Thinking About Content Marketing

Content Marketing—blogs, newsletters, audio and video clips, photos and tweets that encourage an exchange of information between a business (or other organization) and its customers continues to dominate PR and other marketing campaigns. The format has greatly expanded the possibilities available to launch a product or promote a brand or special event and it continues to thrive in both B2B and B2C ventures, riding a wave of customer hunger for interaction and information.

I edit two monthly newsletters, one quite concise and the other several pages long and filled with lots of text and photos. I assemble the shorter newsletter myself. It runs from about a page to a page-and-a-half in length and I create it by obtaining snippets of relevant and timely new information and an image or two. The other can run to five pages but I am strictly the editor, ensuring that spelling and grammar are correct, checking facts and correcting storyline inconsistencies. Can you guess which newsletter generates the most ROI for the publisher?

You guessed it! The short newsletter that gives splashes of fresh info every month plus one or two new pictures is most successful. As you plan the content for your next marketing campaign, remember to avoid burying yourself in the labor and expense of producing expensive or high-maintenance content. Your mission as a business owner and leader is to pursue and retain paying customers, so that your enterprise will generate revenue and earn a profit.

Enter the experts

The short answer is, if you’ve done something successfully a number of times, you can claim the title of expert. However, there is also the axiom “Those who can do and those who can’t, teach.” There are many so-called experts who generate lots of content, but they’ve not had a project assignment in quite some time.

Noise makers

Everybody with access to a keyboard or a camera is doing some level of content marketing, even if it’s only for themselves and their Twitter friends. Everybody’s pulling out a cell phone to snap pictures of something—the first snowfall, the first crocuses, their dog grabbing a burger off the kitchen table.

Those photos become content posted to social media and join the digital noise that competes with content that Solopreneur consultants and other business leaders upload and post with the goal of appealing to potential customers. Launching and sustaining a content marketing campaign is an uphill battle for small operators with limited budgets.

Branding is not personal

A certain group of raven-haired sisters (and their mother) in L.A. County have done remarkably well with the personal branding concept, but that doesn’t hold for the rest of us. Unless you were lucky enough to have held a job that allowed you to publicly build a reputation amongst prospective customers, or you descend from a prominent or celebrity family, the differences that you (and I) emphasize to prospective customers are often perceived as minor and not distinctive competitive advantages. We are all the same, only different.

Strategic, original, relevant, concise

If you are inclined to delve into the content marketing fray, be strategic about the process. Have a clear and defendable purpose. My goals when writing these posts are to:

  1. Demonstrate that I have excellent and trustworthy business judgment.
  2. Demonstrate admirable writing skills.

I’ve referred prospective customers to my posts and the strategy has been successful. I’ve obtained at least three assignments, including a (modest) book editing project, my first. Editing two newsletters also helped me to snare the book assignment.Further, read about business topics online at sites such as Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Harvard Business Review and Lioness Magazine (for women entrepreneurs). Those can become your inspiration, along with your own lived experience, to generate original content. Do not attempt to pass off a series of links to articles written by others as your content. Do not insult people.

Finally, whatever your topic, two and a half pages of text, or 1000 words, is the recommended maximum, according to content marketing specialists a big marketing firms. Attention spans are not what they used to be in this noise-filled arena of competing experts. Make your content relevant and easy to read.