No one wants you to tell them their baby is ugly. Even you.
It’s easy to be a critic of everyone else’s work, but what about your own? How can you be sure the efforts and resources you are investing for some expected outcome are actually going to deliver that outcome? And how many times do you invest months of time, effort, energy, and budget dollars only to come out on the other end completed dumbfounded it didn’t work out as intended?
In today’s business climate, you can’t afford to be wrong for very long.
Being data-driven is all the rage. Some would consider it a fad or trend that will pass soon enough. The only problem with that is data is a natural byproduct of how you and I engage with the world. Whether it's as a consumer or business leader, data informs our decisions and captures what we—as well as our constituents—want, desire, or need.
Dashboards and data aren't futuristic aspirations anymore. They are now and have already become part of the normal mode of operations for many in society.
It was not until I found myself as a member of the management group of a national comprehensive consultancy when I was faced with one of the biggest challenges of my career. I needed to figure out how an underperforming line of business that had been previously acquired could be turned into a growing, healthy revenue-producing unit.
I knew the answer had to be buried in the data. However, how was I supposed to access it? I am not a quantitive analyst or a coder. Even if I could get my hands on the data, how would I process it?
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.
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.
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.
The biggest mistake copywriters make is they assume the same copy can work in different channels. The default is to work toward efficiency. Write it once and then let design craft it for the desired distribution channel. Only it's not that simple.
Each channel has characteristics that make them distinct and different from the others.
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.
Marketing will never be the same.
There was a time when desktop computing skills (remember that phrase?) moved from optional to required. Then, employees had to understand the Web. Now, no organization can afford to hire people in their marketing department who don't understand social networking and mobile engagement. My prediction is that every new hire for any professional position will one day have to demonstrate a proficiency in social and digital media.
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.
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.
Every client wants to know three things when they hire freelance or contract creatives:
Will he or she accomplish what I need him to do?
Will he or she deliver it in the form that I need it delivered?
Will he or she meet my deadline?
I live on both sides of the table. I sometimes set deadlines. Other times, I am given deadlines. Either way, there is purpose and function behind every production schedule.
I have to admit I'm a litte crazy about dates.
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.
Success, like alcholol, can intoxicate our minds and habits and leave us limited in our capaity to react to the circumstances happening around us. Marketing has changed but few organizations have reconsidered their approach and are forced to get comfortable "managing decline" instead of seeing explosive growth.
Instead, marketing should be about helping people do things they've never done before. It should be more about connecting the dots and filling in the gaps rather than manipulation and fear. While old school marketing still has its merits, it's not the only path brands, businesses, and causes have available to take.
Marketing has three fundamental dimensions ...
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."