The 7S’ of Content Marketing

The challenges marketers face today are multifold.

  • How you do create content is such a way that it not only addresses an individual’s informational need but also reaches the masses?
  • How you present content so that your target audience does not loose interest?
  • What language, style and marketing vehicle will you adopt to reach your prospects and customers?
  • How will you connect employees, vendors, partners, and customers and help them make better, faster decisions?
  • How will you build competitive strength and boost customer satisfaction?
  • How can you leverage technology investments and improve training offering to grow your customer’s success?

These are just few of the questions faced by content marketers today. Using frameworks to tackle these questions is one way sure shot way of ensuring you are headed down the right path.

Let us take a look at the 7 S’ of Content Marketing. Strategy, Segment, Simple, Succinct, Scannable, Steak and Sizzle and Social Media

You can divide up these 7 S’ of Content Marketing into 3 categories.

2 Essentials of Content Marketing

  • Strategy – Do you have a Content Marketing Strategy?
  • Segment – How do you use Content to engage with different Market Segments?

4 Essentials of Content

  • Simple – Is your Content Simple?
  • Succinct – Is your Content Succinct?
  • Scannable – Is your Content Scannable?
  • Steak and Sizzle – Does your Content have both Steak and Sizzle?

1 Bonus must-have for Content Marketing

  • Social Media – Is Social Media part of your Content Marketing Plan?

Strategy

“Strategy 101 is about choices: You can’t be all things to all people.” – Michael Porter

Identify the goals for why you want to create and market content. For examples, your goals might be to grow your business by educating your prospects and training your customers. Once you have identified your goals, you can deliver a consistent message that your target audience will find relevant and valuable. If you don’t have a strategy then content creation will end up as haphazard tasks – a press release here to combat the news your competitor throw at you and a quickly concocted FAQ there to answer the questions your customers have been asking. Take a step back and look at your content marketing strategy. Investing this time upfront will help you pick the right tactics to grow your business.

Rohit Bhargava gives a useful checklist of questions you should ask yourself in his blog post How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy. Also read Valeria Maltoni’s Top Ten Reasons Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Fails.

Key questions to ask about your Content Marketing Strategy

  • What goals do you want to achieve by creating and marketing content?
  • How do you measure the progress you make on your content marketing goals?

Segment

“A market segment is a community with a shared worldview.” – Seth Godin

Marketing 101 teaches you to do segmentation, targeting and positioning. You need to know your different types target audience and how they consume content. Have a good understanding of your target market segments.This will in turn lead to providing relevant, compelling information to convert prospects to customers, driving greater engagement with your content and also encourage repeat sales through cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Key questions to ask about your Market Segments

  • Who are the different types of target audience in your various market segments?
  • How do you use different types of content to engage with different market segments?

Simple

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

Keep your content simple but do not over simplify in a way that it doesn’t meet the goal of creating it. Charles Mingus said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” Getting to simplicity is indeed a complicated road. Invest time upfront to simplify your content. Your target audience needs to understand and take action based on your content. To make it easy on them, you have to think and rethink about how best to present content. The more buzz words you use in your content, the greater the chance of confusing or losing your reader.

Read Guerrilla Guide: Keeping marketing simple for ideas on how to keep marketing simple. See this simple example of a 2 minute video – Simplicity of Twitter.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Simple

  • Is your marketing message simple enough for your prospect to understand and convince his colleagues who will make the buying decision with him?
  • Is your content simple enough to stand out amongst all the other content that prospects have to wade through?

Succinct

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

Ensure that your content conveys what you want to say in a crystal clear fashion. Content should be crisp to retain reader’s interest. Good writing is defined by its clarity. When writing content, do multiple revisions until a crisp and polished final version emerges. Choose the right marketing vehicles to get the content to reach your target audience. For example, instead of writing a 100 page training document, record a training video. If you are recording a training video to educate your customer about a complicated product think about how you can divide it up into smaller chunks.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Succinct

  • What is the marketing vehicle that will get your message across crisply to your prospects and customers?
  • How do you retain and foster the interest level of your target audience by keeping your content crisp?

Scannable

“Most people read online by scanning the page for individual words or phrases, headings and other visual cues.” – Darren Rowse

Your customers and prospects are bombarded with information in this digital age. Ensure that your content is scannable quickly so that your target audience will benefit from the huge investment you have already made to create and market your content. Use lists and bullet points to make it easy for your readers to digest your content. Leverage a variety of media options available to get your message across to your readers. Photos and video are a great way to enrich your customer’s and prospect’s experience. Offer checklists for your prospects instead of a sales brochure. For example, create a checklist of ’10 Things to Consider when purchasing your server’ for your prospects.

Read Darren Rowse’s Scannable Content, Daniel Scocco’s How to Write Scannable Content: A 6-Step Approach and Five ways to make a scannable Web page.

Key questions to ask to keep your Content Scannable

  • Is it possible for your customers and prospects to quickly look over your content?
  • Can your customers and prospects get the main points and identify what is the call-for-action in your content?

Steak & Sizzle

“Sell with Sizzle, Sustain with Steak.” – Erik J. Barzeski

One of the common expressions in marketing is “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” It implies that the goal of a marketing message is to excite the customer. Today customers and prospects are very information savvy. You can’t just “WoW” them with sizzle. In order to persuade them with your content, you need both steak and sizzle. Steak/Substance is the meat of the content and the message that you are trying to get across. Sizzle is the structure and style that constitute the packaging of your content. It doesn’t matter how good your content is. You need to dress it up so it sounds, feels and looks appealing to your target audience. Include visuals in your presentation so it is appealing to the eye. Your website should have an uncluttered look. Your marketing videos should be short and informative as opposed to long and sounding pitchy.

Key questions to ask about Steak and Sizzle for your Content

  • What is the steak i.e., message you want your customer and prospects to get from your content?
  • How do you sizzle up your content to attract and retain your target audience’s attention?

Social Media

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” – David Alston

This list of S’s of Content Marketing will not be complete without mentioning Social Media Marketing. Marketing is not just a ‘push mode’ one way street activity any more. Don’t brush aside Social Media as just another useless hype. There are lots of resources to give you a jumpstart. Find out which types of social media you need to use to reach your target audience. Leverage social media tools to listen, converse, collect information, build and grow your business.

Chris Brogan’s blog Community and Social Media Business Strategy and Guy Kawaski’s The Art of Creating a Community  are two great resources for insights on how to build communities. The Top 50 Social Media Blogs Of The Year and Alltop’s Social Media Category are also useful lists to explore ideas on social media.

Key questions to ask about Social Media for your Content Marketing

  • Where is your target audience going to for their informational needs to listen, converse and collect information?
  • Which social media tools should you leverage to reach your customers and prospects?

Over to you…

What questions do you ask when creating your Content Marketing Strategy?

 

7 S’ of Content Marketing

7 S’ of Content Marketing: Strategy, Segment, Simple, Succinct, Scannable, Steak and Sizzle and Social Media.
2 Essentials of Content Marketing
* Strategy – Do you have a Content Marketing Strategy?
* Segment – How do use Content to engage with different Market Segments?
4 Essentials of Content
* Simple – Is your Content Simple?
* Succinct – Is your Content Succinct?
* Scannable – Is your Content Scannable?
* Steak and Sizzle – Does your Content have both Steak and Sizzle?
1 Bonus must-have for Content Marketing
* Social Media – Is Social Media part of your Content Marketing Plan?

279 Days to Overnight Success eBook Review

Chris Guilllebeau’s story is truly inspiring. I remember first reading about him in a La Presse article from a few years’ back. At the time, they were covering Chris’ around-the-world on a budget adventure for the paper. I recall thinking how great it would be to live this sort of life and wondered how he managed to do that.

Well, my curiosity is now satisfied since Chris Guillebeau has bared it all in his great 279 Days to Overnight Success eBook! Indeed, this document is unusually practical, useful and inspiring to anyone wanting to start their own professional blog. The author managed to become successful in less than a year and shares his process with you. Here’s what I liked:

  1. There are tons of detailsIf you’ve never written a blog before, but desire to make a living out of one, this eBook will tell you how to get started – right from the beginning (observing, monitoring, planning) up to monetizing your project. It covers technical aspects, posting schedules, finding inspiration and a voice, successes and mistakes, examples from other bloggers, etc. The author even shares his 2009 annual revenue! In short, here’s what Guillebeau thinks you need to get your professional blog started:
    • Create a Compelling Story and Be Remarkable
    • Clearly Answer the “Reason Why”
    • Prioritize Writing and Marketing Over Everything Else
    • Be Bigger than I Really Am
    • Build Long-Lasting Relationships
    • Carefully Introduce Products and Services

     

  2. Chris talks about his own experience

Chris Guillebeau is using his personal story and experience to guide his readers on their journey. Though this is common practice on blogs, I’ve seen few eBooks written in this fashion. This style of writing is great to engage your readers and give them a sense of belonging. This is a fun, entertaining and enlightening document which I truly enjoyed reading.

  1. The design and layout is gorgeousI truly believe that form and function go hand in hand. You won’t notice much the layout of a well-designed document, but you will definitely notice one that isn’t. The latter are difficult to read, bland and look unprofessional. If you want to go viral and be taken seriously, your work should reflect this, both inside and out.
  2. Blog monetization is coveredEven though monetization is definitely a hot topic, few documents tackle it clearly and with pragmatism. Do you want to go beyond Adsense? Do you wonder what your other options might be? 279 Days might give you the answers you’re looking for. I especially like the portraits of bloggers he presents near the end of the eBook – each comes from a specific background and managed to become successful through social media efforts. Quite inspiring.

Kudos to Chris Guillebeau (which is not an unusual surname in my part of the world, Chris!) for putting together such a great eBook. Make sure you get your own copy here. You can also check out other articles he’s written right here.

Tips on how to use social media marketing for promoting white papers

Social Media Marketing is now getting a lot of interest not only from cutting edge startups but also from mainstream brands. How can White Paper writers and marketers leverage social media marketing? We have invited White Paper Experts to shed light on the following question: How to use social media marketing for promoting white papers?

How Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes Can Help You Find Inspiration

Cooking duchess Martha Stewart is releasing a new book today called 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone’s Favorite Treat. It got our attention since, well, we do have a (major) weakness for these devilish cakes, but also because it hints at our thematic of today’s post: inspiration.

Indeed, coming up with 175 variations of one simple treat is no easy task – it asks for a lot of trial and errors, incessant baking and, best of all, endless cupcake tasting. Ultimately though, you need to be inspired to make it work. Inspiration comes and goes, which is often inconvenient when you need to come up with interesting ideas on a regular basis (if you’re writing a blog, you know what we’re talking about.) So how can you find inspiration when it feels like your head is empty?

How to Find Inspiration

There is no fool’s proof method to gain inspiration, but there are definitely actions you can undertake to help jumpstart your brain. Here’s a simple list to get you started:

Get Away from the Problem

You don’t know how to get started on that cloud computing essay? You feel like you’ve explored every facets of social media on your blog? Your problem might be that you need a fresh perspective. When immersed into a subject matter for a long period of time, it gets difficult to pull yourself back and get an outsider’s perspective on your work. Being able to examine your work through different lenses is important as it can help you find new details and ideas. If you feel you need a new perspective on your work, then get away from it for a little while. Explore other subject matters outside your usual field. The cloud computing expert could have a look into photography or football. The social media expert would benefit from discovering the pleasures of design and architecture. Opening up your mind to other disciplines can help you gain the necessary distance for fresh ideas to blossom in your mind.

Do Research

Another great way to gain inspiration is by having a look at the work of other people. Start by browsing del.icio.us for subject matters that interests you. Whenever you find some links that are of interest to you, look up whoever provided the links and explore their profile. This can open doors to new correlations you never thought of before. You can use the same process with Reddit or any other bookmarking sites. Flickr is a fine website to get inspired. Check out their stream of most interesting pics, or perform some queries on your subject matter and see what shows up. You’d be surprised to see how other people visually approach your choice of semantics. Remember though that there is a fine line between gaining inspiration and stealing other people’s ideas!

We believe books remain a great way to gain inspiration. First, their nature encourage immersion – when you read a book, you forget about what surrounds you. They have a calming effect, which is perfect to generate new thoughts. Also, books (fiction or not) tend to thread a deep web of ideas and concepts. Blogs and white papers are great at communicating ideas quickly and efficiently, but their short, scannable nature remains a far stretch from the deepness books can achieve. Taking time to read books is a great way to gain inspiration.

Brainstorm and Keep a Journal

We find that brainstorming sessions work best in groups. Indeed, bouncing ideas off with other people can enable new connections or perspectives you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. But don’t stop there. Sorry, that’s not true – do stop there. Once you have brainstormed, take a break – a few hours, or if you can afford it, a few days – before getting back to that session. Again, removing yourself from the problem can help gain a new perspective. Also, while you’re away from your blockage, your mind is still processing that information, creating new links and bridges. When you’re ready to explore your brainstorming session once more, new concepts and ideas could make their way to the top.

Another way to brainstorm regularly is to keep a journal at hand. Make sure you can access it easily as you never know when your brain will come up with some brilliant thoughts. Fill it with quotes you loved from blogs, magazines, billboards, etc. Put in thoughts you’re having – it doesn’t matter if they’re boring or utterly crazy. Don’t censor yourself, be as open as possible. That journal will come handy when you’re looking for ideas or when you’re having those brainstorming sessions. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad idea when you are brainstorming.

Change your Environment

An easy trick to stimulate your writing process is to write in a different environment. Leave your desk or wherever you’re used to write and change location: try your local café, the library, a bookstore or some other public place. This change in external stimulations might be the push your brain needs to come up with a wealth of inspiration.

Bake Cupcakes

Finally, if you feel totally uninspired, stop and do something completely different. Try baking cupcakes, go for a bicycle ride, have a pic-nic, visit your friends and family. Sometimes all your brain needs is a little break!

How do you fight a writing block? Let us know what your secret is!