Category Archives: Content Marketing

3 Inspiring Creative Content Marketing Campaigns

Let’s be honest, content marketing can be hard. The Internet is a vast place, and it can be a challenge to come up with new, fresh and exciting content targeted to your audience at all points in the sales cycle on a regular basis. (It was exhausting just typing that.)

It’s enough to want to turn exclusively to posting cat memes for the lifespan of your business. At least you know people like cats.

The good news is, there has never been a greater time to really stretch those creative muscles and think outside the box when it comes to your content marketing efforts. Here are three campaigns to get you inspired for your next campaign.

1. Dumb Ways to Die

This campaign is, hands down, one of my favorites. Metro Trains took really important safety information that many commuters would typically miss on yet another boring old sign and gave it a creative twist.

This Melbourne, Australia train company wrapped up that important safety information in a (ridiculously catchy) song and (ridiculously addictive) mobile app. It’s clever, creative, and sure…just a little over the top. But millions of downloads and views later, this campaign is still going strong, and–according to some research (though some critics disagree)–even saving lives.

Of course, to truly be effective with this sort of information, Metro Trains couldn’t rely on just this one piece of content, but as far as simply starting the conversation…well, it has definitely accomplished that goal.

2. Our Food, Your Questions

Speaking of conversations, I think there’s a misconception that “content marketing” is a lonely, one-sided process where a company must constantly churn out information that gets gobbled up by an audience that’s never satisfied.

On the contrary, content marketing can be a two way conversation, with your audience coming up with the content for you.

Enter in McDonald’s Canada with their campaign, “Our Food, Your Questions,” where they bravely (seriously…BRAVELY) answer each of the 300-400 questions they receive every day through their dedicated website.

Our Food Your Questions

The brilliance of this campaign is that they’re allowing the audience to dictate the flow of the conversation. AND they’re not afraid to tackle the hard questions, either, lending even more weight to their willingness to be open and transparent with their audience…which is always a great way to carry on a genuine conversation.

3. Three Words: Van Damme Splits

If you haven’t witnessed the visual sensation that is Jean-Claude Van Damme gracefully performing the splits between two giant Volvo semi trucks to the soothing sounds of Enya, then you must, immediately. Go. I’ll wait.

Here’s the deal…not everyone has the budget to produce a video of that quality. But the real lesson here is, “How can I show one of the key selling points of my business, product or service in a new and unique way?” While the sensational part of the video is of course, Van Damme doing the splits, the bigger message is, “Yep, our trucks make even this craziness possible.”

What campaigns do you love? What inspires you to be creative with your content?

5 Ways Businesses Are Using Creative Content to Increase Engagement

If you are a business on social media, chances are you are always looking for new ways to boost engagement. When you want to increase your likes, shares and comments without increasing your social media budget, your best bet is to develop creative and unexpected content.

Here are five ways that successful brands have leveraged creative content to increase customer engagement:

  1. Dove tugs on your heartstrings – The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty utilizes creative advertising strategies like the ultra-popular Real Beauty Sketches video to change women’s perceptions of beauty.These viral marketing tactics are more than just shallow ploys for likes and shares. Dove delivers sharable content that shows a profound understanding of its target audience.
  2. Lays wants to know what you think – The original Lays Do Us a Flavor contest was one of the most successful and recognizable examples of user-generated content in social media history. The contest asked users to invent new potato chip flavors and vote to keep to best flavors around.Although the Do Us a Flavor campaign was great at generating engagement, the caveat to user-generated content is that it typically requires a pretty hefty incentive for participation (In this case, a $1 million cash prize).
  3. Coca-Cola stops you in your tracks – The Coca-Cola Happiness Machine surprises customers with free drinks and other unexpected gifts. This unique vending machine forces customers to stop what they are doing and share some happiness with the people around them.Coca-Cola brilliantly uses hidden cameras to document these happiness exchanges and publishes the videos on YouTube. These videos help spread Coca-Cola happiness and engagement in the social space.
  4. Arby’s and Oreo watch what you watch – Real-time content creation helps users see brands as more relevant members of their social communities. Who can forget the Oreo dunk in the dark tweet, or Arby’s genius response to Pharrell’s hat at the 2014 Grammy’s?The catch with real time marketing is that you should only interact during events that make sense for your brand; otherwise you might end up confusing your audience.
  5. Taco Bell has a life of its own – When brands have strong personalities on social media; they are able to build lasting relationships with their target audience. Taco bell knows that it is a fast-food restaurant and its audience is not super interested in gluten or calorie counting. It embraces this persona and runs with it in all of its communication.A little personification can go a long way in developing brand loyalty. Customers and social media users want brands to post content they can relate to, and Taco Bell totally nails it.

Social media users won’t engage with content just because a brand follows best practice guidelines. Users want to engage with brands that understand them, and produce content that makes them feel something. Creative content is a quick and effective way to boost engagement, as long as you do it in a way that makes sense for your brand.

Don’t Overlook Great Content in your Website Plans

content_highlighted credit HubSpotSo you are setting out to build your new website or really ramp up your web marketing efforts. What about the content?

At the end of the day, it’s not all about how great the site looks (though, of course, that is great) but it’s more about what the site says and how it says it that equates to online success.

Content writing is an art. Trust me, as I attempt to craft this blog post, I realize that it is a skill that I do not possess. However, we have that talent at TKG in spades – and they tell me it’s like a fine wine that takes practice to perfect.

Simply put, content writing sounds much easier to do than the execution of it can be.

Often, our clients aren’t able to create their own content in-house. Or they start off thinking they can, but end up with material that isn’t well-written or strategized – and that leads us back to pretty websites that don’t produce.

Even worse is what happens when desperate folks think they can grab content from another online source or supplier with the same info. But what happens is this creates duplicate content – a big no-no in the online marketing world.

Not only is it unethical, it often does not read well or suit your audience. And even worse, the Google gods will frown upon you and blow your site off the rankings radar for just about everything. No one wants that.

So what to do? Find a partner (like TKG) that has an awesome copy writing staff in house. Our staff will get to know you and your business and work toward how to best showcase you in the digital space. All while knowing the right way to say it.

You will always know your business the best. It is a pro copywriter’s job to interview and learn your business and the voice you wish to present to your customers online. They will take the pressure off you to create the all of the powerful content that your website and your online web marketing strategy cannot live without! And don’t forget the added benefit of knowing that the content created is original and optimized to specifically target your audience and online goals.

So my advice it to save those content writing skills for thank you notes or a letter to your mom (she’ll appreciate that!). Leave the copy writing to the pros. Your online presence will thank you for it!

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Epic Content Marketing: 5 Key Elements You Need to Know

joe pulizziI mentioned a few weeks ago the privilege I had to hear Joe Pulizzi speak at the Interaction Marketing Summit hosted by The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron. Pulizzi’s approach toward outcome merited its own blog post, but I wouldn’t ever want to discount the epic message that he conveyed during the event.

So if you have a website, you have content. But what exactly is that content doing? Is it sitting stagnant? Is it fodder for your next Facebook post? According to Pulizzi, 90% of all companies are doing some form of content marketing, but sadly only 40% believe that their content is successful. And let’s face it, at least 10% of those people are painfully optimistic (but that’s my own deduction).

So how DO you become a successful content marketer? According to Pulizzi, if you follow these five key elements, you will be on your way to successful content marketing.

  1. Sales, Savings & Sunshine – This is the WHY question that should be applied to your content strategy. Just because everyone else has a Facebook page doesn’t make it the best platform for your business. So as you are generating your content and pushing it out, be sure to ask WHY. Does your eNewsletter initiate sales, savings or sunshine?
    • Sales – content that generates revenue
    • Savings – content that saves money
    • Sunshine – content that makes your customers feel good
  2. Create a Content Marketing Mission Statement – Does your business have a mission statement? Are you living up to that mission? Are your content efforts supporting your mission?
    • Audience – Establish your core target audience and know your niche.
    • Delivery – What will your message deliver? Does it have a purpose?
    • Outcome – Add an outcome column to your content strategy. What is the outcome for the audience?
  3. Don’t Build Your Content Ship on Rented Land – Yep, we’re talking about Facebook (mostly). We’ve all seen our Facebook engagement drop over the past few months. But don’t turn Facebook into your content marketing scapegoat.
    • Customer Data – Know your customer base. Collect customer data, work with your IT department and learn how to gather that customer data that is so valuable to your content message.
    • Focus on your subscribers – What is the difference between those who subscribe to your eNewsletters and your one-off customers?
  4. Leverage Influencers and then Build an Audience – This doesn’t mean hire the mayor for your next car dealership commercial, but if the mayor buys a car from your lot, talk about it, tweet about it, blog about it. If you own a local business, don’t be afraid to tweet to local celebrities, a simple Retweet or Mention can lead to a big boost in followers and can help to spread your message.
    • Make a list – Find 5-10 influencers to target and find ways to incorporate them into your content strategy.
    • It isn’t all about YOU – We find this far too often with social media. Sure, your product or service is awesome and you want to shout it from the rooftop – but try to follow the 4:1:1 rule. Simply put, the rule means that for every one self-promoting tweet, blog post or status update, you should share four new pieces of content and one re-share.
  5. Open Up Your Wallet – This one kind of gave me shivers when I first saw it, but I get it.
    • Pay to Play - As much as we scoff at the idea of boosting our Facebook post just so people who ALREADY like our page can see it, pay to play is becoming the new normal. And do you know what? It’s working. People who pay to boost their posts are getting more engagement when they pay to play, even within their existing audience.
    • Build vs. Buy – Are you looking to expand your market? Before you start from scratch, consider a buy-out. Acquisitions are becoming more popular for brand expansion, even on the local level.

So this was a lot of information, right? Before you dive in head first and wind up flailing around calling for a life preserver, consider starting out slowly. Take one or two of these ideas and perfect them. It might take a few months, it might take a year. Once you have those tactics perfected, add another and another, until your content is truly epic.

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Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines Tip: Develop Supplementary Content

google-quality-rating-guidelinesIn early July, Version 5.0 of Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines was leaked. The document is intended for 3rd party agencies hired by Google to rate the quality of search results. Accordingly, while it does not directly answer the million dollar question of, “Why does [insert competitor] rank higher than my company in search results?” it does provide some helpful insights on the best practices search engines look for when determining which websites to display in their results.

The link above goes to the full 160 page document on that requires a fee to view the entire document. Fortunately for you, members of the SEO community have shelled out the cash, read the entire document, and provided their own interpretations on the guidelines so you can get right to the good stuff at no charge!

One of the first blogs to provide a summary is Their article Google Rewrites Quality Rating Guide – What SEOs Need to Know covers quite a bit of ground. One area of particular interest I’d like to highlight relates to supplementary content:

While previously the quality rater’s guide focused on the main content of the page, with only a brief mention of supplementary content, now there is a new emphasis on not only supplementary content, but types of supplementary content as well. Gone are the days where you can have a high quality page with just navigation for the supplementary content.

The important takeaway here is the need to develop content-rich information hub pages on your website that contain helpful links to other related content on your site. For example, after you develop a general product page to describe your amazing widget, you need to support that page with links to related content such as:

  • A case study of a customer who used the widget and describes how great it is
  • A video gallery showing the widget in action
  • A calculator showing how much money can be saved by using the widget
  • Accessories to customize the widget for various business needs
  • Related widgets you offer that might be of interest to your prospects
  • Blog articles about the widget
  • Contact a sales rep to ask questions and purchase

By producing good supplementary content on your website, you will increase the depth of content and the time on site spent by your visitors. This will result in your prospects having the meaningful information they need to make informed decisions to work with your business!

Want ideas about the kinds of supplementary content you can develop for your website? Leave a comment below describing your product or service.

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Why you need a case study (the answer may surprise you!)

you need a case studyI’ve been working with a few clients recently that were having a difficult time figuring out what to add to their websites.

They each had good descriptions of their products and the services they offered, but were hoping to get even more out of their website. New content is a great way to build up a site, but sometimes it isn’t easy to develop and execute new ideas.

This is where I often recommend adding a case study.

As a very simple introduction, a case study should include these four elements:

  1. Background: This is your chance to setup the story and explain what is going on
  2. Problem: Explain what is causing the pain. Often the problem is that something is broken or because it doesn’t work well enough in the situation (which you have explained in the background)
  3. Solution: This step allows you to show how your product or service addressed the problem.
  4. Impact: It all comes together in this step. This is your opportunity to really sell the value of solving a problem with your solution

One of the key elements to note about a case study from an online marketing perspective is that it gives you a chance to talk about the problem.

Why is that a good thing? Because many times potential customers may not have any idea that your solution exists. So instead of searching for things that you sell, they are looking online for information about the problem they have. Search engines are pretty amazing, but they still have a hard time matching a search for a problem with a solution.

This is where case studies come in to play. A good case study will connect the dots from the problem someone else is experiencing to the solution you have to offer.

Interested in adding a couple case studies to your site? Check out our post on the 5 Things you Need to Know when writing a business case study. Or, even better, contact TKG to see how we can help with your specific needs.

Are You a Brand Journalist?

brand journalist

A shopping cart full of Shearer Perfection!

It was me.

It’s true; I was that crazy lady snapping pictures of her shopping cart at the grocery store this weekend. And of the nice endcap display. And, umm, I may have taken a few of some random guy’s cart.

Yeah, that too.

Don’t judge. It was all in the name of good content.

It’s no secret that brands and marketers everywhere continue to scramble to figure out what good content is and how they can create and incorporate it into all of their platforms.

Everyone knows that content is king (if you haven’t heard that, you’ve likely been living under a rock!). But what a lot of people don’t realize is that good content isn’t this crazy, hard-to-obtain thing. Good content is everywhere, and the simplest things are often the best.

The key to finding that perfectly on-target content is to just live it. Rather than try to dream up an idea that will make people everywhere swoon to ‘like’ your content, try coming by it naturally. If you know your product and audience, you shouldn’t have to reach too far.

The trick comes in mobilizing your staff to become brand journalists of sorts, and able to report what they see in real time.

In social media, it’s the difference between your company telling people that it is awesome vs. someone else relating to other why your company is so awesome. It kinda inches up the credibility a notch.

At TKG, we often become brand journalists for our clients, taking every opportunity to take notes and snap pictures when we see the product or service of one of our clients in the real world. Essentially, we become another set of eyes that can capture stories as they are happening.

And yes, sometimes that happens at the grocery store, like it did for me last weekend. Shearer’s Potato Chips is a TKG client, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to snap a few pics for them of some perfectly placed Shearer’s chips in the cart in front of me. Or the wild riceworks that just so happened to jump in my cart (side note: you have to try them, they are amazingly delicious and addictive).

People connect with brands through social channels when they can see their lives in it. Good content is relatable, relevant and personal. And in the ever-evolving world of news, it’s important for brands to be able to tell their own story.

Is your brand telling the story of your business? Is your staff mobilized to spot good stories that should be shared? Are you sharing them in a consistent and well strategized way? We’d love to hear how brand journalism is working for you.

4 Reasons Why Your Content Should Be Helpful (and Not Try for a Sale)

These days, consumers are better than ever at tuning out promotional messages. Ad-averse customers DVR their favorite shows and fast-forward through commercials, they flip past the first few pages in their magazines, and they avoid the banners on their computer, tablet and mobile screens.

ContentIn order to cut through the noise and reach your target audience, it’s important to offer relevant content with real value. Here are a few reasons your content should be helpful, and not try for a sale:

  1. You’ll reach your audience – Your audience won’t tune you out if your messages are rich with relevant content and not overly promotional.
  2. Users will engage with your content – If users like your content, they will reward you with follows, shares, retweets and comments.
  3. Valuable content helps build credibility and brand equity – Consumers respond to brands they can relate to. If they feel like your brand offers real value, they will trust you and become your advocates.
  4. Your audience will seek you out – Your audience will check up on your website and social channels to see what you post next. Your brand will be a valuable voice in their ear, and they will come back to you over and over again.

Customers want as much information as they can get before they buy, but they are immediately turned off by sales pitches and branded messaging. Your content should incorporate valuable information like customer reviews, frequently asked questions and third-party articles, without pressuring them to buy. Trust us – your audience will reward you for your top-notch content.


Big Epic Outcome

Last week I attended the Interactive Marketing Summit which was held at The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron. The theme for the event was Big Epic Experts and we were presented with just that – three amazing presentations given by super heroes in the marketing world. These three presentations left me with five pages of notes, multiple links to refer back to, two new books to add to my reading list, and a possible case of carpel tunnel from trying to capture rich snippets of information turned tweet.

PulizziTweetWhen I attend any kind of seminar, conference or industry-type event I have one goal, bring back one good piece of information that I can implement into my work or life. One; that’s all I expect. Sure, my notebook is filled with five pages of really great notes. Each of the presentations provided me enough ammo for at least three blog posts, two of which I started and stopped because I kept coming back to this one tiny snippet; actually, one word: Outcome.

The word came out of the Content Marketing Institute founder, Joe Pulizzi’s presentation on Epic Content Marketing: 5 Key Elements You need to Know. While outcome was just a sub-bullet from an overarching key element, it really stuck with me.

Epic ContentAs we develop our content, no matter the medium, we should always include a column for outcome—specifically the outcome for our audience. In each email, blog post, video, tweet, banner, you name it— what is the expected outcome for the customer? Populate this column in your marketing plan, add it to your checklist, make it a part of your strategy. Developing this mindset will bring you closer to your customers and will provide you with a better understanding of what your customers expect from you.

I challenge each of you to add an outcome column as you craft your next message. Measure the success of your campaign based on your audience engagement, was the outcome what you expected?

What Is High Quality Content?

If you ever peruse this blog or other sources that talk about digital marketing, you’ve probably read the term, “high quality content.”

High Quality ContentGoogle Panda helps the search engine identify sites with “high quality content,” Facebook implements update after update in the pursuit of filling user news feeds with “high quality content,” and web-trepreneurs insist they make the big bucks by only posting “high quality content.”

But if you’re new to content, or have just started posting in earnest to Facebook, or even if you’ve had an established presence in top Google rankings but have recently seen your site take a nose dive, “high quality content” can seem an elusive thing.

Never fear. Anyone can produce high quality content. Here’s how:

1. Make it Original

No, seriously. The Internet is a big, vast noisy place. The only thing you have that is truly unique is your voice, the things that make you or your brand different from the competition.

We’ve talked many times about how Google’s algorithm is becoming sophisticated enough to value original content, so it’s important for search engines AND engagement.

Original content can be tough, though. It’s not as if your business doesn’t have some of the same things to say as another business. If you provide automotive services, you likely have roughly the same tips for checking car oil as the automotive business down the street.

But think through how you can present the information differently, from your specific point of view. Maybe you plan a short video of one of your technicians checking oil, or maybe you work with a local designer to produce a colorful infographic.

As our good friend Dr. Seuss says, “there is no one alive who is youer than you.” So take a minute to think how you can put your own spin on your content.

2. Beware Shortcuts

Facebook recently announced that it will be de-valuing stories from third party apps and automatic posts. For example, if you check into your business on 4Square, and set it to automatically post to Facebook, that Facebook story will only be served to a few people.

This move is due to Facebook’s march toward getting users–especially businesses–to create unique, high quality content right on and through the platform. It wants individuals to be able to find the best content right within the platform without going anywhere else, so it’s placing higher emphasis on, you’ve got it, original content.

Google put the kibash on duplicate content a while ago, and many platforms are following suit. So shortcuts are nice in theory, but actually work against that whole “high quality content” thing.

3. Make it Shareable…without being Overt

I’ve talked several times about the importance of good Calls to Action to get people to click, Like or Share your content. But algorithms on several platforms, including Facebook, are getting wise to “link bait” types of Calls to Action.

For example, you’ve likely seen the Facebook posts that ask you to “Like if blue is your favorite color, Share if red is.” This tactic used to work well on the platform, but Facebook is also devaluing these posts in the news feed.

That means that your content has to compel people to share or Like it simply by virtue of being worthy of being shared.

It’s not as if you can’t use Calls to Action to help the content along, but you might have to be more sophisticated in your approach. And you really have to take the time to know and understand your audience. What content do they consistently interact with? Which questions to they ask frequently?

While it may take more time to craft content that fulfills this criteria, take heart. Algorithms are getting better and better at recognizing the brands that take the time to craft this type of content.

And audiences are getting better and better at recognizing content that feels “spammy” vs. content that is truly useful, entertaining or educational to them. The next big question is, how will you deliver this kind of content to them consistently?