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.

Nokia Buys In to Content Marketing – Literally

A variety of companies – both B2B and B2C – have adopted content marketing in recent years, with many of them experiencing a great deal of success. It takes skill and dedication, but content marketing has a history of delivering a strong return on investment (check out my previous blog for examples). However, technology supplier Nokia is trying to fast track their results by shifting their content marketing efforts into hyper-speed.

Nokia

To accomplish this, Nokia is paying Wired magazine (a popular magazine that reports on how emerging technologies affect culture, politics, and the economy) to create an editorial style website called “MakeTechHuman” that aims to start a conversation about where technology is taking humanity. Pretty heavy stuff, huh? Print ads, events, and an onslaught of online articles will be utilized throughout the year-long campaign, costing the company millions. But will it all be worth it? The campaign is set to kick off following an invite-only dinner at the TED conference in Vancouver.

So we’ll have to wait and see if this type of “hyper-drive-conent-marketing” is effective or not. In the meantime, there are a few factors that may influence the results:

Factors working in their favour: 

  • Despite the fact that their brand image is tied to an older technology (remember how many people had Nokia cell phones in the 90s?), the company has been going strong for 150 years. They don’t even sell phones any longer! Recently, they’ve made most of their profits in B2B selling equipment to telecomm giants Verizon and Sprint.
  • If the content is perceived as valuable by their target audience, it will drive prospects through the funnel – leading to increased revenue.
  • Partnering with Wired provides Nokia with credibility in the technology industry, since the magazine company is an established thought leader with a large tech and business audience.
  • Business giants General Electric (GE) and American Express have achieved great success with their content-marketing hubs, with GE getting 30% extra value for every dollar spent.

Factors working against them:

  • You can’t build credibility overnight. It takes time to earn the trust of readers – months of distributing quality content designed to provide genuine value to the target audience. Articles will be labeled as “sponsor content”, which tells the reader that the article has an agenda other than simply sharing information – it was created to generate revenue.
  • The last site that a company in the tech industry sponsored was Verizon’s SugarString, and the online community shut them out. After facing intense backlash and ridicule in regards to their publishing, Verizon shut down the site within two months of its launch.
  • It’s still unclear why a B2B company will be spending seven-figures over the next year on attracting the consumer community (B2C).
  • Nokia will need to define and articulate what they do and why people should care, because that message is not being clearly communicated.

At the end of the day, this is a marketing campaign that is expected to drive results. Nokia is walking a thin line, and I’m interested to see the results of this campaign. What are your thoughts?

Content Marketing: The Struggle is Real

At times, it can feel like you’re swimming against the current; trying to push your content marketing efforts forward, only to be met with resistance. Other times, it can be a struggle to maintain your position and define your role when your superiors utilize your skills for copy writing instead of content marketing. Several companies jumped on the bandwagon when content marketing first entered the scene, but they lacked the patience necessary for it to be successful. It takes time to start seeing the benefits of content marketing — but when you do see results, it’ll blow you away.

There is no better example than Red Bull. The company’s media house set the goal of becoming independently profitable – with content so good they could sell it. This “forced” Red Bull to create content that people loved. That content helped Red Bull build an unbeatable reputation and dominate the crowded energy drink market. But I could go on about Red Bull’s success in content marketing forever….(seriously, if you haven’t read about their content empire, you need to check it out).

Several other businesses have achieve success with content marketing. Zagg, an online retailer of mobile accessories, earns 172% ROI and 10% of the company’s website traffic through their blog. Publishing 25 to 35 posts each week, the company’s three writers are tasked with producing content that is shareable, popular, and promotes the company’s product range. Oh, and 60% of their blog traffic is from new users – not too shabby at all.

Meanwhile, a B2B company called SunGard, which provides IT operations support, hit it out of the park with their video series by injecting humour into educational content on pain points and industry trends. By analyzing their audience’s content consumption patters, SunGard was able to map out a campaign that promoted their content across multiple touch points via email, social media, and paid media. The result of their efforts? Over 3,000 leads generated in 3 days! And that’s not all – they also saw email clicks and click open rates that were 2-3 times the average AND the CTAs to download a whitepaper at the end of the videos had a 87.4% click-through rate.

Did these companies achieve this type of success over night? No. It took a lot of time and resources. But each of these companies started from somewhere. Content marketing only recently became popular (though it’s arguably been around for a really long time, but that’s another blog post). So my advice to you is to always remember:

Content Quote

Infographic: What Do Content Marketers Do?

“What do content marketers actually do?”

I’ve been asked this question enough times now that I feel the best way to address the query, is through an infographic. Content marketing is complicated – there are several components that must work together in order to achieve success. This infographic shines a light on the day to day life of a Content Marketer.

Content Marketing Infographic

Create A Compelling Brand Identity in 5 Easy Steps

Brand Loyalty

In this increasingly competitive market, businesses have to connect with their customers on a deeper level in order to stand out from the rest. In order to do so, companies must take a new perspective and create a brand that is customer-centric. Not sure where to start? Begin by creating or revising your mission statement. At the heart of any good brand identity is a strong mission statement that supports the company brand like a backbone. In 5 easy steps, your company can create a compelling mission statement that drives your brand and speaks to your customer. To do this, you must identify:

  1. Who you are.
  2. What you do.
  3. Who you do it for.
  4. What those people want and need.
  5. How they change as a result.

Notice that only two of the five listed items is about your company. The others are about your customers, which forces you to be outward facing – otherwise known as customer-centric. Let’s go through an example so you can see how powerful this type of perspective is. Example:

  1. Who you are: Toys R Us
  2. What you do: Sell a variety of toys for children of all ages.
  3. Who you do it for: Children.
  4. What those people want and need: To learn, and express themselves through play – both independently and with others.
  5. How they change as a result: They grow and develop intellectually as well as socially by establishing relationships through play and using their imagination to create false scenarios when they are left to play alone. (source)

So the mission statement in this scenario could be “Our mission is to provide children with toys that help them grow and develop intellectually as well as socially.”

Not only is this mission statement impactful, but it also initiates the conversation by enticing the listener to ask “how do the toys you sell do that?” to which you respond with “by allowing children to establish relationships through group play and using their imaginations to create false scenarios (or “make-believe”) when playing alone.”

From that point, you’re able to build a more organic relationship that’s built upon something more emotionally substantial than “our mission is to provide popular toys at a competitive price.” Once your brand establishes that emotional connection, a bond is formed. This type of bond is typically referred to as customer loyalty or evangelism – and it can lead to increased profits for your business through repeat business and customer referrals. So what are you waiting for? Complete the 5 easy steps today and start building more meaningful (and profitable) relationships with your customers.