3 Steps To Great Content Marketing

great content marketing with bloomthink
Creative Commons By Flickr user orangeacid

Content marketing is an absolutely immense topic.  It can span everything from social media to traditional print and mass media and even event marketing. Great content marketing is a grind.  Doing it well requires patience, persistence & productivity. To me and my BloomThink customers, content marketing means giving away high quality information, insight & tools to boost awareness, spur a transaction & deepen relationships.  Your goals vary depending on where the customer is along her journey with your brand.  But ultimately, content marketing helps organizations guide, speed & shortcut that journey rather than only showing up at the finish line.

1) Great content marketing requires patience.  You must be patient to understand the needs, wants and motivations at different stages of the customer journey.  That means paying attention, listening and showing up in all those places where your customers hang out.  Are they on bulletin boards or Pinterest? Are they looking up answers on StackOverflow or Recipes on foodnetwork.com.  It takes a bit of “customer anthropology” to figure this out.  Then realize that different kinds of customers are in different places and each have separate needs.

2) Great content marketing requires persistence.  Your early stage prospects are likely researching you along with competitors.  You want to delight & entertain them with insightful content.  Infographics, videos and content with a “cool factor” will help you get their attention.   Fresh content is important. But remember that freshness is in the eye of the customer.  This gives you a key ability to re-use and re-mix your content and get it out there.  So definitely re-use but never overwhelm.  And please don’t make the all-too-common mistake of simply re-blasting content that contains dated material.  Statistics, URLs, and events are especially dangerous.  So get into the grind and update, update, update.

3) Great content marketing requires that you are productive.  When customers are ready, provide some more detailed content.  Case studies, whitepapers, customer testimonials and user generated content really shine here.  This informs them of the deeper value you provide.  When you include user generated content (like Facebook comments, ratings and user group threads) you let your current happy customers persuade.  Their voice is always trusted more than yours.  But your happy customers are also more willing to listen/read/watch your content.  So make sure you are productive with getting great content into their hands and empowering and encouraging them to share it as well.  This helps to drive decisions.

Good content can be a grind.  Doing it well requires patience, persistence & productivity.  Consumers require value not gimmicks. Make lives, transactions & decisions easier.  Provide genuine, unique insight. Give to get.

This post originally appeared as part of CMSWire’s Discussion Point.

This is an awesome roundup of content  marketing wisdom.

The Interest Requirement – Getting Beneath the Advice.

 

Interest Means Wanting And Reaching For It
Creative Commons Attribution: by Flickr User ~ I P O X s t u d i o s ~

 Gartner says that a social business is one that provides “sustained value” through pulling together “talent, interests, experience, insights and knowledge”. But buried underneath this advice are requirements that must be uncovered if businesses have any hope of putting it to work. We talked about talent before. Let’s take a brief look at interests.

Interest means the curiosity to pursue a topic and the passion to stick with it.  Social media technology is good at providing an easy way for interested people to participate with teams and topics.  Whether chiming in on social forums, providing ad hoc feedback through messaging clients or rating products and project documents, social media technology enables the easy participation of the interested.  Yet it is vital to combine interest with talent, experience, insights and knowledge in order to become a social business. Failure to do so merely confuses passion with competence; something Harvard Business Review recently warned against.

The importance of interest is that it is a primary motivator.  When we’re interested in what we do we work smarter and achieve greater results than when we’re disengaged. HR study after HR study demonstrates that keeping employees interested and engaged is far more effective than money or perks in delivering high quality results and retaining high quality employees.

The challenge of interest is reflected in a study conducted by Nielsen in 2006.  That study shows that 90% of online community members lurk, 9% contribute sometimes and 1% are the core contributors.  This means that 99% make up the pool of likely interested people who want to interact with the (likely talented) 1% who are creating.  That is a huge disparity. So businesses must both identify interest and then work hard to plug in those interested people in ways that will be helpful.

Some strategies that work include

  • Posting project plans and summaries on your intranet and then inviting feedback – critical and constructive
  • Exposing a feedback forum or message stream for each project to your wider organization.  This allows the lurkers to browse other things your company is doing and chime in if they see something that piques their interest.
  • Designating a project liaison to act as the single point of contact for projects.  This allows all project team members to engage with others if they wish, but it also provides a hedge against distracting inquiries from outside interested parties – especially at times when team members are “heads down”.
  • Tracking what kinds of content employees are searching for and accessing on your corporate intranet or ECM system and then building up an “interest profile” for each employee.  When combined with a talent profile (LINK TO EARLIER ARTICLE) this can be used to proactively seek out project team mates or ad hoc advisors.

Many different social technologies exist to enable participation and sharing of interests.  The trick is to identify your purpose then specific, measurable goals that drive your  social business design.  Then you will see sustained value.

Getting Started With SlideShare

SlideShareA colleague recently asked me for some tips on how to use SlideShare.net to promote his business process engineering presentations (check out his site).  I ended up with a cool top 10 list of how to get started with SlideShare.net.  I thought I’d share them with you

1)      Browse!  First thing to do – spend 30 minutes just browsing slide share presentations.  See what you like, what works and what doesn’t.  There are tons of great examples.  If you need a place to start, check out my presentations – some corporate, some personal.  http://www.slideshare.net/billycripe

2)      Pictures! People are visual – make your slides visual too. Pictures are good.

3)      Recycling is a NO NO. Your uploaded presentation SHOULD NEVER be the same one you give live.  Your audience is different.

4)      It’s All About The Audience.  Figure out your target audience – are they immediately viewing your presentation right there or are they going to download the presentation and review it later?  Downloaders are typically looking for specific information – make sure it is in the notes, appendix or slides themselves.  Deliver as much information AND ‘how to follow up’ info as you can.  Immediate viewers are intrigued and want to be edu-tained by your presentation.  Hold their attention and tell them a story. People viewing a slide show online are more willing to read and click – so tell a story with images and pictures. More slides are OK.

5)     Kill The Animation!  Kill your slide transitions and then Kill your “build” slides.  Any animation in your slides must go.  It doesn’t work online.  If you have a build slide – burst it into 3 or 4 (or 10) separate slides, each with the incremental “build” difference.  That way, going to the next slide has the effect of “building” the image.

6)      Remember Your 5th Grade English Teacher.  Remember your literature class from Grade School?  It’s important now.  Your presentation is a story.  It should have an intro, rising action, climax and dénouement.

7)     Call To Action. Make sure you have a call to action  – contact me, more information etc.  Make sure that the call to action is immediately possible!  People are more prone to act on a call to action as they are engaged with your presentation.  Don’t make them wait to engage you.  Have a facebook page with a contact form, a website with a contact form, an click to dial or click to email address set up in your SlideShare profile.  MAKE IT EASY for them to reach you.

8)      Webify.  Make it web-ready.  If you’re using Power Point, use the “save as” à “PNG image” à every slide  option.  Then take the exported images (which will be the exact dimension of your slides) and replace each slide’s content with the PNG image of that slide.  This ensures that SlideShare or other services you might be using will render the deck exactly as you see and intend it.  It can also help shrink the size of the deck which facilitates downloading.

9)      Share! Allow others to download your presentation.  This lets them access your content on the go.

10)   Promote It!  Promote your presentation! Embed it in your blog using the “embed code” that slideshare provides to you.  Put it in your website and link to it on your facebook page and linkedIn groups.  Tweet it.  Put a key image from your deck on your Pinterest board.  (what?  You aren’t using pinterest for business?  You should be!)