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Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

50+ Writing Contests in 2020 with Awesome Cash Prizes

So you want to compete in writing contests for prizes and recognition? Writing contests are a fun way to evolve your writing skills — and, yes, cash prizes are a nice bonus. But remember, the emphasis is on fun. If cash is your primary goal, you should focus your time and energy on landing freelance …

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Break Free B2B Series: Adam Dunn on Creating Blockbuster Video Content in B2B

Break Free B2B Interview with Adam Dunn

Break Free B2B Interview with Adam Dunn

Content has many aims. It should inform. It should assist. It should entertain.

But as B2B marketers, doesn't it seem like if we don't deliver on the latter – immediately, and convincingly – we don't really get a chance to deliver on the rest? 

Given that our job is dependent on earning and keeping an audience's attention, marketers are wise to take cues from entertainment-focused content formats like films and music videos. Even more so, we're wise to take cues from the creators behind them. In a nutshell, that's why Adam Dunn offers a particularly valuable perspective for people in our line of work.

As a film and video director who has worked on numerous prominent music videos and Hollywood movies — including “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, for which he and his team won an Academy Award — Adam is fervently focused on creating content that is compelling and captivating for audiences. At TopRank Marketing, we’ve also had the opportunity to work with him on several video marketing initiatives, seeing first-hand how his expertise can take such efforts to the next level.

via GIPHY

[bctt tweet="It's often the thing that is imperfect that eventually becomes the thing people like the most, which is why Spiderverse became the thing that everyone loved. — @adamjdunn #VideoMarketing #BreakFreeB2B" username="toprank"]

In this edition of Break Free B2B, TopRank President Susan Misukanis and I were thrilled to sit and chat with Adam about a variety of topics pertinent to marketers today. We asked which elements of his work tend to resonate most with audiences, what his recommendations would be for budget-friendly video content, how new technologies like live-streaming and VR are coming into play, and more.

This was actually the first episode of the show that was recorded, but we decided to warm you up with some rising stars and familiar faces in the B2B space first. Today we’re excited to share this conversation and branch out to more of an outsider’s perspective. 

(Note: There were some technical difficulties with the microphone on our end. But we didn’t want to let that prevent you from hearing Adam’s awesome insights; please bear with us!)

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Adam Dunn

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 0:30 — Adam’s background
  • 2:30 — Learning from failure and setbacks
  • 4:00 — Movies and music videos Adam has worked on
  • 6:45 Does “Into the Spider-Verse” represent a new visual frontier?
  • 9:45 — Learning to speak your audience’s language
  • 11:00 — The common traits of his most well-received work
  • 13:00 — The appeal of video marketing
  • 15:45 — Tips for creating video content with a finite budget
  • 18:00 — How will Twitch and live-streaming influence the future of marketing?
  • 21:30 — What is the role of VR and where is it heading?

Nick: As you look back at some of the things you've worked on — I'm especially interested in the music videos where there is a lot of content, a lot of competition, hard to stand out ... When you look at the ones that are the most well received, and gained the most traction, do you see any common elements that are making those resonate?

Adam: I don't know if there's one common through point. But I think the biggest thing from all the ones that I've had that are successful is cohesiveness of vision. 

So while all the videos are totally different, making sure your team is 100% on the same page when making the content is what makes the most successful stuff on my end, just because you know, there have been videos where things have been a little bit crazy and we haven't had we'd have a ton of time to shoot or anything like that, and we had to just kind of Helter Skelter, throw it all together to make something. And it doesn't come out nearly as cohesive as something where the whole team knows exactly where everything is going, all the pieces fit, and then you make this beautiful piece of art and everyone loves it … 

How that could translate into something like B2B would be like, when you do an explainer, making sure you have that exact A to B to C lined up, ready to go. And that way when you make the explainer, everyone knows exactly where all the pieces fit, everything looks beautiful, and you make this amazing piece of content.

[bctt tweet="I think the biggest factor in successful video content is cohesiveness of vision. @adamjdunn #VideoMarketing #BreakFreeB2B" username="toprank"]

Nick: We’ve had the opportunity to work with you on some B2B marketing projects. What interests you about video marketing and where do you see it going? 

Adam: I think video marketing is intriguing, because it brings in real-life storytelling. You bring in these experts and influencers who know exactly the topics are talking about — you get to meet them and watch how passionate they are about what they're involved in. So you get to learn this really cool stuff. 

Like, when I first started working with you guys, I didn't know a ton about B2B marketing, but I feel like I at least have a ground framework now from getting to be around a bunch of experts and talking to influencers and stuff. So that's what intrigues me about it from my own on my own personal level, is getting to see these people who are super passionate and know everything.

Nick: So for someone who's in B2B marketing and interested in doing video but doesn’t have an Academy Award winning effect specialist on hand, and maybe doesn’t know where to start … 

What would be some recommendations for those with a finite budget and limited resources to create something that is high-quality and looks professional?

Adam: I would say probably the very first place to start if you're looking to get started on doing video and you have a limited budget would be to invest as much money as you can into your kit, first and foremost, because that's the thing you're gonna have all the time. So your camera, the lighting gear, your microphones, those kinds of things. 

With cameras you can make a lot of really professional, nice amazing things even on an iPhone now, so for camera, you have the tools at your disposal. One of the things that trip people up in a professional environment is audio-related. It's like if you have something like tons of hum and pops and things like that, that's something that can trip up professionals. So getting a nice microphone is usually a good spot. 

But a really good thing just for starting, and what I say when I end up lecturing back at my old school, is always just start. Just start making things and just dip your toes in the water because you're never going to get great without just doing. So you need to do it in the early days and you know what if maybe the early ones aren't as great as the ones that happened later, and that's exactly what you want.

[bctt tweet="Just start making things and just dip your toes in the water because you're never going to get great without just doing. @adamjdunn #VideoMarketing #BreakFreeB2B" username="toprank"]

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: Adam Dunn on Creating Blockbuster Video Content in B2B appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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A fresh look for an exciting future: Introducing Sprout Social’s design refresh

Thoughtful design has always been at the core of everything we do at Sprout Social. From the very beginning, our founders understood that providing Read more...

This post A fresh look for an exciting future: Introducing Sprout Social’s design refresh originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Always On: 4 ways I understand our audience better every day, with Twitter’s Lindsay Bruce

Twitter Business content team members wear many hats. Marketing coordinator Lindsay Bruce predominantly owns the @TwitterBusiness handle, which has more than a million followers. Read more...

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B2B Content Marketing Lessons from 2019’s Nerdy Film & TV Franchise Finales

B2B Content Marketing Lessons from Film & TV Franchise Finales

B2B Content Marketing Lessons from Film & TV Franchise Finales

2019 may be remembered as the year we reached peak nerd.

When I was growing up in the '80s and '90s, nerd culture was still underground, something for weird kids and weirder adults. Now our biggest entertainment franchises are what used to be nerd stuff: High fantasy, epic science fiction, comic book heroe,s and horror movies. 

But 2019 was the year that cracks started to show in even the most lucrative franchises. Several high-profile series came to an end — and only one of them really stuck the landing. Let us take solace in the words of Jedi Master Yoda himself:

Yoda Captioned The Greatest Teacher, Failure Is

Marketers can learn a lot from each of the year’s biggest nerdy swan songs. 

(All opinions about nerd cinema are mine and not necessarily those of TopRank Marketing. I’m sure some of us loved the "Game of Thrones" finale.)

Content Marketing Lessons from 5 of 2019’s Biggest Film and TV Franchise Finales

#1: Star Wars: Have a Plan and Stay Consistent

The first three "Star Wars" movies told a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. The prequel series, for all its faults, did the same. But the final three movies don’t have the same consistency in narrative and purpose.

"The Force Awakens" hit the same plot beats as "A New Hope", the 1977 original film. The sequel, "The Last Jedi", threw away the rule book and aimed to surprise and challenge fans. Now the final entry is already being panned for returning to predictable fan service.

What happened? Disney didn’t have a plan for the entire trilogy. There was no one keeping the tone consistent across all three movies, no agreed-upon plot points or even an ending in mind. The result: A bumpy ride for the end of a 40-year franchise.

Luke Skywalker Yelling No

The B2B Content Marketing Lesson: 

Every encounter with your brand should feel like it’s part of one ongoing story. That means coordinating your content marketing strategy between departments, and within your own team. It also means starting each campaign with a shared vision, shared objectives, and common KPIs across sales and marketing.

[bctt tweet="Every encounter with your brand should feel like it’s part of one ongoing story. @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2: Game of Thrones: Respect Your Audience and Don’t Rush It

The "Game of Thrones" series was a cultural phenomenon. It pulled in record numbers for HBO, inspired countless imitators, and was one of the most-watched (and pirated) series of the 2010s. It seemed impossible that the show’s creators could squander that goodwill…

Until the final season premiered. Longtime fans found the episode count reduced, the action rushed, and beloved characters reduced to caricatures. The plot seemed driven by an urge to finish up quickly than to provide a satisfactory resolution. Fans were furious, and even casual viewers could tell the difference.

Cersei Lannister with Caption Screams Internally

The B2B Content Marketing Lesson:

Don’t put expedience ahead of experience. If you’re creating content just to fill the editorial calendar or hit a deadline, your audience will sense it. And they’ll move on to content that demonstrates care and understanding, rather than content for content’s sake.

[bctt tweet="Don’t put expedience ahead of experience. If you’re creating content just to fill the editorial calendar or hit a deadline, your audience will sense it. @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#3: Terminator: Know Your Audience, Don’t Chase Trends

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s "Terminator" franchise was unstoppable — for two blockbuster movies in the late '80s and early '90s.  Entries 3, 4, and 5 brought in steadily diminishing returns. 

In 2018, another decades-old franchise, "Halloween", had a massive hit by bringing back the original cast for one more adventure. The "Terminator" series hopped on the trend, with a new installment featuring the original cast. But "Terminator: Dark Fate" bombed, with the lowest box office of the franchise so far. 

It turns out, not every beloved franchise from the '80s and '90s has enough audience to support a $200-million new chapter.

Terminator Gives Thumbs Up While Sinking in Molten Metal

The B2B Content Marketing Lesson: 

Are you producing content that meets a verified audience need? Does it offer the best answer to their most pressing concerns? Or is it just hopping on the next shiny trend, seeking to duplicate another brand’s success? It’s worth asking these hard questions during the planning stages.

#4: X-Men: Evolve to Stay Relevant

Director Bryan Singer invented the modern comic book movie with 2000’s "X-Men". The entire Marvel blueprint is there: Superheroes teaming up to fight seemingly unbeatable foes, wielding amazing powers, and quippy dialog in equal proportion. 

Fast-forward 20 years, and "X-Men: Dark Phoenix" closed the franchise with a whimper, both from critics and at the box office. What happened? Well, essentially, the entire Marvel cinematic universe. 

Superhero movies evolved dramatically between 2000 and 2019. They got smarter, more engaging, better-acted and scripted, with more coherent, better-directed action sequences. "Dark Phoenix" would have been state-of-the-art in 2000, but it was jarringly unsophisticated to modern audiences.

Jean Grey Screams Stop

The B2B Content Marketing Lesson:

Best practices in marketing evolve faster than mutant DNA. Don’t rely on the same old messages in the same few channels and expect your audience to respond with enthusiasm. Keep your audience research current, explore new ways to connect creatively, and keep track of what’s state-of-the-art.

[bctt tweet="Best practices in marketing evolve faster than mutant DNA. Don’t rely on the same old messages in the same few channels and expect your audience to respond with enthusiasm. @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#5: Avengers: Practically Perfect in Every Way

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) features 23 movies (at last count) that represent over $20 billion in box office revenue. It's also the most elaborate shared universe that has ever been, with characters from each standalone film crossing over for adventures across the franchise. 

"Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame" wrapped up the first decade of MCU movies with nearly six hours of interstellar, dimension-hopping, time-twisting action. Both installments were beloved by fans and critics alike.

What went right? The filmmakers followed every lesson in this post:

  • They planned the whole story in advance. 
  • They kept a consistent look and feel even as individual movies varied in genre and tone. 
  • They took the time to develop plot lines across movies, without rushing resolution.
  • They delivered what the audience wanted without aping what other studios were doing.
  • They evolved over time, picking up lessons in characterization and storytelling and applying them to the final films.

The B2B Content Marketing Lesson:

In marketing, as in nerd franchises, there’s no substitute for thoughtful planning. That includes intensive audience research, strategizing and goal-setting, and continuous optimization over time. While your marketing may not have the visceral thrill of, say, Captain America swinging Thor’s hammer, it can still connect with your audience for blockbuster results.

[bctt tweet="In marketing, as in nerd franchises, there’s no substitute for thoughtful planning. That includes intensive audience research, strategizing and goal-setting, and continuous optimization over time. @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Captain America Swings Thor's Hammer in Avengers Endgame

Ready to rock content marketing in 2020? Check out our Content Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020.

The post B2B Content Marketing Lessons from 2019’s Nerdy Film & TV Franchise Finales appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Facebook Lookalike Audience Changes: What Marketers Need to Know

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The post Facebook Lookalike Audience Changes: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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5 ways to enhance your 2020 enterprise social media strategy

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Break Free B2B Series: Zari Venhaus on How to Scoot Your Way to Martech Transformation Through Storytelling

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Zari Venhaus

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Zari Venhaus

When it comes to securing buy-in from key stakeholders for marketing technology investments, are you preparing to deliver a pitch or to woo your audience through story?

According to Zari Venhaus, Director of Corporate Marketing Communications at Eaton, the latter is essential if you want to create understanding and gain approval from stakeholders at all levels—something she knows from experience.

“If they're not marketers, they don't understand what we do every day and the impact it has,” Zari told TopRank Marketing’s Susan Misukanis in a recent Break Free B2B interview. “So, we had to learn how to storytell. We had to take our roles as marketers and turn it internally and really do that for our senior leaders.”

[bctt tweet="If they're not marketers, they don't understand what we do every day and the impact it has. @zvenhaus on getting stakeholder buy-in for #martech" username="toprank"]

Zari and her team essentially developed a content marketing campaign in partnership with the IT team to weave the martech transformation story web. By doing so, Zari said that, “when we went to the CIO, it wasn't, ‘Marketing's coming to me with this new shiny penny.’ It was ‘Hey, our teams have worked together to build a strategy that really speaks to how we can move the business forward.’”

By making content marketing part of the internal process, there has been less pushback when it comes to resource allocation. So, while Zari claims she doesn’t have all the answers, it’s clear that she’s definitely scooting towards martech transformation. What advice and insight does she have for you? Listen to the full interview below.

Break Free B2B Interview with Zari Venhaus

Anxious to hear where this story goes?  Use the following to flip ahead to the juicy parts.

  • 00:39 - Zari’s career journey
  • 02:52 - Setbacks in Eaton’s martech journey
  • 05:03 - The need for storytelling tailored to internal decision-makers
  • 07:30 - How to impress the CIO
  • 10:44 - Digital transformation requires a big step back and baby steps forward
  • 12:00 - Why marketing and IT need to be best buds
  • 12:47 - Winning in martech
  • 13:57 - Is the future of content marketing text, video, or audio?
  • 15:34 - Using metrics and more to show the ROI of content marketing 
  • 17:41 - Creating the infrastructure to demonstrate marketing ROI
  • 18:31 - The untapped value of customer marketing platforms
  • 20:43 - The future of martech
  • 22:25 - How can marketers ready themselves for the future?
  • 22:54 - Scooting towards inspiration
  • 23:32 - Breaking free in B2B

Susan: In terms of marketing technology buy-in, what is the journey that you have gone through?

Zari: I think one of the things that we learned really early on when it came to martech, is that we couldn't come to our leaders and just talk about the next shiny new thing we wanted. We were starting to get no's, and too many no's. 

So we really had to take a step back and think more strategically about our technology stack. What I'm actually going to be speaking here at Content Marketing World about is how to build that business case for marketing technology, how to get your senior leaders to say, “Yes.”  

[bctt tweet="We learned really early on that we couldn't come to our leaders and just talk about the next shiny new thing we wanted... We really had to take a step back and think more strategically. @zvenhaus on #martech transformation" username="toprank"]

And that's a process that took us quite some time. So my hope is, I'll be able to teach the people in the audience, how not to go through the same mistakes that we went through at Eaton.  We were picking the technology and just thinking that if we said the right thing, our leaders were going to sign off on whatever dollar amount we wanted them to sign off on. 

And that just wasn't the case. We really had to take the steps to teach them what it was we do every day. If they're not marketers, they don't understand what we do every day and the impact it has. So, we had to learn how to storytell. We had to take our roles as marketers and turn it internally and really do that for our senior leaders.

Susan: You're using content marketing internally in order to get approval on a content marketing platform? That’s great. Tell us a little bit more about that CIO approval, because I imagine a lot of marketers are dealing with this.

Zari: I see the IT space and the marketing space are starting to come together so much more—particularly when you think about martech. But you need to be able to convince your IT partners that bringing in another tool is a good thing. 

And a lot of that comes down to working on the strategy with them. So one of the things we really learned was it wasn't enough to just be marketing coming to IT with an answer. We really needed to involve our IT partners upfront in the process. So to convince our working team, that included both marketers and IT, of the technology direction where we needed to go, and then really have them build the business case with us. 

[bctt tweet="We learned that it was it wasn't enough to just be marketing coming to IT with an answer. We really needed to involve our IT partners upfront in the process. @zvenhaus on partnering with IT for #martech transformation" username="toprank"]

So that when we went to the CIO, it wasn't, "Marketing's coming to me with this new shiny penny." It was "Hey, our teams have worked together to build a strategy that really speaks to how we can move the business forward."...It's built a really great partnership between our marketing and IT organizations, which is really exciting to see.

Susan: Where are the "wins" happening in martech? What is working really well?

Zari: There are two things that for us are starting to work really well. And, I wouldn't say that we're at the pinnacle of success yet—we are still very much on the journey.  

We've recently onboarded a new web management platform. And I think really thinking strategically about website content is really important. 

And, what are all the connections that you need to that system? ... So making sure that you've got a website that can scale globally ... How do you have one website that works globally where you can take your content, and you can translate it, and you can move it through the translation process.  You can have it accessible in any country... How you think about writing content is different. And we're really, I think, starting to wrap our arms around that in a really exciting way.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Previous interviews include: 

The post Break Free B2B Series: Zari Venhaus on How to Scoot Your Way to Martech Transformation Through Storytelling appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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SEO is Not Enough: Why B2B Marketers Need to Optimize for Trust with Influence

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