Not that "F" word!
That's another post for another time. I'm talking about F-O-C-U-S in your content and messaging strategy. The ability to stay on target until you determine the campaign is a horrible failure or a raging success.
Too many give up before they give an idea the chance to succeed.
Brand Journalism is a vehicle to let your biggest fans talk about the impact you've had on their business, brand, or cause. And it spreads that message through one of the oldest forms of communication ... storytelling. Too many times we undervalue what can be transferred between people when the message is couched inside a story.
Stories still matter. No matter what you're selling.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to write a book about incredible people doing amazing things.
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.
I know a lot of writing hobbyists who are in love with the words and sentences they put on a page. You know who they are. They admire the work of people who have been dead of a few hundred years and lament the decline of true litrery genius in our culture. Personally, I don't think literary genius is extinct anymore than I believe the best writers are found in history books. Either way, that conversation misses the point completely.
The truth is professional writers make a living writing words for others—whether it is for an individual or business.
Google Trends measures search volume of keywords or phrases. If Google is the number one search engine and the first place most people go to find the information they need, then indexing search volume and our ability to quickly compare different words or phrases are vital to successfully and consistently being found online.
Essentially, our ability to identify the words other people are using to find—or not find—you or your service, brand, or company is the difference between being found organically within searches or being buried deep within the Google ecosystem forever.
If you’re new to the marketing world, this type of functionality is EPIC. It used to only be available to big companies who could afford to staff people who loved doing things like polynomial regression analysis and interpretive analytics.
But now this keyword research tool is now available to you ... today ... and at no cost.
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."
You can't fix stupid. Sorry. This is my fundamental skepticism of depending on corporate policies to control [sic] behavior on social media.
I'm not a huge fan of rules of any kind but especially when it comes to social media. That being said, I'm beginning to develop an appreciation for social media policies as a way to help businesses, brands, and causes focus their work in the age of influence through digital communications.
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.
Asking questions is easy. Asking the right questions is hard.
When you get the opportunity to interview other people, you get to step into their world for a moment in time. The goal is to see the world through their eyes, so you can share their perspective with other people.
If this is something you're interested in doing but don't feel like you're very good at, here are some tips I've picked up after more than a decade of interviewing people in chase of the story.
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.
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 ...