How Do I Do Content Marketing?

How do I do content marketing?

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It’s actually super simple.  

See, first you start out by being just a little bit out there.  Awkwardly so, perhaps.  Like this alpaca. (Or is it a llama?  I always get those two confused.)

How do I do content marketing?

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Then, you take some quiet time to meditatively… meditate on the subject you plan to discuss.  This can be a long process for many content marketers because their lives are full of distractions.

How do I do content marketing?

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Many, including myself, find that setting up a comforting routine – such as a selection of relaxing music or a stimulating beverage – can ease them down the road of creativity and productivity.

How do I do content marketing?

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Once you start down that pathway, your work is more than half done!

Creating content is as simple as 1-2-3!  Which is to say, it sounds really simple in English, but if you don’t speak the language, it’s complete gibberish.  And even if you understand the basics of counting in English, it’s seeming simplicity masks the fact that there are such things as negative numbers, and fractions, dividing by zero, and imaginary numbers too!

But, you can do it.  Trust me.

How do I do content marketing?

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And once you do, the beauty and harmony of the words, images, call-to-action, persona-reaching copywriting wordsmithing and psychographic soul-rending prose you created will be an amazing thing to behold.  

Now just send it out there into the world and let it fly!  

I guarantee you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams!

How Do I Do Content Marketing – The Truth

How do I do content marketing?

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Ok, so maybe all of the above is a bunch of B.S.

But the fact is, “doing” content marketing really is a simple process.  Not easy, mind you, but simple.

You find that one person – we’ll call them “Joe Target-Market” – and you find out who they are.  What they like, what they hate, what keeps them up at night, what makes them throw the remote down in frustration… and what makes them buy.

Then, you speak to them.  

And you explain, as one human being to another, why they should give you their money.

And you do it over and over again, forever.

How do I do content marketing?  Here’s how.

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Content Strategy – Delivering Stories People Want to Hear

Content Strategy Delivering Stories People Want to Hear

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There’s a fine line between keeping up with the Joneses and looking exactly like the Joneses.

One usually makes good business sense, the other just makes you look silly.

When it comes to your content strategy, there’s going to inevitably be some “keeping up with the Joneses” involved.  For instance, if your biggest competitor is currently snagging 60% of their leads off Twitter, you’d be a fool not to put some emphasis on creating Twitter-friendly content and working to attract the attention of some of those leads.

But if that’s all you’re doing: “me too” content with no soul or unique voice, then you’re missing the point, brother.

The Key to Effective Content Strategy: Delivering Stories People Want to Hear

To avoid this all-too-common trap, the first thing you need to do is determine what your target audience really wants to hear.

Remember, this is what they want to hear, not what you want them to hear or what you think they want to hear.  

So how do you figure this out?

It involves listening with an open mind to what’s being discussed elsewhere online, and giving your audience every opportunity to offer feedback to you directly.  Can you include a brief survey at various touchpoints in the buyer’s journey?  Encourage and respond to blog comments?  Inspire conversation on social media and dedicate the time and effort necessary to keep the conversation going?

By doing this consistently, you should be able to get a solid handle on what your audience truly wants to know about.  You’ll be able to tell what questions they have in mind that may be keeping them from purchasing from you, or what intimidates them about your product or service.  You’ll be able to determine if there’s something about your messaging that confuses them, or sends them down the wrong path.

Once you’ve identified these items, you simply need to create content that simply and powerfully provides exactly what the audience has identified for you.  Answer their questions, calm their fears, respond to their objections, solve their problems.

What They Want is Transparency

More often than not, as you compile the questions and concerns your audience has, you’ll find a running theme: what they’re really looking for is the inside scoop: the real story behind your company, your brand, your product, or your service.  They want to know what goes on behind the scenes and what’s going to happen after they give you their money.

More than anything else, they’re looking for some sort of human connection behind the facts and figures.  If you can put a human face on your business and turn your marketing messages into compelling conversation, you’ll be following the most effective content strategy delivering stories people want to hear. 

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The Content Marketing Package – Is It Right For You?

The Content Marketing Package

In an effort to infuse some normalcy and predictability into a notoriously unpredictable industry, content marketing professionals have recently been putting a lot of focus on the content marketing package.

I’ve done it myself, because I honestly feel it’s a worthwhile option in many cases.  

But it’s certainly not the only option – or the best one, in most cases.

If you’re not familiar with the term, the content marketing package is basically a pre-determined menu of content creation and distribution options at a set package price, which an agency or professional can offer to their clients on a retainer basis.

For example, I have three different package levels, all of which run on a set monthly retainer fee.  My packages are fairly flexible in that I still expect to fine-tune the package to each client’s unique circumstances and strategy, but I have a pretty solid time investment in mind when I’m agreeing to the flat retainer fee.

The Pros

There are pros for both the client and the content professional when using a package system on a retainer fee.

For the client, there’s the piece of mind of knowing ahead of time how much you’re going to spend each month without the worry of hidden fees caused by extra hours or unexpected edits.  This makes budgeting simpler, and makes it far easier to determine ROI on your marketing efforts.

Also, it gives the client the opportunity to learn about the content marketing process as they work with the professional with a standardized system each month, improving and fine-tuning the strategy as they go.

For the marketer, a steady monthly income is like a dream come true, as is the ability to budget and schedule time for the necessary work months in advance.  Besides that, having a pre-determined list of items to create, dispense, and track each month makes for efficient and easily structured work.  If something needs to be fixed, it’s readily apparent because everything remains uniform.

The Cons

The pros mentioned above are powerful, and unfortunately they may be pushing too many pros and their clients into a package/retainer arrangement when that’s not the best option for them.

In some cases, the best content strategy involves a lot of experimentation and adjustment.  If both sides of the equation feel locked into a particular list of content pieces because of a six-month contract, this could hinder necessary adjustments and experimentation.  Instead, they may continue churning out sub-par content on schedule, just because the agreement is already in place.

Likewise, a business with many different marketing initiatives going on at once may find themselves over spending in one area via the content marketing package, only to find that other aspects of their marketing objectives are being neglected and don’t have an adequate budget allocated.

These situations can – unfairly – turn into frustration with the content professional or agency, when in actuality it’s the agreement that’s causing the problem.

So, is the content marketing package right for you?  Or are you better off filling in your content needs on project by project basis?

The best way to find out is to speak to a content professional and allow them to help you decide what’s best in your unique circumstances.

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How I Develop Content for my Website

Written content for my website

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If you take time to explore the Words That Begin With You website, you’ll see that there’s a wealth of content here.  (Which makes sense, considering my chosen line of work.)  

Since I’m primarily a writer, the bulk of what I create is in written form, but I’ve strayed into audio and video on occasion, made a few presentations, and noodled around with a lot of different written formats from tiny, pithy posts to complete books.

I wanted to take some time today to discuss my methodology for developing content for my website because everyone does it a little differently and some interchange of ideas could make a potentially daunting task a little easier on all of us.

Developing Written Content for my Website

For most of my standard blog posts, the genesis of the idea comes from one of three places:

  1. A Piece of the Puzzle – These posts are not necessarily parts of longer series (although some of them are) but they follow a basic theme that runs like a bright thread through the content I write.  Generally, these posts are how-to or hypothetical with an emphasis on real-world examples where possible.  Almost all my longer content (white papers, ebooks, and a print book) are in this category.  They tend to relate in some way to the major tenets I try to get across to my clients who are hoping to succeed with content marketing: speak to people, not Google; consistency is key; have fun.
  2. A Flash of Brilliance – These posts are usually one-off rants, raves, or inspirational diatribes that struck me as too powerful to overlook.  They may or may not relate directly to anything else I write, but they generally do connect in some way to content marketing or another related discipline.   Sometimes, they’re confessional, like my popular Blogging in Obscurity post, or the story of my decade-long overnight success.  In other cases, they’re just interesting analogies that occurred to me as I listened to music, watched TV, or watched football.
  3. Riffing Off Other Peoples’ Stuff- Although I do a ton of small scale curation via my social media hubs (especially Twitter) I will occasionally pull a real gem from my reading and turn my reaction to it into a blog post.  My most recent example of this was regarding The Content Marketing Holy War, which sparked some really intriguing conversation across the industry.  I enjoy doing this, but only when I’m sure my views are in some way different from the norm and are actually adding something of value.  I get a little tired of bloggers who spend most of their energy writing long-winded reactions to what other people have created.  It feels like a cop-out to me.
Audio content for my website

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Developing Audio Content for my Website

I’m no expert on podcasting, but it’s a format I really enjoy.  I’m not sure why I haven’t done more of it, but I keep telling myself I will.

Thus far, all my podcasting experience has been based on pulling content from my written backlog that I feel is important enough and valuable enough to disseminate in other ways, and reworking it for a podcast. 

Going forward, I intend to do a lot more of this, including a complete audio-book style treatment of The Content Marketing Hurricane (exclusively for my CMH Stormwatchers) and a full audio/video e-course based on my Public Speaking University content.  Stay tuned for that!

video content for my website

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Developing Video Content for my Website

As I described above for audio content, my video content thus far has been focused on reworking written content for that format.  I will be expanding this in the future to include a series of instructional videos that follow the Content Marketing Hurricane tenets as well as the videos that will be included in the Public Speaking University course.

But in both cases – audio and video – I’d love to expand my experience and experiment more with different methods of creating and distributing content in these formats.  If you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them.  Put them in the comments below!

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Why a Content Marketing Specialist Can Be Your Best Friend

Your content marketing specialist can be your company’s most powerful secret weapon!

Companies the world over are starting to realize just how powerful an in-depth knowledge of content marketing can be. 

content marketing specialist

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As a matter of fact, if you take a look at current job offerings, “content marketing specialist” is one of the most common job titles you’ll see:

So where is the value in hiring a content marketing specialist?  What’s the big deal?

Well, it comes down to ROI. 

If you’re currently paying one or more associates in your marketing department to focus on old-school, outbound marketing like advertising, telemarketing, direct mail, or the like, you should really take a look at the dollars and cents involved.  Are their efforts actually paying their salary?  Are they making you any profit?

Chances are pretty good that they’re not.

Or, at least, not nearly as well as they did 15 years ago when they started.

The reason is simple: those old-school methods don’t work nearly as well as they used to.  You’re getting far less bang for your buck, and (ironically enough) the cost of using those methods has only gone up over the years!

Compare that with the guy who can lead your inbound marketing efforts: blogging, SEO, social media marketing, email nurturing campaigns… Many of these strategies are free or close to it, at least to start with.  And in 2014, they’re bringing in far more leads at just a fraction of the cost of outbound methods.

Even if you’re paying this guy MORE, you’re still making more profit from him.

That’s why a content marketing specialist – someone who knows inbound marketing and can help you create a content strategy and the content itself – is such a valuable ally to have on the team.

Words That Begin With You

I don’t mind telling you, I’m a content marketing specialist, and a pretty darn good one too.  

I’ve helped a lot of clients learn how to tell their story in a profitable and passionate way without breaking the bank.  In many cases, I’ve helped them set up a strategy, gotten them started with a supply of fresh content and optimized foundation, and they’ve taken it to run from there.

Fill in the form below to get a taste of what I offer, or contact me directly if I can help you.

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Absolutely MUST READ Post from Onboardly

I’m not going to belabor this at all.Just go here and read this important post:http://onboardly.com/content-marketing/is-originality-going-extinct-the-downside-of-replicating-success/If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate it.  Come back here and let me know what you thought!- Justin

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The Content Marketing Holy War

Well, perhaps that’s hyperbole.We content marketers tend to lapse into that now and then, don’t we?  But, it got your attention.  Read on, and I’ll explain:

It all started with a fair idea and a fantastic headline…

A few days ago, Mark Schaefer, a marketing thought leader for whom I have tons of respect, and the brains and fingertips behind the Businesses Grow blog, put out a great article discussing the very real fact that it’s becoming harder and harder to attract attention in an increasingly noisy world, and eventually a lot of businesses who fail to do so will likely throw in the towel. 

But he didn’t call his post, “It’s getting harder to attract attention” or “Content Marketing is getting harder” or anything so banal.  Instead, he went with, “Content Shock: Why Content Marketing is Not a Sustainable Strategy“. 

 And holy crow!  Did Mr. Schaefer open up a whole can of “whatsup?!?!” from the content marketing community.  It really felt like a war was starting.  

Most notable (at least in my relatively unread estimation) are the dissenting comments from industry leaders Brian Clark, Robert Rose, Joe Pulizzi, and Joe Chernov, all of which took exception to Mark’s seemingly gloomy outlook on the future of their hard earned careers.  Brian Clark almost sounded like he wanted to pop Mark Schaefer in the old schnoz. 

 Now – not that any of them care, but – I’d just like to go on record to say everyone who chimed in to what became (at the point I’m writing this) a 206-comment marathon discussion, including Mark Schaefer, made excellent points. 

 And, in different ways, I agree with all of them.  If you’re interested, I’ll plug a quick paragraph or two on the bottom of this post to let you know my thoughts on the future of content marketing based on Mark’s post.But the real point I wanted to make here is simply this:

Mark Schaefer pissed off a lot of professional marketers by playing the old Jedi headline trick.

Now, granted, he backs up his headline statement with some very valid points throughout the post, and I’m not taking anything away from that.  But, as he states over and over again in his responses to the comments the post generated, he wasn’t really saying that content marketing is “dying” or “doomed” or anything else nearly that final or disastrous. 

 But his headline said exactly that, to the right audience.

The readers Mark’s trying to reach with his blog (and very successfully, as is obvious from just this post) are professional marketers who care for potentially billions of dollars in collective marketing budgets.  These folks take marketing very seriously.  And in 2014, that means they take content very seriously. 

So when someone comes in and calls your Momma fat, well… you tend to take it personally. 

His headline worked.  

He sparked interest in a bunch of folks who – I can guarantee you – skip a lot of trash content all day every day.  His post went on to rile up emotions in a bunch of folks who already know the Jedi mind tricks that make that happen.  And his continued conversation with each and every commentor (with the same level of aplomb and courtesy, regardless of their relative position on the industry totem pole) was and is a fantastic all-around example of how to do this blogging thing right. 

Bravo, Mr. Schaefer.

My two cents…

If you want my opinion, after reading the Content Shock post, here it is: 

 No, content marketing is not dead.  No, it’s not dying.  No, it’s not even starting to get a little tired.  As a matter of fact, content marketing as a modern industry is still in its youth.But, it is  constantly changing.  It is far different than it was just a few short years ago, and no doubt in a few years it will be different still. 

But what’s really changing, more than anything else, are the methods, the channels, the technology involved in creating, distributing, and consuming content. 

The basic tenets of good, quality marketing are not changing.  The basic tenets of good, quality content are not changing. 

The game is changing, sure.  But if it didn’t, who’d want to be a part of it?  

How boring would that be?

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Five Content Marketing Lessons You Can Learn From the Bible

It’s kind of tough to compete with God when it comes to writing persuasive copy.

Bible

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I mean, think about it: here’s a book that’s inspired fascination, debate, in-depth study, life-changing zeal and faith in its readers for thousands of years.  It’s sold literally BILLIONS of copies.  With a B.  Billions!

No matter how you feel about the content, you have to admit that as a content marketing case study, the Bible is a pretty tough act to follow.

So what content marketing lessons can we learn from the Bible?  Here’s a few I came up with.  There are probably a hundred more I didn’t consider.  When you find them, throw them in the comments below so I can pretend I came up with them when I re-purpose this information down the road.  (Oops, I got ahead of myself there…see #4!)

1) Don’t be afraid to be controversial.

There are few books in the history of the written word that have sparked more conflict than the Bible.  Which is kind of interesting, considering it talks so much about love and peace.

But the real lesson here is that one of the main reasons it sparks debate and conflict so easily is that it doesn’t pull any punches in what it says.  Here’s one interesting example, (quoted from The Message, a really easy translation to understand,):

“There’s nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
Don’t count on being remembered. ”  (Ecclesiastes chapter 1)

How’s that for in-your-face honesty?  Doesn’t feel good to have God telling you “don’t count on being remembered” does it?  But, in context, it’s totally true.

So, as you’re developing your content, don’t shy away from putting some controversy out there for your audience to chew on.  It makes for great eye-catching headlines, which is so important in the Twitter-scan world we’re writing for, and it helps make your content ultra-sharable as well.

And don’t worry about whether or not you’re alienating anyone.  The fact is, weeding out the tire-kickers and the stragglers can be a god-send (pardon the pun) to a content marketing campaign.

That’s why Ben Settle explained that he loves getting unsubscribe notifications from his e-mail list provider!  Something to think about.

2) Make your contact indescribably valuable, then give it away.

You can read the Bible online for free on any of a hundred different sites.  Nearly everyone seems to have one or more copies in their house, and the local public library probably has a dozen copies of various translations available.

But is it treated like it’s free?  Of course not.  Many people consider it sacred.  Many more consider it classic literature and still more admit it’s got some great stories in it.

Your content should aspire to be just like that.

No, you’re not likely to produce a blog that people consider sacred.  But you certainly can provide spectacular content that people would be willing to pay for, then give it away for free.  You can amaze people with the quality of your content and make them desperate to devour it and share it with their friends.

3) Consider crowdsourcing content.

Forty different people had a part in writing down the words we read in the sixty-six most commonly accepted books of the Bible.

What’s the main benefit?  Different voices and different points of view means the words can speak to each of us in the most effective way.

For example, David (who wrote a bunch of the Psalms) and Solomon (who wrote Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon) were wealthy and powerful kings.  Paul (who wrote over a dozen letters in the New Testament) was a recovering lawyer and a tent-maker.  Luke was a doctor, Matthew was a Jewish IRS agent, and Peter caught fish.  All these guys were going to put the message across in a slightly different way based on their own backgrounds, their own spin on things.

And for that reason, what we read appeals to us in different ways and for different reasons.  Which makes the Bible about forty-times more effective than it would have been if one person wrote down the whole thing.

When you first start developing your content strategy and creating content, it’s likely to be primarily your own.  This is great, and there’s nothing wrong with sitting in the driver’s seat most of the time, especially if you’re a solopreneur using content to build your reputation and expertise in the minds of your prospects.

But don’t overlook the tremendous value in spreading the love around.

Take advantage of all the simple and powerful content curation tools available out there.  Accept guest posts if they fit your blogging strategy and they’re well written.  Link liberally to point your audience to other great sources of content that will truly benefit them.  Work with other content marketers to collaborate on a project that will turn out twice as good as a result!

4) Don’t waste good content.  Re-purpose like crazy!

Think the Bible repeats itself?  You’re right.

Classic example: the four Gospels.  Basically, four different people looking at Jesus’ life from different viewpoints and at different times, all writing essentially the same things.  But no one’s ever going to say any one of them is worthless.

Why?

Because the content’s been effectively re-purposed.

Each book changes the camera angle just enough to keep us interested.  Each one highlights a different combination of stories, focusing on a slightly different main point.

And for that reason, even though they’re all together in a row, we can read them one after the other and learn something new with each one.

Make the same use of your content!  Coming up with a killer blog post is not easy.  In fact, it can be incredibly hard work.  And it’s unfortunately really easy to do it wrong.

So when you manage to put together an awesome post, or white paper, or landing page… use it again!  Make some adjustments and turn it into a Slideshare presentation, or a YouTube video, or a podcast, or all of the above!  Take a different slant on the same general theme and offer it up as a guest post to a blog in a different market.  Chop it into bite-size chunks and tweet it out over time.

There’s a thousand ways you can re-purpose great content.  And if you do it right, there’s a thousand different groups of people you can touch that might have never read that first awesome article.

5) Get the word out there.

Like I mentioned in the intro, the Bible’s kind of a popular book.

It’s estimated that the Bible is available in whole or in part to over 98% of the world’s population, in a language they can read.  That’s incredible reach.  And when you combine that with the millions of derivative works out there: sermons, companions, criticisms and interpretations… there’s no possible way to even estimate how many billions of words have been distributed connected to this book.

And it’s had all this success despite the fact that there’s been pressure to eliminate the Bible pretty much ever since it was finished!

Is your content getting that kind of push?  Are you making it readily available to any and all who can benefit from it?  Sharing it in all your various networks, encouraging your audiences to do the same?  Stepping outside your comfort zone to open up your content to new and wider audiences?

If you’re not, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.

So What are You Going to Do?

Granted, you’re not God.  I guess I’m not either.

But there are some very un-godly things you can do right now to push your content marketing strategy to biblical proportions!

  • Start creating spectacular content.
  • Get it out in front of people and spread it as far and wide as you can.
  • Get networking with other marketers and work together to spread each other’s content even further.
  • Re-purpose like crazy.
  • Create some more spectacular content and do it all over again!

Now, like I said before, I know there are more great content marketing lessons in the Bible.  Let us know in the comments if you’ve found some more!