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10 Priceless Lessons Learned in Content Marketing

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10 Priceless Lessons Learned in Content Marketing

Written by: Michael Kirsten

I’ve been a marketer for more than 10 years now.

Marketing used to be about polish, posing and heavy promotion. We pushed our brand’s message and value out to customers through advertising, and supplemented ad units with marketing collateral, earned media and web-based promotion.

Then came 2007.

Facebook invited non-college students to join its ranks. Twitter launched the 140-character conversation. And marketers – though we didn’t realise it yet – were barrelling toward a crisis of identity.

With the advent of social media and niche content sites, brands are no longer in control of the information their buyers discover about them; no longer in charge of the conversation.

Online reviews, competitor information and a groundswell of online conversation are steering customers’ buying decisions. Our products, our business, our foibles and mishaps are all open for discussion in online social forums. Most importantly, our customers are beginning their buying process without us, using search engines, digital media and social communities to answer their own questions.

In short: The last years turned us marketers from masters back into rookies. 

We no longer control what customers know about us or how they find out about our products. Marketing technologies have proliferated at a rate that makes us feel dumb … really dumb. And marketing has changed so profoundly that many seasoned CMOs are willing to admit to deep confusion.

If you ask marketers today, “What’s changed about how you do your job over the last five years?” you will get a quizzical ‘you-must-be-an-idiot’ look, and the likely reply “Everything!”

The new mantra goes something like this: “I’m about to try something and it may get me in trouble. That’s ok because if I don’t change I’m in trouble anyway!”

Many of us are now exploring content marketing. And with this we try, learn and fail.

Our own journey in content marketing is still ongoing, but I learned some lessons over the last years. And yes, I am generous enough to share.

Here are my top ten tips for having an effective content marketing program in your company:

Tip 1: Be an editor

Think about your audience each day and publish what THEY want to read.

Tip 2: Kill the cheerleaders 

No, I don´t mean you need to kill anyone, but stop the people who just talk about your products and cheerleading your own company. Talk about your clients and their problems. And then, provide a solution.

Tip 3: Hire someone who gets things done 

The best strategy doesn´t help if you don´t implement it. Hire someone who will make things happen and who will lead a plan into reality.

Tip 4: Stay committed

It´s not a sprint, it´s a marathon. Don´t expect immediate results. Be prepared for months of hard work before you see an outcome. But believe me – it will come.

Tip 5: Outsource with intent

Look outside your walls for creativity. You don´t need to have a huge department to be effective in your content marketing efforts. Find talented writers, designers or producers. Make them part of your supplier network and do great things with them.

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Tip 6: Communicate: A LOT

It´s all about communication. Don´t sit in your box. Talk to your colleagues about what you are doing and why. Show them your content, educate them and make them part of your fanbase. You will realise the difference.

Tip 7: Partner with experts

Look for experts in your environment. Give them a voice on your channels and let them share their thoughts. They will become reliable ambassadors of your content.

Tip 8: Research

If you have own data, use it. Nothing is more credible and unique than your own data. Think how you can transform your data into great content.

Tip 9: Go back in the “real world”

Talk to your sales people, to your clients or to your networks to understand what is going on in the “real world”. Listen to them and make their experience and thoughts part of your content.

Tip 10: Do cool stuff

We all like to do cool things. It makes us feeling special. Take a risk and do something really cool if you can. The things that seem impossible to do are the best projects to work on.

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