Tag Archives: content strategy

Three Ugly Truths about Content Marketing

In a recent content marketing report, 93 percent of B2B marketers say they are using content marketing this year in their efforts. The plethora of online content is astounding on the topic; more than 1 billion search results appear.

That’s right 1 billion results.

But, among the 1 billion search results, I haven’t found much in marketers sharing the growing pains.  While content marketing might be the shiny new penny, there are seven ugly truths about content marketing.

Ugly Truth #1: Everyone wants to create content, but no one wants to discuss promotion and distribution

Perhaps you have been in meetings where content creators focus most of their time on creating, and no time on distribution and promotion.  In today’s crowded digital world, assigning no distribution or promotion plan is a fool proof way to make sure your content will not be viewed. The old model of “one and done” is over.

I had an amazing, but stunning conversation recently with one of my internal clients that illustrate the lack of understanding promotion. I shared that I was looking to budget some marketing dollars to paid and native advertising, among other things. His response, “why would we do that? We could use that money for a conference.”

Disheartening, yes.  However, I had a clever response. “While the conference might be worth wild, you may only reach maybe 50-75 people at one time for an hour. Online, I can reach 5X to 10X more people, twenty-four hours a day. While you are sleeping, your content can be seen in other parts of the world that far exceed the face-to-face conference.”

Paid search and native advertising (sponsored content) gets the shaft because simply your executives and experts don’t realize they have used it in their off time. More importantly they don’t understand the language or what it means.

Ugly Truth #2: Many folks in your organization already create content without a strategy

content marketing strategy

What is driving your content marketing strategy?

Fun fact: 70 percent of marketers say they lack a consistent or integrated content strategy, despite the fact that 82 percent of content marketers see positive ROI for their inbound marketing.

One of the most interesting parts of my role is wrangling all content creators together so we can “pull on the same string.” There are multiple people in your organization creating content: HR for internal campaigns, product management to communicate with clients, marketing to connect with prospects. Unifying your strategy is important not only for content marketing sake, but also for all the areas your content will be distributed: website, campaigns, annual conferences, social media, and public relations effort.

A unified strategy helps define what your creators will produce, what your team will market and distribute, and what success will look like. While much has been written on content strategy, only 44 percent have a documented strategy according to Content Marketing Institute.

Solution: Write down your content approach and then socialize that among your internal stakeholders. This does not have to be a fancy document. Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web, describes content strategy as “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.”  I like this definition and used it as a template for my company. My documented strategy: what we plan to create that is signed off by the businesses and more importantly subject matter experts, when it is to be delivered, how we plan to use it and repurpose, and what channels will it be distributed. Success metrics are defined by the team and reported on a monthly basis.

Ugly Truth #3: Many folks create content they want to publish not what the customer needs

In my opinion this is the ugliest truth of all. In my former PR role, I had the luxury of driving what content was created because my stakeholders (editors and reporters) drove what content they want. Why? They knew what the reader wanted or what is most interesting to them.

As a content marketer working with highly specialized experts, I run into what a call “academic professor syndrome.”  Remember when you were in college and the professor would pontificate on subjects outside what you were interested in? This syndrome of sharing information only the professor is interested in rather than you reappears in marketing, especially marketing consultants’ expertise.

Solution: Unlike college, where I had to listen, I don’t have to take everything the subject expert as truth. I can validate it by research. I research the following  to guide this conversation:

  •  I review the number of Google searches it appears in. Also, I check out Google Trends to see if this is trending.
  • I do some research in trades  and national news to see how many others are discussing
  •  I perform a small number of searches on social media: Linkedin and Twitter ( these platforms, for my company, are the most used in my areas of focus)
  • I see what others are writing about on the contra of that idea

With this information in hand, I am much more equipped to discuss with the expert effectively. Otherwise this conversation will escalate. Trust me. If the topic is not discussed, I pose the question whether it is an emerging trend or just something the expert thinks is “cool.” What your expert think is “cool” maybe better position for something else (blog post on personal site?), but not much else that takes more resources and time to write. Your job to mitigate project creep and stick to the plan.

Ultimately, this is about creating and executing a plan. Without it, your content marketing efforts will be sunk.

 

What else would you add?

Rachel DiCaro Metscher  has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

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The Most Underused Social Media Platform

The Most Underused Social Media Platform

Reading about the upcoming 2014 content marketing trends from Crazy Egg’s blog, I was reminded how SlideShare is still underused by most social media marketers. It still surprising how often this fantastic tool gets overlooked.

Last year I spoke with PR Week’s Tanya Lewis about the use of SlideShare and PR. If you don’t know what Slideshare is, it is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. With 60 million monthly visitors and and 120 million page views it is one of the top 150 sites on the Internet. Who doesn’t need more views to their website or content?

My presentation from PRSA event in November. Since presenting, it has been viewed more than 450 times. That is beyond the 50 plus folks in the audience who say it. Boom. Now that's what I call increasing awareness.

My presentation from PRSA event in November. Since presenting, it has been viewed more than 450 times. That is beyond the 50 plus folks in the audience who say it. Boom. Now that’s what I call increasing awareness.

I am a huge proponent of SlideShare. For any marketer or public relations professional looking for ways to build their client expertise you shouldn’t look any further. Seriously. Who doesn’t have a Powerpoint to share? How many of you have client looking to you to create content? Here is a chance to repurpose and reuse good content.

Here is my personal example using SlideShare, back in November, I had the opportunity to present to a regional PRSA conference.

Now, when I presented there was about 50 plus folks in the room. Not bad right? But, when I posted my presentation to SlideShare a few things happen:

1) More exposure. Since posting to SlideShare, the presentation has been viewed more than 600 times. Not trending on SlideShare, but definitely worth the investment of increasing my reach by 9X.

2) Someone from the presentation also blogged about it. Bonus! He blogged on Vocus corporate blog and linked to the SlideShare posting. This was a key driver of viewers to my SlideShare presentation. Bonus: a reporter from my local market also covered the story too. Love it.

3) Increased credibility. Amazing when you can share your ideas and thoughts, folks seek you out for advice and expertise. Building expertise through showing your work. Huzzah, what every PR person wants for their client: ability to leverage their expertise and get noticed.

Final thought: You or your client already have some pretty decent presentation that are probably worth sharing. Why not give it a shot?

Part Two: How to Use Storytelling in Your Content Marketing

I recently attended a Content Marketing Institute webinar on the 2014 upcoming content marketing trends. One of the key approaches to content marketing is understand who you are creating content for. It’s not about what you want to write about, it is about what your audience cares about. I thought the webinar was timely and highlighted the importance of knowing your audience.

In the second installment of how to use storytelling in your content marketing I evaluate the importance of defining your audience and keeping organized.

Step Three: Define Your Audience

Now that you have everyone on board to be storytellers, it’s time to define your audience. If you have developed personas for your marketing use those to help develop your stories. If you do not have personas, here is why you need them: Personas help define who will consume the new content you are about to create.

Personas are profiles of your customer. They are a snapshot into what motivates that customer to buy your products or services. Questions to consider when developing personas: what makes the audience engage? Why should they care? What’s in it for them? What do you want the audience to do after reading your story?

Creating personas will take time. You will need to do some interviewing of current clients as well as stakeholders who work directly with them. A great example of how to research your audience is look at job postings in your field. I am currently working in the energy space and was having trouble understanding who works in the energy space. I started looking at job postings to find out who the utilities were trying to employ and use this as the foundation for me to build my personas. It wasn’t perfect, but with the requirements I understood what was needed in their roles which in turn helped me figure out pain points and motivators. I used this as the foundation to build the personas and peppered subject matter interviews to refine the personas.

Contribution from atlanta.iabc.com

Contribution from atlanta.iabc.com

Step Four: Get Organized

Managing multiple themes and getting your story out in the market will take planning and organization. Editorial calendars will be your new favorite tool in 2014.

Editorial calendars helps organizations organize multiple themes, platforms, team members, and manage the process of creation. Pam Dyer, a Social Media Today contributor wrote that editorial calendars should be viewed as a roadmap to ensure your content is optimized to meet your business goals and targets the right audience. It will also provide assurance that your contributors, stakeholders, and distribution channels are working in concert. I love that because as marketers we sometimes neglect the planning and organizing internal resources to create content.

As the Director of Content Marketing, as see my role as the CEO of content. I help plan, but also I make sure all folks contributing understand they are accountable to delivering the content. The editorial calendar is a great tool to work with multiple stakeholders to understand where their content will be distributed and manage deadlines. I would also stress that the editorial calendar is not static, but ever evolving. I am constantly changing themes and distribution of content based on changes of my contributors or marketplace. A great example was my firm’s recent whitepaper on the polar vortex affect the U.S. energy market ability to respond to extreme weather. Based on small changes to timing we were able to capitalize on great earned media opportunities in the national press and trade publications.

Editorial calendars also help me manage the contributors and foresee holes in the plan. It can also be a great source to help you generate ideas for future contributions and repurpose opportunities. Don’t think you can use only one story at a time, you can repurpose several content pieces for different platforms such as social and off line.

Storytelling is not a new concept, but is more challenging to use in today’s noisy marketplace. Marketers who will effectively use realize this technique will take time, planning, and executive buy in. it’s not only about the planning, but also the stories themselves. Do you have a corporate story that will resonate and cut through the noise?

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Fun Fact Fridays: 15 Interesting Nuggets about Digital

Fun Fact Fridays: 15 Interesting Nuggets about Digital

Like many of you folks, I love reading. I especially love reading different articles about how digital media is changing the how we communicate with our audience. DigiDay posted this nugget this morning. Here is an excerpt of the 15 facts:

  1. 2 billion: Number of online video views for the 76 episodes of Chinese drama “Zhen Huan Zhuan.”
  2. 72: Number of hours of content that’s uploaded every minute to YouTube. (YouTube)
  3. 85 percent: Amount of smartphone/tablet owners who use their devices while watching TV at least once during the month (Nielsen)

Social Digital Media

So what does this mean for communicators and marketers? To me, this is a clear indication  that we must produce quality content that people can:

  1. View.
  2. Share while multitasking.
  3. Want to talk about.

Easy tasks right? I think the above is if you take the position like Hubspot, the inbound marketing company, in which all project answer this question, S.F.T.C.

Solve For the Customer.

Future of Content Marketing

Recently, I attended a seminar from Content Marketing Institute on the future of content marketing. One of the key takeaways from the seminar was the increasing pressure marketers are feeling when it comes to content. Most marketers agree that this issue (at least to them) is they need more content. That the more content you have, the more you are proving value and insight to clients.

Joe Pulizzi lamented that the issue is not more content, but that you need a content strategy. Why you ask?  Publishing more content and pushing it into the market is not going to improve your marketing in fact it will increase the noise already in the marketplace. But, if you align your content based on your clients and their needs at different stages, you are better able to provide value. Shocking, planning for content rather than creating senseless marketing materials will get you to your end destination. It is always the most simple advice that achieves the greatest success. It is really about KISS = Keep it simple, stupid.

There was a lot of great conversations. Search for the hashtag #CMI from December 3rd. I found the seminar very information and worth checking out.

The Future of Content Marketing: A Special Report on 2013 Benchmarking, Budget and Trends