Tag Archive: content marketing strategy

  1. Bright Idea: How to Brainstorm for Your Blog

    how to brainstorm

    If you’re anything like me, when you set out to write a new blog post, the creativity flows from your fingertips like a geyser/power washer/waterfall combo. Coming from the ether, your ideas are precious jewels of which the world is lucky to bear witness.

    …wait. Is that…just me? Oh. Well, this is awkward.

    Of course, as a blogger and copywriter, I know full well that the above is complete fantasy. Putting aside the rare occasion in which you’re hit with a lightning bolt of inspiration, the early steps of crafting a blog post worth reading often involves a whole lot of brain-wracking thought and research. Many blogs can be front-loaded time investments that can leave you wondering if they’re worth the effort.

    The good news? If done correctly, blogs are an effective form of creative content your brand needs to position itself as a trusted thought leader and share its insights with the world. But again, that first step (coming up with a killer idea) is a doozy.

    As the author of hundreds (gasp) of blog posts, learning how to brainstorm for blogs in a more effective fashion has been crucial for not only my efficiency but also the quality of my writing–and it could be for you, too.

    Top Tips on How to Brainstorm for Better Blogs

    Brainstorming is more than just sitting in silence and waiting for the good ideas to come. Brains often don’t work that way. Though everyone has different needs–some prefer silence while others prefer the clamor of a coffee shop, for example–I have some tips that may help jumpstart your brainstorming session and yield new blog post ideas that pop.

    • Google Alerts: As much as you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, you can’t expect to know everything at all times. Luckily, Google Alerts is here to help. This tool allows you to track any subject under the sun by simply choosing keywords you’d like to keep an eye on. For instance, if I want to be kept up to date on kittens, I can easily input “kittens” into Google Alerts and then tweak the alert to my liking by selecting the “Show options” drop-down. This allows you to choose the sources you’d like Google to pull from (news articles, blog posts, videos, etc.), what region of the country or world you’d like these stories to be pulled from and how often you’d like to be alerted about such stories.
    • Know Your Audience and Listen to Them: Before putting pen to pad or finger to keyboard, it’s vital to know your audience. Identifying exactly who your intended reader is will inform everything from tone to the actual content of your post. If I’m writing a blog on kittens, it will read dramatically different depending on if my audience is made up of lifelong cat owners versus people sans-cat.

      Once you have an audience in mind, open your ears to them and take a moment to do a bit of mental roleplay. Using my example, what would a longtime cat owner find interesting, engaging or helpful? Are any of my clients longtime cat owners? What have I heard them ask about in the past? What are their pressure points and worries? Many of the most helpful blog posts were spawned by addressing frequently asked questions from our clients, colleagues and community.
    • Talk it Out: We get by with a little help from our friends. If you’re feeling an idea drought coming on, I’d highly recommend getting into a room with two or three creative thinkers who may have some insight on the subject you’re trying to tackle. I can’t tell you how many great ideas were developed just by collecting coworkers in a small office with a big whiteboard.
    • Come Back Fresh: Take a break. Yes, it may feel like I’m giving you permission to procrastinate but that’s not what this is. Frustration and fatigue go hand in hand, and if you’ve been hitting your head against the brick wall of writer’s block trying to come up with your next big blog idea, you’re going to need a break. According to research cited in an article from Inc., “…the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time.” As it turns out, variety is also the spice of creativity. So, take five minutes, grab a cup of coffee, have a snack, go on a walk or just daydream for a bit. If you can, move on to another task and come back to your blog brainstorm fresh. Though stubbornly trying to fight through the frustration of writer’s block can seem like the “right” thing to do, you may do more harm than good, taking more time and yielding weaker ideas.
    • Get Out of Your Cave: Though your desk, cubicle or office may be your comfort zone in the office, sometimes it can lead to a bit of stagnated thinking. Go to a coffee shop, sit on a park bench or even simply relocate to another space in your office that is out of your norm. It may sound a little silly, but your environment can play a big part in inspiring new, fresh ideas.

    Asking how to brainstorm for blogs is a little like asking how to make the perfect pizza: there are plenty of methods that people swear by, but a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Also like pizza, in the end, as long as it yields something people want to consume, you’re probably doing it right. So, don’t be afraid if the muses aren’t pulling their weight as soon as you sit down to take on your next big blog post. Prime your creativity pump with Google Alerts, think about your audience, make it a group effort, take a break and get out of your comfort zone. Your blogs will be the better for it.

  2. Six Powerful Video Content Marketing Ideas That Could Work for Your Business

    video content marketing

    A revolution was brewing. Marketers, much like businesses at the dawn of automation, were forced to sit and ponder the future now that this newfangled “World Wide Web” was poised to change everything. What would be its lasting impact? How would it affect how we market products and services? How would it affect how we buy goods? Fast forward to 2018 and digital marketing is no longer a brand new world but a well-charted and bustling land of opportunity.

    Though the internet revolution was surely a tide-turning event for marketing, the subsequent creation and proliferation of social media platforms was yet another major stepping stone. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter surely have
    their own specific quirks but all have seen a boon in the popularity of one type of post in particular–video.

    video content marketing

    According to Twitter, videos are more than six times as likely 1 to be retweeted than photos. Another report from 2017 2 indicates that videos are up more than 250% on Facebook. Additionally, Social Media Today reports that an estimated 80% of all internet traffic 3 will come from video in 2019 and 90% of customers say videos help make buying decisions.

    Video has quickly emerged as a vital tool for brand visibility, and numbers like those above only show that continuing for the foreseeable future.

    That being said, without experience in video production or a dedicated video crew at your disposal, it can be an intimidating venture into the unknown. It’s not like you can shove a camera in your staff’s faces and expect them to be ready for their closeup. However, with the right approach, anything is possible.

    One of the best aspects of video marketing is its versatility. We’ve collected six of the most powerful takes from our very own clients and friends to hopefully help act as a primer and inspire your own video content.

    Video Ideas to Inspire

    1. Tell a Story: From cave paintings to the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh to the next Marvel blockbuster, storytelling has always transfixed us as a species. Leveraging this near-instinctual pull of storytelling, your brand should tell an intriguing story of accomplishment, especially if that story has heart.
    2. Share Common Questions and Answers: No one likes repeating themselves. Instead of having to answer the same common industry or brand questions, why not produce a Q&A-style series of videos that does the heavy lifting for you?
    3. Explain What You Do: Videos are a great way to get explanatory about the more complex aspects of your product or service. A video can help you avoid long, cumbersome and ultimately unengaging written content that may come off more like an instruction manual than a helpful review of what you do.
    4. Publish Your Presentations: If you have an upcoming speaking event or other educational presentation, consider recording it (and including your slides) in order to distribute at a later date. This ensures that your presentation isn’t just limited to the audience at the event, but possibly hundreds or thousands across the internet.
    5. Record Testimonials: Some of the most compelling content consists of third-party testimonials. Taking someone who is not officially affiliated with your company and allowing them to share kind words and good experiences can be powerful stuff.
    6. Introduce Your Brand: Introduce your company or unveil a company rebrand with a featurette that authentically shares your history and brand persona.

    I understand. Maybe you’re not the next Spielberg, Scorcese or Coppola, but that shouldn’t keep you from experimenting
    with video content for your business. Regardless of your method or message, remember that video content is memorable
    content and well-worth your consideration.

    So, whether you’re sharing engaging stories, helpful Q&As, authentic brand featurettes or more, videos can be a
    true game changer for your business.

     

    Works Cited:

    1. https://business.twitter.com/en/blog/5-data-driven-tips-for-scroll-stopping-video.html
    2. http://tubularinsights.com/sponsored-content-q2-2017-report/
    3. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/the-state-of-video-marketing-in-2018-infographic/518339/
  3. The Power of Podcasting: Why Your Company Should be Paying Attention

     

    podcast

    It began in 2004. A software dev, Dave Winer, and former MTV VJ, Adam Curry, collaborated on a program that would be the first spark in what’s now a raging inferno of creativity and craft. Their program was called iPodder, and it led to the creation of the phenomenon we now know as podcasts.1

    Much as YouTube achieved for video content, podcasts have brought the barrier of entry to nearly nil. It’s not an exaggeration to say that anyone with a modern smartphone has the technology to record a podcast. Though radio carryovers like NPR are popular content producers, unlikely names like blogger and entrepreneur Rachel Hollis and comedian and UFC personality, Joe Rogan, can also be found among top-downloaded shows.

    The Growing Popularity of Podcasting

    As the popularity of podcasting skyrocketed over the years (true crime podcast Serial reached an estimated 40 million downloads by December of 2014)2, it has quickly become a phenomenon well worth the attention of brands. If you’re not currently exploring how the medium could benefit your company, you should be – chances are, your competitors are.

    According to Podcast Insights, there are currently more than 550,000 podcasts, collectively leading to more than 18.5 million episodes available for consumption, and recorded in more than 100 languages.3 But is there anyone listening? All signs definitively point to a resounding “Yes.” Looking to Podcast Insights again, 44% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, a number that has grown by four percent in just one year. Some 16 million Americans would go as far as to consider themselves “avid podcast fans.”3 If today’s data is any indicator, that number will only continue growing with time.

    But what is the reason for this popularity and steady growth? The high quality of content and the vast variety of shows for every niche under the sun certainly have something to do with it, but  I look to blogs when I think of the most substantial causes for this podcasting boom.

    Podcasting, as a creative and informative outlet, is far harder to replicate than blogs. Where a blog can be copied, reworded and passed off as an original thought, a podcast simply cannot. Even if some nefarious podcasting copycat was to literally lift the format and topics from another show, the effect could never be the same as that original work. That’s because a podcast is a performance. One you can edit after the fact, sure, but one that must be performed at the time of recording. In that sense, it’s performance art that is far harder to carbon copy than a blog post.

    IGN, one of the most popular sites for video game and entertainment news, recently discovered that editor, Filip Miucin, plagiarized a large portion of his work form bloggers, YouTubers and even a co-worker in one instance. This incident acts to underline both the ease of plagiarism in online written media and how it has caused many blogs and articles to run together, draining into a sea of regurgitated knowledge. If it can happen under the nose of professional journalists, you better believe your online written content is up for grabs.

    Beyond the issue of copy-and-paste culture proliferating blogs across the web, there is another major factor that has helped podcasts succeed where written digital content never could – ease of use. You cannot safely or efficiently read a blog while driving to work, walking the dog or folding laundry. (We’d dare you to try but can’t handle that kind of liability.) What may seem like a limitation on face value is actually quite the opposite. Audio may not have the production or eye-catching appeal of video, its ease of consumption more than makes up for that deficit. In many cases, podcasts can act as an alternative to music – one that can inform, entertain and market to an audience that is all ears for more.

     

    Putting Podcasts to Work

    Though I have waxed poetic on the many benefits of podcasting and how this medium has seen success in recent years, what does this all add up to for brands and marketers? Quite a lot, actually.

    Marketers would do well to consider podcasts in two highly beneficial ways:

    Do it Yourself

    The low barrier to entry and relatively low budget required to start and maintain a podcast means that you could be producing content in no time. Be warned, though – podcasting is firmly in the category of things harder to do than they seem. They take a mix of time, talent and practice, meaning a phoned-in show may do more harm than good.

     

    podcast

    I recommend you study the craft, listening to shows of brands you respect. See what works for others, but then also revisit your brand’s unique persona and identify the audience you are trying to reach.

    Is a podcast the right way to reach those people? Perhaps, but you must go into it with a strategy in mind (time is money, after all). Consistency is key, so if you decide to post every Monday at 11 am, it is crucial that you keep to your schedule or risk losing listeners. Additionally, keep in mind that a podcast should not be a 30-minute ad. You need to provide listeners with valuable opinions, expert advise or entertainment – it is only through engaging content that your audience will keep coming back for more.

    Advertise

    As a budding medium, companies have chomped at the bit to advertise to the millions subscribed to podcasts all over the world. According to an article on The Mission Podcasts 4 referencing a 2016 survey by IAB / Edison Research, podcast ads and sponsorships led to:

    • 45% visiting sponsor’s website
    • 42% considering a new product or service
    • 37% gathering more information about a company or product
    • 29% reading a book
    • 28% using a promotional code referenced in podcast

    According to venture investors at CRV, Justine and Olivia Moore, IAB reports that, “…60% of podcast ad revenue comes from host-read ads.”5 Though podcasts are not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, “shout-outs,” ad breaks, or endorsements weaved into conversation are still bound by the rules of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). To put it simply, you cannot expect a podcast to endorse your product or service without disclosing that this endorsement is ad-based. Even if you only provide the podcast with goods or samples instead of a cash payment, this exchange must be openly disclosed to the audience as to avoid any deceptive practices.

    With shows that often target highly specific slices of the population, podcasts offer marketers a fantastic opportunity to reach their demographics and quite literally get into the heads of their target audiences.

     

    Listen Up

    Though there are many effective ways to get your company involved in podcasting, starting your own podcast or advertising on an already successful show are two of the most practical avenues to explore first. With a captive fanbase that is only showing signs of continued growth for years to come, podcasting could become quite a lucrative arm of your marketing strategy.

    “People are really listening and want to consume all of the content that is there and available. There’s a level of dedication that comes from podcast listeners that you otherwise don’t find. And now the numbers prove it. Podcasts aren’t a bubble, they’re a boom–and that boom is getting louder.” 

    -Miranda Katz for Wired.com

    From its humble beginnings on iPodder to a true giant of online media that reaches millions around the world every day, podcasting is a powerful tool for marketers and brands to become better storytellers, reach more targeted audiences and, hopefully, gain new customers more efficiently than ever before. Now that’s something I think we can all “subscribe” to.

     

    Works Cited:

     

     

  4. 4 Steps to Creating a Marketing Strategy

    We often tell clients that you can’t just dip your toe into marketing. If you’re going to start a Twitter account, a new website or a blog, you have to dive in. Because it’s impossible to “dive in” to every marketing tactic all at once, you have to consider which tactics work best for your audience and business. This is where marketing strategy comes into play. In marketing, much like life, it pays to think before you act.

    marketing strategyA marketing strategy is not a quick and easy procedure. It takes time, thought and research to create, but the end result is a plan that will guide you through each and every marketing project that you undertake. So before you jump on Twitter or start a blog, consider these 4 steps to create your company’s marketing strategy.

    1. Know Your Differentiators. And Use Them.
    Overused marketing tactics tend to create an automatic eye glaze from your audience. They simply won’t respond. The best way to capture your audience’s attention is to play up your differences. Look into the heart of your business and your culture, and make sure those unique qualities translate into all areas of your marketing.

    2. Know Your Target Audience.
    Know your audience, and know them well. This is essential in creating a sound marketing strategy. A deep understanding of your audience allows you to know which marketing tactics will be most effective. Consider these questions: How old are they? What is their job and position? Are they predominantly male or female? Where do they get their information? How do they decide what products/services to buy? What is their personality like? These are just some of the many questions you should know the answer to in regard to your target audience. After analyzing your audience, you may realize you have more than just one target audience. When you’re developing marketing campaigns or writing digital content, you should be writing to a specific audience. Because your various target audiences may have completely different personality traits and job descriptions, it’s foolish to assume they should be marketed to in the same way.

    3. Know Your Voice.
    Clearly defining your voice is critical to achieving a consistent, unified writing style throughout all of your marketing materials. Establishing a specific voice that is a filter for all content will make your writing style consistent regardless of who is writing your content. Your voice should be so distinct that it has its own personality. Is your writing style conversational and clever? Is it professional and educational? To determine your brand voice, think about your company as if it were a person. What kind of a car would your company drive? What would be its go-to restaurant? What kind of music would it listen to? This exercise is helpful when determining how your brand should speak.

    4. Know Your Goals. And Your Limits.
    Specific goals are essential to creating your marketing strategy. Develop short and long-term goals that are specific enough so that you can measure your success as time goes on. Once your goals are listed, choose to implement the marketing tactics that will help achieve these goals. It’s important to choose goals and tactics that are realistic and manageable. For example, a client may have a goal to increase their Facebook following by posting once a day, but because they don’t have the time to actually post once a day, they end up posting once every two months. It’s always better to pick a goal that you can actually commit to than to overwhelm yourself with lofty, unsustainable goals.

    Marketing strategies take deep thought and research, but the outcome is more than worth it. Your strategy provides the framework for how you write, which marketing tactics are most effective for your customers, and how you speak about your company. Plato was onto something when he said “Know Thyself” and we believe a thorough understanding of your differentiators, your audience, your voice and your goals will lead to successful marketing.