What do you know about your customers? Besides the fact that they all have at one time used your products or services? Drilling down to more specific information can help you improve your content marketing strategy, says Michael Thompson on btobonline.com.
“Collecting customer preferences allows you to have a better understanding of each customer’s interests,” he says. “This information becomes even more valuable when married with ongoing activity data, giving you a full view of your customers’ buying behavior and what drives them to take action. Collecting and harvesting this information allows you to create more relevant e-mail marketing communications, providing your customers with information they want, when they want it, to drive significantly higher sales conversion rates.”

So it’s probably no surprise that Joe Pulizzi’s blog on Junta42 is one of my go-tos for great content marketing insight, and Joe’s latest post illustrates just why that is.
The post is a tough-love tirade about content marketing and how a company’s content marketing strategy will fail if the content is all about the company and not about the customers’ needs. He gives an example of content marketing that doesn’t work (sorry, Ford Motors) and challenges companies to take this content marketing test.

Jay Baer of Convince and Convert makes some compelling arguments about why a company’s social media programs should be about helping, not about selling, and lists several companies that approaching their social media programs in this correct way. From a content marketing standpoint, Geek Squad really stood out among the companies Baer name-checked. He said:
“Geek Squad makes its living providing technology configuration and repair services, via BestBuy stores everywhere. But yet Geek Squad has a YouTube channel that includes hundreds of videos showing people how to do it themselves. They aren’t trying to sell you services –- at least not at that point –- they are being helpful.”
Sounds a lot like a good content marketing strategy, too.

Kudos to Junta42’s Joe Pulizzi for appealing to burger freaks and content geeks all at once. He took a very long but interesting (not to mention mouthwatering) article about Five Guys Burger and Fries from this month’s issue of Inc. magazine and turned it into lessons about content marketing. One of my favorites:
Never cut corners on content. Your customers will notice: “Jerry (Murrell) and Five Guys gets potatoes north of the 42nd parallel because they grow slower and are more solid,” Pulizzi says. “They soak all their fries in water so they won’t absorb any oil when they are fried. The beef is never frozen and all burgers ordered are fresh. My favorite: always two slices of tomatoes…no matter what and even in the current tomato crisis. That’s Five Guys secret sauce. Your content marketing must be different in some way. I’m getting tired of all the sites I go to that simply just aggregate content all day or say the same thing as everyone else. How does that help your brand story?”
The others are equally thought-provoking. Thanks, Joe!

Earlier this year we produced a magazine that included QR codes in it for download-able apps. All a reader had to do was scan it with a QR code reader (an app available for smart phones) and the app would download instantly. Imagine if the QR code was for a coupon for your store? Pretty cool, huh?
Junta42’s Joe Pulizzi has more insight on mobile marketing trends and statistics, including:

  • 56 percent of companies plan to increase budgets for mobile marketing in 2010.
  • Marketers plan to increase their online marketing budgets by an average of 17 percent this year, drawing money away from traditional channels, like print.

Wondering how your company can reach out through this growing marketing channel? We can help!

If my coworkers are wondering why I’m walking kind of like a duck today (waddle, waddle), it’s because I did a half marathon yesterday in Knoxville. The forecast called for rain at the start line, but I consider myself and the 2,000 or so participants lucky that the rain didn’t start until I hit mile 12. It made for a very wet, cold and overall miserable final mile (and walk back to the car), but the race was fun and gave a beautiful view of a city I decided I need to visit more often.

The finish line was on the 50-yard line of Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee, which would be exciting for most Tennessee residents, but not for this Vanderbilt fan/alum. I proudly wore my Vanderbilt shirt and hat as I trotted into the end zone. (I think there’s a joke somewhere in there about Vanderbilt football being really bad, but I love my school too much to make it.)

In all seriousness, I really enjoyed being a part of this wellness event that also included a Kids Fun Run. It was a reminder of why the work I do during the day with HealthTeacher is so important — and rewarding.

A new study released today found that interactive digital magazines outperform traditional Web sites when it comes to engagement, according to BtoB.
Eighty-two percent of respondents said they were more engaged with their digital magazine than with Web sites covering the same topic. Seventy percent of survey respondents said they were more likely to ignore Web site banner ads than ads in their digital magazine.
The survey polled readers of eight interactive digital magazines that “are taking advantage of the interactivity offered by the Web and supplying readers with video, slide shows and Flash animation,” study author Josh Gordon told BtoB.
Speaking of engagement, Junta42 founder Joe Pulizzi posted a free whitepaper on the topic at his blog. It’s called “Engagement: Understanding It, Achieving It, Measuring It.” You can get it for free, no strings attached, and it includes great insight on something we’re passionate about here at Hammock.

It seems small business owners are mixed on the value of social media for business. Those who love it have seen an uptick in sales that they can tie directly to their social media efforts. Those who aren’t impressed say the time investment isn’t worth the effort, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But what effort were these businesses making? The article mentioned a few ways in which these companies used social media (customer service, direct sales leads). But nowhere was social media mentioned as a way to push out content.
At Hammock, we believe content plays an integral role in retaining and recruiting customers. But we’re not talking about just any old content. We’re talking about engaging content that people actually look forward to reading and experiencing. We call that content that works!

To compete a decade ago, a small business’ marketing budget had a great big line item called Yellow Pages advertising. Small businesses would spend hundreds of month on a tiny ad that got them nowhere compared to their competitors who spent thousands on the full-page ad.
But today, thanks to the demise of the Yellow Pages and the rise of content marketing, the game has changed, according to ContentMarketingToday.com:
“For a capital investment of $5-$10,000 a business of any size can build a credible and compelling website that integrates a blog, an eNewsletter and social media in order to compete effectively with companies that might be 10 or 100 times their size.”
An even better snippet from the post is this: “Although the website of a small business may lack some of the polish and pizazz of its giant brethren, it can be every bit as successful when it conveys content that is truly relevant and compelling for its ideal target customers.”
At Hammock, we call that Content That Works.

A new study reveals that small businesses are increasingly incorporating social media into their marketing strategies. In fact, usage of social media among small businesses has doubled over the last year: 24 percent of small businesses with fewer than 100 employees use social media versus 12 percent last year, according to the latest Small Business Success Index study performed by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
The study found that the most common social media methods among small businesses is creating a Facebook or LinkedIn page (75 percent). Only 39 percent of small businesses have a blog, and 26 percent use Twitter to share information about their area of expertise.
The study also provided insight into why small business owners are hesitant about using social media to market their businesses. Biggest barriers include longer-than- expected marketing results and the fear that social media channels give customers an opportunity to publicly criticize their business.