• Six Keys to Developing Customer Persona Profiles

    by John Miller | Apr 28, 2016


    Identifying customer personas, and cataloguing the insights associated with them, is essential for targeting marketing and sales efforts in the most efficient and productive way possible. It prepares the business to most appropriately appeal to its prospective customers.

    Here are the six essentials to successfully developing buyer personas for any business.

    1.The audience basics.

    It’s important to begin with basic audience demographics — age, gender, job title, and geographic information, as well as a clear understanding of the problem the audience is looking to solve.

    2. How they buy.

    What single factor influences potential customers the most as they decide whether to buy? Online research? Word-of-mouth from colleagues or friends? And how long will they take to make a decision? Or, is the audience prone to impulse decisions?

    3. Why they buy.

    What tips the audience into making a decision? Do they buy based upon price, or are they less price sensitive? What is the deciding factor for them? Is it utility? Is it design?

    4. Their values.

    Is the audience environmentally conscious? Do they place importance on social responsibility? When a company understands the prospective customers’ values, it can better align its offering with what the audience is trying to accomplish.

    5. Differentiators.

    It’s essential to understand the differences between prospects who take action and those who don’t. Making this distinction will prevent a business from spending too much time and energy chasing down potential customers or clients who were probably never serious in the first place.

    6. Their personalities.

    Finally, a business must evaluate the psychographics of the target audience. This has to do with the audience’s likes, attitudes, and opinions. Information like this will help create an understanding of the personality types and decision-making styles included in the audience.

    Keep in mind that customer personas might change as a business evolves. It’s important to stay in touch with the needs of the audience over time.

    If you’d like to learn more about customer personas, their development, and how they can help you better target communications to be more relevant to your customers and prospects, let us know.

  • Whitepapers, eBooks, Sell Sheets, and Case Studies. When and How to Use Them

    by John Miller | Mar 01, 2016

    Is there any confusion in your organization about whitepapers, eBooks, sell sheets and case studies, what they are and how to use them? In case there is, let’s review:


    Whitepapers provide authoritative examinations of specific topics or, similarly, an in-depth explanation of an organization’s philosophy on a given topic. A whitepaper typically will be minimally designed and in portrait format. A typical length for a whitepaper is approximately 3,000 words, although this varies.

    Whitepapers are sometimes product-oriented, particularly in the technology industry. Businesses should try not to make the copy in a whitepaper too sales heavy. A standard formula is for the last 10 percent of the whitepaper to be product-oriented.


    eBooks generally aim to be more accessible for the audience than whitepapers. In other words, they are more interactive, and the copy is often less academic and aims for a lighter touch. eBooks frequently include elements such as graphics and links to other multimedia assets. These features would not be included in a whitepaper.

    In terms of tone, eBooks are typically more conversational than whitepapers; however, this can vary depending on your brand voice.

    An eBook contains more design elements than a whitepaper and is often presented in landscape format.

    Sell Sheets

    Sell sheets are typically short (one or two pages), product-oriented marketing pieces. In contrast to eBooks and whitepapers, sell sheets give the business an opportunity to sell a product or service that it offers.

    Sell sheets are typically straightforward in their presentation of the product or service they feature. They are meant to be consumed by the target audience when they are further along the sales funnel; eBooks and whitepapers, on the other hand, can help businesses generate and qualify leads at the top of the funnel.

    Case Studies

    Case studies are examples of a company’s product or service in action. The best case studies focus on a problem that is common to the core audience and how the business created a unique solution to this problem. Case studies should demonstrate a business’s effectiveness and expertise, and how these can work for prospective clients.

    Businesses will often focus on the Challenge-Solution-Outcome template when developing a case study. The length and design of case studies can vary widely.

    Whitepapers, eBooks, Case Studies and Sell Sheets are all part of the Trellist Content team’s offerings. If you have questions about the types of content that could help your business move forward, or need assistance in developing a content marketing strategy, Trellist can help.

  • Think Like a Journalist to Reap the Benefits of Content Marketing

    by John Miller | Jan 11, 2016

    For businesses accustomed to traditional marketing approaches, a shift to content marketing is not always easy. Great content marketing efforts require a somewhat different mindset — that of a journalist.

    A journalist’s approach to audience and storytelling provides a useful model for content marketers. Three aspects of journalism are particularly useful for organizations to adopt if they want to make their content marketing initiatives successful.

    Be an advocate for the audience.

    News outlets know their audience — and they strive to cater to it. That begins with putting the audience first, every day. Identify the needs of your audience and integrate them into a content-fueled strategy. In this fashion, a business can build trust and engagement with its customers, leaving them feeling that they are understood and well served. With customers in control of the buyer’s journey today, this sense of trust is often necessary before a sale can occur.

    Know what makes something newsworthy.

    Before producing any content, or developing a strategy for producing content, a business should understand what makes a piece of information newsworthy for its audience. There are five basic considerations:

    Significance. Always consider the significance of a piece of information: How many people or companies are affected? What is the potential impact? Taking this into consideration will help keep a content marketing focused on what matters most to the audience.

    Prominence. Content featuring important people and players in the business’s industry can help grab the attention of the target audience and establish a sense of authority and credibility for the content itself.

    Human interest. Emotion is a key component of great storytelling. Often a connection can be created with an audience by focusing on how a person was helped, rather than the virtues of its product or service. Creating an emotional bond can ultimately strengthen the relationship with the target audience.

    Timing. Content should be timely and based on the latest industry news and information, rather than on a report that is no longer a focus of conversation.

    Proximity. It depends on the industry and the business, but geography is often important. If the target audience is in a given geography and there is an event in that place, it makes sense for the company to create content that takes advantage of this proximity.

    Mind the details.

    When a journalist sets out to report on a story, his or her first mission is to find out who, what, when, where and why. This ensures that the story will provide a comprehensive look at the subject at hand. It also provides necessary as context.

    Good journalists and news outlets attract and retain readers. Attracting and retaining customers with content marketing is not such a very different task.

    If you have questions about the types of content that could help your business move forward, or using content marketing to connect with customers, let us hear from you. We can help.

  • A Quick Guide to Snapchat and Periscope

    by John Miller | Aug 17, 2015

    New social media platforms are appearing everywhere, making it difficult for businesses to identify where they should spend their time and resources. One important consideration in making the assessment is understanding which forms of social media have, and are likely to maintain, a broad reach.

    Two newer mobile social media platforms have emerged that appear to have sizeable user bases and some staying power: Snapchat and Periscope.

    Snapchat allows anyone – or any business – to post photos and videos to their followers. The trick is that what is posted will disappear 24 hours later. Periscope enables the livestreaming of video so that it can be shared with other users in real time. Let’s consider the potential of both of these offerings in more depth:


    Snapchat, launched in 2011, and originally named Picaboo, enables users to take photos and videos and share them with followers. Users can enhance their photos and videos with emojis, various types of filters, and a drawing function. After 24 hours, the content disappears.

    About 150 million people use Snapchat every day. It is especially popular among millennials. Perhaps Snapchat’s best-loved feature is “Stories,” which allows users to string together images and videos throughout the day, creating a public slideshow. The feature is popular enough that Instagram recently rolled out a very similar version of the same video capabilities.

    Businesses on Snapchat

    Disney, Taco Bell and Acura are a few of the notable companies using Snapchat. Just about all the major North American professional sports teams also have Snapchat accounts. Individual athletes successfully use personal Snapchat accounts to give fans behind-the-scenes updates on their lives. Prominent business leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk, Mark Suster, and Justin Kan have also used Snapchat to grow their personal brands.


    Periscope, a video livestream mobile app, describes its mission as allowing one “to discover the world through someone else’s eyes.” Owned by Twitter, Periscope launched in 2015 and quickly accumulated more than 10 million users.

    When a user logs in, he or she can find live broadcast streams from people he or she knows, or search for others based on subjects of interest. There is also a chat function that allows users to post comments and interact with other users in real time. Once the live streamer stops his or her live broadcast, the replay is available for 24 hours. Periscope posts can be accessed via Twitter.

    Businesses on Periscope

    Doritos, Nestle and Red Bull are among the major brands using Periscope to bolster their brand messaging, most typically by running contests and promoting events in which they’re involved. GE has used Periscope to provide a “peek behind the curtain” at some of its facilities, helping to demystify and humanize the company.

    Any business might leverage Periscope and Snapchat to livestream conferences or presentations, or to create stories that heighten engagement with its audience. There are many more potential applications as well.

    If you’re interest in learning more about Periscope, Snapchat, or other innovations in social media that might be employed to support your business, let us know. We are ready to help.

  • Corporate Storytelling: Coming to Your Emotional Rescue [As seen on Content Marketing Insider]

    by John Miller | Apr 10, 2015

    Truth: Logic rarely spurs action.

    And yet, more and more, we (marketers) are focused on metrics. We rack our brains trying to figure out how to move prospective customers logically through the sales funnel. We create content based on algorithms and probabilities.

    And while doing this, we wish and pray that we can have a monstrous breakthrough success, the kind of overnight sensation that Malcolm Gladwell or Jonah Berger might write about some day.

    Well, it ain’t gonna happen if your nose is down in a spreadsheet. Because emotion, not numbers, is the gasoline that fuels marketing awesomeness. Yes, it’s true that you can’t ignore the numbers, but you also can’t be a slave to them. There are a lot of marketers out there who are slaves to the numbers. And I think it’s because they’re afraid to trust their emotions; it’s safer to hide behind the numbers.

    When I was a kid, one of my heroes was basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving. He was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan, able to jump from the foul line and dunk. He was cool. He had style. You’d think it was always easy for him because of his awesome athletic talent. But Erving once told an interviewer that the key to his success was that he “dared to be great.” Think about it: How do you know if you can dunk from the foul line if you’re afraid to ever try? How do you become great without the courage to risk failure?

    And yet, a lot of corporate content is decidedly not courageous. A courageous content strategy needs to focus on developing emotional stories. Yup, it’s story time.

    There’s plenty of evidence that emotion-driven stories work, helping brands connect to customers. Our brains are wired for stories; we’ve been telling them to each other for thousands of years. They spark the brain. Really. Researchers have found that stories have the power to fire neurons, get us excited, and get us to feel emotion. When our emotions are engaged, we’re far more likely to be spurred into action (like buying), and we’re far more likely to remember the story and to retell it.

    Of course, to make that happen, you need to be compelling. This is easy if you’re talking about energy drinks, less so if you’re selling ERP software. But it’s not impossible. The key is to find the emotion.

    Hint: It’s not on your spreadsheets, and it’s not on those text-filled, bullet-point-riddled PowerPoints. Even with something as dry as ERP software, there is a human element to be found: Was the warehouse still able to deliver the product because the cloud-based ERP kept business flowing smoothly despite the massive power outage? Did the fact that it was up and running enable heroic action on the part of the warehouse workers? Now you’re telling a story people will remember. Now you’re firing their emotions.

    Utilizing a story structure enables you to embed facts within the narrative, which makes those facts much stickier. The story gets the neurons firing, and the facts become memorable because they’re attached to a great story.

    Creating a great story isn’t easy. Stories, even corporate stories, require drama. And most executives don’t like drama. They prefer a nice, smooth ride -- a rosy picture that doesn’t provide any ammunition for naysayers and competitors. That makes a certain amount of sense. It’s safe. But it’s boring, and ultimately it limits your success.

    To create great content, you need to dare to be great.

    That’s how you win.

    John's post was originally published by Media Post Publications - Content Marketing Insider. To learn more about how Trellist can empower your content marketing, reach out to us, at

  • How Content Marketing Fuels The New Buyer’s Journey

    by John Miller | Nov 10, 2014

    the new buyers journey

    Scribewise, a division of Trellist Marketing and Technology, develops and executes content marketing strategy and solutions.  Scribewise is an outsourced newsroom that creates smart content to fuel marketing initiatives.  Trellist acquired Scribewise in 2014 to expand its wide range of marketing and technology services; leveraging its other powerful divisions and digital business values, Trellist boldly delivers intelligent business solutions.

    You’ve likely heard the phrase content marketing over the last couple of years. Maybe you’ve embraced the concept. Or maybe you’re perplexed by what people are talking about.

    First, let’s define exactly what we’re talking about when we use the term content marketing: content marketing is the creation and distribution of journalistic, audience-focused material that helps people do their jobs or live their lives.

    So why is that important?

    The New Buyer’s Journey

    It’s important because of today’s increasingly digital buying and selling environment. Today, the customer is in control of the relationship. The buyer’s journey has completely shifted over the last decade, and now it is incumbent upon marketers to engage with prospective customers before they’re ready to buy. Think about your own buying experience, and how often you turn to the Internet before you start shopping.

    Where the buyer once took a straightforward path to making a purchase, it is now far more complex, and conducted completely at the whim of the buyer. Today, the education phase of the buyer’s journey is conducted at whatever pace the buyer chooses. They seek information whenever, wherever and however they want. The challenge for brands is to deliver the buyer useful information in a multitude of ways.

    When those prospective customers are searching, they’re looking for an organization they want to do business with. We can buy goods and services from anywhere in the world – down the street, London, Hong Kong – wherever. That means the battle to win the customer is fiercer than ever before.

    Where Content Marketing Comes In

    And high quality, journalistic, audience-focused content can help you win that battle. By delivering great content into the marketplace, a brand begins to garner attention, engage the audience and build trust. A content strategy feeds consumer desire to seek information and form opinions. It begins to create a deeper-level relationship with the audience.

    Of course, this isn’t easy to do. A brand that launches a content marketing strategy is committing to become a publisher. Being a publisher is quite different from traditional marketing efforts. Ongoing content creation requires talent, dedication and relentlessness.

    But there’s more to it than that – suddenly, your team will be charged with creating a constant river of content, which requires creativity at a fast tempo. For those accustomed to logical, linear processes, the content creation “process” might be a shock to the system. As they say, people who enjoy sausage and news should never witness either being made. And here’s the scary secret about content creation – it has to be chaotic. At the heart of it, content marketing is a creative process, and it can’t be tamped down too much by process.

    This is why we founded Scribewise, and why Trellist acquired us. Scribewise is an outsourced newsroom that helps our clients set and execute their content strategy. Together, with Trellist’s powerful marketing and technology services, we can deliver effective results that produce a real ROI.

    For the brand, it can be hard work. But the rewards are significant. Closing a sale with a prospective customer that has already engaged with your content becomes almost a formality – you’ve already demonstrated your thinking and approach and created a relationship based on trust. Research backs this up – one study shows that content marketing saves 13% in overall cost of a business lead, and that content-driven organic search outperforms outbound marketing by a 14:1 ratio1. Another study shows that B2B firms with blogs report 67% more business leads2. And on and on it goes.

    Content marketing works. The time to dive in is now… before your competitors do. Check out the infographic below to travel The New Buyer's Journey. And follow us on Twitter @trellist or, connect with us via
    1Hubspot - The 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report

Insights posts by: John Miller

John Miller
A well-known thought leader in Content Marketing, John helped to develop the concept of the outsourced newsroom as a powerful tool for brands and marketers, and continues to bring new ROI-driving ideas to the table for Trellist clients.