Content Marketing Insights


What’s the Point of Content Marketing?

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by Christine B. Whittemore

What’s the point of content marketing? Good question. If you’re like me, you are overwhelmed with the day-to-day activities associated with running your business. The last thing you want to worry about is another obligation such as creating online content.

However, as a business person, you’re aware you need to be in front of your customers when they are in the buying process.  Increasingly, the buying process begins online, at a search window, typing in words that relate to the challenge they face, to the problem they are looking to address.

If you’ve done your digital homework and created online content, you have a terrific chance of getting found online in search engine results by the people who are most likely to become customers.

Content attracts customers. Really.

The point is that online content allows you to connect with people active in the buying process.  Really.

If you think of your online presence, and particularly your company website, as the digital equivalent of your brick-and-mortar business, then you have a chance of succeeding.

Why? Because you’ll start taking seriously the presence that your online real estate creates for you. You’ll think of it as a business asset that you deploy strategically.

You’ll consider which potential customers (aka personas) come to your site and what they do once they arrive.

You’ll start thinking about the path they take before purchasing.

You’ll anticipate the questions they ask and the words they use and be ready with responses and technical references to support your stand.

Here’s the interesting part about all this. You naturally do this when you discuss your business and marketplace with your sales organization, or when a potential customer approaches you in person.

All you need to do, then, to create online content is make multiple use of what you naturally do in support of your business:

  • Publish on your website or your blog answers to the questions potential customers ask you using the language they use. Do so regularly and consistently.
  • Explain how you, your organization and your associates are different from other resources. Be sure to highlight how those differences create value for your prospects. You may be bigger and better, but who cares if that means more bureaucracy for customers to wade through!
  •  Share your message using multiple media. In addition to your website and blog, publish updates on the social networks relevant to your customer audience – perhaps that’s LinkedIn or during a Twitter Chat. Don’t forget the power of a conversational follow up email after a phone call.

Online content is effective; it’s useful; it works for you 24/7 and it can help you build customer relationships.

After all, in a world where people are busy, don’t want to waste time, don’t trust marketing pitches and tend to do their own research before making a buying decision, online content rules.


O'Reilly DePalma content to conversions results

Good optimized content converts to leads

It supports the sales process and helps build relationships with customers over time and across the phases of the buying process. It allows you to humanize yourself, your company, your employees and your solutions for prospective customers. In the process, you not only educate them, but you pre-qualify them to do business with you.

The final point of online content is that you are able to measure what works and what doesn’t by observing website analytics and evaluating performance – something not as easily available offline.

Ready to commit to online content now?

(Note: O’Reilly DePalma is ready to commit to online content!  Realizing that we also get caught up in the daily service of our clients and running our business, we’re happy to announce that we’ve retained Christine Whittemore, Chief Simplifier of Simple Marketing Now to guest-blog for us once a month, on topics of content marketing, lead generation, and customer relationship marketing.  Christine and Nora DePalma met via Twitter in 2010, and have been collaborating ever since. For examples of our collaboration,  follow Mr. Steam at


Content Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV


Super Content

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Whenever anyone points to branded content as the big new thing in marketing, I have three words for them: Super Bowl ads.

An entire segment of the population watches the game exclusively for the ads. Including me in those years when the game doesn’t involve the Giants, the Packers, the Eagles, or the Falcons (such as last night-at least until it got interesting after the blackout).

According to Wikipedia, super content in Super Bowl ads started to emerge in the 1970s with the classic Master Lock ad, as well as Coca-Cola’s “Mean Joe Greene” ad.  Then the  folks at Apple brought us “1984″ and it was game over for lame advertising in front of the biggest TV audience of the year.

Now with the advent of self-publishing, similarly great content doesn’t need to reach the biggest audience, it just needs to connect with the most important audience, prospects who can be converted to customers.  Here’s an “ad” for Mr. Steam home steam showers you won’t see in today’s USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter, that stays true to the power of short-form, entertaining storytelling:

MrSteam: Work It Out or Steam It Out?.  Way better than Go Daddy, we think.

In my house, we enjoyed two new social media twists in last night’s content:

1. Pepsi hijacking the “Coke Chase” ad with it’s own video. Not the most entertaining of videos, but intriguing in the sense of how self-published content creates buzz and talk value without that pesky Super Bowl ad price tag.  (And late-breaking shoutout to Coke for a rebuttal video to Pepsi’s rebuttal video, issuing in a new era of cola content wars with this memorable copy:  “…it doesn’t take an esteemed actor to see that sequels never surpass the real thing.”)

2. Also, the Oreo brand team, on the ball as the lights went out in New Orleans, serving up this tasty nugget on Twitter and Facebook:

At this hour, this simple graphic has garnered almost 800 comments, 19,800 likes and almost 6,700 shares on Facebook.

One thing is true for all these examples: it takes talent.  For every CFO who believes a $15/hr copywriter is all it takes to fill a blog, there are forward-looking brands who know the true value of investing in good content.

Super content.

Content Marketing Insights | Social Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV


Social Media and Marketing Tips: Top 10 Blog Posts of 2012

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In 2012 everyone at O’Reilly-DePalma learned a lot, and had so many amazing conversations, both in real life and in the Twitter-verse. We realized the value of bringing the fun to conferences and trade shows, and navigated the sometimes confusing waters of SEO and social media. We looked at building clout in the industry and building Klout on Twitter. We even learned a couple of dance moves from a Rockette. (See: bringing the fun.)

We’re pleased to share this list of our ten most popular blog posts in 2012, and we hope these ideas and insights have been as useful to you as they have been to us:

This Just In: Social Media for Natural Disaster News: It’s not hard to imagine why this post was the #1 most read in 2012. Social media can be a lightning-fast way to share news and even quickly provide aid to families affected by disasters, whether natural or man made.

CES Loses Clout as New Products Launch Pad: We take a look at why industry trade shows have lost their impact and influence over the past few years, and also examine what some shows are doing right. (Hint: incorporating some fun into your booth is the way to go.)

eTail 2012 – 10 Things Building Products Marketers Need to Know: A nice girl from the building products industry shares ten amazing lessons on technology, social media, and online marketing that are relevant for almost any industry.

Building Relationships on Twitter with Stacy Garcia: We loved doing this interview with Stacy Garcia, the brains behind the popular KBTribeChat on Twitter. This post includes some really helpful insights into using social media to build a business.

A Klout Definition, As Best We Can: This post from 2011, in which we help untangle the real meaning of a Klout score, remained popular last year. Klout isn’t the ultimate measure of a person’s influence, but it can be a helpful evaluation tool.

Curation Nation - 10 Community Building Tips from #AtomicChat: Yes, Twitter conversations can help build your brand. We look at how to curate your social media content to effectively appeal to your target audience without wasting time or effort.

What Do Pandas and Penguins Have to Do with Your Marketing Strategy? Google updates its algorithms to keep over-optimized, spammy websites from rising to the top of search results. How do you make sure your websites are the cream of the crop under the new rules?

Brand Engagement Lessons from BlogHer 2012: Our overview of the highlights of brand engagement (featuring the Rockettes and pedicures) at BlogHer 2012. Creativity is key!

McDonald’s Redesign: Think Presentation and Environment Don’t Matter? OR-DP looks at the amazing effects a store redesign had on overall sales and even interest in new products at McDonalds.

Altitude Design Summer - New Model for Industry Conferences: You may have never heard of this conference, but if getting attention from influential design bloggers is your goal, this conference is the place to be.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll share our top ten Client News blog posts. Happy New Year, everyone!

Content Marketing Insights | Public Relations Insights | Social Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


Curation Nation - 10 Community Building Tips from #AtomicChat

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Content curation may just be the most misunderstood piece of the social media puzzle.

Not to mention the most underestimated skill set, especially for building products.

Curating content. Also known as being an editor.

It’s a special skill to provide content that draws and keeps a crowd. In the old days, some six or seven years ago, we called these people “editors.”

The best editors could quickly sort through volumes of junk to present the most interesting and relevant content that would engage their audience and keep them subscribing or tuning in for more. Brands paid for that skill with advertising and sponsorships, because good editors attracted a critical mass of their best prospects.

Now brands can attract their own prospects, but many fall way short, because they continue to think like marketers, not editors.  Too many marketers remain focused on what they want to say, vs. what their prospects want to hear.  “Curation saves your community time!” noted a participant in last night’s  #atomicchat on Twitter. Led by @JamesHicks of Hicks New Media, last night’s chat provided tips on how content curation can build a better community:

1. Stop, look and listen. What does your target audience discuss? What gets them fired up?

 RT @LindsayFultz: @mnashevents If you enlist and empower community, you’re never alone:)

@jameshicks: By linking to and collaborating with thought leaders in your industry page views, mentions and leads will come.

2. Smart curating demonstrates your value to customer prospects.

@Versalytics: Curating helps - indicates market awareness, opportunities, short falls.

@jameshicks By providing quality content from other trusted sources you build on your relevancy and build on the sense of community

3. Stimulate different senses with different types of content.

@jameshicks: Think different content types - text, audio and video content - to increase amplification

4. Develop an editorial calendar, but be ready to jump on “breaking” news, if the community is buzzing about something.

@jameshicks My content creation is most successful when I schedule time for it.

@jameshicks: breaking news and also the ability to analyze the news

5. Curating is different from stealing.

@jameshicks:  First and foremost always provide proper attribution back to the originating source

6. Curation attracts the right prospects through organic search.

@Shelby_Thev Content marketing and SEO go hand in hand.

7. Expect to invest time in curation.

@Modenus: ‘Free for all’ is easier and faster but curated is long lived substance.

8. Make the most of your curation investment with tools.

@LindsayFultz: Curation tools to check out that help SEO: @atomic_reach, @listly, @ranker & @markerly.

9. Also make the most of your curation investment by sharing the content on multiple platforms.

@Atomic_Reach: Round up top articles and use curation in newsletters, all social networks, blog posts, etc.

10. Recognize that curation IS marketing. It’s just different, requiring a different skill set.

@LindsayFultz: Brand advocates - most trusted WOM and for most part, only cost time (listen, engage, promote, empower)

#AtomicChat occurs on Twitter every Monday at 9 pm ET, led by Atomic Reach, a curation platform that helps brands and bloggers.


Content Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV


What Makes a Good Case Study?

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Everyone appreciates a good case study…

…especially manufacturers, looking for a credible way to depict the value propositions of their products in real-world settings through third-party testimonials;

…especially specifiers, builders and installers, looking to showcase their most attention-worthy projects and the professional skills that brought them to a successful conclusion;

…especially the media, always in need of compelling, newsworthy editorial that they may not have the time, the resources or the good fortune to uncover themselves;

…especially the readers of these case studies, trade and consumer, seeking innovative ideas to make their own lives easier, more productive and more fulfilling.

In many instances, these case studies — “project profiles” might be a more accurate term — are rendered briefly, sometimes with simple bullet points: a quick overview of the most salient details. It is enough to celebrate a high-profile project, allow for a quick bow by the key participants, while underlining critical role the highlighted product played in it.

But our changing media landscape now offers more opportunities for another type of case study, one that permits deeper storytelling and a genuine narrative arc. The editors who solicit — or are at least receptive — to this longer-form case study will likely insist that branding on behalf of a manufacturer or product be removed. But if one of their readers tells your product story through his on-the-job experiences, that is a more believable approach that is readily embraced by many editors.

So what are the core elements of a successful, B-to-B case study these days?

Compelling story line: If the project is large or prestigious, perhaps headed to LEED Platinum status or a high-profile design award, etc., that certainly helps. But a high profile is not essential to success. The best story lines involve problem-solving: What kinds of challenges did the individual at the center of the “action” encounter? How did the chosen product (yours) help him meet these challenges? Finally, what were the payoffs — preferably in tangible, measureable benefits — for all involved?

Credible players telling the story: Readers — and the editors who serve them — tend to place greater value on the words and experiences of other readers: people who do exactly what they do for a living. That’s why testimonial advertising is such a staple of business-to-business advertising. A professional reliving his successful saga for the edification of his like-minded brethren is compelling stuff, because it’s so easy readers to imagine themselves grappling with similar circumstances. “If that product/system/method helped that guy succeed, hey, maybe I should give it a shot, too.”

Captivating pictures enhancing the story: If you’re tempted to skimp in this area, don’t. Chances are, the editors already have had to themselves, which is why they need your help. Whether working in print or online, editors love good images because they bring readers closer to the action, while making stories more real and — best-case scenario — more comprehensible. Last, but far from least, excellent photography adds luster to any story, as well as to the media hosting or publishing it.

In short, excellent photography or illustration is the capstone of a well-conceived and well-written case study. It is an essential ingredient the media’s cultivation of loyal, enthusiastic audiences who believe and value what they are reading.

For more on the art of the case study, check out our three part series on a builders materials case study completed by O’Reilly-DePalma that garnered over 40 million impressions.

Content Marketing Insights | Public Relations Insights | The OR-DP POV | Trade Marketing Insights


What Do Pandas and Penguins Have to Do with Your Marketing Strategy?

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When Google makes an algorithm change to its  search functions, they try to make it as black and white as possible.

Specifically pandas and penguins.

Google Panda and Google Penguin are the names of two major Google algorithm changes designed to improve search results for users. Google is reducing the frequency of lame, spammy content rising to the top of Google search.  Panda and Penguin are designed to reward relevant, interesting and helpful content, not a bag of SEO tricks.

Two big takeaways:

You’re far better off updating one website daily with exceptional content than updating several sites weekly, monthly or less. Recency and quality are the two most important factors for search engine ranking for Google.

With the important exception of brand name domains,  keyword-rich domains are no longer valued, and in fact, may be devalued by Google.  Over-optimization is a big no - no in the Panda/Penguin age.

After both Panda and Penguin, quality content is not just king: it’s emperor, czar, dictator and deity.  Great videos, images and articles that are linked to from other sites and shared on social media get you more highly ranked, so that’s where you need to invest. The only way to shortcut that process is to buy keyword advertising.

Learn more:

And the nightmare-inducing:

Content Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV


Building Relationships on Twitter with Stacy Garcia

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People who think Twitter is nothing more than giant time suck probably don’t know about Twitter chats.

Stacy Garcia, on the other hand, knows that using Twitter chats is a good way to build community and awareness.

Stacy has been hosting KBTribeChat on Twitter since April 2011, bringing together designers, architects, brands and media people for a fast-paced one-hour online chat every Wed. at 2 pm ET/11 am PT.

Although a sales rep recently called her a “pioneer in social media,” the Garcia Cabinetmakers co-owner said she spent nearly a year on Twitter just meeting new people and learning the ropes. “I liked it a lot, so I just kept wondering, ‘How do I make this useful?’”

She was inspired to start the chat after former Hafele social media manager Rob Ainbinder suggested it and told her she should “just do it!”

“At first, it was crickets,” Garcia laughed. “It took a lot of time to get going. The only ones talking were the companies: Hafele, Formica and some of the appliance people.”

Stacy and Michael Garcia of Garcia Cabinetmakers, Huntington Beach, CA. Stacy runs KBTribeChat on Twitter. Michael says he isn’t sure about social media, but after 33 years of marriage, he’ll admit he’s been wrong before.

More recently, KBTribeChat has averaged 35 to 40 participants per week on topics such as The Vision House at Epcot, Lighting Styles and Strategies for Kitchens & Baths, Kitchen Islands, and my own turn at hosting on Steamy Shower Thoughts last week, sponsored by Mr. Steam.

A Return on Relationships AND A Return on Investment

Garcia says of social media, “Sure, it’s mostly about relationships. But you have to think about the bottom line. I think we’re all there to sell something. You put your personality out there and you hope there would be some sales.”

So has Garcia Cabinetmakers landed business from social media?

“Yes, today!” Garcia replied. A custom cabinet contract signed, sealed and delivered from someone who found the Huntington Beach, CA, firm from Stacy’s online activities, which include:

Garcia Cabinetmakers website with a photo gallery of their custom cabinetry craftsmanship.
Garcia Cabinetmakers on Twitter
Stacy_Garcia on Twitter
• The Garcia Cabinetmakers Facebook page
• The KBTribeChat blog
• The KBTribeChat Facebook page

Garcia’s husband and business partner Michael admits he isn’t quite so sure about the whole social media thing.

“To me, business is one-to-one. It’s a handshake. This is…well, I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head.

“But isn’t social media like a digital handshake?” I asked “A one-to-many way to network efficiently?

“Besides,” I added. “Your wife just said you got business from it.”

“OK, so I’m wrong! I’ve been married for 33 years. It’s happened before,” Michael said.

The March 21, 2011, kbtribechat will be hosted by blogger, builder and social media specialist Todd Vendituoli talking about Blogging for Business. Not sure where to start? Learn how to join a Twitter chat on Stacy’s blog.

Content Marketing Insights | Social Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV


Social Media for Brands and Builders Todd Vendituoli

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Todd VendituoliBuilder and blogger Todd Vendituoli notes that first dates can be hard. Especially between bloggers and brands.

The owner of both Todd Vendituoli Construction L.L.C. based out of West Burke, VT and KV Construction Company Ltd, based out of Eleuthera, Bahamas, has taken a deep dive into social media, blogging for his own company at The Building Blox, and helping builders learn social media through the new blog:  SocialMedia4Builders.

“I’ve heard of some friction between brands and bloggers, and this really should not be the case,” Vendituoli told us. “The reason, it seems, is that some brands want to control the message put out by bloggers and this isn’t how social media works at its best.

Vendituoli notes that a true return on relationships between brands and bloggers works much like any good dialogue.  “The relationship should be a give and take,” he says, and one of mutual benefit. Before the “first date” between bloggers and brands, Vendituoli said brands need to plan for a mutually beneficial relationship. “Remember, if you have a great product or service, it will come out as such, but not by blasting it.”

The Mating Game Between Bloggers and Brands

How does that first date get started and progress beyond the awkward first hello so that everyone is still smiling? Vendituoli’s tips for brands:

1. Send out a promotional kit or letter showing what you have to offer.  What are the benefits of your product or service?

2. Offer to send product samples that can be seen and touched, if that’s applicable.

3. Even better, arrange a factory tour.

4. Set up a meeting or call via Skype to discuss what you are hoping to accomplish.

5. Enable interviews with customers and employees that will offer another glimpse of how you operate towards others.

What criteria does Vendituoli use in deciding what brand information to report on his blogs and through his social network?

1. Is it going to be interesting to my readers? What does the brand offer? How does the brand treat its community and employees? What products/initiatives does the brand have in the pipeline?

2. Will it be informative?

3. Is there potential for a conversation to develop around the topic?

4. Would I want to read this topic?

“Readers want good, clean informative topics that aren’t biased,” Vendituoli says.

“Brands have unique products or services that could be highlighted by bloggers for their mutual benefit. Now I said could because if your brand is 100 percent what you say it is, it will be a wonderful relationship. However if it isn’t, there is a problem right off. I can’t and won’t tell people what I don’t honestly know and believe to be truthful about a brand, product or service. Just not happening, so don’t even ask. No spin.”

Is There a Cost?

At a minimum, brands need to invest time in building a relationship with Vendituoli.  Blasting out useless news has been the bane of journalists since the craft of public relations has existed. Bloggers feel no differently. Get to know them. Read and subscribe to their blog, and react to their posts. Follow them on social media and have discussions.  Focus more on what the blogger—or journalist wants—rather than on what you want in return (That’s relationships 101, right?).

There is a time investment on the blogger’s side to build their social community. Vendituoli is an active engager on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.  “Bloggers’ spend a great amount of time developing content, connecting with contacts and resources, and promoting their work across the various social media platforms to make sure content is read,” Venditouli said. “That has a monetary value in my opinion.”

No publisher or producer would say otherwise. No brand could either, having financially supported content-based communities for years with a tactic called advertising.  This is simply a new model of reaching an audience, but even better in some ways. Bloggers such as Venditouli are forming tight new communities where personal recommendations offer highly sought after credibility and endorsement.

Follow Venditouli on any of these platforms:

On Twitter @TALV58

On Facebook at Todd Vendituoli Construction L.L.C.

On Google+

On his blogs, The Building Blox and SocialMedia4Builders.

Content Marketing Insights | Social Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV


Blogger Profile: Patty Woodland, Goat Publicist

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Goat publicist Patty Woodland blogs at Broken Teepee and The Maaaaa of Pricilla.

When Jersey girl Patty Woodland left the hustle and bustle of city life and moved out to the open country of Montana, she never expected to become a farmer, much less a goat publicist.  But the change of pace and scenery were both a welcome sight to Woodland and her husband after years of hard work building his law practice in NJ.

As a blogger, Woodland spends hours each day writing about farm life from her perspective on her Broken Teepee blog and from the perspective of her goat Pricilla on The Maaaaa of Pricilla. Yes, you read it correctly: a GOAT.

For this goat farmer, there’s no more honking cars, just the maaaaas of the goats she milks to make her Happy Goats Soap sold through Etsy. With the help of spokesgoat Pricilla’s witty blog, Woodland is able drive interest for her specialty craft product and, therefore, sales of the soap.

Pricilla the Goat on the farm in Maaaaa-ntana

Woodland, a.k.a. “the publicist” as Pricilla the goat calls her, finds one of the strongest traffic generators-and hence sales-is commenting on other blogs. She states that it’s a two-way road in the blogging world and bloggers must be active with their own blogs, as well as others. Helping the matter, her avatar is the face of one of her goats, which is sure to raise curious eyebrows as it stands next to human faces in comment sections.

The same approach is taken with Woodland’s personal blog, Broken Teepee, which is described as a collection of “product reviews, giveaways and life on the farm.” Through her interesting content and interaction on other blogs, Woodland’s Broken Teepee blog typically generates 9,000 page views per month from approximately 4,000 unique visitors.

How to Pitch Brands

Woodland frequently sends letters to brands, requesting to test new products that she needs for her home and farm.  She promises to write honest reviews on everything from books to new toilets or faucets that she offers to install in her energy-efficient yurt. When applicable, she even goes the extra step and snaps pictures of the product in use, as she did in this review for our American Standard client.

In Woodland’s eyes, she is no expert of book or product reviews, however, her remote location means that the majority of her shopping is done online.  Which combined with her influence among loyal readers, makes her fairly valuable to brands.

The days of living in the city are no longer a desire for Woodland.  Green Acres is the place for her and the goats. And for brands who want to reach the best personal blogs.

Content Marketing Insights | Social Marketing Insights | The OR-DP POV