The Point

Archive for the ‘Content marketing’ Category

May

The Content Marketing Challenges Doing You In

Content Marketing Challenges
Failure is an option.
In content marketing, the fails outnumber the successes 2:1.

I’ll assume you want to be on the right side of this ratio. But recent history suggests it’s more likely you’ll go left and meet the fate of the majority.

There are a number of reasons content marketers fail. If you want to summarize them all in one swoop for the sake of simplicity, it’d go something like this:

Content marketers want shortcuts to success, but there are none.

Content marketing expert John Miller of ScribeWise broke the problem down into six content marketing challenges. I got excited when I read his post about how the majority of content marketers fail because I’ve offered extensive advice (which I’m going to share again) for addressing each of the problems, which are:

  • No content marketing plan
  • Ill-equipped team
  • Low priority
  • Lack of content ideas
  • Self-centered content
  • Poor reach

If you want shortcuts, I don’t recommend you spend another second with this article. If you want insights on how to become a successful content marketer for the long haul, read on. I’ll be showing you resources that detail the solutions for each problem, so your reading list will be substantial.

Ready? Here are the problems—and the solutions.

You don’t have a content marketing plan

In recent years, Content Marketing Institute’s studies reveal approximately one-third of marketers have documented a content strategy.

They wing it.

No objectives. No mission statement. No personas. And it follows, they seldom have content mapped to the buyer’s journey—or an editorial calendar.

Markers must think, “Who needs a strategy?” The answer is: effective content marketers. I realized marketers feel overwhelmed by the process, so I simplified content marketing planning to its most essential elements.

Here’s the article, The Content Marketing Plan that Quadruples Your Leads.

Here’s the bulk of the content in a slide deck, which provides you a template.


Fast Track Your Content Marketing Plan from Barry Feldman

Here’s me presenting this lesson in a webinar.

A party of one can seldom get it done. Achieving success in content marketing takes a strategist, managing editor, writers, and more. As you expand into media beyond written works, you need to hire or contract additional specialists.

The skills that are useful in a traditional marketing department don’t always translate perfectly to a content-oriented team.

I don’t want to say you need to field a large team or toss in the towel, but you do need to tool your team to align with your needs. You must understand where to begin and a employ a smart approach for onboarding more talent as you scale.

I’ve written the perfect thing and it was designed to address the needs of companies large or small.

Here’s the guide, Tool Your Marketing Team with the Right Talent, published by Demand Media.

Tool Your Content Marketing Team

Here’s advice for hiring freelance writers from a post I wrote for Content Marketing Institute, How to Hire Freelance Writers Who Make Your Content Better.

Hire freelancers

Content marketing isn’t a priority at your company

The best intentioned marketers often say they have people focused on content creation. But client work comes first and pre-empts production.

If content marketing isn’t a priority, it simple doesn’t get done. It’s not good enough to have the planners, people, and processes unless they’re focused on setting schedules and abiding by them. Not for a month. Or a quarter. Or a year.

You have to commit to devoting resources to executing content marketing forever more.

Here’s an article explaining the chasm between success and failure.

Here’s why content marketing isn’t for everybody.

And here’s Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, explaining how your content needs to come from people inside your company, but outside the marketing department.

Marcus

You don’t know what to create content about

I feel this is only a short-term dilemma. You catch on after swimming in the content marketing waters for six to twelve months.

You get a feel for which topics resonate with your customers and create leads. You find sources of inspiration to draw from. You create conversations that inspire new ideas and marketing assets worthy of repurposing.

It’s coming out of the gate where you’re bound to struggle for subject matter and (with the help of Marcus) I can tell you exactly what to create content about: the questions prospects ask. It’s not the least bit complicated.

Read this, the most effective content marketing tip ever. You’ll be busy creating content for a good spell.

CM tip

 

Here’s Marcus once again, laying down the laws of content marketing success.

You think your content should be about your company

This problem is older than time. The self-centered marketer failed miserably in advertising dominated era and continues to chase away buyers today with online content.

Smart content strategy is not promotional. Get it? So many nod their heads and say they understand, but prove they do not by publishing the “we, we, we” and “me, me, me” garbage that bombs.

This article uncovers the hard truth, like it or not, The Most Effective Online Marketers Focus on One Thing.

Eye chart

 

Your killer content isn’t reaching an audience

People love blogs. And infographics. And YouTube videos. And so on.

Why don’t they love yours? Isn’t the key to content marketing creating great content? It’s not. It’s the table stakes, as they say.

I know you’ve read the frightening facts about the volume of content available in the information age. We’ve come a long way from the age of three TV networks. Or a leading source of news.

The “channels” are now as infinite as the creators. The webosphere can now be divided (though sometimes subtlety) between owner, earned and paid media. And your content marketing success will depend on you making strides in all three.

I wrote an eBook on this subject—content distribution—in collaboration with my friends at CoSchedule.

I want you to read “Amplify Content, Turn Up Demand, which you can get here. It’s a deep and valuable study on content distribution, if I do say so myself.

Amplify content

Here’s me presenting much of the advice in a webinar.

Much of your reach with earned media is dependent on your social media chops, so if you need help getting started with social media, here’s a resource you’ll benefit from. It’s one of the most well-received pieces I’ve created, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Want to be the first to know about EVERY online marketing lesson I create? Put your email in the field below.

Content marketing is challenging. I’m on a mission to help you nail it.

May

Digital Marketing Lead Generation Strategies [Free eBook]

Free ebook Three Deep Marketing

I wrote a 40-page eBook covering today’s most effective digital marketing lead generation strategies. It was recently published by Three Deep Marketing, a sizable agency in Minnesota that’s one of the nation’s premier practitioners of data-driven digital marketing. From content marketing to marketing automation and many other tactics, the eBook covers a lot of ground. You can scroll down to see the chapters list. Go here to download the eBook in its entirety. Or check out how the book begins here and now….

The story begins with the predictably unpredictable buyer

The customer’s buying path is forever unpredictable. The only thing that is predictable is they will do their research.

You’re doing research here and now. You might pull the trigger soon. You might not.

buyer journeyIn a way, you’re a lot like everyone else. The decision you’ll make—in this case, about your company’s marketing—will be an informed one. You’ll put in the time, do your homework and make an informed decision.

And in a way, you’re unlike anyone. You’ll bounce around from source to source however you please. No one knows the path you’ll take—including you.

Let’s lay it on the line. Buyers command the buying process now. They absorb information like sponges, but don’t stand in line to get it. They go online and get it entirely on their terms.

If you want them to consider buying from you, you have to buy into the realities of the new media landscape. You have to map your marketing to their journey. And again, the journey’s wildly unpredictable.

Go ahead and gulp. In the 2010s decade, marketing and media have matured. Keeping up with the changes is a priority, but a highly challenging ambition. Deny the dominance of digital marketing and you’ll go down in defeat. Digitally savvy companies shall inherit the earth.

This eBook is a roadmap of sorts. Our hope is it will equip you with the insights you’ll need to achieve success in the age of the carefully considered decision.

(more…)

Apr

Is the Wrong Department Creating Your Content? [Video: Interview with Marcus Sheridan]

Marcus Sheridan creating content

Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, always calls me “brother.” Though I’m way older than him, I see him more as a “father” than a sibling.

You see, it was just four years ago when I read “Inbound Marketing” by the founders of HubSpot. I thought, “I get it. This is how marketing works now.” Then I thought, “I want to learn more about it from someone that’s actually done it,” that is, drive mountains of traffic, leads and sales by creating content prospects seek and pulling them into your website to devour it.

I went to a conference to hear Marcus speak. He blew me and everyone else in the room away.

Then I got to know him. We became friends. I did what Marcus said to do, which essentially was blog. Answer your prospects’ questions. It worked.

I continue to pay close attention to what he teaches. I continue to learn. And now, I bring you some very special lessons from a cat that teaches and preaches content marketing like no one else.

Marcus wants you to understand something immensely important… (more…)

Apr

Infographics 101: The Big Idea (The Great Big List of Infographic Ideas)

Great big  list of infographics ideas

Infographics continue rocking. And rolling.

See, you may knock one out of the park with a blog post or another content type and earn links and social media shares, but something unique happens with a killer infographic …

It not only captures attention, it gets reposted. All over the place. And your brand goes with it, rolling across the social web like tumbleweed. Of course, it’s gratifying, but it’s also great for extending the reach of your brand and its message. (more…)

Apr

Your Guide to Mastering the Most Critical Content Marketing Skill

Content marketing skillYou’ll need a number of skills to master content marketing. The most important of them is teaching.

Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi hit the concept squarely with his post “Why Education is a Powerful Content Marketing Strategy: 17 Examples.” As usual, Joe’s lesson was off-the-charts. I also loved the commentary stream that followed, especially this:

Content marketing is education

The post inspired me to write a “how to teach effectively” article featuring the ideas of two experts on the subject of learning: my daughters. The article details five lessons for earning an A in education. If you fear your content may sometimes lull readers to sleep, check it out.

Tapping into the minds of expert educators (and students)

In an effort to explore the topic further, I pecked my way around the web, digging up insights from a variety of experts qualified to opine on the qualities of the best teachers.

I wasn’t surprised to find a number of the themes my kids hit on re-emerge—especially humor, interaction, and unpredictability. It’s kind of a lesson within this lesson: Want to know what works best? Ask your audience.

You follow me, right? I’m saying if you want to know what makes a great teacher, ask the students. This simple principle applies to your content marketing in the biggest way. Are you in the habit of asking your customers how you can best school them? (more…)

Apr

20 Signs Your Web Content Writer Won’t Cut Through the Crap

Web content writer

I was on vacation in Vancouver with my family last week. We went to the famous public market on Granville Island. There’s a lot to see and do there. The market seems to offer every flavor of everything.

I would have enjoyed it more if my sinuses were not a stuffed-up mess. When I decided to give my throbbing head a break and sit down and listen to a busker play guitar, my family headed back into the market for tea.

When they came to rally me again, they presented me with a tea specially blended to kick colds. The concoction included ginger and cayenne pepper. I took a sip, gagged, and tossed it in the trash. The tea was nastier than my head cold.

It wasn’t the highlight of my trip, but it’s not an experience I’ll soon forget. I’ll remember where I got it and how it made me feel.

Who the hell puts cayenne pepper in tea?

The answer is a tea specialist, a tea specialist who wants to make someone feel better… a tea specialist that wants to make a bold statement… a tea specialist aiming to get a response from her customer.

For all the same reasons, I submit great copywriters mix in cayenne pepper too. They may not use pepper in every paragraph they serve. They may choose to forgo the pepper in favor of different flavor. But trust me on this: they shan’t shy away from peppering their prose with spice.

Everyone’s a web content writer now

The gold rush of 1849 produced the term 49er, meaning a person who had gone to California to mine gold.

I just did a Google search for “web content writer.” In a half-second the search engine returned 115-million results. From my POV, it seems today’s mother lode is content marketing, the treasure trove that connects customers to companies.

Will the legions of new web content writers earn the nickname 15ers?

I’ve written this post to help you understand wordsmiths are cut from different cloths. I hope to tool you with insights to spare you from the headaches symptomatic of hiring the wrong writer. (more…)

Mar

Headline Advice to Confuse You and Kill All Creative Impulses

Data about writing headlinesWhat do I know about writing headlines?

Yesterday I was asked to lead a headline writing session at a major marketing conference. I accepted. I’ve done it many times before and enjoy it.

An infographic I created about headlines (presented below) is one of my most popular pieces of content. I’ve written several posts featuring headline writing tips. I get interviewed on the subject all the time. In fact, recently I landed a nice piece of business from a CEO who heard me dispense headline advice on a podcast with Copyblogger’s Damien Farnsworth.

I’m a loyal reader of the HubSpot blog. It’s one of the best. I’m also a contributor to it. In fact, the most popular piece I wrote for HubSpot was my first, Copywriting 101: The Principles of Irresistible Content.

Writing effective headlines

Sooo… when I saw HubSpot and Outbrain had collaborated to produce “Data Driven Strategies for Writing Effective Titles & Headlines,” of course I got my hands on it (but that’s not my hand above).

The 28-page paper reports findings on clickthrough rates, engagement and conversion drawn from a number-crunching study of 3.3 million headlines from paid links. (Outbrain is a content discovery platform, meaning it puts sponsored content in the path of website readers. It’s new media advertising, basically.)

The data is pretty damn shocking…

… and confusing… and frustrating… and counter-intuitive… (more…)

Mar

Forbes Rounds Up Experts for Actionable Content Marketing Tips

Forbes content marketing tips

Ready to rock your content marketing?

Here’s a recent article from Forbes.com offering 9 tips from content marketing experts… 

If you want to grow your business in 2015, you have to invest in content marketing. You simply cannot afford to ignore it any longer. It’s one of the best and most effective ways to connect with prospects and differentiate from competition.

The problem is, when it comes to developing and implementing content marketing strategies, it’s not always easy to know exactly where to start—especially if you haven’t invested much time or energy into content marketing before. If you want to invest in content marketing but you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about where to invest your time, money, and energy, one of the best things you can do before making any major decisions is spend time learning from people who know marketing best.

I recently talked with a handful of the brightest minds in marketing and asked them each to share one actionable content marketing tip that they have used recently to build brand awareness, boost traffic, connect with more leads, and grow their businesses.

Here are the nine exclusive and actionable content marketing tips they shared with me: (more…)

Feb

Content Amplification Strategies to Reach a Larger Audience

Amplify Content ebook offer

You’ve spoken. Loudly. Cleary. But your voice echoes off the wall. It’s not what you were hoping to hear.

You’re sure you had something of value to say. In fact, your recent masterpiece is the most helpful content you’ve ever put out. But it’s found no audience—or no audience has found it.

You, like so many other content marketers, especially those joining the content party in the 2000-and-teens years, are learning how hard it is to find an audience, to be heard, to get a response.

You need a content promotion plan

“Most people create content first, then think about content promotion as an afterthought. You’re much better off flipping this on its head – thinking of about who would help amplify your content and why. If you can’t answer this question first, don’t bother creating it.”

— Larry Kim, Founder of WordStream

Most marketers post content on their blog and then dispatch a few updates via their social media networks. If this strategy isn’t working for you (it works for very few), you need to do more.

(more…)

Feb

The Great Content Marketing Buzz Kill (And 7 Killer Content Ignition Ideas)

The Great Content Marketing Buzz Kill

Content marketing has peaked.

Look at the Google Trends timeline below, which shows relative search activity. September 2011 marked the beginning of a steep incline in interest. The buzz kicked into high gear in 2013, inched up in 2014, and hit a new ceiling this month. You can guess what’s to come.

Content marketing interest will decline.

Content marketing interest

Will the content marketing fire burn itself out?

I don’t believe it’s going down in flames, but yes, an enormous number of companies trying to do content marketing are bound to get burned. It happens when you play with fire.

Of course, like any competitive battlefield, your failures can trace to a huge array of reasons. If you insisted I were to identify a singular, predominant reason, it’d have to offer lack of commitment. (I gave you my opinion about this here.)

Again, where competition is fierce, what separates the best from the rest is commitment. Supremely successful content marketers do more than create great content; they ignite it. (more…)