Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Content Marketing Manifesto: 10 Principles to Drive Creative Content

Here are its basic tenets:

1. Love What You Create

Love Yourself
Image Credit: Yu-Cheng Hsiao/Flickr
If you don't start with what appeals to you personally, and what you would love to read and re-read (or watch or listen to), how could you possibly convince someone else to give your creation a shot?

2. Don't Reinvent the Wheel

Image Credit: Mary Anne Enriquez/Flickr
A lot has been done by smart people the world over. Use what they've done and build upon it.
Existing content within your own company can be re-used, it can be upcycled, it can be integrated, and it can be weaved into different formats. Milk your existing content for all it's worth because you've put great effort into it and it would be a shame for more people not to see it.
Also, curate other peoples' content but add value to it by offering up an additional opinion or an insight or perspective. Doing so will keep the pressure off you from joining the content creation rat race. And you'll have more time to focus on creating stuff that you love.

3. Make Incremental Changes

Image Credit: Maciej Lewandowski/Flickr
Sailors do this all time. When a ship starts to veer off course, they never make one drastic course-correct. Doing so could tip the ship over.
Airline pilots do this too. When the plane starts to swerve, they make small adjustments to get it back on track.
The brilliance of this is that it allows the vessel to stabilize and it allows the captain to gauge the effect of those changes in time to react to them.
You are the captain of your content ship. Believe that small changes in the right direction can have a much bigger impact than a few huge overhauls.

4. Always Apply the 80/20 Rule

Social Media Puzzle
Image Credit: greyweed/Flickr
There's no reason to scramble for everything shiny. Not every social network is going to help your business or your customers.
Not every new tool is going to increase your productivity. Try new things and give them a reasonable time frame of success. Doing so will help you find what works (the 20 percent) and use it consistently to maximize returns (the 80 percent).

5. Celebrate the Wins, Don't Rue the Losses.

Long Road
Image Credit: Paul Oka/Flickr
It's important to recognize how far your work has come without losing sight of where you want it to go. Live in the moment but always be looking ahead.
Since content marketing is a long-term game, it's easy to sometimes lose focus, get disheartened and give up when instant results don't roll in. But if your strategy is solid, you'll be able to stay the course and gain momentum with the small wins. Someone wise said, "It's always the little things."

6. Your Strategy Will Save You

Image Credit: photosteve101/Flickr
Spend inordinate amounts of time creating, recreating, and refining your content strategy. Drill down and define your goals and the customers you love to work with.
Find out what makes them so lovable. Doing so will help you identify other people with the same traits. When you're out of ideas, feeling demotivated or when things aren't turning out the way you wanted, your strategy will guide and reinvigorate you.

7. Transparency Wins Every Time

Image Credit: Alan/Flickr
No matter the situation you encounter, whether it's a harsh comment on a blog or a crisis over on social media, strive to be honest, explain the facts, define your position and take responsibility.
When you put yourself out there openly, the right people will be likely to reward you with their respect and trust. Learn to ignore the trolls and develop a thick skin.

8. Strive to Test, Experiment, and Test Again

Test Tubes
Image Credit: Proggie/Flickr
Because you won't magically know what works and what doesn't for your business model. Sometimes testing might mean taking one step forward and two steps back. So be it.

9. Have Fun, Dammit!

Image Credit: Jennie Ivins/Flickr
Don't create boring content. The world does not need another "why my product is so great" blog.
What the world needs is something made with love and conviction. What the world needs is somebody who comes alive while creating stories.
Create; and have fun creating. Because you having fun will translate into a better product than you not having fun creating it.

10. Don't Obsess Over Your Niche

Image Credit: Dustin Diaz/Flickr
Yes it's good to be focused and attract a niche following. Yes SEO is great and being relevant is obviously important. All of that matters. But it is secondary.
The primary focus is to be interesting. People need to actually want to read your content.
Your words need to show your personality. Your stories need to be informative, helpful, funny, etc. or stand out in other meaningful ways. Without that primary interest, there's no long-term sustainability.


This content marketing manifesto is born of my beliefs, my straight-shooter nature, and my experience with what moves the needle.

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