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
June 14, 2017
When I get busy, I tend to neglect my own blog so I can focus on creating content for my clients. I am not proud of this, but it is a deliberate decision. Blogging doesn’t fall through the cracks. It is not something I forget about. The truth is, there is only so much content I can produce in a given period of time, and if I take on too many projects at once, I worry quality will suffer. I’d rather take blogging off my plate so I can concentrate on my clients’ needs.
If I were blogging as a part of a lead generation or SEO strategy, this lapse would not be okay. Creating consistent quality content is a crucial component of an effective blogging strategy. I’d have to either find the time to blog myself, or outsource writing the way my (very smart) clients do. I am blogging to build credibility, demonstrate thought leadership and show my brand voice, which is really just my voice. I do a lot of ghostwriting and marketing communication work in which I have to adapt the tone of the business I am writing for. I love this challenge, but sometimes, I just want to have a little fun and sound like “me.” That is why I blog.
I get most of my project work and retainer clients from referrals. I have a close group of designers and developers that I tap as needed, primarily for eBooks and website design projects. I handle most of the writing and strategy work myself, although I do outsource to copy editors as needed. (Everyone needs an edituh. My favorite “edituh” will understand this reference.) I do have a network of talented journalists and marketers that I outsource to on occasion. In theory, that is how I will scale my business, as soon as I can work through my control issues. Just kidding. Mostly.
Right now, I am in a very fortunate position. I have more business than I can handle. That’s why I am okay with neglecting my blog. My clients are bigger than me. They are blogging to demonstrate thought leadership and build relationships, but also to drive traffic to their website, generate leads, improve SEO and create content for their social media sites. That is why it is not okay for them to neglect their blogs. I put my blog on hold so I can help them.
I feel very lucky that I make a living doing what I love. But in addition to being a grateful person, I am a nervous person. I assume I won’t always have a steady stream of clients and prospects. Business ebbs and flows. If and when things slow down, I will get better about blogging. Until then, I want to preserve my time and my brainpower so I can help companies like yours.
This concludes my confession. I feel better now.
By Jacqueline Lisk
May 16, 2017
Zazzle, a UK-based digital content marketing agency, surveyed thousands of businesses about their content marketing.
While 79 percent of those surveyed felt the use of content marketing is effective, only 6 percent were “definitely sure how to implement content marketing” strategies on their own. I’d wager a poll of American marketers and business owners would turn up similar findings. (They usually do!) While most marketers are sold on content marketing’s merits, many still stumble when it comes to defining a strategy, creating quality content at scale, and measuring the results of their efforts.
Check out the Zazzle Media infographic below for more details.
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
March 23, 2017
If you work in marketing, you can’t go a day without reading something about millennials. And with good reason! These guys are now the largest generation in the U.S. and have tremendous buying power. Their digital-first preferences have changed the way brands approach customer service, branding, and sales. (For more on the “Millennial Effect,” check you this article I wrote for Mediaplanet.)
Well folks, they have done it again. A recent survey from Deloitte revealed that 80 percent of young viewers skip online video and TV ads. But aren’t millennials supposed to like video?
As a millennial, and a human, I may be able to shed light on this manner: People don’t like interruptive advertising! It’s why they download ad blockers. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for well-done video ads, but most consumers prefer to learn more about products and services by reading and watching quality content, on their own time.
If you’d like to discuss what makes content marketing so special, drop me a line!
January 4, 2017
2016 was good to us. We partnered with more than 20 clients, from big names like Twitter and The Hartford, to innovative digital start-ups.
We wrote pieces for Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, AdAge, AdExchanger, MediaPost, Today’s Parent, and many a company blog. Granted, we usually didn’t write under our real names, but hey, that’s just a day in the life of a ghostwriter.
We helped businesses re-brand and/or launch content strategies for the first time. We wrote press releases, web copy, video scripts, marketing collateral, proposals, white papers, eBooks, even a book chapter.
Our days were varied. We wrote most frequently about adtech, digital advertising trends, mobile, small business, cybersecurity, medical topics, and travel. And we truly loved every minute of it.
So thank you. Thank you for letting us do what we love and love what we do, and cheers to more effective and fun collaborations in the new year.
Should you need a talented writer or content strategist, please give us a shout.