The team at MarketSmiths assisted us on a complex project and helped us translate our vision and words into the voice that truly represented our company and mission. We had a short runway and were very impressed with their willingness to jump in so quickly. Responsive, attentive, and clever, MarketSmiths never missed an opportunity to elevate our message. MarketSmiths was a valuable partner in the process—and we look forward to working with the team again!
The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.
Quick turnarounds. When you write for an employer, on their timeline, you will need to be able to write fast and write well. This is especially true for writers just breaking into content writing. Often, your project will come with an expected words per hour, or article per hour, as well as strict deadlines. You will not have time to labor over every word or turn of phrase. Instead, you will need to produce content fast and at a constant rate.
Everywhere, there are people / small businesses trying to create their own website who get stuck and need help. As a copywriter, you are the ideal person to help them, because you don’t just give them “a website”. With copywriting skills you can give them something which delivers their message powerfully. (The technical side of creating a website can be easily learned – just sign up for free accounts with Blogger, Wix, Weebly…and play around with them to get familiar.)
Infographics. These are generally long, vertical graphics that include statistics, charts, graphs, and other information. If you need some examples, here are 197 infographics on the topic of content marketing curated by Michael Schmitz, head of Content Lab at Publicis, Munich. Infographics can be effective in that if one is good it can be passed around social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk or if you want to remove some of the risk you can go with a company like Visua.ly. A decent infographic will usually cost you at least $1,000 to have designed, but can cost several thousand dollars if you are hiring a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, copywriting, and design. There is also the matter of promoting that infographic to bloggers and the media. Or you could set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics on a topic related to your business. That is also a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing but your time. Hey, it worked for Michael.
Some companies may have marketing teams of far more than 18. Here at HubSpot, for example, we have a team of nearly 100. Even so, we stick to a team structure quite similar to the structure an 18-person marketing team might use -- with one modification. Design is broken off of the Content Team, and relegated to a separate team. This might make sense for your organization, too, if you find that:
Ebooks are the next step in the inbound marketing process: After reading a blog post (such as this one), visitors might want more information. This is where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play, directing people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an ebook to learn more valuable information for their business. In turn, the business producing the ebook has a new lead for the sales team to contact.
The easiest way to get started is to apply to write content for a content writing service or freelance job board. Content writing services create business relationships with companies that need content and provide writers to write that content. Freelance job boards are sites that allow writers to make individual profiles and vie for jobs posted directly by the client.
I like the suggestions posed here and am going to give them a shot. I’ve written the copy I like most (and think is most concise and effective) when I stop thinking about what I’m trying to do and just write then go back and see what I came up with that I like and truncate/refine. I’ll even write the same sentence three different ways in succession as I think of different ways.
At this stage of growth, it's also time to assign dedicated leadership to your content marketing team -- unless you want two dozen people reporting to the CMO. Many organizations hire a Director of Content, VP of Content, Chief Content Officer, or Editor-in-Chief to lead the entire content marketing team. This individual sets the vision for the team, secures budget, hires the right talent, contributes content ideas, solves for growth, and helps coordinate with other leaders across the marketing organization so content marketing doesn't become too siloed.
In 1933, Procter & Gamble started to broadcast a radio serial drama sponsored by their Oxydol soap powder. The owners wanted to build brand loyalty by aiming to adult women. They could intermix their marketing messages into the serial drama. The term soap opera was born in this year, and they marked a precedent for native ads. Engagement with the audience was a key element with the creation of this content.
Premium or gated assets are typically longer form, and/or more time-intensive pieces that don't exist on a blog. They might be used to generate leads or contacts, or for brand-building purposes. These are typically created by the dedicated long-form content creator if your team is large enough to have one, but sometimes bloggers get involved too, as blog posts are good testing grounds for what performs well and is thus worth investing in.
I’ve just set up my own website, now, and those early gigs have provided some great testimonials, which is a huge boost to confidence. I used Blogger for my own website – it’s free, apart from a fiver a year for a custom domain, and it’s surprising how versatile Blogger can be, with a little practice. I’m now ready to start doing all the things Neville recommends in the above article, and the future looks loaded with potential.
There are a host of metrics to look at when you have a robust analytics solution, but having too many goals to live up to tends to result in prioritization difficulties. I recommend content marketing teams have 2-3 metrics they measure, and perhaps some secondary metrics each sub-team can measure to help understand when there are different levers to pull. Here are my recommendations:
Most people start out with blog posts, but if you want to venture out and try producing other content pieces, consider which ones you want to make. For instance, if you've been doing weekly blog posts for the past year, creating an ebook that distills all your blog posts into one ultimate guide would be a one way to offer information in a different format. We'll go over several different types of content you can use further down on the list.