Content Matters

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Create engaging content from your offline events

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Looking for a great source of content? Don’t overlook offline events. That’s the suggestion of Mykel Nahorniak, CEO of online event calendar company Localist, He offers “8 Ways to Transform Events into Powerful Content Marketing” in a recent post on the Content Marketing Institute.

Among his suggestions:

  • Engage with attendees before and after your event: Start with a press release about your event. Create a blog post and a series of posts for your social media platforms. Create a hashtag specific to your event and use it to communicate with attendees ahead of the date
  • Keep the conversation going: Encourage attendees to blog about their experience and post photos of the event on their social media networks. On your part, re-tweet, like and share the content that your attendees create. Designate someone to monitor mentions of your event on social media platforms and engage with those who are posting.
  • Employ email: Develop engaging emails about the event as reminders. Also prominently place information about the event in your email content. From the information, direct readers to other event-related content such as your blog posts or hashtags.
  • Create an app: Create a mobile calendar app so that attendees can access event details.

Read all the Nahorniak’s suggestions to leverage your event into engaging content

Here are a few other things to keep in mind about leveraging your events for your content marketing program:

  • Plan your content: Identify certain aspects of the event to build content around. After the event, create a series of blog posts, articles, SlideShare presentations or white papers around these issues for posting on your website.
  • Plan something special: Apart from usual speeches, panel discussions or exhibits, plan something at your event that is fun or memorable to motivate attendees to get behind promoting your event.
  • Have reliable WiFi: Considering the explosion in the use of mobile devices, don’t be surprised if attendees show up with smartphones and tablets. That can put a lot of demand on a WiFi connection. Make sure to account for a potentially high volume of usage during your event planning.

How have you used an event as part of your content marketing campaign?

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Written by Barbara Kohn

May 9th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

“Excuse Me; May I Buy Your Product?” – The Inbound Marketing Payoff

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Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to promote your company and customers just beat a patch to your door? You don’t need to invent a better mousetrap to get that kind of customer attention. You just need to find a better way to communicate with them to get them to want to do business with you. That requires better content to attract them and better channels to reach them.

Thanks to the web, customers have become self-selecting and proactive in their search for new goods and services. Rather than responding to outbound marketing – advertisements, billboards, TV spots, etc. – they are more inclined to respond to inbound marketing – a two-way dialogue often empowered by social media. If you think about it another way, you are earning the trust of your inbound marketing prospects instead of shouting at them to get their attention.

Inbound marketing is all the rage for some obvious reasons:

  • 44 percent of direct mail is never opened.
  • 86 percent of viewers skip through commercials.
  • 84 percent of younger buyers (25 to 34 years old) have clicked out of a website because of an intrusive popup ad or an irrelevant ad.
  • The cost per lead in inbound marketing is substantially less than traditional outbound programs.

What drives inbound marketing programs is content – blogs, social media posts, white papers, videos, podcasts. You have to use informative content that entertains and adds value to create a positive connection with the consumer. Once you engage with the consumer, he or she is more likely to take a closer look at your products, feel a connection to your brand, and ultimately make a purchasing decision.

While this is a better mousetrap, it requires patience and persistence. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it often never happens. But permission-based inbound marketing campaigns, where you invite participation, are always less expensive and promote greater customer loyalty than outbound programs.

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Written by Tom Woolf

April 29th, 2013 at 2:16 am

The Three Essential Steps to Killer Content

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No matter what your marketing program initiative – a social media campaign, blogging, direct email, a new web site – you need the right message to appeal to your target audience. That means going back to basics if you want to create killer content. You need to talk to your clients in a language that resonates with them, sharing content that is interesting and appealing. Remember that content marketing is all about engaging in an online exchange, and good conversation is driven by good content.

As we have said in the past, good content is like good storytelling – your objective is to tell your story in a way that engages your audience; that resonates with them so they learn to trust you, trust what you have to say, and they follow you. Building online trust as a credible source is what keeps your audience coming back for more. And if they trust you they will do business with you.

So how do you create awesome content that speaks to your clients? There are three essential steps:

1. Listen. Too often, organizations launch into an online marketing program without testing the waters first. They start posting without thinking, flooding their online channels with messages that basically say, “He, we’re here! Isn’t it cool being online! Want to buy our stuff?” Boring and obnoxious! No one will engage with you to hear a sales pitch. When creating content, your goal is to provide information that is both valuable and promotes your brand. You want to be seen as an expert with something interesting to share. To do that, you have to understand what your audience wants to hear. Listen before you leap.

  • Who are the influences in your market? Those are the people to follow. See what they are saying on their blog, on Twitter, and on their Facebook page. They probably have interesting subjects that you can talk about.
  • What are you peers talking about? What topics are hot in the Web in your market? You can use keywords and key phrases to uncover similar conversations? Search the webs, the news feeds, the blog feeds, and elsewhere to see what others are saying about those topics.
  • Where does your target audience hang out? If you want to reach consumers, are they on Facebook or Twitter? If they are professionals do they have their own blog, their own online forum, or are they on LinkedIn? Find relevant conversations and follow the thread. And remember to use those same online locations to share your own content.

2. Empathize. Every good writer has to make an emotional connection with his or her audience. Your content has to show empathy for your reader. Think like a reader; project yourself into his or her shoes and see what fits. What information do they want from you? What makes their lives easier? What obstacles prevent them from engaging with you?

Your value proposition, or if you prefer your brand promise, needs to align with your target market. To do that effectively, you have to understand what your clients want and how you can fulfill their needs and desires. That kind of empathy needs to be reflected in your content.

A proven marketing tool to help you understand your audience is creating a profile or “persona.” Create a portrait of your ideal client and use that persona or character to test assumptions about your product or service – what would your customer do? And don’t’ be shy about asking your customers and online followers what they think and what they want to hear from you.

3. Engage. Once you understand what makes them tick you are ready to engage. Be an information resource. Offer advice and answer questions about topics of interest and that are relevant to your brand. Be sure to approach your topics with confidence, as an expert, so your followers understand why you should be a trusted resource.

Remember that content is the tool you need to build an online rapport. Once your followers become comfortable with you and look to you for advice on your areas of expertise, they will seek you out when they need your help. That’s how you use content to build your business.

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Written by Tom Woolf

April 19th, 2013 at 4:28 pm

What’s in a Name? Tips About Naming Strategies

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In addition to providing content to drive our clients’ marketing programs, from time to time we also are called on to assist with naming conventions and branding strategies. Usually a client is trying to come up with something clever and memorable for a new webinar series or to make their latest service or product stand out, and we put on our wordsmithing hats and see what brainstorm we can come up with. There a number of rules about branding and product naming strategies that you want to apply.

First, however, understand what we mean by a “brand.” In the context of this blog, we are thinking about product or service “branding” as an extension of an established brand. A brand is not a logo or a product name. Rather, a brand is an attitude (ideally positive) that has been built up over time about a company and its products. A solid brand conveys an image, an identity that is characterized by a feeling or quality. Think of Volvo and the brand is about safety, not just cars. Think about Coca Cola and the brand speaks about refreshment, not just Coke the product.

So when we are tasked with creating a new name we want to make sure it reinforces the core brand. We also want to make sure it is clear, catchy, memorable, and searchable.

For example, iPhone, Droid, and Galaxy are more memorable and more in line with corporate image than, say, a Motorola XT886. The name speaks to cool – it’s easy to recall and easier to tweet, post, blog, and tell your friends. It creates an association that reinforces the mother brand.

Then there’s the practical stuff about product naming…

1. Is it trademarked? It’s amazing how many naming ideas are not original but actually someone else’s intellectual property. Make sure you are on solid legal ground before choosing a name. (There are rules about whether commonly used terms can be trademarked, and when, whether products have to be in competition, etc., so when in doubt, consult an expert.)

2. Simple is better. If you can, find a phrase or term that is descriptive and evocative, but not too complex. Simple one and two-syllable words tend to stand out and are more memorable.

3. Repurpose real words. You can take something that already exists and give it new meaning (Apple, Adobe, Yelp, Yahoo!) or come up with spelling variations (Digg, flickr).

4. Use obscure words or phrases. Break out your high school Latin dictionary or look for descriptive terms from an obscure source. Names like Plaxo have their roots in foreign languages.

5. Think about acronyms. Acronyms can be powerful and memorable, such as IBM and AOL. Bebo, for example, is both an Armenian name and also stands for “Blog Early Blog Often.”

6. Try puns and word play. I like to use puns and memorable phrases in headlines and descriptors, and they can work for product names as well (e.g. Write On Content Professionals).

7. Think about search. You know that it’s going to take a while for the new product to become a household name, even with your target business audience. If you incorporate common search terms in the product name, or in a product tagline or descriptor, chances are it will appear more frequently in online search results.

Don’t go overboard but try to create a name that can grow with your brand. And no matter how you approach naming of your next company or product, it’s best to apply the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

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Written by Tom Woolf

April 10th, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Content Headlines: Write Headlines That Click With Your Readers

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Is the day of the great headline over? Here’s one of my favorites: “Crapper honored for flushing toilet.” It ran many years ago in a Chicago newspaper; and as the copy editors intended, cracked me up. The article was my introduction to Sir Thomas Crapper, the 19th Century plumber credited with inventing the flushing toilet. Turns out Sir Crapper’s claim to fame was a bit more myth than reality. He actually didn’t invent the modern convenience. He did, however, increase its popularity (sounds like a pretty easy marketing job) and improve upon the original model, according to Wikipedia.

Sir Thomas aside, the pursuit of web rankings has resulted in a lot of pretty forgettable headlines. There’s nothing memorable about “Ten Ways to Poach an Egg” but it just might show up in a Google Search on poached eggs. Localize it and your chances of it moving up the Google food chain are even better – “Ten Ways to Poach an Egg in Poughkeepsie.”

Still, the goal of a headline remains the same as it always has – to get someone to read your content. Today, you also want to be found by search engines.  The goals are not mutually exclusive.

Here are six tips for writing effective headlines:

  1. Figure out what works: Whether it’s your blog or other online content, track which headlines and posts get the most page views, time on site and bounce rate. Maybe it’s the topic, keywords or headlines. You should be able to get some idea what resonates with your audience.
  2. Be clear: Don’t expect the reader to look at your content if they don’t know what it’s about. Make sure you headline clearly indicates what the copy is about.
  3. Keywords count:  To make sure you optimize search, include the appropriate keyword or phrase.
  4. Size matters: Keep your headline short. Around 55 to 70 characters is optimum to ensure search engines don’t cut off your titles because they exceed the maximum length.
  5. Use powerful language: You don’t have a lot of characters, so use them wisely. Use the most powerful words you can and cut extras.
  6. Use catchy adjectives. Keywords and short headlines don’t preclude catchy.  Try to use bold adjectives to amp up your headlines.
  7. Tried and true: Headlines that drive readership often:
  • Ask or answer a question: What would you do with a million dollars?
  • Are controversial: Five reasons cold calls don’t work anymore
  • Convey a benefit: Tablets boost small business productivity
  • Use statistics:  50 percent of small business owners don’t take vacations
  • Include a number as in in ‘Ten ways to poach an egg with great results every time”

Great headlines take time. Don’t rush them. Do them right and you’ll be flush with readers. (You knew that was coming, right?)

 

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

April 1st, 2013 at 12:15 am

Using Content to Tap Key Motivators: Greed, Fear, and Risk

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I saw an article posted recently by the Content Marketing Institute entitled “2 Foolproof Methods for Getting Content Marketing Buy-In.” It got me thinking; what really motivates people to buy into to a content marketing campaign? There have to more than two motivators?

Before everything else, whether you are talking to chief executives, marketers, your peers, or anyone else you all have something in common – you are human. There are basic human motivators that date back to the Neolithic Age that still drive today. The big ones are greed, fear and risk, and most other motivators are subsets of greed, fear, and risk. If you understand how to apply these motivators as part of your content marketing strategy, then you will be able to get more buy in from your target audience.

Let’s consider greed for starters. Back in the days of the caveman, greed would be a great motivator to steal someone’s mammoth steak, but today it’s all about commanding market share and market dollars. If you can deliver content that outshines the competition and drives more business, then you have something compelling. If you can develop a campaign that minimizes cost and risk and provides a sure-fire sales opportunity, then you can get buy in.

How do you tap greed with content? Try offering sure-fire tips to solve a marketing problem. Create a white paper on sure-fire ways to build business. Offer success stories showing how someone else made a fortune with your problem or service. In short, make an offer that is too good to pass up. If you can create a compelling story using greed as a motivator, you will get a higher response.

Fear, however, can be an even more compelling motivator. Just as the caveman is motivated by fear to run from the saber-toothed tiger, you want to tap into fear to promote action. Use your content to address a dire problem. What about a new industry regulation that could cost your prospects a lot of money. Create a targeted message that uses fear as a motivator within a target group. For example, we did a white paper project for a technology company that solved social media compliance problems for financial service firms. The white paper was a big hit because the consequences for non-compliance could be millions of dollars in fines. Fear motivates like nothing else, so address well-defined problems with solutions that prevent big consequences.

And then there’s risk. In his article on “2 Foolproof Methods…,” author Joe Pulizzi says one method is using a pilot program is one way to get marketing buy-in. I think of this as a means to eliminate risk. A pilot program lets you test the waters before making a big fiscal commitment. Similarly, with content, if you can offer a “try before you buy” approach you are eliminating risk. Offering free tips and techniques means there is no commitment, which means a higher response rate. Reassure your audience that any information they offer won’t be shared. Be helpful without asking for too much in return. Eliminating risk, combined with something that promotes greed or fear, and you have content that will get a response.

So no matter how terrific a product or service you have to offer, and no matter how sweet the offer, remember that your respondents are still people. Use tactics that motivate people. Be sure to appeal to basic instincts and the logical arguments to close a sale follow. After all, we’re only human.

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Written by Tom Woolf

March 19th, 2013 at 4:24 pm

How to make sure your call to action gets results

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Are you wondering why your website traffic is high but visitors aren’t clicking on your call to action? You may be experiencing a similar situation with your email marketing – good open rate but a weak click through on the call to action to download a white paper or sign up for a webinar.

The problem may not be your offering; it may be that your call to action isn’t clear or conveying the right message to encourage your customers and prospects to click through. In order to achieve the marketing results you want, a call to action needs to motivate your targets to act immediately on whatever you are inviting them to do.

An effective call to action needs:

Strong words: There should be no confusion or misunderstanding about what you want your audience to do and what they will get by clicking. Language that inspires action includes:

  • Book now
  • Buy now
  • Download white paper
  • Sign up for presentations

Value:  The call to action is about what your customers and prospects gain by acting; it’s not about what your business does.  “Always on surveillance safeguards your home 24/7 – learn more.” is more powerful than “Learn about our about our new home video security system.”

Immediacy:  Create a sense of urgency to inspire your audience to click on the call to action as soon as they see it.  “Prevent cyber criminals from taking your business down. Find out how” creates a greater sense of urgency than “Find out how to  protect your company’s data.”

Design: Make sure your call to action is clearly visible. You don’t want your call to action to dominate the page, but it should be big enough to be easily noticed. Contrasting colors also can help your call to action stand out from the rest of your copy.

Web page location: Try to place your call to action at or near the top of your web page. Your audience may miss it If you place the call to action at the bottom.

Link to landing page: Create a separate landing page for your offer. This makes it easy for your audience to find the information they need.

When you create a call to action that clicks with your audience, they will respond in kind.

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Written by Barbara Kohn

March 12th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Content Overload: How Much is Too Much?

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One of the most hotly debated topics in direct marketing is how often do you touch your customers and prospects? Do you send out a weekly direct mail piece? Monthly? How often do you blog? Daily? Weekly? How often do your prospects and customers want to hear from you? When does what you have to say stop being valid and start being spam?

There is no simple answer to this question. The flippant answer is, as long as your content is interesting and relevant, your audience will pay attention. But you don’t want to be the boor at the social media party and try to hog the floor. You can’t. There are too many competitors for your audience’s attention. So no matter how valuable the information you have to share, be judicious.

For many marketers, the number of touches dictates the amount of content they need to develop. That means how much budget do you need to commit, and how do you measure ROI. Assessing the ROI of an intangible such as engagement is tough, but it’s easy to overdo it.

Let’s look at an interesting statistic from Lab42, which conducted a survey on “Frequency of Posts, Unwanted Contact Discourage Brand Likes On Facebook”. What they found was that the more often a brand posts, the more of a turnoff it can be for Facebook followers. Of those surveyed:

  • 47% did not want to be contacted by brands on Facebook at all
  • 73% stated they had unliked or unfollowed brands for posting too frequently on Facebook
  • 1% of users who ‘Like’ a major brand actually engage with the Brand or purchase the product

Extrapolating from this survey, your online followers want to hear from you, but not too often. If you post updates too frequently or offer new information too frequently, it will actually turn people off. I know in my own experience, I get daily emails from certain brands and services and I have learned to ignore them; in fact I delete them without reading them. Those emails that get my attention are from brand I follow that send an email every week, or every few weeks; I can spare a minute to find out what’s new if I don’t have to do it every day.

So when developing a content marketing campaign, consider both quantity and quality. Do you have an awesome white paper with lots of great information? Why not break it up into bite-sized chunks you can offer over time, at intervals to promote interest. Or send out a monthly newsletter with information that provides a service for your audience and has value. If you can find that magic combination of delivering interesting information at the right intervals, you will be able to build a loyal following that really wants to hear what you have to share.

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Written by Tom Woolf

March 7th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Appetizer versus Entree: Don’t Overstuff Your Content

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“While I have your attention, let me tell you about…” This attitude is the bane of content marketing strategies. Too often, marketing managers want to cram 10 pounds of brand messages into a 5 pound bag. The truth is if you bury your audience in content, chances are they won’t pay attention to any of it, and they won’t come back.

Effective content marketing is focused, giving the audience enough information to satisfy them based on whatever forum you are using. Social media, for example, thrives on sound bites. You use images, short messages, and content that can be taken in at a glance to drive awareness. You can use social media as an appetizer to drive traffic to the main course, such as a case study, white paper, or webinar, but you should always be aware of how much information you audience will be willing to absorb.

Infographics provide an interesting example of how to overstuff your content. You have undoubtedly seen infographics posted on Facebook, blogs, company web sites, and elsewhere. The problem with many Infographics is they suffer from infographic overload; they try to tell the entire history of mankind in a single graphic. The more information you stuff into an infographic, the harder it is to digest. You should reserve infographics for specific campaigns and content programs. As Leslie Bradshaw, co-founder of JESS3 and one of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Tech, told CCO Magazine:

Infographics are a high-level tactic that are good for educated audiences; they are not actually good for consumer audiences. Consumer audiences are much more likely to share something on Facebook that’s really ‘snackable.’ Think about Pinterest. Those are the pieces of content we call snackable content—short, bold statements. If we produce content that has just one or two data points, we call it a data graphic.

For JESS3, a data graphic is Infographic lite; a short graphic that offers one or two data points to tell a story. This kind of graphic is idea for Facebook of other social media outlets, and you can link it back to something meatier, such an infographic or white paper.

If you feed your audience bite-sized bullets, the trail of breadcrumbs will eventually lead to the heartier content where you can tell an in-depth story where you can build a case for your product or services with examples, ROI statistics, and more.

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Written by Tom Woolf

March 5th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

How a book can boost your content marketing

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There was a time when the idea of writing a book and getting it published would have seemed like a pipe dream; but that’s no longer the case. Self-publishing platforms and eBooks in particular have turned the publishing world upside down and given rise to thousands of titles on a host of topics for even the most niche audiences.

So why don’t you write a book? I’m not talking about the Great American Novel. I’m referring to a book about your business, which no one knows better than you; or your marketplace or some new development on the horizon impacting your industry.

Customers and prospects, partners, suppliers, investors and even prospective employees could benefit from your knowledge and experience. Your book also can help you land speaking engagements. Trade show and conference coordinators consider authors prime candidates for featured speakers or panel members.

Make your eBook a key piece of your content marketing strategy. For starters, offer your eBook to your target audiences to introduce your products and/or services. Blog about it on your own blog or in guest posts. Share excerpts in Tweets and Facebook posts. Post questions on LinkedIn to your groups referencing sections in your book.

Choose your topic

There are many tips on writing your eBook from choosing a title to research to publishing platforms. For now, here are some tips to help you choose your topic. We’ll explore the other topics in future blog posts.

  • What keeps your customers up at night: Consider what problems your customers face in running their business. What topic would be most helpful to them?
  • Research what’s written: Check blogs, magazines and books to see what’s already been written and what’s missing? What question has yet to be explored in depth? Also if you write a blog, analyze what posts get the most traffic. That can tell you what topics are of most interest to your audience. Do the same with other blogs in your industry.
  • Use Google keyword search: Try keywords and phrases to see what terms are most often searched. For example, try something like 50 ideas for small business marketing if your expertise is marketing or 10 ways to move your business to the clouds if you an IT consultant or have a cloud-based offering.
  • Check your website analytics: Where are people going on your site and what keywords are they using to find you.
  • Lessons learned: What lessons have you learned from others or on your own about running your business you want to impart.
  • What matters to you:  Do you have a passion for something you want to share? Can you instill that passion in others or teach them how to do something?

As the saying goes, “there’s a book inside everyone.” Now just might be the time for you to write yours.

 

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 28th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Marketing

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