Content Marketing Hacks For Brands Who Want To Stand Out

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Over the years, I’ve worked with a wide range of businesses on implementing everything from social media campaigns to content marketing initiatives. More often than not, I’m brought in because these businesses are looking to drive meaningful and measurable results. In many cases, I’m also brought in to simply add a bit of fuel to an existing flame to get their marketing efforts burning hot again.

Keeping content fresh, exciting and bringing back visitors is a challenge for all businesses. Startups, government bodies and Fortune 500 companies all struggle with keeping their content compelling and unique. It’s definitely industry and team dependent, but it’s a challenge that can often be resolved with a few fresh content marketing hacks. Here are 9 quick and easy content hacks that keep things fresh & effective:

1. Write Your Headline Last

It’s a simple concept, but one that we often overlook. I’ve sat with my laptop in front of me far too many times with nothing to write because I wrote my title before I wrote my post. Trust me when I say, it’s a trap. Committing yourself to a title before actually writing the post forces you to stay inside a bubble. It’s always good to have a concept, or at least an underlying message, that you want to write, but never look at your title as a rule. Rules are meant to be broken, and it’s those who break them that shine (tweet this).

Instead of writing your headline before you write your post, create a framework for your post. A simple model that works well for me is taking a blank document and writing out (1) Intro (2) Body (3) Conclusion. From there, I write a few key points under each of those items that I want to communicate and start writing. At the end, I read the post and decide what the title will be depending on the information I’ve put on paper.

2. Embrace Blogger Relationships

Whether you care to admit it or not, the power of relationships is what differentiates successful businesses and those that fail. Relationships with suppliers, relationships with customers, and relationships with colleagues all play a role in making a business work. In marketing, a new wave of relationships have grown from the dirt as it’s becoming more and more important for brands to have relationships with bloggers.

Many bloggers have become as influential as those who were once called grade A journalists. Sure, their style is different and the content they write isn’t always up to “journalism standards”,but the influence that these bloggers have cannot be denied. Ryan Holiday wrote about the power of connecting with bloggers in his book Trust Me I’m Lying. It’s a book that will change the way you think about blogging and one that I highly recommend picking up.

3. Create Value Driven Infographics

When you’re creating infographics, you should try to think of the utility value that the infographic offers your target audience. Take the time to think about your target audience and truly understand what type of visual you could create that they would find real value in. It’s not enough to simply create something that could hang  in an art gallery. Instead, you need to create an infographic that is worth being printed off and put up in your target audiences bedroom or office.

A great example of a value driven infographic is the Noob Guide to Online Marketing from the folks at Unbounce. The infographic has generated more than 3,000 tweets, 1,600 likes on Facebook, and has been viewed more than 10,000 times by marketers around the world. An infographic like this isn’t one that you give a quick glance  and never look at again. It’s an infographic that contains so much information, so much insight, and so much knowledge that marketers around the world are going to bookmark it, print it, save it, and come back to for years to come.

When you build an infographic that has a sense of value, people share it. The death of the infographic has been greatly exaggerated as great infographics still have the ability to cut through the noise (tweet this).

4. Use Third Parties to Add Credibility

I’m sure you’re an industry expert and have a brain that is filled with knowledge, but people love a third party confirmation. Especially if the third party is someone who, in their mind, carries a significant amount of credibility or authority. The usage of a third party for credibility in content marketing can happen in a variety of different executions. You can use a third party as a plug to say you’ve written an awesome ebook, see here:

You could also use a third party throughout your content in the form of research and academic studies. The use of research to confirm a point is a great way to demonstrate this content took effort to create, but also that it’s not a load of smoke and mirrors. The folks at BufferApp use this approach on the regular with content referencing science and well thought out stats. Whether it’s about the science behind the timing of social media or the science of persuasion, BufferApp has found great results through their blog.

5. Create Awesome Guest Posts

Wake up folks. Guest blogging is not something to take lightly. Over the last few months, I’m not alone in seeing a significant drop in the quality of guest posts being shared across some of my favourite blogs and websites. Too many brands and businesses are embracing quantity over quality with the hope of backlinks instead of putting quality content in front of a new audience. In some ways, crappy guest posts are killing quality content.

Instead of making the mistake of writing a guest post that falls flat and possibly does more damage to your brand than good, use these tips:

  1. Do Research: Understand the existing audience of the channel in which you’ll be guest blogging. Have a deep understanding of what they’re interested in and create content that is both unique and compelling.
  2. Include Examples: When you’re pitching a blogger or media outlet with a guest post, show examples. Include content that you’ve written on other networks and other blogs that have been home run hitters. If I’m pitching for a guest blog, I tend to share my most frequently shared posts to give the blogger some confidence that I can deliver.
  3. Embrace Feedback: The blogger knows their audience better than you do. Most likely, they’ve had one on one conversations with their audience and really understands what they like and what they don’t like. Instead of dictating your content to this blogger, look for and embrace feedback as it could play a role in ensuring your blog post is a great one.

6. Build Content for the Media

A lot of businesses think that their businesses are boring and that no one would be interested in what they have to say. In reality, it’s not your business that’s boring, it’s the story you’re telling that is boring. You need to tell an interesting story if you want people to talk about you in the media or on social media. It’s not enough to blend in. You need to strive to stand out.

One of the most effective ways to generate buzz around your business is through media coverage. When the media writes about your brand, not only does it give you a wide range of reach into a new audience, it also gives you a sense of credibility as you can now place their logo on your site. The media is a great way to put your brand in front of an audience that is engaged with your story and has a level of trust associated with media.

A frequently successful approach to generating press using content is finding insights and story lines that they can write about. If you’re in the technology space, crafting content that dives deep into data or quantitate insights could be a great opportunity to generate buzz. But don’t make them over think it. You need to tell the media the story and deliver the story with a nicely tied bow. Express what your key findings are and take a position on something.

7. Niche Content Marketing. Niche Directories.

Everyone has an audience. And in this overly connected world, in most cases, you can find your audience online talking about your product or industry. The internet is filled with hidden streets filled with passionate individuals talking about things you couldn’t imagine.  As such, identifying where your audience is spending their time and creating content specifically for them, is a great approach to driving content marketing success.

Understanding your audience is one of the most important pieces of marketing. Ask yourself what your audience is interested in and then do the research to find out where they spend their time. If your audience is interested in doing a downward dog and practicing Zen, you might want to spend time on the Yoga Subreddit. Maybe your audience gets excited over search engine optimization and blogging? If so, a network like Inbound.org might be right up your alley.

8. Always Use Share Plugins

It’s a simple idea, but it’s one that is often overlooked when discussing content marketing. Social sharing plugins are a key asset for any piece of content you’re looking to spread. If you want your content to get shared on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin – You need to integrate social sharing buttons. A lot of blogs have gone as far as making their own social media plugins, but you could easily find a WordPress plugin if that’s how you manage your blog.

9. Leverage Emails For Content Marketing

Since the roll out of Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – Everyone is shifting their focus away from email. Sure, we might spend a lot of time on Facebook and all these other networks, but let’s not pretend we don’t check our emails daily. It’s a simple sound or vibration that will make us stop everything we’re doing to read the subject line and possibly open it. Email is just as important today in your content marketing toolkit as it’s ever been.

Studies have shown that email can play a significant role in customer retention and acquisition. Establishing an automated system that drives potential customers back to your site or entices them to read/download your content is a great way to drive results.

Email is also a very personal form of communication. When a brand sends out a tweet or Instagram photo, they are sharing that content with the world. When a brand sends a potential customer an email, it comes off more personalized when crafted appropriately. You can use special tags to personalize your emails and write them as if you’re writing them to an individual instead of an entire group. It’s a great way to establish a relationship with your audience and ultimately take meaningful steps towards conversion and loyalty.

Now these are just some of the many content marketing tips I’ve learned over the last few years. If you want to learn more about content marketing, you should check out my latest ebook – Stand Out: A content marketing guide that highlights these tips in detail along with a handful of others ideas.

 

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