Don’t Let the Content Marketing Grind Get You Down

The day to day work of content marketing can become a bit overwhelming at times. The endless demand for captivating content, the constant Google algorithm updates, and heavy flows of data can feel like a sack of potatoes to the face. Or maybe you’re in an organization where content marketing is new and you’re faced with misunderstanding, misalignment, and distrust (because how can a great story really bring in revenue?). I feel you.

Let’s just admit it; this sh!t’s tough. But when we get it right – when everything comes together into an amazing and valuable content experience, for both the reader and the business, there’s no high quite like it. So, when I’m feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by the grind of content marketing, I turn to the ‘greats’. Here are some of my favourite quotes about content marketing and storytelling. Hopefully they pump you up and help get you back in the content ring.JoePulizzi

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Joe Pulizzi (Yes, this is actually what Yoda told Luke Skywalker, but it was repeated by Pulizzi at CMWorld16)

“Tools are great, but content marketing success is about the wizard, not the wand.” Jay Baer

“You are competing with every piece of content ever made for every person’s attention. You need to be entertaining. Don’t outsmart. Out-entertain.” Dolf van den Brink

“When you’ve got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?” Mark Cuban

“Quality, relevant content can’t be spotted by an algorithm. You can’t subscribe to it. You need people – actual human beings – to create and curate it.” Kristina Halvorson

“The secret is not to do more… It’s to create content that matters, that they cherish, since people crave useful things.” Josh Stinchcomb

AnnHandley

“If you aren’t having fun creating content, you’re doing it wrong.” Ann Handley

“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad.” Howard Gossage

“I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgement. They are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamppost for support, rather than for illumination. ” David Ogilvy

RobertRose

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.” Robert Rose

“Content marketing is really like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.” David Beebe

“The golden rule of content marketing is simple: They ask, you answer” Marcus Sheridan

“I truly don’t think people understand that, when it comes to content, the #1 opportunity for competitive differentiation is NOT TO SUCK.” Kristina Halvorson

“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” Dalai Lama XIV (that’s right, the freakin Dalai Lama!)

JoeChernov

“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” Joe Chernov 

“Content: there is no easy button.” Scott Abel

Know of a great content marketing quote that I’m missing? Outside of the standard “content is king” or “actually, content is queen”, just comment below!

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The Generation Gap: How to Create Compelling B2B Content for Different Generations

The modern workforce is dominated by three generations; Millennials (born 1982-2004), Generation X (1961-1981), and Baby Boomers (born 1945-1960). Each generation has their own preferences and expectations in terms of content. This means, in addition to segmenting your content by target buyer personas, role within the buyer team, position within the sales cycle, and consumption preferences, you’ll need to account for age. No sweat, right?

To make your content marketing life just a little bit easier, we did the legwork for you by compiling a list of the most impactful B2B content for each generation.

Baby Boomer

Baby Boomers 

Types of Content: 

  • Baby Boomers spend more time consuming content than any other generation.
  • The type of content they consume the most are blog posts, followed by articles and eBooks.
  • Once you write more than 300 words, you’ll start to lose them – so keep articles on the shorter side.

Where to Reach Them:

  • Baby Boomers rely heavily on trade shows when it comes to B2B buying, so make sure you have a great piece of collateral on hand!
  • Laptops and Desktops are the most common devices used to view content.
  • They spend a lot of time on Facebook, surprisingly.

Buying Power: 

  • With several Baby Boomers counting the last few years till they retire, this generation dominates the senior or executive positions within the company. As you can safely assume, this means they hold a lot of buying power. However, they’re coming to rely more heavily on Gen-Xers when it comes to technical buying decisions.

genx

Generation X

Types of Content:

  • For this generation, it’s a tie between third-party websites for reviews and comparisons and articles, papers, or blogs from industry experts.
  • Most Gen-Xers will spend 5-10 hours per week engaged in online content.
  • Again, the magic length is around 300 words, but this generation also enjoys reading articles over 500 words. So give them a little or a lot to read!

Where to Reach Them:

  • This generation has an affinity for Twitter, and spend the least amount of time on Facebook compared to Baby Boomers and Millennials.
  • Like Baby Boomers, this generation uses their laptop and desktop computers the most to view content.
  • It’s best to reach out through email, phone, or online meetings rather than trying to arrange a face-to-face.

Buying Power:

  • The buyers in this generation aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions, so content created by subject matter experts will help your business establish credibilities. This generation is in the era of middle to upper management, which means they have a heavy hand in the buying process (they may even be the final decision maker).

milennials

Millennials

Types of Content:

  • Millennials rely most heavily on information provided by vendors when researching products and services.
  • Like Gen-Xers, a majority of this age group will spend 5-10 hours per week engaging with online content.
  • Once again, the preferred length is 300 words when reading – so no long-form content.

Where to Reach Them:

  • This generation would prefer for interactions to be remote or virtual instead of face-to-face, with email communication being their most preferred.
  • It’s all about being mobile for this generation, with laptops coming in second place.
  • If Google trusts you, so do Millennials. This is the generation that coined the term “Google it“, so make sure you optimize your content for search engines!

Buying Power:

  • This generation is a growing force, with 87% of Millennial workers taking on management roles in the last 5 years (vs. 38% of Gen-Xers). Typically, this generation takes on the role of initiator, being the first to identify an issue and/or a possible solution.

How Does Content Marketing Generate Revenue?

CS-Moneybag

Businesses are quickly adopting content marketing as a way to drive brand awareness and increase sales leads, but how exactly does content marketing generate revenue? Marketers and business leaders alike are struggling to tie their content marketing efforts to their bottom line – which is a huge problem. In order to understand exactly how revenue is being generated, you’ll need to understand the two major components of successful content marketing; quality and tracking.

I can’t stress to you enough how important it is to produce quality content. If you provide material that is genuinely good, people will talk about it and share it with their networks – all of which contributes to generating brand awareness, directing traffic, and ultimately increasing sales. Now – I should mention that it’s also very important to promote your content, but promotion is ineffective unless you have something valuable to offer your audience and convert them from visitors to customers. This bring me to the second major component; tracking. Once you’ve created great content, you’ll need to monitor and track everything in order to understand how your content is being received and consumed by your target audience.

The analytics derived from tracking and monitoring will allow you to see how many more visitors your site is attracting, the number of email subscriptions you’re collecting from your blog or website, as well as the number of leads or conversion points you’re getting. Almost any analytics tool will allow you to track conversions based on entry sources. You’ll also be able to view which pieces of content they consumed during their buyer journey – giving your sales team extra intel on what that prospect might be looking for (aka – a qualified lead).

But it all starts with good content. Attracting your target audience and generating word of mouth is important for increasing traffic and sales. Marketing Charts conducted a survey that found 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know, so creating “word of mouth” buzz is very effective. Once you’ve attracted readers to your site with quality content, you can begin tracking their consumption, maybe even obtain their email address, and start nurturing them through the funnel.

This is how content marketing generates revenue — through a continuous cycle of creating quality content and tracking. By building a foundation of quality content, you give your audience a reason to engage with your brand. Meanwhile, monitoring and tracking will give you insights on which content your audience is consuming along their journey to becoming a customer. Having those two major components in place will enable you to drive revenue through content marketing.

Hiring a Content Marketer: Setting Expectations

what is content marketing

With the popularity of content marketing, it’s hard to believe that there are still several companies out there who are getting it wrong. But I assure you, this problem exists. However, it’s hard to put a finger on where this “problem” is originating from – the company or the content marketer? Or both?

Reviewing some of the content marketing positions posted online, I found that several of them included a sales material support component or content management. A majority of the time, the role was 50/50 – which meant that almost half the time would be dedicated to creating sales materials, like collateral, product sheets, brochures, and so on. This isn’t to say that providing sales with materials isn’t important – it’s just not content marketing.

For the record, content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content; content that attracts and retains a clearly defined audience – to ultimately drive profitable customer action, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). I feel that the key phrase in that definition is “strategic marketing approach” – meaning that content marketers aren’t just production houses — there’s a method to the madness.

This could be where the rift is occurring – companies are lumping all content under content marketing instead focusing on creating and distributing content strategically. A study conducted by CMI found that 60% of content marketers who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of effectiveness, compared to 32% of those who only have a verbal strategy. Documenting your strategy makes it more tangible for senior team members and gives you the opportunity to clearly define your role and set expectations.

But before you even accept a content marketing job, make sure you have a full understanding of what the expectations are for your role. If half your time is dedicated to creating materials that don’t support your content marketing initiatives, then it may not be the role for you. Having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for and what a company expects is the best way to make sure everyone is happy.

Charities Use Viral Sensations and Content Marketing to Make an Impact

Charities and non-profit organizations are utilizing a new tactic in their public service announcements (PSAs) to make an impact on audiences – and boy does it ever! By keeping their pulse on popular culture and adopting content marketing, charitable organizations have created some very powerful campaigns.

By now, it’s likely you’ve heard of the viral videos “celebrities read mean tweets” by Jimmy Kimmel, or even taken a look at the blue/black/gold/white dress picture. While several companies jumped on the bandwagon, recreating their own versions of these popular images and videos, none of them repurposed the content for the purpose of driving their own message.

Raising the Roof is a great example of how charities can create an impactful campaign that resonates with their audience while driving engagement. The tear-jerking videos show homeless Canadians reading the mean things others have said about them on social media aloud (specifically, Twitter). The call to action at the end of the commercial encourages viewers to visit their website, HumansForHumans.ca, which hosts additional videos and information on how people can help. 

Homeless read mean tweets

 

I imagine that their content campaign outline would’ve looked a little something like this:

Content Campaign

These three stages also reflect the buyer’s journey of awareness > consideration > purchase.

Another non-profit organization that used the popularity of “mean tweets” in their content marketing is The Canadian Safe School Network, a charity dedicated to reducing youth violence and making schools and communities safer. In an effort to raise money and awareness, the organization released a video that featured teens reading mean comments that others have tweeted about them.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 9.54.53 PM

 

At first, the laugh track makes it seem as though the video is meant to be comedic, but as the laughter fades – it becomes shockingly clear how impactful cyber-bullying can be. Taking a similar approach as Raise the Roof, the charity used to video to drive viewers to their campaign landing page. In fact, heavy-hitters like TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, and CTV News took the campaign to the next level by sharing it with their audiences. The charity recently reported that the video was viewed 1.5 million times on YouTube!

Capitalizing on a different viral sensation, the Salvation Army used ‘The Dress’ in their campaign against domestic violence. The image of a black and blue dress that became a viral sensation (thanks to an optical illusion that made some people see the dress as white and gold) was the inspiration for the image you see below:

Salvation Army

The message reads, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue? The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in six women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.” The image also features the logo for Carehaven, a home for abused women and their children managed by Salvation Army.

Once again, the powerful content was used to generate awareness and support – encouraging their audience to get involved or donate. In a positive turn of events, the Salvation Army’s take on “The Dress” went viral, with several Twitter users sharing the campaign image and referring to it as “powerful”.

These organizations acted fast and utilized content that was already popular to catapult their content marketing campaigns to new heights. By striking while the iron was hot, and supporting their message and goal with powerful content, these charities were able to achieve great success.

Be a Networking Ninja and Boost Your Content Marketing

Consumers have access to an increasing amount of content, making it more difficult for companies to stand out from the crowd. You may spend hours crafting the perfect blog article to engage your target audience, but how can you be certain that they’ll actually see it? Instead of utilizing a variety of content dissemination platforms to “spray and pray”, marketers need to start building relationships and trust with their audience.

What’s the best way to build trust? By aligning with the experts and thought leaders in your industry. It’s been found that 85% of consumers seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase. Combining content with industry influencers can help increase your content’s exposure, grow your social media communities, and increase your brand’s influence.

But how do you identify and connect with influencers? By becoming a networking ninja:

1. Infiltrate the community: You can’t just burst onto the scene and start blasting the community Infultratewith content and invites to connect — you need to ease into it. Start making your presence known by commenting on influencer blogs posts, engaging with their social messages, or joining relevant groups. Influencers are more likely to collaborate with you if you’re already on their radar.

2. Spy on the community: Monitor the community as well as the influencers – observe how the two groups engage each other, take note of the type of language they use, and network ninja
document what topics they discuss. All this information will allow you to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” when you start reaching out to experts and creating relevant content.

3. Select your targets: Every industry has it’s leading experts, or thought leaders, that have the targetability to influence their community. By aligning your brand with these expert individuals, you’re using their influence to increase awareness – and ultimately increase sales. Learn who’s the most active, who has the widest reach, who has the most impact on their audience, how often people engage with them, and how active they are in engaging with others. This will help you determine which influencers you should direct your efforts on.

4. Make your move: It’s time to reach out and say hi – or hiya – to the identified influencers. Send them a private message that’s creative and succinct, ensuring that you include details on how their participation will benefit them. Whether it’s promoting their personal brand or sharing their opinion knifeon a topic they’re passionate about, you need to make sure you “bait the hook” – or should I say, “set the trap”.

5. Be a master: Learn from your networking – what worked and what didn’t work? What
kick itbarriers did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? And how was the experience for the influencer? You want your experts to have a positive experience so that you can build a relationship. That way, you can team up with them again in the future on a variety of projects.

Now go forth, my networking ninjas – and give your content marketing a kick.