Podcasts Archive - Pam Didner

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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. Pam Didner here. I love sharing a little dose of B2B, digital, content marketing and sales enablement, seven minutes at a time.

I had coffee with a friend, Maria, last week. We haven’t seen each for almost 2 years. I was very excited to see her. After catching up with talk about our family and kids, she asked me: Pam, what have you been working on lately? Well, that’s a good question. What have I been working on?  How would you answer that question when someone asks you what have you been working on?

The first thing popped into my mind is that I spend a lot of time doing e-mail, Powerpoint, writing, and texting. That just sounds awful as if I didn’t accomplish anything except doing administrative busy work. But, after thinking about it a little more, I realized all of these activities, somehow, tie to the key initiatives and business goals I set out to accomplish in the beginning of the year. I established a revenue target, set the target date to publish my 2nd book, and identified a marketing mix to continuously build my personal brand.

So, what have been I been working on? I’ve been working on several client projects. Billable hours are nice as that feeds into the revenue goal.  I submitted the manuscript of my 2nd book, which helps in hitting the publication date. I am redoing my website and continue to publish blog posts and podcast episodes.  So, preparing for my book launch, doing content marketing like blog and podcast to help build my personal brand and working to generate potential leads which in turn contributes to the pipeline and revenue target.

All that sounds good. But the question forced me to do a quick evaluation of my progress relative to my goals. While I’ve been spending a lot of time working on client projects, which is great for working towards the revenue goal, I didn’t spend enough time on prospect outreach. Not so good. I completed my 2nd book, but I haven’t created a solid launch plan yet. Although I am producing content such as podcasts and blogs, does that really help on the personal brand building at this time? I am not 100% sure. Her question made me realize that I need to do a more formal mid-year checkpoint of my progress before the start of 2H’18, which is July 1st. A check-point with myself.  I put that down as a to-do list.

Let’s come back to how I answered her question: The first thing that came out of my mouth was that I do a lot of email, Powerpoint, writing, and texting. What the heck? That was a terrible answer. Then, I said: “Maria, let me take that back and start it again.” This time I told her what my goals are for 2018, then I went ahead and explained that my day tends to focus on client projects, creating content to build my personal brand and getting my 2nd book published with a solid launch plan. Of course, in the midst of that, I try to find time to check off my travel bucket list and do my weekly yoga. Making my clients successful, setting myself up for success, exercising and taking care of myself is what I have been working on.

This question reminded me of a blog post that I wrote several years ago which has the highest number of views on my website. The blog post is called “the differences between planning vs plans.” You can google search that.

In that post, I talked about the differences between planning and plans. Planning is an active way of discussing the goals, objectives, strategies, and tasks that we need to accomplish. Plans are the documentation of planning.

Have a plan, then we need to be ready to modify or adjust it based on changes of your goals.

So, what have been you working on lately? Does that somehow tie with your goals?

Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner

Be well. Until next time.

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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. My name is Pam Didner. I love sharing a little dose of B2B, digital, content marketing and sales enablement, seven minutes at a time.

Ok, I did several episodes about my trip to Lima. Now, let’s come back and focus on answering your questions. I did a webinar last week with Mintent, a Content Marketing Platform company. The topic of the webinar was ‘3 creative ways that marketers can enable sales across regions.’ At the end of the webinar, one attendee, Megan, asked a question:

How do you draw the line between arming sales with marketing material and getting inundated with too many requests for tasks such as writing sales correspondence emails with prospects?

I totally understand Megan’s concerns. That’s exactly what happens sometimes. Marketers do everything they can to support sales. Over time, without noticing, marketers become admins for the sales team. It’s called scope creep…  The best way to avoid that is to clearly communicate what you will do and won’t do.  This is called a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

When I was supporting sales teams, I was working with 50-60 field people and supporting several key accounts. I received a lot of requests and questions from them on a daily basis. Initially, I didn’t have a good idea what I needed to do to support them, and it quickly became unbearable.  After several months, I started recognizing there was a pattern. The requests generally broke down into the following questions:

  • What is our overall marketing strategy?
  • What can marketing do to help generate leads?
  • What can we say about our products and services?
  • Where is the content located and what content can be used for different stages of the sales journey?

So, I structured my support model based on some of the most frequent requests. For example, I made sure we have a short deck to talk about the overall marketing strategy. I had a lead list or pipeline that I could share. I provided a monthly update on some of the key marketing activities at sales meetings. I also had a messaging framework in place. Most importantly, I identified 5-10 content pieces per sales stage that I believed would be helpful to the sales team and put it on a datasheet for their easy access.

Speaking of content and resources, I may not know all the content out there, but I know how to search and who to ask to find out what content is available. There were times I directed them to the appropriate contact and wouldn’t get in the middle of it. There were also times I’d politely tell them I couldn’t help. Over a period of time, they got to know what I could do for them, when they should come to me and when they shouldn’t. I was still busy, but it was manageable.

When I was writing my Sales Enablement book, I had a chat with Sasha who worked in a growing start-up. She was in marketing, but she did everything for her 5-person sales team from presentation creation, sales pitch brainstorming to crafting mini-e-mail campaigns for her sales team. That worked well for her.  Her sales team loved her and she enjoyed the work. She did acknowledge that her scope couldn’t scale if the sales team grows to, say, 15-20 people.  The company will need to hire another person like her to support the bigger sales team or she needs to change her support model.

So, Megan, as you can see that Sasha and I had different support models. You’ll need to structure how you want to support your sales team based on what you will do and won’t do. You also need to take into account the maturity stage of your company and sales team.

Clearly articulate what your roles and responsibilities are. Bear in mind that the service level agreement is a guideline, not an absolute rule.  From time to time, I’d make exceptions, this is especially true if the sales team is on the cusp of winning a big account, if a key account needs some last minute urgent support. At the end of the day, it’s about growing business for your company. You do what you need to do to support it.

A quick summary of some ideas that work for me:

  • List 5 questions that the salespeople ask most frequently. See if you can create standardized content or presentations.
  • Create a list of recommended content for each sales stage
  • Have a good understanding of content by-products, technologies, personas or the purchase cycle. Make a quick cheat sheet for yourself. You need to update it on a regular basis based on product, technology, persona changes.
  • Know the subject matter experts and direct the sales team to them if necessary
  • Create a service level agreement and get their buy-in

I hope these tips are helpful. Do you have any useful tips that you can share?  You know where to find me.

Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner. Love to hear from you.

Be well. Until next time.

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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. Pam Didner here. I love sharing a little dose of B2B, digital, content marketing and sales enablement, seven minutes at a time.

I was hoping to record this episode when I was in Machu Picchu. That would be a major milestone, right? I carried the recording equipment all the way up 9000 feet above the sea level. I was taken away by the ruins, the mountains, the history and just the overall experience. I decided to be present and enjoy it as much as I could.  And I did! I recorded this episode when I came back to the US.

A quick update on getting to Machu Picchu. First, I had to travel to Lima, then took a plane from Lima to Cusco. From Cusco, our group took the bus to Ollantaytambo. From there, we took the train to a town at the bottom of Machu Picchu. Then, we had to take a park bus to the entrance. It’s a long way to get there.

Machu Picchu is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so many rules are set up to proactively protect the site. The government limits the numbers of tourists that can access the site each day. To manage the visitor flow, we are put in groups of 15-20 with an assigned tour guide and a specific time-slot. When your assigned time slot arrives, you need to show your ticket and your passport, which are checked to make sure they are completely matched. In other words, the ticket is non-transferrable. With the rise of terrorist attacks, I guess it makes sense that the government wants to know who is in and out if they need to track down potential suspects. God forbids something happens to this site. If this site is gone, it’s gone forever. There is no way to replace it.

The rules are annoying, but I understand.

Once we passed the entrance, we had to go through a windy narrow path and then enter into a half-way house. Once you walk out of that area, Boom! You are suddenly presented with the majesty of  Machu Picchu. I got a little emotional when I saw it for the first time… OMG, it’s stunning and exactly how I imaged it would be. I was still in disbelief that a tribe of people devoted so much time to build a civilization on top of a mountain in the middle of the rainforest. The tour guide showed us the temple and residential areas for the royal family and common people. The irrigation system and architecture were really states of art, at the time.

So, what are my marketing takeaways from visiting Machu Picchu?  Well, there are two.

Machu Picchu made me think about messaging and value propositions. To market our products, we are taught that we need to find unique differentiators for our products. Well, since there is only one Machu Picchu in the world, it’s easy to identify and craft its unique messaging. The messaging can tap into the history of the Inca empire, the mysterious abandonment of this city, the human sacrifices, the battles with Spaniards, their sophisticated and advanced knowledge in architecture and irrigation and more. There is no lack of content and story to use in marketing Machu Picchu.

Obviously, our product and services are not as unique as Machu Picchu and we are likely not the only company serving the same customers.  But we should strive to find our own unique differentiators. The best way to start is to ask why and what. Why do we build the products? What problems do we want to solve? We obviously build our products to serve a specific segment of people. If we demonstrate our products to them, what would we say?  How do we tell our stories?

It doesn’t matter how commoditized your products are, you can always find your uniqueness. Just type “hammer” on Amazon.com, you can see a variety of hammers for different purposes. The price ranges from $5-$50. Each one of them has its unique positioning.

While I was at Machu Picchu, I started thinking about my own value propositions. With the new book, Effective Sales Enablement, I can’t just talk about global content marketing anymore. The overarching value proposition needs to be changed to somehow tie global content marketing and sales enablement together.  Obviously, my expertise is global in nature. I know how a marketing organization works in a global company. I know how to create a scalable marketing process between corporate and local, how to create scalable personas, messaging framework, marketing planning and strategy. On top of it, I can shared ideas and recommendations on how marketing teams can better support sales teams.  So, what should my value proposition be? I don’t know yet. Messaging and value propositions are difficult to crack and they change as new features and benefits are added.

Oh, here is another takeaway.  After Machu Picchu, our group took the train back to Cusco. The train was very slow and it was a 3.5 hour ride. To increase revenue and entertain the guests, the train staff did a fashion show with carefully curated upbeat music. They used the aisle as a run-way to showcase 100% Alpaca coats, sweaters, shawls, jackets and more. It was a lot of fun to see the staff dressing up as models. It did get people excited and interested in checking out the clothes. By the way, these clothes were not cheap, but people were buying.  Here is another marketing take away: the best way to market your product is show-and-tell. It never fails.

While recording this episode, I can still recall tingling excitement of being on the top of that mountain. Totally worth it.

My next trips are Vienna and Seattle.  I am looking forward to sharing my marketing take-aways from these two cities. Stay tuned and more to come.

Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner 

Be well. Until next time.

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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. My name is Pam Didner, and I love sharing a little dose of B2B, digital, content marketing and sales enablement, seven minutes at a time.

I stayed in Lima for a couple of days before my trip to Machu Picchu and learned some interesting trivia about Lima and Peru that made me think about marketing…  I know… Just can’t get marketing out of my mind even when I am on vacation.

Here are several things I’ve learned that reminded me of marketing:

Lima receives only 0.3 inch of rain per year.  Portland, Oregon, where I live, gets 44 inches of rain per year. People in Lima doesn’t know how to use an Umbrella. It’s the 2nd largest desert city after Cairo in Egypt. Ok, here is the interesting fact: Although it doesn’t rain, it often reaches close to 100% humidity. Because of high humidity, the weather is always cloudy and feels like it’s going to rain anytime, but it doesn’t. When I was there, it was overcast with the dark clouds hovering overhead, I thought it would rain anytime. No, it just stayed overcast the whole time, but the air felt damp. My jacket felt a bit wet while I was there…

Since there is almost no rain all year round but many people and cars in the city, it creates a large amount of dust. People are constantly cleaning and dusting. They clean their cars, buildings, streets, otherwise, the city would be covered with thick layers of dust. Daily maintenance and cleaning is important for the city to showcase its best. So that pieces of information makes me think of our own digital presence. Our own websites and digital presence also need to be maintained and cleaned on a regular basis. Although a website needs to have fresh content, it also needs to be maintained and cleaned by deleting or updating old content. It’s kind of sad that, when my tour guide mentioned cleaning, I was immediately thinking about digital marketing maintenance.

Here is another piece of trivia information that made me think of marketing, especially content marketing. The largest immigrant population since the early 1800’s is Chinese, followed by Japanese, then Italian. About 10% of Peruvians are of Chinese-descent or have some or Chinese heritage.  A Chinese restaurant is called a Chifa: derived from Chinese moms calling their kids playing on streets to come home to eat (吃飯了). The famous Peruvian dish, Lomo Saltado, is cooked with soy sauce. Another common fish dish, A la chorrillana, has what American’s would call a Chinese ‘sweet and sour’ flavor. And the side for both dishes is rice! My tour guide told me that Peruvians love Chinese food. Who doesn’t?

It made me think of content localization and customization. If you need to localize content about food in Peru, the proper way to describe a Chinese eatery is Chifa, which is unique to Peru.

Speaking of brand and messaging localization and customization, here are a couple examples I saw in a supermarket. Tide, the popular detergent brand in the US, is called Ace. The word Tide probably doesn’t make much sense to Peruvians. However, the Tide logo remains the same, even though they customized the brand name. Then, I passed by the hair-care product section, I noticed that Head and Shoulders and Pantene both keep their product brand names in English, but features and user benefits are translated into Spanish. It’s interesting to see how brands determine what to localize or translate. Talking about connect the dots, I somehow made a connection between Chifa and brand/messaging localization of Tide, Head and Shoulders and Pantene.

Here is another example of global vs. local that I noticed. Due to the Spanish Inquisition, 80% of Peruvians are converted or coerced to Roman Catholics. Indigenous beliefs and religions were suppressed during the colonial period. Somehow though, you can still find local influence when they practice Catholicism. For example, the Inca people believe in the God of the Sun.  Whenever you see virgin Mary’s statue, you can see her wearing a crown shaped like the sun with discreet decorations that are meaningful to the locals. This may not be a great example of global vs. local, but the reality is that you can’t ignore the local elements even when you try to preach to or coerce your own religious beliefs on others. It’s the same in the marketing, you need to understand your customers’ needs and incorporate the local flavors into your marketing outreach.

Peru is a country with 30M people, but 10M of them live in Lima. My stay in this city was short, but the food is fantastic, and they incorporate various international cuisines to enhance their own local flavors. My next step is Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire.  This city with 500,000 people is situated nicely over 11,000 feet above sea level. I hope that I won’t get high-altitude sickness… I’ll keep you posted…

The next episode, I’ll be recording from Machu Picchu.

Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner

More from Peru in the next episode.

Be well. Until next time.

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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. My name is Pam Didner, and I love sharing a little dose of B2B, digital and content marketing, seven minutes at a time.

I am recording this podcast from Lima, Peru. I am going to Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountain. I am so excited. I read about Incas’ people and culture when I was eight. I can’t believe that I am here. I will share my trip highlights and marketing take-aways from Machu Picchu in the upcoming episodes stay tuned.

This week, I had an interview with Jim and Lee from Moravia. He read my book, Global Content Marketing, and finally reached out to discuss some questions he has from reading the book. I love readers and listeners reaching out and asking me questions.

One of the questions was: “Pam, what is the difference between a marketing plan and a global marketing plan?”

Well, the only thing different is the word “Global”. The way you define “Global” will have ramifications on how you write your marketing plan. First of all, let me define the purpose of a marketing plan. A marketing plan is a document that you use to

  • let your management know what you will do for marketing outreach
  • get the budget you need
  • rally and align your team members and agencies

Therefore, it’s an internal document. Global, in that sense, is defined an internal collaboration between the headquarters and local teams. I focus on the internal.

Marketing plans always have your marketing objectives which is what: what do you want to accomplish. Then a set of strategies which is how: what do you need to do and how to do it to achieve the objectives. Followed by who: whom do you market to? That’s buyer’s persona.

If you’re marketing across regions, you need to work with the local team, get their feedback and make adjustments to your marketing objectives, strategies and buyer’s personas.

Whatever marketing elements you have in your marketing plan stays the same, but you need to add the global or local twist by talking to your local teams and sales team.

You need to consider if you need to add additional personas. You also need to add priority countries, since you have limited budget and you can’t solve the world hunger by marketing to every country.  For content perspective, you need to also identify languages that you’ll support. If Canada is one of the priority countries, you need content for both English and French. If you market to Switzerland, the 4 official languages are German, French, Italian and Romansh. Prioritize the languages.

You may also need to identify key local deliverables and success metrics.

Jim, the differences between a marketing plan and a global marketing plan is to:

  • Solicit feedback from the local team to make necessary adjustments to your objective, strategies and personas.
  • Add priority countries
  • Add languages
  • Add the local team’s key deliverables
  • Modify your success metrics

The global marketing plan is to add a right dose of local flavors to reflect the collaboration of the headquarters and local team. At the end of the day, it’s about communication, collaboration and compromise.

Jim, Lee and I had a great conversation. Another question they asked is about success metrics. Should the local team have the same success metrics?  A great question.  I’ll discuss that in my next episode. Jim and Lee, it was great talking to you. Let me know when your blog is published.

Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner 

More from Peru in the next 10 days.

Be well. Until next time.

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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. My name is Pam Didner, and I love sharing a little dose of B2B, digital and content marketing, seven minutes at a time.

While I was speaking at the Clever Content Conference in Copenhagen this April, my friend, Christian, proudly showed me his hometown Copenhagen. The city is not big and you can pretty much walk and bike everywhere. He and I walked around the town for 8 hours straight. I visited little mermaid, churches, the Royal garden and more. But I was mostly blown away by an area called Freetown Christiania. I was shocked that a place like this could exist in modern society. Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous anarchist district of about 850 to 1,000 residents, covering approx. 84 acres in Copenhagen. The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns etc. It started back in the 70’s with many hippies who cherished a progressive and liberal lifestyle. Of course, the idea was great and the utopia didn’t last. Crime organizations and gangsters quickly infiltrated the area.

In the middle of Christiania is Pusher Street where you can buy different grades of marijuana. But weed is not legal in Copenhagen, the people who are selling are not really law-abiding citizens.  Therefore, when you walk down that street, you are not allowed to take pictures. These people don’t want their faces plastered all over social media. When I was walking on that particular street, I could tell I was being watched, but the mood was light…  People were talking and joking, but you could tell people were watching you.

In that area, graffiti everywhere. All the houses are built with recycled material. None of these houses have solid foundations. It seems that there are public showers for residents. Even though people say no rules apply to Christiania there are clearly unwritten rules or codes that people live by. Because of that, the area is not dirty and there are no piles of smelly trash. So, despite the anarchy, there are still rules that people need to follow so that the community won’t fall into chaos. It’s called Freetown, but it’s not so free that you can do anything you want if it messes up the community.

Walking around Christiania made me think about creative development in marketing. Being creative doesn’t mean any boundaries. It’s quite the opposite. Without boundaries, it’s created for the sake of being creative. It’s random. It’s like using a bow to shoot arrows but without aim or a target.

The inception of a creative concept for a big marketing campaign needs to be guided by some sort of rules or boundaries. Those boundaries are set by a brand guide, messaging framework, campaign objectives and more. Therefore, you need to craft a creative brief which includes relevant information such as communications objectives, the name of the product, product value propositions, marketing channels where the campaign will run, target audience and calls-to-action. The brief should be 1-2 pages, not 30 slides. You set up some boundaries while leaving the creative director freedom to come up with several awesome ideas to guide your marketing campaigns. Constraints need to be set up in order for creativity to flourish. Rules need to be established even for anarchy to exist.

I was surprised that a place like Freetown Christiania is tolerated by the Danish government. This town adds a unique differentiator to the brand of Copenhagen. It drives more than 500,000 visitors a year and is the 4th most popular tourist spot of the city. When you have a chance to visit Copenhagen, please check it out.

Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner

Be well. Until next time.

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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. My name is Pam Didner, and I love sharing a little dose of B2B, digital and content marketing, seven minutes at a time.

Ok, I reached a major milestone last week. While in London, I visited my publisher and finalized the manuscript of my 2nd book, Effective Sales Enablement. Now, the manuscript is officially moving to the production phase. I am not at the finish line yet, but I am very happy that the hardest part is DONE.

People approach me all the time asking about how to write a book and get it published. I want to share my experience with you, in seven minutes.  BTW, my experience is more on writing a business book, not a fictional novel. So, what’s the difference? This is my opinion. I think it’s harder to sell a novel and it’s better to have an agent.  For business books, personally, I think you can represent yourself and pitch it to a publisher directly.

Here is the process I used for publishing my 2 books:

  • Start with a topic that you are either the expert at or very passionate about. Writing is a frustrating creative journey. Unless you love the topic, it’s hard to get through the whole writing and rewriting process.
  • Put your ideas into a general framework or methodology to explain your ideas. Or you can dissect the topic into different elements and add adjacent subtopics. Frankly, there is nothing new under the sun. The secret is how you present an existing idea with a new twist or from a new perspective. For my 1st book, I created a framework called the 4C’s of Global Content Marketing. For my 2nd book, I discussed how to enable sales through various marketing elements. I dissected the topics from a marketer’s perspective.
  • Now you have a topic and a general framework, it’s time to write a book proposal. Hey, if you want a sample for your book proposal, I am more than happy to share mine with you. I am not saying mine is the best, but I structured the proposal in a way that makes it easy for the book publisher to get the gist of who I am, what the future book is about, and a sense of the overall outline and this topic’s competitive landscape.
  • Once that’s done, you can send your book proposal to various publishers. Publishers are usually very good at letting you know if they are interested in your book proposal. For payments, some pay an advance, some don’t. I have heard that this is where an agent is helpful. Maybe! Most people write business books to get additional business opportunities or check off their bucket list, not necessarily try to make money off the book. You need to understand why you want to write a book. If you are driven by making money, I hate breaking the news to you. You are better off doing something else.
  • Many people prefer self-publishing. I don’t have experience with that. The two biggest advantages for working with publishers: hold myself accountable to a deadline. They set up a date, I need to meet their deadline. Another reason for working with publishers is to access their retail and international distribution channels. If you are self-publishing, you will probably sell it on Amazon or your own website. You have to work hard to get on other online channels. It can be challenging.
  • With or without a publisher, the next step is to buckle down and write. There’s not much more to it. One word at a time. Allocate time, sit down and write. Just do it.
  • By talking to various business book authors, the writing seems to take about 4-8 months. The production process is about 6-9 months if you work with publishers. They will do a layout design, typesetting, fact-checking and a series of other steps to get the book published.
  • After you’ve handed in your manuscript, it’s time to start working on the launch and marketing plan. Many authors work closely with PR agencies to create marketing campaigns. This time around, I decide to work with a PR person and focus on mainstream media promotion and interview opportunities.

When the book is published, there’s still a lot of work to do. Marketing and promotion never stops. It’s like demand gen, you have to do it day in and day out. I didn’t do a good job promoting my first book. This time around, I am making an effort to create an integrated plan with paid and organic marketing campaigns and content marketing efforts. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Are you ready and willing to take the plunge? Like I said, I am more than happy to share my book proposal with you.

Again, send me your marketing questions via Twitter @pamdidner

Be well. Until next time.

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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. My name is Pam Didner, and I love sharing a little dose of B2B, digital and content marketing, seven minutes at a time.

After speaking at the Cleve Content Conference in Copenhagen, I met up with a good friend, Diana, in Manchester, England. We were thinking about where we should spend our weekend. She suggested that we visit the Chatsworth.  I got excited right away. I recalled reading somewhere that Chatsworth was Mr. Darcy’s country estate, Pemberley in the movie version of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. In the movie, Mr. Darcy’s country estate seemed fantastic, so I had to check out.

We got there around 10:00 am and the estate wasn’t open until 11:00 am. We strolled through the field around the estate. I was told that Chatsworth covers over 1000 acres and most of the field is open for public all year around. The current owner, the 12th Duke of Devonshire, still lives in this manor with his family. He is keen about open access and allows the community to use it for recreational purposes. We lucked out on the weather. Birds chirping, flowers blossoming, cloudless blue sky and lush green grass.  It was a superb and perfect spring day.

If you’ve listened to my podcast about my visit to Chateaux Clos Luce in Loire or read my blog post about my experience attending the USTA US Open, you’ve noticed that I put my marketer’s lenses on wherever I go.

As a marketer, I was blown away by Chatsworth for the following reasons:

  • Their staff is their true brand ambassador: Each room and hallway has one or two staff in attendance. They are friendly and willing to share their Chatsworth knowledge and stories. I am sure that many of you have experience of visiting palaces and castles. Most of the staff members were like watchdogs. They are there to tell you ‘not to’ do something; like not to take photos and not to touch anything. Very different at Chatsworth.  Every staff member I talked to was friendly, genuinely loves this estate and wanted to provide a great experience for visitors.
  • They constantly thinking ways to improve their product offerings: Most mansions and palaces we visit, they focus on showing a bunch of rooms with antique furniture. They showcase the same rooms years after years. No changes. By going through the rooms at Chatsworth, I could tell that they constantly move things around to create fresh experience for visitors. The movie, Duchess, was based on the 5th Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana. This movie obviously made Chatsworth popular. People want to check out the place where Georgiana lived. Therefore, they created a gallery hallway to share Georgiana’s lifestyle. That gallery was beautifully done. The other gallery hallway was also completely redone to showcase the current Duke’s and Duchess’ modern art collections. Two hallways in parallel, one modern, one classic. Both renovations were done in the past several years. The estate, in a way, is their product. They constantly move things around and bring new collections to enhance their product. Marketing works the best when you have something new to say about your products. They are doing that just that. I thought that’s very impressive.
  • Telling stories through content marketing and curation: The 11th Duchess, Deborah Cavendish, wrote several books about Chatsworth. Talking about content marketing! She used her books to share the history and stories about Chatsworth and got people to pay attention to the estate. Of course, several documentaries were done over the last few decades. That continued to build buzz and increase interest. Another thing worth mentioning is the merchandise they sell in their gift shop. We all have passed through various museums and palaces’ gift shops before our exists. This gift shop is rather unique. all items are sourced with intention. Rather than displaying the same categories of merchandise, they mix and match related and relevant accessories with elegant style and taste. It’s like shopping in a high-end store. They also know people are curious about the current Duke and Duchess. I noticed a clever marketing idea which is to showcase some of the Duke and Duchess’ favorite products. A sign denoting “A few of my favorite things” highlights some of the store’ products, enticing people to check out items the Duke and Duchess like.

I didn’t talk to the management to do this podcast. These are my personal observations from simply viewing and talking to several members of the staff. I asked one of the staff members who’ve been there for several years why every staff is so eager to tell Chatsworth stories. She said that the Duke and Duchess are both very kind and generous. They consider themselves lucky and they treat their staff with respect.

I think she hit the core about how to run a good company. The corporate culture, especially for a family-run business, truly reflects the personal values of the founders.

Chatsworth is considered one of the finest country estates in England. I can totally see why. The staff is doing a great job representing Chatsworth. They continuously refresh and update their product, which is their estate and they make an effort to tell stories and curate the best experience for their visitors.

Talking about customer retention and word-of-mouth. They won me over and I’ll not only visit this place again but also share my wonderful experience with others, like what I am doing now.

Do you put on your marketing lenses when you travel? Any good stories to tell?  Please share with me.

Again, send me your marketing questions via Twitter @pamdidner

Be well. Until next time.

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Recently, I did a keynote presentation about Humans vs. Machines.  Is Content Marketing doomed?  When I think about humans vs. machines, I think about the self-aware artificial intelligence like the Terminator’s Skynet, I am the Borg from the Star Trek or the agents in the movie, the Matrix. Of course, R2D2, C3PO from Star War or even Bender from Futurama also come to mind.  However, these are Hollywood versions of AI.

In real life, we have seen a Robot called Asimo developed by Honda kick a soccer ball to President Obama. We have seen sophisticated robots which can flip or walk on uneven and hilly terrane from Boston Dynamics. Not mentioning about automatic cars developed by Google and other tech and car companies. We are developing these AI-Based tools to make our lives easier and productive.

However, in January 2015, more than 7000 people from tech, academia, and other fields signed a 4-page open letter based on the report with the title: “Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence”.  They acknowledged the immense benefits of AI, but cautioned policymakers and the public about the danger of self-aware and self-adjust artificial intelligence beings. They also articulated AI’s impact in aspects such as security, machine ethics, laws, and privacy.  Luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking both signed the open letter. Elon Musk still affirmed his point of view that AI is more dangerous than nukes.  Stephen Hawkings expressed concerned that AI could destroy human civilization.

So, what is AI?  Well, there are many different interpretations, different levels and different perspectives of AI. So, let’s define AI first. I love this definition from Wikipedia: Intelligence exhibited by machines. What is Intelligence, anyway?  Intelligence is when machine can think and behave like humans. Let’s peel the onion further. What is thinking?  Thinking has many levels. Machines can think about how to play a chess.  Machines can also think how to adjust his behavior to assist humans like Data in Star Trek. The different levels of thinking or behavior also define different levels of AI.

In general, there are three types of AI:

Artifical Narrow Intelligence, Weak AI or Narrow AI: Do a task competently, modify behaviors when the situation changes. Google translate, Alphago, Siri, IBM Watson, Autonomous cars are all examples of narrow AI.

Artificial General Intelligence: Strong AI or human-like AI:

  • Perform any intellectual task that humans can
  • Capable of cognitive functions humans may have –

in essence no different than a real human mind

  • Understand and reason its environment as humans would

ASI: AI becomes much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills

On an AI continuum: it starts from Narrow AI, AGI, then ASI.

Currently, all the applications are task-driven, we are on the cusp of narrow AI. There is no human-like AGI yet, but experts expect that will happen in the next decades, especially we keep working on to make machines smarter and taking on more complex tasks. The general consensus is that it will take a long time to get from narrow AI to AGI, but from AGI to ASI, the transition will be in no time.  When machines are smarter than humans, what will happen to us? That’s what Elon Musk and Stephen Hawkings are concerned about.

In the meantime, many companies are developing AI-based tools to assist marketing efforts.  I talked about Lead Crunch feeds customers’ best top 25 customers to its AI-based platform to create ICP for their customers.  Drift offer AI-based bot chat to carry intelligence conversations with potential prospects to get audiences to schedule a time with the company. Salesforce.com created Einstein, AI-based platform. It learns from all that data to deliver predictions and recommendations based on your unique business processes.

McCann Japan developed an AI-CD bot. Use the bot to develop a creative concept for its commercial.  Their first pilot project was creating a commercial for Clorets, chewing gum to convey Instant fresh breath that lasts for 10 minutes.” Then, they tested human-generated commercial with an AI-generated commercial.  The human-generated commercial did slightly better than AI-based commercial.  Imagine that AI Bot getting better every time…

Here is AI-based music.  Pretty good, right…

Are marketers doomed?  I don’t think so.  If you think about it, we still need to set up processes or workflow before we can take full advantage of AI.  We still need to do quality checks. As of today, AI still need to hand whatever they accomplish for humans to complete. However, it’s important to stay on top of the trends and acquire new skillsets.  Learning is part of every marketer’s job description.

I thought it’s important for us, marketers, understand what AI is and what they offer at this time.

Send me your marketing questions via Twitter @pamdidner

Be well. Until next time.