#CMWorld 2019 Interview: Andrew Davis on Showing, Not Telling

One of the most fundamental requirements for content marketing is also one that unfortunately tends to get overlooked most: It needs to be entertaining. As marketers, we can get so caught up in conversions and funnels and business outcomes that we lose sight of this imperative. If your content doesn’t hook someone and draw them in, it isn’t going to accomplish anything. 

Andrew Davis is someone who doesn’t need to be reminded of this because he launched his career in the entertainment industry. Now a cherished keynote speaker and best-selling author, Andrew got his start as a program producer for WABU-TV, a local station in Boston. He later served as Workshop Production Manager for the Jim Henson Company, helping out with brands like The Muppets and Sesame Street.

With this background, Andrew offers a helpful perspective for content marketers who want to reconnect with their most essential objective. The theme of this year’s Content Marketing World event (and the new interactive experience courtesy of TopRank Marketing and CMI, featuring insights from Andrew and many others) is putting on a grand show under the big-top tent. It’s a hearty reminder that dazzling audiences should always be our utmost priority.

To do so, Andrew recommends thinking like a television executive, developing unique twists, searching for moments of inspiration, and making appointments with your audience. Read on to learn how you can compel folks to tune in and take action by showing, not telling.

Andrew Davis Shares on Video Marketing and More

1) You’ve got a history of working in entertainment and television. What techniques and philosophies do you carry over from that experience as a content marketer?

Everything I know about content marketing I learned in the television business. There are a few key areas where this comes into play when you’re creating content.

Number one is to think like a television executive. The reason I say that is television execs always think audience-first. They want to create content that is so valuable the audience falls in love with it, and as a result, they can sell stuff. In the television world, they sell time and space in their programming and are hoping to inspire people to buy something they didn’t know they needed. So as long as you’re thinking audience-first, and how you can add value to their lives by creating content that they fall in love with, you’re thinking like a TV executive.

The second thing is to make an appointment with your audience. I truly believe you should set a specific time and day in the mind of your audience as far as when you’re going to deliver your content. That doesn’t mean they can’t listen to it or watch it or read it on-demand at any time, but making an appointment with your audience and releasing it at a time in their lives that your content is going to be more relevant is going to make a big impact on your marketing, just as a television executive picks the right time for a show. 

The third thing is to build a format. A format is basically an outline for your content. People fall in love with a television show in the following order: they fall in love with the format, then the hook, then the talent. So number one, you need to deliver the same kind of content every week consistently, just like a television show. You can’t be all over the map and have a different format, because people enjoy consistency. The next one is a hook. A hook is just a simple twist on a familiar theme, designed to trap or ensnare your audience, and that’s something I definitely learned in television. An easy example of that is a mash-up. Like if you were selling software, your hook might be “Mythbusters for Software” or something like that. And the next one is using talent. We live in a social-driven world, and your brand has to have a person attached to it that we can fall in love with. All the most successful content plays have a person who delivers the content so we fall in love with that person. That’s a really important piece.

At the end of the day, thinking like a television executive is all about using valuable content that can increase demand for the products and services we sell using an audience-first approach. @drewdavishere Click To Tweet

2) Video marketing is a  clear passion of yours. What do you see as the biggest areas where practitioners are currently missing the mark with this medium?

Most importantly, video is a “show-me” medium. This means you have to show me instead of tell me. So if you’re shooting a talking-head video, you need to add some B-roll to it. B-roll is the second track — the stuff I see while you’re talking. That’s a really important piece of the puzzle that I think people miss. If you’re going to create video you need to show me something, don’t just talk to the camera. If you’re going to do that, you might as well just use audio, right? You don’t need video for it. Shooting a lot of B-roll is really helpful.

The other thing is speaking in the present tense as much as possible. A lot of people tell stories in the past tense, but we all have the ability to shoot video as things are happening, so shoot in the present tense as much as possible.

The last thing I’ll say is that in general, talking-head videos are boring. So challenge yourself to create something that’s unique, that isn’t just a talking head, and really start thinking about what it might look like if it wasn’t just a person talking in an interview.

If you’re going to create a video you need to show me something, don’t just talk to the camera. @drewdavishere Click To Tweet

3) For an organization that’s just getting started with video, what is the one single thing to prioritize above all else? Is there an example that comes to mind of great brand content getting this right?

You have to shoot with what you’ve got. The technology can get in the way of creating great video. You can always upgrade your equipment — people always want the best camera to start with, and they want the best microphone and the best lighting. That stuff is great, and you eventually should get there. But the key is to start thinking like a television executive or an editor, and just start shooting with your phone. Don’t just shoot yourself, shoot the B-roll and then try to edit the B-roll into your video.

Even if you’re just making something for Instagram, you can shoot on your phone and then edit with some very simple tools so that you’re actually understanding what it’s like to show instead of tell. 

As far as a brand that gets this kind of content right, one example I give a lot is the testimonial for a weight loss program created by the wrestler Diamond Dallas Page. It’s called Vance’s 365-Day Transformation and it’s all shot on an iPhone essentially, except for a few pieces. It’s all shot in the present tense and it’s just really well put together. Take a look at that video and I challenge you not to watch the whole thing.

4) Can you give a practical example — real or theoretical — of your “Loyalty Loop” concept being applied in a content strategy? 

My favorite example is the story of Jenny Doan, who runs the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Let’s start with her moment of commitment, because when you’re creating a content platform, the goal is to get people to subscribe to the content you’re creating. Instead of just sending out an email newsletter, we’ve got to give them value each and every week that’s designed to create a new moment of inspiration, to trigger a new question in their mind where we’re the prime brand. 

What Jenny Doan does is every single week she creates a new quick quilting tutorial on her YouTube channel, and invites people to subscribe not just through YouTube, but to her email list. Every one of those videos is designed to inspire someone to make a new quick quilt. And as a result, they say, “Oh, I want to make that quilt.” That’s a moment of inspiration. Their trigger question might be, “Where can I get the fabric and pre-cut pieces to make that?” The prime brand for that is Missouri Star Quilt Company, so they go right back to Jenny Doan’s company and buy again.

The key is not to try to interrupt active evaluation, but to create content that gets someone to commit to the brand, using one piece of data like an email address, or two pieces of data like an email and first name, so you can create moments of inspiration in their lives.

5) As visual content and multimedia continue to take over, writers might be feeling a little undervalued. In which ways will copywriting and the written word remain vital to delighting audiences?

The video content you create should actually be written, so… write it! It needs to be a little different than if you’re writing a blog post or an email — it needs to be written as you speak. So if you’re a writer and you’re feeling undervalued, challenge yourself to start writing video. The most important thing is, when you’re writing a video, read it out loud. If you’re using words or sentence structure that you wouldn’t use in conversations, you’re all of a sudden not writing for speaking. So write it. I write all my videos and I really enjoy it, by the way.

One technique I like is using a lot of ellipses so you’re actually writing as you’d speak. End thoughts with a next thought instead of just a period. It’ll be much better, it’ll be more clear, and it’ll be smarter. 

But listen, if you’re a writer and you’re feeling undervalued you’re probably missing the biggest opportunity to build real relationships with people and that’s through email. An email is a text-driven medium that’s interpersonal, and if you focus on your email writing — making it personal and creating that moment of inspiration for one person on your list — you’re going to start improving your writing and growing the impact you can make. Even if it’s to get someone to watch a video, you need to write a better email. Writers are not going away. In fact, if you can just expand your skillset and focus on moments of inspiration as your writing goal, whether it’s for video or audio or text, you’re going to make a big impact.

The most important thing is, when you’re writing a video, read it out loud. @drewdavishere Click To Tweet

6) When done well, testimonial videos and case studies are among the most compelling, persuasive lower-funnel content assets. What do you see as the most essential elements of an effective one?

Firstly, I don’t like to use the word “funnel.” I’m all about Loyalty Loops. But the most glaringly missing object in almost every testimonial video is drama. There is no drama. It’s all about the client or customer you’ve served, and it always starts with an introduction of who they are. Look, people don’t care. They want to feel the tension and the drama in solving a problem that they can identify with. So the most important thing you need to do when creating a really well-done testimonial is to create drama. You need to raise the stakes by showing me something that the audience wants and desires in this story, threatening it for as long as possible, and making sure the payoff you deliver matches the tension you’ve built.

The other thing is that brands are very eager to talk about themselves in the testimonial video. So usually it’ll introduce who the client was, with them saying something like, “Before I was using company/product XYZ, this was my problem.” Well people don’t want to know the solution before they’ve heard the problem and feel the tension, so people tune out immediately. You’ve got to delay the reveal of the company or the product that did it.

7) Which speakers and/or sessions are you most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Content Marketing World?

Oh man. This is a long list because I’ve been for the last 10 or 11 years. There’s so many great speakers it’s hard to get them all. I obviously want to see Tamsen Webster’s keynote, Scott Stratten’s keynote — they’re both fantastic speakers and I really love to watch them. I love Andrew and Pete. Can’t wait to see Jay Baer, Ann Handley, Heather Ritchie, Doug Kessler, Jay Acunzo, Marcus Sheridan, Kate O’Neill, Lee Odden… there’s a long list of people. But those kinda the top-of-mind ones that I look forward to seeing every year at Content Marketing World. 

Come in & Enjoy the Show (Preview)!

Andrew will be one of the many entertaining speakers taking the stage at Content Marketing World 2019, which kicks off on September 3rd in Cleveland. His workshop, Video Marketing Makeover: Transforming Boring Case Studies and Testimonials Into Stories That Inspire Action, will feature plenty more in-depth insight around his mantra of showing, not telling, with video content.

We hope to see you at CMWorld. But before the big event, you can prepare (and sharpen up your rubber duck hunting skills) by checking out The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth!

Content Marketing Planning: How to Build Your Editorial Calendar

Building an Editorial Calendar

Building an Editorial Calendar

I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory. All I did was take a day off!

Opening today’s post up with a bit of levity felt fitting, because calendars can cause much anxiety. They bring to mind deadlines, meticulous organization, and time crunches, which are often oppressive realities for marketers with a million things on their plates.

But the truth is that you’re likely to encounter much more dread if you don’t house your content planning within a documented and strategic editorial calendar for blogging. Building out a set schedule (with a bit of flexibility) ultimately makes your life easier because it provides a guiding light, and ensures your content strategy remains cohesive and oriented around your objectives.

In other words, editorial calendars are no joke. Here’s how you can construct one that seriously drives your company’s blog (or any other content initiative) forward. 

Fortify Your Editorial Calendar in Five Steps

Whether you’ve already got a content calendar, which you hope to refine and improve, or you’re starting from scratch, these five steps will put you on track.

Step 1: Crystallize Your Objectives

The biggest issue with many content plans is that they’re aimless and wayward. When you’re figuring things out on the fly, it can be difficult to tie everything back to the same goals and desired outcomes. So the first step is to zoom out and nail down what you’re trying to achieve with the content in question. For instance, if your blog is designed to generate leads with specific audiences, are you tethering each piece on your calendar back to this outcome in some way? 

Placing objectives front-and-center is a key benefit of documenting your content strategy, and making them the underpinning of your planning will help ensure everything you publish has a purpose. 

via GIPHY

Step 2: Chart Your Pillars and Timely Focuses

With objectives clearly defined, you can formulate content pillars that will serve as the cornerstones of your editorial calendar. Also known as topic clusters, these are the general categories that all of your content will nest under. Pillars are determined by the intersection of what you want to be known for, and where demand exists. They should be informed by SEO research around keywords and queries, hitting the sweet spot between search volume, expertise, and buying intent.

Here on the TopRank Marketing Blog, our pillars are aligned with our agency’s core services — content marketing, SEO, influencer marketing — and so pretty much everything we create for the blog approaches these topics from various angles for people who are interested in learning about them and looking for insight.

Don’t view content pillars as restricting; there are a wide range of ways you can address almost any topic, either directly or tangentially. Organizing your calendar around them will help ensure you stay focused, and relevant to your target audience. In addition to identifying a topical mix, you can start to define your content types — how-tos, thought leadership, influencer collaborations, conversion-driven pieces, etc. These can be aligned with various stages of the buying cycle, and mapped back to the key objectives established in Step 1.

At this point, it’s also smart to map out industry events or seasonal milestones that you’ll want to create content around. 

[bctt tweet=”Don’t view content pillars as restricting; there are a wide range of ways you can address almost any topic, either directly or tangentially. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #ContentPlanning” username=”toprank”]

Step 3: Coordinate with Your Broader Strategy

This is a vital consideration that is all too frequently overlooked. Whatever channel you’re scheduling content for — be it a blog, email, social, etc. — think about ways you can coordinate with other departments or disciplines in the organization. For example, does your sales team experience higher volumes of inquiries at certain times of year? Or are they attending a trade show next month that you could support with content? Maybe one of your executives will be speaking at a conference, and you want to queue up some thought leadership around the subject of their talk in the days leading up.

A strong editorial calendar should reflect the company holistically. In this sense, it can be helpful to make your calendar visible to everyone and not just the folks on your team. 

[bctt tweet=”A strong editorial calendar should reflect the company holistically. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #ContentPlanning ” username=”toprank”]

Step 4: Plot Your Cadence and Schedule Out Your Content

How often will you create content? And why? We all know it’s valuable to publish regularly, because this is how you build an invested and trusting audience, but “regularly” can mean different things under different circumstances. Is it daily? Three times a week? Multiple times per day? This decision shouldn’t driven by guesswork, but by data. 

Although it’s a little older now, HubSpot has a helpful post on determining how often companies should blog based on variables like company size and B2B vs. B2C. But you’ll also want to dig into your own visitor behavior analytics and draw conclusions on what your audience wants. Test different cadences and compare the impacts. As a general rule, more publishing equals more traffic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be worth your while to create new content each day. 

As Alfred Lua of Buffer writes: “I would recommend experimenting and finding a suitable editorial cadence based on your content goals and the amount of time you have. There is no one right editorial cadence. HubSpot publishes several articles a day while Backlinko publishes less than once a month.” (As a side note, we highlighted Backlinko’s quality-over-quantity approach here earlier this year.)

Having made this decision, you can start filling out the calendar appropriately, using your content pillars and organizational directives as guides. Plan as far out as you’re comfortable (at least one month, but forecasting three or more months is even better). Make sure you’re building in enough topical variety to keep things fresh and diverse. Once you get your schedule documented, it becomes easy to spot gaps or overloads. 

Step 5: Leave Room for Change

Note that you don’t want to completely fill out your editorial calendar. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to leave some flexibility so you can nimbly address timely matters as they arise and account for the (expected) unexpected. Contently editor-in-chief Jordan Teicher proposes a 75/25 rule, wherein one out of every four slots in your calendar is left blank. 

“In my years managing the site, I’m certain of one thing: s*** happens,” Teicher writes. “People miss deadlines. Sources don’t respond in time. The design team can’t find the right image. My day gets stuffed with meetings, which prevents me from editing a draft. A flexible content calendar is about more than just coming up with ideas for the current news cycle. It’s also about realistic expectations.”

Smart Practices for Getting the Most Out of Your Editorial Calendar

The five steps above will help you solidify your calendar. Here are a few additional tips to help make the process smoother and more effective.

  • Hold group brainstorming sessions. Usually, the toughest thing about building out a content calendar is coming up with enough concepts to fill it in. I recommend setting up a time where a bunch of your creatives come together to load up the pipeline with ideas (run these ideas past your content pillars and SEO research to assess strategic viability). Make sure to incorporate voices from various departments. 
  • Slice up and repurpose. It’s always valuable to get the most mileage possible out of your content. If you’ve got a big, meaty blog post planned on a certain subject, why not divvy it up into three parts and run it as a series? If you’re looking for a reliable performer next month, why not take your most successful piece from last month and flip it into an infographic, or conceive a follow-up post that expands on it? Repurposing is a great way to get the most out of your content leftovers.
  • Lean on the right tools. For some content teams, a spreadsheet or even a Word doc can be sufficient for organizing your editorial calendar. In other cases, this initiative can be run through your project management software. But for high-volume teams with many elements to track and account for, it might be helpful to go with a dedicated content-centric solution. There are plenty of them out there, including Contently, DivvyHQ, Kapost, CoSchedule, and more.
  • Create comprehensive coverage. What this looks like can vary in different scenarios. It might mean approaching your topical pillars with best-answer content that addresses every subtopic your customers are interested in learning about (especially those queries carrying any level of purchase intent). If you’re in a crowded niche, it might mean gobbling up every bit of white space your competitors are missing. If your content is oriented toward B2B buyers, it might mean creating content for every role on distributed buying committees, and speaking to each stage of a lengthy purchase cycle

Right on Schedule

If you feel apprehensive about building an editorial calendar from scratch, you’re not alone. It can feel intimidating to schedule out so far in advance, and to consistently manage and maintain this resource. But I assure you, once you get into the groove, your life will be much easier and your results will improve. 

Following the steps and recommendations above will help you stay on target and derive maximum value from your efforts.

Want to add further efficiency and foresight to your strategy? Learn more about getting ahead with your content planning

The post Content Marketing Planning: How to Build Your Editorial Calendar appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Content Marketing Planning: How to Build Your Editorial Calendar

Building an Editorial Calendar

I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory. All I did was take a day off!

Opening today’s post up with a bit of levity felt fitting, because calendars can cause much anxiety. They bring to mind deadlines, meticulous organization, and time crunches, which are often oppressive realities for marketers with a million things on their plates.

But the truth is that you’re likely to encounter much more dread if you don’t house your content planning within a documented and strategic editorial calendar for blogging. Building out a set schedule (with a bit of flexibility) ultimately makes your life easier because it provides a guiding light, and ensures your content strategy remains cohesive and oriented around your objectives.

In other words, editorial calendars are no joke. Here’s how you can construct one that seriously drives your company’s blog (or any other content initiative) forward. 

Fortify Your Editorial Calendar in Five Steps

Whether you’ve already got a content calendar, which you hope to refine and improve, or you’re starting from scratch, these five steps will put you on track.

Step 1: Crystallize Your Objectives

The biggest issue with many content plans is that they’re aimless and wayward. When you’re figuring things out on the fly, it can be difficult to tie everything back to the same goals and desired outcomes. So the first step is to zoom out and nail down what you’re trying to achieve with the content in question. For instance, if your blog is designed to generate leads with specific audiences, are you tethering each piece on your calendar back to this outcome in some way? 

Placing objectives front-and-center is a key benefit of documenting your content strategy, and making them the underpinning of your planning will help ensure everything you publish has a purpose. 

via GIPHY

Step 2: Chart Your Pillars and Timely Focuses

With objectives clearly defined, you can formulate content pillars that will serve as the cornerstones of your editorial calendar. Also known as topic clusters, these are the general categories that all of your content will nest under. Pillars are determined by the intersection of what you want to be known for, and where demand exists. They should be informed by SEO research around keywords and queries, hitting the sweet spot between search volume, expertise, and buying intent.

Here on the TopRank Marketing Blog, our pillars are aligned with our agency’s core services — content marketing, SEO, influencer marketing — and so pretty much everything we create for the blog approaches these topics from various angles for people who are interested in learning about them and looking for insight.

Don’t view content pillars as restricting; there are a wide range of ways you can address almost any topic, either directly or tangentially. Organizing your calendar around them will help ensure you stay focused, and relevant to your target audience. In addition to identifying a topical mix, you can start to define your content types — how-tos, thought leadership, influencer collaborations, conversion-driven pieces, etc. These can be aligned with various stages of the buying cycle, and mapped back to the key objectives established in Step 1.

At this point, it’s also smart to map out industry events or seasonal milestones that you’ll want to create content around. 

Don’t view content pillars as restricting; there are a wide range of ways you can address almost any topic, either directly or tangentially. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #ContentPlanning Click To Tweet

Step 3: Coordinate with Your Broader Strategy

This is a vital consideration that is all too frequently overlooked. Whatever channel you’re scheduling content for — be it a blog, email, social, etc. — think about ways you can coordinate with other departments or disciplines in the organization. For example, does your sales team experience higher volumes of inquiries at certain times of year? Or are they attending a trade show next month that you could support with content? Maybe one of your executives will be speaking at a conference, and you want to queue up some thought leadership around the subject of their talk in the days leading up.

A strong editorial calendar should reflect the company holistically. In this sense, it can be helpful to make your calendar visible to everyone and not just the folks on your team. 

A strong editorial calendar should reflect the company holistically. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #ContentPlanning Click To Tweet

Step 4: Plot Your Cadence and Schedule Out Your Content

How often will you create content? And why? We all know it’s valuable to publish regularly, because this is how you build an invested and trusting audience, but “regularly” can mean different things under different circumstances. Is it daily? Three times a week? Multiple times per day? This decision shouldn’t driven by guesswork, but by data. 

Although it’s a little older now, HubSpot has a helpful post on determining how often companies should blog based on variables like company size and B2B vs. B2C. But you’ll also want to dig into your own visitor behavior analytics and draw conclusions on what your audience wants. Test different cadences and compare the impacts. As a general rule, more publishing equals more traffic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be worth your while to create new content each day. 

As Alfred Lua of Buffer writes: “I would recommend experimenting and finding a suitable editorial cadence based on your content goals and the amount of time you have. There is no one right editorial cadence. HubSpot publishes several articles a day while Backlinko publishes less than once a month.” (As a side note, we highlighted Backlinko’s quality-over-quantity approach here earlier this year.)

Having made this decision, you can start filling out the calendar appropriately, using your content pillars and organizational directives as guides. Plan as far out as you’re comfortable (at least one month, but forecasting three or more months is even better). Make sure you’re building in enough topical variety to keep things fresh and diverse. Once you get your schedule documented, it becomes easy to spot gaps or overloads. 

Step 5: Leave Room for Change

Note that you don’t want to completely fill out your editorial calendar. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to leave some flexibility so you can nimbly address timely matters as they arise and account for the (expected) unexpected. Contently editor-in-chief Jordan Teicher proposes a 75/25 rule, wherein one out of every four slots in your calendar is left blank. 

“In my years managing the site, I’m certain of one thing: s*** happens,” Teicher writes. “People miss deadlines. Sources don’t respond in time. The design team can’t find the right image. My day gets stuffed with meetings, which prevents me from editing a draft. A flexible content calendar is about more than just coming up with ideas for the current news cycle. It’s also about realistic expectations.”

Smart Practices for Getting the Most Out of Your Editorial Calendar

The five steps above will help you solidify your calendar. Here are a few additional tips to help make the process smoother and more effective.

  • Hold group brainstorming sessions. Usually, the toughest thing about building out a content calendar is coming up with enough concepts to fill it in. I recommend setting up a time where a bunch of your creatives come together to load up the pipeline with ideas (run these ideas past your content pillars and SEO research to assess strategic viability). Make sure to incorporate voices from various departments. 
  • Slice up and repurpose. It’s always valuable to get the most mileage possible out of your content. If you’ve got a big, meaty blog post planned on a certain subject, why not divvy it up into three parts and run it as a series? If you’re looking for a reliable performer next month, why not take your most successful piece from last month and flip it into an infographic, or conceive a follow-up post that expands on it? Repurposing is a great way to get the most out of your content leftovers.
  • Lean on the right tools. For some content teams, a spreadsheet or even a Word doc can be sufficient for organizing your editorial calendar. In other cases, this initiative can be run through your project management software. But for high-volume teams with many elements to track and account for, it might be helpful to go with a dedicated content-centric solution. There are plenty of them out there, including Contently, DivvyHQ, Kapost, CoSchedule, and more.
  • Create comprehensive coverage. What this looks like can vary in different scenarios. It might mean approaching your topical pillars with best-answer content that addresses every subtopic your customers are interested in learning about (especially those queries carrying any level of purchase intent). If you’re in a crowded niche, it might mean gobbling up every bit of white space your competitors are missing. If your content is oriented toward B2B buyers, it might mean creating content for every role on distributed buying committees, and speaking to each stage of a lengthy purchase cycle

Right on Schedule

If you feel apprehensive about building an editorial calendar from scratch, you’re not alone. It can feel intimidating to schedule out so far in advance, and to consistently manage and maintain this resource. But I assure you, once you get into the groove, your life will be much easier and your results will improve. 

Following the steps and recommendations above will help you stay on target and derive maximum value from your efforts.

Want to add further efficiency and foresight to your strategy? Learn more about getting ahead with your content planning

Cooked to Strategic Perfection: The Layers of a Deliciously Integrated Content Marketing Lasagna

Few things in this world are as delicious as a corner piece of lasagna. For starters, the top layer of cheese is both gooey and crispy. The tomato sauce is sweet yet peppery. The meat? It’s flavorful and hearty. And don’t get me started on the ricotta and mozzarella layers—my favorite by far.

via GIPHY

Lasagna is the perfect dish. And its perfection is not just defined by quality ingredients, but how each ingredient is artfully layered together to bring satisfaction with each and every bite. That’s where the magic happens.

Cooking a delectable lasagna to perfection is not unlike crafting an integrated approach to content marketing. On their own, your tactics may whet your audience’s appetite, but don’t pack the tasty punch of working together to make a lasting impact or drive savory results. Paid, SEO, content, social, influencer, design—all need to work in tandem to ensure your marketing objectives are met.

What are the essential layers for a scrumptiously integrated content marketing lasagna? Here’s a little cooking demonstration.

The Layers of a Deliciously Integrated Content Marketing Lasagna

Layer No. 1: Structural SEO Noodles

Noodles are to lasagna as SEO is to content marketing. These are the support layers, helping bind the rest of tactical ingredients together while baking. They provide the structural integrity of the marketing dish—and add some much-loved, comforting carbohydrates. 

From providing insights about the competitive landscape or revealing content or optimization opportunities based on your current search positioning, SEO tactics help provide context and actionable next steps for developing (and optimizing) your best-answer content marketing strategy. And without multiple layers of topical focus or the right contextual firmness, it all falls apart.

[bctt tweet=”Noodles are to lasagna as SEO is to content marketing. These are the support layers, helping bind the rest of tactical ingredients together while baking.” username=”toprank”]

Layer No. 2: Meaty and Savory Content

Most of the nutritional value of lasagna is rooted in the meat—or vegetables if that’s your thing. (Yes, I choose to believe lasagna is very nutritious and essential for a healthy body.) When it comes to content marketing, the content you create is what brings value to your audience. It’s what gives them delectable insights, solutions, and answers to their burning questions as they make their journey.

However, to really succeed here, your content layer needs to be flavorful, well-seasoned, and fresh. It needs to be the best answer with a great user experience, impressive visuals, incredible storytelling, and valuable information.

This means the flavor profile of your content needs to be multidimensional, including different content types (e.g. text, video, and/or audio, or interactive) and fit with your audience’s unique tastes.

Layer No. 3: Saucy and Seasoned Influencers

While well-seasoned meat and perfectly cooked pasta noodles can satisfy hunger in some cases, it does not yet make for a flavorful lasagna dish. This is where the tomato sauce comes in. 

via GIPHY

Tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic come together to make a delectable tomato sauce to mix with the meat and coat the noodles. But there’s one key ingredient content marketers can add to make an especially spicy sauce: Influencers.

Influencers add authority, credibility, flavorful insight, and even more meat to your content. Their seasoned advice also helps bring new, untapped audiences to the dinner table. But the key here is to season with care. It’s important to select, qualify, and recruit the right influencers depending on your goals, target audience, topic, and so on. Take their reach and follower size out of the equation—focus on the unique and relevant flavor they can bring to your content and audience.

[bctt tweet=”Identify the topics that are most important to your audience and how they align with the topics you want to be known for. Then identify the right types of relevant influencers. @azeckman” username=”toprank”]

Lay No. 4: Cheesy Brand Goodness

As I mentioned, the ricotta cheese mixture is my absolute favorite lasagna layer. This creamy goodness envelops the meat sauce, adding a subtle flavors and elevating the dish as a whole.

Your brand voice and personality is this cheesy, creamy goodness. Your audience needs to get a taste of who you are and how you can help, without having their senses overpowered with product messaging and misplaced calls to action.

While under most circumstances I’d argue the more the merrier when it comes to cheese helpings, when it comes to crafting an integrated content marketing strategy that helps your brand shine, balance is the name of the game.

[bctt tweet=”Your audience needs to get a taste of who you are and how you can help, without having their senses overpowered with product messaging and misplaced calls to action. @annieleuman” username=”toprank”]

Layer No. 5: The Promotional Parmesan

You know when you’re eating at your favorite Italian restaurant and you’re asked if you’d like some fresh parmesan to top off your meal? Of course, you reply in the affirmative and wait until there’s a lovely dusting (or a solid coating if you’re like me) of freshly grated cheese for you to enjoy. 

That final, top layer of cheese is key for any good lasagna or any integrated digital marketing strategy. But just because it’s the last layer added, doesn’t mean it’s an afterthought. Your promotional parm has been planned all along. 

Organic social media. Email marketing. Paid social, search, or display ads. Third-party editorial. Influencer activation. Cross-site promotion. As you pull your freshly baked content marketing lasagna out of the oven, the tantalizing top layer is the first thing your audience will see. How will you attract your audience? How will you entice them to take a bite? How will you ensure they’re satisfied and asking for more?

[bctt tweet=”Content promotion can’t be effective if it’s an afterthought. Your best practice would be to make promotion part of content planning. @leeodden” username=”toprank”]

Read: 50 Content Promotion Tactics to Help Your Content Get Amazing Exposure

Cook Your Integrated Marketing Lasagna to Perfection

A well-crafted and delicious lasagna has expert layers, with each layer’s flavors and textures coming together to deliver perfection in every bite. A great content marketing strategy does, too. 

Leverage SEO tactics to provide foundational insights that can be built upon with meaty content. In addition, perfect your secret influencer sauce to coat your content and SEO noodles in flavor and insight. Finally, ensure your top layer of ooey gooey cheese is part of your cooking strategy from the beginning.

Looking for more tasty content marketing recipes? Learn how to whip up a strategic and mouthwatering Repurposed Content Cobbler.

The post Cooked to Strategic Perfection: The Layers of a Deliciously Integrated Content Marketing Lasagna appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Cooked to Strategic Perfection: The Layers of a Deliciously Integrated Content Marketing Lasagna

Few things in this world are as delicious as a corner piece of lasagna. For starters, the top layer of cheese is both gooey and crispy. The tomato sauce is sweet yet peppery. The meat? It’s flavorful and hearty. And don’t get me started on the ricotta and mozzarella layers—my favorite by far.

via GIPHY

Lasagna is the perfect dish. And its perfection is not just defined by quality ingredients, but how each ingredient is artfully layered together to bring satisfaction with each and every bite. That’s where the magic happens.

Cooking a delectable lasagna to perfection is not unlike crafting an integrated approach to content marketing. On their own, your tactics may whet your audience’s appetite, but don’t pack the tasty punch of working together to make a lasting impact or drive savory results. Paid, SEO, content, social, influencer, design—all need to work in tandem to ensure your marketing objectives are met.

What are the essential layers for a scrumptiously integrated content marketing lasagna? Here’s a little cooking demonstration.

The Layers of a Deliciously Integrated Content Marketing Lasagna

Layer No. 1: Structural SEO Noodles

Noodles are to lasagna as SEO is to content marketing. These are the support layers, helping bind the rest of tactical ingredients together while baking. They provide the structural integrity of the marketing dish—and add some much-loved, comforting carbohydrates. 

From providing insights about the competitive landscape or revealing content or optimization opportunities based on your current search positioning, SEO tactics help provide context and actionable next steps for developing (and optimizing) your best-answer content marketing strategy. And without multiple layers of topical focus or the right contextual firmness, it all falls apart.

Noodles are to lasagna as SEO is to content marketing. These are the support layers, helping bind the rest of tactical ingredients together while baking. Click To Tweet

Layer No. 2: Meaty and Savory Content

Most of the nutritional value of lasagna is rooted in the meat—or vegetables if that’s your thing. (Yes, I choose to believe lasagna is very nutritious and essential for a healthy body.) When it comes to content marketing, the content you create is what brings value to your audience. It’s what gives them delectable insights, solutions, and answers to their burning questions as they make their journey.

However, to really succeed here, your content layer needs to be flavorful, well-seasoned, and fresh. It needs to be the best answer with a great user experience, impressive visuals, incredible storytelling, and valuable information.

This means the flavor profile of your content needs to be multidimensional, including different content types (e.g. text, video, and/or audio, or interactive) and fit with your audience’s unique tastes.

Layer No. 3: Saucy and Seasoned Influencers

While well-seasoned meat and perfectly cooked pasta noodles can satisfy hunger in some cases, it does not yet make for a flavorful lasagna dish. This is where the tomato sauce comes in. 

via GIPHY

Tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic come together to make a delectable tomato sauce to mix with the meat and coat the noodles. But there’s one key ingredient content marketers can add to make an especially spicy sauce: Influencers.

Influencers add authority, credibility, flavorful insight, and even more meat to your content. Their seasoned advice also helps bring new, untapped audiences to the dinner table. But the key here is to season with care. It’s important to select, qualify, and recruit the right influencers depending on your goals, target audience, topic, and so on. Take their reach and follower size out of the equation—focus on the unique and relevant flavor they can bring to your content and audience.

Identify the topics that are most important to your audience and how they align with the topics you want to be known for. Then identify the right types of relevant influencers. @azeckman Click To Tweet

Lay No. 4: Cheesy Brand Goodness

As I mentioned, the ricotta cheese mixture is my absolute favorite lasagna layer. This creamy goodness envelops the meat sauce, adding a subtle flavors and elevating the dish as a whole.

Your brand voice and personality is this cheesy, creamy goodness. Your audience needs to get a taste of who you are and how you can help, without having their senses overpowered with product messaging and misplaced calls to action.

While under most circumstances I’d argue the more the merrier when it comes to cheese helpings, when it comes to crafting an integrated content marketing strategy that helps your brand shine, balance is the name of the game.

Your audience needs to get a taste of who you are and how you can help, without having their senses overpowered with product messaging and misplaced calls to action. @annieleuman Click To Tweet

Layer No. 5: The Promotional Parmesan

You know when you’re eating at your favorite Italian restaurant and you’re asked if you’d like some fresh parmesan to top off your meal? Of course, you reply in the affirmative and wait until there’s a lovely dusting (or a solid coating if you’re like me) of freshly grated cheese for you to enjoy. 

That final, top layer of cheese is key for any good lasagna or any integrated digital marketing strategy. But just because it’s the last layer added, doesn’t mean it’s an afterthought. Your promotional parm has been planned all along. 

Organic social media. Email marketing. Paid social, search, or display ads. Third-party editorial. Influencer activation. Cross-site promotion. As you pull your freshly baked content marketing lasagna out of the oven, the tantalizing top layer is the first thing your audience will see. How will you attract your audience? How will you entice them to take a bite? How will you ensure they’re satisfied and asking for more?

Content promotion can’t be effective if it’s an afterthought. Your best practice would be to make promotion part of content planning. @leeodden Click To Tweet

Read: 50 Content Promotion Tactics to Help Your Content Get Amazing Exposure

Cook Your Integrated Marketing Lasagna to Perfection

A well-crafted and delicious lasagna has expert layers, with each layer’s flavors and textures coming together to deliver perfection in every bite. A great content marketing strategy does, too. 

Leverage SEO tactics to provide foundational insights that can be built upon with meaty content. In addition, perfect your secret influencer sauce to coat your content and SEO noodles in flavor and insight. Finally, ensure your top layer of ooey gooey cheese is part of your cooking strategy from the beginning.

Looking for more tasty content marketing recipes? Learn how to whip up a strategic and mouthwatering Repurposed Content Cobbler.

Empathetic Consulting: 3 Things to Remember When Working With Other Teams

Whether you consult with teams within your company or with outside clients, the chances are fairly high that at least once, you’ve left a meeting frustrated by the actions of others, even asking yourself: “why would they do that?”

It’s easy to walk into a project thinking of it as a simple matter of “they brought me in to fix a problem.” But the reality is rarely so simple. Consulting with other teams always entails organizational and emotional nuance that you may not be privy to.

Every interpersonal relationship is unique, and hopefully the circumstances I’m discussing won’t apply to many engagements or projects you take part in. However, when you do end up in a difficult consulting situation, it’s helpful to have a bit of empathy for those you’re working with.

I’ve found that remembering these 3 points can help me put myself in the shoes of my point of contact and interact with them in a way that is sensitive to what they may be dealing within their environment.

1. Your point of contact may not have asked for your help

It is entirely possible that the person you are trying to help may not want to be helped.

Management has its own ideas sometimes and internal communication isn’t always perfect at any company. This can lead to situations where your point of contact may feel defensive, especially if their job functions seem like they might cover what you are consulting on. The best intentions of a manager who wants to help by bringing in more resources may look like distrust or undermining to the employee who didn’t get a say.

At one point during my stint as an in-house SEO, I actually found myself in this exact position. Leadership brought in an outside agency to help with SEO during a domain migration, and while their intentions may have been to provide more help, they didn’t effectively communicate that to me.

As a result, since I was the one who was responsible for that area, it made me feel insecure about how management viewed me and my skills. I was lucky enough to work with a great consultant who was able to support me and help move forward the many projects that were already in-flight. But because I initially felt like they were undermining my credibility by being involved in the first place, it took a while to build that trust and be able to get things done effectively.

The best way to deal with this potential issue is to ensure that you respect the context and institutional knowledge that the team you are helping possesses. Work to have a collaborative relationship instead of an authoritative one. The more context and communication you have, the better the recommendations you can contribute.

2. If they did ask for help, they may be feeling vulnerable or insecure

Step back for a second and think about why a team might bring in an outside consultant, to begin with. There are tons of specific issues they could need assistance with, but all of this boils down to a problem that they presumably want or need help to solve — a problem that they couldn’t solve on their own. Regardless of whether they couldn’t solve it because of knowledge, resources, or even office politics, your contributions add something that they couldn’t contribute themselves — and that can be hard to deal with.

This isn’t something that needs to be discussed with the client or another team, but it is something that you should acknowledge and keep front-of-mind when you communicate with them. Respect the vulnerability of seeking out help, and appreciate the trust that they have placed in you.

3. Your client is accountable for the results of their project

When planning a long-term strategy, making tactical recommendations, or accessing the results of a marketing campaign that you helped execute, it’s easy to feel invested or accountable for the results of a project. However, it’s important to remember that your point of contact is usually far more accountable for results than you are. Their job, success, and emotions are all on the line much more than yours.

As an outside subject matter expert, your job is to give them all the information and resources to make the best decision. At the end of the day, the choice is theirs. I know how hard it can be to see your recommendations or projects rejected, but it’s important to try not to take it personally if they, having all the facts, make what they believe to be the best decision.

If they seem like they are questioning everything you say, maybe it’s because they want to be 100 percent sure it’s the best approach. Perhaps their micromanaging comes from a place of good intentions — just wanting to follow through and get the best outcome with every aspect of a project. Even what can come off as argumentative or difficult could be them playing devils advocate to ensure that everything has been considered.

Wrapping up

All this being said, perhaps none of these circumstances apply to the client that you are finding it hard to work with. People can have bad days, hard years, or even just generally prickly dispositions. But more empathy and compassion in the world is never a bad thing. So, I would encourage anyone who works with other teams to avoid the impulse to judge a harsh response, and instead, consider what may be behind it.

Have you ever been faced with a complicated consulting situation? Share what helped you navigate it in the comments below!

Digital Marketing News: Influencer Marketing Grows, Personalization In B2B, Facebook’s Shrinking Ad Size, LinkedIn’s Record Engagement & More

2019 July 26 Marketing Charts B2B Chart Image

B2B Buyers Demand Personalization Above All Else, Study Finds
B2B buyers place the highest value on personalization, according to a newly-released report based on a survey of some 1,000 B2B leaders, which also showed that 30 percent make more than half of their purchases using digital platforms, up significantly from 15 percent in 2017. MediaPost

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Influencer marketing spend grows 83%
Influencer marketing spending in the U.S. and Canada has seen 83 percent year-over-year growth, accompanied by second-quarter spending of $442 million, according to newly-released research data of interest to marketers. The Drum

How Will Twitter’s Redesign Impact Social Media Managers?
Twitter recently updated its desktop design to more closely resemble its mobile experience, a change that has affected how and what digital marketers can do on the desktop experience, and presenting both new opportunities and several challenges. Social Media Today

Microsoft reports $33.7 billion in Q4 2019 revenue: Azure up 64%, Surface up 14%, and LinkedIn up 25%
Microsoft reported revenue of $33.7 billion in its 2019 fiscal fourth quarter, including a 25 percent year-over-year increase for LinkedIn (client), which also saw record engagement and sessions growth of 22 percent, the technology giant recently announced. VentureBeat

Facebook’s News Feed ads are changing
Facebook mobile News Feed advertisements will drop from 7 to 3 lines of text with a click-to-expand option, along with new video aspect ratios, in changes rolling out during August, the most notable changes among several ad shifts the social platform has planned. DigiDay

Digital ad spend: Paid search continues to dominate in 2019
A new Marin Software survey shows that paid search accounts for 40 percent of digital ad spending, with paid social just under 20 percent, two of several findings in the survey of interest to digital marketers. ClickZ

2019 July 26 Statistics Image

Getting The Brand Back Together. More than half of CMOs plan to make brand building their top priority this year
Companies are looking to refocus on branding initiatives, with more than half of CMOs planning to make it the top priority in 2019, one of several findings of interest to digital marketers in Forrester’s recently-released 2019 CMO Predictions report. CMO.com

How Much Are Brands Paying Influencers?
New data from several recent surveys show that micro and niche-influencers are forging stronger target audience connections and boosting long-term loyalty, while the use of traditional paid influencers among marketers has seen rising associated costs. eMarketer

Dogs on treadmills: Publishers are finding LinkedIn isn’t just for business and careers news
Publishing on LinkedIn after the traditional workday ends opens up messages to a broader range of audience exposure, and frequent posting on the platform can also perform surprisingly well, according to newly-released Digiday publisher survey data. DigiDay

B2B Tech Marketers Get Results With In-Person Events
B2B marketers see in-person events, content marketing, traditional e-mail, and paid social as the most effective B2B marketing channels, according to newly-released survey data. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2019 July 26 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at the marketing funnel by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Watch this space: we meet Nasa’s stars of social — The Drum

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — The Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing for CMOs [Infographic] — Social Media Today
  • Caitlin Burgess — 10 Ways to Get Real Results and Move the Needle for Your Small Business — Small Business Trends
  • Joshua Nite — What’s Trending: Turn Off the Autopilot — LinkedIn (client)

Have you found your own top new influencer marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week?

Thanks for taking the time to join us, and we hope you’ll tune in again next week for more top digital marketing industry news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

9 Tips to Integrate Organic, Paid, and Content – Whiteboard Friday

Search can’t live in a silo. If you want to see success, cross-collaboration across your organic, content, and paid teams is absolutely key. But that takes a huge amount of effort, from untangling communication to cross-training to getting buy-in from everyone involved. What’s a search marketer to do?

If you missed her talk this year at MozCon 2019, here’s your chance to make up for it! In today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday, Heather Physioc shares her framework for successfully integrating your organic, paid, and content practices for a smoother search experience.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, everybody, and welcome back to Whiteboard Friday. My name is Heather Physioc, and I’m Group Director of Discoverability at VMLY&R. Today we’re going to talk about nine tips to help integrate your organic search, paid search, and content practices. 

1. Announce change all at once, but roll out changes one at a time

So your first tip is that you want to announce change all at once, but then you want to roll out the changes one at a time.

It can be overwhelming to integrate practices and change processes. So you don’t want to try to do everything all at the same time. It’s like trying to boil the ocean, and it’s too much to stick. So while you want to get everybody on board and aligned to the benefits and challenges they’ll be facing as you integrate, then you just progressively roll out the changes iteratively over time. 

2. Document new products & processes

Next, as you develop new capabilities and processes and offerings together, you’re going to document those processes in a shared, living wiki, because those processes are going to continue to change.

So my team uses Confluence, where we document our shared workflows, but everybody on the team has access and total trust to continue refining those in the ways that they see are best for the team. 

3. Make recommendations and report together

Your next step should be obvious, but a lot of people are not doing it. You should be making recommendations and reporting together. So a lot of times we’ll collect all our data for reporting from all our different channels.

We’ll smash some slides together at the last minute before we throw it over the fence to the client. It ends up with a pretty shallow, almost meaningless set of data that doesn’t tell a story. So we should be getting together, sharing our insights, observations, and findings in the room together to find the story that is the most meaningful and help prioritize for our clients the best marketing decisions they can make from that data.

4. Cross-train to build advocacy across teams

So your next tip is to cross-train so you can build advocacy across the teams. We host a lot of workshops and hands-on training. We’ve even done job swaps where we had SEOs writing performance content for product detail pages. It creates this wonderful sense of empathy and understanding for what others need in order to do their jobs well.

But it also creates these great mental checks where you ask yourself, “Am I including the right people at the right times? Is there anyone else who could add value here? Could my work be impacting someone else?” So the purpose here is not necessarily to know how to do each other’s jobs so much as it is to empower people to be able to advocate for, speak about, and cross-sell your other teams.

5. Reintroduce the team or capability

Next, when you’ve done your integration of processes and people, everyone else in the organization may not necessarily know what that means for them. So you’ll want to reintroduce your team or your new capability to the rest of the organization. Put faces with names.

Talk about what the new capability is and does and the value it brings to the organization. Tell people how to engage with that new offering and what it means for their project or initiative or client. 

6. Market the joint wins

Up next, we’re going to market the joint wins. As you’re continuously integrating, you should always be looking for wins or warnings that you can share with others so they can learn how to better engage with your offerings.

So if you have a great case study, where you integrated paid and organic or organic and content, make sure you’re marketing those stories out to your colleagues, your clients, your bosses, and of course your team. 

7. Hold roundtables to deep-dive search opportunities

Up next, we’re going to do roundtables so we can deep dive search opportunities with other departments. So of course it makes sense to have roundtables between organic search and paid search or organic search and performance content, but also think beyond your immediate team.

Think about other marketing teams, like social media and pairing search behavior insights with social listening data. Or think about geographic teams. What if you sat your organic search team down with your Europe group to figure out what opportunities make the most sense for that region? Or even sales and IT and finding those areas of intersection, where you can do great search work that supports more parts of the organization.

8. Host mutual lunch & learns to cross-pollinate

Next, think about hosting mutual lunch and learns so you can start to cross-pollinate different skill sets. So similar to the roundtables, this is where you’re going to bring different groups together to talk about capabilities. But think about more than just presenting your capabilities to other people. Also be sure to invite them to present their capabilities to your group. For example, we’ve invited the project management team or the client engagement team to make us stronger in our search work through the value that they bring.

9. Give ownership of change to others

And finally, as you’re making all of these changes, it can’t just come from the top, one person just handing change down for everyone else to implement. It has to be organic, pardon the pun, and everybody should have ownership over the direction that we’re heading together. So when we make changes to products or processes or we start to integrate different groups or spin up little teams to work on specific objectives, we make sure that those individuals from each side have ownership to make those decisions together and roll it out to the rest of the group.

It helps make sure we’ve considered all the angles and greatly impacts our ability to get buy-in across the team. So those are nine quick tips to integrate organic search, paid search, and content practices. Let us know what you think in the comments below. I want to hear your tips too, and we’ll see you next time on Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com