Tag Archive | "Meet"

Meet the Lazy Marketer’s Best Friend: The Email Autoresponder

No one loves blogs more than I do. They’re a great way to attract an engaged audience, develop trust and…

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How to Meet (and Exceed) Your Creative Content Goals

Why is it so hard to produce good content? Because creative work is uniquely draining … and uniquely rewarding, too….

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8 Content Distribution Ideas to Meet Your Brand’s Goals

Posted by AlliBerry3

There’s a lot to consider when creating a content strategy in 2019. Not only is there more competition than ever online, but there are so many types of content and ways to reach your target audience. Do you start a blog? Do you podcast? Should you focus on research studies or whitepapers? How do you really know what to do?

But before you do anything else, you need to define what goals you want to accomplish with your content. 

I’ve written previously about the importance of having an audience-focused content strategy before — and it’s still relevant. Every single piece of content you create needs to be mapped to a goal, otherwise, it’ll leave your audience wondering why they should care and what to do next, assuming it even reaches your target audience at all.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you have your goals and your brand’s unique angle nailed down, you’ll also need to prioritize your means of content distribution. This is especially important if you’re just starting out — you should zero in on a few key distribution channels and master those before you expand into others, or you risk spreading yourself too thin and sabotage your chances of success in any of them.

This post will help you zero in on what distribution channels make the most sense for your goals, and how to create content that will perform well in them.

Content goal: Brand awareness

If you’re a new brand or a lesser-known brand in your vertical, it’s crucial to expose your audience to your brand and demonstrate how it can solve their problems. There are many distribution options for brand awareness, and they all involve using external platforms in some way to help you connect to a larger audience of people.

1. Syndication

If your brand publishes a large volume of daily content that covers broader, news-worthy topics, content syndication can be an effective way to get your brand in front of a new audience.

I work for a new affiliate marketing venture called The Ascent by The Motley Fool, and our coverage of broad, personal finance topics makes us a natural fit for content syndication. From Flipboard to Google News, major news outlets are always looking for money and finance-related content. Even though the SEO value is limited for content syndication, as links are typically no-followed, this is still an effective way for us to fulfill our brand awareness goal of reaching a wider, qualified audience. Just be sure any syndication partners will provide a canonical tag back to your site to ensure you don’t end up with duplicate content issues. The Fractl team did an impressive piece about understanding the networks of news syndication if you want to learn more.

Content created for syndication typically has a timely slant to it, as that’s what major news outlets are looking for from syndication partners. Whether it’s a finance topic related to an upcoming holiday (i.e. 7 Personal Finance Lessons Learned in 2018) or something happening in the news (i.e. How to Financially Prepare for the Government Shutdown), it needs to be a gripping headline with information valuable to a reader today. It also needs to be quality content, free of errors, and not miles long.

Answer the headline entirely, but eliminate the fluff. And don’t forget to include relevant links back to your site, so you can get this larger audience to visit your website.

Musts for Syndicated Content:

  • A catchy headline
  • A timely topic
  • 1,000 words or less
  • Links in the content back to relevant content on your site

2. Sponsored content or guest posts

If your own website doesn’t have a great following, engaging in sponsored content on a more prominent website can be valuable for building brand awareness. The type of sponsored content I’m referring to here is online advertorials or articles  that look like normal articles, but are tagged as “sponsored content,” typically.

BuzzFeed is a prominent platform for brands. Here’s an example of one of their finest:

At the bottom, there’s a pitch for Wendy’s with a link:

Because visitors can see that this content is “sponsored,” they are naturally more skeptical of it — and rightfully so. To create a quality native advertising piece, you’ll want it to be genuinely helpful and not overly promotional. It’s already clear it’s a promotion for your brand, so the content doesn’t need to reinforce that further.

This above example clearly does not take itself seriously. It provides a quiz that is on-brand with what a BuzzFeed visitor would expect and want to see. There’s no overt promotional play for Wendy’s in the quiz.

If you don’t want to pay for a sponsored content spot on another website, you could also look for relevant sites that take guest posts. This post you are currently reading is an example of that: I’m not paying, nor am I getting paid to publish this post with Moz. But, I am getting more brand exposure for my team and myself. And Moz is getting unique content with a fresh perspective.

It’s a win-win!

If you do pitch a site for a guest post, make sure it’s compelling and in line with what their audience wants. Keep it helpful and not promotional. You will need to establish trust with this new audience.

Musts for Sponsored Content or Guest Posts:

  • A budget (for sponsored content)
  • Content is not promotional, but helpful or entertaining
  • A pitch and link to your site at the end of the content

3. Paid advertising

One of the big advantages of utilizing paid advertising is that you can see results right away and get your content in front of a qualified audience, whereas, organic takes longer to see growth.

To get your content to perform well in paid search, it’ll need to be more niche and targeted to the keywords you’re bidding on, otherwise, your quality score will suffer. Google, Bing, and Yahoo all have their own forms of a quality score that takes into account a number of factors, including your expected CTR, landing page quality and relevance to your ad, and ad text relevance. This might mean you’ll need to develop more landing pages to cover your topics than you would for a page created for organic search. That’s not an issue from an SEO perspective as long as you no-index your landing pages.

For example, the query “podcast software” gave me a really relevant ad for Buzzsprout.com, not only using my keyword in the ad but also providing relevant extended links below.

Once on the landing page, it also gives me exactly what I’m looking for. The language varies slightly to “podcast hosting,” but it clearly answers my intent.

Similarly, both Facebook and Twitter have a ‘relevancy score’ that acts as the quality score. These social platforms are measuring your expected engagement rate with an ad, which indicates how well your content matches the needs and interests of the audience you’re targeting.

What this means is that, like with paid search, your content needs to be more niche and customized to your audience for higher performance.

So many different types of content can work for paid advertising. Visual content can be incredibly powerful for paid advertising — whether it’s through video or images. There’s no better way to know how something will perform in paid marketing than through testing, but it’s important your content has these primary components:

  • A catchy, keyword-aligned headline
  • Standout images or video
  • Content that supports your hyper-target audience and keywords

Goal: Organic acquisition

Organic traffic is often an appealing distribution method because prospects qualify themselves through their relevant search queries. Not only do you want to have targeted content for key search queries, but it is also important to build domain authority by acquiring relevant, authoritative external links.

For this, I have included two important tactics to achieve better results organically for your brand.

4. Blog posts

Blog posts are among the most common ways to rank well in organic search and acquire featured snippets. My team has almost exclusively been focused on blog articles up until this point, as it’s relatively easy and efficient to produce at scale.

There are many types of blog posts you can create, both for more the discovery phase of a prospect, as well as the mid-level, narrowing down phase in the customer journey. Some blog post ideas that tend to perform well include:

  • How-to articles
  • Question and answer articles
  • Comparison articles
  • Best of articles
  • First person stories (ideally from a customer perspective)

The key to successful blog posts is to have a targeted topic informed by keyword research. The Moz Keyword Explorer or SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool are great places to find topics for your blog posts. I have found both with The Ascent, as well as in my previous role at Kaplan Professional Education is that having blog posts that target specific long-tail keywords tend to perform better, and are more likely to pick up a featured snippet. However, the best way to know for your vertical is to test it yourself.

In my experience, writing using the inverted pyramid technique works wonders for featured snippets. Answer the query broadly and concisely at the beginning of the article, and then dive into more details further into it. It’s a technique from journalism, so readers are used to it and search engines seem to really take to it.

Musts for Blog Posts:

  • Have a target keyword/topic
  • Follow the inverted pyramid technique (cover the topic broadly and then narrow)
  • Contain a call-to-action

5. Original research

If acquiring external links is one of your SEO goals, conducting original research can be a powerful tactic for achieving success. What makes original research so powerful for link building is that you are the only source of your data. If you publish data that is unique to your organization or conduct your own survey or focus group and report the findings, it provides new data with unique insights to glean from it (assuming your methodology is solid, of course).

Here is a great example of original research about how frequently brands produce original research (how meta!). It also provides great data on types of original research brands do if you want to learn more. This original data came from a survey of 700 marketers, and it worked. It got linked to by all kinds of prominent industry blogs like Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute, Orbit Media, and now, this one too!

If you don’t have any data that you can or want to publish from your organization directly and you don’t want to conduct your own surveys, there is also the option of mining official sources in your industry (government or census data work well in many cases) and finding a unique take and interpreting it for your audience to understand. Often, there is rich data buried in technical jargon that people don’t know about, and your original perspective can add a lot of value to your audience.

For example, my team published this secondary research during the government shutdown in January. All of the government data in this piece is accessible to anyone, but it’s time-consuming to find and difficult to interpret. Our writer’s original take on it surfaced important insights that journalists incorporated in their shutdown coverage.

Remember: Putting your own research out there won’t necessarily acquire links on its own. Even if you are a well-known resource, your efforts will be better served with outreach to relevant journalists or bloggers. If you’ve got the resources to dedicate to outreach, or the ability to hire an agency to help, this can be an extremely effective strategy that can help to build the authority of your entire site.

Musts for original research:

  • An original take with supporting data
  • A solid research methodology (explained in the content)
  • An outreach strategy with custom pitches

Goal: Lead generation

If generating leads is your goal, your content will need to be compelling enough for a prospect to give you their contact information. They know what’s in store for them by giving you their email or phone number, so they won’t sign themselves up for marketing messaging for just average content.

6. Whitepapers/E-books

Although we just talked about original research for link acquisition, original research can also be an amazing way to generate leads if you want to put your research behind a sign-up wall. While the basic principles remain unchanged, find a topic you can create a unique study on, and execute it using a solid methodology. You should focus on the prospective leads you are trying to attain and create a research study or whitepaper that is irresistible to them.

At Kaplan Financial Education, I developed e-books for each licensing prep product line. Using survey data that I gathered from previous Kaplan students, the intent was to help better prepare future Kaplan students for their journey through licensing and starting their career. The setup for creating this type of lead gen content was pretty simple: I pulled a list of previous customers and sent them a short survey via Survey Monkey. I asked:

  • What do you wish you had known when you were preparing for the licensing test?
  • What advice do you have for new professionals?

After gathering over 100 responses, I extracted the data and grouped them into themes, pulling direct quotes for future insurance professionals. This is still successful lead gen content because it’s evergreen — it tells real stories from real people who have gone through the licensing process and started a relevant financial career. Prospective students can better understand what they are getting themselves into.

At the time, this kind of advice from so many qualified professionals didn’t live anywhere else, making the e-book exclusive content. Qualified prospects were willing to download it for it’s exclusivity and saving them the time of having to conduct multiple informational interviews.

Ideally, when you have lead gen content, you’ll want all of your free content to naturally lead into a call-to-action for your whitepaper or e-book. That way, any traffic that you attain through organic or paid advertising will naturally flow into the download. Creating a pitch at the end of your articles is a good habit to get into, as well as linking within your articles as appropriate.

It’s also a good practice to only ask for the minimum amount of contact information that will allow you to market to these leads. If you plan to send them emails, only collect their email address, for example. The more information you require, the lower your conversion rate tends to be.

Musts for whitepapers and e-books:

  • An original take with compelling data specifically targeting prospective leads
  • A solid methodology (explained in the content)
  • Enticing content that leads users to the lead gen download
  • Minimal contact information required to download

7. Webinars

Webinars that provide informative content for prospects can be an extremely effective medium for lead generation, particularly if you are using visuals to help explain concepts. The “in person” element also allows prospects to build a relationship (or the illusion of one) with the presenter(s) because they can hear and see the speaker live. You can also play up the exclusivity angle with webinars because the content is only available to those that choose to attend.

Types of webinars that work particularly well for lead gen:

  • Demonstrations or how-to’s
  • Panel discussions about a relevant, timely topic in your industry
  • An interview with an industry expert
  • An in-depth presentation with a fresh take on a timely topic

Similar to e-books and whitepapers, you’ll want to collect the minimum possible amount of contact information on your sign up form. If you only need an email address or a phone number, stick to that. The more you ask for a life story, the fewer sign-ups you’ll receive.

Musts for webinar content:

  • Unique, relevant topic to prospects
  • Content that is designed for a real-time, audio and visual medium
  • Minimal contact information required for sign up

Goal: Revenue

Of course, any content program’s ultimate goal is to drive revenue. Content that leads to conversion directly, though, is often not given as much attention as some of other forms of content.

8. Product pages

Regardless of whether you sell your products online or not, your product pages on your website should be focused on driving action to purchase.

To do this, you should keep your pages simple. Each product, no matter how similar, should have a unique product name and description to keep you clear of duplicate content issues. Focus on what the product is and how it will ultimately improve the life of a customer in a brief description. Bullet points in the description help the user scan and digest the important features of the product. Ian Lurie at Portent recently wrote about utilizing Amazon Q&A to inform what common questions people have about your product, and answering those in your product page bullet points. If you can do that, that’s a winning formula.

Include images of the product, and if necessary, video too for a more holistic view of the product. And add a trust signal. Common trust signals include reviews, a customer quote, or a statistic about how the product helps customers.

Most importantly, you need a prominent, clear call-to-action. It should stand out, be above the fold, and have clear language about what will happen in the next step.

Must-haves for these pages:

  • Product Description
  • Visual of product (image, video)
  • Call to Action
  • Trust signal – ie. a quote or review, statistic, etc.

Of course, these are just some of the most common goals I’ve seen in content strategies — there’s plenty more goals out there. Same goes for types of distribution for each of these goals — I’ve only scratched the surface. But if I listed out every possibility, you wouldn’t have made it this far through the post! 

Over to you!

These are just some common goals that have proven effective to me with clients and brands I have worked for. I’d love to know what you think, now: 

  • Do you agree with my points? 
  • Do you have other tactics that work for any of these goals? 
  • What different content goals do you have if they weren’t mentioned?

If you’ve got other suggestions or ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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Tech Titans Meet With Trump: Video, Pics and Opening Transcript

The tech titans of Silicon Valley (and a few other places) met with President Elect Donald Trump at his request today. Notably, Trump said that any of them could call him directly if their companies needed help. He said that there is no chain of command here.

“I’m super excited about the possibility that this could be the innovation Administration,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg added, “I’m excited to talk about jobs.”

The complete transcript of Trump’s opening remarks to the group:

“Well, I just want to thank everybody. This is a truly amazing group of people. I won’t tell you the hundreds of calls we’ve had asking to come to this meeting (laughter). I will say Peter (Thiel) was sort of saying, no those companies are too small, and these are monster screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-7-16-14-pmcompanies.

I want to start by thanking Peter because he saw something very early, maybe before we saw it, of course he’s known for that in a different way. He has been so terrific and so outstanding. He got just about the biggest applause at the Republican National Convention. He’s ahead of the curve and I want to thank him and (while shaking his hand) you’re a very special guy.

I want to add that I’m here to help you folks do well and you are doing well right now. I’m very honored by the bounce, everybody is talking about the bounce, so everybody in this room has to like me at least a little bit. We are going to have to try and have that bounce continue.

Perhaps even more importantly, we want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. There is nobody like you in the world. There is nobody like the people in this room. Anything we can do to help this go along, we are going to be there for you. You call my people, you call me, it doesn’t make any difference, we have no formal chain of command around here.

We are honored to have Gary, the President of Goldman Sacks, left Goldman Sacks to do this. And Wilbur, everybody knows Wilbur, they don’t call him Wilbur Ross on Wall Street, they just say oh it’s Wilbur (laughter). There’s nobody like him.

We are going to do fair trade deals, we’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade. Across borders, there are a lot of restrictions and a lot of problems. If you have any ideas on that, that would be great because there are a lot of restrictions and a lot of problems. You probably have less of a problem than some companies because some companies have massive problems, but we are going to solve those problems.”

Who Was There?

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Meet a Landy Award winner: Noble Studios drives traffic to Tahoe South to win Best SEO Initiative for Small Business

Noble Studios introduced a new approach to blogging and content creation for Tahoe South that resulted in a 134% increase in mobile site traffic.

The post Meet a Landy Award winner: Noble Studios drives traffic to Tahoe South to win Best SEO Initiative for Small Business appeared first on Search…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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What It’s Really Like to Start an Ultra-Successful Company: Meet Moz’s Rand Fishkin

rand fishkin - build a business on a foundation of core values

Rand Fishkin is known for founding an incredibly successful company — while keeping an unwavering commitment to his core values.

You may have noticed, if you look around at the general business landscape, that a lot of successful founders are a bit cocky. They tend to overestimate the role of their own genius in their success — and underestimate the hard work of their teams and the luck that went into that success.

(And no, for the curious, I’m not counting Rainmaker Digital founder Brian Clark in that group.) ”</p

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The Secret to Powerful Products that Sell: Meet Tara Gentile, Creator of ‘Quiet Power’

tara gentile - how to unlock the door between before and after

Tara Gentile is known for helping people grow terrific businesses — without sacrificing ethics or heart.

Tara works with “idea people” — people who have an idea that they want to turn into a product, program, or service, but who may not always see themselves as business owners or marketers. She helps her audience and clients find the right business models, craft marketing that resonates, and structure their businesses for profit.

She calls her approach the Quiet Power Strategy — and it’s a complete reversal of a lot of the “cookie cutter” advice you sometimes see around digital business.

Listen and observe

A while back, Tara spoke with Rainmaker Digital CEO Brian Clark about how to thoughtfully observe your audience in order to strengthen your business.

Listen to Win: How Actionable Observation Provides Profitable Answers

Brian and Tara share a deep focus on listening in order to uncover audience interests, fears, and desires. When you master this, everything about your business starts to work better.

It’s also the key to marketing that doesn’t feel pushy or creepy — because you’re speaking directly to the problems and concerns of your audience, using their own language. Marketing becomes a direct expression of audience empathy.

Listening is the key to building a business based on service rather than selfishness.

“I see [listening] as probably the biggest thing that’s keeping people from creating marketing that works and products that sell easily … and sales processes that don’t feel slimy.” – Tara Gentile

What do they care deeply about?

In Tara’s world (and ours), the journey always starts with the deepest goals and concerns of the audience.

“How are you going to help them go from before to after?” – Tara Gentile

Tara’s process unearths what she calls the Target Conversation. Who are the people having this conversation, and what are they actually talking about?

Most of the time, the road from their problem to the solution you offer isn’t a straight line; it’s a series of somewhat meandering connections. This sequence of relevant ideas will click with the people in your audience where they are right now — not where you wish they were.

Tara calls this step Connecting the Dots: starting with where they are today, then moving purposefully to the next dot … and the next, and the next.

In this way, you create a clear path between your audience’s problems and your solutions.

Solving audience problems … even if you aren’t a renowned expert

“Don’t call yourself an expert … just be helpful. If you’re two steps ahead of your audience on the journey, you’re still a leader.” – Brian Clark

Tara and Brian share the conviction that a business that’s built on solving specific audience problems is far more powerful than starting with a notion of some abstract “market.”

“When you look at real people with real problems — or with real desires — they’ve got blanks. There’s something missing that isn’t allowing them to accomplish what they want to accomplish … There’s sort of a locked door between that before and after … And we’ve got insight into how to open it.” – Tara Gentile

Once you adjust your approach to focus your business’s marketing and products on customer problems and the solutions to those problems, you’ve set yourself up for success.

How to approach writing a promotion

“My best tip for copywriting is to feed your customers’ words back to them … They want to know that you’ve actually thought about what their problem is.” – Tara Gentile

First, Tara listens for the themes and language that come up again and again for her audience. Her promotional copy is then crafted to provide answers and solutions that speak to those specific issues.

She builds each sales page around a single key insight that’s arisen from conversations with her audience and customers. That gives the promotion focus, connecting Tara’s expertise directly to what’s most important to her prospects right now.

Promotions crafted this way stand out from the general background of noise and clutter that we see every day on the web and in our inboxes.

“The opposite of quiet isn’t loud; it’s noise.” – Tara Gentile

Let Tara walk you through her process: 7 Ways to Listen to Your Audience

We’re so happy that Tara will be joining us this October in Denver, Colorado at our live Digital Commerce Summit.

Here’s what Tara had to say about the presentation she’ll be teaching:

“It’s time to stop guessing about what digital product to create (whether it’s your first or your next). It’s also time to stop wasting time and money building the wrong products (i.e. the ones people don’t buy). Learn seven distinct ways to listen to your audience and build a system for turning what you hear into profitable offers. You’ll never have to guess about what people want to buy again.”

Tara’s process is applicable to any business — from selling a single ebook to running a multi-million dollar SaaS.

Join us October 13-14 for a carefully chosen curriculum that will give you the momentum you need to level up as a digital entrepreneur. Tara is just one of 15 speakers who have walked the walk. Over two days, we’ll teach you how to take your digital project to the next level — or how to get something new off the ground.

Click here to get the details and snag the best price on your tickets.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

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Content Marketing and Advertising Meet in a Dark Alley: Who Wins, and Why?

which one won? content marketing vs. advertising

Traditional advertising pretty much had its way with the 20th century.

Big campaigns with big budgets from big companies influenced the things we did, said, and thought. And it’s safe to say that influence continues into the 21st century.

But content marketing is starting to make some noise of its own. In fact, interest in content marketing has risen rapidly in the last five years.

What are the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of both? When should you use advertising, and when should you use content marketing?

And which method is better?

We’ll answer those questions and more in this article.

What is advertising?

Advertising is a direct form of marketing communication where companies, political parties, religious institutions, government agencies, and interest groups build awareness of their products, services, events, and ideas.

To accomplish this task, advertisers run campaigns with a limited, but focused, use of media that may include:

  • Billboards
  • Banner ads
  • Radio spots
  • Television commercials
  • Print magazine ads
  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Infomercials
  • Pop-ups
  • Skywriting
  • Product placements
  • Email

The job of advertising media is to convince people that a product, service, or idea will solve their problems or satisfy their wants.

Here are four ways you could look at advertising:

  1. A company runs a six-month advertising campaign announcing the launch of a new product through a series of television commercials, banner ads, and staged product demonstrations in select cities.
  2. A political party launches a tour of lectures, public service announcements, and emails to inform voters about where their candidate stands on the issues.
  3. A city government purchases newspaper ads and mails out flyers to announce a new recycling program.
  4. A start-up sponsors content on BuzzFeed, purchases an advertorial on Gawker, and budgets money toward a Google AdWords campaign.

However, traditional advertising has some notable disadvantages (and notable differences with content marketing).

It’s expensive

If you look at the best advertising campaigns of the 21st century you’ll notice blue-chip brands — companies and organizations with deep pockets.

For most of us, even the bare bones Apple: Get a Mac campaign is out of our reach, never mind something like the complex production behind BMW’s The Hire.

It’s built around a campaign

Instead of a long-term effort, advertising campaigns usually run for a short period of time, say three to six months depending upon campaign objectives and budgets.

Today, however, popular campaigns like Dos Equis’s The Most Interesting Man in the World can extend their life on places like YouTube or Vimeo.

The product is the focus of the ad

Because of their expensive production and short shelf life, advertising campaigns put the product front and center.

In Budweiser’s iconic Whassup commercial, where a group of friends go around asking each other “Whassup,” two of the friends mention that they are drinking a Budweiser.

In Volkswagen’s The Force, a young Darth Vader attempts to use The Force on a Passat, which is front and center.

There’s a limited window of exposure because the media is not owned

Traditional advertising is a combination of three entities: the publisher (television, radio, magazine), the company/advertiser (often companies hire an ad agency to create and manage the campaign), and the audience.

The company/advertiser buys space on the publisher’s media property for a limited time to get exposure to their audience. Once that time expires (once a month in a magazine, a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl), the advertising campaign media is removed, and the audience doesn’t see it again, which means …

The media is gone once the campaign ends

As I mentioned above, the digital age has changed this in many ways since commercials are often published on YouTube. But they still may be eventually removed from a company’s official channel.

It’s a one-sided relationship

The Marlboro Man, an idea created by ad agency Leo Burnett Worldwide for Marlboro cigarettes, is considered the third-greatest advertising campaign of the 20th century.

It was brilliant because it appealed to the rogue streak in men — that drifter bent. The campaign said, “Smoke Marlboros and everyone will think you’re cool.” What man doesn’t want to look cool?

Yet, like most advertising campaigns, it was a barrage of images and messages. There was no conversation. No relationship except “buy our product.” No space for feedback.

The disadvantage of putting the product “front and center”

Let me pause for a minute and explain why putting the product “front and center” in traditional advertising is a disadvantage. The truth is, when the product is part of the message, we understand right away that it’s a sales message.

That’s not a terrible thing — any reasonable person will understand that a company is in business to sell their products and services.

But this is where content marketing comes in because this hard-sell approach has gradually weakened traditional advertising. If we’ve learned anything about advertising and marketing in the last 20 years, it’s that customers want to be heard.

What is content marketing?

Before we go on, let’s briefly define content marketing:

Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell. In other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.

The types of content companies use include podcasts, blogs, social media, videos, white papers, infographics, SlideShares, and research reports.

Like advertising, content marketing aims to convince people that a product, service, or idea will solve their problems or satisfy their wants.

However, there are some important differences with content marketing.

You own the media and the content

The main difference between traditional advertising and content marketing is that with content marketing, the company becomes the advertiser and the publisher. Instead of selling your products or services to someone else’s audience, you build your own audience — and then determine what to sell.

That’s the story behind our company, Rainmaker Digital, which started as a blog and blossomed into six distinct product lines.

The product is not the focus of content marketing

With content marketing, you may spend roughly 90 percent of your budget on creating content that educates, inspires, and entertains — and only 10 percent on selling a product.

Ten percent may seem small, but the trust, relationships, and authority you build during the other 90 percent really does a lot of the selling for you.

With content marketing, you position yourself as someone who is an authority, can be trusted, and is likable, so when it comes time to sell something, people are already in line.

Content marketing is a long-term game

Since content marketing focuses on solving customers’ problems, keeping the audience engaged, and inspiring them to overcome challenges, the practice becomes a long-term game.

Heck, most of us don’t have the brand equity, authority, or pocketbook of a company like Apple, Dove, or Budweiser … so we can’t win with the one-off nature of traditional advertising (particularly if it flops). We can win, however, by consistently publishing quality content.

You open a two-way conversation

In many ways, content marketing was built to satisfy the consumer demand for a voice.

Blogs invited replies and questions through the comments section. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook tore down the walls that separated consumers from companies, allowing people to talk directly to businesses.

This two-way conversation promotes a better business and better product when the company listens and adjusts.

Content marketing helps you build a media asset

A great example of a company that built a business around content marketing is Buffer, the popular social media app. During their early years, they first outfitted their blog with outstanding content and then the team started driving traffic to their website through guest posting and content syndication opportunities.

Canva, the easiest-in-the-world-to-use design software, forced people to take notice of this small company with its relentless publication of epic posts like 60 Free Fonts for Minimalist Designs or The 30 Best Free Social Media Icon Sets of 2015.

There’s another important issue I need to point out very clearly here: Companies who invest in content marketing should avoid building on other media properties. This is called digital sharecropping, and it exposes you to the whims of the property owner and prohibits you from capitalizing on the value of a media asset. Let me explain.

When companies invest in content marketing by publishing content on a property they own (their own website), they build a media asset that may be worth money down the road. For example, Brian Clark has been offered seven figures for the copyblogger.com domain — just the website, not the products that actually generate revenue.

People understand the immense value that driving a ton of traffic brings to a company. Content marketing helps you build those traffic streams.

When to use advertising

Let me make this clear: Here’s what I’m not doing. I’m not recommending that you should never advertise. When you think about the benefits of both advertising and content marketing, you’ll realize that one is not better than the other. You just need to figure out which one will help you meet your specific goals.

So, when should you launch an advertising campaign?

One of the biggest challenges new businesses and freelancers face is exposing their products or services to prospects. Think of advertising as a mechanism that quickly closes that gap.

This could be as simple as running a month-long Facebook ad campaign or a Google AdWords PPC campaign.

Of course, advertising is expensive — from the planning and production of the media to the buying of ad space. But if done right, it can result in a quick flood of visitors to your site.

Another benefit of advertising, particularly online advertising, is you can get immediate results.

In the early 2000s, I was in control of a $ 250,000 Google AdWords campaign — and I loved it. Within 24 hours of writing a text ad and a landing page, I could see results, adjust, measure, and repeat.

It was a fast-paced, accurate way to learn about what worked and what didn’t.

Of course that was not my money, and you may only be able to budget $ 200 a month toward Facebook ads, but the cost may be worth the results.

When to use content marketing

Copyblogger built an audience through content marketing (two blog posts a week for a few years) before we sold anything from the site. Once we had an audience clamoring for a product, and they told us what that product should be, we built it and sold it to the audience.

Today, the website is 10 years old, and you will occasionally see a promotion — whether it’s an announcement about the Rainmaker Platform, the launch of our podcast network, Rainmaker.FM, or that we’re reopening Authority to new members.

So, when is the best time to use content marketing? All the time. Here are some specific examples.

  • Build a community. This is the goal of just about every business in the world (whether or not they realize it), and content marketing helps build relationships over time as you solve customer problems, inspire them to overcome certain challenges, and entertain them with your personal stories.
  • Get found in search engines. You increase your chances of ranking higher in search engines when you have consistent, up-to-date, quality content on your site.
  • Distinguish your company from your competitors. Content marketing allows you to carefully and methodically spell out the differences between you and your product and other businesses and their products.
  • Take on a Goliath when you have a small budget. Canva (the design software firm I mentioned earlier) didn’t have the resources to compete with a Goliath company like Adobe. How were they going to get attention? Publish mega posts with highly valuable content. It worked.
  • Cut through the clutter. Like most small companies, Crew (an agency that manages creative projects) didn’t have a chance standing out in a world awash with technology start-ups. How were they going to compete? By launching Unsplash, a website loaded with free, high-resolution images.

Now that we’ve covered the differences between content marketing and advertising, let’s test your knowledge with a little quiz.

Can you tell the difference between content marketing and advertising?

Here are the rules: Below you’ll find five real-world examples. Your job is to guess which ones are content marketing and which ones are advertising.

Then I’ll explain the answers.

1. Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” videos

Answer: advertising.

The Blendtec YouTube channel displays many of the classic features of content marketing — consistent publishing, entertaining format — but this video is advertising because the product is the main focus of the content.

2. Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”

Answer: advertising.

Wieden+Kennedy, the advertising agency behind this campaign, originally launched two or three commercials on short rotation, but soon discovered their popularity and spun out more than 100 minute-long YouTube videos.

That’s certainly content marketing, right? Again, no, because the product was front and center, and they are no longer making similar videos. It was a limited-time campaign.

3. GE Reports


Answer: content marketing.

As Contently’s Joe Lazauskas said, GE is the new Red Bull when it comes to content marketing.

“Tomas Kellner, a former ‘Forbes’ editor, crushes his reporting, and the stories on GE Reports regularly go viral on Reddit. Brands usually go viral on Reddit for ruining the world or releasing really bad lip-syncing videos, not for their content marketing.”

4. Madden NFL 16 | Madden : The Movie

Answer: advertising.

Can you guess why? While the product isn’t really front and center, it is central to the plot, and the storyline drives this movie trailer.

It’s a one-off commercial announcing the launch of Madden NFL 16, which makes it more of an advertorial than traditional content marketing.

5. Rainmaker.FM podcast network


Answer: content marketing.

While the title of the Rainmaker.FM podcast network refers to Rainmaker Digital, our company name, none of the shows explicitly discuss our products except for a short ad bumper at the start or end of each show.

And each show — 24 and counting — consistently publishes useful, compelling content for a growing audience of people who are interesting in digital commerce, content marketing, writing, editing, podcasting, LinkedIn, self-publishing, SEO, YouTube, public relations, entrepreneurship, and more.

Your turn

So, how did you do on that short quiz?

Do you feel like you have a better understanding of the differences between advertising and content marketing? Do you feel like you know when to use one rather than the other?

Let me know in the comments if you have any outstanding questions or thoughts. I would love to hear from you.

The post Content Marketing and Advertising Meet in a Dark Alley: Who Wins, and Why? appeared first on Copyblogger.


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The 3 Types of Trolls You Meet Online (and How to Deal with Them)


Internet trolls: the cockroaches of the web. They’re gross, they’re unsettling, but sometimes, there they are, scurrying across the floor in front of you.

If you spend any time online, and especially if you establish authority in your topic, you’ll eventually have to deal with a troll.

Most of them are minor pests, and some of them can be a real problem. But any variety of troll can temporarily put you off your game and cause you to second-guess yourself.

Here’s what to do about it …

In this episode of Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, host Sonia Simone talks about:

  • Why Eleanor Roosevelt was wrong (though still awesome)
  • The pseudo-troll, and how to engage with him
  • Dealing with the Don Quixote
  • What to do if the troll gets truly nasty
  • Why most trolls resemble flaming bags of poop
  • The relationship between anonymity and trolling

Click Here to Listen to

Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author


Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

The post The 3 Types of Trolls You Meet Online (and How to Deal with Them) appeared first on Copyblogger.


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From Sneaky Sound System Saxofonist, To Australia’s Number One Real Estate Agent, Then Meditation Master, Meet Nick Broadhurst

Download the Text Transcript in PDF

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I was recently interviewed by Nick Broadhurst for his ASPIRE magazine. After the interview I asked Nick about his background…and things got interesting.

He explained he was a founding member of Sneaky Sound System, a dance act that is pretty huge in Australia and around … Read the rest of this entry »

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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