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Brand Marketing In The Age Of The Customer

  
  
  

There were no festivals or celebrations to mark its beginning. No one changed their calendar brand marketingor started writing the date differently after it began. In fact, if you are not someone who has been around the marketing world for a long time, you may not even realize that the new age is upon us. The most astute marketing strategists, however, understand that even if you don’t realize it, a new era in business has recently begun: The Age of The Customer.

The Significance Of The Age Of The Customer

What does this new age mean, and why does it have such a big impact on brand marketing? To understand these questions, let’s first take a look at what the Age of the Customer actually represents. Jim Blasingame, a small business consultant, very accurately sums up the Age of the Customer in a recent Forbes article. Blasingame explains the new era by breaking down the three key elements of any market: products, product information, and buying decisions. Traditionally, vendors have controlled all of these elements except the final buying decision, which was left to the customer.

In the Age of the Customer, however, this model has been flipped around. Now that the Internet and the rise of mobile devices has given average consumers the ability to find data instantly about almost any subject, customers control two out of the three market elements: product information as well as buying decisions. This change represents a serious shift in the balance of power from sellers to customers. In order to adapt to such a dramatic change, buyers must also shift the way that they think about brand marketing.

Brand Marketing In The New Age Of Business

How exactly can a company hope to succeed at marketing their brand when the customer has so much control over buying interactions? The Forrester research company says that only companies that become “customer-obsessed” will have any chance at succeeding in this new age of business. From a marketing standpoint, this means that businesses need to show how their brand serves customers. There are several keys to this modern approach to brand marketing:

  • Focus your brand around what your customers want: remember that this is not always a tangible quality that can be found in your products. Consider the case of Apple, one of the biggest private companies in the world and arguably one of the most successful consumer electronics companies to ever exist. Apple was not the first company to develop a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, yet their offerings in these fields continue to be some of the highest-selling products in the world, because their brand focuses on something that customers today value: sleek, attractive products that are user-friendly. Apple’s brand sells this message everywhere, from its simple yet elegant company logo to its all-white, brightly lit retail stores.

  • Interact with customers: another big hallmark of brand marketing in the Age of the Customer is interaction. The best brands are the ones that interact with their customers and prospects: with the prominence of social media, this is easy to do. A good example of brand marketing through interaction can be found from clothing company Urban Hilton Weiner. The South African fashion retailer offered customers a $10 discount for taking a selfie wearing an outfit and posting a picture using the hashtag “#urbanselfie.” Not only does this brand marketing move help make a company’s name more prominent, it also allows them to show the world how passionate they are about hearing from their customers

  • Don’t be what you aren’t: the days of deceiving customers through phony or misleading advertisement tactics, as the tobacco industry tried to do in the early part of the 20th century, are over. The Age of the Customer means customers have the ability to find out whether or not your brand is truthful about its claims and stance in seconds: twisting the truth or lying outright will only hurt your reputation. Instead, pick a single overarching brand message and stick to it honestly with actions as well as words

With these brand marketing tips for the new age of business, your company can build a brand that will increase the amount of positive attention you receive from customers and prospects by showing them that your organization is very in sync with their needs and can provide something that will meet those needs.

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Does Content Marketing Have A Future?

  
  
  

There’s been lots of chatter on the web lately about this. With all the hype around content content marketingmarketing over the past few years, you might be wondering how long it can last. And even if it does, what will content marketing look like in the future?

With the growing strength of social media engagement, will blogging become irrelevant? Is there already an overload of information out there? Does anyone even read quality content any more, or is it just for the purpose of indexing in search? 

Ok, if it’s any consolation, you aren’t the only one asking the question. Here are the main trends that seem to be moving to the top:

Trend #1: Independent Content Brands

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recently held a webinar on the future of the industry, and one of the primary insights from audience participation was that of creating a content “brand” that’s separate from your product or service. By doing so, you build up a reputation as a thought leader in the field and create trust with your target market.

How to do this:

  • Focus on publishing only the highest quality content to drive subscriptions to your material.

  • Make sure everything you post provides value and helps your audience, rather than pitching your product.

  • Think of your content arm as a publisher. Then focus on being the best publisher of information in your industry that you can.

In fact, in some cases it’s prudent to publish commentary that promotes a different course of action than using your product or service!

Trend #2: It’s Impact that Counts

Forget the debate around short, snackable content versus long-form content. In the past, we’ve heard both arguments, but what seems to be the future is the impact. Short content is great for creating a buzz, but long-form, quality content is what drives relationships. Long-form has more impact, delivers more bang for the proverbial buck and—bonus!—works better for search because you can pack more keywords into it without “stuffing” it.

How to do this:

  • Focus on raising awareness and driving engagement with short content.

  • Use long-form content to offer value-adds and promote behavioral changes that result in sales.

By turning your content into valuable information instead of marketing, you’ll fill the need for reliable sources of advice.

Trend #3: Quality Content Reigns Supreme

It’s all about quality. No surprise there, but with the deluge of information coming at users from every angle, the way to differentiate yours is to create quality content that stands out from the rest.

How to do this:

  • Don’t compete for attention by making your content “noisier” than the rest.

  • Focus on running a tight content ship; reduce the quantity and improve the quality.

Whether you publish text, images or video, make sure it’s the best you can produce. Spend extra time ensuring that it’s error-free, optimized and makes use of best Internet practices.

Trend #4: Focus on Niche Instead of Reach

Following the theme of quality content instead of quantity, an overwhelmingly popular prediction is that niche material will dominate. By focusing on reaching the right consumers instead of numbers, you’ll get higher engagement (ergo: better impact), and drive value better.

How to do this:

  • Define your ideal customer very clearly.

  • Segment your target marketing into narrow, specific groups.

  • Create detailed personas for each segment, and focus on one only for each piece of content you publish.

Speak directly to your niche market in language it understands to create rapport with your readers.

Trend #5: Interactivity is Key

The days of one-way, “push” marketing are over. Inbound marketing is built on interactivity, and even quality content needs to be accessible for the user. Even video, which is big news in 2014, is still a one-directional method of communication. This means it’s only as successful as the degree of interactivity that follows it. For your content marketing to survive the changing climate, you need to build interactivity into your team’s deliverables.

How to do this:

  • Conduct marketing research to help identify what drives your target consumer’s behavior.

  • Take account of the right time, mode and context to present your material so it fulfills the right need, at the right time, in the right consumer’s life.

Don’t despair – all the time and money you’ve spent on content marketing isn’t about to be wasted. As long as you can remain agile in your marketing and embrace the trends in a timely way, you’ll have a market for quality content for a long time to come. 

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The Human Element And Its Influence On Social Content Success

  
  
  

A challenge that remains today (just as it did over a decade ago for web designers, online social contentmarketers, and content creators) is understanding the way social content works to enhance marketing strategies and attract site visitors, qualified leads, and online consumers.  

Part of the mystery surrounding social media as a marketing tool may be due to the fact that it is as much in flux as the living and breathing users who proliferate social networking channels.  While social content is by no means "alive" in the most literal sense of the word, it does respond to the ebb and flow of the human counterparts who complete the social media circle.

When an image or body of text becomes an overnight sensation on the Internet and is shared, linked, distributed, and talked about by social media users across the globe, that content is said to have "gone viral."  As much as anyone, public corporation or private individual, would like to create social content that has all the earmarks of an Internet epidemic, there is actually no reliable way to definitively predict the content's viral potential.  

Conversely, however, reasonably accurate predictions can be made regarding page rank success for websites and landing pages that have been designed with all the do's and don't's of search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.  The difference between these two examples, search engine page rank and the likelihood of virulence in social content, is like night and day.  One relies on well-defined algorithms and the other relies on uncontrollable emotions.

How Viral Social Content Gets That Way

Successful social content is successful because it evokes strong emotions in the observer, whether those emotions are positive or negative.  The important factor is that the individual is moved outside their normal range of emotion and compelled to feel strongly about what they are seeing or reading.  Cute kitten pictures don't become viral in the social media sphere because they occasionally evoked a voluntary reaction of, "Hmm, that's cute."  They explode across the Internet like an unstoppable warm and fuzzy juggernaut because they wrenched an involuntary and nearly tearful "Awwww, how adorable!" reaction from those in the social audience.

That's all well and good, you may be saying, but how can I turn my online marketing content into a warm and fuzzy juggernaut?  While there are certain "rules" you should play by when crafting your social content, such as defining your target audience beforehand and selectively choosing social media networks through which to make your online presence known, there are also factors that exist in a more gray area and are therefore harder to define.

Tips for Crafting Attention-Getting Social Content

Perhaps more important than anything else, your content should be utterly original.  If you are producing cookie-cutter content or cutting and pasting the work of others and claiming it as your own, you've already lost the social media marketing battle.  Online users have an extremely short attention span, a few seconds at most, so you have the blink of an eye, literally, to catch their attention.  

You can't do that if you're giving them content they've already seen a dozen times.  Whether you are using images, text, or both in your social content, you should always strive to provide a unique and fresh perspective to your target audience.  Your content should immediately catch their eye and their attention, and it should make them want to follow your links or calls-to-action farther into your sales funnel until they've reached the ending that you've chosen for them.

Giving the User Control

Another element of successful social content is that it moves an online user forward in a way that seems natural rather than pushy or full of overt salesmanship.  Ultimately, you want your visitor to meet your goals and objectives while still feeling as though they've been completely in control of their decision-making process from start to finish.

Above all else, however, social content is social just as people are social.  It uses the human aspect to become something more than just words and pictures, and it is that human aspect that makes it that much more appealing to your human audience.  Putting a label or definition on what, precisely, makes social media content more or less successful than any other online content is a difficult challenge that will continue to remain with us, but there are ways you can whittle down the obstacles to more manageable size if you think in terms of emotion rather than logic.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Developing A Content Strategy Across Social Media Networks

  
  
  

n the earliest days of Internet marketing, companies didn’t need to worry about putting content strategycontent anywhere except on their own web site. Back in those days, Facebook was a distant dream in the mind of a kid at Harvard and a tweet was just a sound made by a bird.

The Rapid Rise Of Social Networks

The meteoric rise of social media over the past five years has changed the way that companies approach their marketing. The statistics speak for themselves: in 2010, Facebook had 400 million users. Just two years later, the site reached more than 1 billion users. In the same period of time, the number of Twitter users doubled from 100 million to 200 million. Because of their huge number of users, these major social networks represent a prime channel for companies to attract new business and satisfy existing clients.

Besides a company web site, social media networks are some of the most common platforms for marketers to use when executing their content strategy. But with new social networks emerging on what seems like a daily basis and company resources under more strain than ever before, how can a marketer maintain a sufficient flow of content to each network? With some effort and planning, it is very possible to use multiple social networks simultaneously to improve the effectiveness of your company’s content strategy.

Narrow Your Focus

One of the first things you should understand about social media networks as they pertain to your client's content strategy is that it is impossible to cover all of them. You will want to decide early on which networks you should concentrate your energy on. Many companies choose Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as these three social networks are the most popular. The sites that you choose for your content marketing campaign should fit in with your goals as well as your customer demographic. For example, if you are targeting products or service towards women, Pinterest is probably a site that you want to be involved with: RJMetrics reported earlier this year that 80% of Pinterest users are women.

Consider Your Timing

What time will your prospects be active on the specific social media network that you are targeting with your content strategy? HubSpot says that Facebook posts are shared most on the weekends, while retweets on Twitter are highest later in the day and week. On the other hand, a network like LinkedIn that is aimed more at business professionals may be better to post on during the workday. Experiment with different timings for your social media posts and you will eventually find the ones that work the best.

Use Hashtags

For a busy marketer responsible for content strategy across multiple platforms, hashtags can be an important metric that binds it all together. Many of the major social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest support hashtags. What exactly is the function of a hashtag? It allows you to see messages from people that use a certain hashtag in their posts. With hashtags you can see exactly what people are saying about your client's company, event, or products. Try to encourage fans and followers to use your hashtags in their posts, which will increase your social media visibility in a way that you can track.

Don’t Forget About Customer Service

No matter what kind of social network you are using, your goal should be to satisfy your client's customers. There are countless examples of businesses using Twitter to provide excellent customer service. Have you heard the story about Morton’s Steakhouse delivering a steak to a hungry follower who didn’t have time to eat between flights? These are just a few examples of what is possible from a customer service standpoint. While Twitter might be the best social network for immediate customer service, you can address customer issues on almost any social network that you use.

These tips should get you well on your way to establishing a successful content strategy across several social media networks. Above all, make sure that you experiment and constantly tinker with your strategy to find out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to improving your client's company’s standing in the all-important world of social media networks.

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Content Curation: An Unlimited Marketing Resource

  
  
  

Want to keep up with the rapidly growing field of content marketing? Good luck. Business 2 content curationCommunity says that most companies spent between 20-40% of their marketing budget on content last year, and over 60% plan to increase their content budget in the coming year.

Content marketers who are already struggling to juggle the demands of their daily business along with what is needed to stay on top of the competitive digital marketing field may feel overwhelmed. In a world where there seems to be more to do than ever before but the same amount of time with which to do it, how are companies able to consistently publish so much content? Part of the answer can be found in content curation.

The Prevalence Of Content Curation

As you probably know, content curation refers to sharing content from another source on your own blog, web site, or social media page. Curating content is a widespread practice in the marketing industry: in a 2012 marketing survey, Curata reported that 95% of marketers shared content from other organizations.

Why is content curation used so frequently? In part because it helps to resolve the quandary that our overwhelmed marketer from the introduction is now dealing with. Content curation is a strategy that allows a marketer to increase marketing activity by sharing someone else’s content. While content curation by itself will not get you to the highest level of marketing success, the same Curata survey indicated that 85% of content curators believe that thought leadership can be established through content curation.

Moreover, it is rare that you will find a seasoned content marketer who is only using content curation, because these marketers understand the real value of curation: providing an active pipeline of fresh, relevant content.

Curation As A Limitless Source For Marketing Material

How can content curation be a source for a company’s marketing needs if by its very definition it involves sharing things that are not originally created by the company? Because when it is done properly, curating content still allows a company to convey its own unique marketing voice. There are a few key steps to remember to make sure that your curating efforts are contributing to your client's own brand, not the organizations that they are sharing content from:

  • Always credit the original publisher of the content: Matt Heinz says on HubSpot that crediting your sources could encourage them to return the favor and share some of your content. Crediting your source also prevents you from ever being accused of plagiarism.

  • Add your own message: if you are just going to re-post an entire news release or press announcement word for word, why would people go to your page instead of just finding it at the source? The answer: they wouldn’t! Curating content is all about continuing the discussion. Ask your readers a question, contribute more information about the content’s topic, or link the original post to another piece of content on a related subject. Even just a few sentences at the beginning or end of the shared content will help make the content your own

  • Curate from sources that make sense: are you marketing for a company that sells cars? It is probably not a good idea to be curating posts from a blog about the value of public transportation. The posts that you curate should align with your company’s overall marketing strategy and express the same kind of value proposition that your business offers: if they don’t, explain why your strategy is better when you share the content

With these tips in mind you can get started on a curation strategy for your client's marketing. As you get acclimated to the best practices for curating content, you will come to value this technique as a solid practice that can expand the frequency and impact of your client's content marketing messages.

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5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Trumps Traditional Advertising

  
  
  

What is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, it's "a marketing content marketing campaigntechnique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action." 

Examples of several forms of content marketing are:

  • Blog posts

  • Social media posts

  • Videos

  • Podcasts

  • Infographics

  • Memes

  • eBooks

  • Case studies or other original research

Regardless of the route you take, implementing a content marketing campaign into your client's marketing strategy will only benefit them. If they have been stuck in the mindset of traditional advertising--billboards, commercials, magazine ads and the like--it's time for them to expand their horizons.  Content marketing has taken over, and it's not hard to see why.

1. Value.

Advertisements and sponsored content are meant only to show off the product. Creating content for a content marketing campaign is about so much more than that. It gives you a chance to create content that offers something to your client's customers, whether it's information, assistance, or simply entertainment. This allows you to build trust, producing a loyal and reliable audience.

2. More bang for your buck.

Sure, traditional advertising is able to get your clients plenty of leads--even with the takeoff of content marketing, advertising isn't going away any time soon. But content marketing costs way less than traditional advertising and it benefits business in many ways. In fact, this infographic says that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, but brings in three times more leads. Although most businesses typically spend about 25% of their marketing budget on content marketing, even a small percentage of that expenditure would benefit your client's business.

3. Give customers a reason to trust.

A content marketing campaign gives you an opportunity to build a trusting and loyal audience. When creating content, it's important not to simply try to sell your client's product. Professional writers can write quality content that is relevant to the product, but that doesn't only focus on promoting it.

For example, if your client sells office supplies, it might be smart to post articles such as "5 Ways to Organize Your Day" or "How to Conquer That To Do List." These types of articles are going to be about something that potential customers truly care about. 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that delivers custom content, so by creating content that customers want to read, you are going to create a loyal following of people who are also going to love the product.

4. Increase traffic to your client's website.

In the past, there has been no reason for users to stay on a website unless they are browsing through products and sincerely interested in purchasing some. However, with the addition of a blog with quality blog posts, you're giving users an extra section to look at. Not only will this increase your average visit duration, but website traffic as well. The key is to consistently post quality content that is informative to your client's customers, use relevant keywords, and promote their content onto social media.

5. Do less work.

A content marketing campaign is relatively simple and easy when compared to a traditional advertising campaign. It costs less, it requires less work, it reaches more potential customers, and the rate of return is generally higher. Whereas traditional advertising relies on your client's marketing team researching the best places to promote your product, content marketing relies on readers enjoying and sharing the content for you. As long as you keep up with your client's company blog and always post valuable information, blog visitors will do the rest.

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4 Reasons Branded Content Is Leading the New Age of Online Marketing

  
  
  

It all started with advertorials, and then came infomercials. While both of these were clearly branded contentseen as advertising masquerading as content, branded content has managed to achieve a different reputation. And with the arrival on the scene of BuzzFeed, it has become the go-to option for marketers, and it’s delivering great ROI for brands.

Reason #1: It’s Still All About Value

In these days of inbound marketing, content that delivers value to the consumer is viewed as the ultimate in successful promotion. Building a following and a reputation through content marketing that results in actual sales is a slow process, however. Branded content has broken through the ranks as a much faster way to deliver the same message. The value is there, inherent in the content the way it always was. The difference is that in the past, marketing-speak in your content was a big no-no, but now brands unashamedly include their products and services by name. And as long as the content still offers value to the reader, it seems to be ok with the consumer.

Reason #2: Designer Labels Are “Hot”

With the constantly-rising popularity of designer labels, it’s no surprise that branded content is moving into the space already occupied by branded clothing and other items. There are few marketing results as satisfying to a brand as getting your customers to promote proudly on your behalf, simply for the privilege of being able to afford to do so. This has paved the way for the use of brand names in marketing content without any backlash from customers.

Reason #3: Storytelling Is In

It’s very difficult to tell a “real” story without mentioning names, and since storytelling is a great tool for explaining concepts and delivering messages, it’s an essential component of content marketing. By mentioning the brand name, you can tell the story in so much more detail that it offers far greater credibility, while still delivering the value your readers expect from objective content. And consumers know this, so they’re accepting of branded content in principle as long as it:

  • Isn’t blatant advertising.

  • Displays honesty and transparency

  • Contains an infusion of personality from the writer

  • Includes characters the audience can identify with

  • Has a beginning, a middle and an end

  • Qualifies as a “page turner” by not giving it all away upfront.

The goal of branded content is to surround your reader with your brand experience so he can decide for himself how he wants to interact with your company.

Reason #4: Social Is The New Search

With 75% of BuzzFeed’s 130 million monthly visitors coming from Facebook and Twitter, it’s clear that social is the new search. Much of the reason for this is that the branded content posted by the company is highly shareable, and 50% of users view it as entertainment rather than advertising. Since social search relies on popularity for ranking, the more sharable something is the more likely it is to get found.

Friskies “Dear Kitten” video is a great case in point. Nowhere in the video is the company name actually mentioned, but it’s clearly in use. The video tells an endearing story, includes the prerequisite compelling characters, has a beginning, a middle and an end and doesn’t give it all away upfront. The result: 14.8 million views since it was published on YouTube. Thanks to social media, where it went viral in no time at all.

In spite of these impressive stats, while branded content has clearly become a leading marketing option, it’s essential for the reader to want it for it to work. The goal of using this remains not whether it will spread on social media, but whether the product is exceptional enough to build consumer loyalty by satisfying expectations. 

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Best Practices For Client Communication

  
  
  

Much of the advice currently available for content providers focuses on the content itself. content marketing strategyThis makes sense when you consider the fact that over 90% of B2B marketers today use some kind of content marketing strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

As a content provider for your clients, you are a vital part of your clients' marketing strategies.  Your writers must not only be able to generate quality content in a timely fashion, they also need to be able to interact with their clients in a way that is conducive to the success of both parties. Here are a few important things to keep in mind to help you improve your interactions with companies or individuals that you provide content for.

Clarify Expectations

If you have any significant questions about what your client expects from you, the best thing to do is ask them to clarify. Most clients will be happy to explain what they meant or go into more detail about what they want from you, but they will not think to do so unless you ask them. Keep your clarification requests short and concise: the last thing you want to do is make things even more confusing after you request clarification on an issue.

Understand Deadlines

A big part of content marketing strategy for businesses today revolves around getting content out in a timely fashion, whether it is to be included in a magazine or publication or companies are looking for a gain in search rankings. Most of the time, clients have a reason that they have put their deadline in place: make sure you know what the timeframe is for an assignment and that you feel comfortable with your ability to get it delivered within that timeframe.

Communicate Early And Often

If something happens that prevents you from completing the assignment the way that the client expected, let them know about it as soon as you are aware of a problem. You will find that most clients are willing to be relatively lenient as long as you don’t make a habit of disregarding deadlines and you communicate with them about the situation. Business author Tom Peters says that a good rule to follow when it comes to client communication is to under-promise and over-deliver. This means that you should set reasonable expectations, then do your best to surpass these expectations to impress your client. Promising the moon and failing to deliver will damage your reputation and negatively impact clients’ opinions of you.

Don’t Waste Their Time

While it is important to get clarification from your clients when necessary, you also have to remember that they are busy and usually have a lot of other things they have to deal with. Remember that these clients are contracting you to help take care of this entire portion of their content marketing strategy: their day does not revolve around making sure that you can do your job properly as an editor/reviewer. While the client may respond if you ask questions about things like tone, style, and grammar, you should draw upon your experience as a writer and the assignment description given to you by the client to get your own answers about these types of concerns whenever possible.

Communicating with clients can be tricky, but the more you do it the better you will get. Do everything you can to simplify the lives of your clients and deliver great content to them and you may become situated as an important part of their content marketing strategy.

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6 Must-Haves For All Blog Posts

  
  
  

Are your clients ready to deliver some really exceptional blog content? It seems simple, right?content marketing Click "New Post" and then type away. However, there is a science to the perfect blog post. Do you want your clients' blog posts to be successful? Then you need to make sure that every single one of them has all six of these must-haves.

1. A Killer Headline

This is the first step to get readers to actually read the blog post! This means that the headline is more important than most people think. It's not just the icing on the cake, it is the cake. It is what makes people click over to read the rest of your client's content. Think: "Would I want to read this myself?" If the answer is no, you have some more work to do. In fact, some writers believe that the same amount of time should be spent writing headlines as writing the actual content. 

So, what exactly makes a headline killer? If your clients are struggling, the top two go-tos are numbers and trigger words such as "how, why, when, what." Use captivating adjectives to draw the audience in. Persuade readers to read the blog post with the headline.

2. A Compelling Introduction

Once readers decide to click to the post, you need to draw them in. If there's any part of the actual blog content that will get read, it is going to be the introduction. This is what helps readers decide to stay or to move on. And you want them to stay.

Luckily for you, there are many great ways to create an irresistible introduction that will leave your readers looking for more. Before you begin, ask your clients why they want to write about this topic. Suggest topics such as personal stories and customer experiences. Address readers directly. Be conversational.

3. Visuals

Whether it's a simple image illustrating the point, a graphic design, or an infographic, it is nothing short of mandatory to add some type of visual element to your blog posts. Not only do visually appealing photos draw readers in to help readership, alt tags added into the HTML can even help with SEO. You can use client photos and images, or you can easily find pictures online that have various attribution licenses.

4. Subheadings

Although the Internet is the first place people go to find information, it's not exactly the place that they want to read a novel while doing so. Subheadings in your blog post help to break up the information so that readers aren't faced with a daunting wall of text. They also help your readers to find exactly what they're looking for. Subheadings let readers know exactly what you're going to be talking about in each section, helping with skimmability as well as SEO. And you will also benefit from your own subheadings--it keeps the blog content on track!

5. Useful and Relevant Content

Now we've gotten to the actual blog content portion. Although every single one of these items are important in a well thought out blog post, your content is what is really going to sell. 

First, you need to make sure that your blog content stays relevant to your topic throughout the post. Although there are many components that make up good content, ProBlogger says that the number one rule is to keep it useful and unique. People are most likely to read something that is going to be helpful to them in some way. 

6. A Call to Action

Always end your post with some kind of call to action to the readers. Ask them a question relating to the blog post that you'd like them to answer in the comments. Ask readers to share the post if they liked it and make it easy for them by including share tabs at the bottom of all of your posts. The idea is to generate a response and it's your job to incite that response.

What do you think is important to include in a blog post?

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Branding Through Content Marketing

  
  
  

Branding matters. In fact, it's one of the big keys to your clients' success. They have to set content marketingthemselves apart from their competitors by establishing their brands as the most authoritative, most helpful, and most with-it option. For a brand to grow, it's got to be recognizable, and content marketing can go a long way when it comes to offering consistent messaging, color schemes, language, and logos.

Let's look at the ways you can enhance your clients' branding through content marketing.

1. Set the brand’s tone through your words and messages. Each post on the company's blog should match the vision established for the brand.  Think about what you want people to think of when they hear your client's name. This image should match the industry but have a nuance that is unique to the company. For instance, Whole Foods Market’s blog has a down home feel to it, which is absolutely appropriate for a health food market. Bloggers from the company often write in the first person about their own forays into cooking. This format works well for their brand. What will work for your clients?

2. Build relationships with potential and existing customers. In the past, marketing has been strictly one-way (from marketer to consumer), but blogs and social media give business owners a rich opportunity to converse with their customers. Allow people to comment on the blog, and then respond! If necessary, hire someone or assign an existing employee to monitor the blog and respond to comments. Just make sure that whoever is responding is well-versed in the vision of the company’s brand, and it doesn’t hurt if that person has impeccable grammar and spelling.

3. Show the brand’s savvy through images as well as words. Well-chosen, nicely-put-together words are key to branding, but the overall appearance of the blog is also essential. Choose quality images to go along with your post, and make sure the images all have a similar feel. If most of your images come from a professional photographer and then one day you stick a cheap clipart image in a post, people are going to be confused. Consistency is extremely important while you’re helping to build a brand.

Infographics can be powerful tools for branding. Using your chosen color scheme, font, and style, present interesting statistics about your client's industry, products, or services. When you post an intriguing infographic on social media, your message can end up going viral, reaching potential customers you couldn't have reached any other way.

4. Show up in the right places. Pinterest is not the best place to market your line of custom motorcycles. Why? Because Pinterest is not where you will find your potential customers. On the other hand, Pinterest is perfect for getting exposure for a cupcake brand. Find out where potential customers are and then start joining conversations and representing your client's brand. Hashtags can help you to join relevant conversations. Once you find your sweet spots, post reliably and regularly.

Your content marketing can be one of your best tools for establishing your clients' brands. Remember to first come up with a vision, and then stick to it as you post timely pieces with lovely images. If you respond to comments, you’ll keep customers coming back for more, and you’ll establish your clients as authorities in their industries. Use social media to showcase your content marketing in the right places, the places where potential customers hang out, and people will soon begin to recognize your client's brand and all that it stands for.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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