Tweetchat, Social Media, Customer Experience, Content Marketing, Content Strategy

#VCBuzz tweetchat – How to Understand Your Customers’ Content Needs

When creating content we do it with our audience in mind; As a matter of fact, any content that aims to be good and valuable has to start with understanding the needs of our customers. That’s why Ann Smarty,  Sana Knightly and I decided to talk about customers, their content needs and how to understand them. We had a great one-hour discussion with the community members. It was fun and informative!

Here are some highlights, but make sure to check out the full recap on Viral Content Bee website. You’ll find great tips, insight and interesting questions.

After reading the full recap  you’ll still have some questions, after all good conversations keep on going. Feel free to check my blog or download the first chapter of my book for free: Global Content Marketing 

You can also contact me via the contact form if you have any questions.

To connect with this great community, follow the official hashtag – #VCBuzz on twitter, and join the party every Tuesday 12pm ET. See you there.


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Cisco Marketing Velocity, Workshop, B2B, Content Marketing

Key Takeaways From My Cisco Marketing Velocity Workshop

I had the pleasure of speaking at Marketing Velocity, Cisco’s event for its premier channel partners. I have worked with distributors and channel partners for several years so doing a workshop with them is like coming home again.  🙂

For channel partners and distributors, the most immediate and critical challenge is to increase leads. I created a custom presentation to talk to the owners, sales managers and marketing teams about how to increase sales conversions.

Here are the quick take-aways from my “7 Ways To Increase Conversions with Digital Content” workshop:

Rule 1: Change your mindset

You need to unlearn what you’ve learned.

I made it very clear that digital marketing starts with your home base: your website.  The minimal requirement of your website: communicate your products and services crisply.  The next step is to seamlessly integrate demand gen into your website.  Having “contact me” or “1-800 number” is not enough. You can do more by adding e-mail lead form, getting leads via content downloads and installing live chat.

You need to evaluate your space, content, copy writing and add lead gen tools wherever possible without being intrustive and “sale-zy”

Make an effort to rethink your web space.

Rule 2: have a plan

What I shared in rule 1 are tactics. Tactics alone won’t increase the conversions. You need to have a solid marketing plan to properly unite the key marketing mix together. I emphasized tying marketing strategy to business goals.  After all, channel partners and distributors’ marketing is about driving sales.  Make sure everyone (CEO, sales and MKT, even product teams) agree on the overall marketing strategies and tactics.  I call it the “Marketing 2-pager”.

During the workshop, I showed the audience how to write the 2-pagers.  Below is the template I used to create a simple summary of a marketing plan.

Rule 3: Know your outbound channels well

Based on my client engagement experience and leading workshop in different companies, most CEOs and sales personnel don’t have a strong grasp of their companies’ outbound marketing channels. I strongly believe that they should have a holistic view of their companies’ marketing mix. The benefits of understanding your outbound channels are:

  1. Each channel can be tied to lead gen efforts
  2. Understanding which channels generate most leads
  3. Grasping how marketing budget is allocated and building synergy with sales initiatives

Having a complete view fosters in-depth discussion and collaboration between sales and marketing.

Rule 4: Use a clear call-to-action (CTA) on outbound marketing outreach

Once you understand your marketing channels, it’s important to understand how each channel maps its demand gen effort. You can design how you’d like to guide your customer’s engagement paths.

For example: each paid key word may drive to different pages on your website. Not everything drives to your home page. You need to lead your prospects to relevant places depending on the channels they use.  Below are the different paths for keyword buys.

Define your CTA and the nurturing paths for each channel. Conversion paths are different from channel to channel.

Rule 5: The devil is in the content

Marketers tend to focus on formats of content to produce without putting enough emphasis on content development. Format, such as video, blog, PDF etc., does matter but at the end of the day it’s your approach to present your information. Attention has to be paid to your writing approach (aka story telling), image selection, design layout, and even user interaction with your content. It’s the whole enchilada.

One example I used is a white paper. A white paper is informational, it doesn’t have to be dry (aka, PDF format). You can make it interactive and engaging.

Check out the interactive white paper examples from Ion Interactive.

Rule 6: Repurpose, repackage and reuse (RRR) your content

Digital content is expensive to produce.  Make the most out of it. There are several ways to RRR your content. Take into account how your customers use the different marketing channels.  Repurpose a long-form content into snackable and digtestable content for social media outreach.  Consolidate various blog posts into an e-book, if it makes sense.

Below are just two examples of RRR your content.

Rule 7: You need to invest in technology

Here is the ugly truth that no one wants to talk about: digital marketing is money pit. You can’t create one set of content and expect it to work for each channel. The image may need to be cropped or the size may need to be adjusted for different channels.  Copy writing may need to change between Twitter and LinkedIn. One-size-fits-all just doesn’t work for online marketing.

In addition, to fully maximize leads and sales conversion, your back-end needs to be integrated. That, unfortunately, takes money to do, and you may not get it right the first time. It’s not cheap.  I KNOW, because I am constantly tinkering with my website and trying new integration tools.  This is not something that channel partners and distributors like to hear, but that’s the reality that they need to understand. They need to budget marketing dollars especially they want to offer new services in Cloud, machine learning, artificial intelligence and solution-based services.

In summary…

During the 3 days, I got a chance to understand Cisco’s product portfolio better. I met channel partners and distributors around the world.  We talked about their challenges and pain points and I shared some of my thoughts on what they need to do. The conversations sparked several topics for my future online course and blog posts. It’s a win-win-win!

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Content Marketing, Business Growth, Brand Development, Content Strategy, Marketing

Maximize Exposure and Get More Gigs with Content Marketing

When you work for yourself, you find yourself becoming more and more like a human Swiss Army knife! My broad knowledge base and flexibility has helped me work on areas which may not be my expertise.

Create one piece of content to support RFP:

An agency reached out to me when they received an RFP opportunity from an existing client.  Due to the recent company reorg, several groups were merged into a “supergroup”. To rally the employees in this supergroup and promote its purpose, a logo, group tagline and detailed internal promotion was needed. The client asked the agency to help them create these items and develop a solid internal communications plan with relevant content.

The agency is a branding and creative agency. External campaigns and internal communications are not their forte. They came to me in hopes of collaborating on a communications plan for this client. Most of my communications experience is external-facing, but internal and external communications are very similar with the exception of different deliverables.

Rather than talking about the detailed deliverables for an internal communications plan, I created an internal communications methodology.

I laid out the deliverables for each stage, below is the example of Listen.

Then, I went on to share the proposed deliverables based on each stage using a timeline.

I did all of this in a PowerPoint presentation.  The agency then internalized and transformed my methodology and timeline approach into a beautiful two-pager.


Turn the piece of content into eBook:

While we awaited the client’s feedback, something popped into my mind.  Since this was a nice methodology and I knew each stage well, why shouldn’t I turn it into an eBook? I spent a weekend writing a ten-page guide, and my editor and designer were able to help me turn it around in just three days! BOOM! Less than a week after I’d shared my internal comm. approach with the agency, I had published an eBook on my website and promoted it as part of our e-mail outreach.

Use the eBook to aid the agency during the RFP process:

For the heck of it, I also sent the finished eBook to the agency so they’d have something to share real-time in case their client required more information about the approach. Guess what?  The agency was able to share the information during the 2nd round of RFP.  Three weeks after creating my internal communications methodology, the agency won the business. They asked me to be part of the execution team.  The ultimate happy ending!

Use content to showcase expertise:

A simple PowerPoint slide deck became a revenue-generating source. This is the ultimate example of “content marketing” – I marketed my expertise through a PowerPoint deck, which eventually became part of an RFP package, and then finally became an eBook which I am now able to share on my website. On top of it, the information also helped the client to make an agency sourcing decision. And at the end, I got a gig out of it.  It was a win-win-win, a triple crown for me. It can be for you, too, if you’re willing to explore how to make content marketing work to your advantage.

If you’re curious to learn more about my internal comm. plan that I discussed in this blog post, check out me eBook >> How To Develop A World-Class Internal Communications Plan

What’s been your experience with content marketing? Have you had a success stories like mine? Let me know in the comments!



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Content Marketing, B2B, Internal Communication, Teamwork, Business Tips

#ContentWritingChat – Internal Communications Tactics for World-Class Content Marketing

What do internal communications have to do with superb content marketing?  At first glance, not so much. But when you think about it, internal communications are a critical part of the content marketing process. That’s why Express Writers and I decided on a TweetChat topic to cover some important tactics for internal communications and content marketing. We had a great one-hour discussion with the community members. It was a lot of fun!

Here are some highlights, but make sure to check out the full recap on Express Writers website. You’ll find valuable tips and insights from the tweetchat participants.

After reading the full recap you’ll still have some questions; Check out my ebook How to Develop a World-Class Internal Communications Plan. You can also download the free first chapter of my book: Global Content Marketing 

You can also contact me via the contact form if you have any questions.

To connect with this great community, follow the official hashtag – #ContentWritingChat on twitter, and join the party every Tuesday 10am CST. See you there.

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Content Marketing, Questions, Answers, Digital Marketing, Technology

5 Big Content Marketing Questions From Undergraduate Students

I was invited to speak at an undergraduate content marketing class.  Rather them giving a presentation, I asked the students submit questions. I created a customized deck to address as many questions as possible in one hour.

Here are some questions from the class:

  • Gina- Do you feel content marketing is for all businesses? What about small vs large enterprise?
  • Jake – What is your advice on the best ways to use content marketing within professional sports organizations?
  • Claudia- Do you have any advice for explaining the importance of implementing content marketing strategies to higher-ups in business?
  • Julia- What is your advice for professionals that are looking to expand their career in digital and content marketing?
  • Jamie- So you were a CPA before, what extra “benefits” has that brought to your career?

Q1: Do you feel content marketing is for all businesses? What about small vs large enterprise?

Gina, the answer is yes!  Let’s define content and content marketing first.

Content is


Content marketing is


Oh, BTW, here are 50 different definitions of content marketing in case you are curious.

Content marketing is about being helpful, educational, entertaining and challenging your customer. This should eventually also facilitating buying.  If you are sharing content to do any of that, you are in the content marketing business.

Let’s check out various websites from REI, Salesforce to a small ski school teaching baby boomers how to ski moguls.  Most of these sites peak the customers interests by providing something useful and beneficial. They are working from the angle of “learning” and “educational”.


Q2: What is your advice on the best ways to use content marketing within professional sports organizations?

Jake, content is super-critical for any sport. Since you have players and merchandise, you can generate a lot of content such as player practice, pre-game, and post game footage, as well as streaming of actual games and matches. You can have player community involvement information, press interviews etc. There is no shortage of content in sports marketing. The challenges are:

  • How to display and share content through a sport team’s vast communications channels.
  • How to balance the original (brands) content with user-generated content
  • How to integrate content to broader paid marketing campaigns and press efforts
  • How to be quick, timely and deliver personalized content

Content marketing can’t work alone, especially in sports marketing. It needs to be seamlessly integrated into all media efforts. Sports marketing is about engaging players and fans, especially during game time. It’s more about sharing content quick, fast, timely and fun. Images and videos usually work well in sports marketing.

5 Audience Engagement Tips from ESPN, Bloomberg and Purch

How to Reach Sports  Fans With Content Marketing

Q3: Do you have any advice for explaining the importance of implementing content marketing strategies to higher-ups in business?

Yes, Claudia. I even wrote a blog post about it.  Check out this blog post!

The reality is that it’s hard to measure the ROI of content. To get started, here are the key elements to consider:

  • Understand content promotional channels in your company
  • Create “From Content to Lead” or “From Content to Sales” mapping
  • Initiate a discussion with your marketing peers to help them understand the benefits of content
  • Offer to co-own their marketing metrics
  • Help them to do their jobs better with your expertise

The best way to quantify the effectiveness of content is in the context of marketing channels utilized. To unleash the value of content, you need to co-own outbound marketing metrics with your marketing peers. 

Q4: What is your advice for professionals that are looking to expand their career in digital and content marketing?

Understand how digital marketing front-end and back-end works.  It’s easy to understand how different marketing channels work together, from paid to earn media and hybrids. However, it’s important to comprehend the back-end of all marketing efforts: how all different platforms, tools and technologies work together and how they talk to each other. If you understand the back-end, you can see easily how the dots are connected. When you see how everything is related, you will have a holistic view of the company’s marketing efforts.

You will learn something from any marketing and non-marketing job. Learn as much as you can in any job you take, especially the jobs you don’t like.

In modern marketing, technology moves so fast that you need to learn, unlearn and relearn. It’s very exciting and overwhelming.

Q5: So you were a CPA before, what extra “benefits” has that brought to your career?

Jamie, this is a left-brain vs right-brain question.  The finance and accounting background prepared me to manage “Marketing” like a business. I was able to carry conversations with management, product teams and finance/accounting to provide updates from their perspectives.  Rather than talking about the opening rates of an e-mail campaign or likes and shares on social media, I made an effort to tie that to leads and sales.

Therefore, I am not naturally attuned to the creative side of marketing such as the creative concept development, story-telling, copywriting. I have to make an intentional effort to develop my right-brain thinking.

In summary…

I had a great time talking to all the students.  Some of them even reached out to me via LinkedIn. It’s wonderful to see content marketing being offered as part of the communications program. It’s never too early to discuss content’s role in marketing communications.

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ContentChat, Global Content Marketing, teamwork, Marketing Strategy, Productivity

#ContentChat – How to Build A global Content Marketing Team

What does a global content marketing team structure look like? I was asked this question frequently. Unfortunately, a team structure is unique and situational for each company. There is no standard answer! And there is no one-size-fits-all! However, I made an attempt to shed some light so that you can give some thoughts on how to put a team together.

At the same time, I would like to see what others have to say.  Therefore, I posed the question How to Build a Global Content Marketing Team? as part of Spin Sucks  weekly TweetChat with Erika Heald last week.

It was a lot of fun to exchange knowledge and experience with this great community. The best part was meeting awesome new people and having great conversation with them.

We covered basics of advantages and challenges of creating integrated content teams, and how to get started with globalizing content strategy.

Here are some highlights, but make sure to check out the full recap on Erika’s website. You’ll find valuable advice from the tweetchat participants, and what’s most important different perspectives on global content marketing teams, important elements and how to build one.

After reading the full recap you’ll still have some questions; you can download my ebook for free: How to Build a Global Content Marketing Team, or you can simply reach out to me via the contact form on my website.

To connect with this great community follow the official hashtag – #ContentChat on twitter, and join the party every Monday 12pmPST/3pmET. See you there.

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The Branding Journey: From Brand Audit to Brand Guide

I like this graph by Rusty Grim, Founder of Owen Jones, a branding and creative agency. This graph simplifies a complicated branding process: from conducting brand audits to completion of a brand guide.

Branding and rebranding can be overwhelming experiences, but companies have many options to shorten or skip some of the stages. Enterprises follow a process based on a number of factors ranging from timeline, company size, budget, and company’s maturity level.

Start with a Brand Audit:

I like Josh Miles definition: “The purpose behind a brand audit is plain and simple: to gain a fundamental understanding of where your brand stands in its current state.” There are a lot of ways to assess the current state of your brand. Josh provided a thorough category list for creating a framework for a brand audit.

Internal Branding

  • Positioning
  • Brand Values
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP), brand promise, or brand essence
  • Voice
  • Culture
  • Product / Service positioning

External Branding

  • Corporate Identity – logos and other brand elements
  • Collateral-brochures, print materials, trade show displays, etc.
  • Advertising
  • Website
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorships/civic-involvement/memberships
  • News/PR
  • Content Marketing and other assets – blogs, white papers, case studies, articles, books, etc.
  • Testimonials
  • Videos

Systems and Infrastructure

  • Corporate identity/brand standards
  • HR policies/on-boarding process
  • Sales processes/touch points
  • Internal systems
  • Customer service systems

I’d add ‘talking to your customers’ and ‘assessing the competitive landscape’ as part of your brand audit . It’s important to get a solid sense of how your customers perceive your brand and any recommendations they have for improvements. Your customers are your BFFs. The competitive assessment includes the analysis of products and services to determine if there is a product segmentation gap. The helps in the development of branding personas, value propositions and even new product roadmaps and product logos.

A comprehensive audit requires a team to gather information from various internal and external sources.  It also requires time to conduct an extensive analysis and reach conclusive findings. The time spent can last from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 months.

Reality: Obviously, a complete brand audit is expensive. The extensiveness of a brand audit is heavily dependent on budget. You need to determine what criteria is critical to shed light on the current state of your brand.

Positioning, brand values, unique selling propositions, voice, product positioning and corporate culture is easy to obtain. It’s vital to talk to your customers directly to gain insights and review feedback and comments from your own websites and social media channels and customer services. Your brand audit report will drive the creation or tuning of brand persona and attributes.

For brand audits, I found the following resource helpful:

Josh DIY brand audit

The 7-Step Guide to Performing a Brand Audit

Know your brand in 4 easy steps

Craft Brand’s Attributes and Persona

You would use certain adjectives to describe a friend’s personality. Likewise, each brand has a personality and you should use specific adjectives or nouns to describe it. When thinking of Toyota, BMW or Chevrolet, you’d be unlikely to get these brands confused. That’s because marketers carefully select specific images, intended story approach and deliberate copywriting to reflect the essence of their brands. If brands do a good job over a long period of time, you will subconsciously associate them with specific words and attributes.

In addition to dictating creative development and copy writing of your marketing communications, brand personas will also reflect a company’s values and corporate culture.

Reality: When you work on your brand attributes, you need to visualize the associations you want customers to make in the long term. You also need to drill down to what makes you unique and how your brand differs from competitors’. Have a list of attributes and go through them one by one. It takes time and efforts to select 2-5 attributes that are unique to your company.

Some interesting read:

Brand personality

The Brand Persona

12 examples of Brand Personality

Pick a Name for your Products or Services (optional)

Choosing a name for a brand-new product or service can have a significant impact on its success.  Since a lot of names are already taken, it can be hard to pick a unique one. Sometimes an existing word can add value in association with your product. Other times you can create a new name that becomes inextricably associated with your brand.

Here are some examples:

  • HTC’s phone: Hero
  • Toyota’s truck: Tacoma
  • Intel’s server processor: Xeon
  • Dell’s computer, Inspiron

To avoid any potential trademark violation, some start-ups cleverly create funky names such as Tinder, Yik Yak, Flickr, Tumblr, Etsy, Twitter, Sumome, just to name a few.

Reality: It’s important to involve Legal to run a global search to make sure that the name doesn’t violate trademark infringement.

Check out naming rules from these three links.

Naming a Company, Service, Product

10 Essential Brand Name Legal Questions to Ask

How to Name a Product

Create a Branding Guide

After all the work above, it’s time to bring the branding to life with visuals and voice.  The goal is to deliver a consistent look-and-feel to help your audience associate your brands with specific attributes. It’s hard to tell designers how to design your print ads, but you can set up guidance on the color palette, typography and placement of logos.

That’s what the brand guide is about. It provides direction: where will the logo be placed on a print or banner ad?  What are the typograph fonts that we should use? What is the messaging framework for our products? What are the image selection criteria for social media? It can go as far as the aroma and music selection for a retail store.

The purpose of a branding guide is to provide direction so that there is no confusion about what your brand stands for.

Key components of a brand guide:

  • Company vision
  • Brand persona/ personality
  • Unique value propositions
  • Product messaging
  • Target audience
  • Logo guide
  • Color Palette
  • Typography
  • Photo selection guide
  • Digital and web guidance
  • Voice and tone

Check out these interesting links:

The Essential Components of a Brand Style Guide

How to Create a Brand Guide

Reality: You need to determine what topic to include in your brand guide. Ask your marketing team for input and prioritize and select the most relevant topics.

Now, it’s time to launch…

Launching or announcing a new brand, or rebranding, is a big deal which involves both internal communications to employees and external communications to the media (especially global brands) and customers.

There are a million details that need to be thought through when launching a brand, including business cards, building signage, product packages, websites, sales training templates down to new hire orientation booklet.  Basically, everything that your logo touches will need to be considered.

Reality: You will need to work with various departments to make a list of items that will need to be addressed. Then, create a timeline to update all the assets. It’s a lengthy effort which usually will take 2-24 month to complete depending on the size of a company.

You also need to have a branding training plan to make sure that everyone understands the essence of the brands and has a clear call-to-action to accelerate the branding transition.

Check out these two articles for post-launch.

What to Do After Rebranding

Brand Relaunch After Acquisition

The branding journey never stops…

With the rise of social media and ubiquitous mobile devices, everyone can make their voice heard and access information real-time. Branding is no longer a one-way street. Here are some challenges for modern branding:

  • Customers have a Voice with social media platform
  • Customers are ON all the time
  • Customers, if they choose to, can hijack your brands
In the 21st century, branding is the perception of your company in your customers’ eyes. It’s the sum of the overall intentional and unintentional experience you and others offer online and offline.

To nurture your brand, you need to continue to cultivate the online and offline experience. It goes beyond PR and marketing. Ultimately, branding is everyone’s job.

Note: A special thanks to Andrew Calzetti who inspired me to write this blog post.

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All You Need To Know To Create Internal Communications Plan

How can you create an internal communications plan for a newly formed or recently merged group?  The task may sound daunting, especially if you’re a B2B or a big enterprise.

Here is the secret: it’s more than manageable if you take the right approach.

A client asked me to create an internal communications plan for them to introduce their newly formed group.  They wanted to showcase what this new group can do for its internal stakeholders.  They also wanted to use the communications effort to crystalize their objective and strategy so that the management team could lead with clear strategic imperatives to provide the best services to internal stakeholders.

A piece of cake, right? In general, there are some similarities and differences between creating an external communications plan and an internal communications plan. The similarity: they follow the same methodology.  The difference: the deliverables are different.

Most of the communications plan tends to have the following elements:

And here are some milestone summaries for each stage:


The very first step is to identify a project lead. This person will oversee the communications plan from the inception to execution. This lead will also be responsible for reporting to the leadership team. Identify who that person is before the kick off.

When a group is formed, it’s usually out of necessity or to boost efficiency. Thus, the team needs a communications plan. Before this new group can craft a plan, it’s important to understand internal stakeholders’ expectations.

An internal communications plan is extremely important for the long-term success of a business. That’s why I’ve decided to write an eBook, 18 page guide: How To Develop a World-Class Internal Communications Plan, that will walk you through and explain each step from an internal communications perspective. 


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Learn How To Create Content Strategy and Build A Team at Intelligent Content Conference 2017

I like to challenge myself by creating new keynote topics, courses and workshops.  To be able to create a new topic for a course or a workshop, I synthesize relevant information and put it into an easy-to-understand framework. Then, I need to find a story angel to tie all the key points together. It’s a fun and frustrating creative journey. Ok, the ugly truth, the workshop creation process is 80% frustration, 20% fun. The fun part comes after a rough framework is put together… It’s like building a house or designing an evening gown. After you have a decent blue print or a directional sketch your creative juices really start flowing.

New year, new resolution and new workshop!  For the Intelligent Content Conference in Las Vegas on 3/28, I decided to create a brand-new workshop. And for that I need to thank Joe Pulizzi because he was the one nudging me into that direction. 🙂 

Setting Up and Managing a Global, Content-First Marketing Team 

Although I do plenty of customized corporate marketing workshops, my standard workshops primarily aim at global content marketing planning and collaboration.

So, what is this workshop all about?

The objective of this workshop is to help you set up a Content Marketing team so that you can scale your content effectively.  But here is the tricky part: the maturity stage of every company’s content marketing is different; therefore, your team set up is situational and different.

During the workshop, we will first evaluate your current content marketing stage by answering a short list of questions. Once the stage is defined, we will go through the 5 elements: strategy, content plan, team, processes and budget. In this workshop, you will create your own plan and team structure. Everyone’s team will be tailored based on his/her company’s structure, his/her role in this company and the maturity stage of content marketing efforts.

My goal is for you to have drafts of a plan and a team structure when you walk out the workshop. It will be something that you can continue to work on or discuss with your team and management.  It means that there are hands-on exercises at the workshop.  Yes, you have to work in this workshop.  🙂

After the workshop, you will be able to:

  • Identify your specific challenges for creating a content-first marketing team
  • Craft a plan to overcome some of these challenges
  • Work together at the workshop to create your team structure
  • Have a proposed content first plan and team structure to further discuss with your team and management

How is this workshop different the other three?

The past workshops focused on strategy setting and collaboration process between headquarters and locals. This workshop will touch on the cores of the past workshops, and MORE.  I will assist you to analyze your current situations with a list of questions and guide you to create something that you can take back for further development and discussion.

In case you already have an established team, there is more…

If you have a team in place and are doing well on scaling your content with your local team, there are other interesting workshops and sessions that you should check out:

Content Strategy for the Enterprise Marketer – The Marketer’s Approach to a Technical Challenge by Robert Rose

Executing a Usable Content Audit that Will Immediately Make an Impact on Your Marketing Content by Cathy McKnight

Busting Down the Silos by Dr. Andrew Bredenkamp and James Mathewson

Creating Transformational Roadmaps: A Toolkit For Internal Collaboration That Actually Works by Carlos Abler


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Working on Your Closing Presentation? 3 Elements to Make It Stand Out!

Recently, I was invited to speak at a client’s internal marketing conference. In addition to internal speakers, they also invited 5 external speakers during the 3-day. I was assigned as the last speaker, just after lunch on the final day. I was like “Yikes! Speaking to an audience that has been bombarded with presentation after presentation for the past 3 days…  And, they will be in a food coma, since it’s right after lunch.”

The other 4 external speakers were very good. They are pros! They know when to pause, when to crack a joke and when to dramatize their first-hand experience to get the audiences’ attention. Like other professional speakers, they have multiple standard templates and storylines that they use when they speak.  They make modifications, but the core of their presentations stay the same. Since they have been speaking at so many conferences, they’ve really got it nailed.  I enjoyed their talks!

After listening to their presentations, I was thinking about what I can do to be different and get my audience’s attention, especially when they will be in a food coma after lunch.


Customized the deck and integrated other speakers’ key take-aways

Since this was a company event, I first wanted to know the duration of the event and when my time slot would be. Once I learned that I would be the last speaker on the 3rd day, I asked if I could attend the 1st and 2nd days.

Reason: I want to help my audience synthesize key presentations throughout the 3 days. They might be overwhelmed with information so the best way I can help is to incorporate key take-aways, tool announcements and best practices from VPs, external speakers and internal team members. It’s about making their job easy and helping the audience connect the dots as much as possible.

Ugly truth: Ok, that’s a lot of WORK! Not only did I have to be there for the whole event, but also I was customizing my deck real-time. I ended up ditching my standard talk and rebuilding the presentation because I came up with a better way to tell the story that would resonate with the audience better. It’s a little bit (really a LOT) of extra pressure!

If you want to go the extra mile for your audience, you will need to customize your deck and tie it back to what the audience heard.  Content marketing is about sharing relevant and useful information with your audience. I can understand my audiences’ needs much better by sitting there with them.  Therefore, I made changes based on what I learned to reflect their needs. It’s all about my audience.

Have a theme or a tagline

During the breaks, I made an effort to talk to some employees. I asked everyone the same question: “What is the biggest challenge of your job?” The responses ranged from “no resource and budget”, “Content marketing is hard. I don’t know where to start” to “I am overwhelmed with so many tools and processes”.  I internalized it and came up with a theme: “Strategic, but agile”.  The tagline is nothing new, but it helped me tie all the take-aways together with some of the points of view that I was planning to share in my original deck. Then, I gathered relevant information from the other speakers presentations to build around that theme.

Ugly truth: It takes time to crystalize your theme from all the conversations you had.  You need to think through what the audience is trying to say. The words they use usually have another layer of meaning. You need to think about the commonalities among all the challenges.

Use fun and expected memes and images to keep audience’s attention

This is the fun part. I love using funny memes, gif and images to engage the audiences’ ‘left brain’ so their right brain doesn’t get bored and stop listening.

Here some examples that got the audience to laugh.


Ugly truth: It does take time to find funny images and memes. And sometimes you have to pay for those images.

In summary…

At the end day, the most important thing is to keep the content relevant for the audience.  Even if I do all the three things above, if the content has no substance and is not relevant, I still won’t get their attention.

It was a very stressful 3-days! I literally rebuilt my presentations, asked my event organizer to supply me with some necessary slides from other speakers real-time and incorporated their key take-aways at the last minute.  I was so worried that I would not able to deliver well since it was not my normal flow.  However, I gave so much thought to how it should flow during the 3-day that I already knew the material well enough to deliver a useful presentation.

Several people came to me afterwards and told me that they were curious about what I would say as closing, since almost every topic about content marketing was already covered by both internal and external speakers. They love that I synthesized all the key points from the past 3 days and delivered it in a fun and humorous way.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to deliver an awesome presentation on the last day of an event after lunch?


Quick note: Here are a couple of thoughtful comments I received on Twitter. The stress? It’s all worth it in the end!


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