September 2, 2014
Magic and Content Marketing
Magic is one of those occupations that has a mix of lovers and haters. Some dislike feeling tricked, or not being “in the know” about how something is performed. Regardless I think there are some similarities between performing magic and the art of successful content marketing. Yes, magic is an art and so is content marketing. Here are four questions you should ask about your content marketing.
Where are your users looking?
One of the first things magicians and sleight-of-hand artists learn is the skill of misdirection. Causing your audience to watch one hand while the other hand performs the trick. Hmm, deception, how does that relate to content marketing.
Well of course we don’t want to encourage deception in our writing, but there’s another principle that must first be learned that is far more important than deception. The magician must know exactly where their audience is looking. They must command their audience and draw their eyes to exactly what they want them to see. As a content marketing expert you want to be so in touch with your audience that you know exactly where they are looking and what will keep them looking. You want to draw their eyes to what you want them to see.
Are you entertaining?
There’s no doubt that sleight-of-hand artists are entertaining. You can’t help but watch them somewhat mesmerized when they are performing a trick. You want to see every move, every split-second action. You’re highly engaged and entertained. Just the same, you as a content marketing artist must make people feel entertained while they are reading what you write. It’s no longer just a manual or a blog article about a new feature for a piece of software. It’s an opportunity to entertain.
This means because you know where your audience is looking and because you are in touch with what interests them you can now craft a story, an intrigue, a heartbreak, or a comedy which captures their hearts and engages them in what you are sharing. You must be entertaining. You must be engaging. Your content is your stage from which you can mesmerize the world.
Are you exciting?
Magic is exciting because the user knows what to expect and yet is still fooled. They are drawn into the illusion and the magic of the moment. When you craft content marketing you have an opportunity to excite. Yes, of course the user may know what to expect and yet you can still surprise and delight them through your delivery methods. Be exciting in the sentences you construct and the words you use to deliver your message.
Content marketing is not just business. Yes, it has many real-life applications and uses. But we should never forget that our content is a way to communicate, excite others, and stir within them a passion for the thing which drives and motivates us. Your words can empower people. You can excite your audience to do more.
Are you encouraging questions?
If you’ve ever watched a magic show you’ve seen audience members shocked, amazed, entertained, and excited. Then the questions start to come out. They want to know how the trick was done. They want to know more. They want it to be performed for them again. A good artist will be at home with their audience, will encourage interaction, and will welcome the opportunity to establish a more personal interaction.
As a content marketer you want to do the same. Content marketing is about engaging with your audience; sharing relevant information and encouraging questions. Good marketers leave their audience wanting to know more and asking questions. Great content marketers not only cause their audience to ask questions but they provide answers as well. Suddenly the content has come alive and become a channel by which the writer and the audience share a bond.
Are you practicing?
One thing every magician or sleigh-of-hand artist will tell you is the importance practice plays in their success. I’ve heard stories of magicians practicing a single trick for thousands of hours before ever showing it to the world. They want the illusion to be perfect. They want the mystery to be captivating and the trick to be flawless.
Content writing is also a skill which must be practiced. Your words must be chosen carefully and thoughtfully and the more you practice writing beautiful sentences the better you will become. You should want your writing to be flawless. There is not a day which goes by when I don’t see an imperfection a flaw, or a mistake which I could have done better in my writing. I see each day as an opportunity to practice more.
My wife laughs at me because I constantly go back, read and re-read my posts and then chagrin over how they could have been improved.
Magical Content Marketing
You can be a content marketer. You can be great at writing a thousand words a day without blinking an eye. Perhaps you are quite good at creating captivating posts. There is always room for improvements. We can all become better, hopefully these four questions playfully comparing content writing to magicians and other artists help to look lightheartedly at ways in which we can continue to improve our craft.
We are artists. We must be flawless in our execution, engaging in our delivery, exciting in our content and magical in the experience we create. Let’s practice a bit more magic when performing content marketing.
Remember, we’re all in this together!
July 21, 2014
7 Tips For Better Content Marketing
More and more these days I hear of marketing agencies focusing on a “new” form of marketing. The current buzz word? Content Marketing. I’m pretty sure anyone working in marketing for any length of time is well aware of the long and enduring importance of content marketing. This is by no means a new concept to marketing. However, as this has gained greater support I’d like to share 7 tips to help you make sure your content marketing strategy is done right.
To get us started I’ll provide a quick definition for those possibly less familiar with the term and idea of content marketing. There are of course other valid definitions but this one servers our purpose well for what we will discuss today.
Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Based on this relatively standard definition (Thank you Google), here’s seven things you should consider to make your content marketing better.
1. Your Content Should Serve A Purpose
Content marketing is much more than merely putting words on a blog. Content marketing needs to accomplish a goal. You need to make sure you are serving a purpose. Think about the content you’re sharing and the reason why you’re creating it. If you can’t clearly define a purpose for your article then rethink it before publishing. Find a way to connect with your audience, be in tune with their needs and share something which will benefit them.
2. Make Your Content Shareable
This point is more similar than you might think to the first idea. In the first point I say to make sure your content serves a purpose. In this second point you need to make sure that your article is easily shareable so others can quickly send it to others. This is the flip side of the first point. Rather than thinking of the purpose of your content for your reader, think about how your content serves your purpose. Making content easy to share means you must make sure that when it is shared it’s going to help you accomplish your purpose. Consider placing common social sharing tools on or near your article to increase the usability and ease of sharing.
3. Don’t Ramble
Writing content requires time and thought. You can’t just throw words down on a page and hope they make sense. Nor can you write content without thinking through exactly what you want to accomplish. If you try to write content ‘off-the-cuff’ or ‘on-the-fly’ you’ll find you’re much more prone to rambling and getting off topic. When you begin to ramble you will lose the attention and focus of your readers. Staying focused in your writing and structuring your content around a theme or purpose will help ensure you stay true to the purpose you wish to serve.
4. Focus On Your Content Form
One you make sure your writing is serving a purpose (both for your own reasons as well as the needs of your audience) you should make sure your content is well-formed. The careful creation and delivery of an article should demonstrate your attention to detail and your desire to be polished in your approach. The form of your content should show your audience you’ve thought through your article and planned what you wish to share.
5. Be Original In Your Words
Be sure when sharing content you are doing more than merely repeating something already said. Write original and fresh content which serves a purpose and is easy for them to share with others. Be creative and avoid the use of over-used jargon and cliches. One easy way to keep your content original is to make your content personal. Share your experiences, successes, and failures and what you’ve learned as a result. Personal stories and those unique influences are a great way to be original in your content marketing.
6. Use Graphics
Content marketing is more than just words on a page. Content marketing is the use of a variety of techniques to deliver rich content. Sometimes it can be simple to think this rich content should be only textual. But if you think about those content items which you personally found most informative, helpful, or simply easy to share you’ll find the images and graphics used within the article were important in the way you consumed the information. Be sure you use appropriate images in your content marketing.
7. Think Before You Write
I saved one of the most important tips for good content marketing until the last although I’ve hinted at this idea in many of the preceding points. Strong content marketing should aways be done with great thought. A well thought-out piece of content marketing will demonstrate your purpose, will be clearly structured, and will accomplish your goals without rambling. Your audience will appreciate an educated content strategy which encourages sharing and is visually appealing. Think through every aspect of your content marketing and how each individual piece of content contributes to the greater long-term strategy of your business.
Many businesses can feel overwhelmed with thinking about their content marketing strategy and the path they should follow to be successful. These 7 tips should provide some very real methods to make sure your content marketing is effective. If you’re in a business where you are contracting someone else to specifically provide this service then these tips should help you ensure your contractor is doing a good job for you.
I hope these tips prove useful to you and encourage you as you continue engaging in content marketing. Your content is important and can serve an incredible role in the overall marketing strategy of your business. Don’t ignore this valuable resource but rather take these tips and make your content marketing better.
June 20, 2014
4 Reasons You Should Create Killer Content
Of course everyone wants to have a great website with killer content. Well, maybe I should rephrase that slightly. Everyone understands they simply must have a website in today’s world. The power of the internet to reach customers has become a well-known fact and every business wants to capture new customers. Many of these sites face the same problem eventually. How do they keep their website fresh and keep traffic coming?
As businesses create their websites they have to decide on what pages they want to include. Web design agencies will often tell them to look at their competitors, or simply find sites they like and learn what some of the common pages are. The inevitable outcome is a quick search on Google for their industry and a brief browsing of the top results. Because these sites rank high on search engines the chances are good they have a blog of some kind or some other means of delivering fresh content regularly to their users. And you know what’s coming next. Because X, Y and Z companies have a blog, these businesses decide they need one too. They expect to see a great looking constantly updated blog filled with great content.
Some web shops will be smart and ask the business who will be maintaining the blog. In fact, some shops may even offer advice and encouragement for ways to keep content fresh on the blog. The reality is sadly very different. Sure, the business may start strong for a day, a week, maybe even two. But eventually the time involved with creating fresh content becomes too much of a chore. The job gets missed a couple of times, the world doesn’t end, and slowly but surely the blog gets completely neglected.
Maybe it’s a lack of interest, maybe even a disbelief in the importance, usually it comes down to time. Killer content takes time and dedication. Many businesses don’t see an immediate result and therefore fail to place the proper importance on the art of content writing.
So in order to help businesses and to help you feel properly motivated to write fresh content and spend the time and energy it takes to create killer content; here are 4 reasons why you should write.
1. Engage your reader
The first reason you should make a blog a priority on your site is obvious. You want to engage with your reader. You don’t want to be “in their face” but you do want to let them know you’re around if they need help. When you go into a store and you’re greeted by the staff it lets you know someone is available. Sometimes people don’t fully understand the importance of this concept so let me see if I can paint a picture.
Imagine you see a store which looks interesting to you. You walk up and open the door. Maybe it creaks just a little when you pull the handle and maybe it looks a little outdated. You’re hesitant but still curious. As you step inside you notice there’s no music playing over the speakers, the lights are dim and you might possibly be the only person in the store. You cautiously look around but you’re already wondering if you’ve made a mistake. Finally after a few minutes of skeptic browsing of their products you decide clearly the business is closed and quickly make your exit.
If your website does not engage your reader, you are the proud owner of the store I just mentioned. You effectively turn the lights out and give the impression your store is deserted. You make your visitors feel like intruders. They don’t have any reason to believe the store is open and they will think no one is home. Creating fresh content is critical to engaging your customers.
2. Encourage return visits
If you create fresh and exciting content your readers will look forward to coming back. Think of it like an opportunity to get together with a good friend. You look forward to the next time you will be able to spend time with them and you enjoy the interaction you have. If your website provides killer content full of interesting tips, tricks, and facts which your friends are interested in – they will love to return.
Notice I said provide content they are interested in. You must know your target audience. You must know your “friends”. If you create content but it’s not interesting to the person you consider to be your ideal customer they won’t stick around and they won’t come back. Admit it, when you are out with a group of people and the topic of the conversation shifts to something you’re not personally interested in, what do you do? You don’t stay engaged, you check your phone, look around the room, or lose interest. If the conversation never held anything interesting for you, you’d probably quit coming. Your content needs to encourage your readers to come back for more.
3. Educate with excitement
How many times have you visited a website because you’re searching for an answer to a problem? Probably more times than you care to admit. I know I often joke about leaving my brain in the other room if I don’t have my phone handy to perform a quick search whenever I don’t know something. We can all agree we use the web to educate ourselves. So let’s take it a step further. When you were in school, or university, what classes were most interesting? For me, the best classes were the ones where the professor was excited and interesting. I was learning without even thinking about learning.
When you write content you should take the time to craft interesting content which is both educational and exciting. I know not every industry can be (or should be) filled with comic relief, witty stories, or anecdotal advice. However, every industry can take the time and make the effort to educate without being boring and dry. Find ways to share information without sounding like an encyclopedia.
4. Earn industry respect
Educating your audience as I described in the previous point actually does two things for you. (See saving you time already!) You may be writing your content to help educate your reader but you are also demonstrating your expertise at the same time. Now not only do your customers see that you know what you’re talking about…so do your competitors. You will become an expert in your field and earn industry respect through your content.
Every industry has to have leaders. Every field has to have experts. How are those experts found and identified by the community? There are several different ways to gain credibility but a very easy one which is readily available to everyone is through sharing knowledge and educating the industry. Killer blog content gives you street cred.
When you create killer content you engage your audience, you encourage them to return, you educate them and you earn the respect of the industry. Don’t neglect these very simple four reasons why your blog should be one of the most important aspects of your website. Yes, it is time consuming and yes it requires a certain level of dedication. But creating fresh and killer content is one of the most important ways you can spend your time. Dust off that blog, crack your knuckles and start writing today!
April 27, 2014
The Future of Content Management
Here’s a presentation put together discussing how the ever-changing internet has affected the CMS market space. 10 key factors every CMS should address.