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Buyer-focused messaging is the foundation of the creative process. It helps you figure out what story you should tell and why. But solid messaging will only get so far.  
Marketers should not only be thinking about what to say; they should be thinking of how to say it, as well. Innovative marketers are doing just that, and I have the chance to speak with two of them during our upcoming Buyer Insights & Intelligence Series webinar.  
Rather than spouting data and trends at a screen, I thought it would be a great opportunity to speak with a few of our clients and hear how they are bringing their buyer-focused messaging to the next level. During our discussion, Amanda Maksymiw of Fuze and Dave Bruno of Aptos will share real-life examples and some valuable insights about how they’re tackling new content preferences and internal misconceptions around these trends.  
As I was coming up with questions for our conversation, I couldn’t help but think about some of the common misconceptions there are about content today. Not just misconceptions, but deep-rooted beliefs that inhibit brands from reaching their full creative potential. These are some of the myths we plan to debunk during our discussion: 
1. “We don’t have the authority to speak on current events and issues.”  
Yes, you do! People gravitate to brands that have a powerful story to tell. They want to connect and work with businesses that have beliefs and values that align with theirs. To some, it feels risky to speak up, but in reality, it’s risky to not. The key, however, is connecting with issues and causes that align with your brand heritage and communicating your message in an authentic way.  
2. “We must always maintain a professional and educational tone in our content.”  
Although this does vary a bit across industries and target audiences, we’re seeing an interesting shift overall in content tone and style. People want to feel like they’re being advised by a thoughtful (and friendly) expert. They don’t want to feel like they’re in school or spoken down to. We’re seeing brands overhaul their style guides and welcome a more casual and empathetic tone. Some even encourage humor in their prose. While there’s certainly a right time and right place, I try to push clients to test different writing styles in blogs and shorter, more tactical pieces that are ideal for a short and to-the-point approach.  
3. “E-books and white papers perform best, so we should stick with those formats.”  
I’m all about doing what works, but you’ll never know what resonates with your buyers unless you try. There are a lot of great platforms and formats that can help you tell even the most detailed stories in a more seamless and entertaining way. The best part is, you have the power to collect some valuable data about how visitors are consuming content, including how much time they spend in the experience and the links they click on. These insights will give you powerful fuel to guide your content decisions moving forward.  
4. “We must spotlight our internal experts and our perspectives first.”  
Your company’s subject-matter experts should play a critical role in the content development process. But you should expand your source list to include third-party experts, influencers and even advocates. A lot of buzz has surrounded traditional influencer marketing that leverages authors, speakers and analysts. But I believe a lot of the power is in spotlighting people who have overcome specific challenges and who belong to the same world as your audience. Their insights and best practices will resonate strongly and will be a tad more relatable than an expert you paid to talk about your business.  

I’m so excited to chat with Amanda and Dave about this exciting new world of content marketing, and all of the struggles and successes they’ve seen throughout their journeys. I hope you’ll join us! All you have to do is click here to register and participate in the conversation! 

The post 4 Buyer-Focused Content Myths… Busted! appeared first on Content4Demand.

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Content4Demand by Holly Celeste Fisk - 2d ago

Here is our countdown of the top-trending pieces and posts generating buzz and airplay in content marketing. These intriguing conversations and case studies not only drove eyeballs and downloads but stirred some interesting comments and dialogue along the way.

Killer Serial

CEO Insights: Marketing Insider Group’s Michael Brenner Shares Thoughts on Growing Importance of Serialized Content in B2B

With buyers in charge of their own journeys, it can be a challenge to ensure that the content they’re consuming gives them the whole story. Many content creators are adopting a serialized content approach to help buyers make informed decisions. Michael Brenner, CEO of the Marketing Insider Group, shares his thoughts with Demand Gen Report, along with a variety of examples that demonstrate the success that some notable B2B brands are seeing with a serialized approach. Brenner recommends that marketers choose a publishing frequency “that feels like a bit of a stretch” to keep up with demand. Create a content mission statement to define your targets, the topics that are important to them and how you can add value. Start weekly or twice a week, and ramp up if you can.

August Agenda Alert

Just Released: The 2019 #B2BSMX Agenda

If you’re as pumped as we are for the first-ever B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange, you’ll definitely want to start scouring the newly released agenda to start planning your two days in Boston. You can’t go wrong attending the keynotes from Sangram Vajre (Terminus) and Tim Riesterer (Corporate Visions). Scope out the most relevant breakout sessions with executives from Drift, Thomson Reuters, Forrester, HubSpot and more. Do some recon on the B2B Labs, B2B Mentors and intimate workgroups. Visit Content4Demand at Booth 503, and find us at the opening night party! Haven’t registered yet? Use the discount code 25CONTENT4DEMAND to save 25% on passes.

Insights-Inspired Storytelling

Marketing Leaders Reveal Secrets to Impactful Buyer-Focused Content

Iconic and imaginative storytelling isn’t just for writers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. It’s totally in the wheelhouse for B2B marketers as well. And the greatest inspiration for out-of-this world storytelling can come directly from the buyers we’re looking to impress. During this Buyer Insights & Intelligence Series panel discussion, Alicia Esposito of Content4Demand, Amanda Maksymiw of Fuze and Dave Bruno of Aptos will dive into key findings from the latest content preferences research. They’ll also discuss real-world examples of how they’ve used buyer insights to validate and inspire their new approaches to storytelling.

B2B Video Benchmarks

Tyler Lessard of Vidyard: 73 Percent of B2B Videos Are Less Than 2 Minutes Long; Only 13 Percent Viewed on Mobile Devices

The recently released Video in Business Benchmark Report from Vidyard is chock full of great intel on how today’s businesses are using video to engage with customers and prospects… and some of that information may surprise you. Vidyard VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard talked with Small Business Trends about the most important trends. Videos are getting shorter, with the average clocking in at under four minutes. More viewers are watching through the end, which Lessard says suggests that businesses are getting better at creating value. As much as we all preach “mobile first,” it’s not the priority for B2B videos, where well over 80 percent are viewed on desktops.

Linking B2B Video Content to Success

A Quick Guide to LinkedIn Videos for B2B Marketers (+Tools and Tricks)

LinkedIn video posts garner triple the engagement of text posts, and early findings from its beta program indicate that videos have five times the potential to start a conversation. As always, the quality of the content and the strategy behind it are key drivers of success. Understand how your audien your cace uses LinkedIn and develop content they’ll clamor for. Experiment with native and embedded videos. Keep content under three minutes and edit it well to deliver a satisfying user experience.  

We hope we’ve helped inspire you on your path to improving B2B marketing content. If you’re eager to read more, check out our Resources Page

The post Content Hit List appeared first on Content4Demand.

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By Elise Schoening

Bingeing is no longer confined to weekend marathons of Netflix hits such as “Stranger Things” and “Orange is the New Black.” Instead, consumer preferences are quickly transforming the business world, and forward-thinking brands are racing to create on-demand content hubs that meet modern B2B buyer expectations and are ready for their bingeing pleasure.

According to Demand Gen Report research, 45% of buyers now spend more time researching purchases and 64% say easy-to-access content is very important to their decision-making process. By creating Netflix-style engagement hubs with on-demand videos and webinars, B2B brands can up their demand gen strategies and deliver stand-out digital experiences. Read on see how the Netflix effect is changing B2B content preferences.

Content Is Critical

Almost half (41%) of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before speaking to a salesperson, while 24% say they consume five to seven pieces and an additional 12% consume more than seven pieces of content. Your content strategies, therefore, cannot be overlooked or cast to the side.

The Future Of Marketing Is Interactive & On Demand

A staggering 86% of buyers say they prefer interactive content that is accessible on demand. This shows that buyers have grown accustomed to having top-notch content available at all times in their consumer lives and are now expecting the same in their professional lives.

Webinars Are Here To Stay

When it comes to content preferences, B2B buyers demonstrated a clear preference for webinars (39%) and video content (32%). In fact, webinars ranked as the second most valuable content for buyers. By focusing on their webinar and video marketing strategy, B2B brands can better capture buyer attention, which is becoming increasingly difficult in the digital age.

Creating Bingeable, Sharable Content

Webinars and videos aren’t just bingeable, they’re also highly shareable. In fact, 50% of buyers share webinars with their colleagues and 44% say they share other forms of video content. Creating sharable content is a vital way to increase brand awareness and reach key stakeholders at target accounts.

Today’s buyers have grown accustomed to bingeing Netflix within the comfort of their own homes and now expect the same content experiences in their B2B worlds. To meet these expectations, B2B brands should strive to create on-demand content hubs featuring videos and webinars that are informative, bingeable and shareable.

Republished with permission from Demand Gen Report. For more insights into today’s B2B buyers and successful content marketing strategies, download the 2019 Content Preferences Survey.


The post The Netflix Takeover: B2B Buyers Demand Consumer-Like Content Hubs appeared first on Content4Demand.

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Content4Demand by Holly Celeste Fisk - 2d ago

Here is our countdown of the top-trending pieces and posts generating buzz and airplay in content marketing. These intriguing conversations and case studies not only drove eyeballs and downloads but stirred some interesting comments and dialogue along the way.

Invest in Creativity

Forrester: CMOs Face Creative Rut While Overspending on Technology

Forrester’s latest report about customer experience indicates that CMOs are struggling to deliver brand value with the $19 billion currently slated for technologies including mobile, social media and ad technologies through 2022. Their digital customer experiences fail to differentiate themselves from one another – a failure they could overcome by shifting some of those investments to creative efforts. CMOs are succeeding in standing out, but only as the fastest-growing spenders among C-suite executives. They’re increasing spending by 9% on data and 11% on analytics. In contrast, growth in agency services spending is an anemic 2.4%. Among Forrester’s recommendations: Hire tech-savvy agencies that can infuse every customer experience with creative that distinguishes the brand.

Explore B2B Engagement

NetLine Launches a No-Cost Tool to Access B2B Content Consumption Data

NetLine has released Audience Explorer, a free tool for B2B marketers to delve into their buyers’ content consumption and engagement behaviors. The tool delivers buyer insights and data about the content buyers are engaging with. Marketers enter the job area of target buyers and then drill down into the target with audience filters including job level, company size, region and industry. The results update instantly with interactive charts, Top Trending Topics, Buyer Research Stream, Most Active In-market Companies and more.

Digital Digest

Best in Digital Experiences Content Hub

Keep your finger on the pulse of the newest examples of top brands transforming audience-centric content to provide buyers with memorable experiences. Demand Gen Report has just unveiled its latest content offering, “The Best in Digital Experiences” content hub. The first installment showcases an exploration of the webinar Netflix effect. See how companies like Salesforce, Morningstar, Reflektive and Hortonworks are building on-demand webinar hubs to increase the reach of their content and drive deeper engagement across the buyer’s journey. Check out the hub to access webinars, articles and case studies that will guide your efforts to create bingeable content experiences.

Must-Watch MarTech Insights

Buyer Insights & Intelligence Webinar Series

Research shows that 68% of B2B companies have a goal to target specific segments for better engagement, while 55% hope to better identify key stakeholders within target accounts. Join Demand Gen Report for the Buyer Insights & Intelligence Series the week of July 15-19 to hear industry practitioners, thought leaders and other experts share their experiences with leveraging the right insights on target audiences to fuel marketing campaigns and create relevant, contextual experiences for prospective customers. And be sure to attend Content4Demand’s session, “Marketing Leaders Reveal Secrets to Impactful Buyer-Focused Content,” on Friday, July 19, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Summer Reading

ABM in Action

Just in time for summer, the latest issue of ABM In Action is here. Grab your sunglasses and a beach towel, and get ready to dive into brand-new ABM case studies and research. The new issue explores how best-in-class practitioners are seeing benefits from early adoption.

Browse the full issue for:

  • Insider tips from the power duo of ABM pioneers at FullStory
  • A behind-the-scenes look at how SAP utilizes interactive, “hero” assets that are personalized for key target accounts; 
  • An in-depth interview with TOPO analyst Eric Wittlake about how successful ABM teams have driven growth; and 
  • New research from TechTarget and Heinz Marketing that highlights how long-term ABM commitments are driving results.

We hope we’ve helped inspire you on your path to improving B2B marketing content. If you’re eager to read more, check out our Resources Page.

The post Content Hit List appeared first on Content4Demand.

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Half of B2B buying decisions today involve a group of people, according to SiriusDecisions research. The Demand Gen Report 2018 B2B Buyers Survey had 79% of respondents saying there were up to six people involved in the decision-making process.

From a high level, designing your messaging and content requires an understanding of your audience, who they are, what they want, and most of all, how you can help them. And while every piece of content we create – whether it’s an E-book, checklist or blog – has a primary audience, there are many other people reading your content who may also play a role in the decision-making process. These people make up the “buying committee,” and they all play their own unique roles and have their own distinct needs. What’s more, all of these players rely on content in some way, which creates a very complicated situation for your team.  

The Committee Cast

Each organization may vary, but they’re typically assembling buying committees from a familiar list of roles like these:

  • Target buyers: This is your primary audience—the people who will make the actual purchase.
  • Users: Your secondary audience includes the people actually using your solution.
  • Influencers: These executives may not be making the final decision, but they still determine which features and capabilities are priorities and which vendors to consider. When a CMO searches for a new marketing automation platform, for example, she may still need CFO buy-in.
  • Gatekeepers: These people involved in finalizing budgets for purchase decisions can give those purchases a green light.
  • Outside sources/influencers: Trusted peers and colleagues that may or may not even work for the organization can influence the buyer and guide them toward specific options.

While you don’t need to create content for each of these executives, you should consider some key factors about the committee players to incorporate into your strategy and your assets, such as their:

  • Roles and responsibilities  
  • Priorities  
  • Content preferences 
  • Watering holes (where they go to find information)  
  • Device preferences (desktops/laptops versus tablets and smartphones)  

Another point to consider is the average age of your target audience. Buyer preferences and expectations vary significantly based on their age. Now, with 82% of companies reporting that they have at least one millennial employee in their buying committee, marketers must assess and even rethink their content marketing and amplification strategies. For example, these buyers value company authenticity and rely heavily on social media as they research solutions. How would this make you rethink or refine your tactics?  
Regardless of age, your audience has preferences, beliefs and biases based on what they know, what they assume and what they’ve experienced. It’s important to understand and keep those insights at the forefront when developing your content.    


6 Tips for CreatingCommittee FriendlyContent

The B2B buying committee isn’t going away. If anything, it’ll only get larger and more complex over time. But that doesn’t mean you should simply create vague and generalized content, hoping that it’ll resonate with someone. Instead, you must think more critically about the content you do create. Here are some tips to get you on the right track:  

  1. Identify your primary and secondary audiences: How do these buyers work together? Are there any key similarities between their roles, responsibilities, goals or pain points? 
  2. Consider context: Determine how your primary and secondary audiences will consume content. For example, should all assets be created with mobile accessibility in mind? 
  3. Think about how buyers will share content: Consider this a game of “content telephone.” How do different committee members find content? How does it get shared throughout the committee? Who typically reads and responds to content that is shared? This information will help you identify key readers to tailor your content messaging toward.  
  4. Identify ways to speak to core audiences within your content: Find ways to sprinkle in messaging that speaks to key users, influencers and decision-makers. How will their day-to-day lives be impacted by specific trends and market decisions? How will your solutions help them be more successful? 
  5. Incorporate data and insights from trustworthy sources: Up to 97% of B2B buyers place a greater emphasis on the trustworthiness of content sources and 95% prefer to read content from credible industry influencers, according to the 2019 Content Preferences Survey. When you understand the buying committee’s key watering holes and the influencers they gravitate toward, you will be able to establish a hearty list of sources to tout in your content.  
  6. Tailor foundational content to different committee members: There may be ways to tweak specific areas of assets so they speak more directly to different committee members. Depending on your budget and timeline, you could find ways to repurpose your content for three or more different committee buyer roles without much effort.  

Buyers trust and respond to content that’s authentic, credible and speaks to their needs and priorities. Learn more about how buying committees are changing the buyer’s journey and how to adapt your messaging strategy for them in this recent blog post by Senior Content Strategist Brenda Caine.

The post Content for Committees: 6 Ways to Appeal to Buying Groups appeared first on Content4Demand.

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Content4Demand by Holly Celeste Fisk - 2d ago

Don’t let the value of data cloud your judgment when it comes to gating content.

The data that prospects and buyers share can make a powerful impact on our ability to connect with them and build relationships. But it’s a mistake to collect too much too soon. Four factors should guide your decisions: content type, buying stage, the information you want to collect and what your goals are. 

Content Type

Buyers are onto us. They know how badly we want their information, and they’re growing more reluctant to give it up unless we’re offering a fair value. If you’re not offering them value in exchange for that information, you’ll not only miss out on the data, you’ll miss out on a viewer for that content.

According to the 2019 Content Preferences Survey Report, 63% of respondents are willing to share information to access webinars, and 49% will share data for a white paper.

Is it about you or them? Product- and sales-related content such as product overviews, data sheets, testimonials and demos are about you. While it does help your buyer in the decision-making process, it helps you more. Share it freely with no gate.

What format is it? Blog posts, infographics and videos are typically considered “free content,” and gating them is likely to frustrate prospects who are used to accessing them for nothing. Don’t gate them.

What’s in it for them? Content that saves your readers time or money or helps them do their jobs better or learn a valuable skill offers a perceived value for their data. These are usually fair game for gating, provided you make it clear what they’re getting.

These aren’t hard-and-fast rules, but they’re helpful guidelines you can use as you make decisions on what to gate.

Buying Stage

It’s important to know which types of content your prospects are most likely to engage with at each step of the marketing and sales funnel. Knowing content types and the subjects they’re interested in throughout the buyer’s journey will help you understand when you can gate your content.

Feeding the top of the marketing funnel means lots of content that’s easy to access. These assets are building up trust with your buyers that your content is worth their time. Once they’ve gotten to know and trust you as a provider of valuable content, they’ll be more likely to offer up their personal information in trade.

The further along they are in the funnel, the more important it becomes to collect the information you need to contact them directly, so later stage assets are key candidates for gating.

Most content formats are viewed during the early and middle stages of the buyer’s journey, according to the Content Preferences Report. But a handful are preferred in the late stages: ROI calculators (42%), user reviews (49%) and case studies (34%).

Popular mid-stage content includes webinars (47%) and video content (45%).

Know what motivates your customers at each stage of the buying process, and map your content to those phases. A content audit can help here.

What Do You Want to Know?

We’ve established that buyers are reluctant to share their personal data unless they perceive value. Even then, they may skip content altogether just because gating is inconvenient. So for goodness sake, don’t ask for information you already have.

Most marketing automation platforms and form-building tools offer progressive profiling, which allows you to create iterative lead-capture forms that designate which questions appear based on what you already know about a user. It will automatically ask these prospects or customers for new information that helps you build a more complete picture of who they are.

Whether or not you use such tools, make sure that you’re only gating content if it gives you the opportunity to learn something new. Even then, ask only the questions whose answers are valuable to you. The fewer, the better.

What Are Your Goals?

If your goals are brand awareness or sales enablement, you want as big a reach and as little friction as possible with content that’s easy for users to share and for search engines to index. Gating can be a big obstacle.

If lead generation is your priority, gating can make sense. But even then, you could consider a hybrid approach. Let users access the first few pages of a valuable asset, and then ask for contact information to gain access to the remaining pages.

Gated content remains a valuable tool in gathering the information to inform your content strategy. But overusing it can drive away leads. Knowing when, where and how to gate content is critical to your ability to collect useful information, develop an effective content marketing strategy and usher customers seamlessly through the funnel.

Want to learn more about what to measure and how to measure it? Check out 7 Content Consumption Metrics You Should Be Tracking.



The post Break Down the Content Gates appeared first on Content4Demand.

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Content4Demand by Holly Celeste Fisk - 2d ago

Here is our countdown of the top-trending pieces and posts generating buzz and airplay in content marketing. These intriguing conversations and case studies not only drove eyeballs and downloads but stirred some interesting comments and dialogue along the way.

Tech Trends
Mary Meeker’s Most Important Trends on the Internet

Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report gives one of the deepest dives into the state of the Internet, and this year’s edition is packed with valuable insights. Recode published all 333 slides and pulled some of the most interesting trends to highlight. Among them:

  • More than 25% of American adults say they’re “almost constantly online.”
  • Users communicate via images more than ever, thanks to faster wifi and better smartphone cameras.
  • Internet ad spending grew 22 percent in the U.S. in 2018, mostly on Google and Facebook.
  • Customer acquisition costs are on the rise, increasing the importance of efficient and effective marketing.
Chart Your Courses
Choose Your Own Adventure at B2BSMX

Today’s buyers want to choose their own adventures, and so do marketers. The first-ever B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange will give B2B marketers and revenue teams that opportunity with three premier industry programs under one action-packed Boston roof. Attendees can forge their own path and tailor their own agenda from a bounty of sessions on ABM from FlipMyFunnel, revenue impact from REVTalks and demand generation from Demand Gen Summit. Attendees can also access new programs including B2B Mentors, B2B Labs, The Best in B2B Awards and more.

The Read on Reddit
Will Reddit Ads Help or Hurt Your B2B Marketing Efforts?

I bet you haven’t spent much time thinking about how to weave Reddit into your B2B marketing plans. But with more than 330 million monthly unique visitors and over 18 billion views per month, are you overlooking a valuable channel? CMS Wire collected tips from B2B firms who’ve found success with Reddit advertising. Their five keys to success: find the right subreddits, engage with the community first, focus on “upvotes,” avoid the hard sell and track what’s working. It’s not for everyone, but founder of Top Growth Marketing Jack Paxton says “it can be one of your most targeted and passionate traffic sources.”

Marketing Is No Joke
Do Memes Have a Place in B2B Marketing?

Injecting humor into a B2B marketing campaign can be a great way to communicate a personality and stand out from competitors. It’s human and relatable. Some industries are best advised to stick with a more sober, formal tone; accounting and legal services come to mind. But if your audience is more relaxed, making them laugh is a great way to get their attention. Memes are kind of like the bumper stickers of the Internet. Once you’ve seen them once or twice, they’re already stale. So you’ll need to jump on trends quickly and phase them out within days or weeks. You can create your own or modify trending memes to fit your message. Many sites like makeameme.org make this pretty fast and simple. Promote memes that align with your brand voice and are likely to resonate with your particular audience.

Color Outside the Lines
Russell Parsons: Proving the Effectiveness of Creativity Is Key to Profitable Marketing

Since the financial crash that scared much of the C-suite into questioning the value of marketers, marketing has drifted toward the easy wins of short-term attributable media, according to Russell Parsons of Marketing Week, when they should be devoting the majority of their time, money and effort to long-term brand building focused on creative thinking and execution. After all, marketing researchers Les Binet and Peter Field have consistently found that prioritizing performance over creativity is actually eroding the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Quicker and cheaper doesn’t necessarily lead to effectiveness or efficiency unless it can also build a strong brand and more profitable relationships over time – something creative thinking can.

We hope we’ve helped inspire you on your path to improving B2B marketing content. If you’re eager to read more, check out our Resources Page.

The post Content Hit List appeared first on Content4Demand.

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When I was first starting out in my career, I would frequently go down what I call “the rabbit hole” whenever I was asked to complete a task. You know the rabbit hole: once you question one thing, you lead yourself down a path where you question many things, most of which don’t even relate to the original question.

The rabbit hole would go like this: Can I do this well? Can I do anything well? What if I’m not actually good at my job? Do I even deserve to be here? What if everything I do is awful from here on out? What if I’m a fraud? Was Holden Caulfield right about phonies? What if I’m the phony?!

This doubt would all stem from being asked to complete tasks I knew I was more than capable of completing, but the doubt felt real to me in the moment.

Welcome to the phenomenon known as impostor syndrome.

A Primer on Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome, which was first identified by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes more than 40 years ago, is a phenomenon where someone reacts to a situation by experiencing self-doubt about their accomplishments. They believe they’ve succeeded up to that point because they’ve been lucky, not because of their talents or experience, and they fear others will find out they’re a fraud.

An estimated 70 percent of people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their lives. Clance and Imes first hypothesized that the phenomenon was unique to women, but research has confirmed that both men and women experience it.

People can experience impostor syndrome for different reasons. Perhaps they come from a family where expectations for achievement were high. Perhaps they’re in an environment where outside sources are causing this reaction, including being in a time of change. Perhaps it stems from a continuous struggle with anxiety – a struggle with which I’m very familiar.

When someone feels impostor syndrome in the moment, it can feel like it’s anywhere from a minor annoyance to a daunting feeling that won’t go away – and it can begin having a negative impact on your career and your life if you don’t address it.

Defeat Impostor Syndrome

When we experience impostor syndrome, it can feel like the thoughts or doubt won’t pass. But researchers and psychologists have identified tactics you can try when you find yourself experiencing it. Here are some of those tactics, as well as things I’ve found helpful.

  1. Acknowledge that you’re feeling it. This sounds like a simple thing to do, but it may be the hardest step. Rather than putting on a brave face and pretending like we aren’t experiencing these feelings, we may inadvertently make it worse and prime ourselves to go down the rabbit hole. Researchers recommend that when you start to feel impostor syndrome, take a moment to stop and ask if your thoughts are helping you or if they’re hurting you.

  2. Try to reframe the negative thoughts and feelings. If your thoughts aren’t helping you, try another approach. Instead of thinking something negative (“Am I a fraud?”), researchers suggest trying to think critically about why you’re experiencing impostor syndrome. For example, if you realize you’re experiencing it because you aren’t quite understanding something in your job, ask a colleague you trust for help and make a list of steps you need to take to get caught up. By taking action, you’re not only addressing the negativity, but you’re teaching yourself to stop automatically going down the path with negativity.

  3. Remind yourself that you didn’t get here by accident. You didn’t! No one is that lucky, because it’s impossible to be that lucky. You need to remind yourself that only a few people out of dozens or hundreds or thousands were asked to come in for the final interview, or present at the conference, or get into that university or program – and you were one of them. Your talent, experience and knowledge brought you this far in life, not luck, so give yourself the pep talk you deserve.

  4. Talk about it with people you trust. If you bring up impostor syndrome with a friend, a family member or a mentor, they’ll probably tell you they’ve experienced it too and will share their own experiences with it. Talking about it with someone you trust makes it less scary and starts taking away its power, much like saying “Voldemort” instead of “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” Name the thing, and talk about it.

  5. Remember that Neil Armstrong felt it, and he walked on the moon. My favorite story about impostor syndrome is a story writer Neil Gaiman shared about when he met Neil Armstrong at a party. Armstrong felt like he didn’t belong: “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.” He was the first person in the history of humanity to set foot on the moon, and even he felt it! I think of this story when I start experiencing impostor syndrome, because it reminds me that if I’m experiencing it, I must be doing something right because I’m in the company of a great man.

Impostor syndrome can be scary, but it’s a feeling most people will experience in their lives and careers. You aren’t an anomaly if you feel it. If you can acknowledge what you’re feeling and try to avoid going down the rabbit hole, you’ll start to find your way out of the doubt. Keep in mind that you can always reach out to a professional to learn other tools and techniques for addressing impostor syndrome if you feel like you need additional guidance.

I’ll end with Gaiman’s reflection on his conversation with Armstrong, because Gaiman is a fantastic writer and so beautifully captures my thoughts on impostor syndrome:

“…I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an impostor, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.”

Brushing up on your B2B marketing knowledge can help you quell your career anxiety. Be sure to check out our Resources Page for guidance on a variety of marketing topics!

The post Impostor Syndrome: Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole appeared first on Content4Demand.

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Buyers always want to know “what’s in it for me?” Answering with product-centered information is a surefire way to lose their attention in a hurry. It’s so important that I decided to revisit a SiriusDecisions presentation about its Go-to-Market Execution Model in 2017 that helps ensure you’re transforming product-centric content to audience-centric engagement.

The Go-to-Market Execution Model delivers a blueprint to operationalize sales, marketing and product alignment to grow the business faster with audience-centric messaging. Marisa Kopec, VP, Innovation and Product Management; and Ross Graber, Senior Research Director, Marketing Operations Strategies, introduced the model in a Sirius Summit 2017 presentation.

At the time, the vast majority of organizations were structured based on product, with success metrics that focused on revenue, market share and profitability. It took a “deprogramming” of sales and product people to buy in to the new paradigm. That’s likely still the case for plenty of companies.

Is yours one of them? Here are three signs your business isn’t audience centric:

  • You’re focused on yourself (your products/services) and not your buyer.
  • You don’t know how your brand/solution compares to the competition as you’re vying for the buyer’s attention.
  • Your messaging and marketing tactics don’t resonate with the needs and desires of your buyers.

All three indicate that you’re not making a connection with your buyers – a necessary connection to win their attention and their business.

Your Blueprint for Change

Two years of research and customer input went into the Go-to-Market Execution Model, built on eight activity-based stages:

  1. Audience
  2. Architect
  3. Ideate
  4. Plan
  5. Design
  6. Build
  7. Activate
  8. Measure

The last four stages, Kopec pointed out, make up the go-to-market engine. They may run just fine, but we’re sometimes using the wrong fuel to drive them. Product-centric fuel drives product-centric output. Adding audience-centric fuel changes the outcomes.

Start With Small Sips

The model is complex, but getting started is simple within its modular structure. You can start with a single component. And SiriusDecisions identified six hot spots where you can spark the biggest impact. Kopec and Graber “canned” those hot spots into a transfomative six-pack.

Audience Framework

Get to know your audience with a deep dive into personas. Get marketing, sales and product together in a room to agree on the audience segments, where to target and which audiences to leave out. This takes a combination of qualitative and quantitative insights.

Audience sizing, which looks at the number of buying centers rather than the number of accounts, can be a helpful technique in this area.

Buyer Needs

Graber put it bluntly: Most companies suck at understanding buyer needs. He suggested looking at leads on three levels:

  • Organizational
  • Functional (department, etc.)
  • Individual

Go-to-Market Model

Product people may get twitchy when you shift the conversation from products to audiences. An offering map based on the audience framework helps them see where their products fit in, and they’ll be more likely to relax and buy in to the new process.

That offering map starts with audience needs and maps them to products rather than the other way around. It’s a great way to uncover new ways to bundle products that create new solutions to meet a need.


 Messaging shifts completely when it’s based on audience insights. Including emotions helps us make a true connection with the audience. Build messaging on audience-centric templates and processes with a clear understanding of the audience and personas.

Campaign Hierarchy

Turn what you know into an action plan that aligns to the audience. SiriusDecisions research shows that this results in higher response rates, greater engagement and faster selling velocity. The key is to structure your campaigns around who you’re selling to.


Go beyond measuring success by product revenue, and begin to measure based on buying centers, buying groups and personas. Watch for growth signals to demonstrate you’re reaching your targets and making progress. And pay special attention to sales enablement to make sure your sales team is adopting the model as well.

These are the kinds of questions we need to answer:

  • Who are we reaching?
  • What portion of the buyer’s journey are we reaching?
  • Are we applying budget to our audience-centric campaigns?
  • Are our tactics being deployed?

If we can’t measure the progress in terms of the audience – down to the persona level – the business will not continue to fund our audience-centric model.

Good to the Last Drop

Kopec reassured us that this isn’t a “rip and replace” process. You can introduce components one at a time and adapt your processes over time, and then focus on optimizing them. Pop one can at a time to work your way through the six-pack.

Every stage of the model is built around existing SiriusDecisions models and frameworks. What the Go-to-Market Model does is to integrate them in a new way to bring all the pieces together.

For more help on your audience-centric content transformation, be sure to watch our webinar on demand: “Content Marketing Hit-Makers: Audience-Centric Formats You Need to Add to Your Catalog.”

The post Make the Move to Audience-Centric Content in 6 Steps appeared first on Content4Demand.

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Every B2B brand wants to be viewed as a leader on the trending topics affecting its industry. But does it really make a difference? What exactly is thought leadership? And can you be a leader when you’re simply following the crowd?

Thought leadership content has more of an influence on your content marketing success — and sales — than you might think. An Edelman and LinkedIn study, “How Thought Leadership Drives Demand Generation,” demonstrates the power of thought leadership. Here are some of the most important findings:

  • 55% of decision makers use thought leadership to evaluate potential vendors and partners.
  • 58% said thought leadership directly led them to award business to an organization.
  • 55% increased the amount of business with an existing vendor as a result of thought leadership content.
  • 87% of decision makers said thought leadership increased trust in an organization.

SiriusDecisions Service Director, Brand and Communications Strategies, Julie Ogilvie, and Research Director, Portfolio Marketing, Barry Vasudevan, helped me answer my questions about thought leadership and how to become a thought leader in their recent Summit 2019 session, “Thought Leadership: The Critical Link Between Corporate and Product Messaging.”

Here are some of the valuable insights they shared, along with my own take as a content strategist.

What Thought Leadership Is

Ogilvie and Vasudevan defined thought leadership this way:

  • It conveys the organization’s vision.
  • It’s something your audience cares about.
  • It addresses topics the market is talking about.

From the SiriusDecisions perspective, it also connects your corporate messaging to your product messaging. It does this by tying together your company’s story and capabilities to your product messaging.

In the end, by positioning your company as a thought leader, you bring a unique point of view to a topic that ties to your corporate identity, establish credibility as an expert and highlight your competitive differentiation.

Ogilvie and Vasudevan emphasized that there is no defined path to becoming a thought leader and that it’s difficult to find that “sweet spot” in a crowded market.

Now we have a good idea of what thought leadership is.

What Thought Leadership Isnt

Brand or expert aggrandizement. Thought leadership is not just about making you look smart. If you can’t leverage it to communicate your brand leadership, or your audience simply doesn’t care about the topic, it’s not true thought leadership.

“Product selfies.” Thought leadership can’t be all about your brand and your products. I have waged many a battle trying to help clients understand that thought leadership content is not the same as product promotion. Too many companies fall into the trap of talking about how great their products are, even in the early stages of the buyer’s journey.

A stale theme. I had to laugh (and blush) when Ogilvie and Vasudevan gave an example of a stale theme: journey to the cloud. So many times, I’ve been obliged to stick to this angle in thought leadership for my own clients. I solemnly vow to try to talk clients out of even considering “journey to the cloud” as a thought leadership topic from here on out.

How to Find Thought Leadership Topics

Now that we know what to avoid, how do we find the topics that meet our criteria? It comes down to understanding your brand and your audience. Finding those niches that you can leverage then becomes more of an art than a science. Ogilvie and Vasudevan recommend getting all the right people in the room to brainstorm: corporate communications staff, product managers, senior executives, sales engineers, content strategists, influencers and more. Here are the possibilities they presented.

The ideas you come up with should have a purpose. They need to connect your high-level corporate value proposition to your audience-level value proposition. They need to be topics on which you have a unique point of view, and they need to be industry-trending topics, especially where those trends are growing. The assessment template that looks at the three dimensions is perhaps the most valuable piece of information from the entire presentation:

  • Organization
  • Buyers and customers
  • Market context

Add up your scores, and then use the SiriusDecisions scorecard:

  • Score 10-15: Not a good fit
  • Score 16-20: Adequate fit, but some capabilities lacking
  • Score 21-25: Full speed ahead

When you think you have some good themes that you can build on, develop about three of them further. As you do that, keep in mind the market context. Ogilvie and Vasudevan tied this to the SiriusDecisions demand type:

  • New product: Reinforce your vision, evangelize a new concept
  • Crowded market: Highlight your history, build solution credibility
  • Commodity: Create brand relevance, enhance your differentiation
Now Youre Ready to Lead

You’ve got some great themes that actually position your brand as a leader with a unique point of view. It’s time to start creating content. This is where your development team takes over. The team should include your product leaders, strategy and operations pros, and the delivery experts.

As you think about content development, lean on your content strategists to develop next-level ideation that fleshes out the ideas with formats and brief descriptions, derivative formats, channels and audiences. Start with foundational pieces like e-books, research reports and white papers. From there, you can create more short-form assets that that span the buyer’s journey. Then determine how you’ll deliver your content to your target audience.

Once you’ve unleashed your content into the market, measure the activity, look at the results, make course corrections and, finally, determine how the thought leadership content has made an impact on your position in the market. Is it establishing credibility? Answering the questions buyers are likely to have at this stage of their journey?

In the end, good leaders attract loyal followers. Make your thought leadership content original and relevant, and you’ll be a true leader in the market, not a follower.

Need help creating a thought leadership blog program? A thought leadership strategy? Developing a foundational research report on which to build a thought leadership content library? Content4Demand can help. Just contact our very own thought leader, Holly Celeste Fisk, at holly@content4demand.com for more information.

The post How Can You Be a Thought Leader If You’re Following Everyone Else? appeared first on Content4Demand.

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