How to Create Oscar-Worthy Content Marketing: Ann Handley of MarketingProfs #CMWorld

AHandley---interview-header-

My pal Ann Handley has made it her life’s work to, in her words, “wage war on mediocrity in content.” Her best-selling book, Everybody Writes, is a practical guide to writing the kind of content that truly engages an audience.

As the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs (the world’s first Chief Content Officer, in fact), Ann advocates quality over quantity in all of her content ventures. She also spreads the gospel of good content at speaking engagements around the world, including the upcoming Content Marketing World conference September 8-11 in Cleveland.

To get a sneak preview of Ann’s Content Marketing World presentation, Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight For Sore Eyes, I did my best to catch up with her during some pretty crazy travels. Along the way, she shared her journey on learning to write compelling content, the role of technology in content marketing, and the death of the marketing funnel.

My mission is always to make the complicated way simpler.

As the CCO of MarketingProfs, best-selling author, keynote speaker, lover of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the most influential woman in Social Media (according to Forbes), when you look back on your journey throughout your career what are three things you never lost focus on that helped you get to where you are today?

  1. When I was in journalism school, my professor Charlie Ball used to tell me, “Remember: No one has to read this.” That perspective changed my writing from self-indulgent (all about me) to reader-centric (all about the audience). It’s been invaluable as a content-centric marketer and blogger and (frankly) as a person.

(Side note to parents — of either a human, dog, cat, ferret, lizard, llama, or otherwise: Parenting reaffirms this idea. Because nothing is about you. Ever again. And I say that in the best possible way.)

  1. Charlie also told me: “No one will complain that you made things too simple to understand.” Life is complicated. Business is messy. “Solutions” are multi-faceted. If I’m being honest, most things in life confuse me. My mission is always to make the complicated way simpler.
  1. Finally: Deliver. Seth Godin calls this: Ship.

When I was in high school, the Pope visited Boston. I went to Catholic high school, where I was the editor of the school paper. I told the school I’d cover it for us. (The nuns were thrilled!)

But then I changed my mind, and I blew off the Pope’s visit to go hang out with my local public school friends. And when I got home that day, my Mom was unusually annoyed at me. I didn’t understand why — who cares? The Pope’s visit was all over the news anyway.

And my mom said, lips pursed and on the verge of losing it, “Because you had a responsibility to your position, and you ignored it for your own pleasure.”

At the time, I thought she was being ridiculously prissy. (I still feel bad to this day about my eye roll in response.)

But now, I get it. I said I’d do something, and then I didn’t. That’s not cool.

How I internalize that now: If you say you’ll do something, do it. Your word is more important than you might imagine it is.

You can’t code creativity. And you can’t program publishing. And quality definitely trumps quantity.

Your session at Content Marketing World will focus on helping marketers nail the basics of creating good content. What do you anticipate are the primary challenges for marketers today in creating quality content versus a quantity of content?

I’ve been thinking lately about technology. Because increasingly it’s heralded as the savior (or legitimizer?) of marketing.

Robots can write your posts. Tools can optimize them. Solutions can amplify them.

Awesome. I heart technology. I built my career on it, too.

But guess what? Technology is only as good as our story.

You can’t code creativity. And you can’t program publishing. And quality definitely trumps quantity. Always has. Always will.

Your story is the thing that sets your apart. So the question is: What’s your story? And how do you tell it?

There’s a growing rumbling in the marketing industry about the death of the funnel. Yea or nay?

The funnel was never a funnel. It’s always been an ecosystem, because the people who buy (the people at the end of the “funnel”) have always had the capacity to influence the decision of others. Social tools and technology make that information way more accessible, is all.

Which makes your sales and marketing efforts like the song that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friend, to quote Lamb Chop. (Is this the first time Shari Lewis has been quoted in a marketing context?)

What are your favorite examples of B2B or B2C brands that are creating great content for marketing?

B2B

B2C

Nonprofit

Government

  • This was a failed attempt, because the candidate didn’t get elected. But I believe it was groundbreaking storytelling in political marketing – The Best Political Ad Ever

What’s ordinary to you isn’t often ordinary to others.

Incorporating storytelling into content marketing has always been a big focus of yours. What advice would you give to marketers to help uncover these stories, even if they think they might not have any worth sharing?

Every company has a story to tell, if you look at the world from your customer’s point of view. The designer Michael Wolff says, “What already exists is an inspiration.”

Train yourself to look at things differently. What’s ordinary to you isn’t often ordinary to others.

What is the best piece of marketing advice that you’ve ever received personally?

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” — Tom Fishburne (Marketoonist.com)

He didn’t say it to me personally — although he’s a friend, so he probably would if I asked him to. Regardless, I’ve internalized it as if he did. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think of it every day.

Content Marketing World attendees, you are my people.

What do you like best about attending and speaking at Content Marketing World?

Content Marketing World attendees, you are my people. It’s not quite like being with family — but there’s a similar feel of a kind of posse.

“Community” is one of those words that’s overplayed in marketing. But CMW (and a few other select marketing events throughout the year) embody it for me.

Thanks, Ann!

Ready to Create Oscar-Caliber Content Marketing?

Reserve your space at Content Marketing World 2015 for inspiring and informative presentations from 200 superstars of marketing.

For a sneak preview of Ann and 13 other marketing matinee idols’ presentations, grab your popcorn and settle in with our new eBook, Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing.

Stay Tuned For the Thrilling, Final Chapter in Our Triple Content Marketing Feature!

CMWorld 2015 eBooks

On June 22, we will premiere the final chapter in our content marketing triple feature: Measuring Your Content Marketing Box Office Success. Featuring content marketing stars such as Joe Pulizzi, Andrew Davis, Michael Brenner and many more, you’ll be able to connect the content marketing performance dots with the strategy and tactics shared in the first two eBooks.


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Climate Change – The Real Deal



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It was in the spring of 2011 which was long remembered by the scale and horror of many violent tornadoes that tore through the Midwest and parts of the eastern United States. With the massive flooding of the Mississippi River in Illinois all the way to New Orleans created a catastrophic disaster. It seems like every spring has seen its share of storms where torrential rain causes immense suffering and loss of life. Once again we have drought conditions in many areas of our country and through out the world.

We realized that climate change increases the risk of hostility and conflict. The sea level rise today already cover the coastal landscapes around the world forcing people to leave their homes. In general, we are seeing migration, while due to the rising waters forced. This migration of refugees of climate change continues to grow each year. With drought conditions worsen shortages have become the strongest fresh water and food. Consequently, there has been and still is an increased competition for remaining resources never there. And this increased competition continues to exacerbate tensions, not only in all the countries concerned but throughout the world.

To understand the impact of climate change today is that one of its consequences has led to instability in Nigeria. This instability, now operated by the terrorist group Boko Haram continues to exasperate economic conditions worsen and throughout Africa. The drought and subsequent food shortages not only rising food prices intensified, has helped fuel the riots in early Syria. Today, with the country torn by civil war and the rise of ISIS caused serious risks, not only for the global economy, but has also had disastrous effects on humanity as well.

In the US, it has not been since 1920 in this country has experienced such devastation of nature in many places in a short period of time. Following all this devastation left much of the United States almost helpless. Too many lives lost, so much destruction, and many livelihoods in ruins was the result. Today, nature in all its fury unleashed chaos and destruction that continues to shake that nation. Man-induced climate change is attributed to a global quagmire of misery and death?

Throughout the centuries mankind has continued to upset the balance of nature. Man laid the foundation for the natural disasters that have transformed our world. Each nation is guilty of some environmental atrocity of one kind or another. Voluntarily or not the man continues to pollute, destroy, steal and our environment without worrying about the consequences of our actions, inactions and now to facilitate the devastation. To speculate that the Earth goes through its normal cycle of climate change as the reason why there are so many homes storms, longer droughts, earthquakes or massive flooding is too casual.

Monetary restrictions imposed by the reactions always change in the environment caused by human interference. The tragedies of humanity are imbued with blatant disregard for the environment, nature and all the inhabitants of the earth. Even with all the currently available more pollution than any other period of history is continuously discharged into our rivers, streams, lakes and oceans causing catastrophic damage to marine life technology, people from coast, all economies around the world . The need is very obvious, the technology is available, and resources can be provided to eliminate global pollution that threatens our very existence.

What it has happened since the arrival of the first industrial revolution in which man continues to drain the oil fields, groundwater deposits of coal and other minerals, which is a parody of our planet. Our continued reliability of fossil fuels on earth creates large gaps that contribute to the movement of earth plates along the lithosphere resulting from earthquakes, tsunamis, and even sink holes that cause terrible damage man and the nature. We also have to realize what humanity has done to the tropical forests of the Amazon. Destruction and almost total annihilation of the greatest resources of the stability of Earth’s climate, now it has become the greatest threat of the planets climate instability.

To not capitalizing the already abundant, automatic replenishment, and environmental sources of renewable energy humanity has made the land can not remain stable. Of course, the planet has experienced throughout the history of climate change, but mans continued escalation of fossil fuel consumption only increases and accelerates a change in the climate of the earth. When the weather changes drastically in a relatively short time period of great upheavals they have always happened. Worldwide, more frequently and with greater intensity have become. Always in the most horrible human suffering, nature and the environment and it is almost powerless to restore stability. All this while the costs to restore balance and stability today far exceeds the cost that would have been spent to prevent such disasters from happening in the first place.

All that is needed is the will of nations once and for all band together to solve the climate of the earth is directly related and influenced by human interference. To curb the acceleration of global warming, end the catastrophic pollution, and restore our depleted forests every nation must help restore the delicate balance of the earth. This, for humanity now be able to end the massive human suffering that causes more aggression and destabilization of nations worldwide-out. All this can be done using the technology available today. By making the sources of the first and second electrical obsolete industrialization is the fastest way to restore stability worldwide. The availability of solar, wind, hydro electric, magnetic energy and other green energy sources are easily available now. All that is needed is the political will to make them more accessible and affordable. The ability to restore the balance of nature on earth is at hand. And doing so could only alleviate many human tragedies that have placed man about to fall back into the caves of the Neanderthals.

Enterprise Content Marketing Strategy: Ready, Set, Action! Carlos Abler of 3M #CMWorld

CAbler---interview-header-V2

Long ago, I received the best business advice for accelerating performance: Find the smartest people in the industry and learn from them.

Whether you’re a budding director with dreams of the big screen or the director of marketing charged with scaling content across the enterprise, finding the right people to learn from is essential. When it comes to content marketing, you really can’t go wrong with Carlos Abler from 3M.

Carlos is the Leader of Content Marketing and Strategy: Global eTransformation at 3M where he developed the Enterprise Content Strategy and Marketing Acceleration program. You may have heard him interviewed for the Content Marketing Institute’s Pivot Podcast or seen him present at a number of content marketing conferences. In September, Carlos will be presenting at the 2015 Content Marketing World.

To whet your appetite for his Content Marketing World presentation, we sat down with Carlos to talk about content marketing, content strategy, and how to develop a content marketing culture across a large enterprise.

The über-deliverable at 3M is content culture transformation as an essential pillar of digital transformation.

In your current role as Leader, Content Marketing and Strategy, Global eTransformation at 3M, how has your approach to content marketing evolved or changed since you started?  

For me it was a radical change compared to past practice. Before 3M my career was focused on producing, directing and creating content and applications. At 3M the goal is to enable and scale content excellence as a capability for a $30 billion dollar company with 30 divisions and products for just about every vertical known to humankind. So the über-deliverable at 3M is content culture transformation as an essential pillar of digital transformation.

The deliverable of content excellence within an organization is quite different than delivering excellent content. Fortunately transposing what I do into tools and practices is a very natural thing for me to do. My analyst friends tell me it’s unusual to have a dedicated role with content in our title doing the kind of thing I am doing. Rebecca Lieb referred to Michael Brenner and I as unicorns. So I deliver rainbows. That’s different.

Content strategy is a selling term, not a doing term.

How do you define content marketing vs. content strategy? How can they work together better?

Content strategy is a broad term for an array of practices for managing the lifecycle of content. I tend to define the term historically because I never use it for a practical purpose. Ever. Content strategy is a selling term, not a doing term. I use terms like content operations, content organization and content supply chain.

Strategies involve trade-offs toward a goal. The inherent trade-off underlying content strategy is between winning or not winning with content. It is like saying our breathing strategy which ladders up to our goal of not dying. With content, the term strategy only becomes useful as a modifier when focusing on facets of the practice.

If your content isn’t a product then it’s not content marketing; it’s just communication.

I have a definition of content marketing I use internally for our organization, though I like CMI’s definition as an industry baseline. Here is mine:

Content and application marketing is the practice of delivering meaningful content products and applications relevant to helping people achieve their goals and/or serving their experiential interests; a parallel marketing effort for the purpose of increasing brand relevance and supporting the sales and relationship goals of other products. 

There are a few key features of this definition:

  1. Content marketing has self-contained value. If your content isn’t a product then it’s not content marketing; it’s just communication.
  2. I include applications. Applications are just as critical: They are how the content may be delivered, consumed and acted upon.
  3. I explicitly call out both the practical and experiential.
  4. I call out that content marketing is serving the goals related to marketing of other products where content is not the core revenue stream.

How do ‘content marketing’ and ‘content strategy’ work together?

Content lifecycle practices enable content marketing to be successful, while content marketing imposes requirements for what your content practices must be to enable success. They work together better when organizations ensure both practices are alive and well.

So in summary: Content strategy is a broad concept of organizational practices for effectively managing content lifecycle; content marketing is a specific application of content to add value to an organization’s relationship with people. Content strategy enables content marketing and content marketing defines the requirements that content strategy must serve to enable it.

Content is both a vertical and horizontal pillar of the overall marketing and audience relationship practice.

Where do you see content fitting in with the overall digital marketing mix for most large, complex organizations? Do you think content should lead or follow with most digital marketing strategies?

I don’t see content in a leading vs. following dynamic. I see content as both a vertical and horizontal pillar of the overall marketing and audience relationship practice, inseparable from many marketing and all relationship activities.

The concept of content “leading” could be said to apply in addressing an individual who has no familiarity, and you use content marketing to establish a relationship prior to promoting other products. But that would only apply tactically to that particular relationship stage.

Content marketing as interactive and as a vertical and horizontal pillar is true irrespective of company size. The only differences are orders of scale, federated complexity, and sophistication of infrastructure.

In terms of how content marketing works with product marketing; here is how I like to see integrated content marketing programs get lift-off:

We identify how to integrate content marketing practice in concert with marketing planning and implementation cycles. I like to get the content marketing conversation in early during general marketing strategic planning processes.  If you have your conduit champions who are dedicated to content, you can get the right intel to start shaping a plan. Also you can leverage the content champions to steer the larger group to generate more quality actionable information out of the strategic process

Once strategic planning is in but before the organization has built out a tactical plan is the perfect time to insert detailed cross-functional content marketing workshops. Marketing, sales, customer support, technical services or any other key customer facing function are involved across all processes, from information gathering for planning input, to the workshops themselves. Again, it is not a lead-follow situation. It is intensely iterative.

Most large companies are challenged to scale a culture of content creation across the organization. What are some insights you can share with industry peers in terms of how to improve content marketing adoption across the enterprise?

  1. Have all of your core content processes, especially upstream strategic process be fiercely collaborative across customer facing functions. The single most important thing is cross-functional collaboration from the very beginning. Your tactical intel will be more accurate, your assets will actually serve the nurturing process, and you will establish the human-to-human feedback that no technology can replace.
  2. Find people who are truly focused on the customers’ needs and goals. It helps if these are the same people or are partnered with people who have a content responsibility for these audiences.
  3. Accelerate identification of the topics and help that customers are in most dire need of. The faster you get to that, the more grounded in direction tactical discussions and planning can be.
  4. Deploy processes and tools that help people be responsive to the dynamics of content performance. Once they see what the pace looks like for revisiting the hypotheses of their editorial calendars and how feedback iterates on that hypothesis, people get excited.
  5. Help people understand how content can map to the macro-stages of the customer lifecycle, and to the micro-stages of the various subscription transaction, decision support journeys that are contained within that lifecycle. It’s amazing how much people just shoot in the dark and hope they hit something as they check the box of marketing activities. It’s just that with digital technologies they are shooting in the dark with fancier machines.
  6. Help people identify their optimal publishing rhythms. It helps the organization rightly plan for the skills and resources required.
  7. Assign roles with content responsibility and ensure they have the time, skills and production resources required.
  8. As a champion of content you need to cultivate relationships based on service with anyone and everyone in the organization who are champions of content.
  9. Build alliances between siloed entities. In big companies you never know when a subsidiary is already a year and a half into an initiative that just needs to be scaled versus just starting it from scratch.
  10. Create centralization sparingly and empower independence. Centralizations should really be focused on essential control points, economy of resources, and effective service and asset delivery.
  11. Ensure that content is managed in a manner that is findable for repurposing. If people don’t have to re-create the same assets over and over, their entire program will accelerate.
  12. Help the organization quickly develop a hypothesis for what publishing channels to focus on, and what they expect to achieve from each one. Media channels as choreographed network is the key concept.
  13. Create a framework for defining quantitative goals, their respective KPIs and a manner for tracking these. That first step of setting up a quantitative hypothesis is very important. If what comes out of the pipe is very different from what you expected, you can start adjusting accordingly
  14. Run Pilots. Push to get content lifecycle technology gaps filled. Cultivate true believers invested in the systems.
  15. Have answers to every question imaginable about content. You need to be ready to be that go-to person.
  16. Have documented processes tools and templates ready to go yesterday. Build your documentation and tools as though you have been given a hundred million dollars to build the dream team of all time.
  17. Tell the story of content and providing foundational case examples that you continue to refer to time and time again. Get some examples and repeat them in the context of where and how they add value. These types of solid concepts have proven helpful in fostering a productive mental model.
  18. Create big picture visions of what federation and alignment looks like across the content and organizational eco-system. Help people see outside of their silo and have a big picture view.
  19. Have a vision of the future. The most futuristic possible. Really push it. Of course you want to have all sorts of near term feasible visions with incremental steps forward, the patience of a tree, the perseverance of tectonic motion, and release potential of a tsunami; but you never know when you will have those champions who want to dive in and envision with you.
  20. Scale strategy as a service. An often overlooked concept is the notion of how to deliver strategy services at scale. These strategic content services resources should be embedded into fundamental marketing processes upstream from stages where agencies typically get hired.

Just do all that and you’ll be fine.

Thanks Carlos!

Want to learn even more about content marketing?

Then be sure to reserve your space at Content Marketing World for insights from Carlos and over 200 other leaders in the content marketing industry.

In the mean time, be sure to read The Big Picture of Content Marketing Strategy below featuring advice from marketing executives at companies like Marriott, IBM and Eloqua as well as industry thought leaders Robert Rose, Kristina Halvorson and Jay Baer.


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Enterprise Content Marketing Strategy: Ready, Set, Action! Carlos Abler of 3M #CMWorld | http://www.toprankblog.com

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An Island made from plastic bottles by Richart Sowa



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Where some see a simple garbage Richard Sowa saw a way to make his dream. More than 150,000 plastic bottles used to create this magical floating island, talk about creative recycling! Watch this video to learn more about your almost completely sustainable development now calls home. This will make you think twice before just throwing a lot of things we consider trash.

Online Marketing News: Buy Button Bonanza, Everyone’s Getting ‘Near Me’, Facebook Snags The Spend

Engage Your Visitors

How to Write Better Titles Using Data-Driven Strategies [Infographic] – How much time did you put into the title of your last blog post? If your answer was, “Not much,” don’t worry — it’s often the most overlooked component of content. Check out this infographic to learn more. Search Engine Journal

Google Says “Near Me” Searches Have Doubled This Year – Search queries that contain a location qualifier such as “nearby” or “near me” have doubled in the past year, according to Google Trends data from March. Eighty percent of those searches come from mobile devices. Search Engine Land

STUDY: Different Engagement for Different Types of Content on Facebook – Do different types of content on Facebook lead to different types of engagement? Social media news aggregator NewsWhip has the answer. SocialTimes

Twitter Brings Programmatic to Social With Amplify Update – The microblogging service has introduced a program called Auto Amplify. The new feature reduces lots of manual work and helps brands better manage their campaigns in real time. ClickZ

Facebook Video Soars Past 4 Billion Daily Views – Showing no signs of slowing, daily video views on Facebook have jumped 1 billion since January. Marketing Land

Twitter Unveils Official Consulting Partners: IBM Is First Up – IBM has worked with Twitter as a strategic partner since October, and the relationship has helped the social-data purveyor recognize something important: Twitter needs more preferred consulting partners. Ad Age

Pinterest Unveils New ‘Action Buttons’ – The social networking site revealed the plan for its long-awaited revenue-generating feature. Inc.

The Majority of B2B Companies Are Using Incomplete Data – Almost three quarters of the records in B2B marketing databases are inaccurate or incomplete, according to a new study by Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex. Direct Marketing News

Twitter Unveils New Audience Insights Dashboard – Twitter is looking to entice more advertisers to the platform with a new Audience Insights dashboard, covering a wide range of analytics options. Similar to Facebook insights, Audience Insights includes an overview of various demographics, interests and purchase behaviour data, enabling Twitter advertisers to dig deeper into their audience and better target their content – both through paid and non-paid means. Twitter

Facebook Accounted For 75% Of Social Ad Spending Globally In 2014 – The global social advertising market grew 41% to $15.3 billion in 2014; Facebook is maintaining dominance despite lack of presence in the giant China market. Marketing Land

STUDY: Interaction with Instagram Posts Trounces Facebook, Twitter – When it comes to interaction with posts, Instagram blows away parent company Facebook and Twitter, according to a recent study by social analytics provider Quintly. SocialTimes

Uber Partners With Foursquare to Combine Local Search and Transportation – Uber has formed yet another partnership, this time with local search recommendation app, Foursquare, that will give the car service an even greater advantage over competitors like Lyft and Curb. Search Engine Watch

Facebook Adds “Call Now” Click-to-Call Feature to Newsfeed Ads – Local advertisers now have a new tool for converting social network users to leads and sales, thanks to Facebook’s new ‘Call Now’ button for News Feed ads. Mobile users who tap the button call the business immediately. Social Media Today

Google Confirms “Buy” Button Is Coming To Search Ads – Google has just confirmed the report that it will enable “buy now” buttons on some mobile ads. Marketing Land

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Marketing Domination Media


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The first fully solar-powered school district should happen this summer



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Students in a small region of southern Iowa again see the great technological changes in the fall. The more workers were to transform school buildings in the first district of Iowa completely powered by the sun.

In January, the district WACO farm installed a large solar collector behind the building of the primary school in Crawfordsville. In July, work should begin in another solar farm next to the main building of the school in Wayland. When all is done, solar energy should provide more than 90 percent of the electricity needs of the district.

From the street, WACO elementary as little primary school building in the city. But Superintendent Darrell Smith said that when he heard the buzz of the orders of the collector panel behind the school, it’s the sound of money in the bank.

“The first conversation we had was, ‘How can we reduce General Fund spending and save money for the district wanted to help the general fund and has evolved”? We were the first to go full sun in Iowa, “Smith said.

The director said that the initial configuration of the solar panel has already had an impact, saving about $ 20,000 in energy costs, while from the beginning of the year. After that, Smith began looking for ways to expand the use of solar energy throughout the district.

Another large solar park is expected to land next to the main building of the school in Wayland. Smith believes will bring the percentage of the area supplied by the sun to more than 90 percent. Given cloudy days in Iowa, he said here that almost 100 percent of solar energy as expected.

On sunny days, the solar panels should provide the district as much as 110 percent of the energy used. With net metering, the surplus is returned to the system of Alliant Energy and brought credit to the district.

WACO solar Conversation became a teaching moment this spring as 5 and 6 students took daily measurements ahead and calculates the output power. Professor Chad McClanahan said students began rooting for sunny days for the system to produce more energy.

“That gives you a sense when you can see what is happening and it makes a difference when it comes to science and green energy, and then say” Come look, “he said.

Superintendent Smith said WACO struggled trying to reach the final push spring sun. The original solar park was financed by a tax of one cent local option. But this money might not cover an additional system. The district wanted to take advantage of solar tax credits and private investment needed to buy the system with a lease-back and eventual sale of the district. Iowa law has no rules to cover this type of financial agreement.

Smith said the Iowa Department of Education has worked with the neighborhood and eventually found a way to make the project a reality. So when the sun shines at the end of August, this means more savings for the district of about 500 students.

It is expected that members of the Board of Directors of the WACO school for open tenders and approve the solar expansion in mid-June At least a dozen school districts in Iowa contact the responsible WACO ask how they did it.

5 Ways to Woo Your B2B Social Media Audience & 3 Brands That Are Doing it Well

WOO-SOCIAL-MEDIA-AUDIENCE

Have you ever been in a relationship where one partner wanted more, and the other was hesitant to take the next step?

Many B2B marketers are facing a similar roadblock. They’re ready to ask social media followers to “marry” them, but some of those followers are beginning to question why they liked the brand in the first place.

A recent study found that only 20% of CMOs are using social media for engagement. Two thirds of CMOs also report that they’re not ready to cope with social media.

Even though B2B marketers typically have a more difficult time forming a loyal fan base on social media than their B2C counterparts, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a substantial opportunity to create connections. It is essential that all B2B marketers keep in mind that the goal isn’t to form a relationship with companies on social media, it’s to form a bond with the individuals that work within the companies that you are targeting.

If you really want to create a lasting relationship with your audience that is mutually beneficial, consider the following recommendations to begin taking the next steps towards engagement.

5 Tips for Wooing Your Social Media Audience

#1 – Understand Audience Habits

What is one of the best ways to get to know someone? By asking them questions about themselves. The same logic applies to your online audience.

One of the first steps B2B marketers can take is to gain a true understanding of prospects social media habits and needs. This insight can be compiled in a few ways including”

  • Talking to your existing customer contacts. Never take your current customers for granted. They not only have similar pain points of your potential customers, but you also have a direct line of communication with them.
  • Using social media listening tools to help determine when your audience is spending time on specific social networks.
  • Gaining insight into what they care about. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook provide insight into what your audience interacts with the most.

#2 – Be a Good Storyteller

Another great way to relate to your partner is to share stories that they can relate to. Unfortunately, B2B customers have often gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to well-developed storytelling.

Remember that the point of social networks is to create a social interaction, not to boast about product or service benefits. Put marketing effort toward developing engaging questions, creating case studies and user scenarios.

#3 – Offer Variety in Social Media Publishing

Dating someone can quickly become boring and routine if you always take them on the same date, order the same meal and have the same conversation.

Similarly, your social media audience looks forward to interacting with brands that offer a variety of content types and visuals. Examples of content types that can be shared on social media include:

  • Moving Imagery
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • News Articles
  • Influencer Content
  • Crowdsourced Information

The list of types of information that can be shared on social media is nearly limitless.

#4 – Introduce Fans & Followers to Their Favorite “Celebrities”

How awesome would your significant other think it was if you took them to a concert to see their favorite band and got backstage passes so that they could meet the band members in-person.

Within each industry there are “celebrities” or influencers that are known as being authoritative on a particular subject. Promoting content that is co-created with industry influencers can be an excellent way to build credibility with your B2B social media audience.

#5 – Next Steps Sometimes Require an Investment

Once you’ve solidified the relationship with your partner, you may want to invest in purchasing a token to signify the commitment. Often, that  investment can be in the form of an engagement ring. The ring can signify your readiness to take the next step and their acceptance symbolizes their commitment to join you.

Social media advertising can both generate interest and be the tipping point for your social media audience to take the next step. Before making the leap into social media advertising it is essential that B2B marketers ask:

  1. What do we want to accomplish with a paid advertising campaign?
  2. How much are we comfortable investing?
  3. What will we be promoting with our advertisements?

3 B2B Companies Engaging Audiences on Social Media 

HP: Facebook

HP Facebook

You may not think that the top beaches, or asking followers to share what is on their summer reading lists will help sell electronics. However, HP is sharing content that their consumers care about and can connect with. HP has a business model that appeals to both B2C and B2B consumers alike.

FedEx: Twitter

FedEx Twitter

Not only did FedEx host the #FedEx400 to raise awareness for autism, but they provided an excellent play-by-play of the event for their online audience to consume. Their social media team also does a fantastic job of humanizing the brand by sharing images and tweets about national BBQ month near their headquarters and stories that feature their customers.

GE: LinkedIn

GE LinkedIn

GE has so many products that their social media strategy could quickly become scattered and overwhelming. However, they’ve done a fantastic job of providing a glimpse into information that matters most to their customers.

Are You Ready to Begin Wooing Your Social Media Audience?

Just like any relationship, it takes time to build trust, authority and loyalty with your social media audience. Also, it’s a relationship that must be nurtured consistently in order to grow and evolve.

What do you believe is your biggest opportunity for connecting with your social media audience?

Image: Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
5 Ways to Woo Your B2B Social Media Audience & 3 Brands That Are Doing it Well | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post 5 Ways to Woo Your B2B Social Media Audience & 3 Brands That Are Doing it Well appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.