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Is Your Content Content?

content?I love homonyms. At first glance, the title of this post looks like I made a mistake, but I didn’t. The post is all about getting content with our content.

When you become content (i.e. happy, laid back) with your content (info up for discussion/sharing with your audience), you’re walking on thin ice. Sure, formulaic blogging is a great starting point, but we really need to make sure content is fresh, fierce and fetching.

Content contentment can take away from that fresh, fierce and fetching approach to producing content. So, how do you know when you’re becoming a little too content with your content? Here are a few indicators:

Too much focus on the search words

Yes, content marketers are looking to gain search engine traffic, but your content has a higher purpose – to be engaging and educational. And it’s purpose is to etch credibility and trust into your audience’s minds. When your content becomes resourceful, they come back. And that’s the secret to content marketing.

Too narrow a focus or too much repetition

Some blogs are geared toward providing tips and tricks on how to use a product. That’s all great, but it’s important to pepper in some benefits to all the features. It’s important to make connections to what’s happening in the industry or your space. Look at your category list for a little inspiration. If there’s a content gap in a category or two, and the blog is getting traffic to those categories…maybe it’s time to beef them up a bit. Adding some customer case studies or a tie-in to something cool in the news is a great way to harness attention from both your audience and the search bots.

Too much focus on product info

I make my living writing for a number of blogs and companies who know the value of content strategy. However, sometimes a theme is weak or the topic is just losing its luster. When you reach this hurdle, looking at the search terms, what the competition is doing and outside your industry spark fresh, fierce and fetching ideas.

Too little focus on your audiences’ needs

The reason someone found your content in the first place is because they have a need – a need to solve a problem, a need to learn how to do something or a need to be entertained. They searched or heard about you from someone else and need you to help them. If your content is content with only addressing audience needs once in a while, you’re missing the point of content creation and missing out on opportunities to help people. That’s why we should be in business – to help others and get paid for doing a good job. Does your content do that?

Spreading your content in too many directions

Content marketing is as much about the medium as it is about the words you use. However, I learned something from a great former boss – sometimes the medium is the problem. Let me give you a couple of real-world examples.

Email bombardment

I’m on quite a few email lists because I need to know what’s going on in the industries I write about. However, this past week I’ve been bombarded with emails for whitepapers, industry reports and other promos I don’t care to read. So, I unsubscribed from the email list of a publication I respect. But the unsubscribe didn’t work (big no-no). I’m still getting emails with content I could care less about. I’ve filed a complaint with the director of online marketing. Hopefully, this will be fixed soon.

Spinning your wheels in the wrong space

Some mediums are filled with people just like you looking for an audience. Twitter is a great example. In some cases, Twitter is a great place to converse and spread the word. But for some companies, it’s not the right place to be spending your time. I’ve witnessed recently that a client has gotten response from Twitter, but the response has not been from the right people. If the audience isn’t right, why spin your wheels?

Is your content suffering from contentment? Contact me to help you develop a strategy for getting it out of its comfort zone.

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Why It’s Important to Think Like a Journalist in Content Marketing

journalistWhen I went to journalism school, my dad asked me what I was going to do to support myself. I told him that money didn’t matter; I was in this for the good of the people. I even had a t-shirt to support my cause.

Well, that’s before I realized how journalism training can be in marketing communications. My internship and eventual first job was at a magazine – a pizza marketing trade to be exact. The lessons I learned there were invaluable to my business today. I got to think like a journalist and investigate the issue of an industry. And a lot more people liked me.

Today, I’m not exactly a journalist, but a marketing communications writer who gets to treat each project like a journalist on a beat. I get to scour through industry reports, blogs and news articles to create messages that resonate with my clients’ audiences. That’s why I’m so glad I got formal training in journalism. It’s a key tool in what I do. And, thinking like a journalist can help you create better content.

How Thinking Like a Journalist Enlivens Content

There’s a lot of really great marketing content out there. But, many content marketers shake their heads at why they aren’t getting the traffic or conversions they want.

It’s because they aren’t thinking like a journalist. The number one factor in journalism is what’s most important to your audience – not the people on your sales or marketing team.

Real people read the newspaper or watch the news to see what’s happening in their world right now. They also read blogs and magazines that have to do with their specific interests or business needs. I believe this is why blogs are so popular. It’s instant information on your need-to-know subject.

Turn to the Seven Questions of Newsworthiness

A journalistic formula that never fails to help you gauge the content your audience wants is the seven questions of newsworthiness:

  • Prominence – This usually affects the people in the story. It’s why celebrities get so much attention. They are the perceived upper crust. People love to learn of their lessons and failures. Sad, but true.
  • Magnitude – The more people a topic affects the better. Why do you think people like Kenneth Cole make comments like the recent Egypt Twitter faux paux.
  • Proximity – The more close to home your message, the better it will resonate. This is often the number one item a journalist looks for. And as David Meerman Scott said yesterday in a video over at Hubspot, it’s a good idea when trying to drum up business in a local market.
  • Uniqueness – Firsts, a new take, twists, turns and one-of-a-kind feats and stories. That’s what readers want from journalists and what they want from you.
  • Timeliness – It used to be recent. Now, it’s real-time. As it happens. Live. On the spot. People love being in the know right now. It’s hard to manage, but it’s very effective.
  • Significance – Defining why this content is important to the audience is the key here. A journalist asks why this matters to the people. Your customer or prospect asks, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Human Interest – The human element helps a journalist connect the story to the readers. Adding a story or a anecdote gives your content resonance because people identify with other people.

Takeaway

A journalist thinks about the audience above all else. We marketers should follow suit.

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What I Learned About Marketing from My Preschooler

My daugther just turned two and attends a preschool program at our church in the mornings. I’m not usually the one to pick her up; my husband is. Well, I had the pleasure of doing the honors recently and I learned a valuable marketing lesson from it.

The preschool has an ingenious method for delivering the children to their parents – the bye-bye buggy. It’s a large cart with seats and seatbelts for each toddler. They get to rotate the “leader” seat each day. You see, the front right seat is the most desired because the lucky tot gets to push the “button” that opens the power-assisted doors to the outside world.

Isn’t this very much like marketing?

We all want to be in the “leader” seat. Getting to the leader seat for the toddlers is a matter of rotation. In business, it’s who gets there first or best. Are you positioned to be in the lead?

Do you know your audiences’ button? The teachers in this preschool know something about the kids – that they are singularly focused on pushing that button. Do you know what that button is for your target audience?

Do you have content strategy as focused as the bye-bye buggy? The purpose is simple – get the children to the cars as simply and safely as possible. Content strategies don’t have to be complicated. Setting up a process as seamless as the bye-bye buggy can help deliver better content, leads and ROI.

Are you ready to simplify your marketing communications? Let’s chat.

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Three Messaging Elements I Learned from a Bagel

I just finished eating a delicious bagel – made from oat flour and sprinkled with bits of oat on top. This bagel resonated with me because it had just the right recipe for success. Here’s three messaging lessons I learned from said bagel:

  1. It had the right mix of ingredients. Oat flour made the bagel sweet and savory. I didn’t want to rush through it. I wanted to savor every bite. That’s what our messages should do.
  2. It had a little bit of unexpected. The oats were not traditional bagel fare, and even though this is a common grain – the fact that it was in a bagel was unexpected. Messaging should always have a little of the unexpected.
  3. It resonated with the audience. I was so into this bagel I wanted more. It was something good enough to chew on slowly with bits of excitement peppered throughout.

Does your messaging pass the bagel test? Savory, unexpected, wanting more. Need this in your messaging? I can help. Contact me today.