Simple things to kick start your content marketing
Doesn’t matter who you are, marketer or not, you’ve heard content marketing is the new best practice for all marketing. Create great content and leads will pour in, sales will increase, and all will be good with the world. There’s more than a touch of hyperbole in there. First, content marketing isn’t a quick fix, it will take time to build momentum—even if you do get lucky with a smash hit right out of the gate. Second, people tend to gloss over the “creating great content” part of the plan and jump to the results part (remember, don’t count your chickens until they hatch folks). Creating great content doesn’t happen by magic, and one of the hardest parts is getting started in the first place. Which brings me to this post…
I got your back, these tips work
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about creating content—and helping people unlock the great content they have stuck in their heads—the hardest part is getting started. This goes beyond “blank page syndrome” of what to write in the first place, what really gets people is “blank website/blog syndrome”. You’ve added content marketing to your strategic mix and, for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re starting with a blank slate a brand new blog/website or hitting the reset button on an existing site. That’s pretty daunting. I have news for you, you’re not alone. Everyone feels this way getting started—even the pros. The good thing is getting going is as simple as putting your fingers down on your keyboard and start typing.
MarketingProfs published a really solid post with three critical things for content marketing and I’m going to dive into their first step—creating content people care about—and then add a little more depth with some concrete things to get you going on the right foot.
1. Ideas! I need ideas! What do people care about!?!
I’m going to repeat the advice in the MarketingProfs post because it’s so bang on and it works every time. Talk with your sales team. What questions are leads asking? What do they want to know? What problems do actual customers say they are facing? What do they need help with? Sales and sales development are deep wells of content ideas—tap into them! Every sales team I’ve worked with wants (begs, demands) for content they can share with leads to help with the buying journey. Example articles, case studies, whitepapers, short ebooks. Sales teams will gladly share your content with prospects—if the content clicks with leads. Which means you also have to follow up with your trusted resource and make sure your content is hitting the mark.
I used to meet with the sales development team every other week to check in and I ran new marketing pieces by our sales team throughout the creation process. I got invaluable insight from these teams, and even more insight when I met with them regularly.
It doesn’t stop with sales. Here’s the next thing that will give you an edge: talk to support and account managers. It’s great to handle questions from people who aren’t your customers, but it’s even better to learn from people who are already your customers. I’ve gotten great insights talking with existing customers. Ones that never would have come up if I had talked with sales alone. See what your customers tell you they most value. You might be surprised.
2. Keep It Simply Simple
Yes, the KISS principle, and in this case, what I’m getting at is—don’t overthink things when you’re starting out. You aren’t writing the next great novel. You’re not trying to win a prize. You’re trying to kick off a long term content production process and strategy. Keep things simple for yourself and your team. Blog posts are the easiest to start with. Get a few posts written—I recommend 5 to 10—then launch your blog. Why that many posts? Why not just start off with one and promise to publish a few times a week?
Because it never works out like that. Sure, you’ll ride the excitement of a new blog for a week or two, maybe a month, then other priorities will start to creep in. Before you know it, a month has past since your last post. But, if you channel all that enthusiasm into writing a month or two’s worth of posts first you have a runway to work from. Write those posts and schedule them to go live in the future. Start with 2-3 a week and see how things go. With enough lead time built in, you have a cushion to work on more ambitious content or try new topics. Remember, just because you scheduled a post to go live in a couple weeks doesn’t mean it has to go live. If you don’t think that content is going to click with your audience—based on the posts that have already gone live—return it to draft or delete it (I’d switch it back to draft and hold onto it).
3. If you can’t write, copy
When I first started blogging in 2004 (ish, that’s as far back as the archives here go, I’ve lost a bunch of posts over time), my posts were usually a short paragraph and a link to an article I thought was interesting. Here are a few gems:
- Collaboration and telework (May, 2004)
- The Nonsense Of ‘Knowledge Management’ – RG News (April, 2004)
- The flex penalty…out of site (and sight) out of mind? (April, 2004)
This isn’t great stuff—those the last one is still as true now as it was 14 years ago—but here’s what it is: stuff I read I thought was interesting and wanted to share with my own take on the topic. When you’re stuck, don’t write. Find, read, and share interesting articles you think your customers will like. Give your take on the article and with a link back to the original. There is always industry news to share. New trends, new developments, new takes on old ideas—something you’re reading that you think other folks would be interested in. Quote chunks from the article (not too much, a paragraph or two at most) and discuss. People don’t do this kind of blogging nearly as much as they used to, but the “my take on an issue” post was a staple in the early days. I think it’s time to bring it back.
Best of all, this is easy to do. You’re already reading articles from your industry to stay on top of things—if you’re not start now—and you probably have opinions about what you’re reading. Well, share those ideas. Post like these are harder to schedule ahead of time—these posts need to be written and published the same day. Do yourself a favor and keep the posts short and it’s not so hard to pull these out of your hat. If you’re using WordPress or Medium you can bash out these posts from your phone if you need to. Easy right?
One step at a time people
If you try to follow the “go big or go home” method for content marketing, you’re going to fail. Content marketing is a marathon, not a race. Heck, content marketing is more like deciding to hike an entire mountain range over the summer. This is a long haul, don’t rush things. Start slow. Start easy. Start creating.