What I enjoy most in my role as a Content Strategist is conjuring up new ideas. This could mean developing nurture campaign themes and flows, crafting individual content ideas or brainstorming event themes and multichannel initiatives.
For all of these different areas, I always give myself one challenge: To tell a story, present a theme or convey a concept or best practice to our audience in a new and exciting way.
I’m not underestimating this process. In fact, it is far easier to stick to the same way of doing things than to challenge yourself and your brand into trying something new. Standing out is a risky move; you can either reap a lot of benefits or you may turn some people off. There is no silver bullet to implementing a cutting-edge, creativity-fueled content marketing initiative, but there are some tips and best practices to guide your way. These articles touch on different parts of the process, from strategy and planning, to research, execution and promotion:
- Get off the hamster wheel: This interview with Carlos Hidalgo of ANNUITAS reveals one harsh truth. Content marketing budgets are increasing year over year and we plan to create more content and build more nurture programs. At the same time, though, very few of us say our content marketing strategies are effective — only 22%, to be exact. So where are we going wrong? The root of the issue, according to Hidalgo, is a lack of a cohesive content marketing strategy. Rather than being strategic and planning ahead, we’re stuck on a hamster wheel of last-minute projects, tight deadlines and lax processes. Are you living this nightmare in your organization? This article breaks down how you can address your challenges and get on the path towards great content marketing. To start, you need to understand your buyers, their researching and decision-making journeys, and align content ideas, formats and campaigns to each phase.
- Do your market research: Before you start to build a plan for a new asset, do you conduct any research on the topic and how it performs on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks? If your answer is no, you’re committing one of the seven deadly sins of content marketing, according to Search Engine Land. Don’t fret: Tools like BuzzSumo allow you to search key terms and topics, and see how they’re perceived and shared on social. Taking a close look at what resonates with your audience will allow you to craft ideas that will truly help you connect with them. Some of the other deadly content marketing sins include not measuring your content’s impact and reach, and ignoring SEO.
- Pump up the creativity: Strategy is great and all, but there’s no point in having buyer-focused messaging if your final asset or campaign is a total snoozer. It’s a sad but true reality in an era where anyone and everyone can create an E-book or infographic and blast it out into the Interwebs. Visual content is a powerful vehicle to stand out from the content masses but, like the article above notes, you cannot be sloppy or sporadic. When you use elements like visuals, charts, even storytelling tactics and themes, they have to be relevant to your target audience and the story you’re trying to tell. And you don’t have to bog down your design team to get started. Sites like Canva allow you to upload photos (or use their free image database), apply design templates and customize text to create banner ads, social images and even full presentations! If you’re looking for powerful images for a webinar presentation or SlideShare, ask your team if there’s a corporate account for Shutterstock or another similar site. Depending on your account type, you can log in, search images and videos, and download at your own free will. What I love most about this article is the focus on personality and humor. We B2B marketers sometimes take our jobs and brands a bit too seriously. Break free from the rigid messaging when you can. Your audience will be glad you did.
- Get your employees excited about content: There are times when content assets reach a dead end. They may be promoted via email, banner ads and other touchpoints, but they’re not getting the eyes or downloads they deserve. This is where your employees can and should play an important role — especially your sales team. Industry averages note that buyers are interacting with sales later in their buying process, but that doesn’t mean they’re not searching on the web or through social to look for articles, best practices and research reports. Your sales team can connect them to these resources and spark some valuable conversations. But you have to point them in the right direction. This article shows how you can build employee advocacy by sharing a menu of different content formats and resources, leading to increased social shares and maximum reach. Specifically, this article points to the 4:1:1 formula, where for every six pieces of content, four should be third-party sourced, one should include a link related to your company and one should include a link to gated company content. Cool, huh?
Have you implemented any of the best practices outlined in this blog? We’d love to hear more about your process and results!