Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Content Marketing Tip #2 - How to Create Content for Real People

Have you read blogs or watched sales & marketing videos that sound like a regurgitation of Donald Trump's corporate-speak? If you feel turned off when you read content that's riddled with jargon and words that belong in a PhD dissertation, you aren't alone. The average content reader wants to read "real" information, and not be exposed to content that sounds like it was manufactured in a board room. You are a human being, and so are your readers. 

1. Find & Develop Your Authentic Voice - Don't copy other people's content style. Don't lecture or talk over people's heads (or make yourself sound or look better than other people). That's a given, but you would be surprised at how 'holier-than-thou' people come across in their content. I have opted-out of newsletters, blogs, and social media because of the condescending tone people use in their content. Be kind and respectful. It's about engaging with people, and not coming across as an egotistical windbag. 

2. Share Your Real Story - Be honest and authentic. When developing content, don't pretend to be something you aren't. Do you speak five languages? Did you serve in the Peace Corps? Are you a military vet turned entrepreneur? Your background and experiences are part of who you are and people are curious to know the "real" you. Don't be afraid to share who you are - both online and offline. 

3. Create Targeted Content That Real People Enjoy - Because you are interested in the technical aspects of how to build a website, that doesn't necessarily mean your targeted audience will enjoy content on this particular topic. Research topics and trends that "real people" enjoy. Don't create content for yourself -- develop content aimed at your target audience. You can still create content that interests you, but make sure the average person will enjoy it as well. Skip the jargon and keep it simple!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Content Marketing Tip #1 - How to Develop Case Studies for Your Business

This week I will present easy content marketing tips to help boost your brand - Tip #1  how to develop a case study. Have you read case studies that were boring and irrelevant? There are plenty of case studies out there that don't pack a punch.

Follow these 3 easy tricks below to develop a case study that makes your business stand out...and actually makes sense to your readers. 

A case study is "a detailed intensive study of a unit, such as a corporation or a corporate division, that stresses factors contributing to its success or failure." 

1. Describe a situation or problem that you faced as a business owner - how did you achieve success or how did you help your customer or client achieve success? Introduce the problem in the first paragraph.

2. List the steps in order as to how you tackled the situation/problem. How did you resolve issues with customers or clients during the problem-solving process? Describe the positive outcome/results you achieved by following steps A,B,C, etc

3. Conclude & summarize your results, benefits, etc. that you and/or your customers/clients achieved. What lessons did you/your clients learn? How did you incorporate innovative solutions to resolve the problem? 

Make sure case studies sound "realistic" to the average person. You don't want to confuse readers. Leave out the techie and confusing jargon (unless it's relevant to your industry). Show don't tell in your case study; a case study is a chance to display your resourcefulness, creativity, and expert knowledge. What makes your business different from your competitors - how do you stand out? 

Case studies range from in-depth, researched "scientific" formats to more casual formats (depending on the industry). Case studies showcase your industry expertise and are used for marketing purposes (profiled on websites, marketing collateral, etc.) Remember that a case study presents a specific problem and shows how you solved it with clear, concise "real world examples." 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Online Vs. Offline Communication - Is Digital Media Virtuous?

I stumbled across this interesting topic on Santa Clara University's website (Source: Markkula Center For Applied Ethics). It brings up the discussion of "interpersonal virtues" and how it impacts digital media. The article delves into the psychological impact that social media plays on human communication and interpersonal relationships...a timely and important topic for business professionals who have an online presence.
From a Virtue PerspectiveMany of the interpersonal virtues we value evolved in the context of face-to-face communication. Honesty, openness, and patience, for example, are honed in the negotiations we must manage when we meet people in person. What impact will digital media have on these virtues? What, for example, would honesty mean in the context of a world where people are represented by avatars? Will other virtues emerge as more important in social networking, where we can be constantly connected to a large reservoir of others and can shut off communications easily when we are bored or encounter difficulties?
This topic begs the question: has honesty gone out the window? What's happened to our interpersonal virtues?

Is your projected self online the same person you are offline? It goes back to the smoke and mirror effect of online interactions. You can pretend to be whatever you want to be online because of the anonymity factor.

Does the online dynamic make it that much easier to create a false 'illusion'? My answer is yes. Do we REALLY know who we are talking to on the other side of the screen? We see and hear about these stories on the news every day. People who have been duped and scammed online; they were ruined financially and their identities stolen. Young women have been hurt -- both physically and emotionally -- as a result of trusting and believing they were meeting teen boys and ended up face-to-face with adult sex offenders. I don't mean to sound paranoid, but it's important to be safe and take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety.

As much as I love social media and believe in the benefits of social media, I wonder if social media has made us less "human" when it comes to our interpersonal communication and relationships. Yes, social media connects us with thousands of people across the world, and gives us the opportunity to do business with amazing people. However, do we really practice what we preach?

I leave you with this question: as business professionals, do you incorporate your offline ethics into your online world? Do you treat people the same way as you would treat them face-to-face?  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why Repurposed Content Improves Lead Generation

Quality content can be used as an effective lead generation strategy, but it helps to know HOW content  actually translates to your ROI. You could have the most polished content written by a professional copywriter, BUT how does "content" generate leads and ultimately, improve your bottom line? And don't have to create "new" content every time. That's where repurposed content comes into play with your content marketing strategy. 

I recently wrote a white paper for my marketing agency partner. The white paper topic tackles a very HOT topic in social media -- how to reduce online negative reviews (geared towards the hospitality and restaurant industry). As a result, this free white paper generated over 200 downloads and resulted in sales leads for the agency. The feedback from the decision makers in the restaurant and hospitality industry was positive...with requests for MORE valuable content. And that happened as a result of just ONE free white paper. I then spun the white paper content into a series of blog posts and articles to be used for article/content marketing. 

White papers are just the tip of the content marketing iceberg. Here are three easy ways to repurpose your content and improve your lead generation. People get tired of the sales and marketing spiel..."buy my innovative product blah blah blah." Valuable content is an easy way to open up "real dialogue" between you and your target markets, and could translate into viable prospects and sales leads down the road. 

1. Turn articles and white papers into visually-appealing PowerPoint presentations. Upload your PowerPoint presentation to free content sharing sites such as Slide Share

2. Break up a long white paper or report into a series of blog posts and short social media updates. For example, if you wrote a white paper about "20 easy tax tips for small business owners," break up the information into chunks and share on your blog. Do the same thing for your social media posts, and share a new tip each day. You don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your content marketing...and it allows you to cohesively and consistently brand yourself as a "leading expert" within your social networks and blog readership. 

3. Turn content into a short video or audio podcast. Take key points of your article, white paper or blog posts and create a short (no more than 2 minutes) video or podcast. People love visually-appealing entertainment. You only have to look at the popularity of YouTube videos. Post your videos on free video sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. Make sure to carefully read posting guidelines before uploading videos. Don't forget to include optimized keywords in your video tags so your content can be easily found via search engines. 

Always follow the DMCA guidelines and do NOT plagiarize content. It is against the law to steal content (articles, copy, artwork/images, brand/trademarks, etc.,) and you could be fined and/or your website shut down if you break copyright laws. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WOW! Writer Vanessa Nix Anthony Interviews LinkedIn Speaker & Author, Victoria Ipri

Yayyy for women power! "The Portland Writer", Vanessa Nix Anthony, (my good friend and copywriter colleague) recently interviewed sought-after LinkedIn speaker & author, Victoria Ipri. Victoria passes along easy-to-implement LinkedIn tips, and gives the inside scoop on how to use LinkedIn effectively.

Victoria and I share similar views about how authors should and should not use LinkedIn for their book marketing. LinkedIn should NOT be used as a platform to sell your book, BUT you can still use LinkedIn to share information about your a non-spammy way.

Victoria offers these helpful hints for book authors (especially for self-published authors).
  • Add a link to your book’s sales page to place under your name when accepting invitations.
  • Mention the book on your profile.
  • Add appropriate applications to your profile to draw attention to the book.
For more useful LinkedIn tips, check out Victoria's article on WOW! 

Great interview, ladies!!

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies