Tuesday, July 26, 2011

5 ways to improve your content marketing strategy

Posted by Sara Nugent
Content is king, but it's also killer. It can be difficult to create, and time consuming to do well. But there are ways to transform information, data, and goings-on within any organization into authentic news and content, the kind that connects with digital and media audiences.

These approaches are increasingly important today as content drives more of our marketing initiatives. A recent study by the Custom Content Council found 35 percent of CMOs believe that custom content marketing is the future of marketing. This is compared to 19 percent in 2006.

This study also found 73 percent of consumers prefer to receive information as articles rather than blatant advertisements. What's more, 61 percent of consumers said they feel better about companies when they deliver content and are more likely to buy from them.

Virtually any company can publish content and see value for it. Here are five ways to creatively create and capture content that integrate with blogging, media relations, and corporate communications.

Be the media. Lansinoh Laboratories, a long-time Gregory FCA client, understands well the power of transforming everyday business events into news. When the company recently sponsored a red carpet event, The Concert for a Healthy Birth, it sent its own blogger to interview Ricki Lake about her newly released documentary, "The Business of Being Born." Flattered by the interest, Ricki gave a ringing endorsement of the Lansinoh products she's used in the past. The video interview transformed the event into news, gave Lansinoh authentic content for its blog, and secured a major celebrity endorsement by thinking content, rather than marketing hype.

UPDATE 7/29/11: This week Ricki favorited a tweet from Gregory FCA's Robyn Ungar, in which she included a link to this video. The favorite re-shared the video with Ricki's Twitterverse, again illustrating Ricki's support, as well as the long shelf life of digital content.

Transform one-and-done events into long-tail marketing opportunities. Events create gold mines of content that can be documented and repurposed across multiple channels. An example comes from Gregory FCA client ProtonMedia, which sponsored its own sold-out life sciences seminar. To get more from its investment, the company videoed, photographed, and live tweeted the entire event; posted the coverage in a series on its external blog; and integrated it into its sales efforts. The after-burn helped lead ProtonMedia to securing several new clients.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How bad storytelling ruined online grocery shopping

Posted by Greg Matusky
Or the nine most common reasons why so much of corporate storytelling sucks
I stumbled upon an interesting article in "Technology Review" when I was traveling last week about a new shopping service in South Korea that transforms a subway station wall into a virtual grocery store. Using cell phones, commuters snap photos of the toilet paper or sushi they want to buy, and the items are automatically delivered to their homes before they return from work. Pretty cool.

It all reminded me of the salad days (literally and figuratively), when online grocery shopping was supposed to transform the way Americans buy groceries, and Gregory FCA was working with a now defunct online grocery concept in New England. The company was admittedly so far ahead of the curve that it eventually ran off the road and into a ditch.

The problems were legion. Slow Internet dial-up speeds back then bogged down shoppers as they waited for the site to load. Delivering groceries to suburban homes proved a logistical nightmare, requiring the company to install free refrigerators in customers' garages for deliveries while working families were not at home. Entrenched behavior prevented shoppers from ever believing they could order the perfect cantaloupe without thumping it for themselves.

Even more disastrous, though, was the company's own narrative. Back in the dot-com days, newly minted and funded companies refused to tell simple, understandable stories, preferring to speak in broad, cultural, or economic terms about their concept and business plan.

The management team argued that the company was not about grocery shopping. Rather, it was a "content aggregator that served as a conduit connecting services and products to the home, completing the all-elusive final mile that was thwarting the online revolution."

It all made no sense to shoppers, who simply wanted the best quality groceries at the best possible price delivered conveniently. No one got it. No one bought it. Like Webvan, another high-flying online grocery store concept that raised nearly $400 million in an IPO back in the day, our client died the same sock puppet death as Pets.com, leaving a bunch of overly smart techies to lament that customers "just don't get it."

Oh, they got it alright. Simplicity rules. Think Apple if you don't believe me, and its uniquely understandable boilerplate.
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.
Or Microsoft, whose entire boilerplate boils down to this.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions to help people and businesses realize their full potential.
Hasn't the world come to realize that the length of a company's boilerplate or story is inversely related to the length of time it has been in business or will be in business? The longer, more convoluted the story, the less significant the business is in the first place. So here, for the first time, I will share with you the primary reasons why so much of corporate storytelling sucks:

1. My investors or investment bank just told me the story we need to sell to get the highest valuation. Oh really? Is that the story that no one can understand? All too often, investors live in echo chambers with the reverberations making it impossible for anyone to understand what's being said.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Can Google Plus take on Facebook's installed base of 750 million users?

Posted by Greg Matusky
For me, it's already solved one of Facebook's most vexing problems

It's gonna get good. The Google/Facebook war. With the beta release of Google Plus, the online giant is coming after Facebook in a way it never succeeded with Wave. What's hinted at is a fully integrated product that will allow users -- both businesses and consumers -- to effortlessly hang out with customers and friends alike, video chat and conference through Gmail and Google Docs.

Facebook still wields the bigger and badder social club with some 750 million users worldwide. But Google is the ultimate brand, the first verb-ified company, a market cap of over $177 billion, and the nation's 12th largest corporation. And Google has already solved the #1 problem with Facebook -- the ability to know your audience.
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