Oversaturation and content shock are issues that today’s marketer must overcome to find success.
With so much information already on the Web, what can today’s corporate blogger do to stand out from the crowd?
Last month, Ryan Schradin, Director at Strategic Communications Group, was the featured presenter at an exclusive webinar entitled Think Like a Journalist: How to Create a Unique Experience on Your Corporate Blog, during which he shared his industry expertise on how marketers can apply editorial style to their corporate blogs in order to create a unique user experience.
We know that content marketing is a really hot topic right now. A lot of organizations are thinking through how to best promote their capabilities through blogs, through their participation in social networks and online communities. Why is it that the editorial approach is the right path for an organization to follow when they’re standing up a blog or some kind of content marketing initiative?
First off, when it comes to standing up these online publications and content that is going to be on them, you have to think about what people want to read. We want to build an audience; we want to bring in an ecosystem of our prospects, which are essentially the key audiences were looking to reach. They have a choice of what they want to read and digest online. They could be reading Sports Illustrated or ESPN, or they could be reading your online publication. There’s a lot of competition out there for eyeballs and audiences.
Ultimately we need something that they want to read. We have to give them something that is exciting. No one’s going to want to read the content on these publications if it’s just a bunch of regurgitated marketing material. The content needs to be interesting, and it needs to focus on the trends and topics that are hot button issues in the industry. It needs to provide resources and best practices that the audience can use, and needs to not be a complete sell for your company and its products. This allows the readers to feel like the publication is more of a resource for them, and a forum in which to share best practices, talk about their challenges and ultimately be a trusted source for information.
Bringing readers to the site, especially sales targets, really requires you to be engaging, educational, and entertaining. It requires you to put the needs of the audience above the desires of your company to show its own products, services, smart people and news. If you can accomplish that you can create a community of readers that includes your sales targets, and allows them to begin interacting with your company. The website can provide real time business intelligence and really allow them to be receptive to your company’s key messages.
Say I buy into this “think like a journalist” approach. How do I go about creating this editorial strategy for my company blog or for my content marketing initiative? What are some of the things that I can do to start heading down this path?
I think first it’s essential to have an understanding of the audience that reads your content. You need to think about the people you are trying to reach, what they are looking for and how you can attract them to your content. So what are the challenges they are currently facing? What pain points do they have? What are the hot topics that interest them right now and how can your company’s products, services or solutions relate to that topic? Ultimately we’re going to want to tie it back to those things at some point.
Next, you have to give your readers something that’s unique and different. When appropriate, you can talk about how solutions similar to yours can help address some pain points, but you want to be provocative, interesting and approach things from a different way. If you can’t say something different, find a different way to propose or present that content to them. Maybe instead of a written blog post you can use a podcast or have a couple of different people do a panel discussion on video.
Finally, you will want to put together an editorial calendar. This is essential to ensure that your readers will get consistency in both the topic and the content that’s covered, which will enable you to get ahead. If you have an editorial calendar that is three or four months down the road, you’re going to be able to work ahead, get content in the pipeline, and enable you to have a steady editorial drum beat of blog posts.
What you don’t want to do is miss publishing dates, especially if you’re promoting every single piece of content that you publish through social networks. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to promote to your key audiences. Your readers are going to get used to following a certain editorial calendar, and plan their visits accordingly. Your readers will be disappointed if they know a certain publication posts on Tuesdays and Thursday, and you don’t have a new piece of content up on those days. You want to make sure you have your content well out in advance, planned out in advance, so you can get it out into the pipeline and not miss one of those publishing dates.
A pro tip for you as well: Even though you have an editorial calendar, don’t be married to it. Make sure that it is a living document. If you’re planned three months out that’s great, but if something happens you want to be able to address it immediately. Everything has an expiration date and if you wait too long no one’s going to care anymore. You want to ensure that you have flexibility and agility built into your editorial calendar so that you can’t cover a topic while it’s hot and interesting to your readers.
Join us next week for part 2 to get Ryan’s thoughts on utilizing multimedia in your editorial strategy.