Author: Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. where she helps companies with complex sales use persona-driven digital strategies and content marketing to turn prospects into buyers and ensure that existing customers choose to stay. She’s the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She has been voted one of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales and Lead Management for the past four years and was selected a 2014 Woman to Watch in B2B Marketing by FierceCMO. Ardath is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Follow her on Twitter @ardath421.

By ardath published March 17, 2014

Why Marketers Need More Education to Push Content Publishing Forward

keyboard-training-developmentOne of the areas of content publishing that has become voluminous over the last few years is research studies. Whatever you want to know about what marketers are doing, you can find out. Not that research studies are always representative, but when hundreds, or even thousands, of marketers agree on a certain premise, it’s worth considering.

However, lately I’ve seen research studies that are concerning. When I look at the sentiments these studies reflect, and the questions they raise about our industry, I get a bit queasy thinking about whether our profession is as advanced as it should be. I get a sense of inertia — of doing the same things we’ve always done but expecting different results — that makes me wonder if we’re really making progress now that continuous change has become, well, a constant.Continue Reading

By ardath published January 2, 2014

Why Marketers Are Keeping B2B Buyer Personas In the Closet

[Editor’s note: Happy Holidays! This week, the editorial team at Content Marketing Institute wanted to share some of the best content marketing blog posts we’ve seen from the CMI Online Training and Certification program’s roster of expert instructors. Today’s post originally appeared on Ardath Albee’s Marketing Interactions blog on February 9, 2013.]


b2b keyMany of the projects I do for companies start with buyer personas. After all, it’s a logical place to start, as it’s next to impossible to develop a content strategy without a keen understanding of the people involved in buying complex B2B product offerings. But I’m noticing a trend I hadn’t foreseen:

Marketers are keeping buyer personas in the closet. Yep, it’s true.Continue Reading

By ardath published December 23, 2013

Why B2B Content Marketing Must Go Beyond Random Acts of Publishing

[Editor’s note: Happy Holidays! This week, the editorial team at Content Marketing Institute wanted to share some of the best content marketing blog posts we’ve seen from the experts who have developed classes for the CMI Online Training and Certification program. Today’s post originally appeared on Ardath Albee’s Marketing Interactions blog on October 14, 2013

random images-b2b publishingThink like a publisher! That’s been the rallying cry for B2B content marketing for the last few years. But, I’d like to submit that content marketing takes a whole lot more than publishing — especially for B2B companies with complex sales.

I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately from B2B marketers who are saying, “We bought into the idea of content marketing. We’ve created great content. It’s getting read. But it’s not moving the needle.”Continue Reading

By ardath published December 31, 2012

Can B2B Marketers Become Content Whisperers?

[Editor’s note: Happy Holidays! This week, the editorial team at Content Marketing Institute wanted to share some of the best content marketing blog posts we’ve seen from our CMI Consultants. Today’s post originally appeared on Ardath Albee’s blog, Marketing Interactions, on May 13, 2012.]

strategies for b2b marketersOne of the mandates bandied about lately is that B2B marketers need to become listeners. They should set up listening posts and they must listen first, before launching marketing programs. You’re told listening is a requisite for establishing two-way dialogue and sustaining relationships across the buying process. If you’ve “listened” to all of this, then you know that listening informs (or should) how marketers respond to prospects’ online behavior.

Anyone who is married or in a relationship can relate to “listening.” Trust me, I’ve been married to a wonderful Italian man for 16 years, and it’s not so much what’s being said, but what it means, that counts.

This is great and dandy for one-on-one relationships, or even among small groups of people, family and friends. But what happens when you’re a B2B marketer with thousands of contacts in your database? How the heck do you manage listening to that level of volume? In other words, the input of a few will not necessarily correlate to the wishes or intentions of the many. Continue Reading

By ardath published December 28, 2012

Content Marketing Theory vs. Practice: 8 Truths

[Editor’s note: Happy Holidays! This week, the editorial team at Content Marketing Institute wanted to share some of the best content marketing blog posts we’ve seen from our CMI Consultants. Today’s post originally appeared on Ardath Albee’s blog, Marketing Interactions, on March 29, 2012.]

Ardath Albee content marketing blog

Sometimes I think content marketing can be made so convoluted and complex that it’s nearly impossible to execute. I’ve seen spreadsheets and diagrams and lists of things you must do that make my head hurt. And, yes, I know I do this for a living. I’m a B2B content strategist — and dang proud of the work I do.

But reality is what we have to work with, and a phased approach can be a beautiful thing. After all, if you can’t execute the strategy, it’s not delivering a service to your company — or your customers.Continue Reading

By ardath published July 10, 2011

Three Treatments For Dissociative Content Disorder

In Diagnosis: A Serious but Curable Disease: Content Dissociative Disorder, Author Ardath Albee explains about the critical condition of this disorder and how to avoid it.

Define Your Company Persona

Create an umbrella persona for your company or brand. Just as a buyer persona is representative of a target market, a company persona is representative of how you want your market to see you. This persona will help to align all of your messaging and present an engaging and recognizable voice. Just remember that your messaging and content must be human, not robotic.

Get Your Brand Publishers on Board

Aim for consistency across all of the marketing channels you use, including content producers outside of marketing. Remember: your presence should be easily identifiable and deliver on the expectations set in one channel when experienced on another. With some practice, you’ll begin to see how minor variations in voice can meet the needs of different formats and channels without creating confusion. Each writer will add their own flavor—and that keeps it interesting—but the point is to ensure that all of your content works together to build buying momentum.

Map It

Just as keeping a journal helps us learn more about ourselves, mapping all the content you use to engage a specific market segment will help you see when you veer off track. Your map should include digital and traditional, demand gen, corporate marcom, PR, advertising, social media and any other channel in use. Review your map to ensure your content motivates progression across the buying stages and look for opportunities to connect channels and ideas in compelling ways.

By ardath published

DIAGNOSIS: A Serious But Curable Disease: Content Dis-Associative Disorder

Does this story sound familiar? Your marketing team creates a lead generation campaign that includes an interactive game that tests their prospects’ aptitude for brilliance.  It’s fun, snazzy and colorful.

Next, is a brand awareness program focused on the 30 years of history, patents and engineering feats the company has accomplished in its work on brilliance. It’s serious, academic and dignified.

For the launch of a new solution, collateral is created that highlights its feeds and speeds along with the company’s awards for innovation in program design. You’d need a physics degree to get the point.

And, your new blog has informative posts presented in a conversational style, but your primary blogger has a fondness for sports metaphors.

What overall story is this content sharing with prospective buyers? If you encountered all four of these initiatives, would you intuitively know that the same company was behind each of them? If you did, what impression would that make?

This is an example of Dissociative Content Disorder. Its symptoms include:

 •         Multiple personalities – each content asset presents the company differently

 •         Consistency avoidance – lack of  coordination on messaging

 •         Strategic mania – approaches that don’t  integrate to create a unified buyer experience

 If your content marketing is displaying any of these symptoms, there’s no time to be lost in curing this disorder. Delay will only result in more lost prospect interest and missed sales opportunities.

In case you don’t think this disorder is a critical condition, these seven prospect reactions should convince you to seek intervention immediately:

1  Loss of appetite.

Buyers crave consistent, helpful content. Taking the next steps toward change is hard enough. In fact, 95 percent of leaders say that resistance to change is their top challenge. With so much knowledge needed to build the confidence to make a decision, your buyers will lose their appetite for your content if it doesn’t consistently help them learn what they need to know to solve an urgent problem.

2   Evaporation.

It takes five to 12 repetitions of a new idea for it to stick. If the focus and style of your content changes continuously, your best ideas won’t gain the traction they need to position your company as the expert your prospects need to help them solve their problems.

3  Opt outs and avoidance.

Patience is as short as attention spans. If your content disappoints your prospects more than once or twice, they will ignore it and your company’s efforts to engage them will fall on deaf ears—or not reach them at all.

4  Conversational incompetence.

The objective of marketing content is to create qualified buyers interested in speaking with your salespeople. If your content doesn’t engage them, they won’t see any value in transitioning from an online dialogue with your content to a human conversation with your sales reps. Content sets expectations for conversational value.

5  Twitchy momentum.

One of the responsibilities of marketing programs is to present the right information at the right time to help prospects continue to make progress toward purchase. When your content is all over the board—engaging one time, disappointing the next—that momentum stops and starts. It has no consistency. Re-starting movement is much more difficult than increasing the momentum of a prospect already in motion.

6  Conversion refusal.

After several questionable impressions, prospects will refuse to do what you ask. When confronted with gated content, you’re prospects may not be convinced that the trade-off for their information will be worthwhile. Their concern that they don’t know what to expect from you will outweigh their curiosity to access your content.

7  Competitor defection.

Prospects don’t like to waste their time. They’ll move on to a competitor that better answers their needs. Enough said.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends survey found that nine of 10 organizations are using content marketing. On average, they use at least eight different tactics in marketing programs and at least half of those are not considered effective in execution by the marketers who use them. Curing dissociative content disorder will close the gaps in effectiveness that keep content marketing programs from fulfilling on their promise to turn more prospects into buyers.

Read on for Ardath’s Three Treatments For Dissociative Content Disorder

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