The Content Currency – Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

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There’s a popular saying in the online marketing world:

Content is king.

Personally, I don’t believe that to be true.

A king can be idle. Or a figurehead. Or an ineffective force in an otherwise well-enough nation.

In my experience with content marketing, a more accurate description is:

Content is currency.

Currency can be traded. Can be coveted. Can be stolen. Can lose value. Can gain value.

The market can be flooded with currency. And currency can be scarce.

Content as currency is a measure of exchange in this digital world and the value of it means different things to different people.

The value means infinitely more to the right people than it does to people who aren’t in your particular tribe. People who don’t need what you have to offer.

If you’re looking to create a content marketing strategy, here are a few basics I’ve learned for you to consider before you start. I’ve also included below how I would approach the basics of creating a profitable content marketing strategy.

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Why Use Content Marketing for Your Business?

First off, I think it’s important to clarify one thing. Content can be extremely subjective, but for the sake of this article we’ll clarify that it is: written information that is shared online.

That said, content marketing is good for two reasons:

1. Content marketing optimizes your site for search engines. Well-done content features topics and keywords that tell search engines what your site is about, so that people searching for what you have to offer can find you online. You build it and they will come, folks!

2. Content marketing also optimizes your brand for actual readers. It’s not just search engines “reading” your site — there are real people out there who will come to know your brand based on the content you put out. Just like how keywords optimize your site for search engines, well-crafted content optimizes your brand in the minds of consumers. It’s their hearts and minds you want to ensnare with your content.

How To Use Content Marketing for Your Business

A lot of people think content marketing is a complex thing — and it can be — but the basics are extremely simple and most likely things you’re already doing. The rules of content marketing:

Be of value and measure your results.

Simple and easy, but there can be a lot of additional pieces to this.

How Can You Be of Value?

You could start by figuring out what content your audience needs. Some people might publish surveys or polls to get feedback, but I say start with your product. What are you selling? What makes your product more badass than others. Your product is the seed of your business and your content should grow out of that. Meaning, it should always link back to your product — not in a sleazy way, but in a way that makes sense and, again, provides value.

But being of value also means communicating with your audience in a way that is easy for them to understand — which could take into account the mediums you use to share your content, down to the vocabulary and writing style you use.

This is a bit deeper into the strategic side of your content marketing, but it’s very important to think about this in the initial planning stages of your content.

How Do You Measure Your Results?

This could be qualitative or quantitative results — quality vs numbers — which means there are many, many options for measuring your results.

For measuring results qualitatively: you could consider using surveying programs like Survey Monkey, Qualtrics or Qualroo. The key is to get specific feedback from your audience that you can then act on.

For measuring quantitative results — things like website traffic, demand generation and goal conversion — consider using a program like Google Analytics.

If you’re measuring the ROI of content via social media: use programs like Hootsuite or Facebook Insights.

When thinking about how you want to measure your results, the solutions you use to measure your results depend greatly on your business type, goals, audience and also the tools you use to disseminate your content.

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How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve taken the basics into account, you can start developing your content marketing strategy.

Here are the steps I would take.

1. Think Like a Publisher
2. Support Your Other Efforts
3. Extend Your Reach
4. Enlist Your Minions
5. Measure Your Results

What exactly does each of these mean?

Think Like a Publisher

Thinking like a publisher means looking at content as a product.

When you think about content as a product, you give it the same level of importance as your other products. You think things like:

-How can my audience use this information?
-How does this serve my audience?
-What problems does this solve for them?

Your content is infused with value for your readers without even trying.

Thinking like a publisher means you start to operate like someone reporting the news, in that you position yourself as an expert in your field. You come up with the things people should know and you share them in a way that is easy to consume. You become the go-to authority in your field.

How could being seen as an authority in your niche help your brand and your sales?

Also, thinking like a publisher means you start figuring out ways to better communicate with your audience — and clear communication is everything in marketing.

A few other things to note about thinking like a publisher:

  • Editorial calendars — publishers keep editorial calendars to track content production and release.
  • Relationships with other brands – publishers are basically content experts in a particular niche, so they are often sought after by companies that want to reach their audiences. How could you leverage this authority to create additional revenue-generating opportunities for your business?
  • Content as product — some of that content is given away for free, while other content comes at a premium. What could this mean for your business?

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Support Your Other Efforts

It’s advantageous for you to align your content marketing with your other efforts.

For example, if you’re a fiction author and you have a new Harry Potter-esque book coming out in two months, why not have every blog post you write for the next two months link back to that book somehow?

Things like:

-How I create fantastic animals from scratch
-How I come up with unique character names
-How to keep track of an epic story line + excerpt from my new book
-Crafting redeemable villains + sneaky double-crossers

You’re still providing value, but you’re doing it in a way that always relates back to your bottom line, because that’s most important, right? Dah moolah.

Extend Your Reach

Figure out multiple ways to leverage the same content.

For example, if you’re a wellness guru and you just posted a killer blog post about the five keys to successful meditation, don’t just put that on your blog.

Find ways to share the content on all different platforms, and I don’t mean share as in disseminate links to your blog on different platforms.

I mean, take that content and break it into valuable pieces that are appropriate for the platforms people want to consume it on.

The same blog post can be turned into an infographic for Pinterest, a meme for Twitter, an email newsletter, a video for YouTube and a podcast.

Because different people consume information in different ways, you’ll be extending your reach by giving new people on different platforms access to your information and brand.

Now, obviously, time, technology and branding may be an issue with this. Repurposing content for different mediums may not work for you — it doesn’t always work for me — but it’s something to consider.

The point is to think outside your blog pages with your content.

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Enlist Your Minions

Your direct access to people online is finite, but if you can enlist a community to start talking about your content online, you’ll have an infinite army.

Sometimes this can be as easy as asking your social media followers to share your content and it can be as complex as developing an affiliate program.

Remember, people are less likely to trust content that ONLY comes from a company.

Why? — Because in the “social” world, people automatically think:

Lack of social proof = lack of quality.

The online community wants to know that you have some street cred. That you’ve been tried and tested and that other folks like themselves are picking up what you’re putting down.

Measure Your Results

This deserves mentioning again, because it’s so essential.

Please, please, please measure your results. It’s a must.

You’ll never know what’s actually working until you start measuring and comparing campaigns.

In summary, when developing a content marketing strategy, ask yourself:

1. What information would be useful for my audience to know?

2. How does/can this content relate back to a sale, promotion or campaign I’m currently running or working on?

3. How can I make this content easy-to-digest on multiple platforms?

4. Who can I share this with? What advocates would want to share this information with their networks?

5. What results do I want from this and how can I measure those results?

And voila! Now go out there and rock the content marketing world!

See you on the interwebs!

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{Image credits: “Money from around the world” by Images Money | “One Eyed Minion” by Sonny Abesamis}

 

A Kick-Ass, Take-No-Prisoners Guide to New School PR for Authors and Publishing Brands – Introverts, this Bud’s for You!

desk-top_view-web Recently, I attended a webinar from PR pro Sarah Evans and she asked the question:

“What do you want to do in this epic battle for attention?” @prsarahevans

Those words hit me like a lightning rod. A tingly, “ooh, that’s good” in my marketing happy place. Immediately a million ideas popped into my head, because — HELLO — I’m a digital media marketer by trade and a digital communicator at heart, but the introvert (read: hermit) in me took that moment to proudly stand up and say:

I don’t want to do [expletive]. I just want to be left alone, be me and get the attention I deserve.

Anyone else ever feel that way? Like you know all these tricks and tips and strategies to get attention for your brand, but at the end of the day, you don’t really want to do any of it because it sooooo doesn’t gel with who you are? A show of hands…

New school PR is the answer to that problem, my friends.

Unfortunately, some people are so intimidated by the idea of public relations, that they either ignore it completely for fear of doing it wrong or have a mini head explosion every time they think about it.

Never fear, my dear. I’m here to help.

top-view-desk-lamp-web The goal ’round these parts is not to be a public relations firm, but to be a resource for publishing brands who need to understand how to leverage online communication and audience outreach for the good of their causes.

Admittedly, the word PR just sums things up nicely…thank you very much. So let’s look at it. Really, what is PR when you break it down?

Public relations by definition is:

1. The professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.

2. The state of the relationship between the public and a company or other organization or a famous person.

Thank you very much, Apple dictionary.

Public relations are your brand’s public image. The face you put forward to the world.

And online PR, is yo’ digital #selfie. girl-phone-web But it’s more than that: public relations should really put more focus on your relationship with the public and how you engage with them on a regular basis.

The flaw with what some people consider old school PR is that it is often very one-sided.

New school PR – or digital PR or digital brand advocacy – is much more engaging and of service — which works better towards the end goal of maintaining a positive image with the public.

Do you advocate for your brand online? Do you create virtual word of mouth around your business?

Because that’s what new school online PR is about.

Totally something you can take charge of, right? Right! Because you do it already, my friend. Now, with a little professional help, you can sho’nuff rock it. color-correct-coffee-web

Here’s Your Kick-Ass, Take-No-Prisoners Guide to New School PR for Authors and Publishing Brands:

First thing’s first, if you want to get new school PR right, you have to do three things consistently:

1. Communicate using your voice

2. Communicate in your best communication style

3. Be strategic about your communication

That’s it. Do these three things right and you will win every time.

Unfortunately, the truth is that everyone gets at least one of these wrong at some point. Hell, I’ve royally screwed this up for myself under the dumb idea that I had to be perfect to inspire others. F* perfect. As the amazing Gala Darling says:

“We walk around so carefully, tip-toeing past issues, declining to give our opinion for fear of insulting some invisible angel of judgement. We allow our taste to fall in line with everyone else’s, shrinking down our ambitions so as not to offend anyone else. In short, we slowly murder ourselves on our quest for so-called perfection.” @GalaDarling

This is why #1 is so essential. book-web

1. Communicate Using Your Voice

It’s important to note, for authors and publishing brands, using YOUR voice when you communicate with the public is ev-er-e-thang!

Your style of communication is what distinguishes you in your market. It’s what makes you you-nique. I can’t express this enough, because your voice is your product. Many publishing brands forget or don’t realize this.

Stories are a dime a dozen. There are no new ideas. What’s new and different is the way you tell your story. Your voice is what people buy.

Think about how much easier your online communication will be if you just wrote in a way that comes naturally to you.

None of that “Extra! Extra! Read all about it” BS. Just pure, authentic communication as if you were talking to a friend about your work. Because that’s what you should be doing. Talking amongst friends and soon-to-be friends online.

Kind of takes the pressure off, right?

Well, it should. typewriter-web

2. Communicate In Your Best Communication Style

A big part of new school PR for authors and publishing brands is figuring out your communication style in order to use that style in your PR efforts. What I mean is: figure out how you best share, communicate and connect and use those practices over and over again to build and maintain your public image.

As members of the publishing industry, you may instinctively think: well, obviously, words are my best communication style.

But I have two questions for you, Smarty McSmartass:

1. Is this the best way you can communicate to share your brand with others?

2. Are there subtle aspects of your communication style that work better on different mediums?

For example, me, I’m an introvert, who has a fear of public speaking, but for some reason, I’m pretty damn good at teaching, especially in person. Go figure.

My empathetic mojo picks up on how to make others feel super comfortable. And I have a deep-rooted desire to help and inspire. For me, my best communication style to share my brand with others is teaching — and the powered-up version is teaching combined with inspiration and encouragement.

Also, because I like to use anecdotes to relate back to my digital marketing lessons, I find blog posts work well for me…because I can ramble a little.

What this comes down to is:

What communication styles feel natural? And, just as important, of these natural communication styles, which ones deliver results…which takes us to #3.

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3. Be Strategic About Your Communication

I’ve had a lot of success and a lot of “holy crap! That was stupid!” moments throughout my career. But the truth is, I always got the most attention when I throw caution to the wind in favor of soul-scorching “Eff it! What feels right to me?” type of marketing and PR positioning combined with strategic marketing and PR mojo.

Strategic is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but, in my mind, it just means smart.

Strategic new school PR means being smart about what you do and how you do it.

The smartest thing you can do with your new school PR:

Track and analyze your results and act on that information.

That’s the biggest, most important tip to doing new school PR the right way. And the basic steps for this element are:

1. Do new school PR stuff.

2. Track the results.

3. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t.

4. Do more of the stuff that works and less of the stuff that doesn’t.

It could all be so simple…

Exactly what “new school PR stuff” should you be doing? I couldn’t tell you, because every brand is different, but here are some basic ideas:

  1. Reach other people’s audiences. This could be via guest blogging, etc.
  2. Build strategic relationships. Remember: PR is about relationships.
  3. Share how you can help others (aka the art of pitching your importance). Value is KING online.
  4. Create content that is portable, sharable and engaging. More people will hear about your brand online the more other people engage with it.
  5. Be you. It’s easiest to remember and you attract the RIGHT kinds of relationships that way.
  6. Always keep your end goals in mind. Every brand needs to focus on ROI – return on investment. Be strategic about your bottom line and always keep your sales funnel top of mind in your efforts. If you can’t see a clear path to conversion, neither can your audience.
  7. Stay consistent. It’s hard. But you have to keep the party going to see lasting results.

kindle-book-web If you want to incorporate new school PR into your business, first figure out how you best share, communicate and connect and use those practices over and over again to build and maintain your public image.

Remember: It’s all about relationships and value is KING and: EVERYTHING IS MARKETING.

Yeah, Tivi, because that’s not confusing in a guide about online PR…

But I’ll say it again and then break it down:

EVERYTHING IS MARKETING.

Marketing is the practice of promoting and selling products and services.

You’re in the business of trying to sell your products and services. The way you maintain your relationship with the public online is part of your marketing strategy, because the purpose is to, what? Sell products. So in summary:

New school PR is the art of combining relationship building, value sharing and smart marketing strategies to keep people coming back for more.

Are you ready to rock it?

xo,

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The Power of the Purge – 5 Things I Learned From a Lightning Fast Move

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Newly painted coffee table + Lupita + green juice (and white toes)

I had a pretty rapid moving experience recently. Rapid, in that it was less than two weeks from getting notified that my new place was available that I moved. Combined with a lot of other craziness during that time, June/July have been soul-scorchingly insane.

On top of that, I had the Tetris-like task of fitting a 3-bedroom house into a 1-bedroom apartment. Fun.

Let me be clear: I think moving sucks. And moving lightning fast sucks even more, but there are a few things about moving that I really, really enjoy. Things I think are lessons for life and business in general.

5 Things I Learned from a Lightning Fast Move:

1. There is Power in the Purge.

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White sage for the new place. Purity.

Not so long ago, when I had hair — a big, fun, wild, sexy mane of awesome kinky coils — I developed an addiction. To hair products. Despite having sheared off my locks, and rocking a super short boy-cut for the last 4 years, my addiction to hair products remains.

Deciding how to pack my master bathroom in my house was something I avoided for days. It finally came down to me going into the bathroom with a trash bag and one simple question for myself:

“Do I really need this?”

If the answer was anything but a one word enthusiastic affirmative, it was a no.
In the past, when I would ask myself “Do I really need this?” about hair products, the answers ranged from everything from:

“I spent a lot of money on that jar. There’s still $4.67 worth of product left.” …to… “If I grow my hair back out, I’ll need some of this.”

But the answer should have been a very clear “No,” because what I realized was that the mental stress the clutter in my bathroom was causing me cost me way more than the $4.67 worth of product at risk of being thrown away.

This time when I went into my bathroom and asked myself that question, anything that wasn’t a “Hell yes!” was a “no” and the offending product got tossed into the garbage bag.

There’s nothing like getting rid of a bunch of bullshit to help you see what’s most important.

Take that to mean what you want.

2. Action and Positive Pressure Can Create Clarity.

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My family on moving day. My big bro and sister-in-law are behind the camera.

I found out on a Thursday that I would be moving. Twelve days later, I would get my keys and start moving in. Two days after that I was living full time from my new place…with Grumpy. And I didn’t start packing for the move until about a week before my moving day.

Despite the craziness of the time, one phrase suck out in my brain as I prepared for my move:

Simple, comfortable and clutter-free

I knew I didn’t want to take everything from my house and dump it into my apartment and end up with an apartment that looked and felt like my house; overwhelming. I wanted to feel at home again, something I hadn’t quite felt since I moved from my last apartment 3 years ago.

The pressure of the move combined with the ruthless purging created a clarity about what I wanted to take, what I wanted to leave and how I was going to position things in my new place.

You get closer to clarity the more you act towards that goal.

Keyword in that sentence: ACT.

3. It’s Never Too Late to Start Over

For me, sometimes life can feel like I’m sitting in a pit of doom with the weight of all my previous mistakes weighing heavily on me. It can be overwhelming, depressing and an impossible situation to inspire change.

Except that change isn’t something I seek, I need nor something I want. Change is something I am. And you are too.

Every moment you live, you are doing things a little differently. Sometimes these changes are subtle — a new way of thinking, a guilty conscience, etc — and sometimes these changes are massive — quitting something cold turkey, starting a new habit, etc. Simply thinking about doing things differently is the first step towards doing things differently.

For me, moving was the opportunity for a fresh start. A new environment can equal a new routine, a new diet or new acquaintances (“…no new friends, no, no new…”). But the most important element to inspire change is a new outlook, which you get every moment you’re alive. You’re halfway there.

Just tell yourself: it’s never too late to start over.

Never.

4. Constantly Rethink Your “Normal.”

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Grumpy in his favorite spot in the new place; by the patio door.

I have a good friend who worked a job she hated for years, because she was “used to it.” Every morning before she’d go into the office she would say a prayer for God to get her through the day. The day would pass extremely slowly for her, because dealing with her colleagues was a pain in the ass and her boss was horrible to her. Most evenings she’d go home to rest, drink or do other unproductive activities because she was so emotionally drained from the day, she couldn’t do much else.

This was her normal for years.

One mistake people make about “rethinking their normal” is they assume it means making a huge external change and they overlook one of the most important words in the phrase: “reTHINK.”

There’s magic that can happen when you allow yourself to think differently.

For example, a job looks vastly different when you position it as “8 hours that I have to deal with people I hate” vs “the part of my day I spend working for someone else so that I can do what I want for the rest of my day.” So my friend didn’t have to leave her job to have a new “normal.” Repositioning her thoughts about her job, would have been just fine.

Moving is one situation when a lot of people, myself included, start to rethink what’s normal for them, but it’s not required to start thinking about your life differently.

5. Unpack, Then Evaluate.

During the moving process, there was one point when I sat in my office chair exhausted, just looking at my boxes of crap and wondering where the hell everything was going to go. I was overwhelmed and starting to get worried that I didn’t have enough room for everything.

My mistake: I couldn’t possibly figure out where to put things without knowing what was in the boxes. Sure I had a general idea of what things I had, but because I hadn’t unpacked them and examined them in the context of my new space, I didn’t really know where they would fit or IF they had a place in my new life.

If you unpack and examine your shit, it makes finding an appropriate place for it a lot easier.

Again, take that to mean what you want.

Here’s to a wonderful life in a new space — whether that be an awesome new locale with a pool or a sparkling clear new headspace.

Love and light,

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{photos by Tivi Jones & [my big bro] Charles Jones, Jr.}