Pick up a copy of a business magazine, webinar, SEO whitepaper, workshop agenda or open one of those hundreds of marketing tip e-mails [not all such e-mails are the same of course 🙂 ] and the chances are you’ll not go far before the word “content” is mentioned.
If you want your website to be a successful shop window for your company you need it to be well furnished with content, lots of it, all shapes and sizes, colours, creations and categories……or do you?
Call me an old cynic…but when I start to sense a trend forming and a bandwagon being jumped on I have a natural inclination to run in the opposite direction. Sure SEO is important but what if you produce masses of poor content? All that will prove is that you’ve created a big website full of “stuff” that nobody is going to read let alone share. Surely the idea with this facet of marketing is to produce quality, focused material that appeals to those who you have identified as your target audience. Badly written and presented content will have the adverse effect. I would argue that even if you did rank higher as a result of your prolific production once anyone clicked on it they would be more inclined to bounce straight out again. This would only create a negative impression.
Ok back to basics, what is “content”? Does anyone really know or is it just another “buzzword” that sounds good but has little thought behind it.
Content varies from the obvious written word, blog, news update, article to more visual and increasingly popular sources such as infographics, webinars and other video based productions such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, Meerkat and Periscope.
Just for starters WordPress report that there are 42.6 million blog posts per month. Now imagine how that number is going to escalate with the buzzword of the year “content” driving marketing activities. Add to the written word the growing trend of video posts and you’ve a very busy and somewhat cluttered space in which you’re trying to make a name for yourself.
A) You can just see the common scenario developing where a young marketing manager, having read all the latest guides, asks the MD to produce a blog for the company. The MD is very busy but she knows this buzz of blogging and “thought leadership” is the thing she really should be doing…so she writes one. It’s not great but it is her first effort. The marketer doesn’t feel that they can correct the boss so is left with no option but to post it. No one comments on it, it’s only read by staff internally who universally agree the MD should stick to running the business.
B) Or what about a situation where no one in the business has the time to write an article or blog so they look around for help. Now for the purpose of balance I must advise that yes, there are excellent copywriters, journalists, wordsmiths who have both the intelligence and skill to produce high quality “home grown looking” material that is both informative and easy to digest. Unfortunately given the “content” Goldrush we have no shortage of prospectors panning for nuggets but finding fool’s gold, those who look the real deal, talk a good game but simply don’t understand enough about the business and the best way to communicate with their target audience. In this example the business spends a large chunk of their annual marketing budget on an agency who simply fails to connect with the client and produces low grade results albeit in large quantities. The company sacks the agency when the MD asks a few pertinent questions at a board meeting such as “Do they own a dictionary” “Have they met our production team” “Why are the web visits up but the engagement down?” The result, the agency blames the client and the resultant lack of business demonstrates the importance of having a well thought through strategy that involves communications that connect with the target audience.
So what should you be doing?
- Know your audience and understand what they want, how they consume information and if indeed an MD blog is the way to grow your business profile.
- Google does seek fresh and relevant content so it is an idea to have your website populated with dynamic regularly updated and appropriate material.
- Don’t overlook the use of video or slides as content alternatives but ensure they are well scripted, planned and executed and not “handmade”.
- Don’t follow the competition, find your own voice and methods of communicating that speak of your business, its culture and strong sales points.
- Whilst it’s important it’s not all about digital. Consider the offline use of content such as print, face to face and traditional broadcast mediums.
- If you can make use of the writing talent within your business. It doesn’t need to be perfect but be prepared to offer constructive criticism to ensure that the finished article is as professional as possible.
- Provide training – consider bringing in a professional writer/ journalist to deliver a session on writing for a specific audience.
- Don’t make it a one hit wonder. Take responsibility for driving the content creation within the business.
- If you do outsource vet the suppliers with terrific care. I would strongly counsel against allowing an agency to run social media sites for your company however more complex written material may need external expertise to deliver. Seek out those who are prepared to understand your business and offer true bespoke material rather than a factory production line.
- Last but by all means not least, be clear as to your objectives and strategy. Ask the question IS CONTENT CREATION THE CORRECT SOLUTION FOR MY BUSINESS? If so what will work and where are you best employed to deliver optimum returns. If not don’t be badgered by the bandwagon promoters, trust your instincts.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog please contact David Laud via twitter @davidlaud or call 08456 446624