What’s working for B2B startup blogs and what’s not working as well? #entrepreneur #marketing

Content Marketing is being touted as the way to educate your customers and create your brand. For both startups and individuals trying to build a personal brand, content marketing is always being pushed as a means to engage with your audience.

Even though blogging has been the staple of most content marketing efforts on the small startup side for the SMB prospect, and the whitepaper as the staple for the B2B marketer in the enterprise, the rules of the game have dramatically changed for “quality” of content. The bar is much higher given the amount of content and the need to fight through the clutter and noise.

The primary changes are thanks to the mobile phone and the reducing attention span that most folks have.

The things that I think are not going to work anymore:

1. 0-1000 word blog posts. Most folks dont have the time to read a lot of text. On the phone text is being swiped faster than photos.

2. Infographics – most infographics are pretty useless and the bar for what constitutes a good infographic is great analysis and visualization, not just a bunch of numbers.

3. Anything blog post hthat’s not topical, since the shelf life of any blog post is now heading to minutes, not hours. If your blog post is something you are looking to create a book (for personal branding) out of your blog post, you might want to rethink that strategy. Books are being read solely by older audiences now and video trumps reading thanks to shorter attention spans.

What works then to draw an audience and help build a brand?

1 Content Marketing that works

Content Marketing that works

1. Blog posts that are data rich, visually attractive or long form – CB Insights, Crew and Buffer are proving that there’s still a place for great content in the traditional blog post. If you are into writing long form (1500+ words, choose to host and publish on medium instead of your own domain).

2. Video: Short, 3-5 min produced how to videos, interviews are still working well.

3. Podcasts: This has taken off more than most people anticipated. If you are starting a new company, I’d recommend you to go podcasting instead of text based blogs.

4. Slideshare presentations: Visually attractive, with high quality images, and tons of data in a simple PowerPoint slide is still drawing a lot of attention.

5. Great images and photos that can be shared on Instagram or Pinterest (even if you are a B2B company).

6. Real time video streaming – Periscope and Meerkat are two platforms you should consider.

7. Blog posts with very little text, but a lot of animated gifs: Thanks to BuzzFeed, these are extremely popular if your target audience is younger workers just joining the workforce.

The best marketing conferences that I’d like to attend in 2013 (Marketing conference list)

Here is the list of the best digital marketing conferences that I’d like to attend in 2013. Practically I may attend 1 or 2 at the most as a speaker, but if you are looking to build your 2013 list of marketing conferences to attend, here’s a good place to start.

The format of this post is hard to get right on the blog, so here’s a handy Google doc of the 2013 Marketing Conference list.

There’s also a neat infographic from Marketo that is worth the eye-candy showing a smaller list by map of the United States.

# Conference URL Dates Location
1 Blogworld & NMX http://nmxlive.com/2013-lv/ Jan 6-8 :as Vegas
2 Ad Tech http://www.ad-tech.com/newdelhi/adtech_new_delhi.aspx Feb 2013 New Delhi
3 Email Summit http://blog.marketo.com/blog/2011/07/infographic-must-attend-marketing-events-a-guide-to-marketing-conferences-in-the-us.html Feb 19-22 Las Vegas
4 Mobile Marketing http://www.mmaglobal.com/events/forums/sanfrancisco2013/overview Jan 29-30 San Francisco
5 Adobe Digital Marketing Summit http://summit.adobe.com/digital-marketing-summit.html Mar 4-8 2013 Salt Lake City
6 SMX West http://searchmarketingexpo.com/west/ Mar 11-13 San Jose
7 Blogwell http://www.socialmedia.org/blogwell/ April 17 New York
8 Sirius Decisions http://www.siriusdecisions.com/live/home/document.php?dA=ConfAnnSummit2013 May 8-10 San Diego
9 Mirren Live (Agencies) http://newbusinessconference.com/home/ May 2013 New York
10 BMA http://www.marketing.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=5681#.UJ6o-ofqkaw May 29-31 Chicago
11 Inbound Marketing http://www.inboundconference.com/ Aug 19-22 Boston
12 http://www.ad-tech.com/bangalore/adtech_bangalore.aspx# Sep 2013 Bangalore
13 SES http://sesconference.com/sanfrancisco/ Sep 10-13 San Francisco
14 Content Marketing World http://contentmarketingworld.com/ Sep 9-12 2013 Cleveland
15 Mobile Marketing http://www.mmaglobal.com/events/forums/india2012/overview Sep 2013 Delhi
16 SMX East http://searchmarketingexpo.com/east/ Oct 1-3 New York
17 Pubcon http://www.pubcon.com/ Oct 2013 Las Vegas
18 DMA 2013 http://www.dma13.org/ Oct 12-17 Chicago
19 Future M http://futurem.org/about.aspx Oct 2013 Boston
20 Marketing Profs http://events.marketingprofs.com/b2bsite/speakers-321CF-18808U.html Oct 2013 Boston
21 Distilled SEO http://www.distilled.net/events/searchlove-boston/ Nov 2013 Boston
22 Ad Tech http://www.ad-tech.com/ Nov 2013 Delhi
23 WOMMA http://womma.org/summit/agenda/ Nov 24-26 Las Vegas
24 SES http://sesconference.com/delhi/ Dec 2012 New Delhi

Why developers will make the best marketers in this and the next decade

When you have a hammer everything is a nail. Imagine you are a developer (or higher form being – a hacker). Every problem is a script or a tool or a side project you can build (including marketing or sales problems). That’s because that’s how developers think. Which is awesome since the focus is on creating something “useful” that prospects will use. When you can develop a tool or a script which consumer / customers can use instead of just read or consume you engage them more actively.

The next two decades (and quite possibly beyond) is all about being an engaging marketer.

So how does one become a marketer that “engages” their audience or consumer?

Some background: For the longest time, marketing meant advertising. So the “ad guy” who was a two-martini lunch, cigar smoking, creative director would come up with this brilliant “idea” and execute the TV ad, Print Ad and Radio ad. Accolades will follow. The ad campaigns that bomb would be forgotten.

The trouble with TV, radio and newspaper is that they are “passive” mediums for the consumer / user. They are recipients of marketing messages or propaganda.

Consumers were required to consume useful content (sitcoms, music, news) and interruption content (ads) with not much ability to ignore the interruption content.

Then came the Internet. Suddenly the consumer was more “active”. They were not waiting and passively looking at what was being fed, but were active in seeking useful content and equally active in ignoring interruption content. Note I am not saying useless content (some ads are useful, but they still are an interruption).

To actively engage a consumer or user, you have multiple choices but the biggest of those right now is gaming. This includes useful consumer tools, games, contests, polls, etc.

Although “content marketing” is being touted as a key part of inbound marketing, it is still “passive”. Content marketing is no different than newspapers. Imagine content strategy = editorial calendar, content producers = editors and content = news / editorial.

Here are some examples of how developers are building marketing tools by adding value to their prospect / consumer / user.

a) Website Grader tool is a useful tool, (but very complicated) that tells you how good your website is on multiple factors. (link)

b) Look at many opensource versions of hosted products (one of the companies I have invested in Plivo is an example) which are “free” to use and still provide marketing. (link)

c) Free starter versions of hosted products (such as Mailchimp) are also a form of marketing.

I could give you a lot more examples, but you get the point.

Developers need to think about their user / consumer, figure out what tool they can build which will make their life user’s easier and still keep their users engaged (as opposed to passive observers).

This is absolutely easier said than done, but its an easier bridge to cross than getting a “marketer” to build tools.