You Need GREAT Content!
A strong content marketing campaign, that is creating, publishing and promoting helpful, interesting and useful content for prospects and customers is essential to your campaign; it can earn you an incredible reach, influence and ultimately money when used constructively and positively. Outlined in this article are essential tips for you to use to create great content that is really worth looking for!
Now is just the right time to become a content marketer! At the same time as advertising is losing effectiveness, search engines and social networks are making it increasingly easy for audiences to find information for themselves.
By publishing content that your visitors need and value, you can attract everyone you need to reach – other bloggers, customers, prospects, journalists and more… pretty much everybody!!! With as little as a blog, a website and a Twitter account, a PR pro can earn as huge a following as a major newspaper, while a small business can become just about as influential as a news channel.
Of course, doing it is not quite enough … you need to do it right! – which is where this article comes in.
Five reasons why content marketing done well is worth its weight in gold…
- Trust: People don’t necessarily trust adverts and they frequently hold a grudge against the advertiser for taking time out of their day. Publishing helpful content achieves you the opposite effect (because you are actively being helpful). People can find it and explore it when they’re looking for information. Instead of being a pest, you’ve just become a trusted resource.
- Word of mouth: It takes just seconds for readers to share a link to a piece of content they like. After some good initial promotion, an original, creative piece of content can quickly take on a huge life of its own as readers share it with their friends and contacts.
- Visibility: By optimizing the keywords in your content, you can use it to get your company on the first page of search engines in front of customers looking for information or journalists researching stories.
- Voice: As the publisher of your own content, you get more say in what people hear about you. You can’t control how people react to your content but you can decide what you put out there and you would only put content out that promotes you as an expert.
- Cost: The cost of publishing content for your blog starts at zero. Although you can pay out for elaborate graphics or production, creating a blog is free and videos can be made for the cost of a cheap camera.
So, let’s get started on our 15 Essential Tips to Creating Incredible Content!!!
1. Content should help people
The goal here is to create something interesting that is a sort of “prescription” to help people do their jobs better. You should try to create content that helps people become proficient in an area of their lives (hopefully related to your business) that they knew little about before engaging with your content.
Don’t let your content suffer from the “IBU” dilemma: “Interesting But Useless“; DON’T create a “The History of Some Obscure Business Issue” data-article that a few people pay attention to and fewer still forward along. Hold your content to a standard that makes it more than interesting and offer practical advice or teach people something they didn’t already know.
2. Make your content about your customers.
DO NOT be too brand-centric with your content. Many marketers and PR professionals think about their brand first and then their messaging and their talking points – and that’s great when you’re making a media pitch or doing an interview with the media where they will tell your story. However, when you tell your story yourself you should make sure you do it in a way that centers around your customers! Customers need to understand the relevance to themselves of what you are saying – they are not going to be so bothered about information that is about and for you.
3. Writing for your readers first and foremost earns trust.
The golden rule here is: “Always think about the audience first“. If you’re writing content that is all about yourself, not only will that one piece of content suffer: all of the content that you’re going to publish thereon after is going to suffer because you will lose the reader’s trust. Take the long-term view and write for the reader first and your marketing purposes second. Think of your goal as being to zero out your brand; you’ll never achieve it, but you need to be the counterbalance to those who live to “make the logo bigger”.
4. Pictures can be better than words.
Images & graphics, videos and presentations that are highly visual allow a large amount of information to be consumed in one “eye-full“. They are a limited time commitment and they’re easily and immensely shareable. You’ll find that your posts that are visual pieces will actually attract more visitors and when you host them on our blog, those particular blog posts will surely become your most heavily trafficked posts. People like them.
5. Get your whole team involved in your blog!
In my opinion the best team dynamic is when everyone on your team is tasked with creating great content. Therefore, you should create an environment where they feel able to do that. Make it top-down driven: explain that you buy into the idea and you want them to buy into it too. You need to give your colleagues or employees the leeway to create or they won’t feel able to do it ( this is called “Chief-Level, or C-Level, Buy-In“). If your team feels your thumb pressing down on them the whole time, they’re not going to be able to create great content.
6. Get creative: you can make worthy content around anything.
There is not a single company on the face of the Earth (or otherwise) that can’t make great content. I worked for two years as a national sales training manager for a bubble wrap company, flying around the country for two-day training classes on how to sell bubble wrap. If I can make bubble wrap interesting, you can make interesting content too! Blendtech is a fantastic example of a fairly boring company that generated not just great but killer content! They sell Blenders – which is a fairly boring domestic product. Then they came out with “Will it Blend” and started making videos of themselves blending iPhones and brooms and anything else. That was exciting and incredible content and I bet they sold a load of blenders!
7. Don’t shy away from being personal; personality builds trust.
Stories (and certainly personal stories) are compelling. We all love stories; however, many companies think story-telling is a squishy, kind of amorphous thing, like fairy tales or literature. It’s not about that! Stories give you a chance to express the heart-and-soul of your brand. Who are you? What drives you to do what you do? Tell stories about what’s unique about your employees. An example here may be to show pictures of what the after-party looks like – this builds empathy and trust and it’s what story-telling is about.
8. Learn to find stories to tell.
There are a million stories in your company – all you have to do is find them, pull them out and bring them to life! I talk to clients and friends in Business to Business companies who quite often say, “we have a really boring product and it’s really hard to explain what it is!” I talk to other guys that tell me they “have nothing to talk about“. C’mon!; there’s ALWAYS a story to tell! Look at what you’re all about! Start by going back and looking at your marketing to see what you have been talking about already. This is sure to spark a little inspiration right away!
9. Learn to tell a story bit by bit.
The challenge of writing great blog or website content is not just to be interesting. It’s to be CONSISTENTLY interesting. I know that’s asking a lot but you have to realize it’s no longer about working for three months on a campaign, issuing it and being done. You need to build a narrative over time and be agile with Web publishing so you can tell your story bit-by-bit and, in truth, you’re never really done!
I tell a lot of people through this blog that your news is important and we’re not going to stop telling people about your news – but it’s equally important to tell your audience about everything that happens in between your news. When you do that with your content, it resonates more and humanizes your brand. Where your competitors only talk when they have big news or are releasing a product, you’re positioning yourself differently.
10. Use your blog as a hub.
If you’re not blogging yet, start! For VodaHost, our blog is without question an important hub of our content-wheel. Make your blog the starting point for all your content; if it’s housed there, you can give your content life, context and edginess.
11. When choosing your channels, focus on the “why” to determine the “where“.
You really have to think about why you’re doing what you’re doing first. A lot of time, the tendency is to go toward the tools: “We need a blog“. “We need to be on Facebook“. “We need a Twitter stream“. What you really need to do is say, “why are we doing this?” and then let that strategy question and its answers drive what channels and tools you are going to use and what you are going to do with them.
12. Give yourself the first bite of your content.
Don’t spend the majority of your time on other people’s platforms. Facebook and Twitter aren’t your platforms – they’re platforms run by other businesses. There is definitely value there for your business, but your content should be published first on a channel owned by your company. I call it the “Right of First Publish“. When you really have good content, publish it on your own channels first and then syndicate it to other channels while linking back later.
13. Don’t over-commercialize your content when you publish.
When you write compelling content, what you leave out is as important as what you put in (most writers will tell you that writing is in the re-writing)! Minimize the commercial messages and the branding statements and don’t trademark something every time you speak. I saw a blog post once where they mentioned their company name and that they were award-winning and then they trademarked it with a little symbol seven times in one post. Uuurrrggghhh … avoid this; you’ll deter your audience away! Your blog is about your visitors; not about you!
14. Don’t go straight for the kill (or the lead form).
Don’t always go for the kill (or the sale) right away! Most certainly don’t produce an awesome piece of content and then hide it behind a registration page straight away or a mail-list sign-up form or something. That’s not necessarily the best way to do it. It is building the relationship that is important and to build the relationship, the first thing your customer or visitor needs to see is that you are providing them free and useful information. Try building a relationship over time through content, then maybe asking for just a little bit of information, and then a little bit more over time. It’s not about going in for the kill right away– it’s about slowly building on your relationships with good content.
15. Stay committed; it pays off!
You’ve got to be able to sustain this long term. Content isn’t a one-off task, it’s a long-term commitment. A lot of the time, companies say, “let’s get a blog!” and once they get it running, a month or two down the road, they say: “this blog is so time-consuming and no one is interacting. Let’s just abandon it.” Your blog must be a labor-of-love. Y’know, having a blog is a bit like having a baby; it’s great, but it’s a long-term commitment. It really DOES pay you back but at the same time, it’s a commitment that you’ve got to keep and must always be useful and substantial.