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It's Time To Get Engaged With Content

The growing dominance of social media compels marketers to abandon their old hard sell in favor of a content-driven marketing conversation that can facilitate meaningful brand relationships with customers and prospects. In this challenging environment, content is a key tool to fostering relationships, but publishing a blog, creating a Facebook fan page or launching a Twitter feed is only the beginning of a strategic content marketing program.

Content marketing differs from traditional methods that employ interruption techniques in the belief that delivering helpful, relevant information drives profitable consumer action. The idea of sharing content is increasingly driving marketers to make proprietary intellectual assets available to influential audiences. Savvy content marketers create fresh information to share via all available media channels, on and off-line.

The Philosophy of Content...

Content marketing frequently takes the form of custom magazines, newsletters, white papers, websites and microsites, webcasts/webinars, podcasts, video portals, vid-casts, roadshows, roundtables, interactive online, email, and events. Such content is not designed to hype a marketer's products or services, but to demonstrate one's expertise by informing customers about industry issues. The primary motivation is the belief that an educated customer will recognize the brand as a thought leader worth listening to and doing business with.

Content drives the Internet as people (both B2C and B2B) seek information to solve problems. The credibility and authority that content marketing creates can reduce sales resistance, while providing an introduction to the benefits, especially the services offered by a particular brand. Those having the most success take an approach that involves a high ratio of valuable content that arrives without any visible sales agenda. Rather they seek to educate, to provide industry insight and perspective, share best practices and potential solutions. By consistently delivering content that is vital and relevant to one's target audience your brand will begin to play a more important role in their lives.

So how can you deliver great content that will attract and retain loyal customers? Start thinking like a publisher. The following tips should help you start your journey in the right direction.

1. Content must pass the "So what?" test

Churning out content for the sake of going through the motions will insure failure. Content marketing must inspire trust, bolster one's reputation and influence the marketplace. Throw-away content accomplishes nothing.

2. Create valuable, utilitarian content

Take a stance, break the mold, become a go-to resource, if you hope to make your content heard.

3. Speed and agility are key

Be timely and topical if you hope to touch audiences in a meaningful manner and become top-of-mind. The web rewards the nimble so beware complex approval processes.

4. Develop a brand personality

People connect with content that reflects a genuine personality so avoid impersonal corporate-ese. Injecting personality and emotion is a powerful way to connect with prospects.

5. Content should connect

Content marketing can build connections and relationships, which delivers social and SEO returns. Connections help build inbound links, increase share in social channels and gain you visibility. Incorporate connections into content naturally.

6. Worry less about perfection, more about tone

Forget about perfection and focus on being thoughtful and genuine. Minor flaws are forgivable, but the wrong tone can result in lasting reputation management issues.

7. Make content scan-able (and attractive)

Your prospects are busy. Respect their time. Make your content easily scanable by using headlines and sub-heads, bold text, creative formatting, whatever it takes to create a fast read.

8. Stick the headlines

Pen intriguing headlines to attract visitors. Without strong headlines, blog posts will be overlooked in a busy RSS reader or inbox, PDFs won't be passed along and social news sites will yawn.

9. Consistency and quality

As we wrote earlier this year, every company is now a media company. The quality of your content is a direct reflection of the way prospects will envision your product or service. The consistency of your content signals dedication as a professional.

10. Content requires tending

Content marketing should be an organic process. Advertising content is an admission of failure. Your content must work on its own to naturally connect. Trying to force weak content to spread virally is a waste of resources and a danger to your brand reputation.

It's time to begin the content marketing journey. Gather the management team to brainstorm issues. Let each company spokesperson take ownership of the issues they are most passionate about. Now, hit that keyboard.

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2 comments about "It's Time To Get Engaged With Content ".
  1. Lisa Lacour from Outbrain , August 27, 2010 at 10:20 a.m.

    Thanks Len. This is exactly what we talk about every single day at Outbrain. We believe that content is the key to driving customer relationships. The challenge has always been distribution. There is a ton of great content coming out every day and marketers spend a ton of time trying to figure out how to drive people to it.

    That's why Outbrain was created. We are 100% focused on content distribution both for advertisers and web publishers. We believe that a reader doesn't care whether it editorial or advertising as long as it's good and engaging and (as you say) helping them solve a problem.

  2. Victor Lee from StoneHorse Enterprises , August 28, 2010 at 9:59 a.m.

    Len, I agree with you on the importance of content. For marketers to create that engagement, they need to give viewers control over their experience, just as they have everywhere else on the web, and the ability to view the parts of the content that are most applicable to them. This example clearly demonstrates the potential power of branded informative content: Designing a Perfect Kitchen, sponsored by Moen: http://rm3s.net/app_template/Default.aspx?mg=a98beaf9-f8ff-4302-bc57-996e71726579&ti=