Ive come across some great e-books recently and it got me thinking about their worth in terms of content marketing. The idea of a downloadable book is genius, really. When done right, they provide readers with rich information, in such a simple and easily available format. I found a blogger who seems to be on the same page I am, and offers his reasoning for why e-books should be incorporated into a businesses content marketing strategy.
- E-books can show your strengths An e-book is a great tool that allows you to take the time to demonstrate your businesses strengths and areas of expertise. Instead of having to flush out your ideas in a couple of paragraphs (such as a blog) or limiting yourself to a couple of pages (like a whitepaper), an e-book gives you plenty of pages to explain your ideas.
- An e-book is a brilliant tool to grow your list of prospects Its almost expected to offer up your contact information when you choose to download something. Assuming you dont get spammed with sales material down the road, its really no big deal. Marketers love this common acceptance it gives them an easy way to way to build an audience profile and collect pertinent contact information. So use the e-book to your full advantage and collect the information you need for business development.
- E-books are so easy to share Like most electronic content, e-books are simple to share across various platforms. From Twitter, to blogs, to Slideshare, you can promote your e-books endlessly. Your clients and prospects are everywhere, so do your best to reach out to them in various outlets. Youll grow your brand and consequentially increase website visitors. If they liked what they read, theyll likely visit your website directly for more content.
- E-books can breathe life into blog archives A great thing about e-books is that they dont require you to start from scratch when it comes to topics. Incorporating material from your blog into your e-books is a simple way to get the ball rolling and pages filled. Expand on what youve already written, ideally choosing the content that showed positive analytics and reader feedback.
- E-books are a great compliment to your content marketing strategy Not everyone offers e-books
consider that your advantage. Blogs, for example, are common and widely expected from any successful business. However, e-books are a different story. Theyre more of an added asset, sort of like an unexpected surprise. They catch your eye, and more importantly, interest, when you see them offered. They help set apart companies from their competition and promote thought leadership in a unique way.
I couldnt agree more with these reasons for investing time and money into e-books. Speaking selfishly as a PR professional, e-books are like a gold mind. They give us the ability to reach out to journalists with an expert source who is the author of (insert number of) e-books. It makes the source all that much more credible, allowing journalists to download, read and get a sense of the companys area of expertise. The more often you put out e-books, the more resourceful youll look. So find the next marketing meeting on your calendar and add an agenda item: e-books. Put the topic on the table and see what you and your team can come up with. You may be surprised at the ideas that come forth and who knows, you may leave the room with a new action item. Already providing e-books to your website visitors? Let me know what it has done for your businesses and what your strategies are for content creation, distribution and lead generation. -Mary Evans
If you’re plugged in to the technology media (and perhaps even if you’re not), you’ve probably heard about the fiasco going down within the IDG family of publications, particularly Computerworld and InfoWorld. It’s kind of a convoluted story to those outside of enterprise tech (although ZDNet’s breakdown
is fantastic), but there’s a solid moral here so I’ll break it down via bullet points.
- Devil Mountain Software (DMS), a small software company based in Florida, regularly released memory usage benchmarks and other data through their test suite and Windows-monitoring solutions relating to Windows software and operating systems on a regular basis, usually disproving official efficiency and use ratings from Microsoft.
- As ZDNet points out, IDG publications, often InfoWorld’s blogger Randall Kennedy and Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer, tended to be first to run with this news. However, DMS information has been used in broader outlets like All Things D and USAToday.com to name a few.
- Often quoted or referenced in these articles was DMS’ CTO, Craig Barth. Keizer pointed out that he had spoken with Barth via telephone between 15 and 20 times since 2007.
- On Friday, February 19, 2010, after some digging by Keizer, Randall Kennedy admitted via e-mail to him that he and Barth were the same person.
- Firestorm ensues.
Needless to say, Gregg Keizer has apologized to his readers for using Craig Barth as a source and Randall Kennedy has been removed
from his blogging post at InfoWorld. Computerworld has gone so far as to add a disclaimer at the top of any article referencing DMS or the fictitious Craig Barth. Whether or not the statements from “Craig Barth” or the data from DMS are factual and accurate, what Randall Kennedy did is simply unacceptable – he pretended to be someone he’s not to get in the news.
Here’s how public relations plays into this whole snafu:
- The sources any reputable PR firm provides will always be the genuine article. If you get a false source from us, it costs us greatly in terms of reputation and income. It’s a risk 99 percent of agencies won’t take.
- We do the vetting on our side. As stated above, it’s in our best interest to get journalists a reputable source from a client, so we do all the vetting before pitching. Good agencies will also have source bios and background ready for the reporter or fact-checker, just to make things easier.
- We don’t want to look bad and neither do our clients. This plays into the two above points – our business hinges on our reputation, which in turn is based on how well the agency is regarded in the media. If we are known for providing solid sources, our business grows – if we are infamous for providing barely literate sources that aren’t who we say they are, our firm fails.
Would PR have stopped the Devil Mountain Software debacle from exploding? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing journalists should know that they can rely on is sourcing from a PR firm – our sources are real and we stand by them. At least SpeakerBox does.
I attended MAVAs
Seven on Seven, billed as Seven Topics, Seven Speakers, Seven Minutes. Speakers included:
Dr. Srini Mirmira, Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency, Dept. of Energy
Jack Davies, Venture Philanthropist, Venture Philanthropy Partners
Robert Kipps, Managing Director, KippsDeSanto
George Daly, Dean, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University
Patrick Coffey, Managing Director, Healthcare Credit Group, CapitalSource
Geoff Tracy, Owner, Geoff Geoffs and Lias Restaurants
Kiran Hebbar, Partner, Valhalla Partners
Though all the speakers had an interesting perspective, Chef Geoff brought down the house with his passion as an entrepreneur and his story of starting his first restaurant in a foreclosed space with a kitchen full of rotting food. He aptly described entrepreneurs as, people who see opportunity where others dont and think how hard could it be? By the time they realize how hard it is, its too late.
The common denominator, if there was one, was that opportunity exists for entrepreneurs and investors in almost every sector if you look hard enough. In energy, government, healthcare, higher education, technology -- even retail and restaurants, the passionate entrepreneur can see something that others might miss, clean out the proverbial kitchen, and come out smelling like roses or at least like soup.
-- Katie Hanusik
If you're only able to attend one webinar next month, I highly recommend checking out the free event hosted by the Technology Marketing Alliance
(TMA), which features renowned social media analyst and best selling author Charlene Li
In 2008, Charlene co-authored the bestseller "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Tecnologies"
with Josh Bernoff
- a book that has become required reading for any executive or marketer looking to launch a successful social strategy. Since Groundswell published, Li has continued her role as a thought leader on emerging technologies and evangelist on the impact of social technologies in business, and also founded Altimeter Group
, a consulting firm that provides companies with a pragmatic approach to disruptive technologies. Charlene's next book, "Open: How Leaders Win By Letting Go
," is set to publish this May.
TMA's webinar is a great opportunity to hear Li's thoughts on social media for the enterprise, and best practices for developing a social strategy. If you want more information on the webinar, TMA has more on their site
. You can also register by visiting http://charleneli.eventbrite.com/
Mary I would like to know who he thinks is a good example of a B2B tech co who is doing content marketing really well. I feel like many of the examples I always see are B2C.
I recently had the opportunity to moderate a panel of woman business owners for the SECAF Women's Forum, and took a personal interview with CEO Marissa Levin, founder of Information Experts, a $10M powerhouse in instructional design/e-learning, human capital and strategic communications for government agencies. (Marissa and husband Adam Levin at an Information Experts Dinner)Marissa has ambitious growth plans for 2010 and 2011, and reflected on the risks taken during her journey that she attributes to making her a stronger leader today. -- Elizabeth Shea
------------------------------------------I understand that you took some risks early on with your business, but I also have heard you say you are very analytical. How do you enable the two to coexist?
I am someone who has always considered the consequences of my actions, both positive and negative. Every action results in a series of reactions, both bad and good. I am also someone who believes in the universal law of exchange
you get out of something exactly what you put into it. So when I think of risk, I always think of it as a calculated risk. I think, what will be the worst possible outcome if I go down this path, and is that something I can live with?
Thats not to say that risk isnt incredibly stressful. It is. But when you are in the middle of the ocean, you have to keep swimming. Failure is not an option. But when I am faced with a precarious situation or an overwhelming challenge, I try not to get caught up in the emotion of all of it. I try to apply logic to my situation, and focus only on those things that I can control. Worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair. You can do it all day long and it wont get you anywhere. So the goal for me is to be actionable.
I also am someone who embraces growth. A yoga instructor told me many years ago that every stretch is in preparation to go further. And I think life is like that too. Every situation prepares us for the next adventure or next learning opportunity. Even the most painful, devastating events in our lives
situations in which we truly believe we dont have the strength to overcome
we somehow push through them, and then when we look back, we are able to see why things happened the way they did. I know this doesnt apply to all situations, but I think my sense of faith, and my commitment to faith also plays a very large role in me being able to handle very difficult situations.
No matter how difficult things get for me, I can still look at my big picture and appreciate the miracles in my life, and know that I am very blessed.Your business has grown very quickly, particularly in the last several years. What motivates you to strive for the next level?
I have tremendous faith in my business and my employees. I believe that what we do truly makes a difference. The government gets a bad rap very often. But the truth is that there are some incredibly passionate, intelligent, committed people in agencies all across the government and it is an honor to serve them. Also, there is so much opportunity for growth and change, and I am definitely a believer in Yin/Yang
within crisis lies opportunity.
My growth over the last few years is directly related to how much energy and time I need to give to my family. Now that my kids are a bit older, I am able to shift my energy to the business. But for quite a few years, I sacrificed the growth of my business for the development of my children. One needs to have patience to move forward and progress. Im not in a race
I simply want to give 100% to whatever I am focusing on at the time.
I am very focused on the journey, and not so much on the next level.(Marissa with her two sons)Describe your decision-making process when you assess the options around the risks you have taken. What factors do you consider?
Im definitely at the point where all of my decisions are very strategically focused. I question the link between all of our business decisions whether it is to attend a conference, join an association, make a hire, or implement a technology - and my strategic objectives. Again, I try not to get caught up in the emotion of the decision. I question whether the decision will ultimately move me toward my goal.Have you ever second-guessed your decisions made around the path you chose?
I think reflection is all part of the human experience. But I dont live with regret. I dont believe in regret. All of the decisions we have made have led us to other experiences and paths that otherwise would not have happened if we didnt choose them. Thats not to say that I believe I have always made the best decisions. Of course Ive made bad decisions. But these decisions have provided me invaluable learning opportunities. And I own those decisions 100%. I dont assign blame for those decisions to anyone else.
My path has certainly been one that a younger version of myself would not have predicted. But its been a great journey. I believe I have grown, and experienced, and learned, and shared, more than I ever thought possible for myself. For me, its always been about making the most of life, living with intention and passion, and connecting with others. And despite all that Ive already done, I am convinced that I havent even scratched the potential of what I can accomplish, of what I can learn, and what I can share with others. I truly believe my best life is ahead of me.What would you do differently if you had the chance?
I wouldnt compare myself to other women business owners who seem to have it all together more than I do.What personally drives you day-to-day, that we can learn from you?
I am driven by the quest for continuous improvement, and by the desire to help others learn from my successes and failures.What impact, if any, do you think being a woman-business owner had on your success? And what obstacles, if any, did you face?
Im very proud to be a woman business owner. I think it drives me to excel. I have faced the typical obstacles that women face: being shut out of traditional mens networks, questioning of my experience, ability, and credibility, and being told that my emotions get in the way of my ability to be productive.
What personal qualities do you rely upon to be focused in your role as chief executive?
I am very committed to my personal value system. I am very focused on the emotional well-being of my employees. I am an excellent communicator. I strongly rely on my ability to connect with others, to motivate, and to inspire. I am highly analytical, and a strong fact-finder. My decision-making process definitely begins with the end in mind
I am very strategic in my thinking.What piece of advice can you give others looking to learn from you, or follow in your footsteps?
Define your personal core value system and dont allow anyone or anything to compromise your commitment to it. Surround yourself with allies who believe in you. Surround yourself with others that can help you and teach you. Remain flexible and adaptable to market shifts. Consider life as one big continuous learning opportunity.Marissa Levin has received numerous accolades for her role in leadership, including being recognized as a 2009 Washingtonian Technology Titan, a 2010 and 2009 Smart100 CEO by SmartCEO Magazine, a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Women in Technology's Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and a winner of the Washington Business Journal's Women Who Mean Business Award and SmartCEO's Brava Award.
What will become of print publications? What can they do to stay relevant in the digital age? Ask the right person and you better be ready to strap on your boxing gloves. Everyone from PR folks and everyday readers to reporters and publishers themselves have an opinion on the matter.
- Kurt Andersen, novelist and public radio host Anything remotely resembling news media is going to continue to migrate online until very little or none of it is produced on dead trees.
- Katharine Weymouth, publisher, the Washington Post, and CEO, Washington Post Media On charging for online content: We do not charge for our content on the web and don't have plans to do so. But our content isn't free -- advertisers pay to be in front of our audience.
- Steven Brill, Founder, The American Lawyer, and co-founder, Press+, an online payment system for news sites The online version of news and information in many respects is better than the print version. It gets there faster, it's instantly updated, and often there's video. And yet that improved version doesn't command a premium; in fact, it is free.
What do you see in the future? Weigh in if youre brave enough
Hi Meghan...take a look at this research on content marketing spending. http://www.junta42.com/resources/content-marketing-spending-2010.aspx
In terms of ROI, it all depends on your specific goals as to what works best. You may want to check out contentplaybook.com that goes through all the individual tactics and when to use each. Hope that helps, and thanks!
I had the pleasure of catching up with Adam Witty
, President of Advantage Media Group
to learn more about the surprising facts of publishing a book. A book is the ultimate credibility-builder and demonstrates expertise more clearly than almost any other tactic. Its a good thing too, because very few people get rich solely because of their work as an author.
Almost 200,000 books are published a year in the U.S., but the average book sells less than 2,000 copies. According to Adam, writing a bestseller as a rookie author is akin to winning the lottery and getting struck by lightning on the same day.
The real value in writing a book is the invisible income stream that comes from positioning yourself as an expert people pay more for an expert, and leads come more easily.
Should you write a book? According to Adam, anyone selling high-ticket products or services should consider it because one new customer would pay for the publishing costs.
So, how much does it cost to publish a book? That depends. With DIY services such as Lulu
, the cost comes way down if youre able to write, edit, lay out, market and design the cover yourself (though many authors budget at least $1,000 to outsource some of the tasks). A hybrid publisher like Advantage Media may charge $10-12K on the low end or up to 6 figures on the high-end for a year-long marketing program, personalized editor and custom cover design.
And if youre really interested in making your fortune as an author, here are some of the surprising economics of book sales. An author may earn only $1-$2 for every book sold at Barnes & Noble. Retail stores sell books on consignment; 40% of the books on the shelf are returned after 60-90 days. Many of Advantage Medias best selling authors sell most of their books themselves after personal appearances or speaking engagements. If the author buys books in bulk for approximately $5 apiece and sells them for $20-$25 each well, you can do the math.
Clearly, the ROI of book publishing needs to be measured in different ways. Its not necessarily about selling books but about being an author and standing for something. So, if you have a unique perspective that you think will add to your corporate credibility write the book on it.
-- Katie Hanusik
Youve heard it from your clients: Well did you call Reporter X? What did they say about the release?
And youve heard it from your boss: Give Reporter X a call to see if they have any feedback.
Despite Twitter, e-mail and texting, picking up the phone is still a key component of the PR profession, but its often neglected in favor of easier means of communication. And rightly so, some might say with so many other means of communication, a phone call can almost be seen as intrusive, especially by busy journalists/bloggers who have much better things to do than to take a phone pitch.
If you do plan to do phone follow-up or to otherwise call a specific journalist, here are some guidelines for the PR phone call:
- Try to start via email Do your best to get the conversation started via email. Once the journalist responds to you, either positively or negatively, by electronic means, it gives you more to follow-up with rather than just Hey, did you get my email?
- Have something new On that note, never, EVER, call a journalist just to ask if they received your email - 99 percent of the time they read what you sent and they werent interested in what you said. Make sure that on the call, you have something new to tell them a piece of news you held back, a new angle, a new customer that will talk, etc. Did you get my email AND my direct message does not count as something new.
- Respect their schedule Try to understand how deadlines work at the journalists publication. Are they responsible for filing stories each day? Do they only run a weekly column? How many pieces do they write each week? Calling the journalist at a time that fits their schedule will likely give you more time to talk and they will be more receptive to hear what you have to say.
- Dont expect too much Getting feedback on something your client considers news is one thing; asking a journalist to sit on the phone for 20 minutes for a comprehensive media audit is asking a bit much. Respect the journalists time ask what you need to ask/say what you need to say, then let them get off the phone.
These are good strategies to remember, but remember if the journalist isnt interested in your email, they probably arent that interested in what you have to say on the phone either. Say your piece, ask for feedback, and let them get back to work.
This will be a good Q & A. Specific to B-to-B marketing, I would be curious to know if he has seen any research about how much of marketing budgets is being spent on content or if he has any advice on how much of the budget it should be. For B-to-B in terms of ROI what is the best platform for content marketing? Is this where Pulizzi recommends companies start?
As you’ve probably noticed, my fingers have been glued to the pages of “Get Content. Get Customers.” by Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett. I’ve shared a few of what I think are thought provoking chapters and hopefully encouraged brainstorming sessions amongst various marketing teams as a result. Admitting that I’m no expert, but just a PR professional who’s constantly asking questions and looking for advice, I’ve decided I’d like to keep the ball rolling and reach out to Pulizzi with a few questions. But before I do, I want to hear from you. What content marketing best practices are you most curious about? What stumps you and your team, or gives you the most grief? Regardless if you’ve had a chance to read the book yet or not, let me know what you’d like to hear from Pulizzi. I’ll be happy to include your questions/comments in my correspondence with him and report back his response in a Q&A format.
- Mary Evans
About a week ago, Federal Computer Week
released the 2010 version of its Federal 100
list. As always, it's an impressive "who's who" list for the federal IT community. In 1990, when the Fed 100 was born, FCW's
then-editor Edith Holmes noted that the agency officials, industry leaders and executives on the Fed 100 have acted as agents for change in the way agencies and companies develop, acquire and manage information technology. ... In many cases, the results of their efforts will be lasting. Years later, those words still define what the awards represent.
This year, we're excited to see Red Hat's Gunnar Hellekson
named as one of the Fed 100 honorees. Gunnar's work furthering open government initiatives
and open source adoption in federal agencies is impressive, and he's someone we're proud to work with and know. Congratulations to Gunnar and everyone at Red Hat on the honor!
Last week I attended Market Connections
unveiling of the 2009-2010 Federal Media and Marketing Study. In its second year, this study aims to uncover how Federal decision makers get their news and information. Some interesting findings (from my perspective):
- Respondents named 36 outlets that are key to daily news and information gathering. These broke out to 14 social sites, 28 federally-focused publications, and 12 general business and news outlets.
- Top ranking federal pubs (across the whole respondent base) were Government Executive, Federal Times, Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News, and Defense News.
- Top ranking websites were CNN, Govexec.com, MSNBC, Fox News, and the Washington Post.
- While 45% of respondents said they prefer to read trade news as a combination of print and online, another 34% said they preferred print as compared to only 13% preferring online only.
- Tradeshow attendance is skewing lower with only 46% reporting they attended a show in the past year.
- Social media continues to grow, with the biggest jump from last years survey being the usage of LinkedIn (up to 16% from 4%).
- Social media faces hurdles in becoming a business tool for government with 55% of respondents unable to access social sites at work.