All posts in “Content”


Your Brand Needs To Stop Celebrating Random Holidays… seriously.

There is nothing wrong with brands celebrating holidays, but when you are celebrating holidays simply because they exist, it’s time to re-consider your marketing strategy.

Father’s Day has just gone by, and obviously your social media manager was scrambling around to find a cheesy image of a father and a son walking on the beach. Your brand makes knitting needles, so it went something like “Fathers are what make a close knit family”. Cute. But how many consumers see that on their feed and want to go out and buy your knitting needles?

Lets take this further, you are a consumer and for whatever reason you enjoy crocheting (that’s a kind of knitting right?) so you see this post and what do you think? Im guessing you are just bored by the 2861763162316 father’s day posts you have already seen on your feed, or if you do engage with it, it just feels kind of flat. That indifference is because you know intrinsically that it is being done, just because. It means nothing. It stands for nothing. All it means is you have less data now.


So how do you create the kind of content that capitalises on public holidays without all that cheese? Firstly, stand for something, be authentic. Like the famous David Ogilvy quote: “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife”. The average person consumes enough media, they can tell the difference between a gimmick and a clever brand push – they don’t mind smart marketing, they mind bad marketing. So do it well.

Secondly, choose the holidays that make sense for your brand. You don’t have to have presence at every opportunity, only the ones that matter. Consumers remember clever, quality content not the fact that you have put out a tweet on every major holiday.

Thirdly, just take a step back. It’s so easy to think so much about your brand that you forget that you are also a consumer. Always try to think of situations as though you are the the target market. Would you like to see that content on your social media? Would you care about the message? Is the message appropriate?


Lastly, time and place. Sometimes your brand has a really cool concept, but the delivery just doesn’t land. Ask the right questions, Is this something that is mostly visual (Instagram) or do I want this content to start a conversation (twitter)? Which is the best place to reach my target market? Am I using the correct words?

When in doubt, just think about whether its worth the data we have to spend to view it.


Why Kevin Spacey Deserves a Content Marketing Award

Any good marketing conference has at least one compelling keynote speaker that offers sage, relevant counsel to the crowd. The key ingredient here is relevancy. We crave new thinking, but we also seek application of that thinking to our own lives. Deanna Lazzaroni reports on LinkedIn Marketing

When I tell you that Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey presented recently at a marketing conference — no, the largest content marketing conference — you may question the relevancy of his keynote address to such a crowd. I did. He did, in fact, asking himself this very question as he opened his presentation at Content Marketing World last week.

What followed I believe deserves a content marketing award.

In Kevin Spacey’s mind, the connection between his world and ours as marketers is the fact that we all have audiences, and those audiences demand great stories. It is our job to tell stories, better stories, and to do so by incorporating three main ingredients.

The Simple, Yet Powerful Ingredients of a Truly Great Story
Simply put, Spacey explained that what makes a great story is conflict, authenticity and, most importantly, the audience itself.

He went on to detail how each ingredient played a pivotal part in the narrative, providing relevant examples of his own experience as well as marketing examples for us to establish a relevant connection. Spacey, the seasoned storyteller, knew his audience.

Why Creating Conflict is a Good Thing
“A great story creates tension,” he proclaimed. “Without it, there’s no driving force, no passion, no involvement.” When we think about the great advertising campaigns of our time, a tension is embraced and often relaxed through the brand’s effort. Spacey gave the example of Nike, a company that has built its brand around our ambitions to be better, faster, stronger. Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign also comes to mind; a campaign that embraces the tension women hold within themselves, fueled by the pressures we put on ourselves and on society, and lifts that tension by tapping into our emotions and creating a positive impression.

“Our stories become richer and far more interesting when they go against the settled order of things,” Spacey professed. When we challenge the status quo, when we refuse to accept things for what they are and choose to be part of a movement for change, we build great stories. Presenting at Content Marketing World was certainly not norm for Spacey, but he had a message to deliver and a compelling story to tell.

Winning with Authenticity
What I believe won the audience over at Content Marketing World wasn’t the story itself, but the fact that Kevin Spacey delivered it as only he could. He played an authentic role. He spoke with conviction… He also worked in three perfectly placed quotes by Frank Underwood, his character in the acclaimed series House of Cards. Again, the man knows his audience.

“There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth,” he spoke in the tone of Underwood. The takeaway for marketers: “Stay true to your brand and true to your voice and audiences will respond to that authenticity with enthusiasm and passion.” Spacey gave the advertising example of Volkswagen’s 1960’s campaign, when the brand embraced who it was and delivered the message “Think Small” even while large, over-priced American-made vehicles were all the rage. Volkswagen’s new Beetle stood out against the Ford’s of the world, and it served them well. Like Spacey, the automotive brand had something unique to offer its audience and played that card to its advantage.

Give the People What They Want
Kevin Spacey’s third sage lesson for the group was to stop making content for content’s sake. Instead, he commanded us to give the people what they want, when they want it, and at a reasonable price. The reality is that today the speed of the internet and advancement of platforms has had a major impact on the creative industry – and today, as Spacey put it, “anyone with a camera and an idea can create an audience.” People no longer have to wait for brands and entertainment giants to deliver great stories; they are finding them and creating them.

Today, Hollywood is partnering with Internet stars to produce and market content; brands are co-creating with their audiences; and new talent and new companies that enable this collaboration economy are rising to the top. “Get your minds to work,” Spacey urged us, “for the risk takers are rewarded.” And, quoting Frank Underwood again he reminded us, “There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted.”

It may not have been what I expected. But by embracing the conflict of this content marketing keynote, delivering his authentic self, and giving his audience of marketers exactly what we wanted, Kevin Spacey demonstrated his own best example of a well-told story. And that, to me, is award-worthy content.

Image source:


What @iamjohnoliver’s Twitter Rant Can Teach Social Marketers




HBO television host and Daily Show alum John Oliver took some pointed shots at brands on Twitter this Sunday, criticizing several specific brands, and Corporate America in general, for trying to cash in on touchy trending topics. Kevin Shively explores this topic futher.

It’s become common practice for brand marketers on Twitter to “newsjack” popular topics and hashtags, cashing in on the influx of traffic, even when it isn’t appropriate.

Oliver condemned this type of marketing, calling for more responsibility from brands, telling corporations that Twitter is “a cocktail party” and that they don’t belong there, so they should act responsibly. He even provided a “pledge” for brands who agreed with his sentiment.

You can watch the video clip here. Please note excessive swearing and controversial content.

That was Oliver’s point. There are many ways to engage and grow your audience on Twitter. Trying to leverage these more serious conversations has more potential to backfire than the good it presents.

Look companies, your silence is never going to be controversial. No one will ever go, ‘I can’t believe it. Skittles didn’t tweet about 9-11 yesterday, they must support terrorism. I’m never eating them again.’

–   John Oliver, Last Week Tonight

What Oliver’s Segment Can Teach Us

It would be easy for a brand marketer to get upset by Oliver’s lecture, but that misses the underlying value of his rant. Oliver and his team brilliantly pulled off a strategic Twitter campaign as a brand without appearing inauthentic, disrespectful, or tacky.

As marketers, it’s our job to think this way. We may not have TV shows to kick off our campaigns, but we’re in this line of work because we’re creative and resourceful. Piggybacking on tragic, difficult, and personal conversations is a risky tactic that doesn’t add a lot of value.

Meanwhile, Last Week Tonight created a unique experience that encouraged other high profile users to help promote for them. As a brand, this should be the focus, and a basic sense of logic should be used when interacting with a topic.

On Twitter, we follow and engage with brands for the experience they provide (and because we love their products), not because they’re able to jump into every random conversation on the web. Focus on your brand experience, and always be cautious when an organic opportunity presents itself. You’re responsible for protecting your entire brand image, and maintaining your audience’s trust. Don’t take that lightly.


7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Content Marketing Strategy

1. Take “best of breed” seriously

Ninety-nine percent of companies don’t do this. In my third book, Epic Content Marketing, I talk about six principles that are essential to epic content marketing. The sixth, and perhaps most important, is setting a goal/mission to be the “best of breed” informational provider for your industry niche — i.e., to truly be the leading informational resource for your industry.

This is critical to making content marketing work for you. If your content marketing isn’t eagerly anticipated and truly necessary, at some point, your audience will see through the façade and ignore you.

Ask yourself this: If your content marketing disappeared from the planet, would anyone miss it?

If no one would miss your information, you’ve got work to do. Start by setting your goal, then set up the processes and invest in the people you need to reach that goal.

2. Go 6 months without mentioning your product

When I was doing research for the book, I compared CMI’s informational/educational posts to posts that mentioned our products and/or services. The posts that talked about us received about 25 percent of the total unique visitors that a regular, educational post did. At the same time, we received virtually no additional subscribers on our sales-related posts, while our regular posts brought in between 35 and 75 subscribers.

The point is this: The more you talk about yourself, the more you’ll negatively impact your content marketing efforts. Keep the offers outside the content, and watch your program flourish.

3. Follow the “3-legged-stool” model

Almost every successful media company in the world leverages the “3-Legged-Stool” model: creating content for digital, print (print magazine or newsletter), and in-person (customer event or series of customer meetings). I believe that if your brand doesn’t leverage all three channels in a meaningful way, you cannot truly be an industry-leading informational source.

Beyond that, there is a huge opportunity in leveraging print channels, specifically. Just think of it like the value of a trade show where all your customers are in attendance, but none of your competition showed up. That’s the value print content marketing currently represents. I smell opportunity.

4. Leverage native advertising while you can

In a recent LinkedIn native advertising post, I wrote the following:

Publishers are using native to survive and grow. Brands are using native to steal audience from the publisher. It’s that simple.

I’m not sure how long publishers in your industry will offer native advertising opportunities. If I’m a brand, I’m going to want to go all-in on leveraging native to steal as much audience as possible. Look into it.

5. Forget real-time marketing

Some of the real-time marketing examples surrounding the tragic death of Robin Williams will make you sick to your stomach. Brands and publishers alike are tripping over themselves to leverage breaking news for business gain.

The only situation in which you should be considering real-time marketing is if your content marketing strategy is near perfect. Only then will you be well prepared enough to tackle the risks of real-time (and reap the potential rewards).

Focus on consistent, valuable information… become the expert… get the process in place… be patient.

6. Kill a channel

Here’s a publishing truth: It’s likely that, with each new channel you add to your content marketing plan, the other channels you are already using will take a small hit in quality and focus. I’ve seen this time and again as our concentration goes wider and our relevance gets broader.

I’d like to challenge you to kill a channel (or two) and put a renewed focus on the channels that are most worthy of your time and attention. Be amazing: Be great at distributing content through three channels; use another three to heavily promote that content; and forget the rest… at least for a while. Then check the results.

7. Begin with the end in mind

If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s long-time best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, you’ll recognize this one as the second habit: Begin with the End in Mind. In Covey’s words:

It focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world.

If you don’t know what you want to be, in terms of your content marketing, when you grow up, how will you know if you are on the right path?

Things to do:

  • Create your content marketing mission statement.
  • Set a subscriber goal for your content.
  • Decide what you ultimately want subscribers to do.
  • Answer the question, “How Will We Know We Are Succeeding?“

Do you have a major issue that is driving your success, or stopping you from succeeding? Please let me know in the comments below.
Want more insight on how to manage today’s biggest content marketing challenges? Sign up for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Access over 35 courses, taught by experts from Google, Mashable, SAP, and more.


Content Marketing in 2014: The State of the Enterprise

Professor Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing,” in which he discussed how the field would change with the “new age of electronic marketing.” In the coming decade, Kotler wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

There’s only one problem: Fifteen years have passed, and this vital transformation hasn’t happened yet.

Consumers have changed, marketing operations haven’t

In case you haven’t noticed, almost every marketing conference you attend these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides. Consumers are now empowered by digital technology… they are becoming more aware… they are researching, engaging, buying, and staying loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed… Yes, we get it. Consumer behavior in the age of the social and mobile web is different than it was before.

In fact, maybe it’s actually more accurate to say “is changing” and “will continue to fundamentally change,” as content’s continual evolution shows no sign of slowing. The challenge is that marketing operations in enterprise companies have largely remained just as they were when Kotler wrote his book — i.e., they are still working from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Continue the article here

SEO The Past, Present, and Future

[subtitle]How to Focus Your SEO Efforts for Maximum Visibility in 2014 [/subtitle]

How Search Engines Work

Any time you search for something online, you are almost instantly presented with a list of (mostly) relevant results from all over the web. Somehow, search engines are able find the web pages that match your specific queries. How do they do this?! And – more importantly – how can optimizing for search engines still play a role
in helping your business get found?

In the simplest terms, you can think of searching the web as looking in a very large book with a very, very impressive index. This index tells you exactly where
everything is located. When you perform a search, programs check against the index to determine the most relevant search results, as well as the order (or “rank”) in which they will appear and be returned to you.

What Is SEO?

SEO refers to techniques that help your website rank higher in organic (or “natural”) search results, thus making your website more visible to people who are
looking for your brand, your product, or your service via search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.


Over the years, the recipe for ranking success has included things like title tags, meta descriptions, keyword tags, keyword density, H1 tags, image attributes, links from certain domains, volume of links, quality of links, internal link structure, anchor text in inbound links, and more.

The Changing Face of SEO

More recently, the ingredient list for a “perfect” search ranking has expanded to include tweets, retweets, likes, social mentions, page load time, rel-canonical
management, and content marketing. Along the way, some old standbys made their appearances … things like user experience, quality of content, and depth of
content, to mention a few. Yet with all of this SEO knowledge that has been accumulated, so many websites still fail. How is this possible?


How We Used to Think About SEO

Once upon a time, SEO could be defined using two broad categories: 1) on-page SEO, and 2) off-page SEO, which could be boiled down to 1) keywords, and 2) links.
The idea was to aggregate as many of each in order to beat your competitors in the search results and rank as close to #1 as possible.


The Problems with “Old SEO”

  1. SEO was treated like a game.
  2. SEO was about quantity, not quality.
  3. SEO was focused on search engines,not searchers.
  4. SEO was too “cookie cutter.”

Learning from the Past

Rankings happen for many reasons, and the keyword or query is just the initiator of the process. You should optimize a page to be the strongest it can be in search
only after you’ve made it the best page for a specific need or topic.

There are multiple variations of keywords for any one topic, and therefore your focus should be on the page and the topic, not just one or two of potentially hundreds of keywords.

Never assume that your site should rank #1 without first knowing why it’s helpful to searchers. Just ranking isn’t enough: You need to provide what people are looking for with enough depth and insight that they stay on your site and are compelled to take action (contact you, share your content, etc.).

An Introduction to Modern SEO

According to Google, SEO is “about making small [meaningful] modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem
like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in
organic search results … [where] your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.”

In short, you need to understand not only the web, but also your visitors and what your visitors want – and get –out of your website.

The Key to SEO: Meaningful Content

What does Google consider “high quality”?

By creating content that is high quality, compelling, and relevant, you can engage your site’s visitors in a meaningful way. When content resonates with someone,
it feels personal and authentic. The new direction of SEO is all about creating a unique user experience for each visitor and personalizing those experiences as much as possible.

How Your Website Helps (or Hurts) SEO

You want your website to easily provide that unique user experience, right? Unfortunately, most websites are stale and do just the opposite. Here’s why:

  1. Websites need additional coding to optimize for mobile.Many websites today require special templates or additional coding to
    optimize for mobile. When a mobile searcher arrives on a site that isn’t mobile-friendly, you can bet they’ll have a less-than-stellar experience.
  2. A website’s CMS is isolated.A content management system (CMS) often stands alone from the rest of your site’s architecture, creating a fragmented experience for your visitors.
  3. Websites offer the same static experience to everyone.76% of website visitors want a site that “makes it easy for me to find
    what I want.” And yet, most websites show the same thing to every person who visits.
  4. Some websites are slow to load.Social media and mobile have more influence on SEO than ever before. Despite this fact, most CMS tools have yet to incorporate these elements out-of-the-box.

So, What Do You Need?

You need a system that functions as a fully integrated website. One that is part content system, part personalization engine, and that is customizable for you,
your team, and each individual visitor.

Inbound marketing is about tailoring your content creation strategy to attract not just any old person wandering around the internet, but your ideal customers
— also known as your buyer personas.

Wouldn’t it be great if for each one of those personas the content that your website displayed was actually unique – like how Amazon tailors what you see based
on what you like? (Full disclosure: We’ve built a system that can do just that. It’s called a COS: content optimization system.

Where Do Keywords Fit In?


The tried-and-true approach to keyword optimization requires that you research relevant keywords, track visitors through your site, watch conversions, tweak, and
then try to make the right decisions. The keywords you optimize your site around serve as the foundation upon which each and every page is built. Selecting the right keywords (those that speak to – and use the same language as – your ideal buyer) is essential to building that framework.

Beyond having a strong, user-focused keyword foundation, your website pages themselves can help to attract new visitors to your site. This is because Google gives precedence to pages that load quickly and whose HTML is search-engine friendly.

Keyword Research Tips for the Modern Marketer

  1. Understand “transactional” vs. “informational“ keywords.
  2. Use alternative tools like or for competitor research.
  3. Google’s keyword tool is now “Keyword Planner”.
  4. Use AdWords auction insights.
  5. Look at data from Webmaster tools.

Loss of Data Needn’t Mean Loss of Direction

With Google encrypting search more widely now (80% or more of a site’s keyword data is now “unknown”), marketers may be at a loss as to which keywords are
driving success. However, if you focus entirely on what you don’t have anymore, your SEO will come to a standstill. Instead, focus on what you can (or could) have,
such as page analytics and visitor data (i.e. how an individual found your website and how they’re engaging with your content).

With so much broad data available to help you understand your visitors today, it’s easier than ever to look at behavioral patterns, build sites that elicit desired
responses, and align your business in ways that impress searchers and keep them coming back.

How to Rock at SEO Today: 10 Tips

  1. 1. Develop more unique, in-depth content
  2. Truly understand what “quality” means
  3. Truly understand your buyer personas
  4. Don’t add content for the sake of having more content
  5. Never add pages without having direct access to them
  6. Rethink what “link-building” means
  7. Rethink what “keywords” mean
  8. Test your pages in different browsers before publishing
  9. Make sure your site is technically optimized (if using a traditional CMS)
  10. Make sure you have a Google+ personal profile and that it’s tied to your content

If You’re Useful, They Will Come

We don’t want any old traffic coming to our site – we want the right traffic. We want the people who are going to be the most likely to become leads, and, ultimately, happy customers. The content that best attracts those “right people” is content that is educational in nature and that appeals to those who are just beginning to recognize they have a problem that needs solving.

Your blog is an excellent (if not the best) place on your site to provide this helpful, educational material, and one of the most effective ways to share this content with the world is through social media. Regularly sharing content via your social posts, tweets, etc. can also help to get your name out there and – in return – bring people to your website.

Create for Humans, Not Search Engines

Search engines are extremely complex. The bottom line is that search engines are trying to anticipate what human beings want as they search … even before they
begin their search!

It is very easy to get caught up in the old way of thinking about SEO: links, keywords, and rank. However, modifying your website’s content with the idea that you’ll “rank” in Google is like going out and buying a lottery ticket with the hopes that you’ll strike it big.

When in doubt, always err on the side of providing relevant and coherent content that your website’s visitors (your prospects) can digest. If you find yourself
doing something solely for the search engines, you should take a moment to ask yourself why.

To Summarize, Here’s What Will Help:

  1. Providing unique experiences throughout your website to better engage users
  2. Surfacing unique content readily and easily
  3. Creating content that provides context and personalization
  4. Establishing a content strategy that focuses on creating quality, in-depth, and unique content
  5. Understanding your business’s buyer personas
  6. Having clearly defined business goals (other than ranking)
  7. Covering basic SEO to improve your site’s visibility in search results

What is content Marketing?

[subtitle]Useful content should be at the core of your marketing [/subtitle]

Consumers have shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore magazine advertising, and now have become so adept at online “surfing” that they can take in online information without a care for banners or buttons (making them irrelevant).

Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute, and that there has to be a better way.

Enter content marketing.
But what exactly is content marketing?

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it.

Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

And they do. Content marketing is being used by some of the greatest marketing organizations in the world, including P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and John Deere. It’s also developed and executed by small businesses and one-person shops around the globe. Why? Because it works.

Looking for examples of content marketing? Download this great eBook with 100 content marketing examples.

Content is the present – and future – of marketing

Go back and read the content marketing definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you “stuff.” Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day. Good content marketing makes a person stop…read… think… behave… differently.

Thought leaders and marketing experts from around the world, including the likes of Seth Godin and hundreds of the leading thinkers in marketing have concluded that content marketing isn’t just the future, it’s the present

Marketing is impossible without great content

Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your process, not something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing:

  • Social media marketing: Content marketing strategy comes before your social media strategy.
  • SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content.
  • PR: Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about, not their business.
  • PPC: For PPC to work, you need great content behind it.
  • Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads.
  • Content strategy: Content strategy is part of most content marketing strategies.

Content Marketing Infographic

To be effective at content marketing, it is essential to have a documented content marketing strategy. Download this great 16-page guide to learn what questions to ask and how to develop your strategy.

According to the Roper Public Affairs, 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. Seventy percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions. Think of this – what if your customers looked forward to receiving your marketing? What if when they received it, via print, email, website, they spent 15, 30, 45 minutes with it? ( See all the latest content marketing research here.)