Which describes your content best:
- “What we want to say” OR
- What our market wants to hear”?
If it’s Door #1, you need to make a change.
That’s one of the lessons I picked up from two of the keynote presentations at Content Marketing World 2014, the fast-growing annual conference of content marketing held each year in Cleveland OH, USA.
The old view: content that focuses on products and services
In his keynote address to CMW2014, Andrew Davis, author of the book “Brandscaping” (www.brandscapingbook.com), talked about how marketers used to have a “Ptolemic” view of the world -- which is the ancient understanding of the universe with the Earth at the center and the planets revolving around it.
Many organizations thought that their content should be like this -- revolving around their products and services. Naturally, few customers got much value or enjoyment out of this type of content. So, they avoided reading it.
The newer view: content that revolves around Google
Andrew Davis said that this situation has changed, so that Google is at the center of the brand’s universe -- all content is designed to catch those top search results.
Influencing bodies like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest revolve around that all-important search box on Google. As another observer said, “We all work for Google now.” I think that this makes for more useful content than the “Ptolemic” view of content, in that the content at least needs to contain keywords that prospective clients will use to search for information on their topics of interest. This means that the content is developed with the client’s needs in mind, making for more effective information.
The next view: content with the client as center
Some of what Andrew Davis said in his presentation put in mind the central idea I’ve been pushing for over 15 years -- the idea that content must be developed with the reader’s interests at the center.
I’ve practiced this largely through developing content on behalf of my professional firm clients, exactly to meet the needs of specific client-focused media. Traditionally, this has involved trade magazines and their associated websites. Editors of these publications are insistent that the content they publish be written with their readers in mind.
There are some amazingly narrow publications available, many of them eager to publish informative articles written by business professionals with good understanding of their market. For example, power transmission has a voice in “Transmission and Distribution,” a magazine specifically for people involved in that field. Over the years, Global Reach has helped clients get published in niche publications including:
- Water Re-use and Desalination
- Pipeline & Gas Journal
- Coal Age
- University Business
There is a wealth of other narrow titles available to reach narrow markets. Note that a reader who pays for a subscription to a magazine such as those, wants to receive information they won’t be able to pick up on the Web, about what matters to them. Advertisers likewise, want their ad next to copy that is in high demand.
Just having to pass the editor’s scrutiny is a good way to force a business professional to think of the needs of that specific readership -- which helps them develop solutions uniquely applicable to that market.
“The end of free organic search is near”
One of the other presenters -- Julie Fleischer of Kraft -- said that we are nearing the for free organic search, in which the search results are genuinely powered by the search terms used, not warped by someone paying to get a good position in those results. I think that given the amount of noise on the Web now, and given the difficulty of ranking high in search results, we’ll see more companies will pay for the privilege.
This means that standard “search” is going to be an increasingly ineffective way to get your ideas in front of potential clients.
This is a second reason why it’s worth the trouble to get content into publications already relied upon by potential customers. They’re more likely to come across it in their normal routines -- in their industry trade publications, in their LinkedIn groups, and on their association websites. They will be doing more searches inside these websites, trusting that the content they find will be relevant to their needs, and reliable. They don’t always get that on the open Internet.
You’ll find plenty of resources in the Wiki part of the Global Reach Website that will help you get your firm’s content into publications where it will be seen by potential clients.