Cut the Crap

I had a history teacher in high school (I went to an all-boys Catholic school in Cleveland) who was a bit nerdy… the poor guy would get tortured in class. When we’d get rowdy and he was close to going over the edge he would shout “cut the crap!” He’s probably in therapy now.

How does this relate to content marketing? I’ve worried for awhile that the quick growth of content marketing might be its downfall. As this excellent slide preso from Velocity points out, EVERYone is a content marketer now, but that doesn’t mean everyone is producing stuff that’s not, well… crap. Here are some tips on how to make relevant, useful, not crap-tastic content:

  • Leverage your brand. Know what you are good at, and what you aren’t. Tide should tell us how to get that stubborn stain off our sweaters, but they probably shouldn’t tell us what snow tires to buy. It might sound silly, but I’ve seen my share of social posts from brands talking about stuff that is at the fringe of what they are known for. Go back to your brand positioning statement or promise. If your blog post, social feed or CRM efforts don’t feed into and amplify what your brand is, they very likely are off the mark.
  • Tell a story. Good stories center on people. Mine your organization for the people who embody your brand and write about them. Chances are, your customers already know and love them.
  • Solve problems. Does our content solve problems or simply try to shoehorn prospects into your funnel? A few jobs ago (in the days before social media) I worked at a B2B agency where the PR function was, really, content development. We produced great looking, entertaining custom publications for our clients. These publications focused on key industry problems we uncovered after some serious research. You should do the same. You know the pain points. Help eliminate that pain.

I hope the tips above will help keep your content out of the crapper!

Content is for Everyone

Many organizations look at the amount of content required for a sustainable, effective marketing program and are concerned they don’t have the writing horsepower to pull it off. But as this post points out, the work can easily be spread out to many people, even those who are *gasp* outside of marketing/PR or corporate communications.

When I worked in the corporate communications function at a “large, multinational company” I found some of our best content – the stories that really demonstrated who we were, came from the front-line associates, call center workers and manufacturing floor. Yes, it takes someone with an editor’s eye to hone that content for mass consumption, but that’s an easier task than starting from scratch!


Shiny objects

ImageA couple of blog posts I looked at this week (see here and here) confirm what most of us who’ve followed the rise of content marketing for a long time: content marketing — whether you call it native advertising or custom publishing — is on the rise and will continue to be a big part of the discussion this year. This post offers 7 tips on setting up a content strategy for your business. I really liked this post from Eric Wittlake on finding the trends in your industry underlying the shiny object de jour this year.

Mommy rap

I’m a writer, so “content” to me usually means words on a page or screen. But this campaign from Fiat featuring a video with an English suburban mom doing rap, is really clever. This is the kind of fun content that could get some traction on “Mommy” blogs and has lots of great jumping off points to engage consumers – perhaps a contest to see which mom can do the best version of a rap for a chance to win a Fiat. I believe Fiat plans to import the 500 L (a grown-up version of the tiny Cinquecenta) and it will be interesting to see if the brand rolls out a similar campaign here in the states. Image

Editorial Calendars: A New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year! Starting a new year means (or at least used to mean, pre-digital days) hanging up a new calendar. Each month featured a different seasonally-appropriate photo of pumpkins, tulips, snow-capped mountains etc. This got me thinking about editorial calendars and I was surprised to read this post from my friend Joe Pulizzi at the Content Marketing Institute that points many marketers don’t use an editorial calendar. WOW! Not only do editorial calendars keep you focused on developing and curating content that’s relevant to your audience, you can use the calendar to tie content to seasonal terms that pop up in search. During last year’s Content Marketing World I learned Kraft Foods religiously plans their editorial offerings tied to what people are likely to each each season (it’s no surprise that low-calorie foods are a hit this time of year!).

So, whether you prefer the paper calendar with pictures of cute kitties throughout the season, use something digital or scrawl something on a hotel notepad, make editorial planning a New Years resolution you keep. Look at what’s coming up during the year (trade shows, events, etc) and set those as your anchors. Then look ways you can tie your content to seasonal events. Naturally, that is more appropriate in some industries than others. I certainly can go on, but I recommend you read this post from Copyblogger to get a good primer on planning.

Still need help? Contact me! I’d be happy to lead your team in a planning session!


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