A conversation with Convince and Convert...

As a marketing consultant, my main focus is to work with clients and companies to help them create efficient and effective marketing plans, and then to put those plans into action.  Sometimes those clients have a clear idea of what they want or need to do, and other times they are stymied by the ability to get a clear focus and plan, and then have the time and resources to execute on it.

 I help build content strategies, working with the teams involved to guide them through the steps of developing all the critical aspects.  I also perform assessments of existing programs or campaigns and assets, build editorial calendars, or define some new content types that may work best for their audiences. 

 The job varies based on needs of clients, and I try to bring all my personal tools to the table when working with a group.   You have to know how to read your internal audience to ensure they’ll succeed with whatever solutions you offer. 

 I’d like to talk about the concept of using alternative outlets and methodologies to not only create the “believers” in your organization around the importance of developing content that resonates, but also the idea of using potentially non-standard tools for content distribution and awareness.   The example I share in your question below is around Energy University which was featured in Killing Marketing and one that I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking to Robert Rose about.  It’s an online learning program that became a content marketing model and lead generation tool long before we were talking about content marketing!  It operates in marketing as a cost center but in fact can be tied to profit, which really turns the idea around and is part of what Joe and Robert talk about in their book. 

 For my general marketing support, the channels and formats are dictated more by the needs of my clients and their customers or audience.   This means that we often prepare content for use on blog sites, social media channels, web sites and special landing pages, and the creation of content that supports their messages in those areas.  

 But one of my key focuses in working with a client is to find out what their channels may be.  And that can include the channels used within their business, like partners.  Do they produce and publish content to feed their sales channel and try to make them more effective at talking about their company, their products, their solutions?  Do they have a partner program that can benefit from the same content that is produced and used for end users?  Is there sufficient communication and updates delivered to these end user-facing groups that represent your company? 

 One example of this is the use of podcasts.  Let’s say a company elects to build a podcast for their end user audience and post it on Youtube, websites, in email.   Have they also considered sharing it internally through their sales channels to empower and excite them and to ensure they have this in their toolkit before their customers notify them of the great podcast they just saw?   Conversely, podcasts are a great tool to use for a distributed workforce, remote sales teams, traveling employees. 

 So in developing the content and viewing the channels where they’d like to distribute, I usually bring this other perspective to the discussion as it is often overlooked and can be one of the most powerful ways to leverage your content and visibility. 



Sometimes a different approach to delivering content pays off in customer loyalty … and profits!

The value is clear, if we can begin gathering more data from our audiences, we can become a more competent company and enable much better business decisions across the sales and marketing spectrum. – “Killing Marketing,” Pulizzi and Rose

Finding new ways to engage audiences and build customer relationships has been a marketing drumbeat during the past decade. Many marketers are marching to that beat by pinning their usual content to the client buying cycle or journey.

But here’s the catch: What if you don’t really know where potential clients are in that journey?

You could turn that around and ask yourself, “What do clients want?” Instead of creating content driven by the features your product experts want to promote, take a step back and consider the needs of the audience you want to attract.

In other words, deliver something that’s so compelling and informative that your target audience keeps coming back for more!

This is truly possible and has happened in interesting ways for some top-notch companies. You’ll find examples in “Killing Marketing,” a thought-provoking book published by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose in 2018. The authors told the stories of several companies that had devised innovative marketing approaches to attract their target audiences – wherever they were in the buying cycle – and made them into loyal, paying customers.

Opening the door with high-value content

When I worked for Schneider Electric, our company was one of the featured stories. Our novel idea was to turn the embedded knowledge of our engineers and product developers into product-neutral, information sessions, available free in an online learning environment.

By using an e-learning platform, we were able to better understand our audience based on the data we collected. When users register for e-learning, they share a certain amount of info about themselves to gain access to the courses. And this is where the program differs from other marketing efforts: Because it’s a learning system, there’s a trust factor – they’re providing data about themselves in exchange for an educational experience.

Giving away valuable content? A crazy idea, but one that redeemed itself in customer loyalty, brand awareness, and, eventually, tying the marketing program to revenue. Inadvertently, we had become a profit center. All this from a program championed by the CMO and managed within the marketing organization!

The value is clear, if we can begin gathering more data from our audiences, we can become a more competent company and enable much better business decisions across the sales and marketing spectrum. – “Killing Marketing,” Pulizzi and Rose     

The ability to hand off a hot opportunity to sales is valuable beyond words. And if it’s a marketing program tied to the acquisition of new business, then the value grows exponentially.

Surprise and delight potential clients

But it all starts by electing to deliver something remarkable and different that gets the customer to your door. And the value that derives from this is that you transcend the product pitch, that “same old story,” and can now deliver intelligence and insights that are more about your customers. It’s a way of choosing to do better by your customers, and eventually, do better for your company. 

So, take a chance, step back and find some new way to share what you already have, but in a way that no one expected to find it. You’ll maximize your content and potentially increase your profit!  


Discovering the beauty and value of feedback~

Last fall I had the pleasure of presenting a breakout session at Content Marketing World in Cleveland. It was fun, exciting, and, as always, a challenge to be sure I was delivering “the goods.” A core tenet of the conference is to share content that’s real and relevant – something attendees can take away and put into practice.

 So, I put all my efforts into crafting what I hoped would be a session that resonated with the attendees and their current issues. In structuring the presentation into actionable areas, my goal was to share a holistic perspective of common marketing issues and to offer solutions that attendees would find useful.

 Response following the session was great – the overall rating was good, and several people followed up with me to dig into their own experiences.

 But the comments that arose via evaluation feedback were the most valuable to me. Two people thought I should have done more in terms of unearthing details and delving into more tactical solutions. It’s a fair statement, and while I could have drilled in on this area, I balanced my approach with the time available. Conversely, another comment stated that the info was very practical, “real world,” and specific to the problems faced by marketeers.


Using feedback to tailor the message

The combination of positive and constructive feedback reminded me that how people interpret input can vary greatly, depending on expectations and a person’s mental filter. We all come to the table with varying points of view based on our own experiences. So, when we build a presentation, it’s a question of being sure we’ve considered the ways in which people may see things and try to create a set of ideas that will resonate with our audience at any level – from novice to experienced.

 This is where the value of feedback hits home. Without hearing from attendees, one might not know where to improve or expand on a topic to be sure it’s well-stated, well-researched, and substantial.

 Feedback is enormously helpful to gain perspective, challenge your thinking, and calibrate how you package the knowledge or experience you’re sharing. Sometimes it works well; other times you need to revisit the presentation and determine whether it really speaks to your audience.

 The final comment offered on my evaluation was the most interesting. “She is kind and seems to speak from the heart.” So, the other aspect of feedback is that it can be human and real, motivating and energizing to the one receiving it. This tells me something about how I came across as a person and in my delivery, and I appreciated the honesty.

 Overall, any feedback provided is a gift, whether we like what we’re hearing, or not. And we should use that gift wisely to sharpen our communications skills.

 It never hurts to ask … but it always hurts not to!


The sweet spot for content distribution may be “inside the box!”

Sweet spot inside the box....get it?  :-)

Sweet spot inside the box....get it?  :-)

As marketers, we often focus our creative energies on cooking up engaging, visually rich content that tells our story, shares information and knowledge, or could produce a lead as a result. We share this through all the major channels of social media, our website, email nurturing, newsletters and so on. The external audience must be fed, and we must target them on a regular basis! 

But have you considered another channel that is often overlooked and could be your best champion? The internal sales/partner channel of your organization! These are the people who’ve committed their careers to selling your solutions, telling your story, being part of your organization. But in many cases, they were overlooked by the marketing team during the launch phases and don’t have access to the creative tools being developed for the end users. 

“Why did my customer bring this offer to my attention before my organization did?”

“When did this promotion start?”

 “Where can I find information that can be shared by email with the prospects/customers I’m working with?”

When you have an announcement, launch, or new message, consider the internal sales and partner channels as your first “go to” team. This group is hungry for cool stuff with which they can dazzle their prospects and customers! It’s a way to open a conversation with them about something they may want to know, or learn from.    

Consider developing content that is multipurpose and targets both your customers and your sales teams. Take a two-pronged approach of internal-and-external audiences (thinking both inside and outside the box).   

Tools that work well for your customer/prospect audiences, also work well for your sales channels!

--> Podcasts:  Who doesn’t love a podcast during drive time or while waiting for a flight? They’re great for quick consumption of information and updates. Deliver an executive-level podcast to taret those audiences who don’t have time for lengthier material. Share it with your sales teams, who are always looking for solid, useable, and effective information on their industry and issues.

--> Web-based videos: Serves the same purpose and allows you the visual component to increase interest – short consumption, deep impact, and retention with your audience. 

--> Interactive infographics: Still a fan favorite with many, infographic formats are a great tool for delivering top data points, figures, imagery, and, on occasion, can be interactive in design.  They’re flexible for web use and can be easily shared for distribution. 

This may seem like a simple and logical approach, but it's a "boots on the ground" way of ensuring you have a committed sales force that has direct ties to marketing, understands the work taking place by that team, and can help create an open stream of information between marketing and the customers.

Whenever I bring this into the conversation, it's a moment of clarity and untapped opportunity – make it your “aha” moment and leverage the great content within your organization to see how well-received and leveraged this content can become!

Podcast: Interview with Rakhal Ebeli, CMO Newsmodo

Podcast interview with Rakhal Ebeli, CMO Newsmodo

Knowledge-Marketing image.jpg

Deep knowledge and expertise almost always lies at the core of every successful company and organisation, yet often, that wisdom remains largely untapped, unexplored and underutilised.

Through the sharing of theories and best practices, it’s known that end users are more inclined to be attracted to you, develop trust, and then logically be willing to do business with you in the future too.

A great example of this was when Schneider Electric leveraged an innovative concept that utilised online learning as a mechanism for reaching new audiences, which, in turn achieved an enormously high rate of new leads and ultimately increased revenue. This uncommon method of reaching end users captured the attention of thousands globally and achieved over $13 million in associated business over the course of 12 years.  

With the help of Susan Hartman, who was the Global Director for Content Marketing at the time, we’ll be unpacking that case study and learning how to tap into existing expertise and resources of an organization… then market that knowledge base to add value to our customers and leads.

Newsmodo CEO Rakhal Ebeli talks to Susan about what you could be doing to identify unique and valuable knowledge lying just below the surface of your business, and then how to plot a path to share that wisdom with your customers.

Source: http://newsmodo.com/2017/10/30/knowledge-m...

“Knowledge marketing” isn’t a new thing….



In fact, it’s been around for awhile, but not something most companies or organizations think of as a marketing tool…

Eleven years ago, I was on a team tasked with developing a series of online courses based on the company’s in-house experts.  They were about to launch the program in an externally-facing learning platform with the idea that this would become a free resource to end users over time.  The key to the courses is they focused on theories and best practices in the specific industry and would be free to anyone who registered via an online form that asked the user for basic information.   

Offering the expertise of the company seemed like a radical idea at the time, and offering it for free seemed even worse! 

But we pressed on and launched the program.  One year later, we’d achieved thousands of new names and users in the site, 6 major industry associations had endorsed or promoted it within their membership, and we had helped to identify 3,000 new business opportunities! 

Eleven years later, as the evolution of the program continued, more association recognition, global sustainability awards, strategic corporate relationships, and translation into 14 languages helped us achieve 1 Million courses taken and 600,000+ registered users! 


So here’s what we learned over time:

1.       The Thirst for knowledge is strong:    

Despite the level of education or experience, professionals are continually seeking new ways to learn and grow, and to have a “hands on” experience that is relevant to their jobs. 


2.       Gaps in learning are everywhere:   

All countries, all levels of an organization, and in all company sizes.   Some countries can’t get access to formal learning, or don’t have the resources, so the free online access leveled the playing field for many for the first time.


3.       Talent and skill in practical form is needed ongoing:   

And isn’t always found in formal education---users come for career advancement, promotion, to remain competitive, to keep up with their staff, to learn where the industry is moving and learn the most current theories and practices in their industry.   


4.       People naturally look to organisations with high levels of expertise and knowledge:   

 If your company or organization is a well known brand, this is a great way to leverage relationships.   If you’re brand isn’t known as well, this is how you can build it!   


5.       The program is offered free of charge:   

This may not work for all companies, but consider that you can gain greater value in offering some portion of your knowledge for free before charging.  The greater upside was based on trusted relationship building and developing an educated consumer base. 

Explore how you can utilize the in-house knowledge or expertise of your organization and reach audience in a uniquely different way.   The brand that wins the deal in a comparative analysis is the brand that made the effort  to share their expertise and gain a trusted relationship long before the buying stage.   You want to be that brand.    



"Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith." --Margaret Shephard


And so it was that after spending 11 years working in a global marketing organization running a brand awareness program and building a content marketing methodology across multiple business units … I decided it was time to make a leap of faith and find new ways to share my experiences and work with new organizations as a marketing consultant!

From theory to results

The idea of stepping into this role had been brewing for some time, and in this age of diverse opportunities and changing skill sets, it seemed like the right time to take my show on the road.

I've worked for six Fortune 500 corporations, collaborated with marketing teams in over 20 countries, trained marketers and salespeople globally in person or via WebEx delivery, launched new programs and products and built marketing strategy plans around them, and navigated the excitement of an Internet IPO. 

It’s exciting to look back across your body of experience and realize that just when you think you’ve seen it all, something new always comes along!

What’s new and fascinating about marketing are the directions it’s taking these days: the innovative ways we identify with our audiences, create messages that speak to what people need and want, and deliver information and knowledge that was previously unshared with our customers. There are so many creative tools available to help develop and distribute these messages and knowledge—visual, dynamic, interactive tools!

When organizations embrace the concepts of content marketing and change the structure of the conversation with their customers, the upside is enormous.

Real-world examples

In the coming weeks, I’ll share more about some of these innovative companies, as they are part of the Content Marketing World conference taking place September 5-8 in Cleveland OH. It’s a week full of energy, ideas, and innovation that I’ll try to capture and pass along.

I’ll also be presenting a session on a topic that’s been dear to me during my time at Schneider Electric: the idea of using an e-learning platform to deliver your organization’s knowledge and expertise, and, as a result, creating huge brand awareness and trust with your customers. I’ll post the presentation and worksheet following the conference, but feel free to contact me anytime with questions about this topic!