Don Draper had it easy. In the “Mad Men” era, all he had to do was come up with an amazing concept that could be expressed in a few words, and then have his media buying department purchase advertising space.
In the years since the time depicted in that show, there have been many changes, including the automation of many formerly manual processes. But content marketing is actually a step backwards along that road, into an era that requires more hand-crafting of the message. Good thought-leadership content requires a lot of work. You need to fill space and time with useful information, not just with cool images.
Many people have tried to do “content marketing lite” in that they are looking for a shortcut -- one that they can buy, in the same way that Stirling Draper Cooper Price bought ad space.
There are ways to lighten the load -- sort of like building furniture using hand-held electric tools rather than a chisel -- but it’s not mass production.
Outsource content generation
Some organizations outsource their content on a low-cost basis, on the assumption that content can be extruded at low cost like so much pasta.
Because of the constant pressure to produce content, many organizations have gone for volume rather than quantity, often outsourcing their content development to low-wage countries. Sometimes, you get what you pay for, and there are no assurances that “cheap” content won’t also cheapen your message through bad grammar, spelling, and copyright violations.
So, in content outsourcing, you tend to get what you pay for.
In the usual Global Reach way of developing content for our clients, we start with the ideas and concepts expressed by thought-leaders within the organization, and package them effectively. We find it’s important that the ideas all come from our client authors, because only that way is the content authentically the author’s voice.
This involves aggregating content that you come across and making it available to your contacts. It’s best for you to have a clear idea of what your market is interested in, so it’s more about them than it is about you and your interests. Remember that almost certainly, you are not your market.
This marketing tool works best if you add your interpretation or “spin” to the content, so that people who see your content recognize you as someone with value to offer.
Multiple uses of content
Google takes grave offense at anyone who takes the same content and posts it in different places. So even if you want to re-use information in text form, be sure to rewrite it to please Google -- and also because your message should change according to the needs of the people you’re addressing.
But also, it’s important to reposition your content for various media. A transcription of a podcast interview can become show notes for the podcast, as well as be reworked as blog posts and magazine articles. Ideas in a blog post can become the basis for a video or a speech.
Social media leverage
I don’t do as much of this as I should, but each issue of the Global Reach newsletter has also been sent out via Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and through the company website.
This is a process that can be easily delegated and automated through platforms like Hootsuite.
Those four ways to make content development easier can help you get better use for your time, and better impact for the time you do spend.
How producing new content regularly helps you grow professionally
Anyone who has parented a newborn baby knows that they need to be fed frequently -- and have harrowing tales of keeping a 24 hour schedule.
Producing content regularly and frequently can be like that. It’s been part of my professional life ever since I first walked through the doors of The Cord Weekly, the student newspaper at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, where I got my start in journalism. Ever since then, I’ve been producing publications, and needed to fill what journalists call “the news hole” for each issue.
And one of the great things about producing a weekly newsletter has been the need to develop more thinking around my ideas about marketing professional services. I’ve repositioned some of this content into LinkedIn posts, and plan to work it into the next book. I’ve appreciated Rebecca’s help on creating the content of some of the issues. But after a year of weekly newsletters, I’ve decided that my energies are better spent directly on work for clients, and building the client base. So, this newsletter will become a monthly, which will likely leave room for more thought in each issue.
If your professional plans include publishing a book, I can recommend committing to a regular blog or newsletter schedule as a way to force yourself to develop new ideas that can be worked into that book.