Tuesday, November 22, 2016

9 Steps to More Compelling Content

An effective content marketing program requires commitment and creativity

But you don’t have to be a world class writer or marketing expert to be a good content marketer. Here are 9 steps for generating more compelling content.
  1. Passion. Ya gotta feel it. People feel it and know if you’re writing about topics that you love, feel strongly about and are clearly knowledgeable. These are the reasons you first became interested in your industry, the reasons you started your own business. Sure you get frustrated, annoyed and dog-tired, but you rally and are still passionate about what you do.
  2. Preparation. Time to let go of that scattergun approach and one-off efforts. They don’t work and they’re wasting your time and money. Identify your audience—are they babyboomers, Gen-Xers or millennials. It makes a huge difference in the way you design your marketing program. Define your demographic and start building relationships with this group.
  3. Action. If you’ve created a strategy or a marketing plan, you need to implement it. This is where a lot of small business owners fail. It can be overwhelming. Break it up into manageable blocks of time each week. Calendar these and treat them like a meeting. Use these blocks of time to work on your action items–writing blog posts, recording podcasts, preparing your monthly newsletter, writing new web content.
  4. Commitment. To help you stay committed, create an editorial/content calendar. It should include the publish date, topic, your call to action, the format (blog post, image, video, etc.) and which social media platforms you will be posting to. I like to create a larger editorial calendar that identifies important events and topics, anything that’s seasonal, industry celebrations, etc. Keep this handy, add to it and reference it.
  5. Stay flexible. You may have a calendar, but this is a guide to keep you on track. If something better comes along, by all means take advantage of it. I do keep a calendar, but I’ve been taking advantage of some of the articles about the election—looking at these from a marketing perspective. Do stay on top of industry, national and local news and leverage these stories if they’re relevant for your industry.
  6. Listen. If you want to create great content that will be engaged with and shared by your community, find out what they want and need. To do this, spend time on the social media platforms they use and watch what they are sharing and engaging with. People like, comment and share what they feel emotional about, whether these emotions are positive or negative.
  7. Become a good communicator. Once you know what your community wants, you need to communicate in a way that resonates and is easily consumed and shared by your them. Remember that attention spans are short, so you need to quickly get to the point. This is as much about formatting as it is about actual content. Create blog and social media posts that are crisp and can be easily scanned and consumed. Use subheads to break up paragraphs and seduce your audience. Bullet points are a great way to make content more accessible.
  8. Be generousShare your knowledge with your community and build trust. Remember that there will always be a group of people who’ll see the value in the information you provide, lack the time, skills or desire to do it for themselves. These are the people we call clients—they will happily pay for your expertise!
  9. Become a continuous learner. Never stop learning. Whether it’s in your industry or about content creation itself, take the time to stay up-to-date on what’s new, what’s important and what’s changing. Stay passionate and genuine and you’ll build your community.
Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Election 2016: Where Did We Go So Terribly Wrong

On election day, I’d spent the day nervously checking headlines and social media looking for election news. I was encouraged by Hillary’s strong poll numbers despite FBI director Comey’s possibly illegal attempt to sabotage her with that endless email scandal. In the evening, I went over to a friend’s house with a bottle of champagne to watch the returns and celebrate the election of the first woman president. But it was more than that. As President Obama has pointed out, no candidate has ever been more qualified to be President of the United States. Looking at her opponent, no candidate has ever been more ill-qualified or poorly prepared for this office.
As the returns began to drift in, I began to get a disturbing feeling that something was wrong. There was an undercurrent that this would not have a happy ending. We sat in stunned silence watching state after state fall to Trump. The angry white masses had spoken with their votes. No one slept well that night, and the next day we wandered around in a fog.

We began to imagine what a Trump presidency might look like, and it was chilling

I thought of what this country looked like after eight years of Bush/Cheney—we took big steps backwards on the environment, science and technology. Forget an unnecessary war for now. One of the first things Bush had done when he got into office was to try to shut down Planned Parenthood. I read about our new VP Pence, who doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming. Both Trump and Pence believe that women should be punished for having abortions. Pence wanted women in his state to be forced to have funerals for fetuses. This is positively medieval.
What kind of cabinet would these men assemble, what kinds of advisers? Trump clearly placed no value on women except as objects of gratification, so there likely would be no smart women bringing their unique experience to his cabinet. With a Republican Congress and Supreme Court appointments, I simply can’t imagine what America will look like in four years.

So there’s a marketing lesson here

Let’s face it. Hillary is not for every taste. She has always been a divisive public figure. People are seldom neutral on Hillary. But as Oprah said, “You don’t have to LIKE her. Just vote for her.” She’s simply extraordinary, smart, prepared and hard working. She never gives up.
Hillary spent millions on a comprehensive multichannel marketing campaign, using print, TV and electronic media to communicate with her audience. Donald benefited from more than an estimated $3B in free media. In the end Trump did pour a significant amount of money—much of it his own– into advertising – and it apparently outperformed Clinton’s.

Marketing 101: Identifying, listening to and responding to her audience

Clearly, the biggest problem with the Clinton campaign was not listening to her audience and telling them what they want to hear. A total disconnect. This is Marketing 101. Hillary ostensibly won all of the debates because she was superbly prepared, articulate and polished, as compared to her bumbling opponent. But every time she talked about the ideals of inclusiveness—the very tenets upon which our Democracy is based—she drove a wedge into that mass of angry white voters. Every time she featured a disabled person, a Latina, Muslim or African American in an ad or one of her many very moving videos on YouTube, she turned off another one of the white working class (WWC) voters.

They’re not interested in inclusiveness

They see these people of other races as threats, taking their jobs, bringing multiculturalism to their communities. Instead, Donald Trump has empowered the WWC to hate the disabled and those of other races who have come to America seeking opportunity just as their own ancestors did. As Hillary reveled in our Democratic legacy, the angry white masses rejected it and voted for Trump.

No one predicted an upset

Everyone missed the signals–the pollsters, the political operatives and the media. Clinton’s team apparently didn’t go into the countryside, the little towns where people are struggling and many aren’t making it. What does the liberal elite know of this demographic? Apparently not enough, but this is where there were masses of Trump signs for the masses of angry white voters.

So what can we do?

Be aggressive. We still have a voice. Get to know your congress men and women. Work for change. Four years of Trump is one thing, but we can’t bear eight years.
Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts