Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers. Joe's latest book is Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

By joepulizzi published November 20, 2007

Content Marketing: Direct Marketing with a Higher Purpose

I’ve always explained the definition of content marketing in chunks.  I usually lead in with a quick definition like “editorial-style content delivered from organizations to customers through all types of media channels”, or something like that. Sounds too textbook, doesn’t it? Then I’d give a few examples. Then, if they still don’t get it, I say “have you seen the airline magazines?” That usually does it.

Well, over the last few weeks, I’ve started using a new definition, “Content marketing is direct marketing with a higher purpose”. People seem get that right away. I just got off the phone with someone who works in the direct marketing industry and they immediately got it. “Oh yeah, more than the offer, you are trying to build a relationship”. Yes!!!

Let’s take this a step further.  Here is the definition of direct marketing on Wikipedia:

“Direct marketing is a sub-discipline and type of marketing. There are two main definitional characteristics which distinguish it from other types of marketing or advertising. The first is that it attempts to send its messages directly to consumers, without the use of intervening media.  This involves unsolicited commercial communication with consumers or businesses. The second characteristic is that it is focused on driving purchases that can be attributed to a specific “call-to-action.” This aspect of direct marketing involves an emphasis on trackable, measurable results (known as “response” in the industry) regardless of medium.”

What’s Similar?

  1. Messages are sent directly to consumers. Content marketing is targeted.
  2. Content marketing, performed correctly, always involves some sort of call-to-action.

Major Differences?

  1. Direct marketing is measured through response, and is really the only way to determine if a direct marketing activity was successful. Response is easy to determine in direct marketing (clicks, downloads, calls, purchases, etc.). Response for content marketing could be anything under the sun depending on the marketing objectives of the program (time spent or engagement, downloads, sign-ups, click-throughs…even more challenging measurements such as brand preference).
  2. The definition of “call-to-action” is significantly different. Direct marketing has a specific call-to-action to measure that is usually a direct driver of a purchase decision. In content marketing, your overall goal is to deliver valuable and relevant content that match their informational needs. By doing so, the customer is more loyal, less prone to competitive products, spends more time with your content. Also, your goal with a content initiative may be to access another data point, so that you can refine your content plans to deliver even better content to them on a consistent basis. In business-to-business, where you may have to garner relationships with six or seven titles within an organization, content marketing addresses each of their needs individually to build your products overall case. Direct mail wouldn’t immediately work here because their are too many buying influences.

I think the biggest challenge to understanding content marketing is that it’s easy to get outside the boundaries of what exactly a content marketing product is.  A custom magazine is a very easy indicator of content marketing. It’s valuable content, it’s precisely targeted, and it usually has multiple calls-to-action (unlike direct which usually has one). A content web-portal is a little harder to peg. You create the content portal for a very specific group of people, and probably sent them direct mail and email to drive them to the site, but there are aspects that fall outside of the direct marketing equation. Examples may be a news release program that increases SEO (search engine optimization) to drive more relevant searchers to your site. Or a linking strategy that does the same. Does the fact that you don’t “know” EXACTLY who you are targeting hurt the definition?

Get to the Point

Although you could argue many differences, although some inconsequential, the basic premise of content marketing being direct marketing with a higher purpose is sound. As a content marketer, I want to employ all the same tactics of direct mail except the call-to-action should reinforce a long-term customer relationship. That is done, not through an offer, but through great content that meets or exceeds their informational needs.

What say you?


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By joepulizzi published November 19, 2007

30 Thankful Truths of Great Corporate Media

As Thanksgiving is upon us, I’d like to take time to thank all those companies who strive to make their customers and prospects more intelligent through the use of great content. Thanks to all those organizations around the world that believe in, and practice, the following content marketing truths:

  1. That the content is more important than the offer.
  2. That a customer relationship doesn’t end with the payment.
  3. That printed marketing doesn’t stop with the full-page advertisement.
  4. That “being the content” is more important than “surrounding the content”.
  5. That interruption isn’t valued, but engagement is.
  6. That a blog can be and should be a core part of communicating with your customers.
  7. That internal marketing always takes precedence over external marketing.
  8. That a brand is a relationship, not a tag line.
  9. That focusing on what the customer wants is more important than what you have to sell.
  10. That readers are old school, customers are new school.
  11. That the competition can copy everything you have, except your brand. Communications is the differentiator.
  12. That a news release isn’t meant to be picked up by the press, but to help customers find your great content on the web.
  13. That communicating directly with customers is the best choice.
  14. That marketers can be publishers.
  15. That today’s traditional publishers are scared of marketers.
  16. That without content, community is improbable, if not impossible.
  17. That the marketing brochure should be stricken from all strategic marketing plans.
  18. That content without design doesn’t look appetizing.
  19. That lead generation is only one small part of the marketing picture.
  20. That hiring an editor is not a want, but a must, for the organization.
  21. That, no matter the medium or the provider, someone is always selling something.
  22. That the long tail of search engine optimization is driven by consistent content on your corporate blog or website.
  23. That 90% of all corporate websites talk about how great the company or product is and forgets about the customer.
  24. That 90% of all corporate websites suck.
  25. That the blogging community will be more important than traditional media (if not already).
  26. That in the next five to seven years the majority of content consumers engage in will be corporate media.
  27. That buyers are in control, the traditional sales process has changed, and that relevant content lets organizations into the buying process.
  28. That long-form branded content can be created anywhere your customers work, live or play.
  29. That the Chief Content Officer is the CMO of the future.
  30. That customers want to be inspired. Be the inspiration!

Thank you to those companies that get the value of content marketing. For everyone else…there’s no time like the present.


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By joepulizzi published November 15, 2007

Custom Publishing Council Launches Content Magazine

Congratulations to the Custom Publishing Council for their premiere launch of Content magazine. Content is a 32 page over-sized magazine that targets 35,000 marketing professionals, CMOs and media executives. The initial magazine was mailed out the 2nd week of November, with upcoming issues in January, June and October of 2008.

We (the Custom Publishing Council) have been discussing “putting our money where our mouth is” ever since I joined five years ago. Well, we’ve finally done it…and, with high standards to live up to, the team did some excellent work.  After all, the association that promotes custom magazines better have a darn good magazine.

Take a look at the digital edition of the magazine. Of particular note, please check out Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni’s piece on Connecting Customers with Brands. Samir and I had a nice conversation at the Pearl awards about the need to constantly refer to our readers not as readers, but as customers (and explains it very well in this editorial). The key is that using the term “readers” is short-sighted, and doesn’t reference the true level of engagement the customer has (or can have) with a custom magazine or content marketing initiative.

If the brand has done its job of determining the informational needs of the customer, and provides relevant content to meet those informational needs and wants, a brand connection is not only possible, but probable.


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By joepulizzi published November 14, 2007

An Airport Study on Human Behavior – People Still Read!

My flight from New York to Cleveland was again delayed this past Friday, which gave me the opportunity to observe some human behavior. NOTE: The flight was delayed about four hours, and yes, people did look at me funny while I was doing this. The good news is that I didn’t get assaulted.

Place: Laguardia Airport, Gates B5 – B8

Rules: Over a matter of 10 minutes (trying to get a snapshot of behavior), determine what activity was each person engaged in. Those people who were eating were not included, as well as children under 15 (best guess).

Audience: A broad dissection of ages, nationalities/ethnicities, and even split of sex. Generally, people seemed to be from New York, Ohio and Georgia.

Goal: To get a snapshot about what activities people were engaging in. Mostly, since I come from a publishing and marketing background, I wanted to see if people still read.

Findings:

  • Reading a book: 22
  • Doing nothing: 18
  • Reading a magazine: 18
  • Talking to someone in person: 17
  • Talking on a cell phone: 13
  • Listening to Music via iPod/MP3 player: 12
  • Working on a Computer: 8
  • Texting/Blackberry: 7
  • Sleeping: 4
  • Reading a newspaper: 2
  • Knitting: 1
  • Talking to themselves: 1

Total Number of Participants: 123

Note: 2 people were involved in multiple activities (music/texting, music/computer)

Summary:

What can we take from these findings, other than the fact that I need to get a life?  Here are some summary points of the above findings:

  • 34% of participants, by far the largest percentage, were involved in reading a magazine, book or newspaper. This was somewhat surprising considering the current wave of technology. People engaged in reading were a variety of ages.
  • Only 11% were on their cell phone.  Although this is surprisingly low, it could have been because it was later in the day (after 6pm EST) and not during normal work hours.
  • 12% were involved in using a handheld or computer, while 10% were listening to music or audio programs via their iPods/MP3s (22% total involved in technology).

What this Means for Corporate Media Opportunities:

  • There is still great opportunity for corporations and other organizations to influence buyers through the use of print. The printed word is still incredibly important, even cherished, by buyers. Many people observed were almost hugging their book or magazine. It’s important stuff to them.If businesses find out the informational needs of their customers and deliver quality information in book, magazine or newsletter form, they could be cherishing that information instead of People magazine or US Weekly.
  • The above not withstanding, buyers engage in information in so many different ways, we, as marketing professionals, must create our content in multiple media and make it accessible to our customers. That means print, web, in-person, etc.
  • Humans crave interaction. More than eight people of every 10 were doing something. They long to communicate, to educate and entertain themselves, and to be inspired.

I think that was my biggest takeaway from this experiment…inspiration. People want to be inspired. I believe that it is your opportunity as a marketing professional to find ways to inspire your customers. Find ways to make your customer more intelligent. Help them make better decisions and live a better life in some way.

If marketing is the process of selling in a particular marketplace, the core of that process is to leave the customer in a better position than you found them in. Is that too much to ask? How great could your company be if that was your marketing mentality.


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By joepulizzi published November 12, 2007

Blog Carnival – The Best of Content Marketing #2

The best content on the web about content marketing and custom
publishing. Anything that will help you create better content for your
business, in whatever form, will be included here on a regular basis.
Not sure what content marketing is?  Click here for the Ultimate Definition of Content Marketing.

Terry Dean presents 18 Possibilities to Build Your Unique Selling Position posted at Internet Business Coaching by Terry Dean. Some good ones in here on the use of content.

Excellent overview of podcasting from Brian Carroll at MarketingProfs – Lessons Learned from Podcasting. If you are interested in launching a podcast, this is a must read.

Excellent starter checklist by Jeremiah Owyang on what you need to consider when launching your content marketing effort…So Your a Media Company Now? A Checklist for a Corporate Media Strategy.

Online Content Speaks Volumes – a white paper from Aberdeen. Some excellent research on the use of online content.

The New Advertising Outlet: Your Life – A Nike Case Study from the NY Times. Must read for anyone interested in branded content.

Greg Nicholas from OM4 discusses the difference between Content Marketing and Search Marketing. Learn the difference.

Newt Barrett from ContentMarketingToday on the Seven Deadly Content Marketing Sins.

…and a few popular content marketing microsites

Epsonality from Epson
Nike Plus from Nike
The Caveman’s Crib from Geico
FedEx Stories from FedEx
MasterCard’s Priceless

For more, check out more Microsite examples at Junta42.

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By joepulizzi published November 9, 2007

Pearl Awards Dinner Recap – Simon Kelly Wins John Caldwell Award

Just returned back from the Custom Publishing Council Pearl Awards and dinner at the Rainbow room in New York.  All involved did a fantastic job.  Here are a few highlights.

Here is a link to the full list of Award Winners by category.

“Mr. Magazine” Samir Husni and Laurel Touby, founder of Mediabistro, co-presented the event and did a fantastic job. Mr. Magazine had a few very important comments throughout the night that included:

“We must appreciate the customer’s time and constantly show them benefits through our content.”

“Connectivity is most important. If we don’t connect with our customers, we are out of this business.”

“We don’t want readers – we want customers.”

“Good editorial is the only way to create customers. We can always fool them once. Consistent content is the key.”

The Pearl Award for “Best in Custom” honoring overall excellence in editorial, design, strategy, distribution and fulfillment was shared by Lexus magazine (produced by Story Worldwide) and STIR magazine from Sherwin-Williams (produced by Hanley Wood Marketing.  Congrats to both. I was lucky enough to share the table with the fine folks from Sherwin-Williams (Cleveland, Ohio natives).

Kelly Wins Caldwell

Story also took home another award in the form of Simon Kelly.  Simon won the John Caldwell Award, which is the lifetime achievement award for the custom publishing industry (named after the late, great John Caldwell). Simon, a good friend and mentor, is truly one of the classiest and most respected people in all of publishing.  Congratulations Simon…well deserved!

Pictures: Simon Kelly accepting his John Caldwell Award. Simon with Lori Rosen and Gretel Going from the Custom Publishing Council. Simon with Craig Waller, Pace Communications.

Here are a couple quotes from Simon’s speech:

“There is $300 billion spent on advertising worldwide, trying to figure out that traditional marketing isn’t working.”

Simon’s 4 Tenants:

“1. Make Money
2. Have Fun
3. Don’t Do Business with Those You Don’t Like
4. Do Great Things”

By joepulizzi published November 8, 2007

Online Content Marketing and Custom Publishing Converging

It’s such an odd thing…almost like a pair of twins who have never met before.

No, not the Olsen twins! Online Content Marketing and Custom Publishing. By definition, these two industries are identical.  The idea behind both is that businesses are publishers, delivering valuable information to targeted buyers. That said, when you talk to people involved in both sides, it’s like they’ve never met before.

Today I was chatting with a couple of custom publishing professionals about David Meerman Scott (webinknow) and Brian Clark (Copyblogger). They’ve never heard of either. How could that be (I thought)?

On the flip side, when I talk to bloggers or influentials in the online content marketing space, most have never even heard of the Custom Publishing Council. Unbelievable.

Online Content Marketing…meet Custom Publishing Council.  CPC, meet Online Content Marketing.

So what does this mean?

I’m not a fortune teller (other than what my son believes), but I foresee a great convergence coming (for all you Dark Crystal fans). As these two groups become acquainted, new competitive sets will be opened up acrossed the board in this industry. Custom publishers no longer will be competing with other custom publishers for your business. They will be competing with digital agencies, traditional advertising agencies, direct marketing firms, PR firms, and traditional publishers for your business (this has already started).

I believe that this means the impact on the capabilities in the field will grow exponentially (faster than they already are). Why? Because those firms that want to grow and succeed will have to evolve their online, overall content, social media, mobile, integration and measurement capabilities to satisfy you, the marketing professional.

Hard times ahead for those that are stuck in the printed past, and for those online marketing firms that don’t understand the importance of integrating print into the equation (not sure what you’ve heard, but print is far from dead in the content marketing/custom media space).

Good times ahead for you!


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By joepulizzi published November 7, 2007

Custom Publishing Council Announces 2007 Pearl Award Winners

The Custom Publishing Council just announced the finalists for their annual Pearl Awards. For those of you who don’t know, the Pearl Awards recognizes marketers and publishers for excellence in custom publishing and content marketing (and is the elite award for custom publishers). Categories range from editorial and design categories, to integrated custom media and online content marketing for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business segments. The award ceremony is tomorrow evening (November 8th) at the Rainbow Room in New York.  I’ll be there and will post on the festivities.

See below for the finalists.  Congratulations to all!

(Added 11/7): Link to Pearl Awards Recap and John Caldwell Award Winner.

Winners are listed by category, title, custom publisher and client name, included in parentheses.

DESIGN | Best New Publication/Magazine

Bronze: —Tie—
One, McMurry (Aon)
SIGnature, Pace Communications (Bluetooth)

Silver:
Cellier, Transcontinental Media (Societe des Alcools due Quebec)

Gold:
Gear Head, Marketing Matters (AVAD)

DESIGN | Best New Publication/Newsletter

Bronze:
Connect, DCP (WebEx)

Silver:
For the Cure, D Custom (Susan G. Komen for the Cure)

Gold:
The x Potential, The Magazine Group (K12)

DESIGN | Best New Publication/Other

Bronze:
Bank of America 2006 Annual Report, Story Worldwide (Bank of America)

Silver:
Chevy Onserts, Campbell-Ewald (Chevrolet Motor Division)

Gold:
Patton Boggs 2006 Annual Review, Leverage Media (Patton Boggs LLP)

DESIGN | Best New Publication/Web

Bronze:
DeliverMagazine.com, Campbell Ewald (USPS)

Silver: —Tie—
US AirwaysMagazine.com, Pace Communications (US Airways)
SpiritMag.com, Pace Communications (Southwest Airlines)

Gold:
EndlessVacation.com, Story Worldwide (RCI Timeshare)

DESIGN | Best Cover | Less than 250,000

Bronze:
Cleveland Clinic Magazine, The Magazine Group (The Cleveland Clinic)

Silver:
Proto, Time Inc. Content Solutions (Massachusetts General Hospital)

Gold: —Tie—
The Ritz-Carlton, McMurry (The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company)
in, Spafax (LAN Airlines)

DESIGN | Best Cover | More than 250,000

Bronze:
Deliver, Campbell-Ewald (USPS)

Silver:
Amp’d-the Magazine, Magner Sanborn (Amp’d Mobile)

Gold:
Sky, Pace Communications (Delta Airlines)

DESIGN | Best Overall | Less than 50,000

Bronze:
The Advertiser, The Pohly Company (ANA)

Silver: —Tie—
JetStyle, Ink Publishing Corporation (MAXJet Airways)
Renaissance, Pace Communications (Wachovia Wealth Management)

Gold: —Tie—
Logistics, Kircher Burkhardt (Deutsche Bahn AG)
SIGnature, Pace Communications (Bluetooth)

DESIGN | Best Overall | 50,000 – 250,000

Bronze:
in, Spafax (LAN Airlines)

Silver:
Proto, Time Inc. Content Solutions (Massachusetts General Hospital)

Gold: —Tie—
STIR, Hanley Wood Marketing (Sherwin-Williams)
Momentum, Journal International Verlags (Glashütte Original Watches)

DESIGN | Best Overall | More than 250,000

Bronze:
Spirit, Pace Communications (Southwest Airlines)

Silver:
Lexus, Story Worldwide (Lexus)

Gold:
Pure Canada, Spafax (Canadian Tourism Commission)

DESIGN | Best Use of Illustration | Less than 250,000

Bronze:
Capital Acumen, Custom Solutions from SmartMoney (US Trust)

Silver:
Little Brown Book, Rodale Custom Publishing (Bloomingdale’s)

Gold:
Proto, Time Inc. Content Solutions (Massachusetts General Hospital)

DESIGN | Best Use of Illustration | More than 250,000

Bronze:
US Airways Magazine, Pace Communications (US Airways)

Silver:
American Way, American Airlines Publishing (American Airlines)

Gold:
Deliver, Campbell-Ewald (USPS)

DESIGN | Best Use of Photography | Less than 250,000

Bronze:
enRoute, Spafax (Air Canada)

Silver:
Real Estate Portfolio, The Magazine Group (National Association of REITS)

Gold:
Living Outdoors, Edelman (Laneventure Furniture)

DESIGN | Best Use of Photography | More than 250,000

Bronze:
Rouge, Javelin Custom Publishing (Procter & Gamble)

Silver:
Sky, Pace Communications (Delta Airlines)

Gold:
Lexus, Story Worldwide (Lexus)

DESIGN | Best Tie-In with Other Corporate Marketing Objectives

Bronze:
The x Potential, The Magazine Group (K12)

Silver:
Voyageur, Pace Communications (Carlson Hotels Worldwide)

Gold:
WebMD the Magazine, The Magazine Group (WebMD)

DESIGN | Most Improved |Less than 250,000

Bronze:
Crain’s Life, Leverage Media (Crain’s New York Business)

Silver:
Lowe’s Moneyworks, Campbell-Ewald (Lowe’s Home Improvement)

Gold:
MCOm, McMurry (MCOm)

DESIGN | Most Improved |More than 250,000

Bronze:
Dodge, Meredith (Daimler Chrysler)

Silver:
New Outlook, Redwood Custom Communications (Sears Canada)

Gold:
Investor, Custom Solutions from SmartMoney (T. Rowe Price)

EDITORIAL | Best New Publication/Magazine

Bronze: —Tie—
Cellier, Transcontinental Media (Societe des Alcools due Quebec)
You 24, Rodale Custom Publishing (24-Hour Fitness)

Silver:
Your Business, Meredith (DEX/Data Exchange Corp)

Gold:
Return on Equities, Doubledown Media (Merrill Lynch)

EDITORIAL | Best New Publication/Newsletter

Silver:
The x Potential, The Magazine Group (K12)

Gold:
Connect, DCP (WebEX)

EDITORIAL | Best New Publication/Other

Silver:
Bank of America 2006 Annual Report, Story Worldwide (Bank of America)

Gold:
Patton Boggs 2006 Annual Review, Leverage Media (Patton Boggs LLP)

EDITORIAL | Best New Publication/Web

Bronze:
Product Source, PRISM Media Group (Dallas Market Center)

Silver:
USAirwaysMagazine.com, Pace Communications (US Airways)

Gold:
SpiritMag.com, Pace Communications (Southwest Airlines)

EDITORIAL | Best Cover Lines

Bronze:
Sky, Pace Communications (Delta Airlines)

Silver:
On Investing, Custom Solutions from SmartMoney (Charles Schwab)

Gold:
WebMD the Magazine,  The Magazine Group (WebMD)

EDITORIAL | Most Improved

Bronze:
Secured, McMurry (IBM)

Silver:
Ed Tech, Focus on K12, The Magazine Group (CDW)

Gold:
Destination, Journal International Verlags (Marriott Hotel)

EDITORIAL | Best Overall | Less than 50,000

Bronze:
Smart Decisions, Leverage Media (CoulterCranston Thomson West)

Silver:
Centurion, Journal International Verlags (American Express)

Gold:
synnovation, D Custom (EDS)

EDITORIAL | Best Overall | 50,000 – 250,000

Bronze:
enRoute, Spafax (Air Canada)

Silver:
Proto, Time Inc. Content Solutions (Massachusetts General Hospital)

Gold:
The Ritz-Carlton, McMurry (The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company)

EDITORIAL | Best Overall | More than 250,000

Bronze:
You 24, Rodale Custom Publishing (24-Hour Fitness)

Silver:
Spirit, Pace Communications (Southwest Airlines)

Gold:
Lexus, Story Worldwide (Lexus)

EDITORIAL | Best Special Feature | Less than 50,000

Bronze:
Fed Tech, “Tag and Release,” The Magazine Group (CDW)

Silver:
Renaissance, “Pure Power,” Pace Communications (Wachovia Wealth Management)

Gold:
Renaissance, “A Girl Named Maria,” Pace Communications (Wachovia Wealth Management)

EDITORIAL | Best Special Feature | 50,000 – 250,000

Bronze:
in, “Latin American Art,” Spafax (LAN Airlines)

Silver:
nyse magazine, “Developing the Future,” Time Inc. Content Solutions (NYSE)

Gold:
Big Ideas in Technology, “Spy v. Spy,” Leverage Media (Goodwin Procter LLP)

EDITORIAL | Best Special Feature | More than 250,000

Bronze:
Callaway Golf, “Inside Arnie’s Workshop,” MacDUFF (Callaway Golf)

Silver:
diane, “If I Could Close My Eyes,” Rodale Custom Publishing (Curves)

Gold:
all animals, “American Tragedy,” Time Inc. Content Solutions (Humane Society)

STRATEGY | Best Achievement of Corporate Objectives

Bronze:
Cleveland Clinic Magazine, The Magazine Group (The Cleveland Clinic)

Silver: —Tie—
Merrill Lynch Advisor, Time Inc. Content Solutions (Merrill Lynch)
URmagazine, Rogers Publishing, Ltd. (Rogers Wireless)

Gold:
Patton Boggs 2006 Annual Review, Leverage Media (Patton Boggs LLP)

STRATEGY | Best Distribution Strategy

Bronze:
CollegeReady, Pace Communications (Wachovia)

Silver:
Capital Thinking, Leverage Media (Patton Boggs LLP)

Gold:
Washington Flyer, The Magazine Group (Metropolitan Washington Airports)

STRATEGY | Best New Launch or Re-launch

Bronze:
Connect, DCP (WebEX)

Silver:
Endless Vacation, Story Worldwide (RCI Timeshare)

Gold:
usaa.com magazine, McMurry, Inc. (United Services Automobile Association)

STRATEGY | Best Proof of Return on Investment

Bronze:
onAir, Spafax (Air Canada)

Silver:
My Ford, Time Inc. Content Solutions (Ford Motor Company)

Gold: Chevy Onserts, Campbell-Ewald (Chevrolet Motor Division)

STRATEGY | Best Tie-In with Marketing/Multimedia Campaign

Bronze:
Spirit, Pace Communications (Southwest Airlines)

Silver:
Amp’d—the Magazine, Magner Sanborn (Amp’d Mobile)

Gold:
Little Brown Book, Rodale Custom Publishing (Bloomingdale’s)

BEST IN CUSTOM : HONORING OVERALL EXCELLENCE

The Best in Custom Award recognizes products that achieve overall excellence in the following categories: editorial, design, strategy,
distribution, and fulfillment of the client’s marketing objectives.

Bronze:
Amp’d—the Magazine, Magner Sanborn (Amp’d Mobile)

Silver:
Spirit, Pace Communications (Southwest Airlines)

Gold: —Tie—
Lexus, Story Worldwide (Lexus)
STIR, Hanley Wood Marketing (Sherwin-Williams)

By joepulizzi published

Internal Marketing on the Rise at Continental Airlines

Just follow me on this story…I’ll get to the point, I promise.

So I was on my way back from American Business Media’s Top Management Meeting in Chicago yesterday. Flight out of Midway to Cleveland via Continental Airlines on a small 40 person Commuter plane. Outside of the very windy conditions, we made it up in the air with no issues.  That’s when it started to get interesting. On our descent into Cleveland, we were told by the Pilot that visibility was so poor that Cleveland closed down the runways for 20 minutes. About 10 minutes later, we were notified that we would be flying to Detroit because we were running low on fuel and the Pilot didn’t want to put us all in a “bad situation”.  25 minutes later we were in Detroit for hopefully a “gas and go”.

Great news! Cleveland was all clear, we had our gas, and now we were third in line for takeoff. Wait a minute. Just before taking off, we were directed to another runway because wind conditions had changed. Another 10 minutes to get to the new runway. While looking out the window, I could see about 20 planes waiting in line and another 10 with lights in the sky circling above. Then, the Pilot, in discussing this “dynamic situation”, advised us that there were now 80 planes waiting to take off from the same runway, and it’s going to take about 15 more minutes to figure this out (Time is now 7:45pm EST…arrival time was supposed to be 6:00pm EST).

Great news! We are somewhere between 8 and 16 for takeoff. 10 minutes later we were off and arrived in Cleveland at approximately 8:45pm EST. No need to go into the landing…I saw way too much of the ground.

Now that you have the background, I want to go into my impression of the Continental Airlines staff. First of all, Continental staffing has never had the customer service of Southwest. While Southwest is always fun and playful, making flying a bit of a nicer experience, Continental has always been very professional. Not rude at all, just not fun and human.

But lately, I have been noticing a change.  The last couple of Continental flights I noticed substantially more kindness and concern. The event that took place yesterday solidified my thinking that there is something going on within Continental’s communication and customer service practices.

First, the flight attendant. She was constantly smiling throughout the trip, even though she’d been on the job for 12 hours. She did an excellent job managing the “out of your seat” crowd and “cell phone” crowd throughout the flight. The “get your butt back in that seat, girlfriend” was my favorite (this was said in a playful tone, and taken as such). We all got the point that we needed to sit down, but she wasn’t rude at all about it. After multiple rounds of peanuts for all, on the final flight back to Cleveland, she broke out hard stuff. Additional drinks were served throughout the plane, which made for very happy customers (even though we were 2+ hours late). Frankly, our little group in the front was having a party. How about that? Were you ever on a plane that was that delayed, in and out of weather and fueling issues, and the passengers were laughing and bonding. The flight attendant and the Pilot set the atmosphere for that, and we were all happier for it.

As for the Pilot, although he was always professional, he was human. His tone on the loudspeaker was one that “we were all in it together”. While we were stopped in Detroit, he came out to chat with us…and convinced us all that the redirect to Detroit was in our best interests for safety (we didn’t need too much convincing). He was concerned, but smiling with us…he seemed like “one of us”.

So here is my question…what has happened with Continental’s training and customer service to make such a dramatic turn around? It is clear that Continental has been investing time, energy and communications standards into their internal marketing. Customer service changes like these don’t just happen…it’s a brick-by-brick, day-by-day process that is backed by Continental’s upper level management.

What has this done, for me, the customer? Frankly, I’m more willing to go on a Continental flight. Although price is always important, and enjoyable ride is a very close second. Just think of the revolution that can happen from Continental making this sort of investment…more passengers, more revenues, more profits…all because Continental is investing in their internal marketing, communications and training! My hope over the next few weeks is to find out exactly what they are doing.

Bravo, Continental…and if anyone from Continental is listening, give the entire crew of flight 2867 from Chicago to Cleveland on November 6th a big fat raise.


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By joepulizzi published November 5, 2007

Top 10 B2B Product Launch Factors – The Case of the Missing Content

Schneider Associates recently surveyed 98 business-to-business marketers on their product launch practices. The results are included in this executive summary and this press release. Out of the findings, here are the ten suggestions from Schneider on how to improve your product launch success:

  1. Create a documented launch process.
  2. Set a separate launch budget and make sure it is adequate to meet the launch challenges you face.
  3. Establish your launch budget as early in the product development phase as possible.
  4. Keep your launch budget stable throughout the implementation phase.
  5. Determine your launch performance measures before the launch begins.
  6. Measure the “right” success metrics.
  7. Include the “right” external launch professionals on your team.
  8. Fight for bigger budgets.
  9. Educate your sales force and other internal audiences about your new product or service. Also focus on distributor, retailer or dealer education.
  10. Spend money on word-of-mouth campaigns rather than on advertising.

I’m not sure there is anything earth-shattering here (outside of #10 on WOM campaigns. For more on that, check out CK’s blog reaction about this survey.). But, I must say I’m very surprised by a few things:

  • I’ve seen many a product launch die because of a lack of communication with not only the sales team, but the entire employee base. I’m glad to see this make the list, but this is #1 or #2 in my opinion. Internal marketing is more important than external marketing – ALL THE TIME. This is especially true for a product launch. What’s the use of creating the perfect external launch plan if customer service isn’t clear on the vision. Say goodbye sale. Customer touch points are still as important as ever (maybe more important). Invest first internally, prepare the troops, then create demand generation.
  • Lots of focus on budget here (and rightfully so), but very little focus on the customer (which is scary). At the very top of the list should be in-depth research on the buyer. What are the buyer personas we are dealing with? Have we set up listening posts (feedback channels) to properly get the feedback we need? With the new product launch, have we focused entirely on what the customer wants (not necessarily what we have)?
  • In the summary, it was noted that those that prepare earlier for the launch were more successful. This obviously makes sense. I guess I’m interested in what the preparation entails. We’ve all seen (and maybe done) the marketing launch that floods the product message through print, web, in-person without the upfront “nurturing” that is needed. What do I mean by nurturing? Before the product is ever mentioned, we better be targeting the core buyer with content that meets their informational needs. That means starting early with blogs, white papers, eBooks, a print magazine, an eNewsletter, an in-person roundtable, etc., discussing key industry issues with customers and prospects and developing a dialogue with them. Yes, this kind of effort takes time, but it should be the second or third issue on the table (after internal communication) when you are discussing your product launch plans. Product launches become much easier if you already have built-in communication channels with your customers and prospects.

Here is a short list of what I would like to see as the results of the next survey:

  1. Invest in buyer research to understand the buyer persona and decision-making cycle for your product. Set up feedback channels throughout current communications, as well as launching new research initiatives. Flowchart the buying process for the product (often times six or seven people in a business-to-business organization).
  2. Clearly educate all internal employees on the new product, how it affects them, and how the new product aligns with the needs of the customer and the culture of the organization.
  3. Set up a documented launch process as early as possible in the process.
  4. Determine the ultimate success of the program. What are the conversions that need to happen throughout the buying cycle that define success?
  5. Define the budget for the program at 25% higher than anticipated.
  6. Develop a highly-targeted content plan to deliver consistently valuable information to the target buyer (this should be integrated with your current plan if you have one). Through your buyer research, you should have the data to know how your buyers interact with content. Once you have that information, deliver consistent and ongoing content through the channels they use the most. Be sure to integrate the communication effort within all channels.
  7. Find “outsource” professionals to assist in both your content creation/execution and your product messaging execution (might be the same or different).

Final note: The more a company pushes a product, the more sales information tends to flow from the company to the buyer. Be sure your communications don’t become constant solicitations. Continue to deliver quality content to them, and they will open their eyes to your product offerings. Better yet, if you clearly understand your buyer, your product will be a true solution.


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