Illustration marketing person with laptop trying to overcome four marketing hurdles

How to overcome the 4 hurdles to great content marketing  

Building a brand, gaining an audience and generating leads is important for organisations of all sizes. Content marketing is a valuable tool to help you achieve these outcomes. But to really stand out, your content needs to have something special about it. It all starts with overcoming the four hurdles to content marketing greatness.  

 

1. Build your brand 

All good marketing begins with a story. What’s yours? 

B2B marketers often make the mistake of thinking their marketing material should be dry and functional rather than emotive and story-drivenThe argument goes that B2B buyers are driven by cool, logic-based decision making, rather than the airy-fairy emotional whims of consumers. Apart from being just a little patronising to B2C customers, this also misses a fundamental point: people are people, whether they’re wearing their business hats or they’re shopping for budget holidays.  

Emotive stories can be found in even the driest of B2B technology marketing. The story lies in what technology allows real people to achieve. Just look at this example: 

 

“Dan the HR manager used to spend two hours a day replying to emails and combing through Excel spreadsheets. Now automation takes care of that – and Dan’s much happier for it.” 

 

It has all the important aspects of a story and is a lot more compelling than a list of features and product specifications. Storytelling sits at the root of any successful brand.  

 

2. Generate leads 

Gaining leads is the goal of any marketing campaign. Fundamentally, we all want to sell something, whether that’s an intraneta security solution or our expertiseYour marketing strategy should prioritise getting your readers into the marketing funnel. Whether they make contact for a demonstration of your product, download another piece of content to continue their research, or are at the point of making a purchase. Luckily, if you’ve built your brand well enough, you’ll be well on your way to encouraging your users to fill in that lead generation form and take the next step in the process 

Getting the rest right is all about understanding your user journey and allowing your content to guide your readers through that. Every marketing strategy, whether paid or organic, short or long term, should make use of a marketing funnel. This means that different types of content are tailored to readers at different stages of their journey, usually as they learn more about the product you’re offering and the value it delivers. That, combined with a well-optimised website and robust SEO approach, means your readers have a clear route to conversion. 

 

3. Measure your campaigns 

It goes without saying that if you want your marketing campaign to be successful, you need to measure, observe and improve. This is as true for the marketing content you’re creating as it is for anything else in life.  

The first step is to set targets, or KPIs. When embarking on an organic or paid strategy, you need to understand what success looks like. That could be “gain 20 leads”, “post a blog every week”, or “gain 20% more views on our content than last year.” There’s no right or wrong answer here, but it’s important to draw a line in the sand that you can measure against later.  

Then, as your campaign progresses, you can use your KPIs as a metric of how successful your tactics are. Are you gaining a healthy number of leads, or are you still too far away from your target? What can you change in order to help you boost engagement? Then, once the campaign is over, you can review your targets, your tactics and how successful you have been. After that, simply rinse and repeat until your marketing strategy gets you the results you need.   

 

4. Solve your resource gap 

For many organisationsit’s very easy for day-to-day work to take precedence over marketing. Effective content creation requires resources and skills. All the goodwill and skills in the world won’t make quality blogs and case studies appear if your best people have too much on their plates 

There are several solutions to this problem. If you have the expertise and resources, then being firm about the time people need to create effective marketing, and not allowing that to get swept aside, can be a good way of achieving your goals. Alternatively, getting some outside help can be an effective way of ensuring your content gets written to a decent quality and published on time.  

 

The right help from the right people 

If you want to make sure quality content appears on your website or social media platforms when you need it, it’s worth considering partnering with a marketing agency that understands your industry and what can help differentiate you in a competitive marketplace.  

As a full-service digital marketing agency in the world of B2B technology our job is to ensure your content can build your brand, generate leads and achieve your strategic marketing goals. If you want to find out more about how we do that, get in touch with the Fifty Five and Five team today. 


Illustration man on sofa listening to a B2B podcast with headphones

Now is the winter of our audio content: the B2B podcast boom

The popularity of podcasts is a strange phenomenon. A long-form, linear, audio-only format in an age of two-minute YouTube videos and 30-second attention spans. Whether you reckon they’re an evolutionary throwback, a welcome return to chunky pieces of ‘real content’, or somewhere in between, people love them. And they certainly have their place – after all, you can’t watch a video or read a blog during your morning run. Or at least I wouldn’t recommend it.  

The format has blown up to such an extent that even the B2B world has cottoned on to the power of the podcast. In fact, in November 2020, Fifty Five and Five launched our own, available now on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. But enough shameless self-promotion – what does the B2B podcast boom mean for you? 

 

Summary 

  • Bringing out your business’s story 
  • Inviting customers to participate 
  • Why the office is the new recording studio 
  • The importance of planning and strategy 
  • Ensuring success with the right help 

 

Telling your story in your own words  

Podcasts are a way to tell your organisation’s (and your employees) stories in a way that feels honest and authentic. After all, these are your own words, spoken by you, directly to your audience’s ears. That can be extremely powerful. 

Podcasts are great if you want to:  

  • Show your expertise, thought leadership, and passion for your field 
  • Humanise your brand and create better connections with your audience 
  • Build a loyal following who’ll be receptive to other communications 

The sky’s the limit with this relatively new form of audio content marketing. Our Head of Content Stephen Reilly agrees:  

I think what fuels the popularity of any podcast is the intimacy it conjuresIt lets us as a business speak to our audience. We’re no longer just a brand slogan on our website, we’re people speaking to guests about the topics we’re all passionate about. And we get to share that. Which sort of helps bring everything else we do alive. 

 

Introducing some happy customers 

Bringing in past or current clients as guests is one way to display that you’re good at what you doIt could have the flavour of an audio-testimonial or case study, or a discussion around industry talking-points – the latter, in particular, may be compelling to your audience.  

I asked our Head of Creative Barnaby Ellis for his thoughts, as he’s hosted many a podcast featuring our special guestsHe didn’t mince his words: Getting your clients involved is a bit of a no-brainer. Your audience want variety in topic and tone, and you benefit from the association with genuine experts. Plus, engaging clients in conversation outside of a commercial context (and showing genuine interest in their point of view!) will only strengthen your relationship with them. Well said, B.E.!  

If you give your audience the opportunity to learn new things or explore new developments in their worldthat’s certain to impress them and build some brand love. On that note, it’s important to always keep the audience’s interest in mind. You have to give people a reason to listen – remember the ‘content’ part of the phrase content marketing. Something valuable, something interesting... your podcast has got to have something – not just an undisguised and unadulterated sell.  

 

Mic? Check. Voice? Check.  

One of the big benefits of the B2B podcast is that it’s relatively simple format that will give you great output without draining your resources. In its plainest form, all you need is a microphone and a way to record and polish up the audio. This may account for the format’s newfound popularity among businesses everywhere who are trying to ‘do more with less’ in a challenging economic climate.  

And fortunately, we’re living in the age of the citizen content creator. Everyone and their aunt’s got a YouTube channel these days, and we’re now very used to watching and listening to content that’s homemade and a little rough around the edges. It can even add a bit more of a sense of authenticity.  

Nobody’s expecting a big-budget production. As long as your content is interesting, valuable, and not recorded on a Dictaphone from 1985 you found in the back of the storage cupboard, people will listen.  

I asked our account manager, agency podcast producer and frequent host Roxy Ghirbomean for her thoughts: ‘Podcasts aren't meant to be difficult. From a production standpoint, all you need is a good microphone, a guest and a topic. I'd recommend starting with a structure, an outcome and to let the conversation flow.’ So, there you have it: no need to book that studio time after all.  

 

Don’t neglect the planning and strategy 

However, just because you don’t need a full-blown recording studio doesn’t mean you can just wing it all the wayYou may already be raring to go, but let’s get back down to Earth for a moment first.    

You do want to apply some degree of production values, and you may not have the requisite skillsets in-house to achieve the level of professionalism you want. Bringing across your branding, hitting the right notes in terms of tone and style – that needs some thought and work.  

And then there’s the all-important strategic part:  

  • What’s the purpose of this podcast?  
  • How does it fit into your content strategy 
  • Do you even have a content strategy yet?  
  • How will you generate and select ideas for each episode?  
  • What will your criteria and overall editorial policy be?  

 

Those are all things to be considered before you hit the record button. If not, you won’t be sure your podcast will represent your business in the way you want and help you to achieve your goals. Don’t create a podcast just for the sake of having a podcast – make it count.  

Our founder and CEO Chris Wright has long been a devotee of the podcast-as-B2B-marketing-tooldriving Fifty Five and Five’s adoption of the format and developing our in-house capabilities for creating audio content.  

Here’s Chris’ take: A podcast can make a real difference as part of a joined-up marketing strategy. The rewards your business receives all depend on the thinking behind the content, however. You get out what you put in  and that should be solid planning and a focus on your USP, customers, and goals. That’s how you make sure your podcast provides value for both your audience and your business.’  

Ensuring your B2B podcast is a hit with a little help 

If you need some assistance with your B2B podcastFifty Five and Five can guide you through this weird and wonderful new territoryWe’re here to help with every aspect of your audio content marketing, whether that’s:  

  • Nailing down the strategy 
  • Devising and creating content together 
  • Being available on an ongoing advisory basis  

We want your podcast to keep your audience coming back – and engaging with your business and brand more positively than ever. If you do too, let’s start turning listeners into leads.  

Want to find out more about launching and maintaining a successful B2B podcast to drive marketing success? Get in touch with the team at Fifty Five and Five today.  


Illustration woman looking confused

The nine circles of content marketing ideas hell 

Do you ever feel like you are living the same day over and over? If you’re in charge of your organisation’s content marketing ideas, there’s a chance you might feel like you’re stuck in a type of creative purgatory. Content marketing has become ubiquitous. Everyone is ‘doing’ it. Your competitors are doing it, which means you have to do it. And because it’s a ‘must have’, it means if you’re not careful it could become a rote, meaningless, box-ticking exercise. And if we live our lives simply ticking boxes, we could begin to lose meaning…do you ever feel like you are living the same day over… 

This article covers the cycles of repeated content marketing ideas and mistakes you can all-too-easily doom yourself to if you are not careful.  

 

1. Constant wandering  

In a marketing context, ‘wandering’ means acting without a plan. Creating and deploying content just because you feel you should, instead of having a clear idea of exactly what it should achieve, or who it should be ‘for’ is likely to be a waste of your time and marketing budget. 

Instead of endless, costly wandering, embark on your grand adventure with a map – a well-defined marketing strategyIt will set out where you are, where you need to go, and the best way to get there. If you need a hand with that, the keen cartographers at Fifty Five and Five have created an end-to-end-guide to marketing strategies to help with your mapmaking.  

However, even your best attempt at a marketing strategy will probably fail if you’re... 

 

2. Lacking vision 

Your marketing budget may not extend to teaching the world to sing or hiring Oscar-winning director Ridley Scott, but that’s no reason to resign yourself to just one format. Think outside the blog. Blog posts are the foundation of many a good content marketing strategy, but they’re just that: a foundation, not the whole house.  

So, you’ve taken the time and effort to create blog content that aligns with your marketing aims. Is your email marketing and social media driving traffic to these posts? OK, that’s the start of a joined-up digital marketing strategy. But what if the blog content wasn’t the end of their journey? What if those articles, in turn, were driving traffic to an eBook, infographic or whitepaper? Or even an animation or video or a podcast?  

All the above could be gated assets’, prompting the user to provide contact details before they’re accessed. That allows you to capture contact information to reach out to leads or continue providing them content. Blog posts are just one tool in your digital marketing arsenal – think bigger and consider all the methods at your disposal.  

 

3. Ignorance 

Understanding all the digital marketing possibilities is one thing. But you also need to understand your audience – targeting your content toward the right people, in the right wayOtherwise you’ve got ‘all the gear but no idea’Think about who you’re aiming to attract: 

  • What’s their typical job title?  
  • What might their professional (and educational) background be?  
  • What’s their organisation’s likely size and industry?  
  • Which specific business problems are they trying to solve?  
  • What factors are likely to persuade – or dissuade – them?  
  • Do they prefer Oasis or Blur? 

Researching and developing in-depth customer personasand putting yourself in their shoes and their mindsets, is crucial to knowing and really reaching your audience. What type of rhetoric will they respond to? Are they fact-heads’? Do they wear their decisions on their sleeves? Or is your character or ethical behaviours the most important factor?   

 

4. Boredom 

Your content should provide valueIt should be useful and informative to your audience, and it should present your business as a good choice for their custom, a thought-leader in your field, or simply a helpful, friendly standout voice in a crowded marketplace.  

You’ve established your content’s purpose, the forms it should take, and who you want it to speak to. Now, you have to make sure those people want to listen. Otherwise, it’s all for nothing – and you’ve come too far, conquering three circles of content marketing hell, to fail now. At this pointa lot is riding on your storytelling 

This is where your research and strategy will need to pay off. It helps you cut through the noise and reach potential customers with relevant and interesting information that grabs and holds their interest and resonates with them. And it’s also a matter of craft. Just like a well-made website or image, well-written marketing content takes time and skill. Underestimating that, or generally failing to ensure content is engaging, is a sure-fire recipe for failure.  

 

5. Unrealistic expectations 

It’s fair to expect results from your marketing content, but patience is a virtue and impatience can very easily be your ruin. Beware of expecting too much, too soon, and giving up because these expectations aren’t met.  

Some organisations see content marketing merely in terms of one-shot campaigns where certain content assets either deliver easily quantified results within a certain time or they don’tThis ignores the subtleties of the brand/buyer relationship, wherein a reader may not simply be persuaded to get in touch and sign a contract after reading one (albeit really good) eBook or blog post.  

Instead, think in terms of curating content, a digital presence, and a relationship with your audience. That’s why it’s called lead nurturing – it’s not a fishing trip where you’ll hook or net a wealth of leads ione outingIt’s a garden to be cultivated. Don’t become disheartened if it doesn’t bear fruit right away.  

 

6. Worshipping false idols 

By that, I mean the great and all-powerful Google. Don’t get me wrong – SEO is a very necessary part of ensuring a good harvest of website traffic. But sacrificing everything to please the Almighty Search Engine is a mistake too many make.  

Letting SEO alone dictate the direction of your content is fraught with peril. It’s painfully obvious if every article on your blog is framed around hot search term. That’s especially true if these articles don’t really resonate with readers at the right level and on the right topics. For example, if you’re a Microsoft reseller creating content around the Office suite, writing an article called ‘What is Excel?’ or ‘How to write an Excel formula” isn’t going to impart a sense of thought-leadership and expertise, or bring in the right kind of site traffic – in this case business decision-makers rather than end-users looking for help with spreadsheets 

And on a line-by-line level, in your eagerness to search-optimise your content, you could find yourself crowbarring in every keyword under the sun. ‘Keyword salad’ isn’t palatable to any reader and visible to even the untrained eye. Subtlety and restraint are your friends here. Tick the boxes for Google without putting off your human readers. After all, it’s their approval you really want in the end.  

 

7. Gluttony 

You know what I said about lacking vision earlier? The opposite can also doom your content marketing to failureTrying to do too much and spreading your efforts too thinly could land you in a mess and mean none of your content achieves the impact you want it to.  

Bombarding your audience with a mass of emails, social posts and blog articles means the things you really need to stand out won’t. ‘If everything’s important, nothing is’. In an already noisy marketplace, you could just be adding to the static instead of offering decisive clarity.  

This is once again where the value of a solid, well-defined content marketing strategy comes to the fore. When all your content and other interactions with your audience have a clear purpose and fit into your overall marketing plan, nothing’s fighting against anything else and everything’s working as it should do. Otherwise your prospective customers will find it all hard to digest.  

 

8. Fraud 

In Dante’s epic, this circle of hell contains hypocrites, flatterers, falsifiers and thieves among others. It also includes fortune tellers – not sure what Signore Alighieri would have thought of predictive analytics and data scientists, but perhaps that’s a topic for another article.  

Unlike its 14th century predecessor, this circle of content marketing hell focuses less on the act of being fraudulent and more on the appearance of it: in other words, selling too hard. You know your product or service is great and you want to shout its benefits from the rooftops – that’s only natural. But you don’t want to appear too insistent or even desperate. 

Your audience is shrewd and if you’re too overt and pushy in your efforts to get their custom, you’ll turn them off quicker than you can say ‘buy now!’ Don’t be the salesman at the cocktail party, as the old expression goes. Once again, have some subtlety and be sure to provide something of value. That way they’ll trust you, your business and your offering.  

 

9. Being too bound to process 

Our final circle might seem to contradict all I’ve said before about strategy and focus but hear me out. Planning and awareness of what you’re doing goes a long way. It’s good to have a sense of purpose, but take the occasional leap, too.  

Go off-piste. Write that off-topic article that doesn’t necessarily promote this or that service but demonstrates passion and insight into your industry. Sticking too rigidly to the schedule might also mean you miss out on making the most of a big topic or breaking news. Surprise your audience and try to keep things fresh (that’s also how you build an audience)Otherwise, they might feel like they’re stuck in purgatory themselves. 

 


Your content marketing could be a delight. Instead, it’s likely a bit underwhelming. We’re not criticising. It’s hard to execute content marketing really well. Because usually it’s a task that’s part of a juggling act with other tasks. It’s a box to be ticked. If only you could devote more time and resource! Well, hopefully this article helped you give it a bit more thought. If  need help improving your content marketing ideas get in touch with us and together we can create something beautiful


Blog image - The art of seduction: your brand tone of voice is your secret weapon

The art of seduction: your brand tone of voice is your secret weapon

You have probably given a lot of thought to how your business looks. From your website to the murals on the walls in the office, when it comes to visual representation of a brand, companies put serious time and effort into their looks. But have you given much thought to how you sound? The way you express yourself as a business is made up of more than just your colour scheme. Beauty is only skin deep. Personality goes right to the bone. If you attract your audience with design, your brand tone of voice is how you seduce them. In this post, you will learn:

  • It is appropriate for your specific audience
  • Helps you stand out
  • It’s a trust builder
  • Helps you go from prospect to customer

 

Get your personality across

Even when you know exactly what your business’s strengths are, they won’t come through unless your brand voice is engaging. Way back when, Marketing Week reported that in the B2B sphere, emotive marketing messages works better than rational marketing messaging—and that hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. This is interesting when you might assume that B2B is all about rational decision making.

An engaging brand tone of voice is what generates emotive messaging. It’s what engages your audience. So, let’s look at how you go about making sure your organisation is expressing itself consistently and in a way that ‘fits’.

Get everyone on the same page

If you’re going to stay consistent, you need to have everyone within your business on board. From marketers to your CEO, everyone must understand your voice, or at least know that you have one. If not, it won’t come through in everything you put out there.

What to do -

Get the important people together. Host workshops where you can discuss your brand voice and get input from different areas of your business. It’s only when you start discussing ideas that you’ll find out that people can interpret ‘friendly’ as different things – and you need to iron out those creases. Highlighting what you’re trying to achieve will help everyone understand why you are doing this in the first place, and help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Tune into your values

Your business should have brand values (if not, that’s a bigger conversation). Your values should help guide your business decisions both internally and externally, and logically it should also inform your brand voice.

What to do -

Look at your brand values and see how they translate into a personality. If transparency is one of your brand values, then your business prioritises honesty, clarity and getting right to the point. That translates to a straight-forward, honest brand voice.

If you’ve chosen integrity as a brand value, this signals that your business cares about making responsible decisions and going the extra mile to help customers. Your brand voice should be helpful and trustworthy.

This act of translation is how you create a tone of voice that’s tailored to your business, your brand and your audience.



Write brand voice guidelines and stick to them

It’s easy enough to create a brand voice document and think that because you’ve created it, you’re automatically creating marketing materials in your brand voice. Consistency really is key. When multiple people are creating different materials, it can be hard to remember how to ensure that your brand voice comes through. That’s why you need a set of simple guidelines that will make it easy.

What to do -

It doesn’t have to be complicated or long – think of it as defining a character or persona that you’ll be able to inhabit:

Our brand voice is uplifting; we always look on positive side of life. We’re friendly and warm, making sure that everyone who interacts with our business comes away feeling optimistic. To keep things simple, our brand voice uses the simplest and clearest language possible.

Your guidelines should tell this person’s story and explain their voice in a way that makes it easy for anyone to understand. Keep these guidelines up to date and revise them when your business makes any changes to the way you operate. They’ll be the thing that keeps your identity constant even as you grow and change.

 

Fifty Five and Five is a digital marketing agency with a lot of really talented storytellers. We’ve been creating brand voices that get results for years now – if you’re not confident that you know where to start, we’d be more than happy to give you a hand. Get in touch today.