Content is king. In our modern day, people are bombarded with blogs, videos, articles and photos every single time they turn their computer on. Essentially, people are being shouted at all day long, and so their natural inclination is to tune marketers out. You must EARN their attention. The thing that will allow your company to stand out among the clutter is the quality of content that you churn out. Create remarkable content to connect online with your buyers, and it will bring you back both tangible and intangible rewards.
Here are some essential rules to embrace as you play the web content game:
- Embrace being a publisher.
- Be insightful and original. Know your brand voice and know your customers. The people who emerge as leaders in their respective fields are those who clearly know who they are and utilize a distinct voice to express their ideas and world views.
- Build momentum from content entry to content entry. Have a clear intention for why you have created every single piece of content. It should have a clear call-to-action (sign-up for newsletter, Like your Facebook page, fill out a webform, etc.) When possible, give yourself quantifiable goals to measure success.
- Communicate simply. (or as my mentor once said, "Keep it simple, stupid."
- Get creative with your content. The same information can be re-imagined and reused in multiple ways.
- Share or solve - Good content doesn’t try to sell. Your content should be honest and help your customers solve a problem or improve their lives.
- Show, don’t just tell - Good content shows, through case studies/client narratives/screenshots, how your product lives in and applies to the real world.
- Do something unexpected - Surprise can drive viral sharing and enhance your company’s reputation.
- Stoke the campfire - Good content sparks interaction. Commenting back and forth with your readers is a great way to keep the flame and their interest alive.
- Play to your strengths - A fundamental marketing tactic to bear in mind is that you can never be all things to all people. Apple does not try to cater to every computer/smartphone user. They know their user and they market to that audience specifically instead of trying to appease everyone out there. Likewise, as a content creator, you don’t have to create content on all different types of topics. Know your niche and do it well.>/li>
Questions to ask yourself as you embark on the daunting task of creating killer content:
- Who are you? What is unique about your company and your viewpoint? Why should people pay attention to you?
- What are your audience’s biggest problems? What do they care about? What keeps them up at night? How can you help make their life a little better or a little easier?
- How can you become your audience's go-to resource and remain one step ahead of their needs?
Other important points to consider as you begin producing excellent content for your followers:
- Approach your marketing initiatives like you would a novel - tell a story.
- Use ordinary language so as not to alienate or confuse readers that are not intimately familiar with your business sector.
- The web has changed the rules. The consumer is now more educated than ever before, so you cannot lie in your marketing messages because they will call bluff in two seconds flat.
- With the web, EVERYONE is a publisher. Everyone is the media. There is almost no barrier to publishing content on the web now.
- With social media, you can get your messages out there without having to harass your customers with direct mail or telemarketing (side note: I am shocked that companies still waste money on telemarketing when they can advertise to a more targeted audience through pay-per-click!) Produce great content and your customers will come to you and advocate for you on their own.
- There has been a major shift in how companies are marketing themselves online. There have been countless documented cases of CMO’s/celebrities/high-stature individuals communicating directly with their audiences via social media.
- The type of content you put out should be strategic and thoughtful. Create and share relevant, valuable information that attracts people to you while simultaneously building your credibility as an authority in a particular subject area. Pay special attention to factors that are crucial to building an online following: the needs and preferences of your audience, your goals, your company’s expertise and brand, and of course, your available time, talent and budget.
- Always keep in mind the end goal when you are creating content. Is your end goal to gain notoriety, to convert visitors into buyers, or to convert buyers into brand champions?
- Deepen your relationship with your followers over time by repeatedly and consistently creating content they care about and will want to share freely with their friends or colleagues, and by encouraging them to engage with you through social media, newsletters, etc. As Joe Pulizzi put it, “Frequent and regular contact builds a relationship.”
- Search engines love people that produce content, especially keywod-rich Youtube videos, blog posts, articles and so on.
- Think about the content you create as an extension of your brand. Engaging with people is how your company will survive and thrive in this newly social world.
- The benefits of putting out great content on the web compound due to the ease with which people can share.
- Position yourself as a go-to, reliable source of information. In the game of content, the person with the abundance mentality will ultimately win.
- Traditional magazine and newspaper advertising models are becoming extinct. As the success of DVR and Netflix has shown us, consumers will even PAY to avoid advertisements. Investing in producing high-quality online content is not only effective, it’s becoming imperative. It’s time to embrace a new order.
- Your window to engage someone is less than 10 seconds, so put your most intriguing content front and center.
- When in doubt about what types of content to create, survey your visitors to see what they'd like to see.
- "Words matter. Write differently."
- Don't write "corporately." Have sass, pizzazz, personality! Write like you talk, and show your customers that there is a real person behind that content!