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The Back Deck

Our view on navigating today’s marketing landscape

10 Sep
2013

Embracing Rose City Bike Culture

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One of the great things about working at CMD is the way the company embraces the Rose City’s bike culture. Bike commuting is actively encouraged year-round, with a lot of extra support for people who get into the saddle for the Bike Commute Challenge each September. And, as an art director, I get to spend my days crafting the visual language of all the things we make for our clients: websites, mobile apps, brochures, you name it. It’s a process where I’m fortunate to work with some really talented individuals. This brings me to Studio 3 photography studio, and partnering on a creative project that reflects my personal passion for cycling as well as that embraced by Portland and CMD.

First Ride with Studio 3

I first worked with Studio 3 in December 2010, shooting bird’s eye views of two Western Star trucks. It wasn’t an easy shoot, given the sheer size of the trucks. And thanks to the unpredictable nature of Pacific Northwest skies in winter, we were forced to shoot inside a warehouse. In that kind of a situation, you can only get an angle so wide before running into problems with distortion. But Craig Wagner, the photographer from Studio 3, was very methodical in overcoming these logistic issues. Over the two days we shot, we bonded over a mutual appreciation for all things on wheels, be it two, four or eighteen. That shoot was just the beginning of a strong professional relationship, and then this past spring, something got us talking about my old bike.

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Customizing the Touring Bike

I’ve been customizing this vintage Trek touring bike since the birth of my young son. It had sat in my garage, collecting dust for several years, because it’s so much heavier than my aluminum road bike and I tend to opt for speed. But it’s always been a great bike. The steel frame gives it a really comfortable ride. It reminds me of the matching yellow Schwinns that my parents used to pedal me around on. When I started thinking about how to introduce my boy to cycling, I swapped out the drop bars for mustache bars (to accommodate a front-mounted child seat). This gave the bike a totally different look, and I suddenly developed a new appreciation for the bike’s classic styling. Soon after, I added a Brooks leather saddle and matching bar tape. Then it kind of took on a life of its own. Slow_Ride_BadgeSince then, I continue to adjust little details like striped white tires, or black dice valve covers. My latest addition was designing the “Slow Ride” aluminum head badge, which I had made at International Graphics. “Slow Ride” was influenced by a few things: My son’s ‘70s-era, Evel Knievel helmet, and the fact that the bike weighs upwards of 30 pounds. We won’t be winning any races on this thing, but that’s hardly the point of our rides.

“Slow Ride” Photoshoot

I was thrilled that Craig was interested in collaborating on a “Slow Ride” shoot featuring the customized bike. As an art director, I really admire his attention to detail and the way he plans a shot. He’s keenly aware of potential challenges, and always has a good solution for telling a story through his lens. Half the fun of this shoot was working together on the idea, putting together moodboards, and scouting locations. As he tells it: “Working with Lawrence’s “Slow Ride” concept was fun and allowed me plenty of creative freedom. The mood boards were coherent and well designed.  With a clear understanding of the desired outcome and tone, we were ready to go. I look forward to many more future projects with Lawrence’s creative concept development and the CMD team!”

The Journey Continues

There are more awesome takes and observations from the “Slow Ride” shoot with Craig and team on Studio 3’s blog, plus you too can get involved in this year’s Bike Commute Challenge by visiting the website.

Editor’s Note: At CMD, we’ve been participating in the Bike Commute Challenge since 2006, growing our team each September. Beyond what’s going on in the greater biking community, CMDers get prizes and activities to keep our bikers pumped up (as it were) and ready ride every day. Follow our faithful cyclists on Facebook and Twitter for fun updates and photos, plus updates on Instagram under the hashtag #bikecmd13. 

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6 Sep
2013

CMD Ad of the Day: Eggceptional Work for NW Natural’s Latest Advertising Campaign

In a potential emergency, how you respond makes all the difference. For NW Natural, their message of safety is a top priority. And they want to make sure that their customers are listening.

But how do you share your safety message in a memorable way that has broad appeal with audiences—without coming across like a typical PSA? This was what CMD was tasked with accomplishing for NW Natural’s latest TV ad campaign, titled “Little Leaks.”

A 30-second spot features digitally animated “rotten egg” characters that leak into the house and wreak havoc, with the purpose of reminding viewers of one of NW Natural’s key safety messages: Smell. Go. Let us know.

“The Little Leaks campaign offers a fun, emotional and memorable connection to NW Natural and natural gas safety, making it about more than just a gas company,” said Jeff Nichols, creative director at CMD.

CMD tapped Hinge Digital in Portland to bring the idea to life with creative, entertaining animation that appears on-screen along with shot footage and actors that help tell the story. The animated characters were key to creating a memorable, emotional connection to the message.

NW Natural is expanding awareness for the Little Leaks campaign by leveraging the rotten egg characters in other marketing channels, including a newspaper ad and a Twitter contest.

The spot is airing now across broadcast stations in Portland and Eugene, including KATU, KGW, KPTV, KEZI, KMTR, KVAL and Comcast.

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27 Aug
2013

From BlogHer’13: Social ROI Questions Keeping Bloggers Up at Night

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“BlogHer is a snake meal of ideas in a wonton wrapper of love. Afterwards you need a two-day nap, then it nourishes you for a year.”@debontherocks

Well, it’s been a few weeks since my snake meal and requisite post-conference nap, and those ideas are still percolating. It was a big privilege to participate in the conference in Chicago this year, and especially to share an agency perspective on communicating social ROI with a room full of talented content creators.

The bloggers who attended had excellent questions, and for those who didn’t attend or follow on the BlogHer virtual conference, here’s a short discussion of some of the compelling questions that the community raised.

What are the baseline ROI metrics brands want to see?

To me, there isn’t a magic number, so here’s my advice: As a content creator, you’ve got to be honest with your sponsors, of course, and you’ve got to know where your sponsored programs fit in the sales funnel. For sponsors who are looking for awareness, at the top of the funnel, they’ll likely want to see as many impressions as you can muster. For sponsors who are more focused on qualitative programs, like receiving feedback during a product trial, they will be seeking a highly engaged community that is focused in their target area.

If I have 1,000 followers, that equals 1,000 impressions, right?

This is a common misperception of the term “impressions.” Impressions simply means the opportunity to view content, and it is a machine-driven (algorithm) calculation, not a simple 1:1 ratio. In the case of Facebook, you need to rely on Facebook Insights for your page to calculate the total opportunity to view your content. For Twitter-sponsored content, rely on an accepted tool, like Tweetreach, to calculate impressions on your content. There are tools becoming available for Pinterest and other popular social networks as well.

What if you’re just getting started and you can’t point to sponsored tactics that have worked well with brands in the past?

Be ready to define your community in both demographic and psychographic terms, and express strongly to a potential partner the activities you feel will resonate.

I need the brands I work with to give back to my community, not just expect me to give my capital to them. How do I address that?

Outline the “gives and gets.” For example, if it is important to you to have a sponsor give you a shout-out on their social networks, ask for it and put it in your contract!

Did you follow the news from BlogHer’13? Which speakers or topics caught your attention this year?

 

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20 Aug
2013

PORTLAND TAKES ON AUSTIN: CAST YOUR SXSW PANEL VOTES!

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We love SXSW. Tons of fresh ideas and thought-provoking approaches. But every year, we are somewhat struck by the fact that there are many Northwest agencies, firms and brands that can rival the best of them when it comes to innovative, creative thinking. That’s why this year, we’re tossing our hat in the ring too and humbly ask that if you like the topics we’re proposing below and think they have some merit as part of the SXSW line up for 2014, please do us a favor and vote for them.

The SXSW Panel Picker is open until Sept. 6. It’s easy to vote once you’ve registered here http://ow.ly/o3SlV. Direct links to some of our proposed panel session can also be found below. As always, we very much appreciate your consideration and thank you in advance for your support.

Proposed session #1: Tear Down Those Walls! Implode Your Community

Wake up brand and social media managers: Stop trying to build a walled-off fortress to your community, expecting fans to beat a path to your door. Instead, blow up your existing community and go to where your audience already is, giving them  great experience no matter how they choose to interact with you (via mobile apps, social, partner programs, in-person). Real life example from a dynamic Microsoft community will be explored, which is sure to inspire you to think differently about community engagement too. Vote here: http://bit.ly/14WzlKc

Proposed session #2: Your Corporate Blog Needs a Facelift

Have the blogging blahs? Think a blog strategy doesn’t work for business audiences? Think again. Based on a behind-the-scenes case study of the Best Corporate Blog of the Year as named by BtoB magazine, this session answers burning questions… like how to bring your blog back from the dead. Vote here: http://bit.ly/1d0JNTo

Proposed session #3: Cracking the Code for Content Marketing

Not a day goes by where most marketers don’t hear the words, “We need more content from influencers!” This session takes idea that often sits on the backburner with the brand team and turns the heat on full blast. Learn how Expedia created an entire platform for prominent travel bloggers to showcase and share their talents – all for the benefit of the brand and to drive demand gen. Vote now: http://bit.ly/1cV7vRT

Proposed session #4: Dude, Where’s My Mobile Tour Digital Strategy?

When most marketers think of mobile tours, they probably dream of tricked out trucks. But the real engine is to kick it out of neutral and put the effort into extending the experience online to reach a much bigger audience. This session feature a page out of Columbia Sportswear’s book for how to connect both and on and offline mobile strategy in a way that drives home a product launch strategy in more powerful ways. Vote now: http://bit.ly/16qnzor

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16 Aug
2013

CMD Incubator Group Explores the Latest Social Media Trends and Tools

The CMD incubator group congregated for a special lunch session this week to continue its regular exploration into the latest trends in social media advertising and engagement tools. There were representatives from every part of the agency including earned media, paid media, digital strategy, technical services and creative.

Everyone came together for a lively and thoughtful conversation as we dived into a variety of interesting topics including new sponsorship and advertising opportunities on LinkedIn, experiences from BlogHer and a new social media tool offering exciting opportunities for engagement.

Here’s a quick download on what we discussed:

New LinkedIn Opportunities, presented by @JulieYli

The Download: LinkedIn is opening up a host of advertising and sponsorship opportunities for companies. Some of the new updates include sponsored updates for companies, more advanced targeting options, additional sponsored group levels, and sponsored InMail as well as sponsored channels on SlideShare.

Strengths: Advanced targeting capabilities and some recent pilots are showing positive results. New self-service options for ads lower cost of entry significantly.

Weaknesses: Can be relatively expensive. Sponsored group levels can range from $20,000 per month to up to $2,000,000 per year. Most advertising options require a formal company page.

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Experiences from BlogHer, presented by @JulieY 

The Download: Julie Yamamoto, managing director, earned media, shared notes from her presentation at this year’s BlogHer conference. Julie’s presentation helped bloggers understand how to quantify ROI, and an overview of what bloggers can provide to agencies and companies to better assist with sponsored content decisions. We’re looking forward to seeing how bloggers use this information to provide more valuable metrics to companies from their sponsored content efforts.

New Social Media Engagement Opportunities from ThingLink, presented by @Liz_John & @MessengerBird85

LTThe Download: This is an interesting new social media tool that enables users to post images with embedded interactive touch points that can
include video, supportive text, another image, links and more. The images can be used in Facebook posts, Twitter, and Tumblr, as well as embedded in websites.

Strengths: Several free options for companies to use for pilots. Great opportunities for businesses to add new engagement. Integrated follow and content galleries open up user access to historic content. Works with mobile devices.

Weaknesses: Not many! Mobile devices will work but there’s some optimization that could be done to fine-tune the experience. Also, content first appears as a video in users’ newsfeed and then switches to a static image with interactive elements, which could be confusing for some.

 

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13 Aug
2013

10+ Tips for Optimizing Your Email Content

In a recent white paper, I wrote extensively on optimizing email content. Read on below for an excerpt, beginning with a “Top 10″ list of tips to get your email program moving. 

KEVIN’S TOP 10 FOR EMAIL CONTENT:

1)    Integrate email into your overall content strategy. Use email as a testing ground for types of content and tone. A good email program will be the single largest driver to your content.

2)    Put a learning program in place, so ideas are tested, learnings are captured, each email gets better and the learnings are shared with the larger content program.

3)    Define a voice for your email. Is it the witty neighbor, the helpful expert, the loquacious socialite?

4)    Are the subject lines intriguing and descriptive? They should compel the recipient to want to see more.

5)    Determine the focus of each send. Have a theme and a clear hierarchy.  Make it clear which CTA is the most important.

6)    Use seasonal themes, pop culture references, topical issues to help be relevant to the audience.

7)    Mix your content types. Include videos, lists, best-ofs, etc.  Headlines that include a number often perform 10-20% better than other content.

8)    Develop content that spans issues and motivates the reader to open the mail issue after issue. Some popular features include poll results, top articles from the previous month and unique stats.

9)    Build your sharing tools around content, not the email itself. No one wants to share a marketing email; they want to share a story.

10) Incorporate some basic marketing automation and list segmentation. Develop a strategy to reengage non-openers, integrate content into transactional emails, and optimize call-to-actions based on segments.

Capture

VOICE AND STYLE

Having a consistent and unique voice is critical to building a long-term relationship. By defining the attributes of the voice, you help set the tone for the entire newsletter.

RETOUCH & ACTIVATE

You’ve gone to the trouble to collect email addresses, so it doesn’t hurt to put some effort into trying to retain those people who might not be opening your email anymore. Put together a program to track opens by individual and consider applying some of the below tactics:

  • Periodically resend your best newsletters to people who didn’t open them the first time. Be sure to wait at least a week before resending, and change the subject line. You don’t want to do this for every newsletter, just the ones you think will help keep your audience engaged.
  • Consider special offers or incentives to reengage consistent non-openers.
  • Create a list of people who haven’t opened the last three issues, and see if there are any patterns in behavior from this group over the last 12 months.

SUBJECT LINES

Only two things matter when people receive your email: the recipients’ relationship with your brand and your subject line. If you test nothing else, test your subject lines. If they don’t open your email, they’ll never see the great content.

Subject line rules:

  • Be brief: 30-35 characters
  • Be descriptive
  • Promote the content, not the newsletter
  • Be intriguing. Everyone loves a little mystery.
  • Amplify your voice. Take the voice you’ve established for the newsletter and use the subject line as a caricature of that voice.

CONTENT RELEVANCY

Each issue should have a theme that is relevant to the audience. The theme can be based on the subject matter, a culturally relevant issue or even a time of year. Use an editorial calendar to manage the themes and the content. Map these themes to other touch points like social media.

CHOOSING THE CONTENT

Come up with a list of key attributes for content and a filter to determine what goes into the newsletter and what doesn’t. About the content, ask yourself:

  1. Is it relevant?
  2. Does it drive usage, sales, adoption, etc.?
  3. Does it provide traffic to a priority campaign?
  4. Is it likely to be shared?
  5. Can we learn from it?

Establish a content mix that contains the ideal ration of CTAs and content types. As part of the learning program, test and establish standards for the mix. What’s your content attempting to accomplish: engagement, relevance, performance? Identify content areas and track first four sends to determine highest engagement, as well as look to incorporate cross-program and cross-promotional content with other marketing programs

CONTENT FORMATS

Most content consists of text and an image in a traditional article format. However, this is often not the best performing type of content. Supplement articles with video and images with video icons on them. These types of posts are clicked 40% more than all other content on average. Lists, slideshows, and reoccurring features also perform quite well.

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30 Jul
2013

“Real World” Advice from a CMD Intern

Jewel_Blog_Post_SmGuest post authored by Jewel Myers, former CMD Earned Media intern. 

Graduation is an exciting time. No more schoolwork, no more professors, no more exams and no more getting up early. You think the stress is all over, right? Wrong.

Now you have to worry about getting that first job. In this day and age, you can’t afford to slack off, and when you do land that first job it’s like being back in school. Your boss is your teacher, and this first opportunity is more than a test: There is no redo. There is no starting over.  For some, work ethic will come naturally and for others it will take practice. For those still in college, internships are the best way to start practicing for that first job.

As a graduate from the University of Oregon with a degree in public relations, I agree with majority of this New York Times article by Thomas L. Friedman on the importance of internships. I wish I had known earlier in my college career just how important they were. Luckily I was able to secure two during the summer and winter terms of my senior year. It’s not easy to land the perfect opportunity. But if you think getting an internship is hard, finding a paid one is even harder. Eleonora Sharef, co-founder of HireArt, sums it up in the article when she says, “it is almost as hard to get a paid internship today as it is to get an actual job.”

In the article, Nick Sedlet, co-founder of HireArt, discusses the “danger that only rich kids” can afford unpaid internships. I disagree. I would say that not all internships are created equal and that there is one out there for everyone no matter your financial situation. One company I interned for was very flexible with my full-time school and work schedule and let me work the hours I could. Yes, I was either napping or cramming food into my mouth during the almost zero free time I had, but the real-world experience is what I wanted, and it wasn’t going to just happen without hard work. Here, at CMD, I have a paid internship in the earned media group, and they are flexible with my schedule so I can have a part-time job on the side.

In addition to internships, there are some skills and projects specific to my field that I wish I had developed in college, which would have been relevant to my internships so far:

  • Research – My professors emphasized that research is important. But, I had no idea just how much that really entailed until I landed my internships. I wish I had fine-tuned my research skills before leaving college and worked with real-world applications such as TweetReach, Compete and Google Adwords to familiarize myself with how each application could help me with research projects.
  • Multimedia Applications – I was a multimedia minor, but I didn’t really dig deep into the applications. We lightly covered Photoshop, InDesign, Final Cut, CSS and a few others. I wish I had picked one or two of those to really expand upon and gain expertise in. It’s very helpful and valuable to have skills in other areas besides just traditional PR. I’m currently working on projects that require at least beginner skills in all those applications.
  • Blog – I was assigned to start a blog in school, but I really didn’t take it too seriously. It wasn’t until I changed the blog topic to something I actually wanted to write about that got me excited. It’s a good way to express ideas and practice writing on a regular basis. A blog is also a great portfolio piece that can showcase your writing abilities and give a future employer a peek into your personality.
  • Public Speaking – Now, I know this is a cliché, but it’s true. My public speaking is terrible. I get the typical dizziness, shaking voice, and hot flashes before having to speak in front of a group. Even though I would’ve been afraid to take the class, I wish I had taken speech in college to prepare me for work presentations.

With all that being said, it’s never too late to get more experience on a topic or application. My advice for young PR/social media pros is to start internships early in your college career and keep improving your skills no matter if it’s in a classroom or on your own. Only you can decide how successful you will become, but either route will take hard work. What’s the most valuable experience you’ve gained from one of your internships?

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26 Jul
2013

CMD Earned Media Review: Four Social Media Tools to Explore

TThe CMD incubator group originated as a way to discuss and explore the latest trends in digital and social media. With three years of early-morning gatherings (and lots of coffee) under our belt, we’ve found these sessions to be a great way to share the many things our curious-minded folks are reading, exploring and learning about.

This week, for example, our incubator session focused on four interesting social media tools. Here’s a quick run down of what we explored:

 

Synthesio, presented by @Liz_Johnlogo-synthesio

The Download: A content management tool that has the ability to organize and manage your social channel content distribution and engagement, as well as identify influencers and surface up some analytics.

Strengths: Particularly well-suited to brands that have a global social presence and channels in other countries that also require translation. Winner of a Forrester Groundswell Award.

Weakness: Fairly similar to other tools out there. Metrics capabilities and influencer identification are good, but pretty average.

 

Nestivity, presented by @messengerbird85

nestivity-logoThe Download: A tool that creates a “nest” out of your Twitter chats, giving you the ability to take the conversation outside of Twitter and have a more robust dialogue with your followers. More of a forum-like experience, helping you to better organize your Twitter chats. Limited-time trials are available for free subscription service thereafter.

Strengths: The group thought this tool had a lot of possibilities. Great for customer service initiatives, Twitter chats and Tweetcasts. Can also livestream Google+ hangouts. Compelling analytics reporting capabilities as well.

Weaknesses: Not many. This one is definitely on the hit list to explore and try.

 

Union Metrics, presented by @messengerbird85

union-metrics

The Download: The first Tumblr-endorsed metrics and analytic tool. Pricing available for individual Tumblr bloggers as well as brands.

Strengths: A new way to measure Tumblr engagement (reblogs, likes, notes, influencers, etc.) A no-brainer for social media programs that emphasize Tumblr as part of the mix, as measuring this channel has been a challenge for most.

Weakness: Relatively expensive as an add-on to the other social media measurement tools you may be using. For those who prioritize Tumblr as part of their program, the additional cost may be worth it.

 

YouTube advertising options, presented by @JesseLeeDavis

The Download: Users now have a variety of options for advertising on YouTube: In-Stream (video pre-roll), In-Display (right-hand side/served up related video content) and In-Search (other suggested content). Target options by what people are viewing/their interest (type of videos they are watching) and search terms (similar to Google ad word targeting). Fee is 5% of your budget spend as a baseline.

Strength: It’s a misconception that you must have a big budget to advertise on YouTube. Recent experiences have proven that advertising efforts perform quite well if you take the time to determine your strategy and tweak your approach based on analytics.

Weakness: It’s not easy to learn about the advertising options. If you have a small budget, don’t expect a personal response from Google’s or YouTube’s sales team. It’s truly a DIY initiative for anything less than a six-figure budget.

 

What new social tools intrigued you?

 

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24 Jul
2013

How to Mix the Secret Ingredients for a Good Corporate Blog

What are the ingredients for a good corporate blog?

This question has plagued mankind since the dawn of, well, the Internet, some 20 years ago. In that time, brands and corporations have been attempting to attract readers and spur interaction, but many fall short of success.

We’ve been thinking a lot about corporate blogs recently at CMD and what makes them succeed or fail. So we did some research and at the end of the day came back with this definition of a good corporate blog: a good corporate blog helps make customers smarter. There, I said it. A good blog educates.

Our theory was confirmed earlier this year when a blog that we manage for a client—which features an educational strategy—won the BtoB Magazine award for Best Corporate Blog.

In order to understand what makes a corporate blog good, we first must explore what makes a corporate blog bad:

1) We, We, We Syndrome: Too much focus on the company. Nobody wants to read a blog that is all about the company, announces company news, explains how great an organization is, and links to product brochures. If this were an actual disease, the Center for Disease Control would classify it as an epidemic, because this type of blog is everywhere.

2) Casket-itis: A blog that has not been updated since June of 2007 is officially dead, and turns away readers who are looking for current information.

3) Lackus Strategyus: English translation: no strategy or cohesion. This type of blog puts bits of information together piecemeal in hopes that it will appear as an organized unit.

So back to the original question: what are the ingredients for a good corporate blog? Here’s my take:

4) Serves educational content: A corporate blog that addresses industry hot topics and shares its point of view encourages conversation while helping customers understand the key issues. Brands have an incredible opportunity these days to become their own media outlets and speak directly to the market with educational information that years ago was reserved only for trade publications.

5) Offers rich media: A blog should contain multiple ways to educate. A mixture of written blogs, videos and podcasts lets visitors choose the format in which they want to consume the information.

6) Presents multiple voices: A good corporate blog is a platform for the participation of others, as well. Invite your best customer to contribute a guest post, or interview a key supplier and ask for their view on a pressing issue. Adding multiple voices from inside and outside your organization demonstrates your willingness to foster discussion, and to help readers, rather than simply push product.

7) Posts consistently: Posting every week shows the audience you are serious about the effort and will attract repeat visitors. This also helps to fill the sales lead funnel.

As early adopters of this content philosophy, we are now starting to see the real results of engaging directly with customers and becoming the “media.” CMD saw this trend coming and took action about three years ago with a client’s corporate blog. Our recommended content strategy at the time (talking about industry trends, inviting guest posts, showing videos of experts in the field, hosting informational webinars) was to focus on industry hot buttons from a journalistic approach; basically everything except the client’s products.

This client understood what we proposed, and welcomed taking the position of a thought leader who facilitated conversations with potential customers. Now, the BtoB Magazine award for Best Corporate Blog hangs in their office.

What questions do you have about corporate blogs?

 

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17 Jul
2013

Matchmaking for Content Creators: What Agencies and Brands Really Want

 

Get Connected

So you want to monetize your blog, or perhaps you’ve been at it for a while and want to put a finer point on your social ROI and your interactions with business partners. The good news for content creators is that brands and the agencies that represent them are hot on the trail of finding social media influencers who can spark a deeper connection with target audiences. The not-so-good news? Partnering with an influencer can be a bit like dating: Is there any chemistry? Does one party see potential in the other, perhaps in an unexpected way?

The key insight here is that with a little bit of prep, one can take the unpleasant surprises out of the matchmaking process. Our team at CMD started working in the intersection between brands and influencers before Twitter was a gleam in Jack Dorsey’s eye, and I will be participating in a panel on blog marketing and monetization at BlogHer later this month. I’m looking forward to hearing from the BlogHer community about finding a good pairing for their business goals.

In preparation for the session, here are some thoughts on the fundamentals of a solid partnership:

1. Desperately seeking shared interests

Specifically, in the target audience. Is your content addressed to the same audience that an agency or brand is seeking out? When defining your audience it pays to be as specific as possible and to think beyond standard demographic shorthand. Just saying that your content targets women ages 25 to 34 doesn’t cut it in today’s environment, where big data analysis rules many marketing decisions. Brands and agencies need to know more psychographic and behavioral data—for example, whether those women ages 25 to 34 represent connected moms or road warriors—and what content of yours resonates with them most.

2. Must be highly engaged

Engagement is one of those marketing words that’s bandied about as if everyone fully understands what it means. The truth is that agencies and brands often define engagement in different ways, and it’s important to understand the specifics involved. To one brand, engagement may mean user actions on your content, such as comments; to another, it might add up to web page views and time on site. The first step here is defining engagement for yourself and your own community, regardless of social platform. Then understand how your intended partner defines engagement and find the common ground together.

3. Ready for commitment

Make sure that you and your partner have an agreed-upon vision for the outcomes, so there’s no unexpected conflict later on. It’s important to ask partners: What does success mean to you? An example of this might be a target number of signups during a certain timeframe or benchmarks for engagement, such as likes, ratings or comments within your community.

Salesforce’s blog recently posted an excellent overview for those who want to go deeper into the subject of social media ROI.

For all the not-so-lonely content creators out there, if you’ve forged a great partnership with an agency or brand, we’d love to hear about it. Share your thoughts with us and a link to sponsored content that particularly resonated with your community.

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