Posts tagged #content strategy

Why Challenger Brands Are Well Suited To Compete in Digital

Earlier this week I had the wonderful experience of being interviewed via twitter!  No, not for a job, but to participate in ExactTarget's ET Café twitter chat interview series featured on their blog, a true honor.

The ET Café twitter interview series brings thought leaders together with digital marketers to talk about subjects of interest, and engage on the fly through the questions and answer - a really fun and fluid experience.

At my place of employment, ethology, we concentrate on working with “challenger brands” – those who are challenging leaders in their space for market share. In this interview, we discussed the concept, and explored opportunities for challenger brands today in digital.  The following is a transcript of the questions and answer portion.  ExactTarget did a great write-up of the session and created a Storify of the entire session including the live interaction with digital marketers (thank you Candice!).  Please enjoy!

1.     Q - What is a challenger brand? #ETCafe

a.      @ethology defines challenger brands as those in position, and with the desire, to give category leaders a run for their money online #ETCafe


2.     Q - What advantages do challenger brands have in digital? #ETCafe

a.      A1 While seemingly illogical, success in digital, especially in earned & owned, is more dependent on relevance & effort than cache #ETCafe

b.     A2 In many verticals, we still see lackadaisical leaders who rely on brand popularity and media because it's easy and has worked #ETCafe

c.     A3 Challenger brands can out hustle leaders in areas where time and participation matter to create a competitive advantage #ETCafe


3.     Can’t category leaders simply outspend challengers?  Especially in media? #ETCafe

a.      A1–Absolutely, BUT media contributes to awareness & amplification, & if content/context lacks, so does loyalty & media ROI #ETCafe

b.     A2–Further, successful digital programs require time: planning, participation, testing & real desire, things you must build v. buy #ETCafe


4.     Where specifically are leading brands exposed? Where should challengers start? #ETCafe

a.     A1–A few themes are important in this discussion:  relevance, community, effort & desire. #ETCafe

b.     A2-If a challenger brand can beat a leader in any combination of these, it typically translates to shifts in market share #ETCafe

c.     A3–First, do comprehensive research to make sure you truly understand your target audiences’ behavior, interest points, and needs #ETCafe

d.     A4–Search, social, & your analytics provide deep data that will allow you to be contextually relevant as a community member #ETCafe

e.     A5–These sources can tell you a lot about common interest points, vernacular, media types, & content demand  #ETCafe

f.      A6-Often, you can out customer service leaders by owning the content/conversation around all FAQs. Create #Youtility per @JayBaer #ETCafe

g.     A7-Pro-tip, if you don’t have a centralized content strategy, now is the time. Goal: improve user experience & tactical integration #ETCafe

h.     A8-We audit hundreds of company’s digital executions annually, & few, even leaders, have taken this step #ETCafe

i.      A9–Tactically, it’s best to look for earned & owned opportunities first: content, search, social, local, mobile & email #ETCafe

j.      A10–Honestly audit your efforts in terms of best practice & alignment with audience needs. Are you best in class? #ETCafe

k.      A11-Then stack rank your opportunities based on potential ROI & create a realistic plan: resources, timing, process, accountability #ETCafe

l.      A12–A big deal, make sure your plan & ops integrate around content & like tactics. Most leaders suffer from silos in execution #ETCafe

m.   A13-Finally, with media, you can’t outspend leaders, but you can be more efficient & create better ROI #ETCafe

n.     A14-If you’re promoting more relevant, higher quality, content & user experiences, your media will truly integrate & work harder #ETCafe


5.     What industries do you see the largest opportunities in?  #ETCafe

a.     A1-Retail, hospitality, finance/insurance, & healthcare are verticals where we see opportunity for challengers, but there are many more #ETCafe

b.     A2-All generally have execution silos, & most suffer from old business models with passive online practices ripe for disruption #ETCafe

c.     A3-Regardless of industry, look for areas where leaders are relying on traditional brand promotion & media v. putting in the work #ETCafe

d.     A4-Challengers may not have the biggest budgets, but they can out hustle leaders & the community will reward them for doing so #ETCafe


6.     Where can challenger brands get help? #ETCafe

a.     A1–Absolutely check out @ethology’s webinars and events on our site. We have a great local webinar next week live from #SXSW #ETCafe

b.     A2-Of course, helping challenger brands evolve & disrupt digitally is what @ethology does for a living #ETCafe

c.     A3-We’ve also done related webinars with @JayBaer, @jkrohrs & @GaryVee you can access from our site #ETCafe

d.     A4– @JayBaer philosophies align nicely with standard challenger needs. Read #Youtility if you haven’t #ETCafe

e.     A5- @Jkrohrs new book @AudiencePro is powerful as well. The practice of investing in audience is something few companies are doing #ETCafe

f.      A6- @JayBaer and @jkrohrs can also be heard on the amazing #SocialPros podcast, my industry favorite hands down #ETCafe

g.     A7- @Forrester @SharVanBoskirk has some great research coming out around the process of benchmarking digital prowess & evolving #ETCafe

h.     A8-And if going to #SXSW hit me up for a chat @ethology is sponsoring a few events -OMMA Mar 7-8, & SODA/Econsultancy on Mar 10 #ETCafe

Note that some of the referenced past decks can be found here on Slideshare

8 Must-Dos for Your 2014 Content Marketing Plan

This week I had the privilege of co-presenting with one of my best friends, mentor, and truly all around great guys, Jay Baer, President of Convince and Convert, and 2x author, his latest work Youtility, why smart marketing is about help not hype (grab this if you haven't, one of the best business books you can read this year).    

The subject of our Econsultancy webinar centered around the finer points of content marketing planning in preparation for 2014, something we're actively taking our clients through at ethology now - tis the season.  

As new prospects are on-boarded, and efforts audited, we often find a huge void related to centralized content strategy and planning, seeing efforts focused at the tactic level (search, social, email, etc.), lacking cross-channel unification, and therefore leaving opportunity and ROI on the table.  Given recent studies showing content marketing as a top focus for organizations this year, we pulled out some of the more important topics and tips that companies should focus on when planning a more integrated and fruitful effort for 2014.

In the webinar we discuss:

1. How to refocus your content efforts around help, not hype #YOUTILITY

2. When and how to use social media to promote your content, and vice versa

3. What trends and best practices you should use for staffing your content marketing program

4. Why integrating your content marketing efforts will maximum return

5. How to better understand your customers, and develop insights for content topics

6. How to pick the right content execution for each topic

7. How to measure the impact of your content efforts

8. How much should you be spending on content marketing in 2014    

Please check out the Slideshare presentation below, we'll post the link to the full Econsultancy presentation including audio when available (any day now). 

Visit for the full presentation

Integrated Mobile Strategy: Digital Marketing Strategy for the Three Screens

Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present an Econsultancy webinar related to developing a comprehensive strategy across various online lenses: pc, mobile, and tablet.  This presentation discusses aspects of future forward planning by device, highlighting some of the most important considerations in creating your mobile roadmap, including often overlooked, and actually prescribed first step, content strategy.

In sum, centralized content planning is important to ensure content can be consumed regardless of device and outpost.  When studying consumer behavior by device, we see that each device lens to content should change for both device consumption itself, as well as the desires a consumer has related to content prioritization and engagement.  In both media dollars, and earned and owned efforts, cross-lens digital marketing is still a huge opportunity for advertisers, and 2013 needs to be the year organizations shore up their deficiencies in this arena and take control of any competitive advantage left in the industry.

Please find the presentation embedded below.  

Econsultancy and ethology: Digital Marketing Strategy for the Three Screens


Mike Corak

Note:  A hospitality version titled "Focus on the Four Screens" I presented at the HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference a month or so ago is also available on my Slideshare account.

Posted on March 11, 2013 .

Relevant Content and Data Sitting in a Tree - Gaining Customer Advocates

Content Relevancy is key to enhancing any email program and as ISP's move to add engagement stats to there bulk/spam filters, you need your customers to be more involved in your email program. A recent stat from Jupiter Research says 51% of those surveyed will unsubscribe if content is not of interest.

Online Marketing Summit Phoenix 2010 - Search and Social Data Mining to Improve Content Relevance - Follow-up

As many of you know, Digital Marketing Strategy was honored last week to be included in Aaron Kahlow's Online Marketing Summit regional conference in Phoenix (Mike Corak - "Relevant Content is King" session, David Hibbs closing keynote panel - email expert).  A great show, and like an avalanche, OMS continues to gain steam with many of the digital industry's best and brightest attending and speaking.  The Phoenix summit was the kick-off of the new Online Marketing Summit tour, a 23 city show with stops across the US and Canada.  If it's coming to a city near you, I definitely recommend checking it out - a perfect mix of local and national insight, with strong networking opportunities.  The Phoenix version featured topics including social media, content strategy and distribution, search, email, usability and loads of case studies presented by tactical experts and communication executives alike.  It appears future shows on the tour will have more of the same - a great formula - fantastic! As a follow-up to my presentation at OMS Phoenix (Relevant Content is King)

I would like to share some of the Q&A generated at the event and directly to me over the last few days:

Q - With Yahoo!'s purchase of Associated Content (slide 14), and the growth of other large content publishers like Demand Media, what can smaller publishers do to compete with these entities?

A - The content production and distribution game will not be won solely through the quantity of content produced, but rather, by the return on investment the produced content provides.  Extremely relevant, link worthy content that results in conversions, more than eyeballs and visits, is what both advertisers and target audiences desire, and what publishers will eventually be held accountable to.  While small publishers may not possess the ability to build content in the same mass and with the efficiency of larger players, they will have the opportunity to outwork and outsmart larger publishers through niche understanding of communities and target audiences, and frankly, creativity and relentless elbow grease.  Let's remember, content publishers don't determine what content is noteworthy - the public does, and by understanding what content is in demand (through search demand research), and what that interest means (through search and social conversation analysis), smaller publishers can get one-step closer to outperforming the competition.

Q: In reference to your navigation naming example (slides 43 and 44), should smaller players that have a harder time ranking for competitive phrases use less popular keywords?

A: No.  While it's tempting to leverage the power of a site's architecture to rank in search for all targeted phrases including less competitive long-tail phrases, you're better off using the most common vernacular in way-finding messaging to ensure you make the most relevant connections possible with the user.  Further, this behavior, along with matching linguistics in titles, meta, headlines and copy, is shown to encourage those linking to your pages to use this common vernacular in their links, helping sites rank for those more competitive phrases over time.

Q: How do you know that consumers use the same language online as they do offline?  Have you seen improved results from this type of research for communications in both online and offline communications?

A: The short answer is that we've tested this theory and it holds true in all online and offline communications.  Why?  Because requests for information and conversations online are conducted by actual real people!    More scientifically, typical offline to online behavior shows that people take interest generated offline to online tools like search engines to fulfill their interest, meaning that data taken from search shows offline content interest by nature.

Any other questions? Feel free to ask them here.  For the record, we're looking to improve the content of this presentation for future speaking opportunities, and would appreciate any feedback you may have.  Thank you as always!