Using Content to Compete? Here’s Your Strategy!

Written by on May 29, 2013 in Messaging, Strategy - No comments

There is a lot of content out there. Tons of competition. It’s the freeway at rush hour. It’s the line outside Walmart on Black Friday. It’s your neighborhood pool on Memorial Day weekend.  In a word, it’s crowded.

New to content marketing? Get a quick dose of context by viewing the presentation below.

 

 

Fortunately, like most competitive situations, there’s more noise and less quality. More sizzle and less substance. More organizations getting it wrong than getting it right. So, while it’s not easy to succeed with a content marketing strategy, it is possible.

If you are currently trying to improve your content marketing efforts, or are starting from scratch, here’s your winning strategy: Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

Integrated

Don’t compartmentalize your content marketing as a lead generation activity. Yes, it’s great for that purpose, but forward-thinking organizations integrate their content strategy into everything they do. It’s a way to create thought leadership, to elevate brand, to garner press coverage, to engage social networks. As it goes with most marketing discussions, if it isn’t integrated, it likely isn’t as effective as it could be.

From day one, Mint.com has focused on blog posts, slideshows, videos, infographics and other content to inform, educate and persuade potential customers. The result? Big time success. Sample some of Mint’s content here:

 

Immersive

In today’s environment, you have to think holistically about your content and how you serve it to your stakeholders. There are times when a simple blog post or traditional whitepaper will do the trick, but you can’t rely on copy alone. Consider the ever-increasing popularity of graphics, photography and video as storytelling tools. Now ask yourself if your content can stand out if you don’t incorporate each of these on a regular basis.

Additionally, your potential readers/viewers expect more from their content these days. They want to be entertained while they are educated. They want to interact with everything they touch. They want to access information on the go. They want an experience, not just your expertise.

This recent report from the New York Times is hands down the best single piece of content we’ve seen on the web in the past year. It’s an excellent example of an immersive, interactive experience that incorporates multiple types of content.

 

Innovative

Consider the following inquiry a reporter sent out recently, in search of sources for an upcoming story. Specifically, he was looking for:

“Someone who can break a baseball bat across their back”

“Anyone who has been launched from a cannon”

“People who can eat spaghetti by snorting it through their nose”

Talk about an unorthodox wish list! But this is what your readers/viewers are searching for as well. Something interesting. Something different. Something unique.

Creativity is key. So, think about refreshing, surprising ways to approach what you say, how you say it and where you share it. Be unexpected. Be bold. Today’s environment will not reward playing it safe. There’s plenty of boring content to go around.  Spend a lot of time considering how you might approach your topics differently. Can you offer a new POV? Can you reframe the conversation? Can you provide a breath of fresh air into a stale industry or product segment? But be careful. Thinking creatively doesn’t mean you have to go crazy.

The following explanation of “how design works” is a simple yet refreshing approach to a concept that is hard for many to grasp. It’s a dose of practical information coupled with subtle persuasion that ultimately shapes the reader’s point of view about design and how it should be valued. 

Touching

Whether you are speaking to corporations or consumers, anyone who lends an eye or an ear to your content is a living, breathing human being. Which means they use both logic and emotion when forming opinions and making decisions. If your content only focuses on rational, data driven logic, you will fall short. You have to inject emotion. They have to feel “something” and be moved in “some way”.

Otherwise, you will fail to connect on a deep level, and ultimately your efforts to persuade will not prevail. As you develop content, think long and hard about your stakeholders. What makes them tick? What keeps them up at night? What type of emotional triggers would be effective to connect them more closely with your brand?

Over the past few years, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign has become a widely referenced success story for both its innovation as well as its impact. The company definitely creates an emotional bond with viewers. 

Transformative

Too often, content marketing is simply a Trojan horse for a company’s products or services. It’s thinly veiled promotions. How many times have you downloaded a whitepaper or ebook, hoping to be educated, only to discover that it is basically a brochure that is masquerading as content? Don’t you wish you could take your contact info back from that company?

If you are committing to content, then commit. Offer value. Actually give something away. Educate your readers/viewers. Transform how they think about a specific issue or challenge. Advance their understanding. Challenge their existing beliefs. Change them in some way. If you do that, good things will happen.

Ted Talks are great to illustrate what transformative content looks and feels like. One recent example that is very relevant to GmG’s business comes from Dan Pallotta, who argues that the way we currently think about charity is “dead wrong”. 

 

 

Still need more inspiration? Here are a few more tips/examples for compelling content.

PayPal’s Scott Dunlap is a great curator of content. Here you’ll see his collection of social media infographics.

Your content strategy is not complete if you don’t think about ways to share existing content as well as creating your own.

 

 

Seventh Generation does a masterful job of incorporating content marketing into their creative endeavors. Here’s a recent example of how they are selling products, building community, fostering change and advancing an important conversation, all within the confines of one campaign.

 

 

No discussion on content marketing would be complete without mentioning the art of storytelling.  Here you’ll see a great piece of journalism that serves as a model for how you can educate and inform by telling a story.

 

And finally, you can check out a few of our other recent posts on developing effective content. This link will take you there.

Care to share your experience with content marketing? Have a specific request for future discussions? We’d love to hear from you. 

 

 

 

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