Monday

Content, What Content (Part 3 of 3)

For every new video you add to your site regardless of its source, if it offers meaningful information for your desired audience you should put it everywhere you can.

For every new video you add to your site, you should have a plan to ensure that you put it everywhere you can. Put it up on YouTube. Post it on your social community sites such as Facebook and Myspace. Embed the video in a blog post. Tweet a link to that blog on Twitter. Submit it on search engines like Google and Yahoo. Encourage your customers and prospects to view the video by promoting it through your enewsletter.

You can use a multi-loader service to make distribution of your video easier. A service like Tubemogul will allow you to upload a video once to multiple sites and can provide good analytical information.

A lot of people will push back at the thought of putting video out on sites they don’t control. Let’s face the facts, more than 90 percent of the videos watched online are watched through YouTube. YouTube and most other major sharing sites offer several opportunities to link your video back to your website. You need to optimize the basic information describing your videos. The title should contain a good keyword phrase. YouTube offers video descriptions directly below the playbar. Always put a link to your site at the very begging of your description. This will help increase YouTube referral traffic to your Website. These links count in Google’s PageRank system which means if you post a lot of video with links back to your site each of them will help improve your organic search ranking with Google.

Even though you’ve taken the steps to optimize the title and description of your video, including a brief branded intro and close to your video will make sure that whoever views the video will be connected to your property’s brand.

If your property’s video has meaningful information, you should have it on every platform and every site that you can. It’s an invitation to viewers to come to your site. And you can’t have too many visitors.

Thursday

Content, What Content (Part 2)

For most of my career I had a solid competitor based on the West Coast that used content that was written by advertisers. Getting a story with a byline was a component in the advertising programs they offered major advertisers. We made quite an issue of this “vendor-supplied content” when we visited with clients and prospects. It was never mentioned specifically but we always pointed out the integrity of having all of our content written by professional journalists. It was a very effective tactic and it helped us move the property up to the number one position in market share. The idea didn’t work on the media buyer for one of the largest billing accounts in the industry. In fact, she called me out on it when I was helping her put together her buy for the coming year. She asked me “What’s more important, the message or who delivers it?”

I knew exactly where she was headed. She went on “I’ve been in this industry for nearly 20 years. I’m intimately familiar with about a dozen different product types. The stories that are written by suppliers that appear in your competitor are as good as any stories that appear in your magazine or any of your competitors. The stories are informative and draw on resources you don’t have. I think they’re darn good and I think the decision makers in the industry don’t care where they come from. They just want good information.”

I couldn’t disagree with her assessment. My competitor had done a masterful job over the years making sure that the stories from industry suppliers that appeared in his publication were well written and informative. No one could point out any bias in the stories. It was solid, valuable content. This was more than 15 years ago. More than ever I believe that suppliers know that they can’t get away with claims that can’t be substantiate. The consumer has too many resources to evaluate the product thanks to all the information available on the Internet. That’s why I suggest that you look to industry suppliers to provide you with video content to post on your website.

I’m not suggesting that you post promotional videos. You can charge suppliers putting those up. Even the smallest manufacturers are creating videos that aren’t focused on demonstrating equipment for sale. There are all types available. Companies are making videos about different types of applications for products like theirs, or videos that explain how to use the equipment in a safer manner, or how to do routine maintenance and repairs. If it contains valuable information for the audience you’re trying to attract to your website or social media platform, use it. What’s more important, the message or who delivers it?

Get the word out to suppliers and let them know what you’re looking for. Be very specific and make sure every manufacture knows that the video won’t be included on your site just because it’s provided. It got to meet the standards set by your editorial team. Your editorial team will need to make sure that every tape provided is reviewed thoroughly to ensure that it’s got the right content. You’ll lose your audience quicker than you can imagine if the information in the video isn’t solid.

As you accumulate videos regarding a specific topic like maintenance, you can begin to promote your website as a hub for this type of information. Your audience will grow because of the convenience you offer of being a one-stop shop for the answers they’re looking for and industry suppliers will be working extra hard to create additional content for you because of the extra exposure they’ll receive from providing videos.

To make this effort worthwhile, you’ll want to create an enewsletter that will keep your audience up to date on new videos being posted as well as other ideas on the topic that you’re editorial team will create specifically for them. And getting their email addresses is what makes this entire effort worthwhile.

Content, What Content? (Part 1)

Earlier in the week I was speaking with an old friend who is an executive with a B2B media company. It was good to catch-up since we hadn’t talked in about 18 months. After catching up with what was going on with our families, our conversation moved on to business. I was a bit surprised to hear about the challenges his company was facing finding content for on their property websites. His company had made a significant investment in video equipment, editing software and personnel so that they would be able to create video content for their websites. Even with the significant investment in equipment and people, they weren’t getting more than a couple of videos up company-wide each week. He was pleased with the hard work the video production team was making. The team just couldn’t do anything more than produce a couple of programs per week. Additional capacity wasn’t there. Plus, the preparation for each video was consuming more time from his editors than they originally anticipated. He didn’t want to invest in additional personnel and equipment but he felt he had no choice.


From what I’ve heard from other friends at media companies, his concerns aren’t unique to his company. My suggestion to him and many of the other people I’ve spoken to is that he needs to make everyone responsible for developing video content. Let the video production team focus on high-end, sponsored work. The rest of his staff, the audience of his properties, and suppliers in the markets they serve should also be providers of video content as well.

Every face-to-face contact is an opportunity for your staff to create video. It doesn’t need to involve a video production team. Today, high definition video can be captured by a pocket video camera. These cameras are about the size of an IPhone and start recording at the push of a button. Every editor should have one as standard issue just like a laptop computer. When the editor meets a contact for an interview, the video camera should be set-up to capture the conversation. A small tripod makes this as easy as setting out a digital recorder. Since the pocket cameras don’t have a large, obtruding lens they quickly blend into the background where they’re forgotten while they capture the conversation. Pocket cameras can also record press events or product demonstrations just as easily. Best of all, your editor doesn’t need to be a professional videographer to capture these events since the cameras are designed for consumer use. All the editor needs to do is point the camera and make sure the intended target shows up on the LCD view screen on the back of the camera. All the other elements are controlled by the camera.

Most of the pocket cameras come with built-in USB connections so it’s a breeze to download the captured video onto a computer for editing. Again, a profession video editor isn’t needed for this and there’s no need to invest in software. I recommend that your editors use Windows Movie Maker from Microsoft. It’s free and an excellent product for any capable computer user to learn the basics of editing. As an example, my mother who is 75 years-old and hardly a geek needed only about 10 minutes of instruction from my 11 year-old daughter to begin editing old Super 8 films that had been converted to video. It’s intrinsic and when you run into rough spots it’s got terrific help features.

You’ve got an entire video production team just waiting to happen if you haven’t already provided them with pocket video cameras. I know there will be concern about production values. In today’s world of YouTube videos production values aren’t the concern. It’s the message delivered in the video that’s valuable to your audience.

In coming posts for this series that I’ve called “Content, What Content?” I’ll explain how you can have your audience and suppliers create valuable content for your websites. I’ll also give you ideas on how to maximize the content so that you get exposure to audiences way beyond your websites. I also look forward to you sharing any success stories you’ve had with video content. Talk to you soon!

Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.

What is your company’s sales process? If you’re like most companies I’ve worked with, the sales process is more lore than fact. When a new salesperson comes on board, he or she is given an overview of the product along with all of the marketing material that’s been developed for it. After the product training, they’re given a list of prospects and existing accounts to pursue.  Some sales reps will be successful and some won't. 

The reality is in your organization there is no sales process. In fact, most companies don’t have the resources in place to train their sales force and the sales process is undefined. Consequently, most sales people are in essence self-trained. This inconsistency sends the wrong message to the sales team. Simply that they are free to pick and choose what they want to do since the official sales process doesn’t exist at all. Worse is that your company doesn't know what it takes to be successful so you can't help other sales reps employ those tactics to improve their efforts.

Organizations that achieve greatness have a common thread to their greatness: consistency of purpose that is understood by the entire organization.

Top performing businesses like Hewlett Packard, 3M and Johnson & Johnson consistently achieve better outcomes because they work daily on enhancing the skills of their employees. Each has evaluated its processes and determined a system to achieve the best outcome consistently.  Since their employees have been instructed on what tactics work best to close sales they have consistently higher production than sales forces without a defined process.

If your sales organization does not have a sales process that is definable, repeatable and understandable, your results are much less than what they could be. Your firm can make your existing sales force much more productive by developing a sales process and training your sales force on how to apply it.  This consistency in training and message will lead to a higher performing sales staff which in turn will produce greater results that will more than cover the investment in ongoing, company-wide training.

Chuck Noll, the famous Pittsburgh Steelers coach explained the need for training best when he proclaimed “You can’t make a great play unless you do it first in practice.” If you’re firm is looking to achieve greater things, put what needs to be done on paper and make sure your entire organization knows what it takes to achieve a higher level of performance.

Let me know if you think marketing takes the place of a well-trained and coached sales force?  Or if you're using another tactic -- like social media -- to represent your company to buyers.

Monday

Radio Thrives in the Digital Age and So Can B2B Media

On August 1, 1981, MTV started as all Music Television broadcasting on its own cable network. The first music video that was shown on the new network was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. At the time that music video seemed appropriate. Everyone was asking “why would anyone be interested in a one-dimensional media like radio when they could listen to their favorite artist … and watch them perform.” Cable television was looked at as the future and all other media would shortly disappear because it would no longer be needed. Turner Broadcasting has just launched the Cable News Network (CNN) in 1980. Providing news and information 24-hours a day, seven days a week CNN was to be the end of the 5 o’clock local broadcast news. At the start of the 80s, cable television was the new kid on the block that was going to take the place of all the existing media.

Despite the prognosticators, the audience for broadcast radio continues to grow. It hit record ratings in 2010 with nearly 34 million people who turn in every week. This record audience doesn’t include younger generations that are consuming radio content on their cell phones or on their IPhones or on their Android phones or on their PC. The prediction of the demise of radio was premature. Cable didn’t eliminate radio. The demised of radio was also forecasted earlier when television arrived. And when radio arrived, it was predicted that printed newspapers would disappear because news would be delivered instantly via radio over the airwaves. The fact is that no media has ever eliminated an existing media. Radio in particular has always been much more adaptable to change.

Long before cable reached more than 80 percent of the households in the country, radio stations in all the major markets had been changing their programming regularly in an effort to attract a larger audience, or a specific demographic. These changes would occur every few years; sometimes every couple of months. It was the nature of the business. Radio was much more competitive than any other media of the time. Long before there were 96 channels of cable television or millions of websites, there were dozens of radio station in every major market. Newspapers usually had one competitor if that, and most markets only had a handful of television outlets representing the major broadcast networks.

For a radio station to be successful, it needed to establish a point of difference in the market. And points of difference were short-lived because it was easy for competitors to duplicate the programming so the business of radio has always been one of change. The emergence of cable as well as other media didn’t cause radio business leaders to give in or give up. They did what they had always done. They adapted their products and way of doing business to the challenges the market presented. Today, there are more radio stations in existence than there were in 1980.

For decades, trade publications had it much easier than radio stations. Sure, you would hear publishers and sales people complain about what their competitors were doing to screw-up the market. Regardless of which property manager you would be talking to it was always the other guy who was doing the bad deals or selling way off rate card. No matter how bad the competition was though, most trade publications only faced a handful of competitors nationwide. With a small number of outlets serving an industry segment, it was easy to create a unique selling proposition and carve out a reasonable share of the ad dollars. Being successful with a B2B publication was easy. It was easy until the Internet became the preferred outlet for information. The Internet made it easier for new content providers to reach industry decision-makers. Competition for the attention of a segment of industry decision-makers that was once the preserve of a few providers was now wide open.

The B2B media game was changed forever. Yet, many publishers don’t acknowledge that the paradigm has changed. They’ve added Internet products into their portfolio but they’re still focused on being print publishers. Every month the focus of their staff is to sell, write and print a monthly magazine. In that magazine is all of the breaking stories that the property’s editorial team has created in the month or two before. These stories will eventually be posted to the “sister” site of the magazine in the same format that it appeared in the magazine.

Radio would have disappeared a long time ago if it had pursued the course that so many B2B media executives seem content to embrace of ignoring the changes in the market. Research clearly shows that Web-based resources are the first place business leaders look to for information. Yet, instead of moving content to where the customers are, it’s delivered to where they used to be. This stubbornness won’t last for long. A business model that’s built on what the supplier is comfortable doing instead of adjusting to customer demand doesn’t have a future.

Radio has survived and flourished because it has accepted change and modified its business accordingly. B2B media would benefit by following radio’s lead.