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Connie Weaver of TIAA: Building an Experience-based Customer Engagement Brand

Connie Weaver, the Chief Marketing Officer of the financial services business TIAA, has pioneered the notion of an “engagement brand” – by redefining the TIAA brand as a customer experience. Below, I followed up with her to get more insight into what it takes to execute an experience-based brand promise from a process, systems, accountability and mindset perspective.

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Findings From The Brand Publishing Institute – PwC “Direct to Customer” Marketing Workshop

Working hand-in-hand with a cross functional group of marketers to define and accelerate models for Direct-to-Consumer marketing, sales and engagement.DTC Banner Long

Every brand is struggling to figure out how to adapt their go-to-market and distribution models the face of:

  • An explosion of direct mobile, social and digital touchpoints for engaging customers
  • The evolution of the customer journey into an “anytime, anywhere” customer experience
  • The growing demand for relevant, timely, and personalized content experiences

These forces are creating opportunities, channel disruptions and new competitive threats for brands that sell directly as well as those that rely on intermediaries and channel partners to reach their end customers.  71% of executives strongly agree that the proliferation of customer touch points has led to the increased customer expectations according to recent research by PwC.  And according our recent analysis, most marketers are struggling to deliver personalized content experiences across digital, mobile, and social touch points from a cost, complexity and coordination standpoint. “With all these mobile, social and digital engagement options, the customer journey has morphed from a relatively linear path-to-purchase into a non-linear process where customers engage with brands in “ping pong like” interactions as they discover, shop, purchase and use offerings” says Matt Egol, of the Brand Publishing Institute Faculty.

Customer Journey

To come up with answers, the Brand Publishing Institute partnered with PwC’s Digital Services team to host an immersive one-day session focused on defining and accelerating models for Direct-to-Consumer Marketing, Sales and Engagement.

On May 17th in Miami, our team worked hand-in-hand with a select group of marketing leaders from non-competitive companies  at  PwC’s State of the Art Digital Experience Center for highly collaborative and output driven working session.

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Hear What the Marketers In Our Workshop Learned

Using a scientifically proven approach, in one highly productive day, we developed a plan to:

  • Fuse market trends, client examples, technologies with our collective ideas, and experiences to create winning concepts;
  • Zero in on the critical touch points and experiences where brands can build competitive advantage in 2020;
  • Identify the essential capabilities in the content supply chain to deliver the real-time, configurable, and “channel agnostic” content needed to support future engagement models;
  • Uncover ways your company can accelerate it’s direct-to-consumer efforts to leverage your unique strengths and create competitive advantage.

The session included a mix subject matter experts and executives in eCommerce, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing and Customer Experience from a variety of industries, including: CPG, Travel and Hospitality, Technology, Entertainment and Media, as well as traditional Direct Marketers.  By cross fertilizing the experiences and perspectives of these market leaders, we systematically:

  1. Identified the top opportunities to improve speed to market and get closer to customers with more direct mobile and digital interaction;
  2. Anticipated disruptions to established distribution models and channel relationships so they can be proactively managed;
  3. Agreed on the most promising new models for delivering value, building brand advocacy, and loyalty;
  4. Flagged the top threats from new competitors and direct engagement models.

If this is a critical issue to your team, and you want learn more about the findings of this working session or our DTC best practices, please contact Stephen Diorio at 203-227-6020.

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Brand Publishing Institute Launches Brand Publishing Acceleration Programs

The Brand Publishing Institute Launches the Brand Publishing CMO Boot Camp, An Online Executive Education Program to Teach CMOs Publishing Skills That Are Now Critical to Doing Their Jobs

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Maximizing the return on your personalization investment means optimizing your content operations

Delivering personalized experiences to customers is clearly a top priority of marketers. In fact, 94% of senior-level executives believe delivering personalization is critical or important to reaching customers according to a recent study conducted by PWC’s Digital Services group.

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Experience the Brand Publishing CMO Boot Camp Online Education Platform

We invite you to take the introductory class to our executive education program – The Brand Publishing Bootcamp for Chief Marketing Officers.

This modular, online, self-directed program is designed to quickly and efficiently teach CMO’s – and the marketing executives responsible for managing Marketing Content Operations – how to successfully manage the rising cost and complexity of content operations, and sustainably fuel content-intensive sales and marketing programs.

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Ten Steps to Building a Brand Publishing Center of Excellence

Get A CMO Blueprint for Managing Marketing Content Operations at Scale.

This year, the Brand Publishing Institute conducted extensive research to uncover best practices to provide marketing executives a holistic methodology for organizing, optimizing, and systematizing enterprise-wide publishing processes.

Our most recent research report – Ten Steps to Building a Brand Publishing Center of Excellence – found that Brand Publishing – defined as the production, management, distribution, and optimization of marketing and sales content at scale – has become essential to the future growth of every business and critical to the success of every Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

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Introducing the Brand Publishing CMO Boot Camp

Brand publishing has emerged as a critical corporate competency as marketing organizations and their agencies struggle to create the high quality, contextual, well-structured marketing content essential to the success of virtually every modern marketing program. Marketing content now represents over one quarter of the sales and marketing investment in most companies and is viewed as “the life blood” of modern marketing.

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The Emergence of Thought Leadership as a Sales and Marketing Discipline

TLP LIght BulbThe notion of establishing thought leadership has emerged as a top priority with sales and marketing executives. Growth-starved organizations are looking for ways to differentiate themselves with new ideas, education, and relevant solutions that address buyer pain and influence their perceptions of value. Marketing executives are learning that subject matter expertise and a strong point of view are now essential to success in the digital, social, and mobile channels that buyers use during the majority of the buying process. Sales executives realize original research and compelling insights make it easier to open doors, start quality customer conversations, generate referrals, and cross-sell solutions.

A chorus of consultants and marketing leaders are writing about the importance of thought leadership in all aspects of sales and marketing. Senior executives surveyed by Forbes regard finding ways to differentiate the customer experience in social, mobile, and digital channels as vital to achieving growth goals as media fragmentation and changing buyer behavior diminish the value and effectiveness of ad impressions.

While the messengers may vary, one message is becoming clear – investing in creating thought leadership makes good business sense. If you want to improve sales effectiveness, differentiate your brand, and give customers the engagement and insights they are seeking – invest in a thought leadership program.

Every successful business has unique intellectual property and subject matter expertise. The problem is most of this institutional knowledge lies “between the ears” of your employees – product managers, top salespeople, solutions specialists and the executive leadership. The new marketing challenge is to devise a scalable thought leadership strategy to productize this knowledge, and monetize it with customers, prospects, and influencers.  My book Think Write Grow documents how early adopters – such as IBM, PwC, and McKinsey & Co – have generated measurable sales outcomes by systematically institutionalizing, packaging, and delivering thought leadership through sales, marketing, and media channels. These market leaders wrote the playbook for using thought leadership assets to:

  • Cut through the advertising clutter and more effectively take advantage of high-growth media such as social networks, online video, mobile applications and search engine optimization
  • Drive sales with compelling ideas that open new doors and provide relevant reasons to continue to call on high-potential customers
  • Differentiate their offerings and value proposition from the competition by educating customers, delivering good ideas, and providing a unique perspective
  • Demonstrate that they understand the needs, preferences, and behaviors of their top customers
  • Increase ROI by better leveraging their marketing content in the go-to-market process
  • Make it easier to consume content in media, marketing, and sales channels.

Despite the growing importance of thought leadership to top-line growth, most organizations fail to put marketing “muscle” behind their ideas by executing disciplined Thought Leadership Programs in sales, marketing, and media channels. It turns out an effective thought leadership program is hard to describe and even harder to execute – no matter how much money you throw at it. There are several good reasons for this:

  • Thought leadership marketing is a relatively new discipline that is poorly understood. Originally pioneered by professional services leaders such as McKinsey, IBM, and the Gartner Group, it has now become an executive priority for most business-to-business (B2B) marketers.
  • Most B2B marketers do not have a content strategy, an institutional point of view, or a person in charge of content, despite spending up to a quarter of their budget on content.
  • Most CMOs lack the time, resources, processes, and organizational structure needed to create original content that opens doors, breaks through clutter, and changes buyer perceptions of value. The top content marketing challenges facing CMOs are lack of time to focus on creating quality content, and the difficulty of establishing thought leadership.
  • Finally, the traditional ad agencies that sales and marketing executives look to for support cannot generate the depth of insight, quality of content, or level of sales process integration necessary for these programs to succeed. As a result, salespeople in client selling situations use very little of the content marketing departments and their agencies create, and so it fails to motivate customers to buy, doesn’t drive cross-sell, or challenge the customer mindset.

The keys to executing a successful thought leadership program

Based on our experience executing Thought Leadership Programs for over a hundred market leaders such as Ernst & Young, Adobe, DuPont, CBS and SunTrust Bank, Forbes Insights defines a thought leadership program as taking a programmatic approach to delivering new ideas, relevant advice, and compelling solutions to prospects and customers using sales, marketing, and media channels. A successful thought leadership program will give your salespeople a disciplined and coordinated stream of advisory content that will help them open doors, make more effective sales calls, differentiate your offerings, and deliver relevant advice. There are three steps to designing and executing a thought leadership program that will help your salesforce generate measurable sales growth in the next sales quarter:3 Steps to a TLP

The three secrets to identifying, packaging and creating effective thought leadership assets that drive sales results are:

  • Quality – When it comes to establishing thought leadership, quality matters more than quantity. Content marketing should not be confused with thought leadership. One original, compelling, and well-supported insight can outperform an avalanche of content marketing. In fact, compelling insights and ideas are essential to engaging customers as marketers flood social and digital media channels with content and a clutter of messages.
  • Channel readiness – Salespeople don’t use most of the content the marketing department creates because the marketing assets are often hard to find, difficult to access on mobile devices, or not formatted to be useful in face-to-face selling situations. Your content assets need to be packaged into “bite-sized” and easy-to-consume pieces that are ready for a variety of sales, marketing, and media channels. Forbes has published guidelines for marketers wanting to create channel-ready content that is actionable, targetable, useful, trackable, and reusable.
  • Alignment – Most marketing content fails to generate enough leads, meetings, and cross-sell opportunities. This is largely a design problem. Brand communications, ad impressions, and product collateral are not always designed to open doors or start conversations. To effectively support top-line growth, your content needs to be structured and packaged to target demand generation, solution selling, social selling, and predictive targeting programs.

Thinkwritegrow book coverYou can learn more about how you can become a thought leader by creating exceptional articles, blogs and books by reading my book Think Write Grow 

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Three Keys to Driving Measurable Sales Outcomes with Marketing Content

In his book Think Write Grow, Grant Butler counsels marketing executives to focus on three points of leverage – content quality, go-to-market alignment, and distribution effectiveness – if they want to drive more measurable growth outcomes from their content investment. The book raises several important issues.

The bar on content quality is rising. As buyers experience content saturation and information overload, the notion of establishing thought leadership has emerged as a top priority with sales and marketing as the best way to differentiate their brands and ensure marketing effectiveness. Marketing executives are learning that subject matter expertise and a strong point of view are now essential to success in the digital, social, and mobile channels that buyers use to during the majority of the buying process. Sales executives realize original research and compelling insights make it easier to open doors, start quality customer conversations, generate referrals, cross sell, and influence buyer perceptions of value. An ounce of thought leadership is worth ten pounds of “me too” content when it comes to improving marketing effectiveness, differentiating your brand, and giving customers the relevant insights they are seeking.

Content distribution drives value. In his 2015 content trend forecast, online marketer Jason Demers astutely points out that the real value from content marketing comes from distribution. Like a race car – a big engine matters less than how much of the power it generates makes it to the wheel. “The ability to effectively communicate an idea to your customers using your sales, marketing and media channels is just an important as the idea itself”, according to Grant Butler, author of the book Think, Write, Grow . Marketing executives are slowly learning that content marketing is more than a tactic for social and earned media channels. The most sophisticated marketers in the consulting, technology, and financial services industry have realized that the publishing process has become the backbone of their go to market strategy. These marketing leaders are distinguishing themselves with channel strategies that amplify the impact of their thought leadership content in their sales, marketing, and media channels and support every step of the go-to-market process. That means the key to improving marketing effectiveness is finding better ways to leverage your content investment across a wider variety of channels – including: marketing automation, sales enablement, CRM, social selling, digital marketing, and blogs. TLP Supporting GTM

Content strategy drives measurable sales outcomes. Over the past several years content marketers have claimed ownership over two thirds of the buyers journey and as a byproduct, a larger share of the marketing budget. Now they will need to start to take accountability for the results their investment in content is yielding. Unfortunately, most marketers do not have a strategy to direct that investment, a plan for how it will generate top line growth, or measures that ensure meaningful sales outcomes are achieved. The Forbes research report explains the best way to ensure your content investment will drive measurable sales outcomes is to create a strategic foundation for your program that directly supports your sales and marketing processes and aligns with your communications, branding and product sales goals.

 It is time for content marketing to mature from a social media tactic to a formal go-to-market discipline. Marketers that take a more programmatic approach to delivering new ideas, relevant advice and compelling solutions to customers using a mix of sales, marketing and media channels will generate significantly more growth from their content investment.

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It’s Time to Get Serious About Managing the Quality and Distribution of Your Marketing Content

Marketing content has become the fuel for modern marketing systems. The quality of marketing content impacts the ability of marketers to drive top line growth with digital, social, native advertising, and mobile channels. And salespeople need insightful content to help open doors, start meaningful conversations, and sell value. These facts have led to bigger content marketing budgets, more writers creating content assets, and a proliferation of agencies specializing in content.

But despite its value and importance, marketing content is generally mismanaged by most organizations. Several signs indicate that 2015 will be a year that changes. The predictions of several marketing experts suggest that the challenge of managing the cost, complexity and effectiveness of all this marketing content has become a significant “pain point” for senior marketing executives. The writing on the wall suggests it is time for marketers to get serious about managing the quality, distribution, and impact of their marketing content investment.

Marketing executives need to focus on three points of leverage if they want to drive more measurable growth outcomes from their content investment: content quality, go-to-market alignment, and distribution effectiveness.

The bar on content quality is rising. As buyers experience content saturation and information overload, the notion of establishing thought leadership has emerged as a top priority with sales and marketing as the best way to differentiate their brands and ensure marketing effectiveness. Marketing executives are learning that subject matter expertise and a strong point of view are now essential to success in the digital, social, and mobile channels that buyers use to during the majority of the buying process. Sales executives realize original research and compelling insights make it easier to open doors, start quality customer conversations, generate referrals, cross sell, and influence buyer perceptions of value. An ounce of thought leadership is worth ten pounds of “me too” content when it comes to improving marketing effectiveness, differentiating your brand, and giving customers the relevant insights they are seeking.

Content distribution drives value. In his 2015 content trend forecast, online marketer Jason Demers astutely points out thatthe real value from content marketing comes from distribution. Like a race car – a big engine matters less than how much of the power it generates makes it to the wheel. “The ability to effectively communicate an idea to your customers using your sales, marketing and media channels is just an important as the idea itself”, according to Grant Butler, author of the book Think, Write, Grow . Marketing executives are slowly learning that content marketing is more than a tactic for social and earned media channels. The most sophisticated marketers in the consulting, technology, and financial services industry have realized that the publishing process has become the backbone of their go to market strategy. These marketing leaders are distinguishing themselves with channel strategies that amplify the impact of their thought leadership content in their sales, marketing, and media channels and support every step of the go-to-market process. That means the key to improving marketing effectiveness is finding better ways to leverage your content investment across a wider variety of channels – including: marketing automation, sales enablement, CRM, social selling, digital marketing, and blogs.

TLP Supporting GTM

Content strategy drives measurable sales outcomes. Over the past several years content marketers have claimed ownership over two thirds of the buyers journey and as a byproduct, a larger share of the marketing budget. Now they will need to start to take accountability for the results their investment in content is yielding. Unfortunately, most marketers do not have a strategy to direct that investment, a plan for how it will generate top line growth, or measures that ensure meaningful sales outcomes are achieved. The Forbes research report explains the best way to ensure your content investment will drive measurable sales outcomes is to create a strategic foundation for your program that:

  • Directly supports your sales and marketing processes;
  • Aligns with your communications, branding and product sales goals;
  • Drives the right sales outcomes;

 It is time for content marketing to mature from a social media tactic to a formal go-to-market discipline. Marketers that take a more programmatic approach to delivering new ideas, relevant advice and compelling solutions to customers using a mix of sales, marketing and media channels will generate significantly more growth from their content investment.