In marketing, move quickly

I need to step up my act regarding marketing, both for Bredemarket and my clients. In both cases, it’s critical that the word gets out quickly to potential clients.

For example, I drafted this post on Monday, but am not getting around to posting it until Wednesday. That’s two days of views lost right there!

By Malene Thyssen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10119596

I’m not the only one who needs to generate marketing material quickly.

The marketing goal, December 2021

I ran across a local company (which I will not name) that issued a press release in December 2021. In part, the press release mentioned the local company’s new dedication to the marketing function. The press release, in part, stated the following:

The Company has hired an international marketing firm…to support the Company’s efforts to increase revenue growth and brand recognition in the coming year.  The firm focuses on working with companies to develop comprehensive marketing strategies that identify competitive delineation, drive-focused campaigns, and develop sales leads designed to materialize revenue.  We expect their work to incorporate a website redesign, brand refresh, new strategic messaging and content, as well as focused video and digital campaigns that target markets such as [REDACTED].  We believe that a natural result of a formal marketing program, with a regular cadence of activity, will translate into market recognition of [REDACTED] as a highly-competitive brand that stands apart from the competition.

This sounds like an intelligent plan, or probably set of plans, that will address the firm’s strategic messaging, content, branding, and website, and a regular cadence of activity will keep the company visible. I certainly can’t argue with that.

The marketing results, March 2022

Well, now we’re three months into the implementation of this comprehensive marketing strategy. As an outsider posing as a potential customer for the firm’s products and services, what can I observe?

  • The website has a full slew of data sheets on the company’s products, and I found a 2017 brochure that effectively served as a white paper. But that’s it; no other white papers, and no case studies describing happy customers’ experiences.
  • The company’s YouTube channel has two videos from 2021.
  • The company’s Facebook page hasn’t posted anything since 2017.
  • Neither of the company’s LinkedIn pages (yes, the company has two LinkedIn pages) has any posts.

In short, as far as outside customers are concerned, the firm has not improved its marketing at all.

What happened? Did the international marketing firm concentrate on creating a stellar plan for the company’s content? If so, when will the content be available? Mid 2022? Late 2022? 2023?

Don’t go jumping waterfalls

When I was a product manager twenty years ago, my company used a “waterfall” product development method in which the marketing requirements document, engineering requirements document, design documents, test documents, and other documents were developed sequentially. While some companies still use the waterfall method today, others don’t because it takes so long to do anything.

These days, product developers are moving to agile methods to release products. And marketers are moving to agile methods also.

Agile marketing

Back in 2016, David Edelman, Jason Heller, and Steven Spittaels of McKinsey explained why marketing needs to be agile.

An international bank recently decided it wanted to see how customers would respond to a new email offer. They pulled together a mailing list, cleaned it up, iterated on copy and design, and checked with legal several times to get the needed approvals. Eight weeks later, they were ready to go.

In a world where people decide whether to abandon a web page after three seconds and Quicken Loans gives an answer to online mortgage applicants in less than ten minutes, eight weeks for an email test pushes a company to the boundaries of irrelevance.

From https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/agile-marketing-a-step-by-step-guide

The McKinsey authors then described how an agile marketing team organizes itself, sets goals, tests, and iterates.

The scrum master leads review sessions to go over test findings and decide how to scale the tests that yield promising results, adapt to feedback, and kill off those that aren’t working—all within a compressed timeframe.

From https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/agile-marketing-a-step-by-step-guide

While agile processes something result in things being wrong, the same agile processes can quickly correct the problem.

Back to the past

And waterfall methods can result in things being wrong also, especially when it takes so long to develop something that the initial assumptions have radically changed.

By en:user:Grenex – Wikipedia en, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2500249

It took John DeLorean eight years to change his car concept into something coming off the production line. By that time, the automotive environment had changed.

Despite promising early sales the queue of willing buyers had dried up by the end of year – the chill wind of recession had struck the US automotive sector, and stockpiles of unsold cars started to mount up, both in Dunmurry and dockside in the USA. The worst winter in 50 years also played its part.

From https://www.aronline.co.uk/cars/de-lorean/dmc-12/the-cars-delorean-dmc-12/

This didn’t help DeLorean’s constant financing issues, and after DeLorean was caught (or entrapped by the FBI) in a $24 million cocaine deal, the DeLorean automobile was relegated to a movie prop.

If Agile processes had existed at the time, could they have reduced the 8-year gap from concept to the assembly line? Perhaps.

Conclusion

And if you can speed up production of a car, you can speed up production of marketing content and start putting your messaging on your Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube accounts, as well as your website immediately so that your customers can get your message.

Don’t wait two days, or eight years, for things to be just right.

Three Redlands “Shacks” Restaurants Tell a Story. What’s Your Story?

Fielding Buck of the Southern California News Group (including my local Inland Valley Daily Bulletin) recently told a story about the opening of a restaurant in Redlands called Pizza Shack.

Google Street View, 1711 West Lugonia, Redlands, California. Image captured February 2022. Fair use.

Sounds like a nice place for pizza, but Buck’s story didn’t end there.

Pizza Shack, at 1711 W. Lugonia, Suite 104, has the same owners as Taco Shack and Breakfast Shack in other parts of town.

From Redlands gets a third Shack: Pizza Shack on Lugonia – San Bernardino Sun (sbsun.com). Repurposed at other SCNG websites.

I couldn’t confirm the common ownership myself, so I’ll take Fielding Buck’s word for it. After all, he’s a professional with a quarter century of journalism experience (check his biography, which lists his 1995 award from his time at the Desert Sun), so I’m sure he got his facts straight. And you know that I like people with a quarter century of experience.

As Buck noted, the other two “Shack” restaurants are also in Redlands.

  • Taco Shack is at 510 East State Street.
  • Breakfast Shack (couldn’t find a website, but I found an Instagram page) is at 615 West State Street.

The three “shacks” are all within three miles of each other, which means that you could start the day at Breakfast Shack, go to Taco Shack for lunch, and then walk the breakfast and tacos off before enjoying a Pizza Shack dinner.

From west to east: Pizza Shack, Breakfast Shack, and Taco Shack. Via Google Maps.

I had nothing to do with Fielding Buck’s story, or with the three “shacks” in Redlands, but this story caught my eye.

Does your Inland Empire business have a story to tell?

Perhaps you don’t own a restaurant, but you may be in another type of business that has a story that you want to share.

  • Perhaps it’s a shorter story of around 400 to 600 words.
  • Or maybe it’s a medium length story of 2800 to 3200 words.
  • Something that you could share in a blog post, a social media Facebook or LinkedIn post, or in a downloadable form on your website.
  • Something that speaks to your potential customers’ needs, and clearly communicates the benefits that your business’ product or service provides to your potential customers.

Bredemarket’s content creation process ensures that the final written content (a) advances your GOAL, (b) communicates your BENEFITS, and (c) speaks to your TARGET AUDIENCE. It is both iterative and collaborative. For the full process, read this.

Bredemarket can help your Inland Empire business tell that story. Even if you’re west of Redlands and don’t serve food.

(Psst: local readers should scroll to the end of this page for a special “locals only” discount.)

If you would like Bredemarket to help your business tell your story…

Inland Empire B2B Content Services from Bredemarket.

How “Omni” is your Omnichannel?

One of Bredemarket’s clients is a consulting firm that advises other companies on the use of a particular enterprise content management system. Among other things, this consulting firm can help its client companies configure the outbound information the companies’ systems provide.

Which leads us to our word for today, omnichannel.

In marketing, “omnichannel” refers to “the process of driving customer engagement across all channels with seamless, targeted messaging.”

Across ALL marketing channels. That’s what omnichannel talks about.

Here’s what Erin O’Connor says:

Omnichannel marketing lets marketers create seamless, integrated customer experiences spanning both online and offline channels to connect with customers as they move through the buying cycle. Omnichannel marketing focuses on the life cycle of the customer. For example, when a customer is in the acquisition phase, the marketer will send a different type of message compared to a loyal customer

Omnichannel marketing is …a holistic approach in the sense that it’s looking at all of the potential touchpoints customers can use to communicate with brands, both online and offline.

From https://business.adobe.com/glossary/omnichannel-marketing.html

An omnichannel marketing strategy may encompass a number of marketing tools, including email, white paper downloads, videos, mobile SMS responses, automated call centers, and anything else that marketers use to communicate with clients.

One of the key benefits of an omnichannel marketing strategy is, or should be, consistency. If your emails say that your product is supported on Windows 11, your data sheets had better not say that your product is only supported up to Windows 10. This is a definite problem; see my checklist item 2 in this post.

(Incidentally, I recently ran across a company that is still talking about NIST FRVT results from several years ago. Since the NIST FRVT tests are ongoing, any reference to old results is outdated because of all the new algorithms that have been submitted and that have better performance.)

So factual consistency is important. Omnichannel marketing also allows for visual consistency (well, not in the automated call center) in which all of the company’s content looks like it came from the same company.

Obviously there are a number of benefits from omnichannel marketing, including easier management and consistency of marketing messages. But all of this raises a question:

Is omnichannel marketing truly OMNIchannel? Or does omnichannel marketing leave some things out?

Before you point me to the definition of “omni” and say that omnichannel marketing by definition can’t exclude anything, read on.

When product marketers don’t market

If you’re a marketer, I hope you’re sitting down.

The world does not revolve around marketing.

(My college roommates who were physics majors made sure to remind me of this.)

Thus, anything that isn’t marketing is automatically excluded from omnichannel marketing. And there are a number of things that companies do that aren’t marketing per se.

I recently held a discussion with a product marketer which got me thinking. We were talking about the things product marketers do, which include content creation (case studies/testimonials, white papers, social media content, and the like) and other product-related tasks such as competitive analysis of other products.

But then the product marketer mentioned something else.

What about having the product marketer author product technical documentation, such as user guides?

(By the way, I’ve written technical documentation in the past; see the “Benefiting from my experience and expertise” section of the Bredemarket “Who I Am” page.)

Now technical documentation is (usually) not the place for overt marketing messaging, but at the same time technical documentation authorship benefits the product marketer and the company by immersing the product marketer into the details of the product, thus increasing the marketer’s product understanding.

I’ll grant you need a different writing style when writing technical documentation; after all, there are no earthshaking benefits from clicking on the “Save As” button.

By Later version were uploaded by Bruce89 at en.Wikipedia. – Transfered from en.Wikipedia; en:File:Dialog1.pngtransfered to Commons by User:IngerAlHaosului using CommonsHelper., GPL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8988455

But you need different writing styles for the different types of marketing output anyway. The mechanics of writing a tweet differ from the mechanics of filming a video. So a marketer who isn’t experienced in technical documentation can adjust to the new style.

However, finding marketers slash technical documentation writers in the wild is unusual. Every company that I’ve worked with since 1991 has built some type of wall between the marketing function and the technical documentation function. But oddly enough, one of my former employers (MorphoTrak) moved managers around between the different functions. One manager in particular headed up the technical documentation group, then headed up the proposals group (where I worked for her), then headed up a multi-functional marketing team (where I worked for her again), then specialized in product marketing.

And now the product marketer (not the one from MorphoTrak, but the one I had been talking to) got the hamster in my brain to start generating ideas.

If omnichannel marketing is limited, and your omnichannel efforts should include activities outside of marketing such as technical documentation, what else should be included in your omnichannel efforts?

Including proposal writing in omnichannel efforts

OK, the subtitle gave it away. (But I refused to write the subtitle “This marketer wrote a user guide. You won’t believe what he did next!”)

If anything, proposal writing is closer to marketing than technical documentation is to marketing. While proposal writing is often considered a sales function (though some would disagree), there are obvious overlaps between the benefits that you espouse in a proposal and the benefits that you espouse in a case study.

Including standard proposal text/template creation as part of your omnichannel efforts also helps to ensure consistency in your product messaging. Again, if your data sheet says one thing, and your user guide says the same thing, then your proposal had better say the same thing also. (Unless you’re proposing something that won’t be implemented for another one or two years, in which case the proposal will discuss things that won’t appear in the present data sheets and user guides, but in future versions.)

Now those of you who are familiar with what Bredemarket does can appreciate why I love this idea.

By Loudon dodd – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7404342

I’ve positioned Bredemarket as a two-headed (but not two-faced) marketing and writing service provider: for example, with separate descriptions of my status as a biometric content marketing expert and a biometric proposal writing expert. And that pretty much mirrors how I work. With one exception, most of my clients only use me for either my proposal services or my content marketing services.

What if companies entrusted Bredemarket with their total solution, both inside and outside of traditional marketing?

Of course there are complications in implementing this.

But when can you implement true omnichannel efforts?

Now most companies are ill-fitted to have one person, or even one department, handle all the omnichannel marketing (case studies, white papers, data sheets, tweets, LinkedIn posts, competitive intelligence, etc.) AND all the omnichannel non-marketing (technical documentation, proposals, and all the other stuff that my hamster brain didn’t realize yet).

So how do you get multiple departments to communicate the same messaging? It’s a difficult task, especially since most department members are so focused on their own work that they don’t have the bandwidth to worry about what another department is doing. (“I don’t care about the data sheet error. I just write the manuals.”)

There are several ways to achieve this: central ownership of the messaging for all departments, outside quality audits, and peer-to-peer interdepartmental review come to mind.

But you’re not going to solve the problem of inconsistent messaging between your departments unless you realize that the problem exists…and that “omnichannel marketing” won’t solve it.

Six methods to get your content in the hands of your customers

Whether you are an identity firm creating case studies, an Inland Empire West firm creating testimonials, or some other type of firm, creation of the content is only half the battle.

You still have to get the content into the hands of your end customers. “If you build it, they will come” is movie fiction.

By IowaPolitics.com – Field_of_Dreams, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68597747

Here are six ways to get your created content to a place where your end customers can see it and use it. Perhaps you can use one or more of these methods to distribute your important content.

Method one: titles

Unless you have some bizarre reason to obfuscate the content by choosing an innocuous title such as “About THAT Reuters article,” you need to start by choosing the appropriate title that will induce your target audience to read your content.

For example, I want to be recognized as a biometric content marketing expert, so I created a page with that very title.

And continuously publicized it (including in this post).

As a result, that page is now the first non-sponsored search term on several services, even for similar searches. I surveyed three search engines; here are incognito search results from two of these search engines for the words “biometric marketing expert” (without the word “content”).

Google incognito search for biometric marketing expert. This one even captured my Google company listing.
Bing incognito search for biometric marketing expert. Bing also shows related Bredemarket content.

Method two: tags

I intentionally saved the third set of search results to display here, since DuckDuckGo not only hit on my post, but on my collection of all posts tagged with “biometric content marketing expert.”

DuckDuckGo incognito search (not that it matters with DuckDuckGo) for biometric content marketing expert. This not only shows the page itself, but also identically named tag.

As another example, to date I have written over a dozen posts about case studies, all of which can be accessed via the link https://bredemarket.com/tag/case-study/.

Of course, I could step up my tagging work.

Not THAT tagging, although the terms are obviously related. By John H. White, 1945-, Photographer (NARA record: 4002141) – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16914422.

I have never bothered to create a tag “testimonial,” so I still have to do that, starting with this post. (I’ll slowly work my way back through the other posts so that testimonial seekers can find that content also.)

Method three: words

Remember the post “About THAT Reuters article” that I referenced earlier? As I said, I had a specific reason for choosing that vanilla title.

I could have entitled the post “Former IDEMIA employee weighs in on Advent’s possible sale of the company.” That would have got some clicks, to be sure.

But it would have misled the reader, because the reader would have gotten the idea that I have some expertise in corporate acquisitions, and an abillity to predict them.

From https://bredemarket.com/2022/02/08/about-that-reuters-article/

But despite the boring title, this post is one of my most popular posts of 2022. Why? Because even though the title is obfuscating, the content of the post itself can’t help but use some words such as Advent, IDEMIA, IPO, Reuters, and Thales. And people found the post because it included words which interested them.

(So much for obfuscation.)

Partial Google Search Console results for the “About THAT Reuters article” page.

Method four: landing pages/doors

Often you don’t land exactly at the content, but instead land at another page that directs you to the content. Because I subscribe to Jay Clouse’s “Creative Companion” newsletter, I get to read his articles before the general LinkedIn public sees them. Unless there’s an editorial change, this week’s LinkedIn article will include the following:

…the majority of my subscriber growth today doesn’t come through my front door, it comes from the dozens of side doors that I’ve created.

Jay Clouse Sunday 3/13/2022 email, “How to grow an email newsletter.”

(UPDATE 3/16: You can read the LinkedIn version of Jay’s post here.)

Does your text need to break on through? By APA-Agency for the Performing Arts-management – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23274437

I don’t necessarily count on my readers immediately landing at the “correct” page. If I write compellingly enough, they could arrive at that page from somewhere else.

For example, I have a page called “Bredemarket and proposal services” that talks about…(drumroll)…Bredemarket’s proposal services. But there are over three dozen pages on the Bredemarket website that link to that page.

Google Search Console list of a few of the pages linking to https://bredemarket.com/bredemarket-and-proposal-services/

So if someone is REALLY interested in a topic, and if the content link uses text that is something better than “such responses,” the person will get to the desired content and I can help the person.

Which reminds me, I need to include my call to action. Normally I stick this at the end of a post, but let’s put it in the middle of the post just for fun. If I can help your company create content or give you some ideas on how to distribute the content:

Method five: email

I could probably do better at this one, but I do perform SOME email marketing.

For example, after I wrote my post about Alaska HB389 and its foreign ownership clause, I took the time to email it to some of my contacts whose companies are directly affected by the bill. I’ve also emailed people when I want to promote some of my various Bredemarket services.

After a year and a half in business, I have discovered that my hundreds of contacts do NOT religiously read the Bredemarket blog daily (although I do have hundreds of subscribers: click the link at the bottom of this post if you would like to join the blog subscription list). So there are times when I use email to highlight items of interest to a particular person.

But only if they’re interested. No need for Microsoft Power BI contacts to learn what happens if a driver’s license production company is only 94% U.S. owned. They probably don’t care.

Method six: social media channels

I am a little better at social media content distribution than I am at email marketing. But again, it’s important to distribute the content to the correct social media channel.

Over the weekend, I wrote two nearly identical posts that were targeted to two separate markets.

The post that was targeted to local Inland Empire West companies was reshared in my LinkedIn group Bredemarket Local Firm Services.

The post that was targeted to identity/biometric companies was reshared in my LinkedIn group Bredemarket Identity Firm Services.

So the content of interest to the locals was shared on the local page, and the content of interest to the identity companies was shared on the identity page.

And that applies to ALL of the methods listed above. Emailing content to the right people. Linking from related content. Using the right words, tags, and titles.

All of these techniques, plus all of the other techniques that this post failed to mention, serve the purpose of getting the created content into the hands of the people who can benefit from it.

If I can help you with this, or with creating the content in the first place…oh, I already included the call to action between Methods 4 and 5. No need to be redundantly repetitive.

How Inland Empire West businesses can attract new customers via testimonials

(Updated 4/18/2022 with additional customer focus information.)

I recently had the occasion to observe the digital marketing of a particular company, which I will refer to as “WidgetCo” in this post. (WidgetCo is NOT a current Bredemarket customer, and for various reasons will probably not become a future Bredemarket customer.)

Without going into detail, most of WidgetCo’s digital marketing (online information about the company on its website and its social media channels) emphasized its financial achievements, all related to startup funding.

TechCrunch’s recent funding news. (“WidgetCo” is NOT one of the companies listed.) By the time you read this, it will be updated. From https://techcrunch.com/startups/recent-funding/

If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you know how I reacted.

So what?

Let me give you an example of why bragging about your Series X funding is meaningless to your potential customers.

  • When you go to Amazon, Best Buy, or a similar online product-buying service, you can search for products based on various criteria.
  • For example, you can search for TVs based on screen size, or can search for computers based on the available storage, or search for CDs based on the artist.
  • Have you ever seen an online marketplace that lets you search for a product based upon the company’s Series C funding amount?

The reason that you can’t search for a product based upon its company’s Series C funding is because the customer doesn’t give a, um, hoot about the company’s Series C funding. You never hear a customer say, “You know, this product is good, but this other product comes from a company that just completed a $25 million Series C funding round. I’ll buy the other one instead.”

So why do people talk about this so much?

Customer-centric marketing

Marketing efforts need to begin with the customer, what the customer needs, and how you can fulfill the customer’s needs.

I think this makes the point quite nicely. From the Gary Fly / Brooks Group article “7 Tips for Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategy,” at https://brooksgroup.com/sales-training-blog/7-tips-implementing-customer-centric-strategy/

From Bredemarket’s perspective, this means that I shouldn’t be emphasizing the needs of my clients, but instead should talk about the needs of my clients’ end customers.

So, for example, my company Bredemarket shouldn’t EMPHASIZE my nearly 40 years in the Inland Empire West. It’s fine to mention it in passing, but that shouldn’t be the most important reason why you should use my marketing and writing services.

Instead, I SHOULD be emphasizing that you should use Bredemarket’s marketing and writing services because I can help you tell the stories that you need to tell to attract customers to your product or service.

  • You have the need to attract customers.
  • Bredemarket can help you attract customers.

I think you notice the theme here.

From the Gary Fly / Brooks Group article “7 Tips for Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategy,” at https://brooksgroup.com/sales-training-blog/7-tips-implementing-customer-centric-strategy/

There are various ways to tell these stories. Today I just want to talk about one of them.

Testimonials

You can say that your company provides an excellent product or service.

But it’s more important when one of your customers says that your company provides an excellent product or service. Outside praise is more important than self-praise (something I realized myself when I set Bredemarket’s second goal for 2022), and a testimonial that quotes one of your customers speaks the same language as your other customers.

As of February 16, 2022, I have created fourteen (14) case studies for clients. (“Case study” can be considered a fancy word for “testimonial”; both have the same goal.) For example, one of the case studies featured a law enforcement agency that used a product from a particular biometric firm. The law enforcement agency faced a particular need, the biometric firm provided a product that met this need, and the law enforcement agency apprehended a criminal with the product much more quickly than it could have without the product. (In fact, it’s possible that without the biometric firm’s product, the criminal may NEVER have been apprehended.)

So how does the biometric firm use this case study? It goes to OTHER law enforcement agencies and says, “Hey, YOU have this problem. Look at how another law enforcement agency solved this problem.” Because the case study was written from the perspective of a law enforcement agency, the message resonantes with other law enforcement agencies.

Cops talking to cops. It works.

From the Gary Fly / Brooks Group article “7 Tips for Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategy,” at https://brooksgroup.com/sales-training-blog/7-tips-implementing-customer-centric-strategy/

Now YOU are asking ME, “So what?”

To be fair, the Inland Empire West businesspeople who are reading this are saying, “I don’t work with law enforcement agencies. How can your testimonial services help ME?”

I have not only worked with companies that sell to law enforcement agencies, but with other types of firms, ranging from sole proprietors to huge multinationals, that need to communicate with their end users.

If you’re sick of focusing on the customer by this point, then perhaps you shouldn’t be in business. From the Gary Fly / Brooks Group article “7 Tips for Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategy,” at https://brooksgroup.com/sales-training-blog/7-tips-implementing-customer-centric-strategy/

In addition, YOU remain an essential part of the testimonial creation process. (Along with the customer that we will feature in the testimonial, of course.) When you engage with Bredemarket, we start by agreeing on the goal of the content, the benefits to communicate, and the target audience.

Bredemarket’s content creation process ensures that the final written content (a) advances your GOAL, (b) communicates your BENEFITS, and (c) speaks to your TARGET AUDIENCE. It is both iterative and collaborative….

(At the beginning) You and Bredemarket agree upon the topic, goal, benefits, and target audience (and, if necessary, outline, section sub-goals, relevant examples, and relevant key words/hashtags, and interim and final due dates).

From https://bredemarket.com/bredemarket-400-short-writing-service/

You can read about how we will work together here, in my description of the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service. (If you want me to prepare a really LONG testimonial or case study, I can do that also.)

But will you enjoy the final product? I just happen to have a testimonial…

“I just wanted to truly say thank you for putting these templates together. I worked on this…last week and it was extremely simple to use and I thought really provided a professional advantage and tool to give the customer….TRULY THANK YOU!”

Comment from one of the client’s employees who used the standard proposal text

Oh, and one more thing. If you’re an Inland Empire West business, be sure to read this page and find the discount code at the bottom of the page.

If my services can help you:

Hey! Didn’t I just read something similar?

Perhaps you recently read a Bredemarket blog post that included many of the same words that you saw in this post, and you’re now wondering if you’re going through deja vu all over again.

Yes, I wrote two similar (but not identical) posts.

  • This post is targeted to Inland Empire West companies who need Bredemarket services for testimonials (or case studies).
  • One post is targeted to biometric/identity customers who need Bredemarket services for case studies (or testimonials).

Why TWO posts, each of which is targeted to SEPARATE Bredemarket social media channels?

Because I need to address the needs of DIFFERENT types of customers, by using my skill set as applicable.

(4/18/2022: For additional information on customer focus, click here.)

And if I grow both sectors of my business, my Series B funding round will be HUGE.

By Beltane43 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30298042

How identity businesses can attract new customers via case studies

(Updated 4/18/2022 with additional customer focus information.)

I recently had the occasion to observe the digital marketing of a particular company, which I will refer to as “WidgetCo” in this post. (WidgetCo is NOT a current Bredemarket customer, and for various reasons will probably not become a future Bredemarket customer.)

Without going into detail, most of WidgetCo’s digital marketing (online information about the company on its website and its social media channels) emphasized its financial achievements, all related to startup funding.

TechCrunch’s recent funding news. (“WidgetCo” is NOT one of the companies listed.) By the time you read this, it will be updated. From https://techcrunch.com/startups/recent-funding/

If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you know how I reacted.

So what?

Let me give you an example of why bragging about your Series X funding is meaningless to your potential customers.

  • When you go to Amazon, Best Buy, or a similar online product-buying service, you can search for products based on various criteria.
  • For example, you can search for TVs based on screen size, or can search for computers based on the available storage, or search for CDs based on the artist.
  • Have you ever seen an online marketplace that lets you search for a product based upon the company’s Series C funding amount?

The reason that you can’t search for a product based upon its company’s Series C funding is because the customer doesn’t give a, um, hoot about the company’s Series C funding. You never hear a customer say, “You know, this product is good, but this other product comes from a company that just completed a $25 million Series C funding round. I’ll buy the other one instead.”

So why do people talk about this so much?

Customer-centric marketing

Marketing efforts need to begin with the customer, what the customer needs, and how you can fulfill the customer’s needs.

I think this makes the point quite nicely. From the Gary Fly / Brooks Group article “7 Tips for Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategy,” at https://brooksgroup.com/sales-training-blog/7-tips-implementing-customer-centric-strategy/

From Bredemarket’s perspective, this means that I shouldn’t be emphasizing the needs of my clients, but instead should talk about the needs of my clients’ end customers.

So, for example, my company Bredemarket shouldn’t EMPHASIZE my 25-plus years of biometric expertise. It’s fine to mention it in passing, but that shouldn’t be the most important reason why you should use my marketing and writing services.

Instead, I SHOULD be emphasizing that you should use Bredemarket’s marketing and writing services because I can help you tell the stories that you need to tell to attract customers to your product or service.

  • You have the need to attract customers.
  • Bredemarket can help you attract customers.

I think you notice the theme here.

From the Gary Fly / Brooks Group article “7 Tips for Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategy,” at https://brooksgroup.com/sales-training-blog/7-tips-implementing-customer-centric-strategy/

There are various ways to tell these stories. Today I just want to talk about one of them.

Case studies

You can say that your company provides an excellent product or service.

But it’s more important when one of your customers says that your company provides an excellent product or service. Outside praise is more important than self-praise (something I realized myself when I set Bredemarket’s second goal for 2022), and a case study that quotes one of your customers speaks the same language as your other customers.

As of February 16, 2022, I have created fourteen (14) case studies for clients. For example, one of the case studies featured a law enforcement agency that used a product from a particular biometric firm. The law enforcement agency faced a particular need, the biometric firm provided a product that met this need, and the law enforcement agency apprehended a criminal with the product much more quickly than it could have without the product. (In fact, it’s possible that without the biometric firm’s product, the criminal may NEVER have been apprehended.)

So how does the biometric firm use this case study? It goes to OTHER law enforcement agencies and says, “Hey, YOU have this problem. Look at how another law enforcement agency solved this problem.” Because the case study was written from the perspective of a law enforcement agency, the message resonantes with other law enforcement agencies.

Cops talking to cops. It works.

From the Gary Fly / Brooks Group article “7 Tips for Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategy,” at https://brooksgroup.com/sales-training-blog/7-tips-implementing-customer-centric-strategy/

Now YOU are asking ME, “So what?”

To be fair, some of the identity businesspeople who are reading this are saying, “I don’t work with law enforcement agencies. How can your case study services help ME?”

I have not only worked with companies that sell to law enforcement agencies, but with other types of firms, ranging from sole proprietors to huge multinationals, that need to communicate with their end users.

If you’re sick of focusing on the customer by this point, then perhaps you shouldn’t be in business. From the Gary Fly / Brooks Group article “7 Tips for Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategy,” at https://brooksgroup.com/sales-training-blog/7-tips-implementing-customer-centric-strategy/

In addition, YOU remain an essential part of the case study creation process. (Along with the customer that we will feature in the case study, of course.) When you engage with Bredemarket, we start by agreeing on the goal of the content, the benefits to communicate, and the target audience.

Bredemarket’s content creation process ensures that the final written content (a) advances your GOAL, (b) communicates your BENEFITS, and (c) speaks to your TARGET AUDIENCE. It is both iterative and collaborative….

(At the beginning) You and Bredemarket agree upon the topic, goal, benefits, and target audience (and, if necessary, outline, section sub-goals, relevant examples, and relevant key words/hashtags, and interim and final due dates).

From https://bredemarket.com/bredemarket-400-short-writing-service/

You can read about how we will work together here, in my description of the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service. (If you want me to prepare a really LONG case study or testimonial, I can do that also.)

But will you enjoy the final product? I just happen to have a testimonial…

“I just wanted to truly say thank you for putting these templates together. I worked on this…last week and it was extremely simple to use and I thought really provided a professional advantage and tool to give the customer….TRULY THANK YOU!”

Comment from one of the client’s employees who used the standard proposal text

If my services can help you:

Hey! Didn’t I just read something similar?

Perhaps you recently read a Bredemarket blog post that included many of the same words that you saw in this post, and you’re now wondering if you’re going through deja vu all over again.

Yes, I wrote two similar (but not identical) posts.

  • One post is targeted to Inland Empire West companies who need Bredemarket services for testimonials (or case studies).
  • This post is targeted to biometric/identity customers who need Bredemarket services for case studies (or testimonials).

Why TWO posts, each of which is targeted to SEPARATE Bredemarket social media channels?

Because I need to address the needs of DIFFERENT types of customers, by using my skill set as applicable.

(4/18/2022: For additional information on customer focus, click here.)

And if I grow both sectors of my business, my Series B funding round will be HUGE.

By Beltane43 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30298042

External content creators, part four: DIY

We’ve finally reached the fourth post in this four-post series. If you missed posts one, two, and three, follow the links.

The series, based upon an article by Andrew Wheeler of Skyword, address four possible concerns that companies may have in using external content creators. Lack of expertise. Lack of brand knowledge. Lack of quality control.

And this one.

The concern

Wheeler’s fourth concern is as follows:

It’s faster/easier to just do it ourselves

By Marjory Collins, 1912-1985, photographer, for the U. S. government – Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF35-1326], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8021781

There are two reasons why a company may decide to turn to external content creators. One of these was addressed in a previous post: the company is so swamped that it’s hard to get all the work done that needs to be done.

There’s a second reason: the company doesn’t know HOW to do the work that needs to be done. For example, a salesperson might walk up to a technical writer in the company.

“Our customer just published an RFP. Even though we have a really good relationship with the customer, I didn’t know this RFP is coming. Of course we’ll win it if those idiots in finance don’t gouge the customer with a high price. We have to respond to the RFP in three weeks.”

In some cases, the technical writer may turn to the salesperson and ask,

“What’s an RFP?”

Regardless of which of the two reasons is prompting the company to bring in outside help, the company may dread the whole idea of bringing outside help up to speed. Even if the outside help has the required expertise, understands the company’s branding, and can provide accountability and quality control, it’s such a hassle to bring someone new onto a project. If we adjust a schedule here and there, and maybe work just one Saturday, we can take care of all of this ourselves without bothering with an outside vendor!

What Andrew Wheeler said

Again, I encourage you to read the entire article. This is but a short excerpt. But the article makes an excellent point about it being faster/easier to do things in-house.

It is—until it isn’t.

As we all know, internal bandwidth gets eaten up as soon as it’s created. Unless you anticipate zero business growth—and then I’d say you have another problem—you’re going to need creative skills tomorrow that you don’t have on hand today. It makes more sense to work with external resources who can be changed up or tapped the moment you need them than it does to try and hire a team that can cover everything.

From https://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/the-truth-about-trusting-external-content-partners/

I won’t go into the flexibility that project-based contractors can provide, but I can say that it’s not only helped Bredemarket’s business, but the business of Bredemarket’s clients, to bring someone on for a few hours or a few weeks to get a particular project done.

It’s better than overloading your in-house staff. I know from experience.

What I say

Let me expand on a story that I’ve briefly referenced before.

In the summer of 1994, Printrak proposal manager Laurel Jew went on maternity leave. This left Printrak in such a bind that the company had to bring on TWO consultants to replace her.

So one day in October 1994 Kimtech sent me out to Printrak’s office on Tustin Avenue in Anaheim to write AFIS proposals. I had never written a proposal, but I knew how to spell AFIS (and didn’t know much more about AFIS at the time). That first day on the job I stayed in Anaheim until 11:00 at night. In a way it was nice because I was getting paid by the hour, but it was a tough road for the next several months. We even worked on Super Bowl Sunday in 1995. The employee who had to cancel his Super Bowl party and bring his TV to Tustin Avenue was not happy.

Eventually both of us consultants were hired and became permanent employees of Printrak, and we weren’t pulling all-nighters any more.

But a few years later our business was expanding, the number of proposals that we had to write was expanding, and we had to bring in a new set of consultants to help with the workload.

I remember one of these consultants was stressed by the heavy workload, and adapted his behavior to fit the environment in which he had been thrust. We realized this when he published his proposal schedule, complete with Saturday meetings.

“We don’t meet on Saturdays,” we told him.

“Why not?” he replied. “We’re working every Saturday.”

Eventually he ended up leaving and presumably took up a more relaxing activity such as high-wire balancing.

And all of this stress happened WITH consultants. Imagine if the decision had been made in 1994 and 1998 NOT to hire consultants. Perhaps Printrak would have scheduled Sunday proposal meetings.

A less stressful example

Fast forward twenty-plus years, and I’m consulting again. And I’ve noticed something.

When a company contracts with me to work on a project, I am focused on that one project for the company. Now perhaps an hour later I am focused on another project for another company, but during that initial hour the project receives my undivided attention.

But the company itself is focused on all the other things that the company has to do. There’s the project for which I’m helping out, and then there’s all the other stuff that the company needs to address. If I’m helping a company with a proposal, few if any of the company employees are dedicated 100% to that particular proposal. Proposal specialists may be simultaneously working on other proposals, and subject matter experts (SMEs) are working on the proposal in addition to their “real” jobs.

Depending upon the craziness of the other work that the company’s employees are doing, I may be the only person who is thinking about the project on a regular basis. If it’s a proposal project, I’m the one who always has the due date in mind, and occasionally have to remind the employees that the proposal has to be submitted in two weeks, or one week, or two days. Sometimes my content projects have due dates of their own.

Enough storytelling.

Doing it yourself doesn’t work if you have too much work to begin with, and doing it yourself doesn’t work if you don’t know how to do it. So in those circumstances, you want to contract with a company such as Skyword (or another company) to help you with your writing project.

And if you contract with Skyword, maybe I’ll be assigned to your project.

External content creators, part three: accountability

Part of a series (which started here) on why companies are reluctant to use external content creators, and how to mitigate those companies’ concerns.

The concern

In his article, “The Truth About Trusting External Content Partners,” Skyword CEO Andrew Wheeler highlighted this concern:

We’ll lose accountability and quality control

By GeorgeLouis at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32926303

Think about this from the perspective of the company. Often (but not always) companies consider using external help because they are overloaded with work. (There’s another reason to use external help, which I’ll address in the fourth post in this series.) The boss is already having a tough enough time getting the worker bees to generate quality content in such a high-pressure situation. The boss is going to be really concerned about some outsider, not under the boss’ thumb. How will the boss control the outsider?

Many bosses are not like this, but even the most enlightened ones will have a concern about how an outsider that they don’t know is going to meet the quality standards of the employees that they do know.

What Andrew Wheeler said

When addressing this concern, Wheeler starts out by presenting an uncomfortable truth.

I’ve found this concern usually resonates with teams for whom process and quality control are already sore spots. Either no content creation infrastructure exists, the current structure is too rigid to scale, or the structure is chaotic and there’s fear that an external partner will exacerbate the problem.

From https://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/the-truth-about-trusting-external-content-partners/

Because Skyword is in the business of connecting freelancers with companies needing their services, one of the things that Skyword does is to institute its own process to ensure the maintenance of accountability and quality control. Wheeler’s article describes four key elements that any process should include: documented guidelines, good briefs, dedicated gatekeepers, and good content management technology.

What I say

Every project has a process. Perhaps the process may be chaotic, but it’s a process. It’s better to institute a good one. When Bredemarket takes on a project, there are three ways to implement a process.

  1. If I am sent out to a project by a service such as Skyword, SMA, or Dragonfly Editorial, often the service does what Skyword does and institutes its own process.
  2. There are some cases in which the client has a mature process, and in that case I just slot myself into the client’s existing process.
  3. In other cases, most notably with very small companies, I institute a process myself. When used, my content creation process has a simple order of steps, starting with the kickoff described in a prior post in this series.

Regardless of where the process comes from, the goal is the same: to institute accountability and quality control over the final product.

We’re almost to the finish line. We have one more concern to address: It’s faster/easier to just do it ourselves.

External content creators, part two: branding

If you missed the first post in this series, I’m looking at four concerns that companies may have about contracting with external content creators. These four concerns were identified by Andrew Wheeler, CEO of Skyword, who addressed each one in turn.

In this post series, I will augment Wheeler’s responses with some thoughts of my own.

The concern

The second concern Andrew Wheeler raised in his article was the following:

They’ll never “get” our brand like we do

This differs from expertise. It’s one thing to have the expertise that a company needs. It’s another thing to know how companies do things.

I’ll choose an example well outside of my areas of expertise to make the point. Specifically, I’ll talk about insurance companies.

Would someone explain to me why multiple insurance companies choose to air ads in which the spokespeople are intentionally annoying? There’s one company that makes a big point about how annoying its white-clothed female spokesperson is. Another insurance company has a spokesperson referred to as “mayhem.” And then there’s the company that used to feature the performing voice of Gilbert Gottfried; if you are not familiar with his voice, it’s not smooth and calming.

Other insurance companies have adopted an older, more traditional branding approach that hearkens back to Allstate’s old “you’re in good hands” or State Farm’s “like a good neighbor.” New York Life still maintains this more soothing approach.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMaQetarGsY

What if an external content creator approached a company with the wrong branding tone? “Your lifestyle commercial is BORING. Here’s my pitch for an ad with an emu and a gecko who are seriously injured in a major automobile accident!”

That pitch meeting wouldn’t end well.

What Andrew Wheeler said

Here’s an excerpt from the post:

Making sure a partner is well-versed in your brand is both a process and a two-way street. 

From https://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/the-truth-about-trusting-external-content-partners/

It’s a two-way street because the company has to communicate to the freelancer its branding standards, while the freelancer has to research the company to get a feel for how the company communicates.

What I say

So how do you make sure this required communication happens?

By allocating time for it at the beginning of the project.

On occasion I’ve described the process that Bredemarket uses when kicking off a project with its clients. I start by providing a high-level overview.

Bredemarket’s content creation process ensures that the final written content (a) advances your GOAL, (b) communicates your BENEFITS, and (c) speaks to your TARGET AUDIENCE. It is both iterative and collaborative.

From https://bredemarket.com/2021/08/04/revising-bredemarkets-content-creation-process/

When I drill down into the content creation process itself, here is how I describe the kickoff meeting with the client.

You and Bredemarket agree upon the topic, goal, benefits, and target audience (and, if necessary, outline, section sub-goals, relevant examples, and relevant key words/hashtags, and interim and final due dates).

From https://bredemarket.com/2021/08/04/revising-bredemarkets-content-creation-process/

Agreement upon the branding strategy can fall into this initial discussion, perhaps when talking about the goal of the content. If the goal is to gently reassure potential clients that the service will ease their burdens, then the content will take one approach. If the goal is to shock and amuse potential clients with a stronger call to action, then you’ll use the mayhem guy.

Regardless of your process, it’s important to communicate and reach agreement on the critical things at the beginning of the project. This saves expensive rework later in the project.

Time to move on to the third concern, “we’ll lose accountability and quality control.

External content creators, part one: expertise

After reading a SideHusl recommendation for suggested work for nomads (even though I’m not a nomad), I signed up with yet another external referral service, Skyword. My Skyword profile is here, by the way.

From https://johnbredehoft.skyword.com/

After getting everything set up, I explored the company more deeply, and ran across this article by Skyword CEO Andrew Wheeler entitled “The Truth About Trusting External Content Partners.” The article addresses the reluctance of companies to trust outsiders to create their content. Wheeler cataloged four concerns and addressed them one by one.

As I read Wheeler’s article, three thoughts came to mind.

  1. I have things to say myself about each of these four concerns.
  2. Hmm…four-post series. Because the four-post series last week wasn’t enough.
  3. And then I can add the series to my Skyword portfolio.

So, let’s dig in. I’ll summarize the concern that a company may have with using an external content creator, look at how Andrew Wheeler addressed the concern, and then add a few thoughts of my own.

The concern

The first concern Andrew Wheeler raised in his article was the following:

The content won’t be in-depth or expert enough for our audience

From the perspective of the company, they’ve spent years or decades acquiring the expertise in question. What happens if they bring someone off the street who can spell “AFIS,” but has no idea what it is?

What Andrew Wheeler said

Wheeler addressed this concern by noting that there are a lot of people out there who have the expertise that a company needs. This is but a small part of what Wheeler said; read the rest here.

The reason we believe in tapping into freelance creators for content, rather than agencies or insourcing, is that the talent pool is so large it’s guaranteed that people with the skills you’re looking for are out there. 

From https://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/the-truth-about-trusting-external-content-partners/

As part of the process of signing up with Skywords as a freelancer, you are asked to go into detail about your specific expertise: identifying the types of expertise that you possess, and where you acquired that expertise.

What I say

From the freelancing perspective, it is incumbent on the freelancer to identify the specific expertise they can provide.

I won’t link to the specific conversations, but I’ve seen social media posts from aspiring freelance writers saying, “Hey, I can write stuff.” When pressed for details, they often respond, “Oh, I can write anything.” No wonder companies get jittery about using freelancers.

If you’ve read any of my stuff, you know that I have identified some specific areas of expertise that I provide. You know, the biometric content marketing expert and biometric proposal writing expert stuff. Although I’m certainly willing to expand beyond these core markets (see my first goal for 2022), I realize that my best chances at writing are with companies in the biometric/identity space.

In fact, my issue is the inverse of the company issue. While companies are looking for freelancers with relevant expertise, I am looking for companies that can use my relevant expertise. There are obviously a number of biometric/identity companies out there, some of which have used Bredemarket, others of which have not used Bredemarket.

Why isn’t EVERY biometric/identity company using Bredemarket?

Well, the concern about expertise is only the first concern. There are three others that must be addressed: