Archive for Content Marketing

Selecting a Content Marketing Editorial Calendar

marketingai-calendar

A content marketing editorial calendar is and important tool for managing your small business marketing system. Modern marketing requires creating, publishing, and re-purposing content from multiple sources, in multiple formats, through multiple channels. Without proper tools and processes, managing all of these content related variables can quickly become overwhelming.

Editorial calendars come in all shapes and sizes – from Excel Spreadsheets to WordPress plugins to software systems specifically designed to help plan and manage your marketing content. Choosing a solution that fits your business can feel like an overwhelming task once you start exploring the available options.

Evaluating Your Choices

As with any software system purchase, it’s important to evaluate the needs and goals of your business before you begin shopping. Otherwise, the tendency is to focus on bells and whistles of each tool. This approach often ends up forcing you to change your business process to adapt to the way the software works.

This post outlines the factors I considered when looking for an editorial calendar for both my company and my customers. The editorial calendar from Marketing.AI is the one that best suits our needs. Your needs may be different but hopefully the information below will help you find  an editorial calendar that fits your needs.

I started by outlining the main categories of tasks and goals that I wanted to accomplish:

  • Planning content
  • Producing content – collaborating, workflow, tracking assignments, managing deadlines
  • Measuring and Reporting
  • Integrating with other tools
  • Managing multiple entities

Planning Your Marketing Content

When most people think of using an editorial calendar, they typically think of planning their content. Planning your content marketing generally falls into two broad categories;

  1. High level or strategic planning that focuses on connecting your content marketing efforts to your overall business goals.
  2. Production planning or mapping out what content needs to be created for the next marketing cycle – typically a month or quarter.

Without software specifically designed for managing content, the documents in the strategic planning category tend to be word processing documents. Excel spreadsheets are a popular choice for production planning and tracking.

The type of file used is not nearly as important as making sure that all of your team members have easy access to the information in these documents. You also want everyone working from the same version of that information. This becomes difficult when documents are being emailed around and no one is confident that they have the most current version. Producing quality content takes time and effort; time you don’t have to waste in meetings reconciling different versions of your content spreadsheets.

One of the features of Marketing.AI that I really like is that it enables you to store the information from your strategic content marketing plan in the same tool that you use to plan, create, and manage your content. Having easy access to this information increases the chance it will be actually used (and updated) by the people creating the content. It also makes sharing the information with your content authors easier, whether internal or outsourced. Marketing.AI help you manage strategic reference documents like:

  • List of Content Themes
  • Your Unique Selling Proposition
  • Buyer Personas
  • Customer Journey Matrix (or your customers buying process)
  • Content Ideas
  • Products and Pricing Models
  • Features, Benefits, Customer Pains
  • Keywords, Hashtags, Industry Influencers
  • Target Industries

Marketing.AI also gives you the ability to associate many of these characteristics with each individual piece of content, making your reporting and analysis much more powerful (more on reporting below).

Producing Your Content

Content production deals with the day-to-day, nitty gritty business of getting the work done. This is where we assign responsibilities, set deadlines, produce, edit, publish, repackage and perform all of the other tasks that need to be done to go from plan to delivery.

When we think of content marketing we typically think first about blog posts, web pages, eBooks, and other forms of written content. But content also includes video, audio (podcasts), presentation slides, magazines (traditional and electronic), books, and plenty of other forms I am forgetting to list.

In addition to (or maybe because of) all of the format choices, we often have several people working on and/or collaborating to create content. There are many companies who will help you create your content. Many of them provide an editorial calendar to help manage the process. However, most of them are designed around a workflow process that assumes you will order all of your content from them. While this is perfectly understandable, it just doesn’t match the reality of the small businesses that I work with. My customers get their marketing content from several sources. They may purchase some from content creation companies, create some in-house, and/or hire me to help them develop content. The last thing I or my customers want is to have several calendars (or spreadsheets) to manage and reconcile.

I like Marketing.AI because it is gives me flexibility in defining my workflow and it helps you manage that workflow by providing notifications via email. This makes it easy to bring people on board without having to spend a lot of time training them to use a new system or platform.

Measuring and Reporting

metricsRegular readers here know that I am a big believer in the idea that having a rhythmic planning process is more important than the plan document. A vital part of that planning process is a feedback loop that provides analytics to help you test your assumptions and adjust your plans accordingly (more on analytics below).

I like to have analytics that give provide me with feedback on the both the effectiveness and balance of my content marketing efforts.

Effectiveness helps determine which pieces are best at achieving a particular content goal. For example, knowing which pieces of content are attracting traffic to your website and which ones are leading to conversions are valuable pieces of information for improving your content marketing efforts.

Tools like Google Analytics can help you determine which pieces of content are attracting traffic to your website. Using the goals feature of Google Analytics to measure conversions (and the value of those conversions) can be a great way to start tying your content marketing efforts to business results.

Related to effectiveness is something I like to refer to as balance. By balance, I mean I want to know about the diversity of the content formats being used (blog posts vs. video, etc.) and the effectiveness of each. I also want to evaluate the effectiveness of content in the different stages of the marketing hourglass (or buyers journey).

For example, I may have content that is effective at generating awareness and attracts traffic to my website. But if don’t have content that is effective at moving people from awareness to the try or consideration phase, then I have some content that is effective, but my overall marketing content is not helping me reach my business goals.

Taking this information one step further, I can determine if content formats (i.e. video) are more effective in different stages of my marketing hourglass.

While it is possible to capture most of this type of information and add it back to a planning spreadsheet in order to perform the type of analysis described above, doing so is at best a tedious process. In my experience, when a process is tedious, it tends to not get done once the newness of starting a new project wears off. Or, it gets put off until it becomes a major project and then more time is spent gathering the data than analyzing it and gaining insights that will help improve future marketing efforts.

Editorial calendar software like Marketing.AI simplifies this process by helping you attach these important attributes to your content during the planning and production phases, so you can quickly determine how your content is performing anytime you want.

Integrating With Other Content Tools

gears-systemAs a systems guy, I hate unnecessary duplication. I hinted at that above when I mentioned not liking to waster time reconciling different versions for spreadsheets. I also don’t like to duplicate data entry across different systems. As it relates to content marketing, this is a little lower on the priority list than some of the other topics discussed in this post, but I always prefer to use tools that play well with others and save me time.

Marketing.AI currently integrates with the following tools:

  • WordPress
  • Hubspot
  • ExactTarget
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Unbounce (for landing pages)
  • Outbrain (for promoting your content)

The folks at Marketing.AI have told me they have other integrations in the works and seem open to suggestions if you have a particular integration need.

Managing Multiple Entities

As a marketing agency, I look for tools that I can use in three main settings:

  1. Marketing my own business
  2. Working with customers who outsource their work to me
  3. My customers can use to manage their marketing in-house

Other businesses that are not marketing agencies may also benefit from features designed for marketing agencies. If you have multiple offices, departments, or other divisions that want to manage their content marketing separately, but also have the ability to see a rolled up, “master” calendar then you will want to take a look at the features in the agency edition of Marketing.AI.

Don’t Forget About People

marketing.ai logoLast, but not least, I want to drop a quick plug for the people behind the software at Marketing.AI.

In the software as a service world (SAAS) we live in today, having conversations and getting help from real people (vs. email, chat, forums, etc.) is becoming something of a rarity.

However, the folks at Marketing.AI have been great work with. They’ve spent a ton of time with me, answering questions, learning about how I want to use the tool in my business, and supporting me in both the pre-sale and post-sale processes.

I will be posting some demonstration videos in the weeks to come. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you would like to a personal demo or if you have any questions about whether Marketing.AI is right for you

5 Questions Your Content Audit Should Answer

content letters on board

Performing a marketing content audit is an important early step in the development of a content marketing system. I believe it is also something that should become part of your regular content planning process.

The content audit should not simply be another item to check off the marketing to-do list; it should provide insight and answer key questions that will improve your content marketing efforts and grow your bottom line.

Generally speaking, during a content audit you perform a full assessment of all of your marketing content assets and categorize them according to type and purpose. This allows you to compare and contrast each of your items and determine which ones are performing – attracting traffic and converting prospects and leads.

Most of your marketing content is probably part of your website, but don’t forget to include your other marketing content as you well. For example, many accounting firms, law offices, and other professional service firms have presentations, articles, and other materials they have not yet shared on their websites. These items could be shared as is or repackaged and/or re-purposed for future marketing campaigns.

Once your audit is complete you should have a better understanding of your existing content and the gaps which exist. Specifically, a content audit should help you answer the following questions:

1. Are all of our buyer personas being addressed?

In order to provide the right types of information in your marketing content, you must understand the needs of the people involved in the buying process. Depending on the nature of your business, you may offer solutions for single buyers, or you may sell to companies that include several individuals in their buying process. Your marketing content needs to address each of the buyer and influencer personas in your ideal customers’ buying process if you want to maximize your chances of winning the deal.

If all of your marketing content is geared to the final decision maker, but ignores the needs of the people who do the initial research, you may never make the short list. Conversely, if all of your content focuses on the problem definition, but fails to raise the issues that are important to management, you will likely generate a lot of leads that never convert.

The content audit process should help small business owners identify these gaps and help ensure that all of the individuals involved in the buying process are addressed.

2. Do we have content for each stage of the marketing hourglass?

In Duct Tape Marketing we use the concept of the marketing hourglass to define the stages of the customer lifecycle (Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, Refer). Others may use a different model to outline their Buyer Cycle Stages (i.e. Awareness, Interest, Trial, Purchase, Support, Loyalty, Referral). The important thing to remember is your customers have a process they use when making purchases. Our job as marketers is to understand their process so we can provide the information they need to see and hear in order to feel comfortable enough to move to the next stage.

It is common for small business to have plenty of content geared towards generating awareness and interest but then to have little or no content that helps build trust, moves customers to a trial phase, or helps close the sale. A content audit should identify these gaps so you can address them in the next marketing planning cycle.

3. Are there opportunities to use other media types?

Keep in mind that different people like to learn differently. Some like to read while other may prefer to watch video. Some media formats may also lend themselves better to certain stages of the marketing hourglass than others. Don’t get bogged down thinking that “marketing content” is just web pages and blog posts – consider how you might be able to use each of the following media formats to communicate with your ideal customers in each stage of their buying process:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Case studies
  • Social media updates
  • Infographics
  • Charts
  • eBooks

Savvy marketers often get more bang for their buck by repackaging their content in different media. For example, an eBook may be several blog posts, a video, and a slide presentation.

4. Do some authors’ content perform better than others?

If you have more than one author (employees, guest authors, strategic partners, etc.) contributing marketing content, it can be helpful to identify those who produce high performing content so you can learn more about what makes their content successful.

5. Which Content is Performing ?

Not every piece of marketing content you publish is going to lead to an immediate sale. However, each piece of content should still have a purpose.

As mentioned above, much of your marketing content will be geared to helping your buyers move to the next stage of their buying process. These goals may include calls to action, links for more information, follow-on items in a series of posts, a sign-up page or a purchase page.

Your audit process and tools should help specify conversion goals and track which pieces of content contribute to the completion of those goals.

Building a Content Planning Rhythm

The first time you perform a marketing content audit it may feel (and can be) a huge undertaking.

Depending on the amount of content you have, it may make sense to start with a sample of your most popular content and build from there.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I believe this process of classifying your marketing content, identifying gaps,  and evaluating which content is performing is important to do on a regular basis.

In order to do this efficiently, you will want to adopt a process and tools that record this information as you go along. If gathering the data you need becomes a huge project every time you want to review and plan, chances are it won’t get done.

Some editorial calendars allow you to classify and label content with the data you need during the planning stages. These tools can save you a lot of time and even help you identify gaps before you start producing content.

If you don’t use editorial calendar software, or if the one you use doesn’t capture the information you need for an audit, I would highly recommend adapting your planning process to capture this information as you go rather than waiting until audit time.

If you would like to see a demo of the editorial calendar software we use with our customers, and how it helps speed up the content auditing process, feel free to contact us.

Foundational Themes Help Keep the Marketing Content Flowing

foundation being constructed

“I don’t know what to write about!”

When it comes to creating marketing content, whether it’s a blog post, an email drip campaign, or an eBook, one of the most common challenges faced by small business owners is deciding on a topic.

As business owners, marketers, or salespeople (many of us are all 3) we have no problem talking all day long to prospects, customers, and business partners about the problems we solve, how we help, or what’s going on in our industry.

But when we see that blank screen and that blinking cursor we suddenly at a loss and full of doubt. What should I say? Is anyone going to read this? Will anyone care?

Now I know this doesn’t happen all of the time, but when it does it can be pretty frustrating. I’ve been blogging for over 6 years and I know I’ve gone through periods when I sit down to write and end up with nothing. Zip. Zilch. Bupkis.

A great technique for overcoming this content creation frustration is to maintain a list of Foundational Content Themes.

Each of your themes should be a substantial topic related to your business or industry. They may also represent important keyword search terms. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing encourages people to think of your list of themes like the contents of a book where each theme represents a chapter in the book.

I’ve found that some people like to write one topic (they write 1 chapter) each month. Others like to write a little bit about each topic (a few pages of a chapter) and then circle back to the first topic when they reach the end of their list.  Either way is fine; try both and see which one works best for you.

This exercise is often done in conjunction with creating an editorial calendar, leading many people to start with 12 foundational topics. Twelve is a great number, but don’t feel you have to limit yourself to only twelve. And if you can’t think of twelve to begin with, that’s fine too. Most people “discover” new topics to include once they get into the rhythm of planning, creating, and evaluating the performance of their marketing content.

Each business will have their own unique list of foundational content themes, but here are some hypothetical examples that may help you get started:

An attorney or law firm’s list of topics might include:

  • Business entities (how to select, pros and cons of each, how to form, etc.)
  • Business succession and estate planning
  • Contracts
  • Intellectual Property
  • Employment Law

A IT firm’s content themes could include:

  • Network Infrastructure
  • Information Security
  • Mobile Devices
  • Social media policies
  • Cloud Computing

While a CPA or accounting firm might chose to focus on:

  • Sales & Use Tax
  • Payroll Tax
  • Impact of the Affordable Care Act
  • Employee Benefits
  • Managing cash flow

Once you have a your list of content themes, think about the conversations you have with prospects and customers. What questions do they usually ask? What misconceptions do they have about your industry, service, or one of your content themes?

The next time you are stuck trying to figure out what to write, pretend a customer or prospect asked you one of these questions about one of your themes and answer them – just like you would if they were sitting across your desk.

Do that consistently and you’ll soon be attracting more of your ideal customers and growing your bottom line.

Search Engine Optimization for Videos

Emma-Julie Fox enjoys writing on subjects related to social media and SEO. She works as a writer at Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver based company that provides SEO services to businesses across North America. To read more posts written by Emma please visit Pitstop Media’s Blog.

Want your videos to rank higher? Where should you host your videos, on your own site or third party platforms like, Youtube, Vimeo, etc? The answers depend on your goal and your target audience.

Self-Hosting Or Third Party Platforms

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages making them suitable for very different kinds of situations. Sometimes self-hosting is a must for some people because of regulations and restrictions from third parties.

For instance, self-hosted methods allow website owners to incorporate rich content for their own domain, whereas YouTube or Vimeo provides a wider audience, though not all of them may be relevant. Self hosted videos players can be better customized to suit your need or taste, while third party hosting can’t.

YouTube videos will get a decent rank automatically, though not for your own domain, while self-hosting can build links back to your own domain through embedding.

Getting Your Videos Ranked

From an SEO point of view, a video should be able to get high ranking on search engine results. This will be able to get you more traffic and in turn, more conversions. Webmasters have to very careful as videos are a powerful source of influence and can even help create strong brand impressions or notoriety. They can even contain embedded links for diverting traffic to your domain.

If the purpose of your video is to get high ranks on search engine results, create rich bites of information and generate conversations then you fall in the largest category of users.

Search engine optimizers try to increase number of visitors to a site by creating interesting or sensational videos, which would become viral. This would increase ranking in organic search engine result pages. A well-designed video is better than any other tactic to improve conversations.

Whether self hosted or third party hosting, the location of your video should be on a page which targets keywords which are likely to receive video rich snippets.

To determine the viability of video results, you need to browse through the search engine result pages and find out which snippets are currently ranking high. Of course shopping, local and PPC results are off-limits but there will usually be a high volume of queries around any topic which returns video results.

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Sample Upload Video page on YouTube

Top Tips To Improve Your Videos’ Organic Search Performance

1. Keywords build around certain theme tend to get more video hits. For example:

    • Tutorial
    • Review
    • Test
    • What is
    • How to …
    • Demonstration
    • Explanation
    • Video

2. Create a mix of images, text and other media on your webpage. This will make it appealing to both search algorithms and potential customers. Spread out your videos over your domain or host site so that you can target more terms to lure a larger audience.

3. To host your video you can either use your existing host or you can even use cloud solutions such as Amazon S3, but keep the bitrates low so that you do not incur high costs when exporting videos.

4. Contrary to common belief YouTube or Vimeo may not be the best idea mankind has ever had for video based SEO. YouTube videos are embedded in organic search engine result pages (SERP) and thus it is the YouTube domain that will rank on search results. In fact it would be a better idea to securely host the video on your domain, submit a video XML sitemap and implement the schema mark-up.

5. Make sure the video cannot be embedded outside of your domain without a backlink to your site. After all, why should others reap the benefits of your hard work? Keeping the content unique to your site leaves no option for search engines to display anything else in search results for your video. Users who wish to watch the video will invariably be directed towards your domain and thus giving you better opportunities for conversions.

6. Alternatively, you can even selectively define where your content can be embedded. Most of the paid hosting solutions let you define such locations. As per technical specifics are concerned, make it a rule to embed content with HTML 5 and JavaScript or with Flash, but never in an iframe, since Google does not index iframe content. Thus if your video need to get indexed it needs an HTML 5 player with Flash fallback or a conventional Flash player.

7. In case you decide to self-host your videos there are a few good players available online which you can use. The most famous one is the JW player, though it is paid. If you want open source players then try Video JS or Kaltura HTML 5.

8. Submit a video XML sitemap to Google using you Webmaster Tools account. To understand the basics on building video sitemaps and getting video rich snippets on Google, you can refer to their Webmaster Tools guide which explains all sitemap elements in full.

9. Google is not biased about the video length in search results but videos lasting less than 30 seconds do not show up on search results very often. On the other hand keep you videos short and to the point, since consumers are more likely to watch their entire length.

10. On site video content is a type of inbound marketing strategy, even though many confuse it with outbound. If the content is focussing on commercial viability then it is important that they are not confused with commercials or advertisements. This is because of the fact that if a consumer has visited your website and watched the video, it already shows intent or interest. Hard-selling a product at this stage may make a potential customer defensive.

11. If you are still bent on opting for YouTube or Vimeo, then it is better that you make an informed decision. It is not to say that there are no advantages to using Vimeo, but it may not be the right option for the above mentioned needs. Vimeo does have a really good ROI (return on investment) rate and the customizable player is loaded with features. The usage is limited by views instead of bandwidth which makes it easier to analyse the ROI.

12. Both YouTube and Vimeo have their own ways to help create customized pages in form of highly attractive YouTube channels or video portfolio microsites. The version of Vimeo which is available for commercial videos is called Vimeo Pro. It is paid, unlike YouTube.

On the downside, Vimeo does not have an XML sitemap feature and the elaborate settings leave a wide scope for error, which will result in insecure content.

clip_image004

Videos can and should be a traffic source, no matter the traffic source is directly a search engine or from YouTube or Daily Motion. It should be a part of your SEO strategy and a matter of fact you would be better if you can diversify the traffic sources, rather than relying just on Google.

5 Ways Great Content Makes Cold Calling Easy

phone for cold calling

Cold calling is alive and well, or completely dead, depending upon who you talk to. Marketers will tell you that cold calling is dead, many salespeople still include cold calling in their daily activities. Cold calling can still be effective. One of the ways that marketers can help salespeople be more effective with cold calling is to provide them with great content.

For this post, great content is defined as content that is useful from the user’s point of view. It addresses a problem or challenge they are facing. It doesn’t necessarily solve the problem for prospect, but it may show them how to go about solving the problem, i.e., what to look for, things to consider. symptoms vs problems, etc. Great content focuses on the needs of the buyer, not the qualifications of the seller.

Great content takes time and effort to create. Great content, coupled with an inbound marketing system may eventually replace the needs for methods like cold calling, but it won’t happen overnight. Until it does, here are 5 ways you can use great content to make cold calling easier.

1. Content Helps Overcome Call Reluctance

Do you struggle to get your salespeople (or yourself) to make calls? Sales people experience call reluctance for a variety of reasons. One way to overcome call reluctance is to change your mindset from “I’m interrupting people in order to ask them for something” to “I have some valuable information that people similar to you have found helpful and I thought you might find it helpful too”. In other words, changing from asking to giving; from selling to helping. This shift in mindset takes the pressure off of the salesperson as well as the prospective customer – helping you overcome call reluctance and increasing your chances for starting a conversation.

2. Content Helps You Get Past the Gate Keeper

Another benefit of changing your mindset and having valuable content to is that you can stop dreaming up creative ways to get around your prospects’ gate keepers and inlist them in helping you connect with the right person. I know of a software reseller who cold call script goes something like this – “This is Joe from XYZ company. I have a special report that shows construction companies how to increase the profit on their jobs without buying new software. Is that something you’d be interested in? It is, great – what email address should I send that to?”. More often than not, they end up connecting with the decision maker or a key influencer.

3. Content Gives You a Reason to Follow Up

Do you hate making “just checking in” calls”? So do your prospects.

“Just checking in” is like asking “is there anything we can talk about?”. Sharing great content gives you something to talk about. It gives you the opportunity to ask questions about what your prospect wants to talk about – them and the issues they are facing.

Rather than just checking in, try asking:

  • Did they find the content helpful?
    • If yes, which parts were helpful and why?
    • If not, what would they have liked to have seen? Do you have other content that can help fill that need?
  • What other questions did content raise?
  • Didn’t have time to read it? Would you like me to give you a 30 second summary of what is covered or point you to the section that addresses your particular question(s)?
  • Do you know anyone else who would like to receive this information?

Provide great content and give yourself, and your prospect, something to talk about.

4. Content Helps You Lead with Solutions Rather Than Products

Professional service firms and B2B companies often bundle several products and services to create a comprehensive solution for their customers. One of the challenges they typically face is getting bogged down in a discussion about a particular product or products before they have chance to get the full picture of the challenges facing their prospective customer. This may lead to smaller sales, sub-optimum solutions, and/or wasted time backtracking or reconfiguring solutions.

Sharing great content that educates and builds trust can help alleviate these challenges by setting the stage for the higher level conversations that will help you and your prospect take a solutions based approach to the challenge they are looking to solve.

5. Content Helps You Have a More Productive First Conversation

Sharing great content during the prospecting stages of your sales cycle leads to better, more productive discussions when you do get invited in for a sales conversation. In essence, you’ve already started your sales conversation before the meeting. Now you can quicly get to the heart of the matter – do they have a problem that you can solve and are they willing and able to pay you in order to do so.

These are just a few ways that great marketing content can help you shorten your sales cycle. For more ideas on how to apply these content ideas to your business, request a free consultation or download our free Content Creation Guide.

7 Tips for Finding Content Marketing Ideas

content marketing tips

Consistently creating marketing content that educates and builds trust can be a challenge for small business owners. Creating an editorial calendar for your content marketing sounds like a good idea – until you have to start filling it with ideas.

Most small business owners that I talk to understand the importance of good marketing content, but often get stuck when confronted with a blank piece of paper (or computer screen). Today I’d like to share some of the tips I use when helping customers build their editorial calendars.

I like to try work on my editorial calendar on a quarterly basis, but sometimes it is easier to work on it monthly, particularly when you are getting started. The important thing to be consistent and build a rhythm to your planning process.

I’ll assume we are on a monthly planning rhythm for this post. Here are some questions to ask during your planning sessions to help you fill out your editorial calendar.

1. What is going on this month?

I am a big of leveraging time and repurposing content, so I like to start by looking for items that need to be worked on in the coming work and see if I can also incorporate them into my editorial calendar. For example:

  • Are you brining on any new employees?
  • Will you be receiving awards?
  • Do you have seasonal promotions?
  • Will your favorite charities have events or awareness drives coming up?
  • Are you or your vendors announcing new products and services?
  • Will you be hosting or attending any conferences or industry events?

Each of these events presents multiple content opportunities (i.e. press releases, website updates, newsletter articles, social media updates, blog posts, etc.)

2. What did we do last month?

Sticking with the theme of repurposing, review the content marketing assets created in the previous month, keeping your eye open for content repackaging opportunities. Did you create an eBook last month? Maybe you can use that content to create a presentation, webinar, or a series of blog posts. Or perhaps you can can create a follow up piece to last month’s PR story.

3. Do we have gaps in our Marketing Hourglass?

The Marketing Hourglass helps define the logical path that prospects follow through your marketing system as they come to Know, Like, and Trust you so they will Try and Buy your products and services and Refer to their friends and colleagues.

For each buyer persona, you need to provide educational and trust building marketing content they need in order to feel comfortable moving to the next stage of the hourglass. By mapping your content assets to the stages of the hourglass you can identify and fill any gaps that may be preventing your prospects or customers from moving forward.

4. Review Your Sales Conversations

Another great way to make sure your marketing content contains helpful information is to review the conversations you and/or your salespeople are having with prospects and customers. Look for patterns in the types of questions they are asking. Are there certain types of content (i.e. case studies) that seem to be most effective in a certain stage of the hourglass? Have your salespeople review their email outboxes – the questions they are answering and the information they are forwarding to prospects can be a content marketing goldmine.

5. Review Your List of Monthly Themes

In Duct Tape Marketing we talk about creating Foundational Content Themes for your business. A foundational theme is a substantial topic related to your business or industry and typically represents an important keyword search term. Focusing on one theme per month is a great way to stay on track with your long term content marketing goals.

6. Share Industry News

Sharing industry news and trends, along with your insight, is a great way to provide helpful marketing content. This post on curating content  contains some specific ideas that you can use in you content marketing.

7. Strategic Referral Partners

Professional service firms and B2B companies spend a lot of time building and nurturing strategic referral relationships. Those efforts can be combined with your content marketing efforts by co-branding content assets (i.e. an eBook), providing guest blog posts, conducting joint presentations, or co-producing a podcast.

I hope you find these tips useful. Do you have a favorite content creation tip not included above? Please share it in the comments below.

For more content creation tips, download The Crazy Busy Marketer’s Guide to  Content Creation in the Real World.

Content Marketing Tip – Using Transcription Services

helpful tips

Creating quality marketing content that educates and builds trust takes time and effort. One way to make sure you are getting the most out of your content marketing investment is to repackage your content into different media formats. This approach allows you to share your content in more places and in it allows your prospects to consume the information according to their preference (reading vs. listening vs. watching video).

One strategy you can use is to start by creating your content in video. Video can be a recording of a webinar, a “live” presentation, a screen recording (i.e. a software demo), a recorded interview, or just you talking to the camera. Once you have your video you can:

  • Create a seperate audio file to share as a podcast.
  • Create one or more blog posts. You can create a blog post that includes an embedded copy of your video. To help the search engines find your content, you will also want to include a summary or a full transcript (see below) of the video. Depending on your video, you may be able to create several blog posts using the one One post with the embedded video and transcript, or one point – one post
  • Share the video on social media. You can either share the video directly, or share a link to your video.
  • If your presentation included slides (i.e. Powerpoint) you can share those on SlideShare or LinkedIn.

If you form the habit of creating this type of content on regular basis, you can also repackage your content as “collections”. For example:

  • You can package audio files together on a CD
  • You can package your blogposts together as an eBook. You can make your eBooks multimedia by linking to your relevant audio and video from within your eBook.
  • You can package videos, presentations, etc., as a DVD that you can share via direct mail or at a tradeshow

One of the more time consuming steps of this strategy is creating transcripts of your audio and video files. Luckily, there are many individuals and companies who specialize providing transcription services.

Transcription Services

There are no shortage of transcription services available on the web. Most of them will price their services base on the quantity of audio being transcribed. Most of them guarantee a specific turnaround time while others factor turnaround time into their pricing plans. Other things you may want to look for is whether they specialize in your field (i.e. medical or legal), whether or not the service is U.S. based, and how involved real people (vs software) are involved in the transcription process.

Here are a few services that you can use as a starting point for finding one that is meets your needs:

Rev.com – will transcribe your audio or video for $1/minute. They promise a 48hr turnaround and a 98% accuracy rate. They also have a free iPhone app that you can use to create and edit voice recordings and then forward your recording to Rev for transcription.

If you need a quicker turnaround time, check out SameDayTranscriptions.com. Prices are not listed on their website, but you can call or submit a form on their site for a quote.

VerbalLink – offers a full compliment of transcription and writing services and is 100% U.S. based.

Casting Words – offers different price points based upon the turnaround time you request. They also provide an order tracking service, so you always know the status of your order.

Do you prefer to work with a local business? Many virtual assistants (VAs) also provide transcription services, so you may want to look for VAs in your area.

I hope that gives you some ideas on how your can get more out of your content marketing budget. Do you have a favorite content marketing tip? Leave a comment below.

Content Curation and Your Content Marketing Strategy

cherry picking

“Content Curation” may sound like one of those meaningless buzwords made up by marketers, but it can actually be a powerful tool in your small business marketing toolkit. Simply put, content curation consists of finding, selecting, and sharing the best, content that is relevant to your ideal customers and prospects.

The rise in popularity of content marketing means that not only is more content being produced, but our prospects and customers are also being flooded with eBooks, webinars, special reports, and all kinds of other marketing content. Since anyone can publish information, how do I know who to trust? How do I know whether a particular piece of information is important to me?

Your customers and prospects are asking these types of questions all the time. Just like us, they would love to have a trusted source for news, information, and insight focused on the information they care about. Having a trusted source who finds ands shares relevant information is valuable, but the real value comes from providing insight into how that information affects me and my business. It is this type of content curation (information plus insight) that will establish you as the “go-to” source for information in your market niche.

Other Benefits of Curating Content

Sharing content that educates and builds trust is key to the success of your small business marketing system. In some cases you must create the content yourself as it pertains to the unique way in which you help customers solve problems. There are plenty of opportunities to share other peoples content throughout your Marketing Hourglass. Here are a few examples of how your can enhance your content marketing with content curation:

  • Content curation can help you get found by attracting links from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., as well as links from other web sites. These links can help boost your traffic and gain visibility on search engines.
  • Curated content can also be a great tool for keeping prospects engaged and moving forward in your lead nurturing campaigns.
  • Sharing the information you collect, along with your insights, also helps you be a better networker – building relationships by adding value. This sharing also helps you stay “Top of Mind” with your strategic referral partners, leading to more referrals and opportunities.

Finding Content to Share

Most professional service firms and B2B companies typically receive a lot of information marketing content that their customers, prospects, and referral partners would find helpful. You probably receive this type of information in industry newsletters, magazines, blogs that you follow, association news, etc. By selecting the items that are relevant to your audience and adding your insights regarding why this information is important to them, you provide them with great value and (when done consistently) establish yourself as an industry expert. Here is a partial list of potential sources of information that you can share:

  • Industry specific newsletters
  • Links to content and media you find on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or other social sharing websites
  • Industry blogs that you follow
  • News aggreators like Alltop or Techmeme
  • Talkwalker or SocialMention or other social listening tools
  • Press releases you receive or find on services like PRWeb
  • Industry reports, survey results, statistics, and research

Content Curation Tools

Software tools can be a great help when it comes to gathering and sharting content on the web. Be careful though, don’t think of these tools as a “silver bullet”. Most of the value (and marketing benefit) comes from the personal touch you add by filtering and adding perspective to the content that you share.

There are many software tools, free and paid, that do a great job of helping you collect and share information related to your topics of interest. Here are a few examples to help you get started:

  • Storify - Storify users tell stories by collecting updates from social networks, amplifying the voices that matter to create a new story format that is interactive, dynamic and social. Discover meaningful social media from the best storytellers online, including journalists, bloggers, editors and people like you, too.
  • Paper.li - Helps you create your own online newspaper. Paper.li helps you automatically find, publish & promote engaging articles, photos and videos from across the web.
  • Silk - A Silk site lets publish your collections, add structure to your information and gives you many ways to filter and visualize your content.
  • News.me - Delivers top stories from Facebook and Twitter to your inbox
  • Scoop.it - Allows you to create topic pages where you can collect content from around the web, add your insight, and share.

Sharing marketing content that educates and builds trust is an essential component of a modern small business marketing system. Creating original content is a great way to help establish your brand, but it can be time consuming and difficult. Augmenting your content marketing strategy with curated content, along with your unique insights into that content, can be a great strategy for attracting new leads, converting prospects into customers, and generating more business through referrals.