Content Tips — A-Z: Create Relevant, Engaging Content
Marketers own the revenue channel: it's your job to find, create, nurture, and warm up leads for Sales to close. You built the marketing pipeline as a systematic, predictable process. You monitor and manage it. And it's content that fuels the process.
Content is delivered three ways: what we perceive and think (emotionally); physically through media; and logically through word meanings.
I think most content marketers rely on word meanings alone to deliver their message. I think that's wrong: I think it's how you say what you're saying which differentiates your message and creates a lasting and cumulative impression.
In hierarchical importance:
- how you say what you're saying matters first (brand voice),
- then the physical delivery (blog/video/email), and
- finally the actual words of the message.
Are You A Grizzly Bear Or Ant?
If you haven't realized it yet, traditional marketing tools and thoughts are ineffective against search and websites and mobile and convergence. Like an ant compared to a grizzly bear. Size, speed, strength.
Who'd you rather be, the ant or the grizzly?
In direct comparison the grizzly is a giant, dangerous, fast, cunning hunter; and the ant gets stepped on.
Revenue marketers with systematic marketing pipelines and a supply of original, branded content elements are the grizzlies of the web, on the hunt for prospects and traffic 24/7.
This is step four in making sure what you're doing is timely, relevant, informative and engaging to the people you want - wherever they happen to be in the buy cycle. The steps are: Positioning A-Z for the high-level strategy, Strategy A-Z for the operational planning, Branding A-Z for tactical tips on how to make whatever you say your own, and this page, for creating the messages.
A is for Action
If it isn't moving it might be dead. Action, speed and movement are defining your world even as you're reading this. Maybe you just lost a customer through defection. Oh oh, one of your nurtured leads just downloaded from a competing website. Content is the fuel that drives the action, from pulling attention in to moving a lead through the pipeline. Make sure there's energy, empathy, urgency and action steps in every content element you produce.
B Is For Broadcast
Remember when TV was called Broadcast Television? It was called that because the signals covered your city limits and way, way beyond. Here in Toronto we had the best television in the world because we received all the TV signals from nearby US cities: Buffalo, Cleveland; Detroit; Rochester. My point? You can't attract attention without getting a signal out there. Way, way out there. And what your content will do - when it's combining and supporting your unique perspective and brand meaning - is reduce the signal to noise ratio to a level where your ideal customer is only going to notice you.
C is for Craft
Content doesn't happen overnight, or in a flash. Content is much more than a creative idea. Content has a purpose, which is to achieve business objectives by creating (crafting) a specific message that your ideal customer will find so appealing they feel compelled to consume the content. The B2B folks probably think compelling is too strong. The B2C crowd probably think compelling doesn't apply to them. Great TV spots are compelling when you can't help but watch - successful content. B2B? Compelling is the difference between clicking on a download button or going back to search results. Everyone needs compelling. Work on it.
D is for Disqualify
Make sure you have a specific message from a unique perspective that appeals to your ideal customer - and gets rid of everyone else. If your content doesn't disqualify prospects and turn all the wrong people off - you know what happens don't you? A marketing pipeline full of crap prospects and leads. Never waste your time with bad prospects and leads - disqualify them and move on. They'll be grateful too.
E is for Enable
Easy. Enable your ideal customer to move forward in the decision and buy cycle. You don't control this anymore. Your job as a responsible revenue marketer is to enable that prospect or lead to take action (so make it easy) and to move forward in their process (so make it sound quick and simple) so they do it. Motivating campaigns with positive content messaging and brand-meaningful calls-to-action need to be planned. Get planning.
F is for Findable
Your content makes you findable. It doesn't matter how engaging your content is, remarkable, compelling or timely. If your customers, leads or prospects can't find you and your content - you're dead in the water. You're out of gas. Make all your content, audio, video and words be relevant to your customer's wants and problems and please use those keyword phrases they're using for search.
G is for Grab
Have you ever been in the funhouse 'ride' at a fair or carnival? The one with the dark corridors and wonky mirrors. They've got stuff in there that feels like it's making a grab for you. Instant attention. Immediate reaction. Recognition and lack of confusion. (Pumping adrenalin.) That's the sequence that we all wish our prospects would experience when they're searching for answers and find our content. Grab them.
H is for Headline
Compelling headlines grab your attention and make you read the next line. That's what headlines are meant to do - get you into the writing and involved. Work on creating better headlines that help your prospects or suspects find your content and discover you. Be careful with your nurturing, promotional and loyalty campaign elements. Avoid contrived or cute or clever. You've already established that relationship: don't blow it with a headline they can say "so what" or "Hunh?" to. Remain informative and businesslike.
I is for Involve
Involvement is one aspect of marketing very few online marketers actually have experience with. Direct marketers used involvement devices regularly, like the penny tipped in the sales letter. There's a major reason for creating and sustaining involvement: once they're involved you can be sure you've got their attention and they're bot thinking of anything else. Work on creating involving content (without the penny).
J is for Join
Join is an important concept to emphasize in your content marketing campaigns. You want suspects, prospects and leads to join your community - and your customers to stay put. Joining is invitational and encompassing, but it means overcoming inertia and natural suspicion. You need to be clear and transparent in all your campaign efforts to communicate your honesty and trustworthiness - and counteract that suspicion.
K is for Kudos
Shower your customers, leads and prospects with Kudos. Why? Well, have you ever shunned praise? I think the need for praise is universal. It confuses me that I see so little praise in content marketing strategies and campaign elements. Maybe the challenging business climate has focused attention on problems rather than accomplishments. Or it could be the simple truth that very few people know how to construct and write positive messages. Reward the individuals in your marketing pipeline who have taken action, no matter how small that action is. They deserve it. And they'll thank you for it.
L is for License
You have a license to explore new ideas and concepts in your content marketing campaigns. New ways of thinking. Different ways of seeing. Because there is so much crap on the web, any fresh perceptions contained in your messaging is going to be welcomed by your audience. It will stand out as provocative (perhaps) or fascinating (sorry Spock) and it'll get noticed, shared and read.
M is for Mindful
Words are powerful. Words can stir emotions and bring people to take action, either positive or negative. On the web it's the words that create relationships. It's the words that inspire action. It's the words that fuel your customers, leads and prospects to move forward through their buying cycle. Be considerate with your thoughts and words. Be mindful of the ideas and emotions you're sparking.
N is for Nurture
Business relationships share the qualities of personal relationships: they need care and attention to maintain or grow them and keep them positive. In one word: nurture. Protection. Warmth. Feeding. Attention. Think of your content marketing elements as individual actions that have the option to do good, be neutral, or cause harm. Try to design all your content to do good, and you'll be constantly growing and building relationships.
O is for Offer
Where else can you present your offer to solve problems more cost effectively than in your content marketing campaigns. You should have multiple offers. Offers to create awareness and drive traffic (demand generation). Offers to convince prospects to identify themselves and become leads. And most profitable of all - offers for your existing customers to encourage repeat purchase, new purchase, build loyalty and reduce churn.
P is for Problem Solving
The whole point of content marketing is to demonstrate your business problem-solving abilities. Your competitive positioning and value proposition are meant to show leads how you can make their lives better. Your content can be about problem solving without selling or even pre-selling. By solving problems, your content becomes relevant, useful and looked for.
Q is for Quirky
There are times when quirky and slightly odd can pay off by demonstrating noticeable behaviour. Quirky may not be a positive personal trait, but in your content - quirky can be an attention getter. Here's another thing about quirky - if your content is becoming too predictable you can bet your audience is starting to get bored. That's when you lose them. Introduce something peculiar every now and then and call yourself quirky.
R is for Reaction
Get your content read, or watched or listened to and there's going to be a reaction. Positive or negative, reactions are important to gauging the success of your campaign element. Reactions include comments, click throughs, downloads, webinar attendees, video impressions and any funnel or pipeline metrics you have in place. Lack of reaction tells you the content missed the mark and needs to be changed and tested.
S is for Share
There's two aspects to share. The obvious connotation is to share your knowledge and expertise in all your campaign elements to demonstrate your leadership qualities and earn trust. Sharing also includes tweets and blog mentions, and sharing links. When content is shared your messaging travels further and is available to a greater number of people, effectively increasing your reach.
T is for Touch
Content has the power to touch your audience. Compelling content which touches us can establish brand credibility, encourages trust, and grow the relationship between you and your audience. I want you to understand your ability to cause your audience to take action and move forward in the buy cycle depends on if you touch them deeply enough to make them do something.
U is for Ultra
Yes, content marketing campaigns can be radical. Ultra content might be considered subversive by your competitors and liberating by your audience. When your content challenges the status quo and poses questions no one has thought to ask, you might be accused of being an extremist. I'm not sure if that's actually bad. One thing for sure, it'll get your content noticed.
V is for Visitor
This might be the greatest goal of any content marketing strategy, campaign or individual content element: create a website visitor. Whether you're talking to current customers through a loyalty campaign or strangers through a traffic campaign, your goal is to get them to visit your website and do something. Visitors: that how you make friends, by visiting. And with more visits, friends build relationships - so make visits an important metric.
W is for Wants
Every business has to create customers. Customers have problems they need solved. Usually the problems customers have are expressed as wants. "I want more revenue so I need... x-y-z." Answer implied and unspoken wants in your content campaigns and you'll be speaking directly to the inner voice of your audience, striking an emotional cord which resonates between needs and wants.
X is for Xmas
If every content campaign was delivered more like a gift than a burden, I think response rates across the web would skyrocket. There are complaints that email doesn't have impact any longer. I say you probably don't have exciting news or interesting subject lines in your emails. What exactly are you sending to people? Treat your content elements like little gifts and you'll be treating your audience as special. And we all enjoy special treatment.
Y is for Yell & Yawn
Don't do the first and avoid causing the second. People have enough happening in their lives without your content yelling at them to do something. Friends don't make a habit of yelling at friends. Yawn. That's the sign of boredom working so effectively it caused it's very own call-to-action. Yawn. Imagine how hard you have to be working to create that much boredom. Be lively. Be active. Get Positive.
Z is for Zingability
Can you make someone happier today? Put a lift in their step? Cause a smile or two? Can you wake people up and put a little zing in their day? Then do it. Rewrite that "regular old" content to read and sound exciting. You don't need to overboard, all you need to do is have a more interesting and compelling way of saying what you're already saying. And make sure you don't sound like your competitors when you do it.
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