You know that you need lots of assets to support your demand generation efforts, but now you are facing the challenge of creating those assets with limited time, budget and staff.  This task can seem daunting, but a few basic principals will help you accelerate your production of new assets such as white papers, webinars, videos and case studies to support your lead generation and nurturing plans.

First, viewing the content (i.e., headline, key messages, detail) as separate from the format (e.g., white paper, webinar) will help you create two distinct workstreams that can feed each other.  Subject matter experts are needed to create the content.  But once the content is created and approved, publishing the content in a variety of formats and channels should be under the complete control of the marketing team.  Creative teams, agencies and contractors can be used to manage the formatting and publishing.

Second, one piece of content can and should be published in a variety of formats.  No need to look at one whitepaper or one webinar as its own distinct project.  One piece of content should be the scope of the project, with many assets that come out of that.  Re-purpose that whitepaper into a webinar, podcast, blog postings and newsletter article.

Finally, don’t constrain yourself to a single workstream managed by a single team.  Hire dedicated or contract writers to help create a constant stream of content.  Use your own creative team as well as agencies and contractors to create the assets.  You should have one person or small team managing the strategy for the assets, but many people can be involved in the creation to help you accelerate your results.

After a successful first half of her day and a good break, Janet is ready to tackle the tasks ahead of her.  At 1 pm, Janet reviews the latest campaign metrics.  She notices that one of her campaigns is not getting good response rates.  She calls the campaign manager into her office to brainstorm getting this campaign back on track.  It is determined that the messaging and offers should be tweaked.  The campaign manager goes off to make the changes and they agree to discuss the results in a few days.

Next she takes a look at the lead scoring results.  She notices many leads in “hot” status.  A quick look in the CRM shows that many of these leads have not been followed-up on by the lead qualification team.  She heads over to talk to the lead of that team.  The conversation is easy because the teams are in close alignment on strategy and incentives.  Everyone is working towards the same goals.  She determines that the issue is around having too many leads in hot status, but when the lead qual team follows up, not many are converting.  She discusses with her Marketing Automation administrator some changes she wants to make to the lead scoring criteria.  The changes will be made by the end of the day and they can review the results in a few days again to see if it helps.

At 3 pm, Janet interviews a couple of candidates for her team.  She is looking for a business analyst who can help with reporting and data quality.  This will be a key role to keep her team supplied with the right information and prospect data to be effective in their campaign efforts.  She is looking for someone who can not only crunch the numbers but also analyze the results and bring suggestions to the table.  She also wants someone who is familiar with data best practices that can keep their database clean and complete.

At the end of the day, Janet looks back at her dashboard to find some campaigns that are working well.  She shoots off some meeting invitations to business leaders to discuss how she might be able to replicate these campaigns with their content.  She updates the campaign calendar based on her earlier strategy discussions and shuts down her computer for the night.  She’s now off to watch her son’s soccer game secure in the knowledge that her marketing department is an effective and efficient piece of the company’s revenue engine.

Janet gets to the office around 7 am because she likes to work early to avoid interruptions and be done with work at a reasonable time so she can spend more time with her family.  However, her CFO feels the same way, so this morning she is accosted with questions as soon as she walks in about the effectiveness of her marketing spend.  Fortunately, Janet has this information readily on hand because she has a marketing dashboard that gives her real-time information about closed-loop marketing ROI.  She can tell the CFO exactly how much she has spent and what she has in both closed won and anticipated revenue for the month, quarter and year.

At 9 am, Janet has a meeting scheduled with her CMO to talk about the marketing strategy for the next quarter.  She walks in with information about what has been working for them and what hasn’t.  She also has some ideas about what they could try because she has been quietly testing out new strategies for the past few months and has information about what might work.  The meeting concludes promptly at 9:30 with a clear vision of the strategy for the next quarter and buy-in from the CMO.

At 10 am, Janet chairs a staff meeting where the Revenue Marketing team reports out on the status of current campaign projects.  With simple workflow tools and project dashboards, Janet can clearly see where everything stands and get tasks at risk of slipping back on track.  Everyone on her team has clear roles and understands how they are evaluating campaigns against revenue.

At 11 am, Janet sits down to review the latest content pieces the team has developed.  She has clearly defined personas and buy cycles for her prospects, so she knows what content will be effective in each stage of the decision process for each type of prospect.  That makes her job in editing the content easy.

At noon, she finally gets a break before gearing up for the second half of her day…

Clickthrough rates on email are notoriously low.  With all of the emails that you get in your inbox everyday, it’s easy to see why.  There is just so much stuff out there to consume.  But just because overall clickthroughs will always be low on email, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss a low rate on your emails.  Here are five reasons people might not be converting from your emails.

  1. Low relevance.
    This is a biggie.  If the text and offer aren’t relevant to me in the buy cycle stage I’m in – then I’m never going to pay attention.  Make sure you are customizing your text and offers instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
  2. The call-to-action is buried.
    I often see marketers get so caught up in setting up the call-to-action that they don’t notice how buried it becomes.  Don’t put it in the middle of a big paragraph – put it all by itself in larger, bold font.  Put it in a couple of places in the text and maybe even use a graphic button to make it stand out.
  3. Unclear or multiple calls-to-action.
    If there are too many things to do or I’m not quite sure what I’m going to get, I’ll give up quickly.  I have enough other emails in my inbox to deal with.  Make sure your calls-to-action are simple, direct and stand alone.  If all I do is read the call-to-action in your email, it should be clear where I’m going.  And don’t give me more than one choice within the email – save the choices for later once I am engaged with a webpage.
  4. The call-to-action is not compelling.
    Downloading your product data sheet is not compelling.  What is compelling is saving time or money, making more money, getting a great deal, learning more about a challenge I am facing, etc.  Focus on what I need, not what you are trying to sell me.
  5. Too wordy and/or wrong focus.
    I combined these two because they always seem to go hand-in-hand.  If you find yourself writing several paragraphs for your emails then you are probably focusing on the wrong thing.  Often it’s how great your company or product is.  I don’t care.  Think about it this way – when you walk into a store to buy something, do you want the sales associate to start selling you a product or brand, or do you want them to ask you what you want and talk about your needs?  Same applies with email – you will catch my attention with short (and easy to skim) copy that focuses on my pain points.  Once you draw me in you can tell me all about your company or product at the appropriate time and I’ll listen.

As marketers and salespeople, we love to talk about ourselves.  We can’t seem to stop talking about our company and what we do, our great products and the great value we bring to the marketplace.  We seemed to be programmed to do this.  After all, that’s what we were hired to do, right?  The problem is, talking about ourselves seems to be working against us when it comes to meeting our goals of generating leads, selling product and creating revenue for our company.

Why?  Because people are, by nature, self-centered.  It’s a survival tactic to be concerned about yourself and think you are one of the most interesting people in your life.  Sure we focus on helping others, but if we have a choice between helping others and helping ourselves, we will generally choose the latter to ensure our own livelihood (the major exception being focusing on our children above all else!).

So no one wants to hear about you, they want to hear about themselves.  The interesting exception to this is that we are more likely to listen to a third-party reference.  We feel it is more objective and it doesn’t feel like a decision between talking about you or talking about me.  We don’t mind that it’s all about you as long as it comes from someone besides you.

How does this translate to leads and revenue?  Simple – let others tell your story.  On your website, if you have lots of copy talking about your company and products – ditch it in favor or some testimonials and blogs.  You may still need to keep the product sheets and some description of what you do – but once you get beyond the elevator pitch, no one is listening.  Same goes for your emails, direct mails and all other marketing materials.  I’m most likely to pay attention to what you have to say if either:

  1. You are adding value to my life (giving me tips, information, education, etc.); or,
  2. Someone else is saying it for you (testimonials, references, case studies, blogs).
So next time you create a marketing asset, ask yourself if you would care about it coming from any other company than your own.  If the answer is no, it’s probably a little too self-centered.