(Ah-hem.) May I have your attention, please?
This is a professional service announcement.
This is my personal blog. I write most often about marketing, technology, and publishing. These are my thoughts, observations, rants, and opinions. If they frustrate you, confuse you, excite you, bore you, or compel you, know I feel the same things most of the time. If you prefer, you can subscribe via email or RSS to be alerted when new content is posted.
(Ah-hem.) May I have your attention, please?
This is a professional service announcement.
Marketing has changed. You know that. I know that. Unfortunately, many who sit in executive level, decision-making positions still believe the marketing strategies they "cut their teeth" on 30 years ago still dominate the way consumers buy whatever it is you're selling.
Until a new generation of marketing professionals move into senior level roles, this tension will continue to exist.
The biggest mistake copywriters make is they assume the same copy can work in different channels. The default is to work toward efficiency. Write it once and then let design craft it for the desired distribution channel. Only it's not that simple.
Each channel has characteristics that make them distinct and different from the others.
I know a lot of writing hobbyists who are in love with the words and sentences they put on a page. You know who they are. They admire the work of people who have been dead of a few hundred years and lament the decline of true litrery genius in our culture. Personally, I don't think literary genius is extinct anymore than I believe the best writers are found in history books. Either way, that conversation misses the point completely.
The truth is professional writers make a living writing words for others—whether it is for an individual or business.
Marketing will never be the same.
There was a time when desktop computing skills (remember that phrase?) moved from optional to required. Then, employees had to understand the Web. Now, no organization can afford to hire people in their marketing department who don't understand social networking and mobile engagement. My prediction is that every new hire for any professional position will one day have to demonstrate a proficiency in social and digital media.
Somewhere along the way, the idea was introduced that true artists are willing to starve to make their craft. I've met too many writers, painters, photographers, etc. who are willing to sell their talent for the lowest dollar without ever considering the value they bring to the table. If I must starve to be a "real" writer, then I'm out. The good news is there is a way to create a financially sustainable path to being a professional writer.
People are willing to pay for services that relieve their "pain."
Content marketing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Those who win stay in the game long enough to outlast—or out-create—everyone else ultimately achieves their goals. Just like training for an athletic event, there are certain habits you can build into your workflow to help you improve your content marketing stamina.
Consider these 10 suggestions ...
Content marketing is about building trust and value with those we want to connect with more than just when we need to “make a sale.” We want an ongoing relationship that creates community or a tribe. And community is formed around shared meaning—that which is meaningful to us and to others.
The 12 days of Christmas is more than a funny song that talks about a really unusual sequence of gifts. It reminds us that we must see life—even business—as an opportunity to give unusual and unexpected gifts. Those are the ones people remember ... and write songs about.
We should always value human relationships more than transactions.
The discipline of content marketing is forcing businesses to become publishers and publishers to become businesses. The person who wins in this equation is ... EVERYONE.
People win because they feel empowered through knowledge to make better decisions, whether that's a local contractor for home improvement or deciding on the next ERP system to purchase and implement for your growing business. Inbound marketing changes the game in that it reverses roles. Instead of the business or vendor finding the customer, the customer finds the business or vendor.
Google is a verb you can't afford not to use.
Google Trends measures search volume of keywords or phrases. If Google is the number one search engine and the first place most people go to find the information they need, then indexing search volume and our ability to quickly compare different words or phrases are vital to successfully and consistently being found online.
Essentially, our ability to identify the words other people are using to find—or not find—you or your service, brand, or company is the difference between being found organically within searches or being buried deep within the Google ecosystem forever.
If you’re new to the marketing world, this type of functionality is EPIC. It used to only be available to big companies who could afford to staff people who loved doing things like polynomial regression analysis and interpretive analytics.
But now this keyword research tool is now available to you ... today ... and at no cost.
I never thought I would say this, but I am quickly approaching the point of dropping Evernote for OneNote.
I have been an avid Evernote evangelist for years. I have more than 7,300 hundred notes in my Evernote account. It has been an integral part of my digital experience for a long time. If I do decide to break up with Evernote, it will be painful to unencumber myself for good.
Bottom line, Evernote has stopped developing and innovating at the rate that it was. Since Microsoft finally released a version of OneNote for Mac about a year ago, it has been a legitimate contender in the digital note-taking space. Given my relentless curiosity about productivity tools, I decided to give it a try.
Every client wants to know three things when they hire freelance or contract creatives:
I live on both sides of the table. I sometimes set deadlines. Other times, I am given deadlines. Either way, there is purpose and function behind every production schedule.
I have to admit I'm a litte crazy about dates.
I talk with lots of different leaders and organizations who are trying to make sense of the digital marketing landscape. I get it. It's tough, confusing, and ever-evolving. If you've grown weary trying to keep up, don't sweat it. You're not alone.
It's less important that you master everything as you keep yourself open to the native content consumption habits of your core audience. The biggest temptation is simply to project your personal preferences onto your target audience. By default, you will communicate in ways that are convenient for you instead of effective at engaging others.
Where this gets tricky is in the delivery systems required to deliver timely, relevant, and specific information.
An effective Chief Content Officer (CCO) is a professional brand evangelist. He or she lives at the intersection of communications, marketing, and technology. He or she is not merely a manager of all the moving parts. Instead, a CCO looks for the common story thread that brings all the different pieces into focus so that each individual function can work together to advance larger organizational outcomes.
Here's what this looks like on a day-to-day basis.
Success, like alcholol, can intoxicate our minds and habits and leave us limited in our capaity to react to the circumstances happening around us. Marketing has changed but few organizations have reconsidered their approach and are forced to get comfortable "managing decline" instead of seeing explosive growth.
Instead, marketing should be about helping people do things they've never done before. It should be more about connecting the dots and filling in the gaps rather than manipulation and fear. While old school marketing still has its merits, it's not the only path brands, businesses, and causes have available to take.
Marketing has three fundamental dimensions ...
Analytics, when spoken, is a word that can divide a room of people. It will intrigue some and send others mentally and emotionally somewhere else believing that it is "someone else's" responsibility or simply unethical and irresponsible.
Yet every person interested in engaging others in meaningful conversations should pay attention to analytics. Every communicator wants to make the most of the opportunities he or she is presented with. But too often our game plan is based on a whim, grounded in the success of others, and left to intuition. As is often said, "Hope is not a strategy."
You can't fix stupid. Sorry. This is my fundamental skepticism of depending on corporate policies to control [sic] behavior on social media.
I'm not a huge fan of rules of any kind but especially when it comes to social media. That being said, I'm beginning to develop an appreciation for social media policies as a way to help businesses, brands, and causes focus their work in the age of influence through digital communications.
I find myself saying this over and over again. The temptation for organizations is to just keep creating more and more messages while sending them across the most efficient and established models for the organization. The fatal flaw is in that logic is that the consumer controls the conversation now, not the organization. That means I can "mute" you, and you can't do anything about it.
The lies that organizations buy into is that ...
None of these are true.
Not every reader is the same. Some want to digest every word slowly. Others approach books as a utility to deliver mature ideas to solve practical problems. Neither reader type is better than the other.
Most people scan nonfiction content. I don't think this is a new development, nor do I think it represents the dumbing down of society due to digital publishing. As book publishing becomes an increasingly competitive space, publishers are now building books based on the reader's native consumption habits rather than traditional literary guidelines.
Personally, I welcome this shift.
There are a growing number of people who have been writing blogs posts for a decade or more. If you've been doing it five days a week for 10 years, you've created 2,600 blog posts. If each of those blog posts were 500 words, you've written 1.3 million words. Wow! That's a lot of content.
The nerd in me wonders just how many nuggets of wisdom are buried in the ominous archived section of your blog. It seems an incredible waste of time and creativity if the content you share is only used once. Surely there is a way to breathe new life into latent blog post content. Don't you agree?
Content is an asset. But your ability to cash out its value depends on your willingness to reimagine new ways you might use it.