Posts from the ‘Content Strategy’ Category
September 11, 2017
When working with clients to document a content marketing strategy, I always end up talking about the “sweet spot” – that magical moment when an audience’s needs and interests intersect with the company’s products, services or expertise.
Here are a few “sweet spot” examples:
- One of my clients is a managed IT services company. We write blog articles that provide readers with useful tips for staying safe online and protecting their small businesses from cybercrime. Our articles aren’t about how wonderful this company is. They do showcase its expertise and tie back logically to its services. The articles are also part of an SEO strategy that has helped the site rank on the first page for a series of strategic keywords.
- I write a lot of branded content for Inc. magazine. I just completed a project for The UPS Store. It wanted to demonstrate that it supports and understands small businesses, so we created a series of articles, infographics and videos around relevant topics, including marketing and logistics. The content featured input from business experts and small business clients of The UPS Store, rather than just quoting brand execs.
- I’m a content creator and strategist. My own blog covers content marketing news, trends and best practices. It’s not just about my merits and knack for memorable phrases like “sweet spot.”
This “sweet spot” identification is crucial, not just to ensure you engage your customers and prospects, but also to make sure your efforts are worth it. You are not publishing content out of the goodness of your heart. It has to have a purpose and relate to your business value.
Less than half of marketers have a documented strategy for managing content as a business asset, according to CMI’s 2017 Content Management & Strategy Survey [PDF]. That’s a shame, because marketers who document their strategy are more likely to report that their content marketing campaigns generate results. Need help creating a simple, yet effective content plan for your business? Contact me today.
By Jacqueline Lisk
August 18, 2017
Helping a new company boil down what it does into a few sentences is a surprisingly challenging task. The last four years, I have been helping businesses, big and small, do just that.
Writing a company description is especially hard for a nascent organization that is still working out exactly how its products or services will be used, let alone described. But doing so is critical. This description serves as the backbone of external and internal communication.
Let’s take a closer look at why every business needs a documented company summary.
Laying the groundwork for consistent marketing communication
A company summary is a brief description of your business that can be used for your website, social media profiles, marketing material, investor decks, press releases, and in conversations with well-meaning family members who are trying to understand what it is you do, exactly.
Many businesses have a short, one to three sentence version, and a more in-depth iteration. The summary should make sense to your target customers, partners, investors and ideally, the aforementioned well-meaning family members.
Some company summaries are easier to write than others. Do you run a women’s boutique? That’s easier to describe than an emerging advertising technology solution. Regardless of your vertical, try to keep it simple and use recognizable terms and phrases rather than coining new descriptors.
One of the most overlooked use cases of a summary like this is internal communication. You want to make sure every member of your team is describing your business in the same way. I often work with business owners on company summaries as part of a larger company narrative project, in which we define their target audience, brand voice, mission statement and unique value proposition. The process can be quite enlightening for the entrepreneur. Often we involve their whole teams in a workshop. I love running these things. It is interesting to hear each person’s elevator pitch, and it almost always sparks some well-meaning debate about the company’s purpose. It is challenging to synthesize that input into verbiage that is both meaningful and persuasive, but it is also deeply satisfying to land on a new turn of phrase that excites the whole team.
While I strive to write summaries that will stay forever relevant, nothing is etched in stone. If you are a start-up, you should revisit your company description regularly and make tweaks as needed. It is good to be fluid, just don’t sacrifice organization. Document your sanctioned company description in a central location for your team, and keep them in the loop about changes.
For those of us in more complicated industries, like ad tech, writing simple summaries is weirdly hard, but it is worth the effort. You are taking control over how your company is described, internally and externally. When done right, this brief description is both deceptively simple and highly strategic.
By Jacqueline Lisk
April 27, 2017
Part of the reason why content marketing is so popular is because it is more engaging than traditional advertising tactics like, say, a stagnant banner ad. Your audience spends time reading or watching your content and may even be compelled to share it on their own social media networks. This helps you build trust and establish your position as a thought leader in the market.
But creating engaging content isn’t simple. It requires upfront strategy work to determine what will resonate with your target group, as well as creative talent to produce high-quality pieces. Many brands are taking this to the next level by creating interactive content, such as clickable infographics, games, and virtual tours.
For some examples of engaging interactive content marketing, check out this post from HubSpot, the inbound marketing masters. Its examples from The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and Orbitz will inspire you to think beyond a blog post, and you can also download a free eBook with more examples.
Photo: Interactive content example featured on HubSpot
July 26, 2016
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of ghostwriting. I pen thought leadership pieces for execs, and they run in major media outlets and industry trade pubs like AdExchanger, MediaPost, and TechCrunch. I also write articles for business leaders to share on LinkedIn, Medium, and company blogs. I love what I do, and I don’t do it “for the glory.” I like helping people convey their unique viewpoints. I like trying to capture their personality and cadence with my word choices. I genuinely enjoy working together to build on their ideas and to find examples to illustrate their points.
I agree wholeheartedly with a professional’s decision to hire someone like me, not just because it pays the bills, but because it’s a smart example of time management. People hire ghostwriters because they 1.) Don’t have the time to produce content themselves and/or 2.) Don’t have professional writing skills and understand that partnering with a pro will improve quality and, in turn, results.
But if I am honest, I sometimes wish I could share clips I’m particularly proud of, and I wonder how I can best showcase this type of writing, which has become a sizeable part of my business, on my social media channels and in my portfolio. Although many people enlist the help of a ghostwriter, it’s not usually something they want to advertise. I liked a solution proposed in Lauren Ingram’s article for Contently’s The Content Strategist, “Is it Morally Okay to Ghostwrite Thought Leadership.” She writes, “When some celebrities sign book deals for memoirs, co-writers are included in the byline, just in a smaller font. It might seem strange at first, but why couldn’t bloggers use this same system? Or at the very least, put some sort of disclosure at the bottom of the story to acknowledge the name of the person who actually wrote the post.” This solution would allow ghostwriters to share their work and help get their names out to potential new clients.
For the record, I have no moral qualms about what I do, or with the folks who ask me to do it. I work with clients who want my writing to sound like them. I take time to understand their position and personality. We communicate as often as necessary to make sure I am presenting their ideas and vision. Sure, I elaborate and improve as needed, but I don’t think there is anything unethical about that. (But I sure am glad I am not Tony Schwartz.)
This is a little cheesy, but I think it is an honor to have someone choose you for something so personal. Plus, I get to learn a lot about a ton of different industries and issues by speaking firsthand to industry leaders in ad tech, travel, and health care. It satisfies my innate curiosity and propensity for boredom in a way that other careers could not. I am proud of my ghostwriting. It’s not just about being a good writer, it’s about understanding your client and capturing his or her voice. I like the challenge. I like the work. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a byline here or there, but that (kinda vain) longing isn’t enough to take away from my love of the job or my appreciation for my clients.
By Jacqueline Lisk
January 14, 2016
2015’s word of the year? Content marketing. If you don’t believe me, ask the Association of National Advertisers. Thus, it’s no surprise there’s a surfeit of articles analyzing the content marketing developments that defined the past 12 months, and countless pieces that make predictions about what’s to come. I rounded up some of the best in content marketing, digital and tech news to help inform your 2016 marketing strategy.
Looking back: Content marketing in 2015
Native advertising 101: The Good, the bad and the ugly, ClickZ
A useful overview of one of the year’s hottest marketing trends.
2015 retrospective: 8 major developments to note, The MediaBriefing
A thoughtful, global examination of the year’s most significant media and tech happenings.
The best native ads of 2015, Outbrain
The 7 best native ads of 2015, HubSpot
The Best Content Marketing of 2015, Contently
Examples of native advertising done right. Use these to inspire your next campaign.
7 of the industry’s biggest stats in 2015, ClickZ
Important data pertaining to ad spending, social media, e-commerce and more.
F.T.C. Guidelines on Native Ads Aim to Prevent Deception, The New York Times
This isn’t a Year in Review piece, but the industry is a buzz about the F.T.C’s recently released guide on native ads. Its goal is to protect consumers from deception, which shouldn’t be a bad thing for those advertisers producing content that is truly high quality and useful.
Looking ahead: Content marketing predictions
5 Big Ways Content Marketing Will Change in 2016, Contently
A must-read! Contently’s editor in chief calls out the “sweeping trends” likely to affect our industry. My favorites? Marketing won’t be the only department investing in content, and media budgets will start to flow into content marketing initiatives.
The top marketing trends to watch for in 2016, Hubspot
“Marketing is becoming more localized and more personalized. Snapchat has exceeded many marketers’ expectations…We’re seeing a rise in wearable tech, which is giving marketers a ton more consumer data to work with.” This infographic provides a closer (visual) look at these trends.
35 content marketing statistics you need to know in 2016, Forbes
Making the case for a larger B2B content marketing budget? Bookmark this article for ammunition.
A Look Ahead: Content Marketing in 2016, The Content Council
Industry leaders share their predictions in this quick read. Don’t expect any earth-shattering revelations, but it’s worth a gander.
10 content marketing game changers to look for in 2016, Mashable
NewsCred CEO Shafqat Islam shares his predictions, which include the rise of “living” content, virtual reality and messaging platforms, such as WeChat and Live.
Prediction rankings: The most likely media and tech developments in 2016, The MediaBriefing
An in-depth look at some of the changes in store for the media industry.
15 crucial web design trends for 2016 and beyond, eConsultancy
A credible look at budding design trends. Keep this in mind so you can present your quality content in the best way possible.
Trends for 2016: Five Predictions for What Won’t Happen, eMarketer
eMarketer calls out often-cited predictions that probably won’t come to fruition (at least not yet), such as young people abandoning Facebook in droves.
Have I missed something? Let me know! Tweet @jlisk1 or drop me a line at email@example.com
September 28, 2015
When our clients ask about company blogging best practice, we direct them to the sites below for inspiration. These businesses routinely produce high quality content that conveys their expertise without being “salesy.” They effectively identify the topics that matter most to their audience while aligning with their company marketing objectives. Whether you’re launching a blog for the first time or looking to take your current efforts to the next level, check out:
Chances are that if you work in marketing, you’re already using Hubspot as an educational resource and an example of inbound marketing best practices. We’re impressed by the volume and quality of content they produce, by how effectively they drive traffic to their articles and infographics, and by their clear understanding of the role their blogs play in lead generation.
Fashion and design businesses have an enormous opportunity to create beautiful, inspiring blogs that showcase their expertise and products without reading like a catalog. We love how the iconic design brand publishes a mix of stories about their team’s international travels, company news and entertaining and decorating tips. Articles are clearly categorized which makes site navigation simple. The stories are fun, quick reads and bolstered by large, enticing visuals.
Okay, we’re throwing in one of our own. We’re the content creators behind this luxury travel concierge’s blog. We help turn the team’s travels into inspiring stories that showcase destinations and the company’s expertise and unique personality. (These guys have been EVERYWHERE.) Since we started sharing the articles routinely on Facebook, their fan base has grown exponentially. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you, guys!
GE has become a publisher in its own right. Its skilled storytelling makes science cool. We love the site design, and we’re impressed by the smart, engaging stories. We interviewed Linda Boff, GE’s executive director of global brand marketing, for a piece we wrote about social media marketing. She urges businesses to find their genuine voice and to partner with relevant content creators and influencers to elevate their content and improve their distribution strategy.
Maybe “blog” isn’t the right word for what Crayola is doing, but whatever it is, we like it. They feature cool craft ideas for kids of all ages, as well as lesson plans for teachers. It’s a creative, useful way to highlight their brand voice and their products while providing value for their readers.
Full disclosure, we help these guys with content ideation and creation via our partnership with Inc. magazine’s custom content division. It’s a great example of B2B content marketing, and we love how they (we) use a variety of in-house and external experts to provide content that’s truly useful for their audience of small business owners.
Want to chat about your company blog approach? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
June 30, 2015
Live streaming is the process of delivering content live to an end-user over the internet. Content delivery networks like Periscope and Meerkat allow people, or brands, to share videos in real-time, and audiences to more easily find content that they might be interested in.
Meerkat allows you to share and view videos in real-time. You can comment on content, see how many other people are watching, and share the video link on other social networks. If you do follow a stream, you’ll receive a notification when the user is “on-air,” or sharing new content, so you don’t miss out. But like Snapchat, the content does not live forever. You have to watch it live. In May, Meerkat revealed a Facebook integration that allows users to publish streams directly on Facebook.
Periscope, now owned by Twitter, allows you to share real-time videos via your iPhone. After you share a video, it remains available for your subscribers to view for 24-hours – then it disappears. People can also comment and like your content, allowing broadcasters to interact in real-time with their audience.
Live streaming’s marketing implications
Live streaming apps allow you to more easily broadcast video content that can help customers better understand your business. But as always – quality and context matters. Brands will still have to find that “sweet spot” – videos that are entertaining or interesting but also tie-back to their marketing objectives.
You’ll also need to find your audience, which is more easily done if you’ve already cultivated robust social networks, since you can promote your content on existing networks like Twitter and Facebook.
As it’s a new platform, best practices are still being determined, but if you fancy yourself an early adopter, now is the time to experiment.
Is your business embracing live streaming? Let us know @jlisk1