There are a lot of ways that marketing and writing intersect. Your website is based on writing, your social media messages are based on writing and content posting is one of the most successful methods of inbound marketing in existence.
American Express got the wise idea to create OPEN Forum, a platform that launched American Express into a new era. The success of OPEN Forum can be dedicated to the professional writers AmEx hired to focus on quality content provided on OPEN Forum. With the content published, consumers flocked to the site and it is now a huge source for lead generation for American Express.
In short, writing works.
But in order to fully reap the benefits of writing, it’s important to think like a publisher, and this is true of other forms of marketing as well. When you pick up a magazine, what do you notice? Most publications try extra hard to get you, the reader, interested in what they have to offer. Thus they tailor their content to your points of interest.
Most brands outside of the publishing realm have a very inward focus when it comes to marketing. They have a certain angle they want to push, and push they do. You might be guilty of this if you’re trying desperately to focus on sales numbers. Being too self-absorbed as a brand can actually harm you because being too involved in what you want can push customers away.
Remember this simple statement: pushy brands push away customers.
Traditional media is very concerned with loyalty, however. Publications want your interest and then they monetize later. This is why they push out quality content they know you’ll like and find ways to keep your interest – THAT’S how they get their money.
It’s all about tilting.
Marketing professional Joe Pulizzi refers to the unique spin that content as as the “content tilt.” All content has to have something that gives it that edge, which is part of why publications stand out. Think back to magazines again. Both Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair both contain tons of articles, but each article fits in with each magazine AND you can definitely tell them both apart.
Your own brand’s tilt will depend on both your brand values and your audience. Looking back on those magazines, you can easily tell the sort of audience they’re going for. While both target women, and both target a specific age of women, both publications market towards a different subcategory of the same gender. The reason that both magazines retain subscriptions is because they individually understand who they’re marketing to and publish content that that marketing is interested in.
There’s different aspects of content you should concern yourself with: quality, uniqueness, consistency and competitive advantage.
- Quality doesn’t necessarily mean the reading ease or how factual and intellectual the content is. Compare a publication like Forbes to BuzzFeed. Forbes posts articles about business efforts, the stock market – things of a more intelligent nature compared to a BuzzFeed article about what the shape of your derriere says about your personality. Still, BuzzFeed constantly pushes out viral content, and even though that content might be “lowbrow,” the value it has is seen in how often it is shared and how it connects with the target audience.
- Uniqueness is all about creating something original and unlike anything else. This is a little more difficult considering the vast amount of content out there, but it’s doable.
- Consistency is all about keeping your content level across the board. This includes both the quality and the interest level. Go back to the BuzzFeed example – if you read Forbes every day and suddenly they started posting content like BuzzFeed did, how would you react to that?
- Competitive advantage refers to unique content that only you can offer to anyone. Whether it’s your data statistics in an infographic or a fluff piece about a day in the life of your company, no one else can publish that but you.
The following pieces of advice can be used more specifically to spark interest in your content team and get you on track to succeeding just like publications do.
- Know your content team member’s areas of expertise. If you have someone on your content team that has a lot of knowledge in a certain area, try to find ways to use that to your advantage. Content creators have jobs that require doing research and pushing out content they aren’t 100% familiar with – that’s simply part of the job. But when you do have a writer or content creator that has a specialized field, use that to your advantage.
- Have some very clear and strict publication guidelines. This has to do with consistency, and you’ll need to make some decisions – are you a Forbes, a BuzzFeed or somewhere inbetween? Once you know, it’s easier to decide what your guidelines are. All your content should be able to be recognized as cohesive, and this also applies to other areas of the content like length and style.
- Never publish content without a strategy for promoting it. Most major publications have media kits that outline exactly how to market content and how content marketers should involve said content in both current and future strategies. Every article you push out should have a reason for being there.
- Don’t just hire any writer. Find people with degrees and experience in the field of writing – both for creation and editing purposes. Journalists are analytical and detail-oriented, and editors are content gatekeepers that can greatly help you keep things consistent.
- Articles don’t get written and published in a day. Many magazines have a stockpile of columns and pieces set up that can be used while still relevant, tied in with breaking stories. Create a calendar for your content and keep things organized.