Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Content Marketing World - May Common Sense Be With You

YAY, I love content. I love content marketing. And I love Star Wars.

Now can you help me understand what Mark Hamill can teach me about the first two?

Disturbance in the Marketing Force? 

Content Marketing World 2016 comes to Cleveland this fall, and I'd love to go. But it would be a little bit like overdosing on ice cream: Sweet, sure. But a love affair with content can really pack on the pounds and bog down your marketing efforts.

I know that sounds weird, coming from a content marketing type like me.

But as I've said before, I'm a big believer that content marketing is really just marketing, and marketing communications is really just communication.

If you're going to Content Marketing World, by all means, I hope the Force is with you (and Mr. Hamill). Send me a post card, brochure, link to your landing page...and if you figure out why Luke Skywalker should headline the event, please let me know.



Monday, June 27, 2016

Hello Common Sense Content

I'm not a huge rule-breaker but I question "the rules" constantly.

  • Who made them? 
  • What purpose do they serve? and my favorite question: 
  • WHY?

So imagine my joy (and mild confusion) when I discovered some common-sense content rules I really don't question much or want to break.

Without further ado, here they are:

Mad Pow - Best Practices When Writing for the Web

Integrating Marketing Content

On the other hand, here is how you take a simple concept and wayyyy over-complicate it:

Sorry, MMC Learning, I just call that marketing. Horizontal, vertical, any-which-way you slice it, the point of marketing communications (and even Marketing Communications) and all business writing is....communication.

I have to admit I have a few clients who have been slow to realize just how important it is to market to your employee first. For heaven's sake, if your own employees don't know what your company is trying to market (communicate) how are they going to do a great job for you?

<steps off soapbox>

Are you and your organization ready for some common sense content?
Contact me. I'd love to help.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Presentations Come Across Best in Plain English

Recently, I covered a professional industry conference. It was enlightening. It was frightening. This isn't a breakdown of the research presented; this is me talking about the speakers.

What Did She Say?

I'm not knocking the speakers in general; some great information was presented in Plain English (my favorite language). Unfortunately, in a few sessions the most valuable insight was nearly suffocated by a thick layer of Corporatese. One speaker - not making this up! - dropped all of these gems in less than two minutes:
  • "...to understand the magnitude of the impact..."
  • "...redesigning the roles to increase continuity..."
  • "...setting the expectation to step out of that role..."
  • "...excited about getting back to basics..."
  • "...a multidisciplinary sacred space..."
  • "...a different framework to see how to create engagement..."
My head was spinning and more importantly, my deadline was looming. See, I was covering the conference as an industry blogger. I was paid to be there to help one of the presenting organizations promote its brand, products and services. 

While it should have been a cakewalk for me and a big win for the presenting organizations, I was sweating trying to come up with good material. At the risk of stating the obvious: if your speakers aren't presenting clear and useful information, you're not going to get the biggest bang for your PR budget. 

Speaking Opportunities are Content Gold

Besides being a PR opportunity, anytime you speak to someone about your company, products, or services, it's a chance to sell! Also, it's content. (More on that coming soon...)

So, here are some (rather fundamental) suggestions to make better use of those opportunities:

  • When you are speaking and would like your main topic points to be repeated and/or discussed, make them clear. 
  • When you are promoting a product and/or service, make sure your reps KNOW the talking points and REHEARSE them. (This goes for any and all of your reps. "Talk is cheap" does not refer to corporate speaking! When your reps have the floor, and/or the ear of the media, that's an extremely valuable opportunity, and if you/they waste it, it's money - and potential sales - down the drain, out the window, and off to the next conference...)
  • If you are speaking and do not want your main topic points remembered or discussed, perhaps you should re-evaluate the reason for your presentation...

Communication can be a beautiful thing and a powerful sales tool - public speaking in particular. Although it comes naturally to very few people, it's easier to learn than juggling knives, and I think it's a lot more fun

Need help developing some talking points for your sales staff? Want a few tips and a practice partner before your next trade show or other speaking event? Words are my business. Please get in touch. 
 ---------------- Are you a do-it-yourselfer? That's ok - if you do it right. My advice: join a local Toastmasters' club and a pick up a helpful book on the subject. My favorite is What To Say When You're Dying on the Platform

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The King Lives: Content's Gone Retro

Readers (you know, human people) overdosed on social media channels and content long ago. Marketing departments are about to figure it out.

GOOD Content is Still King

I completely agreed with the gist of an article I read on this subject last week. Unfortunately, it used a grabby but misleading headline: Content is No Longer King. Sadly, the author's very sound recommendations were cheapened by this silly tactic.

I say, content is still (has always been) King in the marketing game, but the King's robes have changed.

And the article in question supports that. The author suggests mastering 2-3 channels, and publishing two 'epic' posts a month. That's still a content management approach, folks. In fact, it's a very good approach - and 20+ years ago we called that 'Marketing Communications.' And we created it for people.

Whether it's online, printed, or read from a telemarketing script, content sells, baby. Always has, always will.

People - your standard human being types - need information to make decisions. A little emotion (humor, fear, love) gets those decisions rolling a little faster.

Hello, that's content.

Too many firms (content marketing firms and businesses of every ilk) have started spewing content just to publish regularly. Just because they think they're supposed to. Just because it's a habit.

GOOD marketing content has a purpose, and it's not "publish every Tuesday" or "keep your Twitter feed busy." Good marketing content educates, compares, promotes (a little bit) and sells.

Most small business owners know that, and a great many more knew that before online marketing made a monster out of itself. I suspect it's why a lot of small business owners (who are typically very common-sensical types) distrust content marketing in general.

I say Common Sense Content is King - so stop overdosing on marketing content and start making words work for you and your business.

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Check out some more great ways to use content to sell from Duct Tape Marketing

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Most Popular Posts of 2016 (so far)

I'll admit it: this blog about writing is all over the place. I write (rant) about journalism, highlight jobs for writers, mention writing contests, and ever so occasionally blather on about the writing process. But, more  often than not, I write about business communication, marketing content, copywriting tips to try and rules to break.

So far in 2016, this blog's most popular posts have been all about mar/comm content. Here they are:

...and this recent post is catching up quick: one of my excellent example series, of very satisfying content.


Whether we're talking about an email newsletter, a white paper or your employee handbook, when it comes to business communications, the words should work for you - not against you. I have 20+ years of marketing, sales, operations and professional writing experience. If you want to enlist the help of a writer who "gets" business, get in touch

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Writer's Petition: On Using Language for Good

I'm big on old-fashioned government. Writing elected officials. Collecting signatures and carrying thoughtful petitions into city hall. Standing up and speaking my mind (cordially) at board meetings.

I did not sign this online petition, because I really doubt that signatures on it matter much.

I am sharing it here and asking you to consider that presidential hopeful who uses language as a most powerful tool. Not necessarily for good.

A politician angles to get a job through what is essentially a popularity contest. When a politician wins that contest, then he or she is not a prom king or queen, but a LEADER. Those are two distinct job descriptions. In both roles, using language expertly is crucial to the job. Otherwise, there's not a lot of overlap between those two things - politician and leader.

So an iPetition slugged "Writers on Trump" is going around on Facebook. Sign it and share it if you think it could make a difference. More importantly, please, before you vote, think about language and how a leader should communicate. 

< steps off soapbox >

Friday, June 3, 2016

Words & Pictures: Excellent Examples of Highly Satisfying Content

Writing = Communication. And sometimes, a picture really is worth 1,000 words. Here's an example from Outbrain:

If you need to go get some donuts before you finish reading this, I'll understand. 

Outbrain is a well-funded content discovery firm that's really big on self-promotion. Not knocking it; just calling it as I see it. That said, I'm partial to a good case study. So, kudos to Outbrain. 

Content: Clever Counts! 

When writing online the current caution is "avoid being clever." Good advice, to an extent, as headers are heavily weighted content and clever headlines often don't have the right keywords and phrases to pull the SEO punch you need. But there's an exception (or two) to every rule, and today's EXCELLENT example comes from a (very clever) liquor store in Massachusetts

I completely agree with those who've said it's “the best analog Twitter feed in the world.”

There you have it - two #ExcellentExamples for the price of one! Now, enjoy those donuts or McMuffins ... but if you're reading this at work, please wash them down with a non-alcoholic beverage ;)
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Need to spice up your content? Want a white paper that's not dry as toast? I specialize in content that goes down easy.  Contact me when you're planning your next marketing communication project.