Books. Like movies, people often think of books as selling themselves, but savvy marketers don’t sell books just to sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. Michael Port’s sales manual Book Yourself Solid is a great read for entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving customers to his coaching and speaking services. Although with self-publishing it’s easier than ever to publish a book, there is still the perception that it’s difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”
On March 6, 2012, Dollar Shave Club launched their online video campaign. In the first 48 hours of their video debuting on YouTube they had over 12,000 people signing up for the service. The video cost just $4500 to make and as of November 2015 has had more than 21 million views. The video was considered as one of the best viral marketing campaigns of 2012 and won "Best Out-of-Nowhere Video Campaign" at the 2012 AdAge Viral Video Awards.
Keeping your message on-point is the key to writing brief email copy. What's the point you're trying to make with your email? If you know the action your email is supposed to drive -- recipient orders free lattes on-demand, recipient remembers to buy their Bruce Springsteen tickets, recipient gets motivated to work out -- then you'll have a much easier time drafting succinct email copy that remains focused on that one end goal.
Don’t forget about your preview text! This is the copy beside the subject line. If you don’t write customized copy, most ISPs will pull the beginning of your email body copy. This is a great chance to provide some explanatory language if you have a subject line that gets creative so that readers will definitely know what’s inside the email once they open it.
"Ideation" is a marketing industry buzzword that describes the creative process of finding a subject, title and angle to write about; and ideation begins with analytics. Most ideation is done in a team setting, but freelance writers are usually on their own. Which is why it's helpful to know how professional marketing teams generate ideas. Before doing that, successful content writers need to:
Avoid pictures of buildings without people. You may know that a picture of the exterior of FPH fits well for a page, but to most people, and especially to those who are not familiar with our campus, it is meaningless. Remember your users do not have your insider knowledge. Give them pictures of people interacting instead of abstract building pics whenever possible.
The message doesn't many graphics or colors added compared to most HTML emails. As such, the hyperlinked calls-to-action garner even more attention. When readers scan through the text and focus in on things like bolded words, images, and hyperlinked text, reiterating the same offer over and over hammers home for them exactly what you want them to do -- redeem your offer by clicking your call-to-action.
Add value. That’s the secret. It’s not really a secret at all. We've already talked about it throughout this piece. Although when you look at some of the marketing companies engage in you wonder if they’re purposely avoiding the obvious. We skip advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, find a skateboarder and ask him if you can watch him look through a skateboard magazine. You’ll see that he spends as much time looking at the ads as he does looking at the articles and photos. Or check out The Berrics website. Much of the content is advertisements, but skaters don’t skip these videos, they watch them just like they watch the other videos, because they’re getting the value they want--good skating. As a skater I’d like to say skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, but I know they were only doing what came naturally, and selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines. If you want to hire someone onto your marketing team who understands content marketing intuitively, hiring a skateboarder might not be a bad step.
Usually, businesses don't completely cease all other marketing activities and switch to content marketing cold turkey. In fact, most veteran content marketing programs typically incorporate other marketing techniques to complement their content initiatives. But the impetus for most of the companies I've worked with to initiate a content marketing program has been the need for a more cost-effective, predictable, and scalable source of traffic and leads than what they've been receiving from their current marketing programs.
There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content--far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.
Contacting marketing agencies, content writing companies, magazines, and other companies that put out a lot of content can be a more effective strategy for many writers. The editors at these companies might be too busy to put out an advertisement for new writers and there will be fewer applicants with whom to compete. Fortunately, you don’t need many clients to become a full-time freelance content writer. Many writers have enough work with only a handful of regular clients.
Practice article writing. Learn how to write a newspaper article and how to write a wikiHow article. As a professional content writer, you may find a position that focuses on journalistic article style writing, or more educational how to writing. Study the form, structure, voice, and tone of each type of article so you are familiar with both types.
You run an accounting firm that specializes in tax preparation, and business was lagging this year. You want to do better next year, so you start a blog on your website and publish posts about some of the common tax-related issues your target customer faces. You write a few posts a week, and eventually those blog posts start to rank in Google and other search engines.
For example, I once got an email from TicketMaster with the subject line "Don't Miss Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band." They didn't order me to purchase tickets by saying "Purchase Tickets Tomorrow for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band," though such a subject line may have performed just as well. The original subject line worked well because it was clear what I could do with the information in that email -- ensure I'm prepared for the 10:00 AM sale time so I could snag my tickets. (Which I did, thanks to that email!)
Moreover, using all caps is not a recommended way to engage users, as it’s akin to yelling. Perhaps promotional print content is a fine medium for this style, but web isn’t. If your content is structured in an optimized way, using appropriate and descriptive titles and headings, lists, inverted pyramid style, keywords close to the left hand margin, and concise copy, then there shouldn’t be a need to use caps for emphasis.
Predictably, blog posts are typically written by the bloggers. However, if your team is large enough to have someone dedicated to creating gated assets and premium content -- things like ebooks and tools -- they should also write blog posts to help promote those assets. SEO specialists will also work closely with bloggers, as blog posts are often a company's best opportunity to improve organic search rankings. As such, bloggers should be writing posts that help improve the site's SEO, and drive organic traffic and leads. Their editorial should be informed by keyword research, and optimized for SEO.
With the pace of social media and the frequency of blogging, not to mention that many of your content assets will be used across multiple campaigns and teams, a lightweight project management tool is critical. I recommend using a free software called Trello, which helps you organize your content, set deadlines, attach files, and collaborate with multiple teammates. Another great tool for keeping content projects organized from planning to publishing is Zerys -- a content marketing tool with a built-in marketplace of professional writers.