Probably not what you wanted to hear. But like I mentioned in my first post, I’m genuine, and good marketers don’t sugar-coat things. Good marketers also don’t become better marketers without acknowledging reality. Once you acknowledge reality, you can take steps to change the default future.
So, how are you going to fit into that content little-black-dress?
The answer is, not easily. You’re going to have to work for it. Think of it like Sandra Bullock’s transformation in Miss Congeniality.
Right now, your content generation situation probably looks like this:
- Writing blog posts is an afterthought – You publish blog posts when someone has the free time to write one
- You try to tackle content all at once – You attempt to create a content presence overnight by simultaneously authoring multiple blog posts, ebooks, case studies and Tweets
- You burn out after two weeks and resort to posting random crap on social – That’s still content strategy, right? The light version. It’ll work!
No, it won’t work. And before you go off and try to find a “Michael Kane” agency under the guise that they can solve it all for you, realize that not even Michael Kane can help the unwilling.
Transforming your company into a content- and lead-generating machine is a paradigm shift
Paradigm shifts are hard. Chances are you’ve been through one before and are now groaning in agony as you reluctantly lace up your shoes. You may even doubt if pursuing this one is worth it. But as we examined in Part 1, buyer behavior is changing. If you don’t change with it, you’re not going to have anymore buyers. Full stop. End of story.
So, put your content hat (err, crown) on!
The Michael Kane Content Makeover
Step 1: Get everyone bought in
To become a content creation machine, you need to create a company culture that supports the goal of frequent, high-quality content creation. Explain to everyone why content creation is important. Lead by example and reward it. Create editorial guidelines so every employee is empowered to create content. Even if you don’t wind up publishing it, you still win if they post it on LinkedIn or other social networks. It’s an opportunity for them to grow their personal brand while evangelizing your company and products.
Step 2: Have a plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Make a content calendar. Hate boring, corporate documents? Your content calendar doesn’t have to be. Take a look at these examples. Having a calendar is critical because it holds everyone accountable to your new content goals and ensures you don’t talk about the same thing over and over again. It’s also an excellent opportunity to achieve Step #1 by involving everybody early on and getting them excited. If they feel a sense of ownership early on, they will be less likely to let your (their) content program fizzle out and die.
Step 3: Actually write something
We can talk about content strategy all day long. But let’s face it, content isn’t going to write itself. This is going to be slow and painful at first, just like any learning curve. Don’t get discouraged. The more you do it, the better you become. Soon, you’ll be able to punch out blog posts like morning emails. Can’t think of what to write about? Steal somebody else’s topic. Can’t find the words? Let your personality shine through and write like you speak. Just write SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter if it’s crappy; it’s PROGRESS. You can put lipstick on it later.
Step 4: Recycle, repurpose, reuse
Did you know you don’t have to start everything from scratch? Peoples’ minds are blown when I talk about this. The easiest way to speed up content generation is to repurpose your old assets. For example, that ebook you invested all that time into last quarter? You can probably slice and dice the content into 10 different blog posts. This works the other way around, too. Looking to write a big white paper? Grab all of your relevant blog posts and combine them. It may not get you all the way there but it’ll get you halfway.
This is another area where content calendars come in handy. Content calendars should be viewed forward and backward. Take a look at past months to see if you can spot any topic trends that you can leverage and combine into a larger piece of content (dare I say a lead magnet?).
Also, stop being afraid of repurposing other peoples’ content or ideas. Did you know the Beatles stole all of Bach’s chords? Thanks to the internet and proliferation of information, there are very few ‘new’ ideas. But there are plenty of ways you can put a spin on existing content and make it new again. It’s like putting a new coat of paint on your house…or writing Platinum records. Picasso had it right when he said, “great artists copy. The best artists steal.”
Step 5: Now that you’ve got your Honda running, ratchet up to the BMW
Your content engine is running! You’re adhering to your editorial calendar and creating a ton of awesome content. Now it’s time to make it the best content. The kind of content that establishes you as a thought leader. To achieve this, you need your engine to run even smoother.
- Author your style guide or ‘verbal brand’ – How are you going to talk about your products (and I mean verbatim). What tone are you going to use? Standardize, standardize, standardize.
- Hire some rock stars – Get an editor, writers, proofreaders, etc. Delegate, delegate, delegate so you can conquer your next mountain.
- Elevate your editorial calendar – Get mindful about what content goes out through which channels (and to whom). Now would be a good time to bring personas into the mix and begin authoring tailored content.
- Align content generation to business goals – Every piece of content you write should help achieve a business goal. If you’re unsure whether a piece is powering you towards your goals, don’t publish it. Your keystrokes are part of a chess game.
Good artists copy. Great artists steal.
Congrats! You’re off to the races. Later in this series we will examine how to integrate content generation into the best possible journey for your prospects. If done properly, conversion rates will increase at each stage change.