How to get customers to participate in a case study?

Case studies can be really valuable tools to educate your prospects. So you invest time and money in documenting a customer success story. Before embarking on this journey, stop and learn what not to do in a case study. We asked case study experts “What steps companies can proactively take to get customers to commit to participate in a case study?”. Get insights and recommended resources from Case Study Experts.

Mashup Culture and Social Media – What We Can Learn from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Victorian zombies have class, at least they do in the popular mashup of Jane Austen‘s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. Zombies you say? Yes. Zombies. This contemporary rewriting of Austen‘s work is inscribe deeply within the 21st century, where open source culture is redefining the way we create, find inspiration and work. Internet culture, and to a great extent social media culture have been influenced by this way of thinking. Sharing and exchanging, reusing and reappropriating, adding and substracting, collaborating is at the basis of blog writing, online discussions and comments. By contributing online, we’re adding materials to a massive global mashup.

So, dear marketers, what can you learn from victorian zombies?

1- Be Open Source

More than ever before, it is essential that your thinking and materials be accessible to as many people as possible. Don’t barricade your ideas behind closed doors such as forms or password-protected areas. Let them free. Seth Grahame-Smith was able to add a twist to Pride and Prejudice since the novel has entered the public domain. This would never have been possible had the novel been protected by copyright laws. By making your content accessible to anyone, you’re engaging with people and creating discussions, which is at the basis of social media.

2- Don’t Be Afraid to Reappropriate Materials

But don’t forget to give credits where its due! Video and music mashups have been popular for a while – think Girl Talk for instance. Take something that exists, put your spin to it and you end up with a new concept or idea. A real estate website using Google Maps to display its listings is a form of re-appropriation just as writing a blog post about thoughts from another blog post would be. Or retweeting on Twitter someone’s content while adding thoughts or insights. Social media is fueled by everyone’s contribution to our local and global cultures, be it your opinion, your ideas and thoughts, your creative inputs or simply your attention. Social media is a mashup culture to which we are all adding to everyday, every instant.

Zombies have made it to Austen‘s victorian world thanks to our mashup culture. Don’t forget to let them in your next content venture, they’ll do you more good than harm!

Jonathan Kranz’s The eBook eBook

We are very excited to bring to you Jonathan Kranz’s The eBook eBook: How to turn your expertise into magnetic marketing material.

Jonathan Kranz’s The eBook eBook covers these topics

  • Real-life examples of marketing successes you can emulate
  • Guidelines for identifying compelling content
  • The secrets to telling unforgettable stories
  • Hints, tips and secrets for organizing your ebook
  • How to supplement your ideas with stats, graphs, quotes, anecdotes and more
  • The right way introduce your ebook
  • An even better way to conclude your ebook to encourage reader action
  • Practical pointers on tone, theme and style
  • Suggestions for promoting your ebook

We have invited Jonathan Kranz to discuss his eBook.Today, Jonathan Kranz enjoys the confidence of numerous clients and agencies. After completing his MFA in Creative Writing in 1995 (and publishing a number of short stories in literary journals such as the Missouri Review and the Green Mountains Review), he leap-frogged agency life and jumped into freelancing with both feet. Since then, he has written a huge stack of content, advertising, direct marketing, and public relations materials for consumer and B2B clients in financial services, banking, insurance, high-tech, healthcare, education, and other industries. Jonathan is also the author of Writing Copy for Dummies.

Jonathan Kranz

Blog Kranzcom Twitter jonkranz

Buyers learn to trust the sellers who engage in authentic relationships.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Jonathan, it is a great pleasure to discuss your latest eBook. Thanx for finding time out of your very busy schedule to provide your valuable insights to our readers. Tell us about what Kranz Communication does?
Jonathan Kranz: Sure. Just two years ago, I would have said, “direct marketing copywriting.” But now, I’m seeing a growing, almost insatiable demand for content: web pages, ebooks, white papers, case studies, articles and more. I’m bringing a direct marketing mindset – targeted audiences, compelling offers, a drive toward action – to the emerging world of what’s called “inbound” or “content” marketing. Although many people are justly turned-off by the hype, my clients are embracing this new marketing world for one simple reason: it works.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What prompted you to embark on writing ‘The eBook eBook’?
Jonathan Kranz: A need for detailed, specific guidance. Many marketing gurus are selling the virtues of content marketing in general, but can be awfully vague in the particulars: How do you actually CREATE a successful ebook? The eBook eBook fills the gap with actionable, practical how-to’s.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Please walk us through the eBook writing life-cycle. How did it evolve on its journey from concept to launch?
Jonathan Kranz: Slowly and painfully! It began with a eureka shower moment, then became a draft I hammered out between client projects. Connecting with the award-winning designer, Patrick Ciano, really pulled all the pieces together.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Who is ‘The eBook eBook’ addressed towards?
Jonathan Kranz: Mostly toward those businesses or organizations that have intellectually complex products or services – the kinds of offers that require research on the customer’s side. The ebook is the company’s opportunity to establish thought-leadership in its industry, and to build prospect trust by sharing expertise those prospects’ value.
Ambal Balakrishnan: What makes the eBook such an essential component of a business’s content marketing plan?
Jonathan Kranz: Without trust, there is no initial contact – no grounds for further conversation between business and customer. The ebook establishes a credibility that can initiate subsequent contact. And as a marketing tool, it’s almost unbelievably versatile, serving as a:

  • Centerpiece for a viral, buzz-building campaign within the social media world
  • Magnet that draws Web traffic
  • Potential offer for a lead-gen, direct response campaign
  • Compelling leave-behind on sales calls
  • Means to attract favorable mainstream media attention
  • Great conference/convention booth hand-out
  • Push-over piece that helps convert fence-sitters into closed sales

Social Media and Engagement: The Starbucks Example

Social media is all about engagement – engaging with people, consumers, brands, celebrities, you name it. As you know, some people tend to do it better than others. A recent research conducted by ENGAGEMENTdb attempts to measure the top 100 global brand’s value and engagement within social media channels. Before going any further, let’s review their top 10 list:

  1. Starbucks
  2. Dell
  3. eBay
  4. Google
  5. Microsoft
  6. Thomson Reuters
  7. Nike
  8. Amazon
  9. SAP
  10. Yahoo! and Intel (Tie)

I found it surprising to see Starbucks at the top of this list and were expecting instead to encounter the usual suspects in this study, i.e.Southwest airlines, Jetblue or Wholefoods. Turns out these brands were not researched since they haven’t made the global brand list. Back to Starbucks. They scored the number one spot, before technology-savvy brands such as Dell and Google. How did they do it? Alexandra Wheeler of Starbucks’ Digital Strategy department has an explanation: “We live in the physical world with thousands of natural touch points, so when we laid out the vision for our social strategy, it felt like home for the brand. It’s about the relationships we form with our customers, not marketing.” Here it is again: engagement. When approaching social media channels, it’s important to keep this in mind, before any marketing strategy you might want to conduct.

It’s been a difficult year for Starbucks financially speaking. The company has seen a decreased in revenue, which prompted it to undergo drastic changes – closing coffee shops, changing menus, etc. This also makes me wonder how this emblematic brand was able to score the top spot of the study. Patricio Robles over at Econsultancy is asking the following: “if you make the statement that “deep engagement with consumers through social media channels correlates to better financial performance” but the company that you rank as the most engaged has seen steady declines across many key business metrics (not just total revenue), how can you legitimately suggest cause and effect?”

This is a tough question that carries many underlying ones. Can social media efforts be financially measured? And if so, how can one interpret the correlation between financial gains and engagement? What if by trying to measure social media’s ROI we were just missing the point? The authors of this study came to this conclusion:

While much has been written questioning the value of social media, this landmark study has found that the most valuable brands in the world are experiencing a direct correlation between top financial performance and deep social media engagement. The relationship is apparent and significant: socially engaged companies are in fact more financially successful.

What do you think? Do you see a correlation between social media efforts and direct ROI?