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2014 game changers

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What can you do to grow revenue next year? This is a question I get asked a lot, so I wanted to share a few of the trends that can truly be described as Game Changers. I will be discussing these major 2014 trends on October 14 during the DMA 2013 BtoB Symposium kickoff session at Chicago's McCormick Place, along with Christopher Hosford, BtoB's East Coast Bureau Chief and Jerry L. Nichols, Senior Director, SAP Global Marketing.

Here's a preview:

  • Content marketing shifts to story telling and how to help the customer. Content should be fascinating and exciting in ways that people can share with others on a personal level. What's important to your audience? What motives them? Once you understand the answers, you can tell a story that will resonate with your customers in a very precise way.
  • UPS has done an outstanding job of making a direct connection to its small and medium business owners through its drivers' stories. They tell how drivers jump in and “go further so their customers can do more.” UPS talks on Facebook and social media about the daily struggles of running a business. Daily “heroic acts” of kindness from its drivers illustrate the UPS brand promise to “go further.” The stories humanize the brand, generating over 900,000 “likes” and 40,000 shares with almost zero marketing expense. The engagement is through organic Web marketing, not paid placements.
  • Content should help the user. It's no longer enough to educate someone about your product or service. Mint.com, the leading online personal finance service from Intuit, listens to customer feedback as a way to fix glitches in software and improve future Intuit products. As Jay Baer writes in his new book, “Youtility,” “Help not hype” is the mantra for the future. Answering questions and providing ratings and reviews like Angie's List for home services or apps like FindIt are part of a growing trend to provide free content in exchange for potential future sales.
  • Integration of social with email, Web and mobile. When you are building a campaign, every Web page and email should be viewable and sharable on any device. Content should be reused on the aggregators and community sites where your clients and prospects are likely to see it, not just on your company website viewable from a desktop. Special microsites can be effective ways to organize white papers or webcasts around topics like IBM's Big Data Hub to help a visitor through a purchase journey.
  • Are your brand advocates and influencers receiving your content so they can curate it daily via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter? Engagement requires being relevant in each of these venues.
  • The Web acts as a powerful magnet that pulls in new prospects via search to quickly find relevant content. Participating and contributing to conversations are table-stakes for getting considered for a purchase. Communities, syndication and influencers can all help to curate your content with links back to owned vendor sites or media outlets. Employees, business partners and friends can amplify a message from email, Web and mobile campaigns.
  • IBM has recruited 4,000 or more of its employees to create and share content about their areas of expertise as participants in social media. Employees can act as evangelists for your brand. Are you tapping your employees and fans to help tell your story? Do you help your customer get things done? What are your winning plays?
Pam A. Evans is a global marketing practitioner and former IBM executive who advises clients on how to leverage websites, content, tools and resources to positively impact the bottom line. She may be reached at pam@pamevans.net.
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