Archive for February, 2011

Need a good way to check whether your B-to-B content marketing strategy is positioned for success?

Try asking whether you’ve crossed all the “Ts.” Specifically:

  • Have you truly pinpointed your target audience? Residential construction professionals is not a target audience. Remodelers? OK, you’ve set your sights a bit more precisely. Window-replacement contractors? There you go. Now you’ve got an audience whose persona and interests you can truly focus on and seek to serve with your content.
  • Have you strategically chosen a theme around which to concentrate content planning and development. A theme that, ideally, has two things going for it: First, it’s of high interest and importance to your audience in their profession or business (even though it might be quite arcane or esoteric to people outside the audience group). Second, it resonates with your products, services and brand value proposition — but isn’t all about your products and services.
  • Within that theme, are you drilling into content topics likely to be most relevant and compelling to your target. While you’re at it, be sure to consider whether your audience is at a level where “101” how-to topics are going to be most interesting and useful. Or is yours a sophisticated audience where it will take “200-level” and even “300-level” subject matter to get them engaged and seeing you as a thought leader?
  • Are you planning to deliver content, or make it available, via channels (let’s call them touch points, so I don’t blow the “T” pattern) that work well for your audience and their lifestyle.

Content marketing is not rocket science. By the same token, it bears some resemblance to the multi-level levels of content marketing strategychess Spock and James T. Kirk played on the original Star Trek.

If you’re not thinking clearly and precisely about audience and content at these various tiers, your strategy will be fuzzy as opposed to focused.  And a fuzzy content marketing strategy simply will not work as intended.

Worse yet, there’s a good chance you’ll be viewed by the audience as adding to the disruptive marketing and media noise that bombards them daily. If that happens, it’s likely your marketing will be characterized by another T. The one where your audience elects to tune out your message.


What do you think? Did I miss one or more Ts that need to be considered and crossed to mount an effective content marketing strategy? Would welcome your comments and ideas.


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We’re all familiar with the concept of an “elevator speech.” A concise but effective sales monologue. A way of describing and positioning your product, service or idea that, while succinct, is compelling enough to consistently pique the interest of a listener. Your target audience. 

I recently spoke with a corporate marketing chief who is having trouble crafting his organization’s elevator elevator speechspeech. Regardless which marketing or sales employee takes a crack at the perfectly pithy pitch, they’ve been unable to make their software as a service (SaaS) value proposition short, clear and compelling. “Our story’s too complicated, too dense,” the marketers say. “Too many words, not enough impact,” the sales people agree.

The conversation got me thinking: What does it take to craft a great elevator speech?

And that got me thinking just how important it is to focus on the person with whom you’re sharing the elevator.

Fire Up Your Message
Picture yourself boarding an elevator at lobby level, about to make the ascent to your 11th floor office. Just before the doors close, a firefighter steps in.

She’s in full blaze-fighting gear. Heavy yellow rain coat. Black helmet with visor. Oxygen tank on her back. Axe in one hand.

What’s the first question that pops into your mind? Is it:

1) WHAT sort of customer-centric approach, experienced team, advanced training and leading-edge equipment do you folks operate with down there at the station?

2) HOW would you and your associates implement a world-class fire suppression and life saving initiative in a high-rise building such as this one?

3) WHY are you here? In other words, is there a fire in the building?

All Ears?

If you answered 3), you’re in the majority. The vast majority.

When placed in a situation where an elevator speech could be forthcoming, our ear for information tunes quickly to: Why should I care? Why should I care a firefighter is in my building? Why should I care this person next to me is in the SaaS business? Or plastics? Or distance learning?

My theory regarding elevator speeches — and effective marketing messages more generally — is this:

If you’re struggling to articulate a concise, compelling message,
maybe you’re answering the three key questions out of sequence.

You’re spending too much time and putting too much emphasis on:

WHAT does our organization do?, and/or

HOW do we do it?

Then maybe, just maybe, you’re getting around to WHY. WHY the person you’re speaking with (your customer or potential customer) should care?

Why, Oh Why

If you feel the need to take your organization’s elevator speech to another level, make sure you’re starting with WHY?

  • WHY: There’s this particular issue or challenge in the marketplace that matters greatly to certain people or businesses. It might even be something you, Mr. or Ms. Listener, care about.
  • WHAT: Here’s what my company does to address that issue and deliver the desired result.
  • HOW: And we do it in a way that is different, even unique, in these ways, for these reasons.

Answer three questions in the right sequence and there’s a good chance, in 100 words or less, you’ll have an elevator speech that’s considerably more compelling.

Then don’t be surprised if you find yourself with more people pressing the elevator “open door” button in order to ask for your business card.

Does your sales organization struggle to articulate a relevant, arresting elevator speech? Any secrets you want to share about getting more upside from an elevator speech? Welcome your thoughts and comments.


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