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8 Writing Lessons from Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

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As a marketer, you write—regardless of your specific role, or which company you work for.

I’m a writer right now, as I write this blog. I’m a writer when I create session descriptions for my presenters at conferences. I’m a writer when I communicate with my sales team. I was a writer when I created the slides for my webinar, 8 Biggest Mistakes Field Marketers Make. You get my point. All marketers are writers in some capacity.

So, when Ann Handley titled her book, Everybody Writes, she was SPOT ON. And I was intrigued. Sometimes it can take a while to motivate yourself to read a professional development book­—so my apologies for being a little late to the game with this report. But, the topic simply does not expire, so I hope you’ll still find value in the top 8 writing lessons I took away from Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes:

1. Writing Can Be Learned

I like to think that I’ve been a decent writer for most of my days. On the flip side, I’ve been drawn to dating those with less aptitude for the craft (to put it nicely). And it warms my heart to hear Ann say that this skill can be honed even without the “original gift.” The difference between good and bad is hard work—and trying extremely hard to improve.

 

2. Make The Beginning of Your Sentence MATTER

Drop the modifiers and qualifiers. Give your reader exactly what you want to say instead of coloring your sentence with phrases like:

– In my opinion…

– The purpose of this email is…

– I think that…

Be stronger and just say what you mean!

3. Reframe Your Writing Goals

Don’t set an arbitrary time metric for your dedicated writing. Instead, think about your goals around output (words). As Ann put it, “I’d rather produce 500 awesome words than 10,000 terrible ones.” Just like most things in marketing, it’s about quality, not quantity.

4. Don’t Be Lazy: Fact-check!

There is nothing more embarrassing for a writer than to have a simple misspelling of a company name or include a link that points to the wrong destination. Take the time to check that everything you’ve written is exactly how you intended it to be—FACTUAL. Avoid making these obvious mistakes. Like the one time I saw someone misspell their CEO’s name in a tweet…

5. Length Guidelines Exist for Most Content

Wondering how long your various pieces should be? This can vary based on your audience’s preferences but to get started, Ann includes a quick-and-dirty guide for 11 kinds of content:

  • Blogs (1,500 words)
  • Email subject lines (50 or fewer characters)
  • Website text line (12 words)
  • Paragraph (3-4 lines maximum)
  • YouTube video (3-3.5 minutes)
  • Podcast (22 minutes)
  • Title tag (55 characters)
  • Meta description (155 characters)
  • Facebook post (100-140 characters)
  • Tweet (120-130 characters)
  • Domain name (8 characters)

We shall see if I hit the coveted 1,500-word count on this blog!

6. Using “Free” Is Okay Again?

I put a question mark here because I’ll admit, I’m a little skeptical about this one. Ann points to our hesitation, as marketers, to use the word “free” because of the belief that it will 100% trigger a spam filter. But Ann quotes Carolyn Nye, writing in PracticalEcommerce, that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are now working with more advanced filtering techniques. But Nye cautions against the following (a list that I plan to print and post next to my computer):

  • Too much punctuation or capitalization in the same subject line
    • Examples:
      • Can you believe what we have to offer?!READ THIS:
      • Hot new deal for you!
  • Starting your subject line with $
    • Avoid things like:
      • $50 gift card for speaking with us
      • $100 discount inside
  • False promises in your subject lines

7. Personalization Is Powerful

Leveraging the power of your engagement platform, you can make your emails more personal than ever—with tokens, but also nurture and predictive content. One such reference is using the recipient’s first name in the subject line with an almost 3% lift in open rates.

8. Tools Exist To Help Record Your Thoughts 

You’re not always by a notebook or computer, but that shouldn’t stop you from capturing your great idea when it strikes. And so that’s why I think this lesson is really cool. I would love to blog on my commute to work instead of needing to be at my computer. Or maybe whenever the inspiration arose! I’ve jotted down a few tools to check out based on Ann’s recommendations—Dragon Naturally Speaking, Rev, and Speechpad.

Granted, these are just a few things that I highlighted to myself. There was a lot of other great tips, and practical examples in the text—so be sure to pick up a copy today! Ann is often on the road as well, so maybe you can be lucky enough to get your copy signed ?

Anyone else pick up any good tidbits from their reading of this book? Are there any other great books that help you with your writing? Write in the comments below to create our own little virtual book club!

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GDPR: An Opportunity To ‘Play To Win’ In The Engagement Economy

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Success in the Engagement Economy hinges on customer engagement. By creating experiences that feel personal and human, that are founded on trust, and delivered with care we will win the hearts and minds of our customers.

To build and maintain that trust and care we, as marketers, need to be attuned to the how, when and why our customers want to be engaged and respect their preferences.

How these preferences are managed and respected, as well as being good practice, is the subject of a significant piece of European Union (EU) legislation—General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—that went into law last year and after a 2-year grace period will be enforced from 24th May 2018.

As a marketer, what impact will this have on you? We’ll explore this further in this blog and for more guidance, you can download the SiriusDecisions GDPR Core Strategy Report, which introduces a step-by-step guide to their Implementation Framework.

Seize The Opportunity Presented by GDPR

Rather than looking at GDPR as an obstacle, marketers should seize the opportunity offered by GDPR. The opportunity is to ensure our marketing practices live up to our promise to listen to our customers and provide them with an experience that is informed by our understanding of their behavior’s and preferences. The arrival of this legislation provides marketers with a chance to look at their data management policies, and ask themselves some hard questions about their processes and systems, but more importantly, it gives them the opportunity to do things better.

As a consumer, I have never thought “I wish Company A marketed to me more” or “I wish Company B would send me more email”. Yet, as marketers, we often fall into the trap ‘more is better’. More emails. More event invitations. More retargeting.

Winning the hearts and minds of your customers requires the delivery of authentic and personalized experiences. This requires that we understand their preferences but also respect those preferences. So if GDPR puts a stop to bad practices that deliver ineffective and damaging marketing then that can’t be a bad thing.

An Overview of The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR is broad in scope and your own legal team will need to offer counsel as it relates to your business. At its core, it sets out to strengthen the data protection rights of EU citizens across several areas. Here are some key aspects of the legislation:

  • Collection of personal data: Though not the only consideration for marketing, one of the key areas GDPR impacts marketers is the requirement for consent from customers before compiling and using personal data for marketing purposes (see below for an explanation of the two different levels of consent).
  • Who does it apply to? It is worth noting is that GDPR applies to any organization inside or outside the EU who is marketing goods or services and/or tracking the behaviors of EU citizens. If you do business with Europe this legislation applies to you.
  • Repercussions for noncompliance: Punishments for non-compliance are significant, with large fines for those in breach of the regulation. (The maximum fine for a single breach is €20 million / 4% of annual WW turnover—whichever is greater).

Consent

Affirmative consent applies to the communications preferences of customers in most circumstances. It requires ‘a clear affirmative act’ that establishes ‘informed and unambiguous consent’. A clear affirmative act can be described as express consent or as an opt-in—they are the same. Sensitive personal data, however, requires a higher level—explicit consent. Techniques such as double opt-in and cookie notices are established methods of gaining affirmative consent and are used today in Canada and Germany, both of which have already adopted tighter legislation.

Explicit consent is required for certain processing of sensitive personal data, profiling activities or cross-border data transfers. Sensitive personal data is described in Art. 9(1) of the GDPR and includes categories such as physical or mental health data, racial or ethnic origin, trade union membership, etc. While the GDPR does not separately define the term “explicit consent”, it likely retains the same meaning as given to it by the Article 29 Working Party under Directive 95/46/EC; “all situations where individuals are presented with a proposal to agree or disagree to a particular use or disclosure of their personal information.” Unfortunately, the distinction between affirmative consent and explicit consent is not altogether clear and hopefully, guidance on this topic will be forthcoming.

Of course, customer preferences change over time and rarely exist in perpetuity and GDPR has something to say about this too— namely that organizations, specifically marketing, make it easy for any changes in preference be easy to make.

If we are truly building customer relationships based on trust and care, then this should not cause fear. As a Marketo customer, you have the tools your marketing team needs in order to comply with GDPR, for instance, you can quickly and easily build an email preference center in Marketo, check out this great example.

Accountability & Compliance

An important principle within GDPR is the notion of accountability, namely that anyone storing or processing customer data must be able to demonstrate how they comply with the principles.

Forward-thinking companies are already reviewing and updating data processes, employee skills, and appropriate technologies as they rethink organizational compliance.

The SiriusDecisions Data Privacy Compliance Model helps organizations understand the building blocks needed to establish a comprehensive compliance program. We have licensed the report for your use and you can download the SiriusDecisions Core Strategy Report here.

Has your organization started tackling GDPR? Do you have a dedicated team or resource working on it? We would love to hear how other marketing organizations are getting their hands around GDPR—tell us how you are doing in the comments below!

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Enterprise Ecosystems

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Plenty has been written about bringing products or services to market. Practices have been developed to manage both direct and indirect sales channels. Literature has been written about product development models versus customer development models. And, the traditional process of creating demand is now very well known.

However, the exponential growth of products, solutions, and applications in the B2B space have created a new type of a sales channel—one that resembles, something we’re all familiar with, an appstore. In fact, leading platforms, like Marketo, have taken notice and built ecosystems and programs to facilitate the discovery of complementary independent software vendors (ISVs) for their customers.

These ecosystems require a fundamental change in how ISVs think about managing sales opportunities. Specifically, some questions an ISV should be able to answer include: How to quantify the opportunity? Do you need a dedicated person to manage the engagement and who should that person be? And, which ecosystems make sense to participate in? But unfortunately, the reality is that many organizations struggle to successfully evaluate and manage the opportunity. This blog will take a look at how you can successfully navigate the galaxy of enterprise ecosystems and choose a partner and an ecosystem that will work for your business. 

Find The Right Partner

The growing number of opportunities—in the form of an appstore, a program or an ecosystem—means that you’re more likely than ever to find one that offers the right product-market fit and therefore helps you promote your product.

As you look for the right partner, it’s important to consider the benefits a program offers and how the platform’s program drives success for its participants. As you evaluate, you’ll find that some programs are backed by a solid plan to help you drive business, while others merely provide affiliate options. Make sure the program you choose has offerings that make sense for your business in its current phase, and as you look toward the future. For example, an early-stage startup may not need the same acceleration options that a later stage startup needs.

After carefully considering those criteria, you’re likely to end up with only a handful of programs to choose from. Ask yourself how many “merchants” are already promoting their merchandise in that ecosystem and its respective program; will you be able to stand out? Or, is this market saturated? Consider the distribution and the growth of the platform’s customer base. Ask yourself if the ecosystem is a known and established place to promote solutions like yours, or if you will standout—either as a refreshing outlier or an odd one. Then, prioritize your options and register for the program where you’d like to publish your solution/product/app listing. You should be able to quickly identify and validate if the right customers are there and will react positively to your product.

Assess The Opportunity 

Many marketers and business development (BD) folks I have met underestimate the opportunity they have in aligning their go-to-market strategy with a large enterprise ecosystem. Most of them will size the opportunity by multiplying the number of customers the enterprise ecosystem is exposed to, with a wishful penetration rate, and their average sales price (ASP). While this calculation can offer a good estimate, it hides some components of revenue that are directly influenced by the ecosystem. By using Little’s Law, you can demonstrate that the revenue contribution of the business is a factor of four elements:

  1. The number of sales opportunities at any given time
  2. The average contract value
  3. The win rate
  4. The length of the sales cycle

Let’s look at an example using these four elements: If you typically work on 20 opportunities at a time and you think that participating in an enterprise ecosystem’s program can change it to 25, and if you estimate that your close rate will grow from 20% to 30%, and that the tighter alignment with the platform vendor will help you shave 10 days off your 100 day sales cycle, bringing it down to 90 days, you have just forecasted your business to double.

So, when marketing or BD plans their business, it makes sense for them to identify which of these parameters their participation in an ecosystem program is going to impact and evaluate if the platform vendor has a plan to help them achieve those goals.

The highly focused ecosystems also make a great foundation for your ABM strategy. Enrolling in an app/solution ecosystem should dramatically affect your teams’ ability to focus on a segment of accounts.

Manage The Channel Opportunity

Managing the opportunity an ecosystem provides requires commitment on your end as well as from the enterprise. Don’t just sit back and wait for your business to grow.

On your end, hire a person who can be the general manager of your ecosystem business, and who will ensure that the program gets the right marketing and product support from both sides. Hiring someone who can simply manage the relationship won’t suffice.

From the enterprise ecosystem that you choose, you should expect a solid infrastructure of partner folks, not only in the ecosystem business but also under sales and marketing. Without this infrastructure you will mostly likely interact with partner managers who have good intentions but can’t translate that into making a difference in the field.

Navigate The Partner Galaxy Fearlessly

Undoubtedly, it makes sense for ISVs to take advantage of the programmatic opportunities platform vendors offer to connect and promote complementary solutions to their customer base. While these programs vary by structure, distribution, maturity, and saturation of the ecosystem it’s important to choose one that most benefits the type and phase of your business.

At Marketo, we’re always working to make our Launchpoint ecosystem an optimal experience for not only our customers who are coming to look for technology that offers seamless data integration and platform augmentation, but also for our partners who we are now offering the opportunity to grow their business via a combination of new platform technologies and a growth acceleration program.

Lastly, don’t forget, a towel is the most important item a Hitchhiker can carry. ?

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3 Steps to Building an Employee Advocacy Strategy

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I recently had the pleasure of attending one of the biggest marketing conferences of the year—Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit.  A gathering of hundreds of marketing executives, partners, and thought leaders from around the world came together to learn about the latest marketing trends and strategies in the new “Engagement Economy”.

The “Engagement Economy” represents a clear shift in the way marketers communicate with customers. It focuses on delivering a personalized and authentic experience that stems from trust and commitment. To succeed in this new climate, you must adapt your tactics and shift your brand to become more human and digital native-friendly.

But how can you embrace this new concept? How can you bring it into the present? Simple—with employee advocacy. Employee advocacy allows you to fast forward your social media marketing strategy by empowering employees to share organic content across their personal profiles, in turn, driving brand awareness, engagement, and lead generation. To get started, here are three steps to building a successful employee advocacy strategy:

1. Identify Your Goals and KPI’s

Like with any social media strategy, you need to envision what success looks like. What goals are you trying to achieve? Which metrics will you use to measure those goals?

To make things easier, here are two groups of metrics you can focus on:

  • Tactical Metrics: These metrics (also known as early stage metrics) give you a granular insight into the success of individual posts, networks, and employees. It includes impressions, shares, clicks, etc.
  • Revenue Metrics: These metrics (also known as mid- and late-stage metrics) play a larger role in giving you an accurate picture of how advocacy drives opportunities and revenue for the business. For example, tracking leads, cost per lead, and closed deals will help you identify the program’s true ROI. For a more complete picture of how advocacy impacts sales, you can integrate your employee advocacy platform with your engagement platform/marketing automation and CRM to see how leads collected by employees turn into revenue by sales.

2. Understand which Content Types will be Shared

The oft-cited “Content is King” saying applies to employee advocacy too. First, your content must align with your goals, and second, it needs to be relevant to your employees’ role in the company and type of audience.

At the very least, it should include the following:

  • 70% original content: The bulk of your content should be original—articles, white papers, videos, case studies, webinars, etc. that have been created by your marketing team and are lead generating.
  • 20% curated content: Besides promoting our own product or service, employees should receive valuable third-party content to educate their audience in a less self-promotional manner.
  • 10% suggested content: The best way to empower employees to share content is by allowing them to suggest useful topics. This will go a long way to demonstrate your appreciation for their work.

3. Select Employee Advocates & Establish Buy-In

While every employee can benefit from participating in an advocacy program, you must determine which employees most effectively deliver your message. Customer-facing employees, particularly in sales, marketing, and customer success, should be your top priority to engage and retain in your advocacy program. And, that’s not to say that your other employees don’t have value—because they do. It’s your goal to ensure your employees remain invested in the program by reiterating the value to them.

There are two ways to incentivize employees. First, through tangible rewards, which have a monetary value, such as gift cards, restaurant vouchers, and movie tickets. The alternative is through intangible rewards, which have a long-term meaning, including:

  • Social Selling: Your sales reps are going to benefit the most from being advocates. 78% of salespeople who utilize social media as part of their sales techniques outperformed their non-social peers. The result is that they have a much greater impact on revenue and business growth.
  • Thought Leadership: This is an invaluable status to have today. Actively sharing quality content turns employees into a credible and sought-after influencer in the industry. With this trustworthy voice, they have the ability to drive more traffic and leads for you.

Ready, Steady, Go!

The new era of Engagement Economy is here and it’s up to you to make the transition. Today, the smartest B2B marketers are going into the future with a strategy that aligns business goals with a personalized customer experience. A well-planned employee advocacy program can help you make that transformation, from boosting your online brand to driving positive social media ROI.

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7 Ways To Boost Your Organic Reach On Facebook

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Yes, you’re not imagining it, it’s becoming even harder to get your company Facebook posts seen. Facebook has published some information (via their blog) on their changes in January & May, but savvy observers have noticed changes every month of 2017 so far. We’ve also seen other social networks take steps in the same direction: winnowing down organic posts seen by users to include only the timeliest, most relevant, or those in a preferred format.

What does that mean for a social media marketer? Your organic Facebook posts may be seen ONLY by your hardest-core followers (your most devoted fans) who have a history of reacting to and sharing your content. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for responding to Facebook’s 2017 algorithm changes and get the best mileage out of your posts:

Do—Try Livestreaming a Video

Among other recent changes, Facebook says it is favoring video in the News Feed. For example, if a user watches all or most of one particular video, they are more likely to see similar videos in their feed. Also, videos now play with sound defaulted to ‘on’, if the device isn’t in silent mode. Maybe this is the right time for you to post more videos and/or try Facebook Live? Maybe stream a discussion or interview with a subject matter expert instead of (or in addition to) writing a blog?

Don’t—Go Live, If You’re Not Truly Live

If you do “Go Live,” it had better be actual live video, not just looping animation or a poll that’s trying to rack up engagement. Facebook has caught on to those tricks and is no longer rewarding them. They’re also cracking down on the use of live video to share violent scenes (to the tune of a few thousand new employees tasked with seeking out and removing such content).

Do—Encourage Employees to Share Your Posts With Their Networks

Facebook says the News Feed favors a user’s family, friends & “core value” content. They tell us those user-generated posts get 7 times more engagement than a typical post from a brand. This could be a great reason to implement or re-energize your employee-advocacy program, where you encourage employees to share your posts. Don’t just stop at Facebook, be sure to include other networks while you’re at it.

Don’t—Trick Users Into Visiting a Website Full of Ads

The Facebook algorithm now actively downgrades sites with little content and “disruptive, shocking, or malicious ads”, typical of fake news sites and click bait posts. So, if your site looks anything like this, it’s time to make a change:

Ad Heavy Site

Do—Think Outside The Box & Try To Solicit Reactions Besides “Like”

Reactions OTHER than likes may be better for you. Even an “angry” response is taken as a sign that people are engaging with your content, not just skimming by and clicking ‘like’. Maybe you’ll have success with #FridayFunnies that generate some “Ha Ha” responses. When I noticed a new “thankful” reaction the other day with a flower image, I wondered if we’d start seeing posts on what companies are thankful for, just to take advantage of it. But it seems that option was a short-lived test.

Don’t—Ask For Likes or Shares. EARN Them

Be both relevant & engaging, or at least have a great offer. It’s a twist on the old “if you don’t have anything nice to say …”. It’s better to post a bit less often, but have quality content when you do share it. If followers ignore your posts, that’s not great. But if they hide them because they’re too promotional and not useful, that’s even worse.

Do—Include Your Followers in Relevant Ad Campaigns

To those in a cynical mood, it certainly seems like Facebook is strongly encouraging ads/boosted posts, if not flat-out requiring companies to spend money for distribution that used to be free. If you’re already advertising, it may be worth including your existing followers in your audience targeting. If they engage with your boosted content enough, Facebook may determine that they want to see your organic posts, too.

I hope you find these tips helpful, but they’re just a start. Surely Facebook (and other networks) will continue to evolve how they determine which content gets substantial distribution. We’re in a phase now that will remind some of SEO’s somewhat wild past (e.g. keyword stuffing and thousands of backlinks stopped getting rewarded), so stay tuned for more changes!

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What Does Your Desk Say About Your Marketing Style?

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Did you know that your desk could be saying a lot more than you think?  Not to be judgy, but whether or not you have considered your workspace and how it reflects your marketing style, your co-workers have.

Often the first place coworkers tend to look to get a general perception of who you are and your skills is your desk. As a Marketo Business Consultant, I see many marketer’s desks when I visit with customers.We know that marketing professionals are busy and pulled in multiple directions. So, when we see a workspace that looks, well, ‘worked,’ we tend to smile. It’s not so much the tidiness factor, but what you’re projecting to your team and whether that image will help you build upon your fundamental marketing skills. In fact, the article, “Clean Your Messy Desk, Lest Ye Be Judged,” reported that almost 60% of people had judged a co-worker based on their desk. Noting that a clean desk conveyed ‘accomplishment’ while a disorganized workspace implied ‘an out of order life.’  Positive or negative, your co-workers could be (read: are) analyzing your work based on your desk.

Marketing teams are made up of an array of diverse talents. So whether you’re a creative, an analyzer, or an intellect, it’s important that the skills you bring to the table and your personality are reflected, visually displayed, and nurtured by your workspace. So given that people are making assumptions about your personality and work style based on your desk, how can you use your desk to really reflect your personality and represent the skills you possess? In this blog, we’ll take a look at three workspace styles that I’ve seen, what they say about you, and the kind of work they are most likely to inspire.

Organized Chaos

A famous example of what a workspace says about a person occurred when Einstein passed away on April 18, 1955. Journalists immediately made their way to the Princeton Hospital, but one photographer split off from the pack and made history. Ralph Morse side-stepped the crowd at Einstein’s office at the Institute for Advanced Studies and snapped, what is now, an iconic picture. In the famous photo of Einstein’s office, there’s not an inch of desk peeking through the papers and books, and he liked it that way.

Einstein's Desk

Photo credit: Ralph Morse/Time

Einstein’s office had a reputation that preceded itself. His desk was judged as ‘messy.’ His response was simple: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”

As one of the greatest minds we have known, Einstein was a creative and a creator. Like many modern marketers, it’s common to find that the creative-types have desks or offices that reflect their fast-paced environments and minds. While it’s easy for others to judge based on the (organized) chaos, psychologist Kathleen Vohs, from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, wanted to see what the typical reaction was to a little bit of chaos.

In her study, Vohs placed people in either a tidy or a messy room in order to determine if their environment affected the choices and decisions they made. The results were surprising, the people who were surrounded by tidiness chose things that were ‘classic’ or ‘conventional.’ While the other half, surrounded by messiness, made decisions based on novelty, and looked for the ‘new’ or ‘innovative’ option. In conclusion, messiness has value. The study demonstrated that mess or chaos does increase creativity and maybe, encourage a bit of rebellion against the norm.

A little chaos can go a long way. It can help us reflect on our creative side and uniqueness rather than conformity, which is good for marketers. Finding inspiration in a little disorder is a marketing style that conveys you’re innovative.

So when it comes to your workspace, it’s all about cultivating what makes you unique as a marketer. If you prefer a workspace that encourages creativity, then try adding inspirational objects to spark your creative side. Even if it’s not your norm, or comfort zone, you could try to create a space that will help foster the traits you want to cultivate. For example, you could prop up your favorite book on your desk, or a word puzzle or game that is inspiring.

Neat as a Pin

We all know a marketer who has a desk that should be in a magazine. Everything is perfectly placed as if they are always ready for a photo opp. They probably take inspiration from Mary Kay Ash, the president of Mary Kay cosmetics. A famous example of a clean workspace was Mary Kay’s home office in Dallas, Texas on New Year’s day in 1982.

mary kay ash office tips

Photo credit: Associated Press

In the picture, Mary Kay rests on one elbow with a phone glued to her ear while intensely working. Her surroundings are calm with a neatly stacked calendar, a cup of pens, and even a place for paper clips. Being coined as a master marketer in her industry, Mary Kay had an image to uphold. Photos of her in action are examples of how life and work can reflect one another.

If you’re customer facing, like Mary Kay, tidiness can help you project your productivity and ambition. Some offices have mandated a ‘clean desk policy’ to ensure people clean their spaces, believing a clean workspace reflects ‘professionalism’ and ‘competence.’

A tidy workspace can help you stay ahead of the game. There is something to be said for a marketer that knows where everything is and can provide resources in a blink of an eye. To accomplish this, you could have an organizational strategy to help you stay productive. For example, you could use file folders for daily tasks, sticky notes, or a whiteboard to keep your workspace clear of clutter. Having a workspace set up for success conveys that you’re ready for every marketing opportunity and challenge.

To improve your already professional demeanor and workspace, you could spend less than five minutes each day straightening their desk before you head out. Putting dirty cups in the break room, wiping down spills, and throwing away trash. That way you can keep your desk organized and looking sharp. It’s then a workspace that conveys you’re ready for anything, no matter how your day unfolds.

Professional Disruptor

There’s a new kid on the block. The marketer who performs in highly agile work environments, disrupts the norm, and spends most of their time working. Sound familiar? It should because most of the desks we’ve bumped into as consultants are designed for these types of workspaces. The professional disruptors are easily recognizable as the ‘middle of the road’ between organized chaos and neat as a pin.

For inspiration, we look no further than Mark Zuckerberg. Many photos taken of him in action show an office that is what you’d expect from a busy business tycoon. While it’s not as chaotic as Einstein and not as immaculate as Mary Kay, it does show a style that is more focused on work rather than status or control and order.

Mark Zuckerberg: tumblr.com

In one photo of Zuckerberg’s workspace, it shows a desk that has wires coming out of every direction, a cereal box, and a half-drunk bottle of soda as he intensely works on a laptop. So this sounds like, at least for me, it could be most of our desks after a long day at the office—right?

With this style of desk, a marketer can get the best of both worlds. They get to surround themselves with things that inspire them and spark their creativity and they have some sense of organization, which allows them to know where everything is and be able to gather it in a flash.

To achieve a marketing style like this, you can pick a day to organize, most likely the end of the week. Then throughout the week, you can leave everything where it is and focus on your tasks and projects instead. You can express your marketing style as innovative while still conveying professionalism through your workspace by keeping everything where it needs to be and adding one of two things that make you feel inspired.

Your Style Can Be Flexible—Choose What Works For You

To wrap up, it makes sense to stick with the style that aligns most with your talents and displays them to your team. It’s about being clear about who you are and what you bring to the table. Though if you want to try a different style to nurture new skills, by all means, forge ahead—there are definitely benefits to each type.

If you’re making a change, start small at first. If you have a clean workspace and want a little more inspiration, try adding a few distinct pieces that encourage your creativity. Or if you typically operate in an organized chaos space and want to project more professionalism through your workspace, try tidying up a bit each day. You can always take the middle of the road and focus on your work and less on your workspace throughout the week.

Ultimately, your work—marketing—should always come first. The goal is to create a space that demonstrates and reinforces what a stellar marketer you are. Look around the office and take note of the top three workspaces: organized chaos, neat as a pin, and professional disruptor. What style do you think helps foster your marketing?

The post What Does Your Desk Say About Your Marketing Style? appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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1 Awesome Way To Create Great Content

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Whether you’re fresh on the job— getting the lay of the land, or you’re a veteran at your organization, as a content marketer you probably face the constant challenge of delivering interesting, valuable, and relevant content at the pace that your organization demands. And while part of that problem can be solved with a bit of internal education around delivering value over volume, some of the need for fresh content will still exist.

There are many different ways to create the content you need in order to publish at the cadence that your audience and organization requires—freelancers, repurposing assets, and curation, just to name a few. But this blog will cover one incredibly productive content source that will not only help you provide value to your audience, and hit your objectives by publishing at the pace you need but will help shine a spotlight on content internally at your organization. That source? Your own employees

Why Create A Guest Blogging Program?

As a content marketer at Marketo, I’m responsible for making sure a blog goes live five days a week that is informative, entertaining and offers value to our audience (based on a detailed matrix of topics and audiences). As a lean team, doing this alone is an impossible task and, quite frankly, sounds scary. And that’s a feeling that it seems other marketers also have, because one of the most frequent questions I get asked when I am at an event, talking to a prospect or customer, or speaking is, “How do you scale your content?” Consistently, my answer is to be savvy about the resources you have at your disposal. Similar to repurposing content, I invite other marketers to ask themselves, “how can you get the most out of what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t?”

One of the best ways to get the most out of the resources at your disposal is to broaden your view of what counts as a resource. If your resources are limited to already published blogs, and other assets (like whitepapers, ebooks, datasheets, and infographics), you can definitely find ways to create new content by repurposing, which will help you produce a few more pieces of content. But, if you shift your focus to include your human resources—across the organization—you have successfully found a content jackpot. Think about it for a second. If you have 1,000 employees and you are able to get even 1% of them (10 people) to blog for you, you’re already ahead of the game (vs. repurposing). If those authors, or even half of them, write a second post, you will have knocked it out of the park.

Build Your Program

Ok, so let’s talk about how you actually make this happen. Guest content, specifically guest blogs, sounds amazing until you consider that you’re going to have to do the editing. To prevent a guest blogging program from descending into unmanageable chaos, you’re going to want to start with a few foundational elements:

  • Content Style Guide: Your content style guide, or style guide, usually spans all content created for your brand, whether that’s technical documentation, public-facing copy, or sales training. It will include everything from capitalization and hyphenation (is it Internet or internet?), to your boilerplate, personas, and brand voice/tone guidelines.
  • Program Guidelines: Program guidelines detail how your program specifically works. If an employee is interested, what do they have to do to get started? Document your workflow for internal submissions, reviews, feedback, and publication. Clear expectations that are established early make everyone more successful.
  • Executive Buy-In: Never underestimate the power of executive buy-in. In fact, for a program that you want to span your whole organization and stand the test of time, you need an executive who not only believes in your idea but will champion it at the executive level. Change needs to happen from both the top down and the bottom up. Ask you sponsor to socialize the program with their peers. More specifically,  if you can, have your sponsor ask their peers to give their teams time to participate and positively recognize those that participate.

Just to recap., don’t launch your program without those three elements in place. They. Are. Critical.

Once you have the foundation of your program, it’s time to add some important details. You will want your program guidelines to not only include the editiorial expectations like I covered above, but the rewards (who doesn’t love a prize?), resources to get started, and examples. Basically, your program guidelines, whether they are on an internal wiki, a landing page, in an ebook, or part of an internally shareable slide deck, need to tell your audience what’s in it for them, how they can get started, what to expect, and the expectations. Here’s a deeper look at some of the elements you may want to include:

  • Rewards: A reward doesn’t always have to be monetary, but, let’s be honest, cash doesn’t hurt. What I’ve found to be successful is a combination of prizes like gift cards and electronics for different levels of submissions in addition to sharing the career benefits. That way, not only does your contributor get a physical reward, but they are building their personal brand. Worried about the cost of prizes? You get to set the reward amounts—so do what works for your budget. If you have to argue for budget to fund the prizes, share an example that uses how much it costs for a freelancer to write an article vs. an internal article, and that outsourced article also doesn’t have built-in brand/product knowledge, or build loyalty in your employee base.
  • Resources: Writing can be incredibly scary for someone who doesn’t do it as a core part of their job, day in and day out. Give your participants resources on how to get started. Think about what you could offer that would remove some of the barriers to participation. For example, are you available for “office hours” to coach them once a week? Do you have a blog template that you can share?
  • Examples: As much as you can explain what you’re looking for and how your participants can get there, not much can beat an example. Here are a couple types of examples that you can share: do you have an ideal blog that you can share with your participants with notes about what makes it work? Or, can you share other blogs, either in your industry or out of it that capture the tone or topic range that you’re looking for?

Launch Your Guest Blogging Program

So you created an awesome program that’s going to generate a crazy-amazing amount of content for your organization, but that’s only true if you share your program with your organization and get people excited. At this stage, you will want to come up with a launch plan. Launch plans will be unique to each organization, but you may want to consider some of these activities to launch it.

  • Communication from your executive sponsor to the organization announcing the program and encouraging people to join (could be an email, an all-hands mention, etc.)
  • Incorporating it into your Employee Advocacy program. If you already have a channel that rewards employees for engaging with and sharing company news and announcements, make sure you’re sharing your program there.
  • Internal Wiki. If you have an internal site that your company uses to share information, it probably makes sense to post your program guidelines or at least a link to them.
  • Food. Let’s face it, people love donuts, pizza, coffee, boba…[insert name of delicious snack here]. Use food, specifically a meal, to launch your program to a captive audience (because you bribed them with food).
  • Signage. Sure, a plain, old-fashioned poster or even flyer is not super trendy, but in the context of an office environment, they work. Think about where people would take a moment to read something—by the coffee, maybe on the bathroom mirror—and leave a flyer there with a few details and a memorable short URL or chat channel for them to learn more.

Effectively launching your program internally has many variations and ultimately you need to understand your audience, and company culture and craft a launch strategy that will get people engaged and keep them engaged.

Make Your Blogging Program Sustainable

Launching your program is just the beginning! The real key to success is to make this program sustainable. There are a few things you can do to ensure it’s ongoing success, like:

  • Incorporate it into new-hire training: New hire training/onboarding today is more than figuring out your health insurance and getting an office tour. Many organizations provide a good amount of information in new hire training and go over things like their social media policy, products, and social events. Talk your HR team to see how you can get your program incorporated into the onboarding process.
  • Reward internal referrals: If you have bloggers who act as program advocates for you by sharing the program with others in the organization, formally or informally, reward them! This word-of-mouth recruitment will not only help you by delivering more content, but it will probably help save time because your advocate is likely to coach their referral toward success.
  • Thank your top bloggers: Of course you’re already rewarding your bloggers, but there are always going to be a few that go above and beyond. How can you thank them publicly? Think about what motivates them and what makes sense for your organization. Maybe it’s a shout-out from their boss, or from your boss, or it might be a certificate you create that they can add to their LinkedIn profile.

I hope that this gave you some good ideas to go mine a new content source, or if you are already having employees blog, to create a program that’s more robust and scalable. This method could work for more than blogs, so don’t be afraid to brand out. Are you running a content submission program at your organization? I’d love to hear what’s working and not working in the comments below.

The post 1 Awesome Way To Create Great Content appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

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