Every business, brand, or cause is interested in generating more leads. Whether it's building a donor list, attracting new leads from a targeted audience, moving people through a buying cycle, or increasing the service level of existing clients, organizations are only interested in content marketing (or any content marketing for that matter) if it ...
I experienced marketing first from the outside. As an account executive for a software company, I depended on marketing to help me generate leads, provide the materials I needed to move the prospect through the buying cycle, and to create a general awareness about the company and product before I ever engaged the lead.
I've also experienced marketing as the one responsible for doing the things that sales expects marketing to do.
Marketing has changed. You know that. I know that. Unfortunately, many who sit in executive level, decision-making positions still believe the marketing strategies they "cut their teeth" on 30 years ago still dominate the way consumers buy whatever it is you're selling.
Until a new generation of marketing professionals move into senior level roles, this tension will continue to exist.
Content marketing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Those who win stay in the game long enough to outlast—or out-create—everyone else ultimately achieves their goals. Just like training for an athletic event, there are certain habits you can build into your workflow to help you improve your content marketing stamina.
Consider these 10 suggestions ...
Content marketing is about building trust and value with those we want to connect with more than just when we need to “make a sale.” We want an ongoing relationship that creates community or a tribe. And community is formed around shared meaning—that which is meaningful to us and to others.
The 12 days of Christmas is more than a funny song that talks about a really unusual sequence of gifts. It reminds us that we must see life—even business—as an opportunity to give unusual and unexpected gifts. Those are the ones people remember ... and write songs about.
We should always value human relationships more than transactions.
The discipline of content marketing is forcing businesses to become publishers and publishers to become businesses. The person who wins in this equation is ... EVERYONE.
People win because they feel empowered through knowledge to make better decisions, whether that's a local contractor for home improvement or deciding on the next ERP system to purchase and implement for your growing business. Inbound marketing changes the game in that it reverses roles. Instead of the business or vendor finding the customer, the customer finds the business or vendor.
Google is a verb you can't afford not to use.
I talk with lots of different leaders and organizations who are trying to make sense of the digital marketing landscape. I get it. It's tough, confusing, and ever-evolving. If you've grown weary trying to keep up, don't sweat it. You're not alone.
It's less important that you master everything as you keep yourself open to the native content consumption habits of your core audience. The biggest temptation is simply to project your personal preferences onto your target audience. By default, you will communicate in ways that are convenient for you instead of effective at engaging others.
Where this gets tricky is in the delivery systems required to deliver timely, relevant, and specific information.
An effective Chief Content Officer (CCO) is a professional brand evangelist. He or she lives at the intersection of communications, marketing, and technology. He or she is not merely a manager of all the moving parts. Instead, a CCO looks for the common story thread that brings all the different pieces into focus so that each individual function can work together to advance larger organizational outcomes.
Here's what this looks like on a day-to-day basis.
Analytics, when spoken, is a word that can divide a room of people. It will intrigue some and send others mentally and emotionally somewhere else believing that it is "someone else's" responsibility or simply unethical and irresponsible.
Yet every person interested in engaging others in meaningful conversations should pay attention to analytics. Every communicator wants to make the most of the opportunities he or she is presented with. But too often our game plan is based on a whim, grounded in the success of others, and left to intuition. As is often said, "Hope is not a strategy."
I find myself saying this over and over again. The temptation for organizations is to just keep creating more and more messages while sending them across the most efficient and established models for the organization. The fatal flaw is in that logic is that the consumer controls the conversation now, not the organization. That means I can "mute" you, and you can't do anything about it.
The lies that organizations buy into is that ...
They constantly need to have something new to say.
They intuitively know the communication preferences of others.
They believe everyone likes to be reached in the same way.
None of these are true.
There are a growing number of people who have been writing blogs posts for a decade or more. If you've been doing it five days a week for 10 years, you've created 2,600 blog posts. If each of those blog posts were 500 words, you've written 1.3 million words. Wow! That's a lot of content.
The nerd in me wonders just how many nuggets of wisdom are buried in the ominous archived section of your blog. It seems an incredible waste of time and creativity if the content you share is only used once. Surely there is a way to breathe new life into latent blog post content. Don't you agree?
Content is an asset. But your ability to cash out its value depends on your willingness to reimagine new ways you might use it.
Nike is only half right. “Just do it” works until we need to “Just quit it.” Only the quitting part seems harder that the doing part. I had the privilege of hearing Bob Goff speak speak a few years ago.
If you’re not familiar with Bob (and I wasn’t before this conference), he is an attorney with a sense of humor. Impressive! (Those are rare by the way. And, of course, my apologies to my attorney. I do appreciate you.)
One of the things Bob said that stuck with me was he quits something every Thursday.
There are a lot of people who call themselves content writers. It seems to be the catch phrase in the freelance world. They reason, “If content marketing is in, then I need to call myself a content writer.”
This, understandably, creates confusion for those who hire content writers. After all, you can’t call yourself a doctor if you aren’t one, right? But this scenario often leads to frustration and disappointment and can throttle the openness a person has to working with content writers in the future.
For those of you who don't know my complete story (and why would you), there was a time in my career when I was responsible for the marketing, revenue, and operational efforts of a multi-million dollar business unit that sold offering envelopes to churches.
Offering envelopes are about as sexy as ... um .... NOTHING.
Nevertheless, we managed to sell more than 130 million of them a year to more than 12,000 customers.
I’m not anti-sales. I’ve been on both sides of the table—marketing and sales.
I understand the pressures both positions come with, and I believe both must work together if a company is going to consistently grow revenue—the lifeblood of any business. That being said, there are some unique characteristics that case studies can bring to the sales process.
These characteristics can help salespeople overcome an often jaded and defensive target.
Case studies are powerful tools that help others say things about you that you may not necessarily be able to say about your self.
An unexpected benefit of a case study is you get a great excuse to connect with some of your biggest champions and give them a chance to share their enthusiasm for you and your product or service with others in a powerful way.
The brand-as-publisher revolution is remapping go-to-market strategies for brands brave enough to do things differently.
Don't believe me? Just ask Red Bull. Somewhere along the way to sponsoring a guy who jumped out of a rocket to earth an energy drink company became a media company.
Some people think all books are magical. They mistakenly believe all books possess some mystical reality that contains timeless truths to be pondered and consumed over long periods of silence.
There are books like that. It’s true. But that doesn’t mean every book has to be like that. In fact, most books aren’t.
Books are simply an ecosystem of ideas organized into a consumable format.
Content marketing has come to the enterprise, and the enterprise is the natural next frontier as content marketing matures.
What should you expect when launching a content marketing effort within your company? In other words, how do you know if you're doing it right?
Here are a few markers to identify along the way ...
Executive leaders are critical thinkers, experienced decision makers, and relentless about only investing in things that will move the brand or organization forward. This posture intimidates some marketers who casually borrow the language of content marketing, but it shouldn’t. Instead, it should be an opportunity to win over the C-Suite to the value or content strategy.
The difference between a marketing professional who dabbles in content marketing and one who fully understands content strategy is the ability to translate organizational goals into concepts, concepts into ideas, ideas into tactics, and tactics into a system that can be defined, measured, and adjusted over time.
A good, effective content strategist understands and appreciates the fundamental value of every business: revenue creation.