helps to bridge the gap between sales and marketing; when both organizations understand who the prospect is, it becomes far easier for them to work hand-in-hand."


Your customers' buying process is now heavily weighted towards self-education. This means you must learn how to connect with them long before you talk with them. Great sales people have learned how to connect with their customers by first getting to know them: their challenges, their responsibilities, their preferences, etc. Buyer personas help incorporate these classic sales insights into a marketing strategy that delivers the right message to the right audience at the right time.

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