Think about the content sources that you rely on every day. What makes them special? Do they provide you with information you cannot get anywhere else? Are they entertaining, informative, thought-provoking, or provide a moment of relief? Are they consistently delivered around the same day and time? Is there a particular point of view that you appreciate? Do they help you live a better life or grow at your career?
Following are a few of the content sources that I am subscribed to that have become a vital part of my life for both business and pleasure:
- My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers – Frequency: daily
- Seth Godin’s blog posts (an author) – Frequency: daily
- Don Dalrymple’s blog posts (an author) – Frequency: weekly
- Mauldin Economics, John Mauldin (an author/investment company) – Frequency: weekly
- AJ Leon (an author) – Frequency: weekly
- BreakPoint/Chuck Colson (a media company) – Frequency: daily
- Sports Illustrated Magazine – Frequency: weekly – I actually get excited when this is available on my iPad Mini. I love the digital content layout and most of all the stories.
- Signal vs. Noise (a software company) – Frequency: daily
- Ryan Payne (an author) – Frequency: weekly – This is my son’s blog and I like reading what he is thinking about.
- Chemical Guys (leader in car care products) – Frequency: weekly
- Blog Maverick – Mark Cuban (an author, entrepreneur, Dallas Mavericks owner) – Frequency: monthly
As a business, your goal is to become a part of the content fabric for your customers. If you do, selling to them becomes relatively easy. For example, whatever Don Dalrymple recommends, I will do. I trust him. Chemical Guys, if they recommend Second Skin 6, I will use it. I trust them.
I also get inspired by things I read. You can’t read AJ Leon without being inspired. Seth Godin makes you think. You cannot read his posts without growing. John Mauldin is the ultimate expert on investment in my opinion. I never met him but I trust him. My son Ryan Payne — I read his posts because I love him and want to see what he’s thinking and how he’s growing.
All these content sources have several things in common:
- They fill a need. The content they provide answers some need or question of their customers. They are not bloviating about their products or putting on a hard sales pitch. They are engaging with compelling content that is about me, their customer.Jeff Ernst of Forrester says, “Consumers no longer buy our products and service; they buy into our approach to solving their problems.”
- They are consistent. As a subscriber you wouldn’t allow Sports Illustrated to skip a week would you? All of these content sources, whether they are Sports Illustrated or a blogger, deliver on time and as expected. This is where many companies fail.
- They have a point of view. They are not afraid to take sides and share what they believe. The majority of businesses, especially B2B’s, live in this world of gray. They’re so afraid to have any opinion at all that their content lacks appeal and is boring. They’re looking to appease everyone, and so they don’t get any traction. Take a stand and share what you believe. It can be done respectfully. Sure it may create differences of opinion, but isn’t that okay?
- They are not looking for a silver-bullet. I can always tell when someone gets content marketing and when they don’t. Those who don’t get it look to content marketing to solve all their business problems. If that is you, let me save you some time. There is no silver bullet. Jay Baer, author of Youtility says, “There is no right or wrong way when it comes to content marketing, only more right or less right.” When you begin asking more questions about your content and making sure it is around your customer, this will lead you to a plan far more right rather than less right.
- They realize it’s not about them. Remember last week’s article, it’s not about you. Your customers don’t care about you; they care about themselves and their problems. The more you talk about yourself and your products, the less that content is of value and engaged in.
- They avoid “sales speak.” The more you talk about yourself, the less people will value your content.
- They don’t set the bar low. Your content marketing should be the absolute best in your industry. It for sure needs to be better than your competitors’. How can you be the trusted expert in your industry if it is not? The rule in content excellence is to behave like a ruthless publisher and editor, otherwise you risk creating content that is just noise. Make sure your content marketing team is on the same page!
- They don’t put much focus on email newsletter open rates or click rates. They focus their energy on the problem they are solving for their customers. Master solving that problem, and the open and click rates will take care of themselves. Don’t accept anything less than success. It requires patience, persistence, and a dogged determination to win.
Remember, the goal with content marketing is to move the customer in some way, just like my content sources influence me every day.
Are you moving your customer? If not let’s get started with a content marketing strategy to help tell your story.
Following are the key challenges we’ve identified:
- What are the informational sources on which you depend? What makes them special to you? Can you be on that list for your customers?
- Don’t create content for content’s sake; do it because you want your business to grow. Focusing on your objective is the key.
- Have a winning content strategy. We will be delving more into this in the upcoming weeks. If you want to be successful with your content marketing, your goal must be to develop and distribute the absolute best information in your industry. If not, why should your customers and subscribers care?
- Hire the best talent. Don’t make the mistake many companies make. Hire an A-team who knows what they are doing and is ruthless when it comes to publishing and distribution. Don’t expect results with a B-team.
- Stop thinking about your marketing as an expense. Invest in assets that will continually grow your business over the long term. Look at marketing as compound interest, it makes all the difference.
- Focus Make the primary call to action to get a subscription. Don’t confuse the issue. When you get a subscription make it a priority to find out what makes a subscriber different to your business than a non-subscriber. Once you discover this, everything will begin coming together with your content marketing strategy.
Resources and Acknowledgements
Joe Pulizzi, Epic Content Marketing – McGraw Hill Education, 2014
Jay Baer, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype – Penguin Group USA, 2013
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers – http://utmost.org/
Seth Godin’s blog – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/
Don Dalrymple’s blog – http://dondalrymple.com/
Mauldin Economics, John Mauldin blog – http://www.mauldineconomics.com/outsidethebox
AJ Leon blog – http://aj-leon.com/pursuitofeverything/
BreakPoint blog – http://www.breakpoint.org/
Sports Illustrated Digital Magazine
Signal vs. Noise blog – http://signalvnoise.com/
Ryan Payne blog – http://ryanpayne.com/
Chemical Guys – http://www.chemicalguys.com/
Blog Maverick blog – The Mark Cuban Blog – http://blogmaverick.com/