After attending Content Marketing World 2014, it’s become clear to me that we’re going to have a lot more companies marketing with content going forward. In addition, current content marketers will produce more content as well as better content (making it harder to stand out for all of us).
Here are my takeaways from Content Marketing World 2014 (see the slideshare below for more details):
1) More marketing content is being generated than ever before
From the Content Marketing Institute’s recent B2B Content Marketing Research:
- 70% of B2B Content Marketers created more content this year
- 55% will increase and 32% will maintain Content Marketing spend
So how will you stand out? See below for takeaways as well as potential solutions to the problem of visibility.
2) The buyer’s journey can rarely be controlled by one company
Buyers bounce all around the internet to a variety of review sites, third party blogs, competitor websites, directories, social media platforms as well as (if you’re lucky) properties you own. Understand the stopping points on their journey and develop a presence where possible. One other option is to generate content so compelling and inspiring that you start and lead much of the journey. See how the Caine’s Arcade story inspired thousands and led to amazing opportunities, press and a new foundation. ( Inspired by Andrew Davis @TPLDrew and Robert Rose, @Robert_Rose.
3) Integrate authentic stories into your content
Finding and sharing or creating compelling stories integrated into your content will win over warmed over tips posts, listicles or even well-written thought leadership content. Stories inspire and allow people to empathize and connect with the subject of the story. Inspired by great talks by Kevin Spacey @KevinSpacey, Andrew Davis and Joe Pulizzi, @JoePulizzi.
Key components of storytelling include the following:
- An element of conflict or suspense
- Elements that create empathy
- Stories that feel (and hopefully are) authentic
- Elements that tap into our emotions and foster aspirations in your audience
- Stories that drive meaningful attention (not brain candy)
4) “Unique practices” are more important than best practices
We can mimic what others are doing and blend into the industry landscape. But the winners will be the companies that practice the fundamentals of content marketing well, but also develop a unique voice, unique approach to content and deliver something no one else is delivering. Inspired by Ann Handley @annhandley, Marcus Sheridan @thesaleslion, Kevin Spacey and Andrew Davis.
Ways to be unique can include:
- The strong unforgettable voice
- Being the best at something (e.g. being the best digital teacher)
- Documenting or creating compelling stories
- Extending the typical boundaries of content to deliver value to your audience (see #6 below)
5) All content marketers need to be great writers
Even if the job description is not writer, all content marketers (in fact, most marketers) should be great writers. Great copy is so important – not only for things like blog posts, ebooks and emails – but for compelling website copy, thank you pages or even the text that is shown to you while you wait for something to load. These small opportunities can be used to delight your visitor and turn them into raving fans. So as a content marketer, you should consider writing a key competency to continue to develop. Managers should hire marketers who can really write, so look at samples to find out which ones can. Inspired by Ann Handley.
6) Move beyond your content comfort zones
When we think of content marketing, we may think of ebooks, infographics, blog posts, drip campaigns and social media shares. But open up the frame a bit and realize that you will really succeed if you help your prospect complete their mission. Understand their process and find ways to take work away from them. This will truly enamor them to your brand. For example Hubspot has provided stock photos, website buttons, statistics to help with an internal business case as well as infographic templates as part of their content marketing (which happened after their ebook efforts grew stale). Think about what kind of calculators, templates, small software tools, checklists or other valuable content can help your target customer succeed in their job. Inspired by Jay Acunzo, @Jay_zo.
7) Agile marketing processes are needed in complicated and turbulent times
In the past when marketing was more predictable and campaigns were routine, waterfall planning made sense. Plan the campaigns, build them, deliver them and measure their effectiveness. Execution on the plan was the critical capability. These days where cause and effect of marketing activities are not always completely transparent and where change it constant, agile methods allow a team to learn and adjust. Having long term goals but shorter cycle times that allow for more flexibility on the path towards that goal are important to helping the modern marketing team succeed. Inspired by Scott Brinker, @chiefmartec.
(See the Wrike guide on 7 Steps to Developing an Agile Marketing Team to learn one approach to agile marketing)
Below is the slideshare companion to this post. Let me know in the comments how your company (or other companies you see) use content to stand out in the marketplace:
How to stand out in the crowded world of content?
What do you think are the best ways to stand out as content becomes common? Let us know in the comments!