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Six Strategies for Keeping Content Fresh

I’m a content guy.  I’m not a landscaper or outdoors man. I’ve tried a few times, but the results haven’t been pretty. That said, the cherry blossom tree in our front yard needed some major cleanup. There were many branches that were dead and the tree looked like it was getting choked to death. So, up the tree I went (btw, the picture on the right was taken by my five-year old son, Adam…not bad, huh?).

About five minutes after this picture was taken, I was doing my thing about 15 feet above the ground. Just then a 60-mile-an-hour wind gust came along (really, no kidding). I wouldn’t say that my life flashed before my eyes, but it did scare the crap out of me (While I was screaming for help, my wife was on the ground laughing uncontrollably).

Being the anal retentive marketing person I am, I immediately tried to find some business meaning in this event. I thought of most of the websites I visit today. Sadly, a good majority of the sites that are out there today don’t evolve with the (high) winds of change. Even though business spending has altered quite a bit in the last year, some sites haven’t touched their sites.

Even worse, some of the web content is completely out of date and contains irrelevant copy. What kind of impression does this make to business decision makers?

To combat this, here are six content strategies to employ right now to get your website back into shape.

1. Remove Dead Branches – Assign three different people from your company (one from marketing, one from sales, and one from accounting/finance) to perform a content audit of your website.  Give them a few days and make sure they click on EVERY link (bad content show up in the worst places). Give them a scoring sheet that includes a reference irrelevant content, areas that don’t make sense, and overall impression of the site and how to make it better.  This is an invaluable exercise.  You won’t regret it. (See Douglass Karr’s note below on monitoring bad links).

2. Assign a Conversation Champion – This doesn’t mean the person responsible for your website. It means the person responsible for communicating with customers through the web.  Kodak calls this their Chief Blogger. Some use Chief Conversation Officer. Whatever you use, find a champion in your organization who is web savvy, enjoys social networks, and lives the brand of your company. Put them in charge of getting involved in relevant forums and commenting on industry blogs. If you have a corporate blog, this person should be heading it up. Your Chief Conversation Officer should also be integral on the relevance of your website.  Find the person, give them the keys, and let them run with it.

3. Why Aren’t You Blogging?There are many questions to ask before you start blogging. Some cultures just aren’t a good fit for it. That said, there are so many important reasons for blogging that all companies are at least considering it. Creating a blog is the one area where you can get out from under the corporate branding standards and show a little personality. Personally, blogging has been the most important business tool in growing my business.  It can be for you as well. For tips on keeping your blog content fresh, check out this post.

Integrating a blog into your website is probably the easiest way to keep relevant and timely content on your website.

4. Set Up Listening Posts – Are you listening to what your customers and prospects are saying? If not, here are a few quick tips.

– Set up Google Alerts on your brand name and key industry words. Assign someone to track these, if not yourself.

– Monitor blog search tool Technorati. There is a conversation going on about your brand.  Make sure you get involved in it.

– Wondering who is twittering about you? Use Twitter Search to find out. The best thing about Twitter is how honest people will be about your brand.

Use these tools to understand what’s going on with your customers to position the content on your website for what they are really dealing with.

5. Go “No Sell” with Content – You should be developing at least one “non-sales” white paper or research project per quarter specifically targeting your customers/prospects biggest problem (if you have multiple customer segments, than you need one for each segment). We did this with our “Attract and Retain” white paper to marketers, and the Custom Publishing New Rules for publishers. We are currently in the middle of launching our next white paper on Trust. Position yourself as a thought leader and be the trusted business partner that your customers are looking for. Highlight your white papers on your website. Don’t you think “Dealing with XYC during a Recession” would be important to your customers?

6. Water Your Roots – Lead generation strategies bore me sometimes.  Everyone is always talking about how to get new customers. This is important, but especially in the current economic times, you should be committing the majority of your resources to current customers. Does your eNewsletter speak to their needs? Are your salespeople or executives making calls or visits to them to find out what their pain points are? Do you have enough communication resources dedicated to current customers?

A strong focus on current customers in hard economic times may create the most dividends when the winds settle down.

By plugging in these six strategies into your marketing program, you’ll be well on your way to a better conversation with customers and prospects.  If anything, choose three and implement them now. Once those are complete, start the next three…rinse and repeat.

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