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When Content Marketing Goes Wrong

Content Gone Wrong

One July a couple years ago, my husband and I went on a road trip. It was short – about 4 hours one way. Since both of us are very casual travelers, we took a side trip and did other things to make it fun.

Until the car broke down.

Sitting in the middle of the rural Midwest in sweltering heat with a dead car, it would have been easy to panic. Instead, we kept each other calm, called for help, secured a rental, and carried on with our trip. That experience taught me a lot about what to do when a crisis hits.

Business is the same. Just like a vehicle, our best-laid plans sometimes break down. A staffer may send an offensive tweet on the company account, forgetting it’s not his own. A change in policy or products may lead to an army of angry customers commenting on your client’s Facebook page. No matter the case, there are three steps that can take you from being broken down and put your client’s company back on the road to success.

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To Post, Or Not To Post?

 

To Post or Not to Post

When advising clients regarding content strategy, one question that always arises is “How often should we put up new content?” Some folks advocate a daily posting schedule to a blog, with more frequent posting to Twitter and other social media. Others advocate a weekly blog post, with daily or every-other-day to Facebook or other social media. This article will look at both sides, focusing on blog post frequency.

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At a Glance – Content Marketing Essentials

This week I was contacted by MandLoys Digital Agency, asking me to review their content marketing site and consider featuring it on this blog. After reviewing the site, I was more than happy to do so – this is a high quality overview of content marketing.

One thing that was impressive is the way they use parallax scrolling as you view the page, giving you part slide-show and part infographic. In addition, the information is a great base-line overview of content marketing.

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Getting PR Used To Be Hard. Not Anymore.

 

PR Made Easy

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As a marketing firm, PR is part of your job. You don’t just create great content for your clients; you want others to create great content – in the form of media coverage. However, it’s generally really difficult to get noticed by the right media sources, and for too long the ubiquitous press release has been the most PR you could hope to gain.

Not anymore.

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Four Easy Ways to Help Your Clients Win the C-Suite

Winning the C-Suite

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In B2B relationships like providing marketing services, your primary contact is not your only concern. You can have a primary contact who is enthusiastic about your services and the possibilities of content marketing – the whole ball of wax – but if they cannot win the support of upper management, the deal will fall through.

Winning the divided attention of the C-Suite is no easy task. Upper managers have many visitors touting many pet projects to sort through. The key is to help your contact win support by standing out from the noise. Here are four ways to do it.

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How to Make Content Go Further – The Thematic Method

Thematic Content Creation Method

The top-down and bottom-up approaches to stretching content work great when you know what you want to share. However, sometimes the problem a client has is that they don’t feel they know what to say at all. This is where the Thematic Content Creation Method can be a lifesaver.

The Thematic Method allows your clients to stretch their content creation by focusing on a single theme each quarter. There are two approaches to themes. The first is the content-type thematic approach. In this case, your client chooses four content-types that they feel comfortable rotating through for the year. Continue Reading →

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How to Make Content Go Further: The Top-Down and Bottom-Up Methods

One challenge that everyone in content marketing faces is trying to create enough quality content. Depending on the content channels a brand wants to use, you can need tweets, blog posts and Facebook updates nearly every day, along with large content like reports on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Unfortunately, no one has an unlimited supply of money to hire writers to create this content, or an unlimited supply of creativity to create it themselves. Fortunately, there are three great ways to reimagine the use of existing content: The Top-Down Method, the Bottom-Up Method, and the Thematic Method.

Which method you choose has to do with what’s best and easiest for the particular client or brand. Today, I’ll describe the Top-Down and Bottom-Up Methods. Later in the week I’ll cover the Thematic Method.

Steps in the Top-Down Content Creation Method:

 

  1. Start with a large, well-researched report that relates to the brand’s offering or persona. I would recommend putting one out quarterly. This report can be advertised via Twitter and Facebook, and offered either at a premium or as a free download in return for an email enrollment to the brand’s mailings.
  2. Each month, release a medium-sized piece of content related to the large report. Ideas include a summary PDF, an interview with one of the key experts (or multiple interviews if there are multiple experts), a case study, or a PowerPoint presentation released to SlideShare.
  3. Each week, release two to three blog posts exploring topics and issues raised in the quarterly report.
  4. Each day, release Twitter updates, Facebook updates, and/or Pinterest pins related to the report. Also keep up on blog post comments on the brand blog, while sharing and posting comments on related articles around the web.

 

This is, of course, a very comprehensive example – a brand or marketing firm with fewer resources would need to adjust these steps, especially the daily updates.

The Bottom-Up Method is very similar, but you start with smaller pieces of information and aggregate them into a bigger whole each quarter.

Steps in the Bottom-Up Content Creation Method: 

 

  1. Start with daily brand-related updates to Twitter, Facebook, and/or Pinterest. Make sure the updates resonate with the brand’s overall story and persona. Comment on and share related online content with brand followers.
  2. Continue with two or three blog posts a week about the consumer’s pain points or driving desires. Speak to how the client’s industry can help the consumer.
  3. Each month, consider releasing a video or audio interview with an expert in the client’s field, speaking to the consumer needs. Email a newsletter to their enrolled prospects. Or, publish a case study or consumer success story based on their blog posts.
  4. Finally, on a quarterly basis, aggregate the brand’s content into a special newsletter, webinar, or best-practices guide.

 

Whichever way you choose to go, you want to keep the cycle moving in the direction of reimagining existing content into new forms. By doing this, you can not only help your client reach their prospects across the web, you will also save your firm money and staff hours in creating content.

Which method of content creation makes the most sense for your clients? Share in the comments! 

(Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Content on a Mission: 4 Focuses of Successful Content

Creating great content is vital, as I discussed Tuesday. But even great content won’t be effective if you don’t know why you created it and what you intend it to do. When you know your content’s mission, you’ll know exactly how, where, and when to position it for maximum effect.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is successful content deployment. It’s challenging, but attainable. Are you in?

And no, this blog post won’t self-destruct in 10 seconds. Take your time.

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5 Ways to Know You’ve Created Great Content

Everyone talks about creating ‘great content’. It’s said that great content will bring in customers, build community, and grow your business. However, it’s very hard to determine what folks mean when they throw around general terms like ‘great content’. Fortunately, there are ways to know if content will be highly effective. Here’s how to know if what you’ve created is truly great or destined for forgetfulness.

1.     Does it fit into your brand story? Great content doesn’t stand alone. Instead, it weaves itself into your existing brand story, strengthening it and adding detail. A good content strategy involves knowing who your brand is and sharing that story with your prospects throughout your content channels. Great content aids in creating and sharing that story with your target market.

2.     Does it speak to your ideal client? Each business and brand has an ideal client. Great content won’t talk about you and your ideas; instead it will connect directly to the life of your ideal client. You want content to draw someone in to your company story, and relate your story to their life. Truly great content addresses the needs, concerns, and fears of your target market and offers a solution.

3.     Does the content match the channel? Just like a great football player can look like a dud on the wrong team, great content won’t be effective if it’s not properly formatted for the channel. If your content is heavy on graphics, consider Pinterest or a blog, but not Twitter (unless you link to another platform, of course). A great video can shine on Facebook or YouTube, but likely would fall flat on LinkedIn. When sharing your content, make sure you choose the platform that best showcases the message.

4.     Is the content memorable? Knowing what makes content memorable can be the difference between a piece that is a hit and a piece that is a flop. Think about what makes you remember something. Three ideas that come to mind for me are touching stories, great graphics, and easy takeaways that I can do immediately. Controversy can also be memorable, but be very careful before you incorporate controversy into your brand story. It can backfire badly.

5.     Is it shareable? Viral content is among the most effective for any brand. While it’s almost impossible to know what content will go viral, it’s very clear that the content must be easy to share in order to even stand a chance. Most social media sites have built-in sharing mechanisms. Make sure your blog and any other platforms also give your visitors a variety of ways to share content.

Creating great content isn’t easy. Not every piece of content you put out will be a homerun, but if you follow these five principles before you hit ‘publish’, you’ll be building a great content platform for your brand that will connect with customers and bring in sales.

(Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Content Strategy: 7 Questions You MUST Answer Before Committing

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Content strategy is a hugely important part of business growth. Interruptive advertising is having less of an impact while costing more money. Engaging customers and prospects through content is the way a business can improve its bottom line in today’s economy.

Unfortunately, many businesses jump headfirst into content creation without defining a strategy. Others take someone else’s strategy and assume it will work well in their industry. Both of these approaches are serious mistakes. At best, you’ll waste money. At worst, your leadership will give up on content altogether due to the mess and you’ll have a hard time getting them to try again.

To avoid these outcomes, it’s important to ask some key questions before committing to a content strategy for your business. These seven questions are vital if you want your strategy to succeed.

1.     Who is Your Company? With content, you will be creating a public face for your company. It’s important that this public face align with your company’s persona and values. If you project a rebel image, your blog shouldn’t be straight-laced. If you have a silly, fun feel, you want to make sure your social media presence reflects that. Projecting a cohesive image gives a clear picture to your prospects and engages the right audiences.

2.     Who are Your Stakeholders? Your stakeholders are the folks who are directly invested in your outcome. These will include the department funding the endeavor, the folks working on the content strategy, and usually the marketing or sales department. These are the folks you need to impress. Make sure you know their definition of success, and aim your strategy in that direction. When you do, you’ll excite the right people and maintain the support for your project.

3.     Where is the Company Now, and Where Should it be? Goal setting is a very important step before committing to a content strategy. Where is the company now in terms of exposure, sales, and brand recognition? What are you hoping to achieve by adding content strategy to the mix? Make sure your stakeholders are involved so you know what they want to see. Be specific. ‘Improve sales’ is tough to prove. ‘Grow sales by 1,000 units a month’ is measurable and your victory will be obvious.

4.     What’s Your Budget? The tough part about a content budget is that it may be shared or controlled by another department, such as marketing. In addition, there may be timeframes or goals attached to the funding. Be aware of all these factors when creating your content strategy.

5.     What’s Your Staff? Social media is a great place to engage but it takes a lot of time. If you don’t have the manpower to fuel and maintain a 4-platform strategy, don’t do it. A partial, undermanned social media presence is more damaging than it is helpful. Figure out how much time you have in staff hours, and limit your scope accordingly.

6.     Who and Where are Your Customers? Too many companies try strategies that worked for others, rather than what will work for them. Before you start on a content marketing strategy, make sure that you are planning to be where your customers and prospects already hang out. Do they use social media? What platforms? Do they read blogs? What articles do they share?  What about specialized message boards or online magazines? Keep in mind that there’s more to content than blogging and Facebook. Collecting this information will help you understand how to be effective with your limited hours and dollars.

7.     What Content Already Exists? Before starting a content sharing strategy, it’s important to take stock of what content your company has already created. Think broadly – this can be anything from FAQ’s and marketing brochures to already created websites or blogs. This existing content can be a great boon to a new content strategy, as you can simply repurpose it for your launch. In addition, old product descriptions or even customer service questions can be a goldmine of new content ideas.  

As you can see, a content plan can’t simply be picked off a list and jumped into. However, with the right planning and answers to these seven questions, you’ll be primed to commit to a great content strategy that meets your goals and impresses your stakeholders.

What other questions should be asked as you consider content strategy? Let me know in the comments!

Anna

Are you looking for help with great content creation? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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