Content is the Key to Connective Marketing
Your content should first and foremost be useful to your audience. It should entertain, inform, and intrigue, helping to build a real connection. Remember that the work doesn’t end when you hit the “post” button, it only just begins. The point of your content should be to start a conversation. To get more calls, to increase website traffic, to bring people in the door so they can face-to-face with you or your employees. It’s all relationship-building. It should also be consistent – there are so many competing factors for our attention, and our attention spans are even shorter than they used to be. One of the worst things you can do as a marketer is “radio silence” even just for a few days.
Grrrr! Blocked! (It has happened to the best of us.)
So, what happens when you know you need to create some content, but you sit there, racking your brain, striving to come up with something you haven’t thought of before, while staring at a blank screen? Writer’s block can hit us all if we let it…but, I have good news – there are ways to avoid this entirely! End the paralysis! If you follow this advice, you’ll never again panic when you have to create a video, write an article, blog post, or web page.
How to blast through the blockage – beat writer’s block with these techniques:
Prevention is the best method and planning is key. Stop writer’s block before it happens by being proactive and following these tips before your creativity well even begins to run dry. Don’t forget to write down content ideas whenever and wherever they come to you – I use the notes function in my cell to keep a list.
- Google Alerts – if you haven’t heard of these, they can be a game changer. Google will send you content via email around subjects you select. You pick keywords, select what types of alerts you want (news, video…etc.), and how often you want them (immediately as they happen, once a day, or once a week). It’s the latest content sent directly to your inbox! You should set up alerts to keep on top of industry news. The more you are aware of what is happening in the industry, the more ideas you will have that connect you to current events. I recommend setting them up for keywords for your industry, for your specific company/organization, for local news, and for related subjects. Sometimes you’ll just delete the alerts if you don’t have time to read them, but when you do have time to read them, they will help you develop content ideas of your own.
- Network within your company/organization – get to know people! Your colleagues are excellent sources of information and inspiration. The more comfortable they are with you, the more they will come to you to give you ideas, tell you what they think would be good to see or for others to learn about, and who knows, they might even offer to write a blog post for you! People love to get to know the people behind a brand/organization so you can also do a feature on them to let people get an insider perspective into your company.
- Keep an eye on competitor pages – you should know what your competitors are doing so that you can either avoid their mistakes, make sure you don’t copy them, and see opportunities for potential collaboration with them. Let’s be real – everyone loves it when people work together instead of sling mud. Never speak poorly of your competition. When you work with your “competitors” to collaborate on a project, it’s an opportunity to showcase your points of difference and to elevate your reputation in the community.
- Use companies you admire as inspiration – look to the companies that you enjoy doing business with. Who do you follow? Why? What do they have in common? Why are you drawn to them? What makes them stand out? Look for patterns. The more media you consume, the more up-to-date you’ll be with trends and themes that can span industries.
- Ask your friends outside of work – your close friends want to help you. If you are feeling stuck, ask them if they have questions about your industry, or what they think is interesting about what you do. They will be happy to jump in with insights if they can help you. The easiest way to feel happy and fulfilled is to help others.
- Ask your followers – people love it when you ask them questions and they can feel like they are part of the process. Bring your fans, followers, and customers into the action with questions. Straight out ask them what they would want to see in a post or tutorial. People LOVE to be featured – you can run a social media contest or campaign to have them tell their stories. It’s fun for them to feel special and it is a free recommendation for you. People trust other real people more than they trust brands so this can help you build your credibility.
- Don’t be afraid to update content – things change so quickly these days. Depending on the industry, you might be able to revisit content that you wrote about a month or two ago to freshen it or update it. As long as you have something of value to add or change, you can revisit a concept. Just be sure to make it different enough that it still helps your end-users. They don’t want to read the same content they have already received.
In the spirit of asking for help…
These suggestions came from friends and from a conference I recently attended with the American Marketing Association of Reno-Tahoe.
- “Look for the story in the every day” – Laura Zander is the owner and CEO of Jimmy Beans Wool. Her incredible company has a major social media following and has been very successful. She gave a presentation in March for the AMA of Reno-Tahoe that focused on storytelling and the importance of persistence. Sometimes the story is about the people and the industry, not the specific company. When you look for ways to include your customers in the get-go for major changes, you make them part of the story. Everything can be a story, you just have to look for the connection.
- Travel somewhere without an agenda – submitted by Derek. When I asked my friends via Instagram’s story feature, I got lots of great responses. One suggestion is to travel somewhere that you’ve always wanted to visit and go without expectations. Sometimes just being open to discovery is the best way to generate novel ideas and create new connections for content.
- Write random things that pop into your head – submitted by Steven. Write. Just start writing. It doesn’t matter if the first few paragraphs are nonsense, when you start to write, your ideas and thoughts will eventually start to come together and you’ll be surprised with what you end up with! The hardest part sometimes is getting started so just begin without any pressure on yourself.
Sharing is caring – let’s discuss!
So go out there and try these out! Let me know in the comments if any of these have worked for you in the past or if you have any additional suggestions. I’m always looking for new methods to improve my storytelling! Thank you for reading!