What does it take to be a rock star content marketer?
How do you build and execute a strategy that builds authority, popularity and profits?
Content marketing is on a roll these days. All the cool marketers are talking about it. They should be. Content marketing is a real paradigm shift. But…
Traditional marketers who simply add content marketing to their Keynote slides add an infographic to the editorial calendar will fail. Effective content marketers succeed because they pursue 7 key goals that require different thinking, tools, and tactics.
Here’s what drives the effective content marketer
Goal #1: Tell the Right Story
Content marketing is really about telling stories that sell. The effective content marketer is searching for the story that connects the customer, culture, and product. This story is rarely easy to find but it’s critical for success.
I signed up Tonx , a coffee subscription service, that sends me a bag of coffee every two weeks. My wife asked me why I did this because since we have a great coffee roaster a mile from our house. I thought about her question and realized that Tonx won my business by telling me the right story right on their homepage –
“We source the best beans best beans from exceptional coffee farmers who are as fanatical about tasty coffee as we are. To make the best cup, you have to start with the best ingredients. Tonx has years of experience finding and working with the best farmers in the world.”
This is the right story because it connects the coffee lover with the farmers who are passionate about growing the perfect bean crop.
What’s your story?
Goal #2: Make the customer the hero
Effective content marketers know that their customers are on a mission. They are looking for interesting and fulfilling ways to accomplish their goals. Companies that help them win. This means that the product becomes an enabler a tool for helping the hero, the customer, achieve their goals.
I cringe when marketers proudly crown their product as hero. I suspect their customers do too.
A few days ago, I read a disturbing article about the customer service at Apple stores.
It seems that Apple has shifted its focus from the customer to their profit and loss statement. Their retail team has directed store teams to focus on cost cutting and efficiency. This has led to “Rotten Apple” stories from disillusioned customers who are being ignored in stores. Somehow, somewhere, Apple has forgotten that people not products are the hero.
Goal #3: Build the story into the product
The real masters of content marketing look for ways to build the companies story directly into the product. This means that every interaction with the product reinforces its uniqueness. Every product contact with the customer reinforces the customer’s hero status and the product’s role as problem-solver.
Crossfit is an amazing content marketing story. Funny thing is that the Crossfit management probably wouldn’t describe their strategy as content marketing.
However, think about where you’ve heard about Crossfit. It’s likely from another Crossfit box (Crossfit members call the gym -‘the box’) member. Everything about Crossfit encourages their members to brag about their workout, their friends, the gym, the exercises, their events and so on. Every visit to the box is fodder for another blog post or Facebook status update. The story is build right in to the experience, and the customer becomes the distribution vehicle. Perfect.
Goal #4: Identify and reward evangelists
Can you name the top 10 evangelists of your product story. Go ahead, list them. These folks are building your business as you’re reading this post. They care about what you say. They aren’t afraid to tell you when you screw up. They support you with their time and wallet.
Effective content marketers are focused on helping evangelists spread the word. They invite them to Google Hangout Events, they put them on panels at company events, they let them guest post on their blog, and they never miss an opportunity to thank them for their support.
Brian Clark is a busy guy. Everyone wants a piece of him. I get that, that’s why I was unsure if could ever get on his radar screen. I needed Brian’s help to get my new blog off the ground. I knew that one mention from him would get the ball rolling. My strategy for getting that mention was simple – be the best Copyblogger fan I could.
As an aside, Brian was one of ten folks I wanted to know. If I were to rank them by likelihood of noticing me and Pushing Social, I would have placed Brian solidly in the “not a chance slot”.
I spent 3 months commenting, hanging out in the Third Tribe, voting with my wallet, and generally stalking the snot out of Brian and Sonia Simone. One morning around 11AM, my server went down. I mean it crashed hard. When it came back online 10 minutes later, I saw that my traffic had spiked by about 500 people right before it went down. Brian had retweeted my blog post and had funneled the Copyblogger legions to Pushing Social.
I’ve never forgotten that first retweet and I’m still trying to find ways to pay the Copyblogger crew back for their generosity.
Take a moment to jot down an idea for rewarding your evangelists.
Goal #5: Find Customer / Company culture overlap
The best content marketers look for areas where their company and customers share the same belief. This is subtle work. You need a comprehensive understanding of the company culture and equally in-depth sense of your customer’s priorities. Surprisingly, many content marketers understand the customer but are clueless about their own company culture.
I’ve found that asking the right questions often uncovers a company’s core cultural beliefs. My favorite question is “What belief is so important that you’re willing to shut the company down before violating it?” The only wrong answer is “we don’t have a non-negotiable belief”.
Once you find that belief, search for customers who share it. Next, wrap your content story around the benefits of that shared belief. It’s hard work but you’ll be shocked by the ferocious loyalty this effort will instill in your customer and team.
Recently Lavabit, a email service provider, shut down it’s business. They didn’t run out of VC cash. They didn’t mis-read the market. They shut down because they could no longer honor a core belief that their customer’s emails were private and off-limits to everyone – including the United States government.
So Lavabit is gone but I am willing to bet that Lavabit customers are ready to follow Ladar Levison and his team to the gates of hell or in this case to the Supreme court.
What is your non-negotiable belief? Write a post explaining why it’s important to you, your employees and customers.
Goal #6: Grow the audience
Effective content marketers get results. Their goal is simple, have more readers today than they had yesterday. They track their numbers and push themselves to deliver results. They are skeptical of “Twinkie” metrics that look and taste good but ultimately deliver zero value. They know they must grow or die.
Be wary of marketers who use debate, presentations, and words as a smokescreen for performance. The best content marketers prefer plans they can execute, tests they can conduct, and simple stories they can tell.
What’s your audience growth goal for this month? I’m looking for a number not a word. Engagement, integration, collaboration, community are concepts not goals.
Goal #7: Scale content creation and promotion
The say that a Navy Seal can detect another Seal by their walk and attitude. These guys know another Alpha.
I feel that way about “real” content marketers. It takes about 10 minutes of conversation to hear them begin describe their plan for scaling their content efforts into always-on, rapid-publishing juggernauts. They hatch a new promotion tactic every day and methodically test each one looking for the viral success.
At the end of the day, effective content marketers crave results. They believe in their businesses’ story and are using content to deliver their product benefits to as many people as possible.