There has been a lot of talk about Content Marketing lately. What is it? And what are the benefits and the challenges of producing it? In an effort to really educate myself on this topic, I’ve looked at info across a variety of sources: blogs, books, websites, and subject matter experts. A major hurdle in Content Marketing is creating content that actually engages your audience. I think that in order to achieve this, you really have to know your audience, and about some of the challenges they face. If you can find a way to deliver content to them that is useful, then trust is established. Ideally over time, this audience rewards you with their business and they become not just customers but loyal customers.
One book that I’ve been reading, “Content Rules …” by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman has received much praise – and has some “rules” for success in Content Marketing that I thought were pretty helpful. These are great – think of these as your 10 Commandments of Content Marketing (11 actually). So let’s get right to it.
Rule #1: Embrace being a publisher
Know what you’re signing up for here. Let go of any notion that you should create product-centric messages. The idea is to establish your company as a reliable source of information. And to do this in as casual and accurate way as possible.
Rule #2: Insight inspires originality
If you know your audience and/or your customers, then you know their challenges. It isn’t enough just to create awesome content. This isn’t an If You Build It, They Will Come type of situation. In addition to your content’s awesomeness, it HAS to be useful. If you don’t know what keeps your customers up at night, then learn it.
Rule #3: Build Momentum
Good content has an objective. Don’t just fly by the seat of your pants and write a blog post on say .. the pros and cons of self-buttering toast – unless you feel really strongly about the self-buttering toast thing. OR unless you feel the self-buttering toast thing is a particular concern of your audience. And actually, if self-buttering toast plays THAT big of a role for you… I’m not sure this is going to be the most useful way to spend your time. My POINT is, have a plan – and create your content to flow towards that objective without “selling”. Have a plan -and remember, this is about creating something useful, not creating an ad (see rule #6).
Rule #4 (One of my favorites):
There are so many marketing buzzwords – too many really. Oh – what are some good ones … Spearhead, Gain Some Efficiencies, Calibrate Expectations, and Holistic Approach – geez. Use your own voice to communicate things that your company cares about. Kill the corporate speak – no one wants to read that – TRUST me. You know you rolled your eyes when I got to “Calibrate Expectations”. Most importantly, it will make you sound really un-cool.
Rule #5: Reimagine; don’t recycle
This ties in with #3 – and isn’t really a deal-breaker for me. But, nonetheless – The concept here is really just planning. Good content can be repurposed in many different ways, but is intended from the beginning to be used across various platforms and formats, rather than being recycled as an afterthought.
Rule #6: Share or solve; don’t sell
Again, this is about creating something useful. Share something useful, help solve a problem, create a tool, provide reliable information. But don’t get on a soap box to let the world know how wonderful your company or product is. Just get rid of the soap box for a while.
Rule #7: Show; don’t just tell
Good content is not about storytelling; it’s about telling a true story well. It also isn’t about selling, convincing, or preaching. Present your content, and let people make up their minds for themselves.
Rule #8: Do something unexpected
Adding an element of surprise, on occasion, drives viral sharing and enhances your company’s personality a bit. (Now here might be the proper place to test out those self-buttering toast opinions!)
Rule #9: Stoke the campfire
Good content sparks interaction and ignites conversation between you, prospects, customers, and across social media. Keep it fresh.
Rule #10: Create wings and roots
Alright I get it. At first glance the title of this rule appears to be in direct violation of my own #4. It looks like something embroidered on a baby pillow or splashed as some “buzz word” across a God Awful Power Point Presentation… The irony is not lost on me. Fortunately, neither is the message. “Ground” your content squarely in your opinion, but give it “wings” to soar freely and be shared across all social platforms.
Rule #11: Play to your strengths
It isn’t necessary to create everything: a blog, a podcast, a whitepaper, videos, and webinars. Find what you do best. It is essential that you do at least one thing really, really well.
In the upcoming weeks we will be taking a look at Content Marketing, some examples that we think are really cool, and exploring some tips and best practices. We definitely want to hear from you. Seen or heard any content lately that you thought was genius? Seen any that was ridiculous? Or have questions, ideas or some tips of your own you can share? Let us know!