Content creation is simultaneously the most freeing and the most daunting step in the content marketing process. You may stumble on ideation, struggle to optimize, stress out over distribution, or be disappointed by performance, but create something subpar and the rest doesn’t matter. Creation is so much more than simply putting words to paper – or fonts to file, as the case may be – and the experts who brought the Content Creation track to life at this year’s Content Marketing Conference know that all too well. Here’s a look at how they approach the creative process.
Nancy Harhut, Wilde Agency
Just like you crave chocolate-covered pretzels at 2:00 am and sunshine in the dead of winter, your brain sometimes craves the emotional and mental response it gets from certain types of content. That’s a given. The question is how we can create the kind of content our audience will choose when faced with the more than 4 million new Facebook
posts that hit the platform every minute. The biggest lesson is that not all words are created the same. Concise sentences brought to life using emotionally persuasive language will paint pictures that are easier for our brains to remember, and as it turns out, that kind of vivid messaging is exactly what our brains have been yearning for all along. Delivering the engagement and conversion rates our businesses need is just a really delightful side effect.
Melanie Deziel, Brand Strategy Consultant
The best thing you can do as a content marketer is find a way to create loyal customers. By building a rapport between your brand and its followers, you’re increasing the likelihood that they’ll recommend your business to other people, buy more often, and stay active longer. For Melanie Deziel, the key is content that’s RAT – Relevant, Authoritative, and Trustworthy – while also satisfying a need. Figure out what your customers crave and make sure your content quenches their thirst. To help you identify your customer’s desires, Deziel offered up humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow’s list of quintessential human needs: physiological, safety, social belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Create products, services, and contents that meet those needs and you’ve instantly given yourself value.
Kathy Klotz-Guest, KeepingItHuman
It takes a special kind of person to stand up and submit themselves to an impromptu round of improv comedy, and there were some very special people at the 2016 Content Marketing Conference. Kathy Klotz-Guest is not only an improvisation expert, she also excels at making other people feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable and silly in a professional environment. That would have almost been lesson enough for content marketers looking for an actionable takeaway, but there was so much more. Writer’s block is the Achilles heel of content marketers; once you’re afflicted, you have to make speedy repairs or you’re out for the count. Klotz-Guest learned to overcome her lack of ideas on the fly when her harried boss suggested she draw on her improv background to help him brainstorm. By bouncing ideas off another person, flipping bad ideas on their heads, and using pain points (what problems do customers face?), she suddenly spewed forth a ridiculous amount of ideas, all using the techniques she’d been employing as an improvisor for years. It worked then, and it still does now.
Brandon Olson, AWeber
Drew Neisser, Renegade
The addition of panels to the 2016 Content Marketing Conference lineup brought the kind of spontaneity and synergy that a pre-planned presentation rarely provides. Moderator Byron White queried panelists Sharma, Olson, and Neisser as they offered their takes on the often difficult task of finding ways to scale quality content. Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade, emphasized the need for individualization and follow-up, reminding us that generating leads isn’t the same as nurturing them. Olson, whose company focuses on email marketing, spoke about the difference between the number of leads generated and the number of quality leads generated – what those consumers do isn’t nearly as important as the mere fact that they’re there. Sharma, who runs the acquisition marketing department at real estate giant Movoto, recently turned his company from a smaller site into a leading authority in no small part because of their consistent output of high-quality content. From neighborhood guides to blogs listing the top schools in a given area, Movoto focused not just on showcasing available real estate but selling consumers on the peripheral reasons they might want to buy. Altogether, the panel outlined a customer-first approach that feels organic because it is.
Greg Jarboe, SEO-PR
Something like 65 percent of the world’s population is classified as visual learners, meaning even the highest quality blogs will never stick in their minds the same way a great infographic or meme would. Even if you’re in the 35 percent and have no problem retaining written information, pictures are a memorable and impactful way to send a message. That whole thing about pictures being worth a thousand words? It’s true, and now digital video is multiplying that value by thousands. Greg Jarboe is all about digital video, and for good reason: 80 percent of millennials use video to research online purchases, 70 percent follow companies on YouTube, and that’s just the beginning. Video empowers companies to breathe life into their brand and revive their marketing strategy, and that’s an opportunity no one can afford to pass up.
Rock stars areas aspirational as they are inspirational, and this panel was no exception. The session focused on three things: authenticity, appreciation, and action. Be yourself, be grateful for the opportunity to share yourself – and/or your brand – with people, and do what needs to be done in order to get where you want to go. For Will Dailey, that meant turning down big label record deals in favor of working much harder yet retaining control over his own image and music. Jessica Ann helps other people’s businesses connect with consumers using H2H (human-to-human) content. It was Goodwin, though, who had the entire room smiling and nodding when she discussed society’s “I have to” mindset, wondering what we could achieve if we adopted the idea that “we get to” – we get to share our stories, show off our brand, and connect with all kinds of incredibly interesting people. In the end, a room full of people came to the Content Marketing Conference to pick up some tips, and the left with an invaluable attitude adjustment. Who knew?
Josh Bernoff, WOBS, LLC
No doubt some of the people who attended Josh Bernoff’s session came to see what the “no bullshit” guy might say. It’s very unlikely they left disappointed. Bernoff’s a fan of getting right to point. Fancy words and fluffy sentences only dilute the message, and the fussier your content is the less focus there is on the things that really matter. On average, people spend just 36 seconds skimming a news article. What can you fit into that teeny tiny time frame? If you only had 50 words, what could you say? Front load your content, purge the bullshit, and avoid being vague. Your readers’ time is valuable; it’s time to act like it.
5-Star writer Alana M has spent her adult life discovering the world as an award-winning professional musician, sommelier, trained chef, and social media guru.
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