Whether you’re writing copy for your website, blog posts, or social posts, sooner or later you’re going to get that feeling that you just don’t have any more good content to share. Don’t worry, it’s normal. If you’re committed to an ongoing content marketing strategy, it can be easy to reach the point where you feel like you just don’t have anything helpful left to say. After all, with bazillions (yes, it’s a real measurement) of pages on the internet, hasn’t everything already been said?
Well, maybe. (Sorry.)
But the real goal in a good content marketing strategy is figuring out the things to say and the ways to say them to be relevant and helpful to your audience. So, how do you get inspired when you’ve got writer’s block?
Here are 5 ways that work for me:
Talk to strangers about what you do for a living – OK, don’t be creepy about it, but do find some people, maybe at a networking event, or in a LinkedIn group or just somewhere outside of your normal path who might be able to offer you a different perspective on what you offer. Their fresh look can help open up your eyes to the things your audience might care about and give you ideas on new ways to reach your audience and the questions they might be asking.
Reach out to your customers – Pop into sales meetings, take a client to lunch, spend an afternoon on the golf course, and find out what they’re thinking about these days. Maybe they have a problem that they’re trying to solve that you don’t know about (but could offer some perspective on!), or perhaps things are changing in their business and they are trying to figure out how you fit in. Whatever the case, getting some face-time with your clients can give you fodder for all kinds of content, whether it’s some simple “did you know?” style content that’s great for social posts, or ideas for longer form content that really speaks to a concern or opportunity. Your own customers can be a great source of content ideas! (And sometimes these meetings turn into more business, too!)
Talk to your customer service and sales staff – As marketers it can be easy to get caught up in your own portion of the business and forget the resource that you have available to you in your own staff. These are the people who are on the front lines with your customers and get to hear about all the day-to-day and real things going on surrounding your industry. Use these resources to learn about what’s happening in your market and tailor your content to speak to it. Common complaints or questions can be your best content inspiration because you know that these are real issues that your audience cares about.
Attend an industry event – I went to Content Marketing World last year and I’m still using nuggets that I learned last year to help me with content ideas for projects I work on. Getting outside of your own walls and into a larger audience can help gain a better perspective on what’s going on in your market, what’s trending, and how it applies to your company. These kinds of events can be quite the investment (the cost of the event, travel, time away from work) but if you go with an open mind, there’s a lot to be gained.
Pick off a list – Sure, it’s nice to be fresh, on-point, timely… but let’s be realistic. We can’t always be that “on”. So, gather your team together and brainstorm ideas that are tried-and-true, things you hear “all the time” so that when the well is dry, you’ve at least got a starting point. Chances are a few words are all you need to come up with something great to share!
How else do you get inspired to come up with content ideas? Tell me in the comments. photo credit
You already know that video is one of the most important content marketing pieces to consider for your business. You’ve read the stats and figures, and maybe you already have a few ideas of the types of things you’d like to show your customers.
Planning a video can be as easy as grabbing your point and shoot and clicking record. Some companies are very successful with this method and can quickly produce regular videos with this kind of content.
If, however, you are like many organizations that often need to plan around budgets, promotions or busy seasons, here’s how to produce a great video in 5 Easy Steps.
1. Mine Your Current Marketing Calendar: Take a look at your current marketing calendar or planned promotions. How can you show part of your business in a way that fits with what you’re already doing? For example, if spring is a big push for your garden center business, you could show videos that:
Show current products in store, or show how your business is preparing for spring
Highlight an employee’s work anniversary, and have him or her give the best tips for spring planting
Film a “how to” video on the best way to prep a lawn for spring
Remember, streamlining your overall messages across all your marketing efforts actually makes producing content that much easier. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with video…just make it work with what you’re already doing.
2. Pick Your Concept and Key Message: Once you’ve looked at your calendar, pick the overarching concept and key message that you want your video to convey.
For example, returning to the garden center business, let’s say you choose to show a quick how-to video on preparing a lawn for spring. While you’re producing value-added content for the customer about lawn care, the key message may actually be:
Our business is knowledgeable: we know everything there is to know about lawns
Our business is trustworthy: you can trust us to help you with every aspect of lawn care
Our business offers the best in value: the products we use in this video are affordable when you purchase with us
Narrowing your key message allows you to not only clearly convey to the customer exactly what he needs to know, it helps you know what parts of your video to keep, and which parts to edit.
3. Create an Outline, Script and/or Storyboard: Even if you’re only creating a 60 second video with your iPhone, a brief outline helps to focus production time. Your outline can be as simple as:
Intro–John says hello, mentions he is from ABC Nursery, and says, “Today I’m going to show you how to prep your lawn for spring.”
Tip 1–John shows how to clear lawn of old debris from winter
Tip 2–John shows how to cut any old buds or dead branches from bushes
Tip 3–John shows how to spread first layer of mulch
Outtro–John says thank you for watching, invites viewers to visit in-store or go to www.abcnursery.com, end with logo and website.
For videos where you’d like to add more detail, or if you’re using an outside vendor to help edit or produce your video, a storyboard that uses both desired images and a script or outline helps to give an exact vision for the project. Again, this step doesn’t have to be super high-tech. Celtx is a free software that allows you to put together quick and easy storyboards, or there are lots of free storyboard templates to download, as well.
Either way, this step can save time and headaches during the shooting and editing process when you already have a clear vision for the project.
4. Think Like an Editor: Whether you’re editing a video in-house or you’ve hired someone to help, do your best not to get too attached to every minute of content. It’s incredibly easy to fall in love with footage, especially if you have an emotional attachment to the subject (e.g. a favorite customer, or special project).
Unfortunately, a ten minute video that includes seven minutes of outtakes, or every single nut and bolt of a new machine is not only going to lose the audience, it’ll lose the key message.
Think “short and sweet” as well as big picture when going through the editing process. 60-90 seconds is plenty of time for a quick and easy how-to that gives bare essentials and points viewers back to your website or asks them to call for more details. Content should always be a driver to push viewers to do something about your message. That action gets awfully tricky to take if they’re seeing only the footage you love, and not the footage that actually matters to them.
If you did film lots of footage that you can’t bear to part with, consider breaking it up into a longer series of videos, or using some of those smaller snippets as “drip content” for your Facebook page or Twitter account.
For example, maybe the overall “How to Prep Your Lawn for Spring” video is 90 seconds long, but you got several candid moments of Jon giving tips that didn’t make the final cut. Package each tip into a 15-20 second snippet that you can add a title to, and a quick logo and call to action at the end. Three or four of these will make fantastic Facebook, blog or newsletter content pieces.
Anytime you edit, though, keep your initial key message and outline in mind. Cut parts that don’t speak directly to those guidelines…don’t worry, you can always use the footage that didn’t make it at another time.
5. Optimize and Promote: Once your video is edited and ready to go, you’ll likely want to publish it to YouTube. YouTube is the number two search platform right behind Google, so it’s a smart place to gather your video content.
The title of your video is extremely important on YouTube. Avoid overly clever or creative titles, and instead opt for a title that speaks plainly to what the content is and what the viewer should expect to see. “How to Prepare Your Lawn for Spring” or “Three Spring Lawn Care Tips” are far more searchable and relatable titles than “John and Spring, It’s a Thing!”
Keep the first part of your video description very short (one to two sentences), and add a URL to a unique landing page or your website. Use related tags to also help your video rank well in search, and choose a thumbnail that shows clearly what the video is about.
Optimization, however, is only part of the post-production puzzle. Promoting the video is also important, so include it in your Social posts, newsletter and blog. Embed it on a page of your website that includes other how tos or promotions. Or, use it as part of your digital sales or media package.
YouTube not only looks at how well a video is optimized when ranking the video in search, it also looks for how often and how recently a video has been viewed. So be proud of the work you’ve done, and don’t just share once…keep pushing it to all your Web outlets to rack up those views and rankings.
These five easy steps should guide the overall process of producing great video content on a regular basis. If you are looking to create something more in depth, like a mini-documentary, music video, or animated infographic, you might need to call in the pros to help you with hiring talent or adding snappy edits.
This step, however, often comes after steps one and two. Some production companies can help with initial ideation and key concepts, but make sure you take the first steps to know what you want to say and when you want to say it. And if you are hiring professionals, make sure to look a few months ahead to allow for time to plan for right filming conditions, shoot times, editing and any other post-production work or development.
Have questions about creating great video content? Ask away in the comments!
Did you know that by the year 2017, a Cisco study says 69% of all consumer web traffic will be to access video content? Here are three things you didn’t know about using video as content to help you prepare for the future of video.
Customers are more likely to buy after seeing a video. A recent study from the Web Video Marketing Council and Flimp Media shows that video embedded in an email can be a very persuasive. Some stats from the study:
88% report that email with integrated video improves overall campaign performance
76% acknowledged that video generates high click-through rates
72% believe that prospective clients are more likely to buy after viewing video content sent via an email.
The concept of “show and tell” is still very much a part of who we are. If we see it, we are more likely to believe. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to watch a video than read a report or a case study. Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report illustrates this concept in a big way by showing that most North American small businesses and big brands are focusing on video as the critical content marketing element for their future branding efforts.
Human connection sells, and it sells well. People like to see a face, hear a voice and connect with the emotion of the person or people in a video. There is a reason YouTube gets over one billion views per month; even in this super tech world, we are still looking for that human-to-human connection, even if it is just on the screen. Showing the people or causes behind your company is a compelling way to differentiate yourself from your competition.
What are your favorite ways to use video content? Tell us in the comments! photo credit
You’ve probably watched more than your share of video content on the Web. What is it that keeps you coming back for more? We’re not talking about the endless array of cat videos on YouTube, though we’ve laughed at our share of those, too. We’re talking about videos that tell a story, share an experience or explain a new product.
Because of the way Google and YouTube measure traffic for video, (the viewer has to watch for eight seconds to be considered as one view); you must grab attention quickly, then continue to deliver compelling, watchable content.
Follow these tips on how to create compelling video content that will have your audience watching and engaging with you and your business.
Understand your key message(s) before filming. Break up information into bite size pieces and deliver it in a fresh and relatable way. Whether you’re delivering straight to camera in a “video diary” format, or creating something more complex, the audience should walk away knowing exactly what you were trying to say or show.
Add music for enhanced impact. Music can be an engaging addition to your video, and can help add an emotional appeal to your message. Websites like audiojungle.com allow users to search and purchase music affordably for video.
Vary the view. Secondary footage, B-roll or even photos can really help keep your audience’s attention. Software like iMovie or Celtx allows even those with basic editing skills to storyboard a script ahead of time, so that it’s easy to “drop” images or footage into your video.
Tell a story. Storytelling is a powerful tool in video. Know your audience well, and tell them a story that specifically relates to their interests and needs.
Categorize information. Think in terms of main categories or “buckets” when planning your overall content strategy for video. Categories might include:
About videos, which convey who you are as a company or as individuals (e.g. a profile on an employee who has been with the company for over 25 years)
Demonstration videos, which showcase a product or service (e.g. a 30 second overview of how a new machine works)
Education videos, which teach viewers a new skill related to your industry or niche (e.g. a garden center would explain how to get a perfect lawn)
Testimonial videos, which would highlight great reviews or stories about your business from actual customers or clients (e.g. a happy family who has benefitted from your services)
Include a promise or a benefit for your viewers, and then show how you deliver. For example, in a short video about excellent customer service, show how one of your agents went the extra mile for a customer.
Keep it short! 15-30 seconds is plenty of time to deliver short information or snippets, 60-90 seconds can show a product in a new and interesting way, and three minutes is the perfect length to tell a story in a “mini-documentary” style. This is the Web, after all, so think in terms of easy-to-view, shareable content that anyone could watch during a lunch break or quick free moment.
Create a series. If viewers liked the first video, they will come back for more. A series is a great way to create repeat traffic, as well as unique traffic from sources that have linked to your original video. Blendtec has been remarkably successful on YouTube for their “Will it Blend” series, which is widely considered one of the first uses of video content marketing on the Web.
Use strong Calls to Action. Your content is great…but make sure it compels viewers to act. Whether you simply want them to view a unique landing page on your site, ask them to do so, both at the end of your video and in the description below (if hosting the video on YouTube).
So there you have it, folks…your recipe to video content greatness. We’d love to see your examples of your favorite videos…send us a link in the comments!
But even deeper than the statistics is the fact that video can be an incredibly powerful–and even affordable–way to add yet another poignant touchpoint to your customers’ experience with your business and brand online.
Here are a few reasons to consider video for your business.
1. Easily Consumable Information
Many people report preferring to watch video rather than reading text, and data shows that when video is present, visitors spend more time on page than if there’s simply copy. Even more importantly, businesses can give a lot of information in a very short amount of time, which can:
Save time overall
Shorten a learning curve
Make better use of your staff’s time
For example, using video as a part of the sales process to demo a product or service not only saves time in verbally explaining a process, it allows your sales team to spend more time on building relationships.
2. Content Over “Quality”
Truly, there is no medium that favors the right kind of content over the quality of the production like video. Most YouTube videos, in fact, are taken with phones or point and shoot cameras. Even more interestingly, the top 100 YouTube channels feature mostly individual users–not brands–who typically don’t have huge budgets to produce video.
But they “win” by producing great content that’s relatable. The lesson? Even if you don’t have a Red Bull sized budget for video content marketing, you can do video content marketing.
3. Easy Multiple Device Viewing
We throw around the term “responsive design” a lot, to mean that websites need to be able to be viewed easily on multiple devices. Video is a great responsive tool that is consumable on mobile, tablets, laptops and desktops. Plus, with consumers using mobile devices more than ever to access the Web, forget them scrolling through endless amounts of text on a page to learn more about you.
4. Multiple Touchpoints for Conversion
Each video is an opportunity to extend a conversation with a viewer or customer, either through a Call to Action at the end of the video, links to landing pages a video’s description, or annotations in the video itself on YouTube. Other e-commerce video platforms, like Cinematique, allow viewers to buy a product directly from the video in which its being demonstrated.
Videos can be linked to or embedded in multiple places on multiple platforms, allowing you to reach your consumers where they are, and when they want to consume information. Each view is a touchpoint about your brand, service or product, and helps to build the overall experience with your company.
5. Enhanced Search Opportunities
Google really likes video, and makes it easier than ever for companies to rank higher in search with well-optimized titles, tags and descriptions. Video appears in around 70% of the top Google listings, and provides a more visual search experience for your customers when you choose compelling thumbnail images.
Video isn’t going anywhere, and, in fact, is being adopted more and more by companies as consumers demand more easily consumable custom content. And with studies showing numbers like a 70% bump in email click through rates when video is used, or a 44% increase in conversions when a product is demonstrated on video, it is a savvy investment for small to mid-sized businesses.
And the investment is really the main reason to use video in your business; it’s one of the most effective ways to easily “play with the big boys.” Everyone has a decent video camera these days, and even without a giant budget, businesses can use a little creativity and a little time to create a better overall experience for customers.
I don’t know about you, but my mind instantly jumps to the tacky car salesman willing to sell you a lemon at any cost. Chances are, you can spot them ‑ and their sordid tales ‑ a mile away.
So when it comes to sales of any kind ‑ and standing out among the crowd ‑ it’s important to build a reputation for quality and results. No pitching. No sleazy tactics.
Case studies are absolutely the way to get there. You’ve heard it before, I’m sure. But bear with me a minute.
Let’s say a client comes to you with a problem that they need a partner to help them solve. What could be more effective than to show the client ‑ in a very real and visible way ‑ the amazing results you have gotten for another client in a similar project? No need to be sales-y (or sleazy), just let your results do the talking for you.
It takes effort, sure, but isn’t your reputation worth it? Consider it the difference between real-life results and just smoke and mirrors.
Take a look at one of TKG’s own SEO case studies. One of our clients, Combi, turned to us with the goal of increasing the number of leads and conversions on their website. We went to work and were able to exceed their expectations.
Here’s how their results look in a graphic from our case study:
Seeing that TKG was able to obtain a 74% increase in leads is impressive no matter how you cut it.
If you are a business similarly looking to increase your leads and we whip out this graphic and tell you about this client’s story of success, doesn’t that say it all? In a very real way, you know nearly everything you need to know about us, most importantly that we know how to get results. Sign me up.
It’s a win-win. You put the focus on results while showcasing your clients and drastically improving your business. From there, it’s up to you to follow through and make sure the promised results come to fruition.
After all, maybe you could use them in your next case study.
You’re busy trying to wrap up the year before things slow to a crawl around Christmas and the New Year, your forgot to keep up with your content calendar (uh oh!), and maybe the last thing on your mind is creating custom content for your audience.
But your audience is still watching, they’re still somewhere in your sales cycle, and, like more than 80% of other shoppers, demand custom content from brands and business in order to help them make a buying decision.
So here are 3 quick and easy last minute holiday content ideas (NOT to be confused with “throwaway ideas”…you know, content for content’s sake) to bulk up your content for the holiday season…and who knows? You might connect with your audience in a way you haven’t before.
1. A Holiday Story or Secret
The holidays can be full of heartwarming memories for people, but they can also be really tough for others. So relate to your audience and tell us about a time you thought your company might not make it through the holiday season, or the way your company helped out an employee in need, or a holiday tradition your business observes every year.
Or, just for fun, give away a secret about your product or service, and call it a “Christmas miracle.” Put your heart into it, and don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable.
2. Relieve a Little Holiday Stress
Give a tip or helpful trick to help your audience every day the rest of this month until the New Year. For example, if you own a property management company, share tips for renters on how they can stay safe on your property, decorate quickly and easily in a small space, or avoid damage from dry Christmas trees.
3. Share Your Audience’s Content
Have any great crafters who have used your product in their projects? A food a few of your foodie followers have turned into a holiday feast? A customer who was blown away by your cheerful service during this mad holiday rush? Have them put together a photo, video or even short description for you, share it on your Facebook page or blog and throw a little credit their way.
And there you have it! 3 quick and easy last minute holiday content ideas for you and your business.
If you’ve used one of these ideas in the past, or have a creative way to engage your audience during the holidays, tell me in the comments below!
Not long ago Gmail introduced a new tabbed inbox design that automatically organizes email into 5 categories. This announcement was met with fear from email marketers. We expressed our apprehension back in July. With emails skipping the inbox there was a big concern that open rates would plummet and email marketing would loose value. Soon I began seeing special messages and even whole campaigns with instructions to get emails into my primary inbox. I understand the intention here: now that most of the advertisements I receive are grouped together in the Promotions tab it is much easier for me to ignore them.
All is not lost
I also see a big upside: the tabs automatically give context to my emails. With a traditional single inbox space is very valuable. As a result ads and other emails that were interesting but less important were quickly deleted to keep my inbox under control. But now there is a place for those messages to collect. They can wait in the promotions tab until I’m thinking about buying.
Think of it like the newspaper, particularly a big Sunday paper. Space on the front page is really valuable and when you are looking there you want information. But there is also a whole stack of ads and coupons in the middle. And when you are thinking about going shopping you know exactly where to find the offers.
The promotions tab is like the ads section. When I open it up I’m on the lookout for offers and deals that are interesting. I may even keep messages there for a few days (sometimes weeks) until I’m ready to buy. Instead of hastily deleting messages out of my inbox I’m able to get to the ads when I need them.
So, what does this mean for your emails?
The important part: how does this impact your marketing emails? I have a couple suggestions:
Focus on the subject line and first line of the email to overcome the first hurdle of being opened.
Have a clear, easy to understand message in your email. Once your email is opened, make sure it is simple and interesting.
Don’t focus on tricking the system. Put your effort into crafting good messages with compelling subject lines instead of working to avoid the Promotions tab.
Are you using the Gmail tabs in your inbox? Has it changed how you interact with emails from marketers?
As we thunder toward the end of 2013, I’m sure many of you are already planning for 2014. If you’ve been paying any attention at all to this blog, you’ll know we preach about “content” all the time.
Maybe you’re already doing a fair amount of content marketing, or maybe you’re looking to dip your toe into the water a bit more.
And maybe you’re a “do-it-yourself” type…so to that end, here are some great videos all about Content Marketing that can give you a great start or tutorial on your strategy, execution, and ideation.
Without further ado, here are 6 Great Content Marketing Video How Tos (and you’ll notice many of these videos are working as content pieces for the companies or individuals creating them. Smart!)
What is Content Marketing? (InteractMedia)
Still confused about what Content Marketing is to begin with and how it can work for your business? This quick video answers that very question. It’s basic, but gives a nice picture of just how content can work for your website or business. View the video here.
Content Marketing Advice and Tips on Strategy (Koozai)
James offers a quick overview of how to expand your content strategy and gives great tips on how to build a strategy, research your audience and execute tactics…all with a healthy emphasis on how content does wonders for your SEO. View the video here.
How to Build and Operate a Content Marketing Machine (Marketo)
I’ve actually sat in on a Content Marketing webinar from Marketo, and they’re chock full of GREAT information. This video is a little longer (about an hour), and you’ll get a sales pitch at the end, but the content throughout is really fantastic. Take a listen and a look when you can. Their slides offer a great visual layer to the entire presentation. View the video here.
Content Marketing: How Marketing Experiments Increased Blog Traffic by 232% (Marketing Sherpa)
This video is another webinar (so be ready for the hard sell at the end), but shows a great case study of how content marketing helps one business and increased traffic. It focuses a lot on listener/viewer questions, so there’s a lot of applicable information. View the video here.
Content Marketing and the Power of Story (Content Marketing World)
If you ever want to see me get dramatic (well, more than normal), ask me to tell you about the power of stories for your business (hmmm, I smell a blog post…). In the meantime, take a peek at this great video from Content Marketing World all about how stories can shape your brand and bring you customers. View the video here.
Content 2020 (Coca-Cola)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared this video. It’s a great testament in and of itself how beautiful content can be compelling and engaging. It’s specifically related to Coca-cola’s own internal content marketing strategy and can give you and your business some great (liquid and linked) ideas. View the video here.
I know it’s been awhile since Content Marketing World, but I’m still on a high from it. I learned so much, and it reinforced so much that I simply knew to be true in my gut about how we need to market websites and write content for them.
One of my biggest takeaways was the importance of using your content to tell a story, be helpful and make your audience feel something. I think B2B marketers get a little confused about things like “make them feel” because when you sell packaging equipment or TPE or whatever it is you sell, you aren’t typically aiming to make someone feel emotional about your product. For example, Hallmark is supposed to make you cry… but maybe not bearings, or whatever it is that you offer.
But feel can mean a lot of things. For example, at TKG we want you to feel that we care about our clients and our industry, and each other. We don’t do this by making sappy commercials, but instead by writing about things we’re passionate about on our blog, and sharing other things we care about through our various social channels like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Your business can do this too, you just have to figure out what you care about and what your audience cares about… and then marry them together in a way that’s helpful.
Here are 3 things I’ve seen lately that might get your creative ideas flowing, even if they don’t quite fit what your business does. Whether on purpose or by accident, the content marketers behind these videos have definitely found a way to make you feel something, answered your questions or been helpful to some segment of their audience in one way or another.
1. Legos aren’t just for stepping on and cursing your kid. Oh no, they are about building something important together, and it’s not just towers. (Click to play on YouTube)
2. Our Food, Your Questions – Be honest, we’ve all had hard questions about fast food… and I’m not saying these answers make it a good choice, but McDonald’s Canada chooses to be relatively transparent and lets customers ask hard questions. And, they answer them all., some by text, and some by video.
3. If you’ve even heard of Emerson, you definitely don’t think “awesome YouTube videos” but that’s exactly what they deliver. This company is really working hard to tell its story through a variety of videos that are helpful, informative and sometimes a little bit entertaining.