Tag Archives: content

Everybody has a Story to Tell

The awkward silence. Far from foe, the awkward silence is your best friend.

Let me ask you something: What is your first reaction when you’re on the phone with someone and the natural flow of the conversation ends? If you’re like most people, it is to immediately fill the space with your words. Say something. Anything.

As a newspaper reporter and journalist, one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to let the other person fill the awkward silence space. In journalism, this is a nifty technique that prompts the source to tell you information they might not have previously shared. In life, it’s a great technique for teaching you patience in conversation.

Most of us start out as selfish conversationalists. Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced the following daftness: The man who drones on and on about his life and travels. The woman who cuts you off to share her opinion, story or antecdote, which she believes is far more relevant than what you have to say. We all hate these people. I was once these people — and it failed me miserably. Not only did I send people running for the hills with my self absorption, I was also failing to learn anything about anyone else.

If you don’t find someone interesting then your problem is you’re doing all the talking.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” - J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
– J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye

Since I made the long and painful process from becoming a “talker” to a “listener,” I have never met a boring person. Hear me out. People love to talk about themselves. This is a simple fact. If you start asking them questions about their life, work, family or hobbies you will find that they always come up with something interesting to say. What this means is that you also have something interesting to say.

A top excuse among aspiring writers is that they “don’t have anything to say.” We all have a story to tell. Simply write what we know. I’ve learned to ignore the snickering when I say that I write about my life. Oh, you don’t think my life as a twenty-something, middle-class white girl living in NYC isn’t interesting enough? You’re wrong. Someone, somewhere will be able to relate to me. And that’s the point of writing, isn’t it?

I don’t care if you’re a reformed drug dealer who was detained in Peru for six years on smuggling charges or if you’re a housewife in Oklahoma who has never left the United States. You and your story have value.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” – J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye.

When you write, write for yourself and write like you’re talking to a friend. I think you’ll find that by using this foundation

your readers will eventually become your friends.

How to Create Fearless Brand Advocates

If you want your sales professionals to be advocates of your brand, you must first sell them on it. Naomi Garnice, Director of Marketing at Salucro, makes sure her sales professionals understand that part of being a brand advocate is the realization that daily duties with customers and partners carry into the company’s overall brand image.

I sat down with Naomi Garnice, Director of Marketing at Salucro.
I sat down with Naomi Garnice, Director of Marketing at Salucro.

What are the best ways to breakdown the “Great Wall of China” between content marketers and sales professionals to ensure that all employers are active brand advocates? 

 Breaking down the walls is easy when you open lines of communication in the right way. Marketing and Sales professionals usually speak in completely different dialects. Numbers and measurable goals move people in Sales. Part of being a brand advocate is the realization of how your day-to-day actions with customers and partners carry into the company’s overall brand image while supporting your own professional goals and quotas. To pitch your Sales leaders and department you’ll need to sell them on the direct benefits: how their added visibility will support their clout in the industry, client relationships and quotas. At the Advancements in Content Marketing event, we’ll take a deeper dive into this with some go-to lines and examples.

What metrics and measurements do you use to determine what content is most valuable to your customer base and has the most likelihood to build trust and brand recognition?

 Let your audience show you which content moves them by tracking their monthly clicks, shares, comments and resulting referral website traffic. This will take time to gauge as you build a meticulous content strategy centered around the goals and needs of your customers and prospects — we’ll look at different approaches to ensure that content is valuable to your intended audience.

What can we look forward to learning at the conference?

 At the conference, I will walk you through a powerful brand advocacy training series I’ve developed at B2Bs, which not only produces results but also aligns the business goals between the Sales and Marketing departments. Further, we will touch on all of the must-topics for your own brand advocacy training series, why they are important and how they can directly impact your business and Marketing efforts.

Don’t Claim to Be a Brand Leader … Become One

Sue Kwon is an Emmy award-winning storyteller and global corporate communications leader, holding on-air and leadership positions in CBS, NBC, and ABC stations around the U.S. She is also on the Stanford GSB Mastery in Communications team, teaching branding and storytelling to entrepreneurs.

Before joining Symantec to lead Content Strategy & Storytelling, Sue served as Digital & Social Media Director for Gap, Inc. leading internal and external communications focused on increasing employee, customer and influencer engagement.

I interviewed Sue Kwon, Senior Director of Content Strategy at Symantec.
I interviewed Sue Kwon, Senior Director of Content Strategy at Symantec.

What are the key considerations to take into account when a company sets out to establish itself as a brand leader?

You can’t SAY you’re a brand leader, you become a brand leader. It’s like saying ‘I’m cool’ on a grade school playground. Others will determine your ‘cool’ factor by what you say, what you do and how you are perceived by the most vocal influencers.

So key considerations to take into account when a company sets out to establish itself as a brand leader include:

Do you have something interesting to say that is unique or differentiated?

Is what you do actually relevant to what people need?
And, is the experience you offer as a brand worth participating in and advocating for?

Establishing your company as a brand leader requires a plan – not just for those one-off moments of positive reinforcement – but for telling a story through unique experiences over the course of a customer’s journey.

Will you outline for us the necessary materials and personnel required to elevate a content marketing strategy into a functioning media outlet that can publish, promote and deliver content across a spectrum of mediums?

I will outline an overarching Content Marketing strategy, which includes:
1. Building a Content Lifecycle plan to reach the right audience.
2. Building your Content Marketing ‘Newsroom’
3. Budgeting for multi-channel production.
4. Why Cross-Functional collaboration is the key to success.

What are your tips for re-envisioning content to imitate news media outlets?


• Your Marketing Team Structured like a Newsroom Roster– At the conference, I’ll show you who on your PR & Marketing team should play these roles– News Director, Managing Editor, Executive Producer, Show Producer, Reporter(s), Photographer/Editors/Graphics, Promo Dept.

• Secrets of the Field Crew– I’ll show you how 3-5 person crews work on deadline, within expertise, and toward a common production goal – despite hierarchy.

• Thinking like a Reporter not a Marketer – I’ll show you how to tell stories that can beat the competition – that are relevant to customers, influencers, advocates and critics.

• It’s not just about Prime Time – I’ll show you how to map your content against the customer’s journey where you are positioning assets at the right time and on the right channels.

• Speed and Expertise – TV ratings are based on capturing and keeping audience attention… and offering the most compelling insight. I’ll show you how to secure audiences early and keep them around through a structured thought leadership amplification plan.

How can you ensure that your thought leader’s subject matter stays aligned with business initiatives?

It’s important to define what a “Thought Leader” is in your organization and get shared vision across Marketing, Global Communications and C-suite. A shared definition will allow you to create a Thought Leader amplification plan where the right individuals are selected and supported. The plan will ensure that individuals authorized to speak on your company’s behalf are aware of inputs and considerations that line up to business priorities. The plan will also empower those thought leaders to show well and show often on Owned, Paid, and Earned channels – LinkedIn, 3rd party blogs, media outlets, etc.

What are the ways you can create content that has an enhanced accessibility by focusing on highlighting relevancy and importance rather than assumed value?

• Adopting a Breaking News “fast flow” content production process is important to add thought leadership and value in conversations pegged to headlines and trending topics.

• Creating a global content production plan that lines up to a company editorial calendar is important to prioritize “evergreen” stories that are supported across Geos.

• *Teaching all writers, editors and producers across the Content Lifecycle process the principles of Award-Winning storytelling is important to teach marketers how to talk about products … without literally talking about products.

**At the Advancements in Content Marketing 2014 event, I’ll give the 3 Secrets to Winning an Emmy – that will change the way you think about storytelling and content marketing.

What does the future of content marketing look like to you?

I will be out of a job. Telling great stories will become an easy habit. We need to master the science of positioning those stories with robust SEO strategy, for multi-channel consumption, with instant metrics insight. Marketing automation and the ability to position our stories to the right audiences at the right time and measure acquisition, retention and product renewal is the shiny object we should all focus on. (But first, we need to produce great assets to pump into the system.)

Sarcasm in content marketing

My marketing team received a very eloquent, middle-fingered response to a content email that was sent in my name. It’s for an event we’re hosting on a very niche topic – dredging in ports. No further introduction needed.

Dear Hannah-

I can’t believe that I failed to respond to your unsolicited email – shame on me!  

As you know, I am a big fan of dredging and reclamation, and ever since I was a little nipper I would brag to my friends about how some day I would dredge and reclaim with the big guys – little did I realize that some day I would actually get a personal email from you inviting me to a real live dredge and reclaim party!  Hannah, thank you so much for looking out for me!   I don’t know how to thank you enough for getting this invite to me – to bring me front and center tomeet and rub army boots with the celebrities and the kings of the world of sludge!

Again, I apologize for losing your email in the white noise of annoying irrelevant and unwanted spam.




The ROI of Big Data for Marketers

Chief Marketing Officers know the benefits of Big Data. Oftentimes what they don’t know is how to use it. David Rogers and Don Sexton at the Columbia Business School wanted to gain a better understanding of the changing practices among large corporate marketers. What they found was support for the use of new data to drive marketing decisions and measuring ROI and a widespread adoption of new digital tools.

Still, significant gaps exist between conception and execution when it comes to Big Data Marketing efforts and there remains a need to improve on the use of data, the measurement of digital marketing and the assessment of ROI.

Successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions, 91% of senior corporate marketers

Yet, 39% say their own company’s data is collected too infrequently or not in true real-time

A lack of sharing customer data within their own organization is a barrier to effectively measuring marketing ROI, according to 51% of respondents

Around 85% of large corporations maintain brand accounts on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Foursquare

Comparison of the effectiveness of marketing across different digital media is “a major challenge” for 65% of marketers

Financial outcomes where omitted by 37% of respondents when asked to define what “marketing ROI” meant for their own organization

57% of respondents are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis

Brand awareness is the sole measure to evaluate marketing spend for 22% of marketers

Source: Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data: The 2012 BRITE/NYAMA Marketing Transition Study

Do You Know Your Customers As Well As You Think You Do?

Anthony Perez is the Vice President of Business Strategy with the Orlando Magic. He and his team are credited with building a predictive analytics ticketing model that can help the Orlando Magic tailor their fan experience to increase customer satisfaction. In this interview, Anthony shares how he uses data to gain understanding of his customers and to establish a loyalty connection.

hrh media: Would you mind telling us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in data analytics?

I started in finance so I think it was a natural transition into analytics. When I first started with the Orlando Magic I was really focused on the financials of the new arena. From there I went into investment banking for a little while, but ultimately came back to the Magic and my focus, again, started out on the financial metrics side of things. But my position ultimately became the much broader role around analytics that it is today.

hrh media: The Orlando Magic is both one of the most technologically advanced arenas in North America so it’s no wonder that you have a wealth of data at your fingertips. Would you share a key business driver behind the Magic’s decision to use analytics to establish a loyalty connection with fans?

Sure, for us it just really made sense going into the Amway Center with the technology that we have, all the data that we’d be collecting, all of the capabilities that we had in terms of leveraging the technology and the building, we really wanted to make sure that we were doing the best job that we could to drive the customer experience. So, analytics was an opportunity for us to expand the things that we were doing in a much more systematic way to make sure every fan felt like there was a customized experience for them and that we are really marketing to them and what they were looking for. For our season ticket holders in particular, we wanted to make sure that when they came to games and interacted with their service representative or anyone else from the team, that they felt like the experience really spoke to them and their preferences and the like. So that was the main driver behind taking a bigger step into the realm of analytics.

hrh media: How have you and your team been able to turn the data that you’ve collected from the scanned and tracked tickets into a tailored fan experience? Can you provide me with an example?

That’s something that we’re continuing to develop. A great example, in particular for season ticket holders, but really for anyone in the building, we run a program where if you purchase something at a concession stand or at one of our retail stores you can scan your ticket during the checkout process and get entered in for a chance to win courtside seats. What this allows us to do is capture the ticket barcode information and ultimately match that back to the account. So we can see what account purchased the various items for that transaction. We start to see trends around what people are buying and when they’re buying.

The season ticket holders are folks that are coming to the majority of our games, so we can get a feel for when they typically purchase merchandise throughout the season and what their preferences are in terms of concession stands. A great example we like to point to is if a family of season ticket holders is taking frequent trips to Cold Stone at halftime on the terrace level, if we see that they have a preference for Cold Stone, that’s something our service rep can use the next time they want to visit that season ticket holder in their seats. Maybe they’re surprising them with Cold Stone, bringing it to them just as a gesture to say that we really appreciate them being a season ticket holder and everything they do for us. I think that’s the small example but that’s the type of thing that we continue to do.

Right now we’re working through taking all that information that we’re collecting from scanned tickets, putting it into a format that’s actionable for our sales team and service team and ultimately delivering that.

hrh media: Retaining season ticket holders year after year can be pretty tricky for sports franchises. Have you been able to solve this riddle with somewhat of a success rate using data analytics?

I don’t know that anyone will ever solve the riddle completely, but I think for us, we’ve done a good job of being as smart as we can about how we target season ticket holders and how we focus on retention. We’ve done a lot in that area in terms of predictive modeling and trying to understand the biggest drivers behind the renewal decision for a season ticket holder and ultimately boiling that down to things that are actionable and then working with our service team to act upon those things.

A great example is ticket utilization, which I think for everybody is pretty intuitive, but we’ve really focused on that and what we found is that season ticket holders that aren’t really utilizing their tickets to a certain level are ultimately ones that are at risk not to renew. We’ve built an entire campaign throughout the season about touching those season ticket holders that aren’t utilizing their tickets and doing it in a way that we can be preemptive so we’re not finding out that they felt like the value wasn’t there for them because they didn’t use their ticket throughout the season.

Instead we’re trying to jump on that if they’ve missed one or two games, and if we escalate the actions we take as they go further into the season and not utilizing their tickets. I think for us it varies from team to team in terms of how the structure is set up for a service representative and the amount of accounts they deal with. For us, one of our service representatives could have anywhere between 400 to 500 accounts, so it’s really difficult to build a personal relationship with each one of those people, so what can we do to help our service representatives cut through all of their accounts to really get the biggest impact and focus on those people who need or want the additional action—that’s where we try to use predictive analytics to help us do that.

hrh media: Are these actions that you’re taking being noticed and appreciated by the ticket holders?

I think so. For us, with ticket utilization, it’s really making sure that season ticket holders feel like they’re getting the value for their tickets in whatever way that means. It may mean selling their tickets for games they can’t attend or it could just mean giving them away to a client, colleague or friend, but we’re just trying to make sure that we’re proactively driving those actions and making sure that it’s not something that the season ticket holder looks back when it’s up for renewal; and in retrospect says, well if I’d done things differently maybe I would have gotten the value, but I didn’t.

I do think they appreciate it and I think they’ll see that as we continue to go deeper and deeper into how we’re leveraging our data I think they’ll continue to see a better experience game after game.

hrh media: What does the future look like for customer data analysis within your franchise?

I think the future is really exciting for us. We do a lot of really interesting things now and I think we’re a team that’s really trying to push the envelope and be more advanced in terms of how we’re applying analytics. Even from our standpoint I think there are so many things that we can continue to do, there’s a lot of unstructured data that we’re really not leveraging as well as we could, and social media is a whole frontier of opportunity for us in utilizing data. Even just outside of social media when we talk about unstructured data, a lot of communications with our season ticket holders are happening through email correspondence, text messaging and those types of things. So how do we really leverage those kinds of conversations because right now without any type of text mining application, we’re really not able to maximize the insights we can draw. We do a lot of research here and even with surveys we see the open-ended responses and we try to leverage that as best as we can. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there in terms of text mining and just utilizing unstructured data better, whether it’s in our predicted models or just driving key insights for our management.

The Top 13 HR Metrics For 2013

Human capital is a company’s biggest asset, but it can also be its biggest liability. Businesses can be made or broken by the quality of its employees. Success, therefore, is often a matter of attracting the best new recruits while also ensuring the happiness of current employees in order to retain the strongest personnel.

Human resources professionals are placing a large emphasis on reducing administrative costs while increasing productivity and job satisfaction. Not surprisingly, retention and cost control are at the top of the list of employer objectives, according to the 7th annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends.

With fewer resources and more pressure to produce, human resources professionals are tasked with identifying what their employees are most concerned about in their work life in an effort to ensure their loyalty. Beyond salary and wages, the most important factor in employee loyalty is health, retirement and insurance benefits. Advancement opportunities and company culture also play a large part in employee loyalty, according to the survey.

So, how can human resources professionals align their employer’s objectives of making and saving money with their employee’s priorities? One way is by the use of human resources metrics.

In order to streamline your company’s goals, human resources should focus on four focus areas; recruiting, retention, staffing and training, and development, according to CoreCentive, a human capital management consulting firm.

Recruiting metrics quantify new hire performance, the impact of a poor new hire as well as turnover rates and return on investment. Retention metrics quantify turnover rates in addition to average tenure and the worth of veteran workers.

Training and development metrics measure training process time and costs and how professional development processes help businesses achieve their business goals. Staffing metrics measure cost per hire, recruiting efficiency ratio and the cost to replace an employee.

Below is a list of the most important human resources metrics your company should be looking into in 2013.

The Top 13 HR Metrics for 2013

Absence Rate – Shows how many days your workers are missing, which could be an indication of their satisfaction.
The number of days absent per month / (average number of employees during a month x the number of workdays)

Benefit Cost – Determine the cost of benefits packages per employee.
(Total cost of employee benefit / total number of employees)

Benefit as a Percent of Salary – Determine the cost of benefits as the percentage of an employee’s salary.
(Annual benefits cost / Annual salary)

Cost Per Hire – How much does your organization really spend per new hire?
(Recruitment costs / (compensation cost + benefit cost)

Performance Goals – The percentage of performance goals met or exceeded
(The number of performance goals met or exceeded / Total number of performance goals)

Return on Investment – What is the organization’s ROI per employee?
(Total benefit – total costs) x 100

Revenue Per Employee – Measure how much each employee earns for the company.
(Revenue / Total number of employees)

Satisfaction – Tracking employee satisfaction is difficult, but surveys can help you gauge this metric.

Tenure – Determine the average amount of time an employee has been with the company.
(Average number of years of service at the organization across all employees)

Time to Fill – What is the cost of the time it takes to fill open positions?
(Total days taken to fill a job / Number hired)

Training Development Hours – Streamline your professional development costs.
(Sum of total training hours / total number of employees)

Turnover – Spells out how many employees depart your organization per year
(The number of employees exiting the job during a one year period / Average actual number of employees during the same period)

Turnover Costs – How much money are you losing when an employee leaves? Vacancy, new hiring and new training costs can add up.
(Total costs of separation + vacancy + replacement + training)
Source: Employer’s Resource Council, CoreCentive