While I’m hopeful content marketers are working to extinguish the “content is king” nonsense from the vernacular, content is, nevertheless, important. It’s beneficial on our websites, in our outreach, in our presentations and in conversations, both online and offline. But if content is so important, why are we as content strategists and content marketers having such a hard time convincing prospects, clients and stakeholders of the need to provide quality content?
This question has eaten at me for months.
In the fitness and nutrition fields, the popular refrain is “If it’s important, do it every day.” It’s why I eat 200 grams of protein, foam roll and do mobility drills, at least, every single day. Doing so helps me feel better and move better.
With content, too, the results are no less beneficial: It helps start the conversation, making people aware of our products and services, then ultimately drawing them to our website where we hope to move them from interested to converted.
So why the disconnect?
I think it has roots in the exercise example I just made.
The real challenge is developing a mindset for content
We, as content marketers and strategists, have trained folks to see the value of content too narrowly. We school stakeholders on the need to conduct audits; the value of UX, including the role of a site’s speed; the need to generate consistent, compelling content by way of blogs, videos, infographics, slideshares; and we talk incessantly about how each piece of content needs a resonant voice, tone, style.
To us, this just makes good sense. But to the folks hearing it, the information results in them being overwhelmed by the enormous amount of content they need to produce and manage.
They’re seeing it all wrong because our messaging is too labored, obtuse, didactic.
With exercise and nutrition, I’ve found that adherence goes through the roof with the right mindset. When you make it clear to folks that every action (or inaction) they take throughout the day can be made to work toward their goals (e.g., adding a piece of fruit or a salad to their meal, taking the stairs, walking to lunch, standing up to stretch every 20 minutes if they are sedentary, etc.), they find it easier to stick to their goals and success. In this way, they come to see benefits all around instead of focusing on not being able to get to the gym or lacking the willpower to avoid the 2 p.m. candy bar.
It all comes together because they have the right mindset. It’s no different for content marketing, where the best performers, through honing the right mindset, enjoy outsized success by hiring the right people, creating a best-in-class process, and committing to deliver first-rate content.
Develop a content mindset
We must take the same approach. As I’ve discussed before, content isn’t any one specific thing; It’s everything, a fact I learned from content strategist Jonathon Colman during a recent Dallas Content Strategy Monthly Meetup. Instead of seeing content through the prism of words, design, UX, code or ads, we must embrace the vision of content as the entirety of the customer experience a business creates.
Thinking of content in this way carries innumerable benefits. Creating and producing content suddenly seems far less overwhelming, as stakeholders aren’t made to feel as though they have any one specific, daunting task to complete. Also, they now see opportunities all around them, where before they might have seen only work. What’s more, this approach encourages baby steps, allowing them to move at the pace their business allows, making adherence far more likely.
The right mindset in action
Years ago one of my favorite bloggers and SEOs, Matthew Barby, wrote a piece for Moz titled “Why Local Businesses Don’t Need Big Budgets For Their Content Marketing.” In it, he hammered home “Content is everything,” including staff, office design, products/services, values, customers and the like. As a content writer and strategist, I’m putting Colman’s words and Barby’s blog advice to good use when talking to prospects and clients about developing a content mindset.
Here are a four ideas I share often with clients that highlight the content mindset.
1 – Prioritize packaging.
The world already has too many boring package designs, so spare us another by delivering on the “promise” of your brand’s thematic statement. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope with a package design that is provocative and attention-grabbing. Remember, you can borrow ideas from other industries, then test it with customers before taking the plunge.
2 – Help customers become loyal brand ambassadors.
You shouldn’t have customers. You should focus on creating loyal ambassadors. Give them reason to talk about, write about and share your business with friends, through over-the-top service, meaningful interaction and infrequent surprises (e.g., birthday cards, back-to-school items for their kids, remembering a special date, etc.).
3 – Select a memorable, relevant logo.
With all the recent talk about YAHOO!’s new logo, many companies are evaluating theirs for weakness. Whether your logo needs sprucing up, or you’re in line for a new one, test it with customers and/or prospects first. Then ensure that it matches the overall theme of the business, making for a good fit with the industry and your place in it.
4 – Respect the selection of a strong tagline.
I too often see companies missing a great opportunity by not paying close attention to their tagline. It should be pithy, catchy and relevant, making it more likely customers will remember and talk about your business.
The right mindset makes a big difference.
The development of a content mindset pays huge dividends today and well into the future. For content writers, content strategists and content marketers, it keeps us from beating the same old drum; for businesses, it takes away any excuse you might have for not being able to create content.
What are your thoughts? Does your business recognize and embrace the value of having a content mindset?
1. Changing the Company Mindset About Content Marketing (or Anything Else): looks at effective ways of getting everyone at your business involved in recognizing the value of content marketing.
2. How To Scale Content Marketing: an in-depth look at how your business can continually grow its content marketing efforts over time.
(photo credit: david_a_l via photopin cc) and (photo credit: Ravages via photopin cc)