Welcome to Experience TV, a LIVE show on social channels about the economic revolution we’re living through, the Experience Economy, where brands compete on the quality of their customer experiences.
Episode air date: 11/10/20
Resource of the week: How do we describe 2020?
Because this episode was all about content, content experiences, content management, content marketing, and the content professionals who make it all happen, I thought I’d start with a matter of word choice.
There’s a universal question on the minds of those tasked with creating content right now as we look to the end of the year.
How will you describe 2020?
Earlier this year, the word on everybody’s lips in corporate America was, of course, “unprecedented.” In April, Bloomberg reported that 75% of S&P 500 earnings calls used the term.
“The use of the word unprecedented has become, well, unprecedented.”
How many of us are guilty of sending a mass email saying, “Hope you are well in these strange and unprecedented times?”
Now, Dictionary.com has a resource to empower those of you in content who have to describe this year—the best words to use during unprecedented times.
“Having words to describe our extreme situations can help us better connect with the people around us who are going through the same experiences…”
- Surreal: “disorienting, unreal, fantastic; having the hallucinatory quality of being in a dream.” (I definitely feel like I’m living a strange fever dream some days.)
- Perturb: “to disturb or disquiet greatly in mind, to throw in disorder” (COVID has absolutely served to perturb our workflows, routines, and our sense of status quo.)
- Anomalous: “deviating from or inconsistent with the common order, form, or rule.”
- Discombobulated: or feeling harebrained, upset, frustrated due to some disruption. This is one of my personal favorites—and, fun fact, it was made right here in the USA in 1825.
So, the next time you reach for “unprecedented,” please, remember these alternatives. Words matter!
Stats of the week: Content is having a moment
Nothing is more interesting to me than how my resilient peers in marketing pivot and adapt to the times, especially in 2020 within these unprecedented, surreal, perturbing, anomalous times that have left us all, well, discombobulated.
Let me give you a snapshot into how much our world has changed:
- On average, 30-40% of marketing budget is allocated for trade shows—from sponsoring the event to travel, collateral + material, etc.
- According to CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research), there were 9,400 B2B exhibitions held in the U.S. annually prior to COVID. They had a total impact on the U.S. GDP of $101 billion.
So, without trade shows and face-to-face meetings available to marketers and sales teams, the question becomes how to engage buyers digitally.
This is why content—especially content that fuels digital experiences—is having a moment:
- The Content Marketing Institute asked survey respondents to select the top five content marketing-related areas they thought their organization would invest in during 2021. Content creation (70%) and website enhancements (66%) topped the list.
Experience of the week: Recipe content
Some consumer brands met the demand of at-home consumers this year by releasing recipe content (via Content Marketing Institute.)
IKEA on social channels in some countries released the recipe for their famous Swedish meatballs—in true furniture-assembly “instructographic” style.
Disney, on its Disney Parks blog, published their recipes for beignets from their parks, chocolate peanut butter French toast, and even the sought-after Disney churros recipe.
The piece’s author, Ann Gynn, explains that while you and your content team may not have a recipe to share, ask the following questions:
- What has our audience always wanted to know, but we haven’t revealed because of logistics, time, etc.?
- What format would surprise our audience?
- What would our audience be interested to learn that’s happening behind the scenes?
Use these prompts the next time you’re debating what content will work over lockdown. The results may be delicious.
Special guests: Melanie Deziel and Randy Frisch
My special guests this episode hail from the world of content and brought a fantastic blend of perspectives—Melanie Deziel is the founder and Chief Content Officer at Storyfuel and author of the best-selling book The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas.
“We are all creative. That was really my mission in writing the book, to give people a framework, give them steps and a process to be able to come up with ideas, so they don’t have to have that cruddy feeling of being stuck or blocked.”
– Melanie Deziel, Storyfuel
We were also joined by Randy Frisch, CMO and Co-Founder of Uberflip, a content experience platform—and author of the four-letter word-titled EFF Content Marketing.
“I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d write a book, but it ended up being this vehicle for me to share some of the ideas that I’ve come across over 10+ years in this space. It unpacks a framework to go from where Melanie’s leaves off—we create all this content, but we forget to put it in front of people in a more relevant, personalized way.”
– Randy Frisch, Uberflip
My favorite takeaways from our conversation:
- Marketers and buyers aren’t on the same page. “We talked to over 250 marketers and also took a look at what buyers expect. We found very often there’s this disconnect between what personalization is most important to buyers and what marketers often deliver.” – Randy Frisch
- Personalization should extend beyond the first name. “Personalizing the first name field was pretty cool 10 years ago. What buyers want now is for you not just to know my name, but what I care about, and what my expectations are. Like Netflix.” – Randy Frisch
- Bring audience data into the content process earlier. “You have to understand what your audience wants. If you don’t have the data, have the conversation with your audience to better understand their needs and let those conversations and direct interactions also inform the content you’re creating to give them a great experience.” – Melanie Deziel
- Ask buyers about priorities—and what’s at stake. “Oftentimes, no one has asked [the buyer] about their priorities. Ask your audience, what are they worried about? What are their primary concerns? Then, you can get a better understanding of what’s important, and how you can adapt to that. The other question I really like to ask is ‘what’s at stake if this doesn’t work the way you want it to, doesn’t arrive on time, doesn’t deliver, or doesn’t work properly?’ That’s where you can get to a lot of the motivation, the avoidance of that negative outcome.” – Melanie Deziel
- 3M is a brand doing content well during COVID. “What 3M is doing to deliver the right content to the right person in these moments of crisis. For them, in their PPE division, it wasn’t an issue of generating demand. It was a matter of being there for the customer and having the right content to help them through these difficult times. For example, everyone is at home, and everyone’s growing beards. For a lot of people, this is new. So [3M] said, we’ve got to educate them on something as simple as ‘how do you wear a mask with a beard?’ They were able to get that out in minutes – vs. weeks or months—when it’s relevant.” – Randy Frisch
- Mind the launch gap. “If you fail to get content out to your buyers in that time of need, then they struggle to understand how you can help. They’re going to find out who can help them.” – Randy Frisch
- Be proactive with helpful content. “The brands that really impressed me during the shutdown were baby supply companies. At the time that this all started, I had an eight-month-old. And as soon as things started shutting down, I started to worry about things like formula, diapers, wipes, baby Tylenol, all those important things. They were reaching out and proactively letting me know, ‘here are the ways in which you can get supplies delivered.’ They were really proactive about easing all of those concerns. That’s fantastic, especially that it addresses not only a question but a very vital question one that keeps you up at night” – Melanie Deziel
- Instructional content is in demand during COVID. “One of the things that I noticed when everything first started changing was that we saw search trends for instructional content, process-focused content, how-to steps, instructions, DIY, all at an increase. I think it was a really a symbol of the times, we needed to find new ways to do a lot of things.” – Melanie Deziel
- Content for retention is about an ongoing experience. “Let’s be honest. A lot of our focus in the traditional buyer funnel is to get someone through really quickly, right? When we get to retention, it’s about building that ongoing lasting experience with them, that relationship over time. My team took a lot of time to build a curriculum for your customers. This goes beyond help desk articles, this is helping certify them in an area to help them become an expert, help them in their career, and help them progress.” – Randy Frisch
- Show, don’t tell (like a journalist). “They taught us in journalism school to always show, not tell. I think that’s one of the big opportunities with thought leadership and process-focused content. You can tell your audience that you’re there for them, that ‘we’re in this together.’ You can give them all of these platitudes about ‘this unprecedented time’ or you can take action and create content that demonstrates that you’re truly there with them, that you‘re helping them get through this. That you’re a partner in this time and it’s going to be so much more powerful if you can demonstrate it.” – Melanie Deziel
- Scope creep kills all marketing programs. “The biggest thing that creates the launch gap is when we don’t define scope. Scope creep is what kills all marketing programs. What we have to do is understand what our team needs in the moment and figure out how to get it out to them in a lean quick way that’s going to be most meaningful.” – Randy Frisch
- Enable a culture of speaking up. “A big part of being lean is to let your team have ownership to be able to make those recommendations. I find that when I’m working internally with teams, if people are afraid to speak up, if there’s not a culture that allows for that, to suggest things that are outside of the company’s normal practices or to do something the way they haven’t done it in the past… if there’s not that psychological safety to make those kinds of recommendations and suggestions, it takes a lot longer to get to a solution.” – Melanie Deziel
- The rise of the content experience manager. “I’ve seen this job title more lately. It’s someone who maps the journey of what content is in front of your buyers at different times. They work really closely with the creation process to make sure you’re hitting on what’s trending and what’s important. But, they really think forward to understand not just what the buyer wants, but what your different touch points look like along that journey.” – Randy Frisch
- A career in content means embracing change. “The one thing I always share when I’m speaking to classes is that, like many things, this is an evolving field. We see new job titles popping up all the time. We had the age of the content studio where every publisher had a team and then it went to agencies and now it’s more in-house. I think flexibility and being open to trying things you may not have expected is really key in this field, because as we’re saying, not only will the trends change, but the platforms come and go, the formats come and go.” – Melanie Deziel
As those trends change, we’ll keep you updated with every episode of Experience TV. Our next episode airs Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020 at 3:00pm ET. Catch it live by following me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or the show’s Facebook page.