As marketers, business owners and thought leaders, we’ve all graduated from Content 101 by now. Terms and phrases like “Web 2.0”, “social era”, or “content is king” are no longer used as inspirational chatter or for perspective. The bar has been raised. As contributors to this vast marketplace and information hub, we are simply expected—for whatever the application is—to create great, meaningful content, and nothing less. And so naturally, we, as marketing professionals no longer need to preach that wisdom among ourselves. But there is another idea that can help drive us to become great at what we do. That thing is consistency. Many marketers dream up fantastic strategies and even create some solid pieces of content, but fail to carry through and commit to really offering quality over time. So this post is my pledge to consistently create great content, and I hope you’ll commit as well. Let’s make this pledge not only so we can fruitfully represent our brand or clients, but so that we can offer lasting value and greatness to this shared dream we call the web.
A Lasting Inspiration
Of course, we don’t need to re-invent the wheel every time we strategize a blog post, but we should always strive to stay inspired. According to TIME Magazine, a Chartbeat study revealed that 55% of visitors to a page bounced within 15 seconds. Readers can easily sniff out a lack of passion from the writer within seconds, and lose interest. By now, we all have B.S. detector plug-ins behind our retinas, so no one’s fooling anyone! But what about the struggle of always having to be “on”, and keeping things fresh every time we create a post? We are journalists! It’s our duty to stay inspired by always learning, researching, exploring, interviewing, connecting with people, debating and discovering. Even when we’re totally dry of ideas, inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources. Try standing in line at the bank and noticing something peculiar about observed human behavior, or conducting an on-the-spot survey with people in an elevator. It goes without saying, keep a laptop or notepad with you at all times, as brainstorming can happen anywhere. Maintaining consistency by perpetually hunting for inspiration might mean temporary discomfort, but it’s all worth it in the end. When that one piece of content educates or pulls the heart strings of scores of people across the globe, you know you’re on fire.
Branch Out and Diversify Content
An essential part of having an effective content marketing strategy is to diversify content. Introducing a wide variety of content topics, writing styles and asset types will allow for a sustainable long term strategy. If your industry is car insurance, don’t just write about cars and traffic safety or you’ll quickly run out of ideas, and burn out in all your generic glory. Incorporate industries and topics associated with car insurance such as travel, family or finance. Consider alternate forms of media such as infographics, slide shares and even podcasts. If you’re really burnt out on ideas, there are helpful tools just about everywhere around you, like Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. Here’s a dirty little secret: In moderation, you can actually utilize different content formats for almost identical topics. Doing this not only allows you to develop more content over time, but also helps bring your message home through multiple mediums. This kind of practice works ideally when you’re selling a product or service with the goal of reaching out to various audience segments in different stages of the buyer journey. For example, data and takeaways from an infographic on the reasons why good car insurance coverage is a necessity can also be used to create a white paper targeting specific leads that may be closer to a conversion.
Find Your Voice and Connect
Being your authentic self is one of the easiest things you can do, because you’re you. Coming up with a way to inject your authentic self into a polished, professional piece of content is a whole separate thing entirely, and can take a while to fine tune. It’s about being able to achieve that special balance of a unique storytelling angle with relevancy and authority. You don’t need to know everything about car insurance to start a blog. However, you should have a certain level of interest, and the ability to offer something that you as a Google searcher would find valuable. Approaching content marketing from this angle will open up a new perspective, allowing you to become a creator. An incredible singer can take a generic Christmas topic of a song and turn it into something bursting with deep melodic beauty, edgy attitude or dreamy sensuality (see Eartha Kitt’s performance of “Santa Baby”). In the same way, a great writer and content marketer can take a topic as drab as family car insurance and turn it into a witty eye-opening, hilarious or uber-creative essay. When you bring your voice out and connect with an audience, not only will your blog get shared with more like-minded readers, but you will also find your craft meaningful, fulfilling and sustainable.
[Hopefully]… [In conclusion]… [By now]… [In summary]… you probably know I will encourage you not to be formulaic in your closing paragraph or end on a cliché, so go ahead and print this post out, and place a red X through each of the bracketed opening phrases of this last paragraph as a symbol to never settle for content marketing complacency! Develop a sustainable approach to your content strategy, and it will serve you well for years to come.