Category Archives: Content Marketing

Landmark Books to Inspire Your Leadership, Marketing & Planning for the Future

While I am an avid reader of a number of leadership, marketing and social media blogs, many of which are listed in my blog roll on my www.lisadanielpour.com home page, I also squeeze in time to read the latest books that I think will be pivotal to informing my thinking about the future. These are three recent reads that inspired my business planning and marketing strategy that I wanted to share.

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype by Jay Baer
youtility-bookThis short book is a must read for re-thinking how you market and communicate with your current and potential customers, members, or constituents. The reality is we live in a very crowded marketplace with thousands of brands and organizations swamping our favorite social media sites, email in boxes, and every other route possible to our eyes and ears. Whether you are a company marketing a product or service, a consultant or other professional seeking clients, or a nonprofit trying to engage potential donors and volunteers, how do you stand out from all that noise?

Youtility gives you that path through providing absolutely usefulness and value to whatever kind of consumer you want to attract, reflecting your understanding of their wants and needs and ability to deliver solutions to their problems. As Jay Baer puts it best, “Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.”

I found Baer’s book invaluable in taking the concept of content marketing to the next level to thinking about how can I best help the audiences I am trying to reach so that the content and information I provide is compelling and really meets their needs. This is what sets you apart from the crowd. What will make the difference for your customers, so that you are truly helping them while reinforcing your brand and messages? Throughout the book, Baer provides creative, pragmatic examples of how different kinds of organizations from small to large are using Youtility to engage and help their audiences and what their process and results have been.

“If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.” -Jay Baer

He walks you through a six-step process he recommends for building Youtility into your business after examining three key traditional approaches to building awareness for organizations and how the marketplace is completely changing. I highly recommend this quick read for anyone concerned about marketing or branding your organization or products/services for the future. Jay Baer is a marketing and social media expert and author of the popular Convince & Convert blog which I also recommend reading regularly.

 

Impact EquationThe Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

If you are planning to launch a new business, product, or service, this book is a great guide to help you map out your vision and pragmatic path to success. Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, successful entrepreneurs and social business leaders, share their experiences and formula for success based on the acronym IMPACT = C x (R + E+ A + T + E). The CREATE acronym stands for the attributes needed to create your impact that the authors walks you through step by step: Contrast, Reach, Exposure, Articulation, Trust, and Echo.

The Impact Equation provides the wisdom and insights Brogan and Smith have gleaned from their successes and working with their many clients. The attributes are grouped into four sections that give you guiding principles – goals, ideas, platform, and human element. The authors weave in many examples of how different entrepreneurs and organizations use these techniques and aspects to literally “create” their success.

While you’re reading the book it might prove useful to set up a simple chart or spreadsheet listing the attributes and jot notes about how you currently are or might plan to handle each aspect for your business, product or service. I read it right before launching my startup Gooseling’s first children’s app Cavity Dragons and found it very useful for checking whether we’d thought sufficiently through our vision and plan for both our business and the app.

Both Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have blogs and email newsletters (you can sign up for their newsletters on their respective web sites) that are great reads as well.

Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Ekaterina Walter
ThinkLikeZuck-bookThis book justifiably received a great deal of business buzz for delving thoughtfully into what made facebook and in particular Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership style so successful. But this quick read also explores other renowned business success stories in the framework of the five principles author Ekaterina Walter identifies as key to that success – passion, purpose, people, product, and partnerships. I’ve followed and admired Ekaterina Walter for several years, she was a social media leader at Intel until co-founding the branding/marketing firm Branderati.

“Passion + Action = Results” – Ekaterina Walter

Walter offers an intriguing inside look at the launch and evolution of facebook as a business as well as its impact on our lives and how Mark Zuckerberg’s strengths and challenges played a role in each stage of development. While Walter discusses the ingenuity and success stories of a variety of entrepreneurs (e.g. TOMS, CollegeHumor, Threadless, and Dyson), she also explores the vital role intrapreneurs play in organizations and shares examples. David Armano, Executive Vice President of Edelman Digital, defined intrapreneurs as “someone who has an entrepreneurial streak in his or her DNA, but chooses to align his or her talents with a large organization in place of creating his or her own.”

As Walter says, “Organizations small and large need intrapreneurs. In an era of constant change, not one single company can afford complacency. True disruption happens when entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well within an organization. And that spirit is cultivated and spread by intrapreneurs–those on the forefront of change, those passionate enough to activate the principles discussed in this book within their own organization.”

Ekaterina Walter also has a must-read blog and writes regularly for Forbes, Fast Company, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur.

8 Ways to Develop Facebook Content that Drives Engagement and Sharing

As the largest social media site, facebook can be an ideal platform for building community, engaging people, and promoting what is unique and different about your organization, products, and services. Sharing compelling stories and entertaining posts on facebook reinforce your organization’s messaging and brand.

To make the best use of your time and resources, it is important to think through your goals for your organization’s facebook presence, such as increasing sales; driving attendance at events, attracting new members/donors, and providing customer service. What kind of people do you plan to reach and what are their needs and interests?

The temptation is to focus on the number of “likes” you get on your facebook page, and it’s true that having a good sized community to communicate with matters. But once people “like” your facebook page, they usually will not come back to it. The value of each “like” is that your postings will show up in your fans’ individual news feeds, so that when they go to facebook they see your messages along with what their friends and family are doing and postings from other facebook pages they have liked. But that value is meaningless if people don’t pay attention or respond to what you post.

shadows of two hands reaching for each other over background of stonesEngagement and sharing is your mission. Ideally what you are posting so interests your facebook fans that they “like” or comment on your individual messages, but the real nirvana is when they share them with their facebook friends. This way you are reaching new audiences while getting an implied endorsement from the fan that shares your message.

So what are the best ways to develop content that drives engagement and sharing? Here are 8 tips:

  • Use photos and short video clips, especially of customers, members, donors in a range of ages and demographics you are trying to attract.
  • Tap emotions such as funny, sad, touching, fun, vivacious, or hopeful.
  • Use active verbs and friendly, warm, more personal tone…avoid posts that just promote a product or simple solely sales-oriented statement like this is a great event to go to, instead highlight something interesting from or about it, give useful tips or other content addressing a problem or need your audience has.
  • Celebrate success stories, testimonials, achievements, social service projects, especially that reinforce your organization’s brand and messaging.
  • Share a fun meme (a funny or touching statement or quip with or without a photo or graphic) related to your organization’s mission, industry, or products whether you create one or use a public one.
  • Ask questions or use fill in the blank statements (such as my favorite memory/book/movie about xyz topic related to your organization is ___________) that engage and encourage conversation.
  • Share links to interesting articles or other content with a short, intriguing intro.
  • Gauge and test different approaches, days of the week, and time of day for your posts when they get the best attention and engagement.
  • Regularly review the traffic your postings are getting and focus on the strategies and timing that seem to be working best.

Which approaches have you found to be most effective for engaging and building your facebook community while meeting your organization’s goals?

Six Keys to Content Marketing Success

Sharing compelling content whether information, news, videos, or podcasts related to your mission and goals is a winning strategy for attracting and engaging current and potential customers, members, or donors. With a crowded marketplace and communication stream filled with organizations pitching and selling, positioning yourself as the place to find timely, concise, engaging stories and news on your niche helps you cut through the clutter.

a photo of fireworksA carefully thought out content strategy and plan is key to success including:

What are your ultimate goals and desired outcomes  (leads, sales, fundraising, building community, recruiting/retaining members, etc.)?

What kinds of content do you think which of your target audiences would find most interesting and useful? What are problems your customers or members have that your content can help them solve?

To Create or Curate? How will you combine creating vs. curating content to become the source people turn to for information? Most organizations will find a combination of culling useful news and information from external trusted sources with creating your own content a happy medium. A fruitful approach is focusing on developing content that isn’t easily found elsewhere and fits your niche and goals, while sharing other kinds of content you know other outside organizations are already doing a great job providing (rather than wasting resources creating information someone else does).

What content should be free and open to the public vs. members-only or fee-based? Associations and publishers have been wrestling with this question for some time. While the traditional approach was to lock most content behind the membership gate, today associations are taking a fresh look at what will be perceived as the highest member value and how to use what kind of public content to build a community and enhance their reputation as an authoritative information source. Each organization has to look carefully at these issues based on their industry, competitors, and specific situation.

How will you promote your free content to increase and engage your desired audiences? Developing and curating insightful content is a waste if people aren’t aware of it. Plan how you will promote your content through every vehicle possible and encourage your constituents to share it with their friends and colleagues to maximize your audience and build your reputation as the source for information in your niche.

Keep up with content marketing strategies and trends by following the experts. Some of my favorite content marketing experts are:

A superb example of a web site loaded with engaging, insightful, free content is Social Media Examiner, founded by Michael Stelzner, the ultimate content marketer and author of the book Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition. Stelzner has used this approach to build an audience of more than 600,000 readers to draw on for his events and courses.
What do you think is most critical to having a successful content marketing strategy? Which experts do you turn to for content marketing ideas and information?