If you’ve ever slogged your way through reading a piece of marketing and only finished reading because you had to, then you’ve experienced bad content marketing. When I speak to companies about content marketing I tell them that content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. If you watched The Lego Movie this year, you saw one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. Oh, you thought they made that movie in order to sell movie tickets? Think again. That was a 100 minute toy commercial, and rather than using a DVR to skip it you paid good money to watch it. Is it any coincidence that Lego recently leapfrogged Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world? You may not have the budget to make a feature film to promote your company, but you can still give potential customers valuable information.
Ebooks are the next step in the inbound marketing process: After reading a blog post (such as this one), visitors might want more information. This is where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play, directing people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an ebook to learn more valuable information for their business. In turn, the business producing the ebook has a new lead for the sales team to contact.
The headline of the sales letter needs to get the reader’s attention. Its job is to make them want to know more (and actually read the rest). The secret? Be sure the headline makes a specific promise that relates to your prospects’ needs or interests. If, for instance, you offer domestic cleaning services, don’t use a headline such as “Want Cleaning Services?” in your letter. Instead use something such as, “Your Whole House Sparkling Clean—We Do It for You so You Don’t Have To!”
You have to be clear with your copy. If you’re selling yourself as a social media marketer, you can’t simply say, “If you need a social media marketer, I’m your guy (or gal).” You want to actively show your potential clients why they should choose your services (for example, Choose me because I have five years’ worth of experience in improving social media awareness for big brands, like…).
Theory #1: The mere act of publishing content on a regular basis does a lot of the "distribution" work for you -- if you consider search engines a distribution channel. (Which I do, considering how often people use them to find content.) If you create content on a regular basis that's informed by keyword research and optimized for search, Google takes care of the rest of your content distribution plan.
The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.
Simply master short form copy before you learn long form copy. Long form copy could be a 5-page landing page, or writing the script for a long webinar, or crafting a lengthy direct-mail piece. It often takes years to hone in on your craft and learn how to write really great long form copy. That’s why it’s best to start by learning short form copy, especially when you’re first starting out.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Sell a good night’s sleep, not the mattress”? Think about all of the mattress commercials and advertisements you’ve seen before. Do they lead with coil count or insulation padding details? Nah. They sell you on how comfortable the mattress is, how well you’ll sleep on it, and how much more productive and enjoyable your days will be when you are well-rested. They want you to positively frame their product, envision yourself using it, and negate any potential concerns you may have.
If you haven't already noticed, you're currently perusing a blog post. Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly in order to attract new visitors. Posts should provide valuable content for your audience that makes them inclined to share posts on social media and across other websites. We recommend that blog posts be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length, but experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.
6. Write every day, without fail, no exceptions, no excuses. And don’t edit. Just write, and if you fess it up, find a way to fix it by adjusting the next sentence. Use this exercise to force yourself to write faster and generate ideas more quickly. Then, and only then, once you are done, can you go back to edit your piece. And for the record, this is the way I’ve written this post, and that’s why this last sentence wasn’t exactly the most elegant ever.
Content marketing requires manpower, so the first step is figuring out who is going to head up the program. There's no one-size-fits-all for team structure -- it depends largely on the size of your company, your marketing team, and your budget. But if we assume that those three things are interlinked, as they often are, I can provide you with some frameworks based off of other content marketing-focused companies' structures. These should help you hire the right people, and have them "sitting" in the right spot in your organization.