Sometimes the best way to describe a thing is to explore what it is not. It may seem like all I am doing is giving a bunch of rules, here, but it’s important you understand how it works. Doing it the wrong way can kill whatever audience you already have and it will take time to get that back. Most of what I’m saying is learned through trial and error over years of doing this, so, please, learn from my mistakes, you don’t have time to make them all yourself.
1. Sales letters
In the world of content marketing, there is an 80/20 rule, 80% conversational, 20% product messaging and offers. If you approach this as a way to deliver sales circulars, or infomercials, you’ll lose. The goal is to educate your audience in an entertaining way. You should write content that anyone interested in your products and services and the surrounding industry would find interesting.
- Content is useless unless someone engages, that means, reading your articles, watching your videos, listening to your podcasts, and sharing your social media.
- · Content that has value beyond selling your goods and services will get shared. Sales circulars rarely will.
- · In this model, “selling” is mostly reserved for those who are already customers. I know, that feels weird, but we’re building trust here.
When your customers know more about you, they feel comfortable buying, using and sharing you and your company. The more they know and the more you can teach them how to integrate your products and services in their lives, the better.
2. Monthly Updates
In today’s busy world, a monthly newsletter is like spitting in the ocean. It just gets lost. If you want your content to get noticed, you’ll need to set up a regular schedule. While it sounds extreme, daily content marketing is best. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean writing a novel every day if that’s not you.
- · Sharing on social media is easy to do every day. I know, that seems time consuming, that’s where automation tools come in, I’ve talked about that before and will again.
- · Channels like email marketing are easy to set up to go out once a week, or more, depending on what you are talking about and who your audience is.
- · You don’t only have to share your own original content. Sharing relevant content from other sources is known as “curating” and we’ll talk more about that in future posts.
Monthly updates are like that one set of grandparents you never really see. Most of us have one. You love them, but they’re just not the ones you think of when you think Grandma and Grampa. You need top of mind awareness with your audience if you want to be successful at this.
3. Only Sharing Other’s Content
Curating, or sharing content from other sources, is an awesome content marketing tool, it means you don’t have to write volumes of new material daily to stay in touch with your audience. But, if this is all you’re doing, your audience isn’t really your audience. You’re engaging them with brands other than your own.
- · At least 60% of your content should be original. The more original the better. That’s what gets shared.
- · Avoid sharing from competitors. If they say something you like, put it in your own words and share it with your audience as original content. There are no new ideas.
- · When sharing other’s content, use links embedded in your own content. Add your own explanation and tie it into your overall strategy.
Your audience needs to learn to see you as the expert. So, when you share from other sources, make sure their expertise is at least as strong as your own. Research and news sources are good, they are expected to be shared and knowing what of their content is valuable for your audience is a great way to increase your own authority.
4. Being a Comedian
Be funny! Be very funny! But sharing funny cat videos is not content marketing, except… when it is. Doing this occasionally, or from a personal profile that also engages with customers from time to time is great. Make sure that comedy used in your content marketing is not hurtful or insulting to the audience, that can back fire quickly in today’s world.
- · Be funny with a point. Tie it back in, generally. For instance, if you ran a body shop, amusing YouTube videos of cars in accidents might be perfect messaging, mixed with beautiful, rebuilt cars you’ve finished.
- · Don’t avoid an obvious joke that ties into your industry. Getting involved in trending conversations that will only be hot for a moment, is a great idea, just follow your rules.
- · If all you are is funny, you’ll get lost in the shuffle. There are a lot of people online trying to be funny and some of them are very good at it. Plus, making people laugh and making them buy may not always be compatible. Make sure they don’t see YOU as the joke.
Just make sure your comedy builds, rather than tearing down your brand. Questionable topics (for instance, Cosby memes) or comedy that doesn’t related directly with your audience are best left alone, or posted to your own Facebook wall.
5. Making a Point
Content marketing is not a bully pulpit. Yes, if you are in the “renewable energy” market, for instance, you may need to make some political points with your audience, but that shouldn’t be the focus. You want to engage and that will drive more people away than it will gather.
- · Share, don’t tell, people hate to feel like someone just told them they are wrong about anything. Don’t be that guy.
- · Educate with a positive focus, if your thing is doom and gloom, show me how to avoid it, how to work for positive outcomes and give examples of those who already are.
- · If every message you send ends with me feeling like I have to have your product or service to avoid Armageddon, unless you are selling prepping supplies, you’ve probably missed the target.
The goal is always a sustainable and growing audience. Write content that makes people come back time and again. Make it so good, they want their friends to enjoy it too. This rarely happens if you spend all of your time preaching. It’s a marketing plan, not a crusade.
So, the last three posts have shared what content marketing is, the two things you need to develop first if you want to succeed in content marketing and now I’ve shared a few “don’ts” I hope you are starting to get an idea of how this works. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing some content marketing tools you can use to begin building and sharing with your audience! Let me know if you have questions or like the content.