Tags Posts tagged with "blogging"

blogging

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blog_inspiration

Inspiration for blog posts can come in all shapes and sizes and from the unlikeliest of places.

Here are my proven ways for you to have that greater sense of achievement when you press that ‘publish’ button. I am here to make you more fulfilled and ensure what started as a commitment never becomes a, ‘I did it a couple of times in March.’

One of the biggest questions that I am asked is, ‘how do you not run out of things to write about?’ The simplest answer that I have is that I am relentlessly curious about how the world of marketing is shaping for small businesses in the mid part of this decade.

However, you may not be in marketing and that answer may not mean anything to you. Lets just cut right to the chase; you may only be here to read bold headlines and answers.

How can you create a consistent bank of original work that you can trace back to a bit of inspiration or just by digging deeper?

These are the places that have helped me write new articles every week since 19th January 2012. This is your very own route for blog inspiration.


 

Read

One of the biggest personal and professional changes for me was the moment that I started reading again.

Everything traces back to this book from Chet Holmes called The Ultimate Sales Machine (published in 2008). I picked this book up and since then reading has helped shape how I look at the world. More importantly every book I have read helps me become more creative and more strategic.

What I do is share what I have learnt and put my own interpretation on a theory into my daily life. Have a read of an article from 2013 that is simply ‘Why We Need To Read A Book’

Your Experiences

The week you experience is something that no one else can copy.

This provides the opportunity to almost create a diary of what you encounter and the people who are part of it.

No one is going to tell you that your week is wrong and whilst we are all being told to create original content, there is nothing more personal than documenting the challenges, rewards and frustrations you have. This is where your personality comes to the fore.

One of my quickest meetings to blog articles was from earlier this year when a company asked me, “Can Twitter generate an extra £150,000 per year?” This question made me think and realise the answer that I should have gave during the (wasted) meeting.

If you don’t want to read, the question made me realise that there is a new illiterate. It is our duty as businesses to adapt and continually learn.

a) Do Things b) Write About It

My whole human cannonball approach is to do things and then share what I have learnt.

I seem to have built a bank of blog articles that either link back to the Marketing Homebrew podcast, the Once Upon A Time event or the Content Revolution book.

This puts you in a position to document what you have done that no one else has achieved. This is the fingerprint that defines you and no one else.

See what I mean, it’s easy to tell someone how they need to create effective content, but even better if you can share what you have learnt by showing your own examples that doesn’t refer to Red Bull, Airbnb, Coca Cola or pulling out the Oreo Cookie ad.

Google Alerts

If we’re getting a bit into the Marketing 101 and travelling down the safe marketing path, setting up Google Alerts for your industry can uncover some hidden gems.

Here is an example that this works. When recommending this for a commercial interior company, you have to see beyond the ‘contract awarded to key word for $50m’ or the ‘how name of person transformed key word into a multi million business.’

The ability to share and comment on something that brings everyone together becomes content gold. Something still related to the commercial interior world, but from a different angle within Google Alerts becomes an opportunity to comment on the world’s first character branded colour, Minion yellow.

Your Passions

Nothing flows easier than believing in something and standing vehemently beside it.

This is what drives your enthusiasm. What you started (or starting) doing has to be more than, ‘I am doing this to make more money than the job I previously did.’ There has to be a reason and a purpose for what you are pursuing.

The thing that ignites my spark is the ability for businesses to persistently create something with limited barriers to entry. Companies now have the ability to build an audience that they have complete control of, what a fantastic opportunity for all of us. When looking over the blog topics, the majority of my articles are centred on businesses marketing as though it’s 2015 and owning what is theirs.

If you haven’t yet read The Content Revolution, download the opening section by clicking here that explains the situation we are in today and the opportunity it presents your business (no need for you email address, just download the PDF).

Categorising Notes

I know that I have lost hundreds of great ideas over the years believing that I would remember them. Trust me, you won’t remember them.

I started using ‘Notes’ on my Mac and iPhone, but now everything is synced via Evernote into categories. This could be links for articles that I need to read (but haven’t got round to), to noting ideas that come into my head, through to pages from books that introduce an interesting thought process.

Embrace Analytics

Looking back at what you have created and how it resonates with others is important to finding a thread to what can progress into a much more substantial topic piece.

Have a look within Google Analytics – Behaviour – Overview to see which pages and articles resonate and what doesn’t. For instance, my thread at the moment could potentially build momentum into a finely crafted sweater. The thread is based on the role an owned media approach has for business and what you have to consider for it to work.

I promise you that if you haven’t done this yet appraise where you are. If you have spent hours crafting the ‘About Us’ page, no one is bothered anymore.

Repurpose What Has Been Done

I have always stated that when I started blogging I was rubbish.

There was no theme to progress and was a stereotypical business related blog that had no individuality ie. how to be good at speaking, making Twitter work. They were pretty flat and done everywhere else. However, what I noticed was that there were seeds from earlier articles that could be progressed into more substantial work.

This fits the belief that we are always looking for the next idea, when we need to take stock of what we have already created and look at new ways to develop. Lets not get so fixated on creation, but curation of what you have uncovered that hasn’t been said elsewhere.

The Power Of Asking

If you are inquisitive about your industry, the channels that are available today lets you reach out in ways that you have never been able to before.

All it takes is to ask and for others to recognise that you are pursuing something that is far greater than expecting someone to tweet a link once they have contributed. This is how I have created my ongoing Talking Content Marketing series, since November 2013. This is intended to show a snapshot of where marketing is in the mid part of this decade and bring in the voices of authors and influencers from within the marketing industry.

A good space to ask and to also use as your content curation hub is Quora. This is an endless space of questions and debate. Who knows maybe an answer someone provides either becomes a contributor to your next article or the topic idea for your next post?

blog_inspiration

Friends & Other Conversations

I don’t want to go all soft and twee on you by saying ‘friends’, but you never know where a throwaway comment from someone else can end up.

For instance, I have an article on Mark Schaefer’s {Grow} blog, titled, “No One Cares What You Know, Until They Know You Care.” Little did I know that this was a quote from former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, but that’s not the point.

What matters is that this statement was mentioned by a friend one evening over a beer and I took it from there.

It planted a seed for me to understand that to become a valuable resource to others you have to invest time, learning and understand how you can be of use to others.

Be Lazy (the cheat)

I’m not endorsing this 100% (as this article is about digging deep) but if you find yourself looking at a blank screen, don’t feel like signing up to anything and a quick tool to give that momentum, there are two places that I recommend.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

All you need to do is enter three words and the end result is a spark to ignite your writing.

blog_inspiration

Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Sometimes you just need to throw in your topic area and see what comes back at you (guarantee that you’ll keep clicking to see what ideas are thrown at you)

blog_inspiration


 

The sources for ideas and inspiration are all around you (don’t forget your in-box too).

I am sure that I have missed places that have possibly helped you. If I have, let me know or comment below. People are generating the momentum for something that they haven’t done before. When it comes to finding topics to write about, as you can see, there is an abundance of places. I can’t buy into the ‘but we have nothing to write about!’ lame excuse. I hope these are helpful to you.

Image at the top courtesy of Julija

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Learnt_From_Blogging

Rather than predicting what will happen next year, here are some valuable lessons I’ve learnt whilst blogging this year.

I can say that 2014 was the year that I found my voice. Prior to that I believed that when we create content for an audience they would simply consume, I was totally wrong. What it does is just sit there if it doesn’t entertain, challenge and influence.

If we are to build any form of momentum, we start by growing an audience, who come back to your source (your website/your blog) on a regular basis and then share with their own audience. It’s all about resonating with others who understand what you stand for and your ability to do this persistently.

THIS IS WHAT I HAVE LEARNT ABOUT BLOGGING IN 2014:

1)   It builds relationships

We can sit on our perch and whistle our own tune of product and self-approval but it is pretty unfulfilling. Doesn’t life feel better when there are others to share and build a dialogue. It’s the same with any relationship, we can’t dip in and out when we feel like, to make it work we have to be committed to it. This is how we connect with others.

2)   It develops thinking

Nothing beats a train of thought. I know there are many articles that look at the topic of burnout and running out of steam, but when you become disciplined you can push yourself to look further and develop a particular theme. I guess one of my particular themes that I have featured this year is the ability for us to take the role to teach others and to open up a discussion, rather than an ‘I am an expert’ mentality. You should see the amount of social media courses that have popped up in my local area of Dorset, we are brimming with experts down here if you ever need them!

3)   It is an asset

I know one of the biggest reasons why people don’t commit to blogging is because of time, but Valuable Content answered this one. Click here for their October ‘how do you find the time to write’ article. If you switch a mentality from something that you’ll dabble at and see how it is in a month, then you might as well do something else now. If you believe that it can become a resource that can position you as an influencer within your marketplace, then can become one of the most worthy assets to your business.

4)   It is all about people, not just SEO

I used to believe that the main focus for what we write is to be seen top of the search engines, how wrong I was. Whilst it’s a chest beating exercise to many, I found that those companies who got in contact via search results, many were the equivalent of coming to look at a car you were selling and no-one leaving happy. Blogging is all about interaction between people, not a logo or an automated response. Ian Rhodes made the ultimate decision by deleting 203 blog posts, this taught him a wealth about blogging and business, have a read of his story here.

5)   You become a media company

With the increasing relevance of content you create each month, you are becoming the equivalent of a magazine. You could say that my magazine was a mix of lifestyle topics, cookery, home improvement when the front cover was all about football. During 2014, I have stuck to a more defined topic aimed at businesses to stand for something, whereas previously you could cover everything in the marketing remit. It’s all about finding a niche.

6)   The need to stand for something and not industry hyperbole

Once you have committed, you must not hold back. You cannot resort to amplifying a message of self worth. I have found that those articles that are the most honest receive the most readership. I have found my pet favourite industry to explore (and highlight) to be that of estate agents. Why not read the putting more thought in the content we create example. The 20th century mentality of disruption, promotion and hot air is strong within this industry. If we are looking to say something, lets at least be original or with our own twist to a current way of thinking.

7)   This is not a popularity contest

Rather than thinking that we throw the Twitter net out to ensure that every regional #hour gets to see us (in the hope for a retweet), it doesn’t matter how many people get to see your message. What matters most is that the people who see your message connect. People need to understand what you have to say and make the longer-term investment to believe in you. I believe that it is better to have 20 subscribers to your blog, rather than 2000 followers on Twitter. These are people who have invested by supplying a new form of digital currency, their email addresses.

8)   You can make an impact on others

There is no better feeling than someone getting in contact with you and to continue the conversation after the ‘publish’ button has been pressed. A reaction from someone that they enjoyed, understood and empathised what you produced is one of the most rewarding feelings you can have. I think it is because someone else has made an association with what you say. This is worth its weight in absolute gold. To have a reaction from something you created from a personal standpoint will beat any ‘difference between PR and advertising’ article, hands down.

9)   You can become a source

By having a space where others recognise you and your industry viewpoint, your blog can become an authority. While others may be happy to dictate to become recognised, your blog can become a relevant space to encourage opinion and share learning.

10)  You develop your writing skills

In a recent Talking Content interview Demian Farnworth (from Copyblogger) commented:

“It’s important to be able to articulate your idea, promote your product, and educate people clearly, concisely, and persuasively. Otherwise competitors with inferior ideas and products, but superior communication skills, will win.”

During the 21st Century having the ability to write is one of the key skill sets that we need to possess. Just look at the ways that we now consume and how technology has transformed how we share and interact (where email effectively became the first social platform).

11)  It’s the truest meaning of an owned media strategy

Everything that you create, curate and distribute is down to you and your business. It can attract an audience, it can build subscribers and it can create supporters. This doesn’t involve a heavy investment by promoting on other platforms. The biggest investment is time and commitment to find and develop a voice. Time should never be an excuse, when the opportunities are considerable. Whether you take the blue pill or the red pill, it is down to your own investment that determines the return.

12)     You develop personally

By having clarity, blogging has kept me focused. I would like to think that every year I look back, I have developed both professionally and personally. I would like to think that by the end of 2015, I can look at my articles from this year and continued my own progression of belief, sharing and having something worthwhile to say (that doesn’t just fit in line with every other marketing blog out there).

13)     Create a bank of resources

The growth of articles means a bigger reserve of information. I make sure that a viewpoint that is shared with a customer (or prospective customer) is then emailed. It maybe more clearly defined as the focus is on one specific topic, rather than a conversation touching on a number of points. Over time the assets created has longevity as the articles have a wider purpose to continue a conversation (and a conversion tool).

14)   Frequency is not as important as relevancy

Rather think that you have to turn into the next Seth Godin and blog four or five times a week, it is far more important to be relevant to someone else. I now find that it is better to concentrate and focus on one considered article per week, rather than write two ok 600 word articles.

15)    You have to be committed

Similar to being relevant to an audience (see point 14), to serve that group you have to be committed. There is nothing worse than someone subscribing to hear more from you and then you return in sporadic intervals. To be committed you need to put the time aside, the editorial calendar in place and above else write with conviction about what you believe in.

16)    You don’t have to publish on ‘bigger’ blog to become accepted

There is the view that to build any form of recognition (which then leads to audience development) you need to submit articles to a more established blog. Ok, I have done this, click here, but rather than thinking that you need to piggyback on someone else’s credibility, you can build an audience if you remain committed and what you discuss is relevant. Rather than publishing on another blog space, you can control distribution via social channels and I have seen my reach increase via LinkedIn long form posts (although the door is currently shut for new permissions to share, I guess it will be open again in 2015).

17)   It is something to enjoy

I guess you always have to leave the last point as one full of hope and spirit. I truly believe that for anything to build momentum you have to enjoy the journey. It’s not about reaching your destination but the expedition that you make. The blogging journey is one that I enjoy. It has helped me build new relationships, cement friendships and shaped my thinking process.

 

To make any blogging commitment work, you need to make a pledge to yourself. If you can: be determined; stick with it; become inspired by the world around you; read; ask continual questions; look at what’s broken; don’t become the ‘get off my lawn’ type of person; believe in what you create; be persistent, you can create an audience who will stand beside you. I’m no way near there, but having others with you on your journey, is such a rewarding place to be.

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marketing_mediocrity

Just because we are presented with ways to make our lives easier, doesn’t necessarily mean we become successful.

The relentless endeavours presented to us in the shape of apps, offers and software will never substitute understanding a channel or platform to become a stronger tool to our armoury.

Buying For Better Results

Last week I received two calls from ‘marketing automation’ companies (as a result from subscribing to webinars over the past few weeks), aiming to make my whole marketing delivery slicker (just think of those lovely automated tweets I’d be throwing out when I’m asleep). It made me think that the products that are available to all of us are growing at a relentless rate, aimed with making our route to market quicker and achieve better results (bigger audiences, new customers and further credibility). When we are armed with Evernote, Hootsuite, Vimeo, Eventbrite and a host of other virtually free tools to become organised and make an impact on a marketplace, we are being spoilt.

The thing that I have an issue with is that to many businesses, these tools serve as a shortcut to apply an aged mentality within new practices. By this I mean a 20th century mindset that is reliant on boasting and disruption within spaces such as Mailchimp to broadcast and self promote (at a far greater rate). Mailchimp now has over 7 million subscribers using this email tool, if you take the sponsored intro on 2014’s stamp of the digital age, Serial podcast to go by.

Take, Take, Take

Businesses are far to quick to take what is presented to them and execute, rather than get to the heart of what will encourage an audience to become part of what you stand for.

Rather than starting at a place where we are rubbish and our knowledge is quite limited, we are encouraged to purchase products and services that are here to flatter us. These are aimed to present us differently to others, without businesses having a firm grasp of the methodology that is being applied. Lets look at when I started blogging. My first months can be described in technical terms as ‘awful’ (I can now do this looking back). Nothing looked to stand for something and could fit into the generic box of ‘poorly explained ways of marketing.’ I now look back on my early articles with a sense of ‘awww…bless’ and want to be as open as I can for anyone to click on the right of the screen to read every article and go back to month one. Enjoy the overriding messages of someone looking to be something to everyone.

Becoming Better Educated

Over time I have gradually built an audience and maybe if I had invested in more focused inbound marketing software such as HubSpot, Marketo and Eloqua, then it could have grown at a faster rate. Everything that has been built has been a mix of commitment, time investment and keeping with it (this is by no means a way to self congratulate). The end result is being better prepared and educated to know how an owned media strategy can work and also build relationships with others that I could never have imagined two years ago. What this now allows is the opportunity to share with others to learn from what worked and what failed. At least it sounds better when hearing from someone who is committed to blogging, rather than from a person who tried it and got busy with other commitments last winter.

The investment of time to make something work is a huge commitment.  Rather than allocating our own resources to delve deeper, we can become afraid to try and resort to old ways of communication (from a bygone age). The sales email that was used two years comes back out the drawer, the LinkedIn non-descript message goes out to all connections to buy from you and the local Twitter hour becomes a cattle market of pleas, false hope and fingers crossed. These are all ways to reduce our fear and to merely acknowledge that we are doing something, no matter how uneducated we are to the unwritten etiquette of the channels we immerse ourselves.

The Shortest Route Possible

The investment of time and effort to learn is replaced by purchasing from somewhere else to make the shortest route possible in the hope to build an audience. Tweet this

This has been drummed into the British psyche of the shortest route possible since the introduction of Pop Idol in 2001, or the year before when Big Brother was introduced to our TV screens. The belief of a better way of life via the shortest route possible often results in empty outcomes. For every One Direction, there is a Steve Brookstein, for every Susan Boyle there is a Joe McElderry. From automated software to a Britain’s Got Talent contestant, the end product is the wish to achieve success and adulation with minimal effort. Being quicker does not equate to accomplishment. In the words of Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl (2013):

“Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old fucking drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck too. And then they’ll fucking start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. That can happen again! You don’t need a fucking computer or the internet or The Voice or American Idol.”

Technology has provided us better tools, better reach, better access but it also delivers an even quicker route to normality. Being normal is where many businesses sit today because it’s easier. A ready-made path by someone else is very tempting to follow. On the opposite side when we take the approach to understand the role we play and get to know better the channels that can become a vital part of our communication tool-kit, we can become the equivalent of Nirvana in our marketplaces.

Getting Better At What We Have

When we get better at the tools we use, we can organise people to subscribe to our newsletters, we can publish work that people want to consumer, we can get people to come to an event we curate (without relying on any advertising or any other paid form of media), we can encourage the sales process and we can get to know people within our brand community better. When we learn to become better with the work we create, we matter to an audience who are receptive. I’ll Tweet This

Shortcuts can pay-off, short term. Then again, if it were easy then everyone would be doing it now. We didn’t sign-up to run our businesses because it was simple. No matter how tempting the free trials are or the app to make us more organised, they really don’t. If we want to become better, we need to roll up our sleeves, appreciate that we can be mediocre at the beginning, but noted change can happen.

Image at the top of courtesy of Wonderlane

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Interview With Tom Webster_The ID Group_Content Marketing Consultancy Lets keep the Talking Content momentum flowing with an interview with Tom Webster.

Tom is Vice President of Strategy for Edison Research (best known as the sole providers of U.S. Election exit polling data for the past ten years). He has been studying consumer behavior–what we do, and why we do it–for two decades. Tom tells the stories of numbers.

Six answers, six questions where we look at the end of the age of the independent blogger, audiences, being human and how Tom learns.

You’ve stated that the ‘age of the independent blogger is over’. Is it now even harder than ever to be found and others to read/hear our perspectives?

Absolutely it is! Think about all the content that we are consuming now, and its provenance. Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Business Insider, and Medium (to name but a few) have become formidable content machines, and authorship has taken a back seat to “reach.” The big bloggers are still the big bloggers, of course, and many have seen their traffic grow. But the ones in the middle–bloggers who had modest audiences–are facing a withering torrent of competition for audience, and there’s no question that those audiences are being siphoned away.

Of course, when I say that the “age of the independent blogger” is over I will no doubt be assailed by anecdotal evidence to the contrary. But I think that “the age of…” means “the dominant paradigm.” Independent bloggers are no longer the dominant paradigm.

Before companies jump feet first with a content mindset, is the importance of understanding who the audience is first, the most important aspect to consider?

Given what I noted in my answer to your first question, I think it is incumbent upon companies who want to attract an audience to understand that audience first. It used to be that if you were a software vendor, your competition was other software vendors. But if you are a software vendor trying to gain competitive advantage through content marketing, your competition is Buzzfeed, like it or not. You can write helpful content, answer questions, and create all kinds of marketing and sales support content. But if you want to compete on the big stage, you have to think like a media brand. Media companies start with audience.

We certainly don’t have a shortage of content anymore. Should we not worry too much about the abundance of information but more about the ‘landscape of the content you are sharing (as highlighted in your ‘Rethinking Content Curation’ article)

I am a firm believer in the power of humans. Algorithms can piece together content that I might like given my previous clickstream history, but no algorithm can tell me why I should bother. Humans can do that. Honestly, I think Twitter should invest in more humans to curate and prune really helpful and high signal-to-noise specialty lists to make their service more useful. The good stuff is out there–it’s just harder to find.

In order to become successful with the content we create, is it vital to represent our own voice and not the voice of others (or what we think our audience should be reading)?

That’s a false choice, I think. You absolutely need your own voice–that’s the secret to not becoming a commodity–but you need to understand where your audience is at all times. Too much content marketing is based around buyer profiles and the like. I don’t know about you, but a very, very small percentage of my readers are likely “buyers” of my services. So I don’t write as if they are.

I do have three basic criteria for any content, whether it’s the content I create, or the content I choose to consume. Content should fulfill at least one of these three conditions: It entertains, it challenges, or it comes from genuine expertise–not content marketing expertise, but actual subject matter expertise.

In terms of shaping your opinion and way that the world is changing, how do you learn?

I question everything at least three times. I don’t allow myself to be satisfied with assumptions, received wisdom, or crappy data. I also keep a very, very open mind. One of my personal mantras is to treat data as if it’s information, not “evidence.” I wrote about that here–it’s one of my personal favorites from my blog: http://brandsavant.com/brandsavant/information-vs-evidence

Who are the content curators that you would never press the ‘unsubscribe’ button?

No one is immune to the unsubscribe button. I think that’s the best thing I can say here–you don’t own your audience.


Thanks to Tom for his time and insights, why not head over to the spaces where Tom shares his voice.

Tom’s blog: click here

Edison Research: click here

Tom’s Podcast ‘The Marketing Champion’ (with Mark Schaefer): click here

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 Flat Cap and blogging consistently. The ID Group content marketing

Here’s a story about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone when it comes to blogging consistently.

Last month I was bought something that can either be considered as looking quite cool, or more often than not a sign of age, that means the next natural progression for me is a moustache. I am now the proud owner of a flat cap.

The Flat Cap Story

However, I was a slightly reticent in wearing it at first because adorning any form of hat has been something that I’ve never really done and when I first stepped out to the newsagent on a Saturday morning to wear it for the first time, I was laughed at by a couple of teenagers, so not the best start to ‘wearing it in’ and achieving buy in from others.

Nevertheless, the laughing didn’t make me turn round, find the nearest bin and run home blaming my wife. I kept with it, held my head high and rather than looking for acceptance from everyone just kept with it and now realise that I don’t want to move to the next stage and grow a moustache, I’m happy with how I am and the ‘accessory’ gets comments from friends in a more positive light rather than pointing and laughing.

That Link From Wearing A Cap To Blogging Consistently

This links (trust me here) with starting to blog and finding a place that you can call your own by creating and publishing content on a regular basis. We all have to begin somewhere and that means doing something that you’re not necessarily familiar with.

When we begin our journeys we don’t always receive the positive reinforcement that we initially hoped for, invariably we are in a long dark tunnel, on our own but we look to highlight through content our personalities, what we believe in and become accepted by not everyone but those we wish to serve and get to know us better (or already know us well enough, just reinforce what we stand for).

When looking to build consistency in writing, you shouldn’t have the aim to be friends with everyone it’s all about having an opinion and sticking to it. When wearing my flat cap on a more regular basis, I’m not wearing this to be socially accepted, I’m wearing this because I now feel relaxed wearing it. This is similar to the way that you write, that needs to be a reflection of the way that you speak (friendly, approachable) and above all else being human.

We’ve Got To Be In This For The Long Game (Cap Wearing Or Not)

To gain positive reinforcement we have to be in it for the long haul. We can’t step foot outside of our house for the first time, with something a bit different (at least to ourselves) and become regarded as slick by the rest of the world. Acceptance takes time and if we are looking to build an audience who believe in us, we have to be committed and consistent to generate momentum in the way that others see us and how we want to be perceived (and taken seriously).

Coming back to the hat, I’m now wearing it more frequently and while wearing a cap isn’t for everyone, then neither is blogging. It’s just something that you need to throw yourself into and keep with if you want to showcase who you are and your point of view.

Flat cap wearers of the world unite, I’m joining you. Be interesting to read if you keep the momentum with your writing and is making a difference to how your industry sees you.

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Talking content marketing. The ID Group bournemouth, dorset

Our ‘Talking Content‘ series continues with the Australian perspective from content marketing speaker, author and ruckus maker Trevor Young.

The Q&A session covers two sections, part one (here) looks at what content marketing means and taking a human perspective. Part two (coming this Thursday) looks a bit more closely from an Australian viewpoint and what the future holds.

Once again, many thanks to Trevor for taking the time to contribute to the session.

 

A brief introduction to who you are and what you stand for.

Trevor Young. The ID Group content marketingI’m a trained journalist going back way too many years; I’ve spent the past two-plus decades as a PR consultant working with some of the biggest communications agencies in Australia as well as co-founding and running my own marketing PR firm for 10 years.

Since 2007 I’ve been fully immersed in the social media, blogging and content marketing side of things, skewed towards a PR and brand communications perspective. These days, I’m a professional speaker and adviser (through my new business, expermedia); I released a book this year through Wiley Publishing, called microDOMINATION: How to leverage social media and content marketing to build a mini business empire around your personal brand.

 

I describe myself as a ‘pragmatic purist’ when it comes to social media – by that I mean I’m all about putting your heart and soul into your social and content efforts in the first instance, while acknowledging there are some things you can do from an SEO and automation perspective that can help make your efforts more effective. What I don’t like is the fact too many brands and individuals just ‘dial it in’, trying to get maximum results with minimum effort; they’re all about chucking stuff out there regardless of quality, they don’t interact with people, they’re not about delivering value or being a genuine part of the online community.

 

What does content marketing mean to you?

I think the fact anyone with passion, knowledge and a point of view (as well as a functioning internet connection to their device of choice!) can create and distribute content with scale, on a global basis and in real time – to become their own mini media enterprise, as it were – is one of the greatest opportunities of all time.

To be able to produce original content at minimal cost (barring man hours) – along with using social media to distribute and share that content, and drive conversations and build relationships with the people who matter most to the success of your business, cause or issue – provides individuals and organisations with an unparalleled opportunity to increase their visibility and influence, to grow their audience, build their brand and ultimately, sell more stuff.

Put even more simply, content helps brands to grow their own audience of fans, followers, supporters, advocates and enthusiasts for what it is they do and stand for. Owning your audience (acknowledging they can walk any time!) versus paying someone to rent their audience, is the big force at play here.

 

How important is it to be seen as an influencer?

In a crowded marketplace, especially if you operate in a space where knowledge and expertise is your stock in trade and therefore a key differentiator between people and brands, then it’s incredibly important.

I like to refer to the word ‘authority‘ – being seen as an authority in your particular niche is critical because an authority is someone people take notice of, listen to – they read their stuff, share their content and refer them to colleagues and peers; an authority is someone the media will come to for quotes and interviews.

There’s nothing wrong with being an expert by the way, but there are potentially hundreds and thousands of them in any given field whereas there are not as many authorities because – well, let’s face it – it takes considerable time and effort to reach that higher level of profile, trust and respect in the marketplace.

 

Even though we can hide behind our social media ‘personas’ how important is it to be seen as a ‘real’ person and champion being ‘normal’?

The reason social media is so powerful – the reason some companies are nailing it in the space while others simply come across as naff try-hards – is because of this very aspect. People do business with people, not logos. We like interacting with human beings – we are hard-wired to be social. Companies and organisations for too long have been hiding from view, spinning the truth, hyping the trivial and creating self-important brand messaging from the ivory tower confines of the boardroom. Good luck with that in the future!

The companies that are picking up support and growing their base of brand advocates are those that understand that humanising their brand, that putting their people front and centre, is where it’s at.

At an extreme level, look at Zappos.com (I tend not to use Zappos as an example too often as they’re so good in this space, so much so that other major brands can never hope to reach such ‘brand-as-human’ heights).

But some pretty big brands such as Ford, Whole Foods Market, HubSpot, South West Air and King Arthur Flour get this as well and are making tremendous inroads in terms of humanising their brand. It’s the way to go, for sure.

Smaller companies, of course, have the edge in this regard and this is something they should be really accentuating in their social media and content marketing activities.

 

If the past was about telling everyone how great our businesses are. Do you believe that the future is about delivering value first?

110% yes. As social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk would say – “give, give, give…ask.” The metaphor he uses for this is ‘jab, jab, jab – right hook‘ (which is also the the title of his new book – http://garyvaynerchuk.com/jjjrh/).  Author and social media authority, Brian Solis, often talks about “relentless giving“, which he says is the practice of solving people’s problems by constantly creating and distributing free content. Both these men are wise individuals and we can learn a lot from them.

For too long businesses have been telling people how great they are – no one believed it then, and we’ve become even more cynical and filtered since. Continue down this path and you’re well and truly on the road to marketing and PR failure, I believe.

microdomination. The ID group content marketing

Part two of the Q&A continues (click here) with what the future holds for content marketing and the recent Australian report from the Content Marketing Institute and Association of Data driven Marketing & Advertising.

To read more about Trevor, click here for his site. For further detail and to purchase his new book click microDOMINATION.

Why not connect with Trevor on Twitter @trevoryoung

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Producing content for your business should never be about frequency, but how the information is shared within your community.

The best example is the world of blogging or to have a news page on your website with the intention to be informative (no, we’re not interested in reading about a new member of staff!).

The new way of working is encouraging content to engage audiences and to maintain a dialogue (and also the search engines to be on your side).  The daunting aspect is to think that producing continuous content is the only way forward.

What happens when the pen runs dry and those flashes of content inspiration become even more sporadic? It is easy to give up, where the initial focus is to stand behind a topic related to your industry, then see little positive results and bring things to a gradual halt because no one signed up to your blog, the week got busy or you just ran out of steam. So, you may ask yourself how often should I write?

Remember, the problem doesn’t lie on the shoulders of continuous content, but the marketing of the content. To get results, you need to be in for the long term.

A guaranteed route to failure is making more noise in a marketplace that is already crowded. This includes content that is primarily aimed at shouting loudly that your product is better than everyone else ie. how to get the most out of your business card/exhibition stand/website/logo/recruitment company….insert service offering here!

Always ask yourself, ‘how am I marketing my content?’ Before you dust yourself down and get back in the saddle to produce more information, understand how you are going to market it and share.

Here’s some routes to consider:

  •  Search Engine Optimisation. Content and SEO go hand in hand, but the aim is to now write for our audiences, not the search engines and cram every keyword related to your business in one article.
  • Social Media Marketing. Share your content on the various platforms and link to your articles, but always remember to write differently for each platform ie. the 140 characters on Twitter that cuts off because it was from a paragraph cut and pasted from Facebook is just lazy.
  • Guest Blogging. There are a host of sites that accept well written guest blogs and if you build a relationship and your style of writing is accepted, it becomes easy to build an audience on another platform.
  • News Stories. The world of PR still has a key role to play. The local press are relying on businesses to effectively become journalists and produce interesting content. If you have a topic that is worthy of representing your industry, then share it.
  •  Webmails. Mailchimp provides a great way to structure content and share what is going on within your world. For those articles that you forgot about from a month or so ago, there is an audience that are ready to interact.
  •  E-books. Articles that you have produced over a number of months and relate to a specific topic can be collated and then shared to your audience as a ‘best practice guide.’ Also remember to place on slideshare.net or even if it has a creative element to it, Pinterest.
  • Newsletters. Similar to ebooks, if you have a collection of articles that provide a platform to build a dialogue, use it. Content needs to be 80% related to your industry and 20% related to your business. We now have the ability to become the publishers, creators and distributors of our own information.

Marketing your content is key, if you stand for something within your industry, then even better, become a champion of it. The worse thing you can do, is produce information that no one sees or engages with. Content is not the problem, it’s how the world sees what you believe in.