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How to Pump a Little Health Into Your Content Marketing

pump a little health into your content marketing

Have you noticed how many people have been hitting the gym and making an attempt to delete the junk from their diets the past couple of weeks? It’s definitely a resolution revolution these first few weeks of January, which means it’s the perfect time to set some goals for pumping a little health into your content. Here are five ideas for how to do just that:

Put your content on a diet.

Someone sent me a list of the 25 most common typos and copy mistakes last week. One of those tips stuck out – look out for redundancies such as centered around. If you read that correctly, you’re saying the same thing twice. It’s actually centered on. But this is a great point. We need to trim the redundancies out of our copy. So, I challenge you to see how much you can trim your content.

As Peter Shankman said last week in his recap of his year to 10 percent, we should focus on eating meat and vegetables and leave out the carbs. Redundant words and overused jargon are just like the carbs; they may up the word count, but they do nothing for the health of your content. Simple sentence structure with simple words hits much harder.

Introduce quality supplements.

Content marketing is based on building an audience from people searching for solutions via the search engines. As you know, there’s also been a focus on quality with search algorithm changes and smarter content consumers.

It’s getting more crowded out there in the online marketing space (kind of like the gyms this time of year), so it’s important that we introduce some quality supplements to our every day link bait articles and blog posts.

Your audience is searching for you. Give them video. Give them a simple slideshow or infographic. Anything that tells the story in a new way and shakes things up. Supplements are meant to enhance what you are already doing. Make this the year that you introduce that e-book series or start that podcast.

Stop doing the same old routine.

I’ve heard this from numerous fitness trainers – getting on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes at a pace where you can read a book doesn’t do much for your long-term fitness. Sure, you’ll burn some calories, but your body adapts. It gets used to the exercise and you hit a plateau.

That’s why you have to change the intensity, track your heart rate and introduce new exercises all the time for real fitness. Same thing with your content. Doing the same thing over and over may get you some results for a while, but unless you get out of your comfort zone, your leads and traffic may get stagnant.

Add more daily movement.

A study released in the summer of 2011 showed that people who had more “incidental activity” in their lives had better fitness levels. The same goes for your content marketing. You’ll do better peppering a little content marketing activity each day.

Scheduling in some social media and blog brainstorming blocks can really help you improve on these daily habits. Similar to the rotation of how we clean our homes (laundry day, bathroom day, deep cleaning day, etc.), we can establish content marketing habits.Try focusing on one vehicle during each “incident.”

Finished with a project? Jump into a conversation on Twitter for 10 minutes? Ask a question on Facebook. Share that news item with some takeaways in a quick blog post. Content marketing doesn’t have to be a long, arduous workout. The mini sessions really do add up, especially if you fit them in every day.

Get a professional opinion.

Want to know the number one reason workout plans and diets fail? The goals are too broad. Most exercisers start out with a goal of losing 10 pounds or more. Most dieters drastically change their habits. This much change too soon can work well for a while, but every time you slip, it’s harder to get back with the program. If the program is complicated, it’s even more difficult to get back into it.

I’m not saying that you need to outsource your content marketing or dieting for the rest of your life. However, professionals are there to help you define your goals, create plans you can stick with and give you accountability. A professional opinion can be the difference in getting results and giving up.

I personally had to enlist the help of a professional for my fitness. I tried giving this mentor up last year in January because I could do it myself. Know what happened? I barely exercised between February and November of last year. I lost all the muscle my trainer helped me develop. I lost sight of my goals for excellence. I signed back up in November and have been with the program 90 percent of the time.

In my next post, I’ll outline what you need to look for in a content marketing professional. This person can help you pump a little health into your content marketing.

If you’d like a no-obligation consultation on your content marketing strategy and goals, please contact me and I’ll put you on my calendar.

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The Keys to Success in All Content Marketing & Business

Yesterday, I was honored to have an article featured in Peter Bowerman’s newsletter – the Well-Fed E-Pub. You can see the current and every issue here. I just received a response to my article on Content Marketing 101 from a writer who is looking to make the plunge into freelance writing.

She mentioned that she didn’t have the courage or the time to make the plunge yet. In my response, I mentioned to her that it does take a whole lot of guts and time to make it as a freelance writer. It takes faith and planning.

And then I realized those two keys are universal to content marketing and business. You have to have faith in your content (and your business) and you have to plan.

Content without faith or, more appropriately belief, falls flat. It doesn’t have a purpose. If you don’t believe it, then why would your audience?

The greater issue here is that you have to believe in your business whether you sell your writing (as I do) or a gadget. Belief in your product, your message and even your content are the keys to success.

Planning allows you to pour that belief into your business, your content and your clients/customers. When you plan, you think from a place of conviction and the content that stems from that is believable and engaging.

I’d like to thank that writer for reminding me of the two keys to success in all content marketing and business. Good luck to you. I hope you find your courage and time because you’ll be great when you do.

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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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The Nuts and Bolts of Great Marketing Content

nuts and boltsI once got a comment back from a college professor stating, “Great nuts and bolts article.” Next to it was an “A.”

I loved the grade, but I didn’t love the comment until years later, when I realized that nuts and bolts are the keys to great marketing content. If you don’t have the nuts and bolts located and labeled, your article or email or web page is going to fall flat. Just like the bookshelf that requires these pieces to stand tall.

The nuts and bolts great marketing content are simply benefits, facts and audience emotions and desires. With these three tools, your content will stand tall amid the fluff many marketers call great content. Let’s break down what’s behind these essential pieces of great marketing content.

Benefits

The benefits are the bolts of the content. They give your content the strength to attract your audience. Benefits are the foundation of great marketing content, but they don’t work without the nuts and washers.

Facts

Facts are the washers in great marketing content. A good nut and bolt combination uses a washer to build a stronger foundation between joints. For instance, if you are connecting a door to a cabinet a washer protects the wood surface from damage when the nut is tightened. Fact “washers” come in three flavors – audience, product and industry. Consider them the protectors of your benefits and audience claims. Here’s how each washer works:

  • Facts about the audience help you connect the message to the consumer of your message, especially when there isn’t an exact fit.
  • Facts about the product help you derive the benefits for the audience
  • Facts about the industry help you understand the demand for the product.

Emotions and Desires

I often see content written with no audience in mind. Sure, there may be an implied audience, but without the audience or your content won’t keep anyone engaged for very long. Audience was covered in the facts section, but beyond the facts, marketers need to understand the emotions and desires of their audience. The emotions and desires give the bolts and washers (benefits and facts) the support they need to stand strong. 

Remembering these fundamentals of great marketing content can give you a foundation of credibility and engagement with your audience. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Courtesy of Firesign

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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 is Brilliant Content?

brilliant content

As a kid I secretly wanted to wear glasses because I thought they made you look smart.

However, I didn’t need them. Or, so I thought.

I got glasses at 28. You see, I was farsighted in one eye. My other eye was making up for my lack of up-close focus.

Well, as I learned later, a simple pair of reading glasses can help immensely.

I finally got my wish – to wear glasses to look smarter. But they did more than that. They made me smarter. I could see more clearly and didn’t suffer from muscle tension in my neck anymore from straining to see the computer screen.

Brilliant content is just like a great pair glasses:

  • It brings the customer’s needs into focus.
  • It tells your story clearly and simply.
  • It allows you see what works and doesn’t – quickly.

Want to give your content a clearer focus? Let’s chat.