Content Marketing/Storytelling/Writing

B2B Storytelling Research for Content Marketing

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

After I started wandering around the web looking for good examples of B2B storytelling, I found a few resources that required a deep dive.

Yes, I got diverted.

One is a conversation with B2B content strategist Ardath Albee* of Marketing Interactions where I asked her for a good example of hers on B2B Storytelling since she’s among the industry’s experts. She gave me a good example and I’m waiting for her to answer a few questions before I write a post on it.

Madetostick book coverAnother is a book I stumbled upon when I followed a Carol Tice tweet that led me to The Word Chef – who has a concept I thought of using when I first started freelancing since my last name is Baker, but discarded thinking it was too corny. (For her, it works!)  On Tea Silvestre’s Word Chef blog, she has a list of 30 marketing books she recommends, and I jumped at the chance to read Made to Stick when I learned my library had a copy.

How do you create ideas that stick is the question answered by brothers Chip and Dan Heath in their book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

They suggest using a simple principle to create sticky ideas:

Create simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional stories.

success clip made to stick

I promise to write a review post, and I’ll recommend every content marketer, especially B2B marketers, read it to improve or start their storytelling.

I also found an interesting post by Phil Johnson on Forbes called Not Just for Bedtime, Marketers Corner the Market on Storytelling.

In it, Johnson has three tips on how corporate marketers can adopt storytelling but not confuse it with marketing. His tips echo the Made to Stick principles:

  • If your story does not reveal something personal and unknown about the person or brand, it’s going to be boring.
  • If your story does not tap into a specific emotion – whether it be fear, desire, anger, or happiness – it will not move people to action.
  • If your story does not take people on a journey where there is a transformation between the beginning, middle, and the end, it’s not a story.

I also want to interview the creative artists at 321 FastDraw, who draw wonderful stories – they call them Telestrations – on white boards. I discovered their wonderful videos when writing stories on Seattle and Microsoft for the Kaufmann Foundation’s entrepreneurial site ID8 Nation.

 Tell me: Do you have any great storytelling tips or resources for marketers that I should check out as part of my research? I’d love to explore more.

*Full Disclosure: Ardath is a client.

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Content Marketing/Journalism/Writing

Why B2B Marketers Hire Journalists to Create Content

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Why B2B Marketers Hire Journalists to Create Content

(I’m busy gathering additional samples of good B2B content since story telling is top of mind for many marketers. In the meantime, I was asked why journalists are being touted as good hires to create content. Here’s my take.)

A number of content marketing experts are telling corporations to hire experienced journalists, which they sometimes call brand journalists, (a term that causes me to wince – here’s why) to create a lot of the content needed for lead nurturing programs, web site copy, and other marketing materials.

NRMPR-book_aThese experts include David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, Joe Pulizzi, author of Epic Content Marketing and co-author of Get Content Get Customers, and Ann Handley, co-author of Content Rules.

Businesses of any size looking to create great content have a simple solution: hire a journalist says Scott.

Adds Pulizzi:

 Let’s face it: Marketers are busy focusing on driving demand for their products. It’s difficult to step back and think about products from the customer’s informational perspective. But that’s just what journalists’ do.

Why journalists, you may ask. And don’t all of them work for newspapers or magazines, you may wonder.

Many journalists lost their jobs during the recession, others saw what was happening and left on their own. From 2000 to 2010, the last time I looked, 66,000 journalists had lost their jobs due to layoffs. Here’s a sampling of the 30,000 or so that lost their jobs in the three years of 2000 to 2003, which I mentioned in my first blog post. So there are a lot of journalists looking for work.

Scott, Pulizzi and Handley, who previously was a journalist, recognize that journalists possess the skills and training that allow them to create interesting, compelling content effortlessly.

content rules book cover

17 Reasons Marketers Should Hire Journalists

Journalists:

  • Know how to tell a compelling story with tension
  • Are great listeners and superior interviewers
  • Are quick studies and critical thinkers
  • Are resourceful and full of creative content ideas
  • Know how to research and find things quickly

They also:

  • Are experts at dealing with deadlines
  • Easily juggle multiple tasks
  • Think and organize before they write
  • Use snappy, active words
  • Keep themselves out of their writing

Get Content cover

 

And, they:

  • Write tight
  • Write conversationally
  • Shun adjectives, puffery and jargon
  • Write short sentences moving readers along
  • Often can summarize a story in a great headline
  • Know how to change writing styles to match different audiences and media types
  • Provide an outsider’s view of your company

 

The ability to write tight, get to the point quickly and keep things simple are concepts every corporation needs, whether they are selling a product, building a brand or looking for leads. Journalists are a good match to help busy marketers that need to focus on more strategic aspects of their jobs.

 

What traits am I missing? Are there other reasons for hiring a journalist for B2B content creation?

 

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Content Marketing/Writing

Great B2B Storytelling in Content Marketing

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Great B2B Storytelling in Content Marketing

I’ve just completed the first draft of an advisory for B2B marketing with an agency I’m excited to be working with. I’ve done a ton of research on what’s happening in B2B marketing and content marketing, where one of the themes is the adoption of storytelling. Naturally, I found myself wondering:

Who’s doing great B2B storytelling?Ike snip

I know one super example – Cisco Systems.

Cisco created its own IT superhero, Ike Theodore (IT) Willis, and made highly entertaining animated videos about Ike’s IT challenges.

Ike has his own Facebook page and seven video episodes at last count. His popularity prompted Cisco to create its own IT Championships where 3,000 IT geeks slugged it out for a chance to win a trip to Hawaii.

Don’t be surprised if Cisco turns this into an annual challenge. What a great demonstration of going way beyond thinking of the customer to create engaging content that its customers – IT geeks – look forward to receiving and coming back to see what’s next.

But Cisco’s efforts don’t stop there.

The California based networking giant also produced a short documentary about how service providers – one of its target customer groups – pioneered the development of the telecommunications network in a series called The Network Effect. It not only garnered a lot of YouTube love but it was broadcast on TV.

The Network effect is being called a good B2B example of Transmedia storytelling. What’s that? It’s a term coined in the entertainment and movie business the refers to dividing chunks of a story across multiple platforms to form one cohesive narrative.

So who else is doing great B2B Storytelling?

I have a list that I’m developing for a second post, but in the meantime, tell me who you have noticed in the comments below.

 

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Case Studies/Content Marketing/Writing

Case Study: New Pages, Blogging Boost Traffic for Law Firm

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Case Study: New Pages, Blogging Boost Traffic for Law Firm

One reason I haven’t been too attentive to my blog is that I’m knee deep launching a blog for my client Integrative Family Law. I’m helping Carol Bailey and her team dip their toes in the blogging waters as part of an overall content marketing strategy to attract new clients.IFL Logo Snip

As editor of the blog, I gave them a list of 25 potential topics on divorce and family matters, which are their main practices of law. We launched the blog after I rewrote some of their website pages.

The attorneys chose from the idea list or come up with their own topic and then I edit out legalese, write a headline, add subheads, and come up with a question to encourage comments. Then I source potential photos and add them to the posts. I also upload the posts and manage their editorial calendar.

Summer is typically slow for divorce attorneys, but nonetheless, unique visitors to the site jumped 16 percent from May to July, which shows how adding new and relevant content to your website and blogging can have a large impact.

What are we writing about?

Divorce is big business, and people have a lot of questions about many aspects. We’re starting out with a lot of basics, jumping on news when it shows up in national media outlets, and including statistics to offer a variety of topics.

Here are some of the headlines:

  • Child Custody, Divorce & Moving: What Parents Need to Know
  • Get Parental Rights in Writing & Avoid This
  • Protecting Your Heart during a Divorce 
  • DOMA is Unconstitutional; What the Ruling Means
  • Divorce: How to Pay Less & How to Survive 
  • Divorce: What you Need to Know & Do Financially
  • Divorce with Children: What You Need to Know 
  • Divorce: 4 Things You Need to Know & Do Now
  • Divorce Statistics for Washington State, the Nation

  

In addition to the blogging, I’m writing a Divorce Guide that we’ll have available for prospects to download in exchange for their email addresses so we can create an email list of prospects to nurture.

 

 

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blogging/How To/Writing

Blogging Cheat Sheet

Posted by M. Sharon Baker

I’m setting up a blog for my client and overseeing 6 or 7 people who for the most part, haven’t blogged before.

In addition to setting up an editorial calendar, I’m also creating a Blogging Cheat Sheet, which I wanted to share.

 Blogging Cheat Sheet

  • Posts should be around 350 to 500 words.
  • Stick to one topic/idea.
  • Try to think about what your clients might be interested in knowing.
  • Try to create a catchy headline.
  • Graphics, pictures, charts and links are encouraged.
  • Subheads help the reader along.
  • End with a call to action that invites comments.
  • Remember to respond to each comment.
  • Promote via social media in a way that’s engaging.

 

What other handy tips and ideas do you keep top of mind when you are writing blog posts? I’d love to add your thoughts to my cheat sheet.

 

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