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Worn out content

Nine Ways to Get New Mileage From Worn Out Content

People don’t have enough time to continue to create the amount of content they need to attract visitors and convert them into leads. I get it. Creating content can be challenging and time-consuming, and coming up with new material regularly can seem impossible.

I’m here to tell you it’s doable, and you don’t even have to start from scratch. You can gain tremendous value just from reusing old content. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers said it well: “You don’t have to create content day in and day out. You just have to work on getting the content you already have in the hands of more people.” Here’s how.

Re-optimize old content

A few years ago, HubSpot wrote a blog post titled, “The Blogging Tactic No One Is Talking About: Optimizing the Past” and it was a keeper. In a nutshell, this post discusses that the company tested updating and re-publishing old blog posts to see if they could get more leverage out of them. The results were hard to ignore. By simply re-optimizing old content, HubSpot was able to increase organic traffic by 106%. 

Reoptimize content

The best news? Theses results aren’t unique to HubSpot. Many businesses are taking this approach and are reaping the benefits of it. My friend Brian Dean, of Backlinko, is one of them. In fact, after testing this theory for just two weeks, Brian saw a 260.7% increase in organic search traffic. Not bad for just optimizing and re-publishing content he already had.

reuse content

Interested in taking advantage of this? There are just a few simple steps you need to follow:

1. Review your analytics and identify your underperforming content

It isn’t necessary to optimize all material from the past. If you have blog posts or other content that is performing well, let them be (or repurpose them as I’ll outline below). There are two key components you should consider when finding the right content to re-optimize:

  1. Find posts with high traffic but low conversion and figure out how to increase leads on those posts
  2. Find posts with low traffic but high conversion and figure out how to get more visits to those posts

2. Optimize and update that content

Once you determine which posts you’re going to re-optimize, consider updating the following:

  • Update old images and screenshots to ensure the visuals are still relevant
  • Update any dated content or hyperlinks within the posts with new information and recent URLs
  • Add relevant CTAs to the posts to increase conversion
  • Focus on adding relevant keywords to the content naturally
  • Consider a content upgrade that might make sense on those pages

3. Republish your content

Once the content is updated, republish it and promote to your network via email and social media channels.

Re-optimization works because Google rewards relevancy and freshness. New visits will come out of sharing content within your network, and those new promotions will lead to new inbound links, also boosting SEO.

Repurpose old content

Optimizing old content may be an excellent way to bring new life to underperforming content, but what can you do to get new mileage out of content that is performing well? You can re-purpose it. By repurposing content, you can continue to gain value from previous content without having to completely reinvent the wheel.

The content you repurpose needs to be high-quality content from your past that will always be relevant to your audience. It’s difficult to repurpose content around fads that may go away as quickly as they appeared.

The key to making this work going forward is to think about this concept ahead of time. What posts would make great presentations? What presentations would make great ebooks? What video would make for a series of blog posts?

It’s also important that you review your analytics to see which content is generating the most interest. The more popular the original content is, the more likely the repurposed content will be popular as well. Essentially, high-quality content can create even more high-quality content.

Once you’ve identified the content that you’d like to repurpose, it’s time to develop the new content. Keep in mind that the goal is to make the content fresh and appealing enough to expand your audience.

How to repurpose content

I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to repurpose content is to start with video and create new content by working backwards from there. It’s amazing how many blogs, infographics, or premium content can spin off from there. I realize, however, that not everybody has video content, so I’ve provided other ways to refresh the content below.

1. Create new blog posts

Turn points discussed in listicles or numbered summary posts into posts of their own. Do the opposite as well by combining a bunch of posts on the same topic and turning them into listicles or summary-based posts.

2. Design an infographic

Take your written content and transform it into a visual infographic. Infographics are a great way to break up data, or take difficult concepts and make them more digestible for the reader.

3. Implement an email series

Emails shouldn’t be long in order to keep your readers’ attention. Take pieces of your content and turn them into a an email campaign that is easy for your readers to consume. You can then promote this series on your blog as a lead conversion opportunity.

4. Develop premium content

Consider gathering related blog posts and turning them into a comprehensive ebook or white paper. You can then use that content as a conversion tool to increase your leads.

5. Create a podcast 

People have busy lives and it can be hard to find time to sit down and read an article. Listening to a podcast on their way to work, however, is much more manageable. By repurposing content into podcasts, you create a whole new way to connect with your audience.

6. Create a video series

People love video, and because of this, businesses want to produce as much video content as possible. Instead of brainstorming a new script for each video, use blog posts as the material for your script. This will allow you to produce new videos at a more rapid rate.

Every business should create a series of videos based on the most frequently asked questions.

The list above contains a few of the many ways you can reformat your content into another great piece that will attract your audience. By optimizing and repurposing content from the past, you’ll be able to boost your SEO, reach new audiences, and gain additional credibility and authority within your space. Who wouldn’t want that?

Bottom line, don’t let content just sit there when you can still receive a ton of value from it.

Have you been able to get new mileage from worn out content? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

1 How to Build Your Business on Content


Podcast Banner Template

Marketing Podcast with Joe Pulizzi

Content is no longer a nice form of marketing, it’s the air that guides the customer journey, or, in some cases, it’s a business model.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Joe Pulizzi, founder and CEO of the Content Marketing Institute and the author of the new book Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. We discuss content marketing strategy and what it can mean for you and your business. 

Questions I ask Joe:

  • Is there still an opportunity to be successful in content marketing?
  • How do you make money in the initial stages of a content campaign?
  • What is the “Content Tilt?”

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why some businesses that try content marketing fail.
  • How email strategy is the key to a successful content marketing campaign.
  • Why you should build a following before developing a product.

Converting Subpar Writers In to Content Champions

Content- there is no easy button.Consumers love content. It entices them visit company websites. It inspires them to share business insights. It gives them trust in the brand. And, ultimately, it encourages them to make a purchase.

Sixty percent of B2C marketers anticipate increasing their content marketing budget within 2015, according to Content Marketing Institute. While this statistic isn’t necessarily shocking, marketers are increasingly concerned about the lack of trained professionals to fulfill these needs.

The report went on the state that more than 40% of respondents were challenged with “lack of knowledge and training” and “finding trained content marketing professionals” to produce engaging, converting content.

In-house marketing teams and digital agencies can help employees develop into skilled writers by providing growth structure and educational opportunities. This will not only strengthen the content team but can further propel clients toward online success.

5 Techniques to Help Writers Succeed in the Digital Sphere

1. Start With an Assessment

When a new content marketer is hired, provide them with an evaluation to get a better idea of the individual’s capabilities. The evaluation should be based on your company’s specific content needs and can come in a variety of forms.

One evaluation option is to assign an initial writing exercise followed by an editorial review that will note necessary areas of improvement, organization skills, pace of writing, improper grammar use, etc. Another assessment could be as simple as creating a grammar and punctuation test.

Assessments, in conjunction with writing samples, will give the content strategists a baseline understanding of where the writer may experience difficulties. Additionally, asking the writer if there are any key areas they’d like to develop further can set the tone for growth.

2. Establish a Style Guide for Each Medium

Consumers on each medium are typically there for different reasons, and it’s important to convey those needs to new writers. Clearly outline the company’s tone and objectives for blogs, email content, each social network and other marketing mediums to guide content writing. A concise overview of each platform’s needs is important to establish expectations for writers. Check out MailChimp’s Voice & Tone for inspiration on creating a style guide for your company and/or clients.

Additionally, new writers should be briefed on which standard of writing the company follows. Many bloggers use AP Style, others prefer Chicago Style and some companies have created an alternative variant. This resource will help the writer make quick, informed decisions and ensures the company’s content is consistent.


3. Stay Organized

Setting up processes for content construction is imperative to develop successful writers. There are three distinct necessities for any organization tasked with content construction:

  •  An editorial flow chart clearly outlines the process for creating, editing and approving content.
  • Utilizing track changes in Microsoft Word ensures writers and editors are clear on what changes have been made to a document and allows individuals to leave comments.
  • Content calendars track what topics should be covered and when. They can also include notes on the progress of each piece (see image). This streamlines communication and keeps everyone informed on content marketing efforts happening throughout the team.

If new writers require extra assistance, working on outlines together before the writing process begins. This can proactively address potential errors before the writer even makes them.

4. Identify Quality Resources

Editors and content strategists are often well versed on valuable tools and resource that newer writers can benefit from. Share these with content teams; advocate that writers regularly read informative blogs and stay attuned to techniques that established content marketers use. While each writer will undoubtedly have her own diction, well-written blogs can provide valuable insights on potential style and structural improvements.

The Web also offers an array of paid instructional resources that can aid in the writer’s growth.
Some websites to reference:

5. Schedule Time to Write Daily

Every writer should work to figure out when they are the most productive and creative. After learning when that is, give writers daily assignments or allow free flow writing during that time. Writing is a skill improved with regular practice. Daily writing gives time for experimentation, growth and learning new techniques and formats.

Training writers to fulfill your organization’s content marketing needs will help them feel professional fulfilled and grow with your business. It can take time and patients from an experienced editor or content strategist, but will have a lasting, positive impact on your company and clients’ online presence.

Jennifer ClineJennifer Cline is the Digital Account Lead at Element5, a Michigan-based web design, development, and marketing agency. With a background in Journalism, Jennifer enjoys working closely with content writers and companies to produce quality writing that not only informs, but also converts. Element5 helps companies achieve online success and is committed to crafting a better Web. For more article like this, visit Element5’s blog. @Element5Digital

13 The Problem With Content

I’m in San Diego today speaking at Social Media Marketing World. The message of content marketing has certainly taken root in the digital and social marketing space and as the message of content, content, content grows louder and louder so too does the level of frustration.

content marketing

photo credit: Exothermic via photopin cc

Producing content actually requires some work. Producing lots of content requires even more work and, well, let’s not event talk about the work required to consistently product high quality content.

But here’s the semi ironic thing. The problem with content is not that you don’t have enough, it’s that you have too much. In an attempt to feed the content beast many marketers have lost focus on the narrative of who they are, why they do what they do and why their customers are attracted to their brands.

In effect, we’re attempting to write about everything and in doing so connecting with nothing.

Before content will truly serve as an effective community attracting and building mechanism, it must be laced with a potent dose of focus.

That’s not to say that a good 50 Ways to do X post won’t always draw eyeballs, but so will wearing a really short skirt into a bar – the question is, does that lead towards building a supportive community and achieving your objectives?

Content must spring from the one true thing your business stands for and become a story that becomes a greater narrative that lives on in your community with no real end.

You do this by telling fewer stories – over and over again. You do this by using clarity, the one real thing you’re business stands for in the mind of the market, as a filter for voice and message.

You solve your content problem when you use content to:

  • Narrow your focus to an ideal client’s unmet needs
  • Share stories that build trust and expose vulnerability
  • Help define problems your customers don’t know they have
  • Give your customers a way to collaborate and personalize
  • Help determine the real intent of your prospective clients

I happen to believe that the highest objective of any business is the building of a vibrant community. Start sharing less and focusing more on the content that signals why someone would want to join your narrative and you’ll start to witness how community actually forms.

6 How to Get More From Every Piece of Content You Produce

This post is sponsored by Viewbix – Easily add apps and calls to action to your video.

Content creation must involve strategy. That’s the part that you must understand or its production is little more than a chore.

Repurpose content

photo credit: markyweiss

For some time now I’ve been preaching the idea of a “total body of work” approach to content for marketing purposes.

Waking up each day and deciding what you might blog about is not a sustainable content strategy – even though many a blogger makes it look so.

The publishing that we must do today requires us to think like, well, a publisher. We must develop a clear set of topics or chapters that make up the foundation content for trust building and SEO impact. We must determine a monthly theme and schedule for addressing each chapter. We must commit to regularly scheduled features.

And, perhaps most importantly, we must develop a mentality that habitually urges us to consider every word we publish or plan to publish as part of a giant Erector set or content that can be used and reused in many ways.

Every press release, blog post, video, article and presentation must have intended uses beyond its obvious initial outlay and it must be an interchangeable element in the total body of work.

It’s simply too costly to produce content with any other view.

I once had a conversation with Josh Waitzkin, eight-time National Chess Champion and author of the Art of Learning and he told me that he got to the point where he no longer saw a game as it was because to him the game always looked as though it was going to be many moves ahead.

I think that’s how content must be viewed – not as something just for today, but for moves ahead.

The process starts with questioning that must evolve into an unconscious way of thinking.

  • How could I expand this blog post as a series of posts?
  • How could I rework this content into other formats?
  • What would make this content worth paying for?
  • How could this content be reworked for real-time consumption?
  • What did I learn while creating this presentation?
  • How could I package this content to share it with a different market?
  • If I were writing a book would this content belong in that book?
  • What content have I already written that could form the basis of an eBook?
  • How can I share this content in a way that helps me learn?

Below are five content development habits that you must employ in the creation of your content strategy and production of your body of work.

New medium

I’m often asked to present a specific topic to a group. As I create or develop my thoughts for a series of slides I write a blog post or two from my research, record a screencast of the presentation, upload my slides to Slideshare and have the video transcribed into text.

There is very little additional work on my part to create four and five pieces of content from the act of discovering what to include in a 90-minute talk.

New form

I’ve produced dozens of eBooks over the last few years and 100% of the content for these compilations has been drawn from my blog posts. Now, understand that this doesn’t happen by some form of chance.

I plan and write my blog posts with these eBooks in mind. This requires a longer view of both blog post topics and the chosen topics for eBooks, but when you understand that this long view is required, it’s actually quite freeing.

Getting in the habit of creating an editorial calendar in advance, with your cornerstone topics always in mind, can be a great aid.

New purpose

One of the most puzzling aspects of content is consumption – meaning how people choose to get, read, listen, watch or otherwise digest it.

Understanding that people have distinct preferences in this category opens the door to an interesting aspect of repurposing.

I have a podcast that’s free to subscribe to, but hundreds of people have paid $2.99 to download the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast app (iTunes link) from iTunes because of the added control it gives them.

I have a great deal of content that is available on my site for the taking, yet people are eager to pay $3.99 on Amazon for the package that gives them the content in the form that is delivered to their Kindle reader.

New time frame

This one is a bit mind bending for some, but you have to think about real-time and long-term in the same context.

I tweet as I write something that I think is poignant and again as I write things that seem confusing. People consume this content in a far different manner than, say, a full blog post, but the engagement is incredibly instructional.

Social media is the ultimate real-time content package and this is how you tap it.

New audience

My blog readers and my newsletter subscribers are two very different groups. Sure, there’s some cross over, but some people prefer email newsletters and some won’t read anything that’s not in their RSS reader.

When you understand this fact you can begin to explore the various methods of reaching people in their preferred environment.

Giving away content in the form of a free Amazon eBook is a great way to reach new audiences. Creating workshops and making them available as a Udemy course is a great way to reach new audiences. Reworking your ten all time best blog posts and offering them as guest posts on other blogs is a great way to reach new audiences.

Once you start to think in this vein you’ll never look at a blog post or PowerPoint deck in the same way.

viewbixThis post is sponsored by Viewbix – Easily add apps and calls to action to your video.

5 The New Marketing Machine

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Aaron Dun – Enjoy!

“Don’t Wake Up With Your Website in a Ditch” Expand Your Content & Your Contributors to Keep Your Content Marketing Strategy Humming

As content explodes around you, if you are the only person contributing to your content marketing strategy, I hate to break it to you, but you’re going to be in trouble–just like the characters in recent television ads from DirectTV.

Between the “always on” nature of mobile, and the many interactive, online social platforms available, marketers face enormous pressure to continuously deliver compelling, cross-channel experiences to their customers, and keep them interested and engaged. Yet, most organizations, big and small, aren’t set up to optimize their content ownership, authorship, and delivery engines.

In the ongoing effort to get found faster, and to convert more suspects into prospects, companies now need to use all of their resources to publish more content, in more places, more rapidly than ever before. And if you don’t, you may wake up with your website in a ditch!”

“Don’t Fall Into a Dinner Party”

The old saying “many hands make light work” easily applies today to a company’s content marketing strategy.

It seems like content became the new hub of marketing virtually overnight. But in fact content has actually been the lynchpin of the commercial internet virtually since its inception. I suspect that even before that, the real-life inspirations of Mad Men would recognize a good story to be told, even if that story required a three martini lunch to be discovered. Consider then, what the DirectTV ads themselves say about the brand, and how they encourage engagement.

The marketing landscape has continued to evolve and old rules no longer apply – meaning the marketer’s imperative to use content to tell their brand story, and engage with potential buyers has had a dramatic impact on content strategy. There are new digital customer behaviors and expectations, increasing social channels popping up, and evolving SEO rules to abide by. Keeping up with these changes and being prepared for what’s next on the web requires a web content marketing blueprint for success.

Let’s break down this new marketing landscape to get a better understanding of these challenges so you can address them head on. Four key drivers are:

  • Interactive Digital Customer: We’re living in a highly- connected world where the customer is online (mainly through mobile devices). This enables instant access to information 24/7, and offers multiple channels for formulating opinions, sharing, and influencing others via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Quora, and more. Traditional one-way blasting of messages no longer builds brand awareness. Prospects and customers expect more; they want to engage with their brands, they want to “talk back” and even challenge companies with questions and comments.
  • Stiffened Competition: Social’s explosion also presents an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to connect people with brands and build relationships and engagement without being intrusive. However, because the digital era has made it easier for small businesses to look larger than life, competition has stiffened as well. Businesses are competing to capture the attention of the same shareholders in the same online channels.
  • New SEO Rules: Keeping pace with evolving SEO demands presents another challenge for marketers. Google continues to change its algorithm in an attempt to help fresh, quality content shine and penalize those who do not stay current. In fact, these changes require that you shift your content marketing strategy from merely thinking about Page Rankings to how you drive inbound traffic through fresh, incisive and relevant content that engages online audiences. (Read more about the New Rules of SEO on my company’s blog.)
  • Complex Technology: In larger organizations, traditional web content technology bottlenecks the content marketing machine: it’s too hard to use, or the workflow process is too hard to manage, deterring those outside of marketing and IT from joining the team of contributors. If the end user feels threatened by complex technology, content delivery gets pushed back through a single resource (marketing and/or IT) to post and publish to the site. For smaller companies updating the website ranges from the simple to the impossible depending on the skill level of the team.

“Don’t Attend Your Own Funeral as Phil Shifley”

So how does a company proceed given this laundry list of obstacles today? You’ll notice the common denominator is the need for providing good, quality content, and lots of it! This can be a daunting task, especially for smaller businesses short on resources and budgets.

However, many content savvy companies have found that by deepening their contributor bench, they can deliver better content — whether it’s articles, blog posts, video, podcasts, etc. — more quickly, and push it out to their social channels where customers are engaging.

Follow these four simple steps to ensure your scaling your content engine.

Step 1: Break Down Silos: No matter how small or how big your company, content typically exists in silos. That content may sit with one team or another, or simply a person without the time to get it online. That content just doesn’t have any impetus to become part of the company story. Your job as a savvy content marketer is to harness all of that hidden content, and bring it out into the open so you can use that content to engage with your community.

Step 1A: Break Down Silos (Again): Stop thinking of your website as discrete from your blog, or your social channels as distinct from your blog. All of those are simply channels to tell your story. If they are not synced, you are missing a huge opportunity to engage with your customers across your community.

Step 2: Enable More Internal Contributors: It’s amazing to me how many people we talk to who are perfectly content being the only person with access to post content to the site. They spend all day editing word docs and patiently explain that the challenge with more contributors has nothing to do with technology or process. People just won’t take the time to write because it seems too laborious to them. Yet, those same “non-contributors” are tweeting 5x a day, and posting 3 updates to Facebook and LinkedIn daily. Make it easy and compelling to contribute, and they will come.

Step 3: Enable More External Contributors: This is the hardest area for many to conceive—why on earth would anybody want to contribute to my blog or my site? Just ask. — There is always something in it for them like incoming links or authorship, etc. Ask your customers or others in your industry to contribute, and once they do, promote the *$%$& out of it. Most people like to see their name in lights. Why do you think I am writing this post?

Step 4: Everything is Content: Stop looking for discrete pieces of content. Start by reshaping your definition of content and you will begin to see all of the content that is around you today. Customer support calls are content, blog comments are content, photos from an event are content…and on it goes. Once you realize that all of these daily moments are in fact discrete pieces of content, you will never worry about having enough content again.

It goes without saying that in a fast-moving, content-driven, web content marketing world your technology better not get in the way. So once you have defined your content strategy, make sure your technology has the horsepower to enable more contributors and is easy enough for these new contributors to engage. Otherwise your shiny new process will careen into the same ditch as your website.

Upholding the spirit of the DirectTV ads, “Don’t let your shiny new process careen into the ditch.” Follow the four simple steps here and get your content marketing engine up and running!

Aaron is Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Percussion Software, a provider of web content management and content marketing software. He is an avid Boston sports fan, and is known to enjoy a good marketing book or two in his free time. Follow him on Twitter @ajdun.  He can also be reached at [email protected].

20 The Rise of the Storytellers

I’m taking some vacation time this week and I’m actually going to stand waist deep in the Columbia River in Oregon and cast for Trout. (Don’t worry I won’t hurt any I’m strictly a catch and release kind of guy.)  While I am away, I have a great lineup of guest bloggers filling my shoes.  This post is brought to you from C.C. Chapman.

C.C. Chapman is a leader in the online and social media marketing space. He is an avid photographer, author and keynote speaker. His most recent book (with Ann Handley) Content Rules, is a best seller that explains how companies can create remarkable blogs, podcasts, webinars, ebooks and more. C.C. is an advocate who speaks about building passionate consumer communities, and the strategic values of content-based marketing. He is the host of Passion Hit TV and the founder of Digital Dads. C.C. is a graduate of Bentley University and happily lives in the woods outside of Boston with his loving family.

Time for a bit of tough love.

You and your company must figure out how you are going to begin telling your story and creating the media to share it with others. If you haven’t started already, you must start today because you are already behind.

Ever since my book Content Rules hit shelves in 2010, I’ve spoken to thousands of people around the globe and told them the exact same thing. No matter what city I was in, I’d receive blank stares, vocal challenges that it didn’t apply to certain industries or knowing looks from those who had been fighting this fight in their own offices. I know I’m right and my clients are benefitting from my knowledge and starting to learn how to do this.

Pick any social network you like. Look at what is being said and shared on them. You’ll see a constant wave of photos, videos, articles and more being shared. People are finding content that kicks off an emotional response to it and then sharing it with others. They are taking content that others have created and pushing it out to their communities so that others can consume it as well.

You as a business owner must create content that shares your story for others to then pass along.

Just a few years ago, you could have gotten away with saying your customers were not online or that it wasn’t important for you particular business and I might give you a pass. Now, every single age, demographic and potential customer for you is there. They have phones connected to the web. They are doing searches for everything from peaches to PCs. Your corner store can now have a global market if you so desire.

The rise of the storyteller is upon us. You can choose the medium that is right for you, but you must start creating now. Waiting isn’t an option if you want to succeed. It is that black and white of an issue in my mind.

Google continues to tweak their algorithm so that fresh and relevant content is served up when people search. If you are not giving it things to show, then you are invisible on the web. Plus, people are consuming at a constant rate and if you give them something compelling, interesting or inspiring they will reward you with their attention (and perhaps more).

28 The 3 Essential Elements of Successful Content Marketing

I’m taking some vacation time this week and I’m actually going to stand waist deep in the Columbia River in Oregon and cast for Trout. (Don’t worry I won’t hurt any I’m strictly a catch and release kind of guy.)  While I am away, I have a great lineup of guest bloggers filling my shoes.  This post is brought to you from Sonia Simone.

Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Copyblogger Media. Come find her on the Copyblogger blog, where she writes extensively about content marketing for small business.

I don’t care how big or how small your business is.

If you’ve been thinking about content marketing, one issue probably keeps cropping up.

Let’s face it … this would all be a whole lot easier if it wasn’t for that pesky content.

What makes content “good”? What’s the difference between content marketing and just writing an entertaining blog? And can content really be the backbone of a serious marketing plan?

Let’s get very clear … not all content serves a marketing purpose. If you want to build a strong business around content, you need three key elements.

Here are my choices for the three key components of effective content marketing:

#1: Make it entertaining

The biggest mistake businesses make with content is the assumption that the audience actually finds their business interesting.

No one owes you their attention. You have to earn it.

That means your content (and all the rest of your marketing) needs to become relentlessly focused on the desires and needs of your customers.

That means you write content that’s entertaining and interesting. Content that benefits the reader — often by solving a problem she might have, or possibly by giving her a good laugh.

You make sure your formatting is audience-friendly. No one wants to read long, unbroken paragraphs, even if the writing is top-notch. Use plenty of subheads, white space, and a clear, legible font that’s large enough to be read by someone over the age of 12.

And if headlines aren’t your strong suit … fix that. You don’t have to be clever — clarity is much more effective. Be sure the headline communicates how the reader will benefit from reading that piece of content.

#2: Make it strategic

Not all entertaining, readable content will move a prospect closer to becoming a customer.

It doesn’t matter how many Facebook “Likes” you have, if you’re not communicating the benefits of doing business with you.

This is where your copywriting skills will pay off. You don’t actually have to be able to put the words together yourself — but you need to understand the underlying strategic elements of copywriting.

That means you know the difference between benefits and features — and your content focuses on the benefits of your product or service.

It means you know how to overcome your most common objections.

It means you understand social proof, calls to action, your unique selling proposition … and you use these elements in your content.

You don’t need to cram every copywriting element into a single piece of content, and you probably shouldn’t. Content should look like content, not advertising.

But it still serves a strategic purpose.

To borrow a phrase from classic sales training, your content exists to get prospects to know, like, and trust you. (Duct Tape readers know this is the top half of the marketing hourglass.)

That high-quality experience is what paves the path to a sale.

#3: Make it shareable

Did you get sucked into the “social media marketing” buzzfest over the last few years?

Well, social media marketing (when it’s effective) is content marketing. Banner ads and promoted tweets can’t hold a candle to strong content. And social media is typically the most cost-effective way to carry content right to the prospects you’re looking for.

Take a look at what Oreo did last weekend by posting a single piece of visual content to Facebook. It’s generated publicity (overwhelmingly positive, despite some rumblings for a boycott) that even Kraft/Nabisco couldn’t buy.

Social media is a terrific venue for getting your entertaining, strategic content shared. The specifics change somewhat year to year — this year’s hot spots are Facebook and Twitter, next year we may be looking at different platforms.

But the essential strategy remains the same. Look at how your prospects and customers share the type of content you’re creating … then make it easy and enjoyable for them to actually share it.

How about you?

Is content marketing an important part of your business? What elements do you consider essential to a successful program?

Let us know in the comments …

Image credit: npmeijer

24 The Crazy Busy Marketer's Guide to Content Creation in the Real World

Free eBook covers every aspect of content creation – download here

free content ebookIf you’re like most business owners and marketers you’ve been beaten down and submitted to the fact that you need to produce content, lots of it, in order to compete, educate, be found and convert sales.

The fact that content has become such an important element has also made it one of the most frustrating, time consuming and confusing for the typical small business.

Some of my most popular blog posts over the last few years have been ones where I dive into practical ways to make content creation and implementation in the form of blogging, eBook creation, article writing, workshops and strategic partnering more attainable.

That’s why I created a new eBook appropriately titled – The Crazy Busy Marketer’s Guide to Content Creation in the Real World.

In this 34 page work I cover how to find content, the types of content every business needs, how to use content in every phase of the customer cycle, how to use content for referrals, and how to amplify the content you produce to get the greatest exposure.

The eBook is my gift to you my readers. Go download The Crazy Busy Marketer’s Guide to Content Creation in the Real World and let me know what you think.

15 5 Ways to Create Dead On Content

Over the course of the last few years I’ve been telling business owners about the need to create content – lots of it. But, I ‘ve also been talking about content as a strategy, as a tool to create trust and educate and as something you simply must make a priority.

No matter how I position it, however, I always get the same question – How do I come up with enough ideas to write about?

The answer to that question really has two elements – first and foremost you must have a content plan that spells out the key content subjects that make sense for you to dive deeply into. This should be a list of eight or ten major themes that comprise your organization’s keywords and phrases. In other words, it’s not enough to have ideas to write about, they need to be the right ideas.

When you create this list and stick to it you can create a body of work over time that includes a thorough exploration of every subject on your list and build up a library of focused content that can extend to fact sheets, eBooks, videos, articles, interviews, and case studies that support all of your major themes.

The second element to this question involves the tool set required to keep content inspiration high. If you simply sit down each time you’re going to write something armed with only your keyword list, you’ll struggle to create fresh ideas.

Below are five ways that I keep content pouring over my brain in an effort to help me stay focused and excited about content creation.


This one is my power tool. Think about it. People ask questions because they want to know something. Your customers ask questions constantly. One of the easiest ways to create content that relates to your business and fills a need is to simply get in the habit of writing responses to questions you know need answering.

Before you know it you’ll have a powerful group of answers that you can turn into an FAQ document. The great thing about most questions is that if one person wants the answer, there’s a pretty good chance that others do as well.

Check out popular question and answer sites such as Quora, Focus or LinkedIn Answers. These sites are great because you can sort by topic and get a sense of the most popular questions people in your industry are asking. You may choose to participate on these sites, but the real value from a content standpoint may lie in the inspiration you gain from addressing the questions in your own content.

RSS Feeds

I subscribe to over 100 blogs and I make a habit of scanning them daily using Google Reader and an iPhone app called Reeder.

This allows me to stay on top of what people are saying in my world and often stimulates ideas for things I should write about. Many times I can take an idea and explain it differently or apply it to something totally unrelated.

This is also where I get exposed to other people’s content that I want to share in my newsletters and tweets.

Books and Magazines

I still subscribe to about five print magazines and, even though I can consume them online, I find that sometimes I gain additional insight through the use of different mediums. So in addition to the content in these magazines there’s value for me in the context as well.

I read lots of books due to the nature of my business but I also intentionally seek out books that people recommend that are seemingly unrelated to my business. I often get incredibly insightful ideas from books on philosophy, architecture, math, science and nature. There are so many parallel ideas in these studies that help me express business ideas in fresh ways.

Here’s a list of five books that taught me to look at things differently.

Bookmarking Sites

I love to dig into sites like Reddit and Delicious just to see what other people are finding interesting though their bookmarks. This helps me uncover content, tools and ideas that might take weeks and months to trickle into the mainstream and also provides tremendous intelligence on what makes something popular.

I also make extensive use of the tool on my own by bookmarking lots of content that I find and tagging it with my core topic list for later use.

Intentional Reading

This last one isn’t a tool so much as it is a behavior. I discovered this years ago when I was compiling information for my first book.

One of the most potent ways I know to develop unique content is to read a number of books related or unrelated to your topic with a single, intentional point of view.

In other words, if I’m looking to develop ideas around the topic of referrals I will read books that may or may not have much to do directly with referrals looking for ideas that I could apply. So for example a book on technology might be talking about how to design something in a way that makes it easier to scale and from my referral point of view I might very well gain a unique way to express how to build a network.

It’s almost as though I turn into the narrator while reading.

The bar for content creation is ever increasing. Where simple quantity was enough several years ago, today’s need for insight over shear information calls for a much deeper relationship with the ideas you choose to own.