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Forgetting Resolutions and More Practical Content Marketing Advice

It’s the season when lots of well-meaning people set resolutions for the new year. Eat healthier, work out more, spend more time with family, lessen the screen time, connect with friends, be more mindful…

But we know most of those declarations fail before it’s time to eat lots of chocolate (or bacon) on Valentine’s Day while binge-watching 10 seasons of a hot show on Netflix. I mentioned bacon for a reason, but I’ll get to that later.

I’m not judging anyone who doesn’t keep a resolution. I’m not urging you to set lofty goals for the new year. Rather, I’m providing a dose of pragmatic and inspirational advice from a handful of our community members who presented on some of CMI’s most popular webinars in 2018. All of our webinars are available on demand and are free to watch (with registration).

These are not unrealistic resolutions but bulletin board-worthy reminders for anyone working to succeed in content marketing. (And they are achievable without cheating!)

1. Lose excessive content

There’s no shortage of content to be consumed these days. Brain+Trust Insights’ Christopher Penn notes an amazing statistic in a recent webinar. Some 30 zettabytes of data are created each day. If that’s hard to get your head around, think of it this way: “If each brick in a zettabyte were one gigabyte, we would build 14 Great Walls of China a day,” Chris says. Whoa. Is it time to trim your content? Is it time to increase the quality of your content so that it’s not just another brick in the wall?

If your blog, newsletter, or website is overstuffed with information about your products and services, it’s time for a diet. While information for your prospects has a time and place, serving up a hefty helping of “look at me” content is not going to help you win friends and influence subscribers.

If your blog, newsletter, or website is overstuffed w/ product info, it’s time for a diet. @EditorStahl Click To Tweet

During a recent webinar, Carlos Hidalgo of VisumCx tells a story of a client with 200 content assets on its website. A thorough audit and analysis revealed only one of those assets made the cut for inbound or leads.

Thirty-nine new pieces of high-quality, targeted content were created based on quantitative and qualitative research. The anticipated results (shown in the slide below) – double-digit increase in closed-won deal conversion, 60% increase in sales-qualified leads, etc. – are a nice reminder that more content is not always better. “You do not have to be a content factory to find success,” Carlos says.

You don’t have to be a #content factory to find success, says @cahidalgo. Click To Tweet

You also can look to technologies like AI to accelerate your content processes, be more accurate, and automate repetitive tasks, Chris says. Those benefits allow you to keep focused on the things humans can do best: being empathetic, telling stories of human experiences, and building relationships. More reminders about those points are coming up.

Learn more

Watch Carlos’ presentation Creating Less Content Through Intelligence and Chris’ presentation How to Use AI & Personalization to Boost Your Content Marketing Impact and Transform the Customer Experience.

2. Exercise your authority more often

Conducting original research is one of the most effective and scalable content strategies among successful marketers. Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina notes it adds relevance, credibility, and trust. It’s a key trait of the 1% of content strategies that he describes as “mission driven, research anchored, influencer powered, and PR focused.”

1% of content strategies are mission driven, #research based, influencer powered, & PR focused. @Crestodina Click To Tweet

What makes a good research study? Andy suggests thinking about it this way: What is something in your industry often mentioned but not backed by research? Study that topic, analyze the results, and create content about it. Your results could be the basis for an insightful, data-driven report or a video series, a handful of nicely designed infographics, a discussion topic for a podcast, material for an event keynote, or other content formats.

Andy has had great success with his annual Blogging Statistics and Trends research (now in its fifth year). And there are many types of research you can execute to let your “data freak flag fly” as Mantis Research’s Clare McDermott explains in this article.

Learn more

Watch Andy’s presentation Content Strategy and SEO for B2B Lead Generation.

3. Have more fun!

Who doesn’t want more fun in their life? A good way for marketers to bring in the fun is to inject more human elements into their content. We heard this loudly and clearly at Content Marketing World 2018 and On24’s Mark Bornstein reflects on it during a recent webinar:

Major changes are afoot for how we think about and deliver content. We need to build more human-level engagement … and create more human experiences.

Chances are content fun is not a traditional guidebook, Mark says bluntly. “The way people want to experience content today needs to reflect their personal lives – social, connected, and interactive,” he says.

People want their content experience to reflect their lives – social, connected, & interactive. @4markb Click To Tweet

Interactive content leads to engagement, which is the No. 1 reason marketers use it, according to CMI research.

Interactive #content leads to engagement, which is the #1 reason marketers use it via @cmicontent. #research Click To Tweet

In a nutshell, don’t be afraid to have more fun. “People expect to be entertained. They want to have a voice. They want to participate,” Mark says. “We need to figure out a way to connect with a human being. We need to create real immersive human experiences.”

Learn more

Watch Mark’s presentations: Webinars that Rock! Keys to Engagement-Driven Content Delivery and How to Humanize Your Webinar.

4. Hug your team

When it comes to creating great content, a collaborative process will help you make the biggest impact, says Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners. Many brands use a traditional linear assembly-line approach to content creation, with each person doing his or her part and then handing it off, sometimes blindly, to the next stage. That is all fine and good if speed and efficiency are the priorities. But creating great content is different than cranking out great toasters, Doug says.

Use a “group hug” approach, not an assembly line, to create great content, says @DougKessler. Click To Tweet

He advocates for the “group hug” approach that has planners, writers, editors, designers, developers, promoters, and others working together. “ Agile teamwork is better. You can challenge each other,” Doug says.

His company has created some of its most creative and impactful work for clients by reminding the team members that they don’t have to stay in their lanes. If you aim for “surprise, engagement, and impact” in the content you create, it may be time to open your arms and embrace your co-workers.

Learn more

Watch Doug’s presentation: Re-Thinking Your Content Assembly Line. 

5. Make new friends

We all want to meet new prospects, attract new subscribers, and collect more followers, right? But keep in mind, as Matt Heinz advises, your prospects are:

Do these characteristics seem familiar? Perhaps they describe you? How you connect with prospects will determine how they react. Welcome them with content that helps them do something (or do something better), entertains them, or inspires them to hang out with your brand.

“The value of your insights trumps the quality of your product,” Matt says. Give them thinly veiled sales pitches and they’ll look for the opt-out button faster than you can hit “like” on a social media post.

The value of your insights trumps the quality of your product, says @HeinzMarketing. Click To Tweet

Matt offers an easy way to check your value. Count how many times your content mentions “I and we” vs. “you.” Get out of a company-centric content strategy and develop what Matt calls “pathological empathy” for your customers and prospects.

Bonus content: Matt has an AMAZING recipe for bacon. Why would an industry expert share a prized recipe during a marketing webinar? Reread Tip 3 about being human and having fun.

Learn more

Watch Matt’s presentation: How to Leverage Conversational Marketing Events in the Customer Life Cycle.

Guess what? CMI has amazing recipes, too. And we like to have fun with our content. So, check out our new cookbook.

Get to work

Before you go watch the webinars to get even more insight, print this list and pin it to your bulletin board. (Or copy the image and make it your screensaver.) And remember, they’re not resolutions, they’re pragmatic and inspirational advice from your 2018 CMI webinar presenters.

To get notifications for CMI’s 2019 webinars, sign up today. You’ll also receive free daily tips, trends, and insight in the CMI newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute