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Author: Andrew Nauenburg

Atlanta Tech Village Keynote

Slide 2: Content! Content! Content! All we hear anymore is that content is king! And that we all must join the content production race or risk being left behind. Without a doubt, content is important. BUT, if you leave here today remembering only one thing, remember this: Not all content is created equal.
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Allow me to introduce you to Jane. Jane is recently retired and enthusiastic about the horse she spends her time with on her small farm.
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One day, she’s casually surfing the internet just passing the time. She’s bombarded by advertisements for all things horse related: trailers, horse feed, grooming equipment, saddles, blankets, bridles, riding lessons, and the list goes on. Whether you own or have an interest in horses, you and I and Jane share one thing: we are not interested in any of this. At least not right now.
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This is the type of marketing we call push marketing. Push your products on unwilling and unknowing consumers through advertising and just hope they are in the position to buy. We’ve all been there. Right!!! Raise your hand if this has NEVER happened to you.
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Now, let’s look at Jane in a world of pull marketing. Jane is sitting on her porch, drinking coffee and browsing the web.
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She stumbles upon an article about stirrups that her friend has shared on FB. Her interest is peaked. Stirrups have been on her mind a lot lately. She’s recently heard that this is an often overlooked part of proper fit and riding.
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She clicks the link and reads the article. It’s a post by someone just like her. A gal that rides horses, has done her homework and actually experienced the benefits of best-fit stirrups. While there, Jane finds an active community with a shared passion.
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They are an engaged, thoughtful, and enthusiastic group of horse lovers.
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These preceding scenarios are a result of two differing types of content. The first, high effort, and the second, low effort. What is high effort content? You all know what it is.
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First and foremost,  it’s damn expensive. And just as time-consuming as costly. And almost always an absolute nightmare. We define high effort by that content created via traditional blogs and contracted content producers.
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I am here to tell you, with case studies as proof, high effort content is no longer king.
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Eloqua published a study about content creation costs and the typical content department at a mid-sized and large-sized company. Here’s the setup: A chief content officer, a managing editor, a community manager, internal and external contributors all tied to a content calendar.
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Monthly expenses for a mid-sized company totaled nearly $12,000. For a large-sized company, that number nearly tripled to $32,000/month.
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Other companies, in an effort to simplify the system, try a different approach: We were at the Internet Marketing Summit in North Carolina this past fall and had dinner with a client. After dinner, they began discussing his pain points and his idea of success for his content strategy. He started off by telling him that he had implemented a program a few months prior that gave people a mandatory, extended lunch break. For 30 minutes before or after lunch, they were required to write. The goal was to have employees produce content. A process that could work right? He would pay $30 per article produced in addition to them being on the clock.
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After 60 days he had exactly zero pieces of content. Fail.
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What eventually happens is people and organizations simply abandon their content strategy and give up because it is so costly and difficult as we discussed earlier.
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How many of you currently utilize a user-generated content approach? User generated content is low-effort. Here are a few examples we think you will find quite interesting.
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Here is an e-commerce ribbon site that allows anyone in the world to submit crafting related content, some of it ribbon related. Building a crafting community on a site that sells ribbons to crafters? Not a bad idea.
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Belkin creates a case with lego studs on the back and encourages their users to post their creations to Instagram and hashtag it LegoxBelkin. Who sells a case better? Belkin or your friend showing off the case?
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You guys have probably seen this one. Tmobile launches an un-valentines day campaign and offers to pay the cancelation fees for anyone that breaks up with their current provider. They do this through a Facebook app that allows people to easily write and share this breakup letter with their friends. 80k breakup letters were posted. Damn.
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Jane’s site. created by one of the largest livestock trailer manufacturers in the world. We’ll get into the stats for this amazing machine in a bit.
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So, does this mean that you should abandon your current high effort content plan and replace it all with low effort content? Absolutely, not. The traditional, in-house model of content generation is a necessary strategy that aligns perfectly with UGC. It allows for more exposure to that high effort content you are producing.
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Today, the key is to create a community passionate enough to engage with, where they become your worker bees and share, share, share your content.
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Sharing content is king! The name of the game is share-ability.
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But… the bad news is people don’t want to share your content. Unless, In a user generated content world, fans and writers are encouraged and incentivized to share content.
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The act of sharing content actually helps consumers process your information better. The New York Times did a study on some of the reasons people share content: 73% of participants say they process information “more deeply, thoroughly, and thoughtfully” when they share it
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85% say reading content that other people share helps them understand and process information and events
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49% say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action
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Now let’s compare the performance of high effort to low effort. Depending on the industry a recent study by Oracle found: High effort content converts 3.5%-3.8% whereas low effort content converts 9.1%-13.5%. That’s a huge difference!
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But what does that look like in terms of actual, real world conversions? Let’s assume a piece of content receives 10,000 visitors. High effort content would convert  14 visitors and Low-effort content would convert: 123 visitors!
Slide 33: Wow! Talk about disparity! But why?!
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Well, remember Jane from earlier? She’s visited the horse enthusiast blog for months now. Jane is now part of what we call the “A club:” awareness, affinity, and action – she has brand awareness, an affinity for that brand, and she’s ready to take action. And so she becomes one of the 123 conversions.
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When we first saw these stats  at a conference in Dallas we almost fell out of our seats. Look, obviously this is a room full of smart and bright folks. We worked really hard to fill these seats with intelligent people. And so you already see what I’m getting at.
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UGC is so damn important. Augment your current strategy with UGC and as the studies show, you can generate nearly ten TIMES the amount of leads.
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One thing that has become apparent to our community of clients, users, and partners: Whatever the current strategy the status quo is just not good enough anymore.
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Now look, let’s be honest. As awful as this sounds, it’s the truth:  Nobody cares about your products and services. Except you.
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The good news is what people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems. Plant many seeds. The strategy is in numbers: the more seeds, the more flowers.
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Embrace the “no-bodies.” Enter a solution that enables a community to grow and thrive, where you are providing a value like no other, so that when they are ready to take action, the consumer’s brand awareness about you is through the roof.
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Innovation requires change. This new way of marketing is drastically different. We’ve done this for ourselves and many clients. Without a doubt, the transition is difficult. Defying the status quo is hard.
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But, we must ask ourselves, what’s the reward? The reward is an engaged and trusting audience. That user generated content and it’s community is the source for lead generation (as the numbers show earlier). No matter your goals, you’ve nurtured an audience that has grown into a passionate community, one that will convert: could be email list signups, webinar registrations, point and click purchases.
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For example: take our e-commerce client, Tea Party Ribbons. She’s a one woman shop and has a site that simply sells ribbons. Her goal is to facilitate and nurture a crafting community so that when the time comes for them to purchase ribbon, they choose her.
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Or, how about the branding benefit. The State of Iowa has a blog to simply showcase the state and bring awareness to tourism. Biking, hiking, kayaking, historical sites, and so forth, are all showcased.
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We’ve talked a lot about the horse blog and community. Of Horse uses their horse audience to generate leads for the sale of their main line of business, boring old horse trailers. Did we mention they are one of the world’s largest horse trailer manufacturers and their UGC blog generates over 500% more leads than their corporate site?
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Content success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long term but necessary strategy.
Slide 47: Webinar invite
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We appreciate your time and hope at the very least you were able to gain some valuable insight. Regardless if we end up working together, I l hope you will use us as a resource to get in the UGC game. Thank you.

The Danger of a Single Story

With all that is going on in Charleston and other spots around the U.S., I find myself going back to this talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I first learned of her during my studies in African Literature at Creighton and have ever since been enthralled with all she has to say and do. I encourage each of you to dig deep into the racial issues plaguing us, aim to really understand and think deeply about them, and foster a dialogue with the people within your circles. Read more about Chimamanda, here.

I’m back

After a four year hiatus from blogging, I’m back. Probably not better than ever but I’m back. As I sat at Omaha’s Eppley Airport yesterday waiting to depart for Chicago, I was reflecting on a problem I recently resolved. A problem that I never thought would resolve. I was reminded of something I believe we often all forget: there is huge power in surrounding yourself with a community that supports you. Support is a tricky word in this context. In my experience, there’s something even greater than the support aspect your people provide and that is the vehicle of challenge. It always feels good to have people give you praise but at the end of the day, praise doesn’t ensure progress. My dear friend Desiree often reminds me of the importance of thinking outside our go-to mental model of comfort. Create and nurture a community that will sing your praise but without hesitation kick you in the throat and challenge your ideas. Now go find people that enable you to achieve whatever it is you working on.