Content Marketing and Brain Freeze

It’s happened again. It’s time to Get Serious About Your Content Marketing, and you settle down to be Quite Serious.

And your brain freezes. You think you have nothing to say to anyone about anything. So once again content marketing goes by the wayside in favor of stuff that you know how to do — and that everyone expects you to do anyway.

So how do you produce content that is interesting and practical for your customers, and do it on a regular basis? First, and I cannot say this enough, is to know what they care about. When I was in IT at Avery Dennison, we used HP servers and storage. One day a sales rep from Sun came in to talk to us. He told us how great his networking was because was from Sun. We will be so very happy because Sun made it. When we told him that we were happy with HP and Sun wasn’t offering anything new, he blinked. I think he honestly did not understand what you were saying. His response was, “But it’s Sun.” He didn’t sell to us because we didn’t have a pain point he could meet. We didn’t have anything against Sun, but it wasn’t going to do us any favors.

So, know your customers’ pain points. Then start looking around, because you probably have more content than you think you do. And you can produce new content more easily than you think you can. (Note: Before you create content, look to see what your existing content is and where your gaps are. Look here for my simple gap analysis worksheet.)

3 Quick and Pretty Easy Ideas

  • Start with the case study. Most businesses have them. But don’t stop with the regular 1 to 2-page customer success studies. Create a YouTube video about the study. If you can interview your client, so much the better. If can’t, then do it yourself by describing the issue, the solution, and how you can repeat your solution for new clients. Write a blog about it and link to the case study and the video. Viola, you have several pieces of new content.
  • If you have a large enough and engaged enough customer base — or if you have access to a good size group such as a LinkedIn group — then create an interesting survey. Keep it short and lively. Then turn the results into a report. Once again, create a video about the results and consider turning the survey results into different formats like a presentation or Infographic.
  • Speaking of videos, not every video has to be an Oscar-winning masterpiece. They should have decent production values. Fortunately, that doesn’t take much these days. Decent studio lighting, a good camera and clear sound, and a speaker who comes across well on camera will do the trick. And if you have employees, do video spots. Talk to them about what they do, and how what they do benefits their customers. Some of these men and women will surprise you with their passion for making their customers’ lives better.



Minimizing Risk Is Just the Start

I am not an attorney, nor do play one on TV. I do however work with a lot of eDiscovery clients, and occasionally crystallize my thoughts into a blog post.

When you are creating your legal ediscovery content marketing, here is an ongoing big pain point: non-compliance, or the lack thereof.

Banks are particularly sensitive to noncompliance charges, since a good part of their business depends on a trustworthy reputation. Traditionally banks approach compliance by focusing on minimizing risk, reasoning that if they minimize any risk of noncompliance then they’re ahead of the game.

Minimizing risk certainly has an important place in compliance, but banks can only guard against risk if they know what it is. New regulations, massive data growth, and new digital communication channels introduce new risk that the bank may or may not be aware of.

  1. Defining a high-risk process is not a straightforward process. Many banks define high risk by any impact to revenue in high priority business lines. They may not realize that a less profitable business line may hold higher noncompliance risks. Take a low volume collections process that is barely a blip on the revenue report. In fact, regulators may be quite ready to mount a major investigation for noncompliant collections. How’s that for risk?
  2. Well-hidden employee malfeasance. A certain banking division may have a vested interest in not investigating risky actions. Remember Wells Fargo? From at least 2011 to mid-2016, Wells employees created more than 1.5 million unauthorized deposit accounts and over half a million unauthorized credit card applications. Senior executives made money and bank stock rose. Apparently, no one at the bank was interested in the risk of a growth rate that was far above the industry norm.
  3. Even when banks mean to comply, new regulations can catch them by surprise. The United States government alone has passed more than 220 new regulations since 2010, and empowered compliance investigators. (In an ironic example, the last thing that Wells Fargo wanted was more bad publicity. But in December 2016 they were surprised when they ran afoul of Dodds-Frank.)


SMB Content Marketing

Forbes published an article called “3 Steps To Creating A Killer Small Business Content Marketing Strategy” by Jayson DeMers.

Step 1 is research: the audience, your competition, content trends in and out of your industry, and up-and-coming social media platforms.

Step 2 is to set your content marketing goals. Include objective targets like customer retention or more  conversions. Set timeframes: content marketing results don’t happen overnight but they do need to happen. Also set goals around how much time and money are you willing to invest, and when. Don’t empty the budget on a single flashy project, but don’t practice false economy either. Content marketing needs time, money, or both to get top results.

The 3rd step is what DeMers calls “drafts,” although I would call it something different. Essentially he means creating and leveraging content. In this section, he is 100% right on setting phases in your project management timeline. For example, you might build your phases around content bundles on your hot quarterly topics. Write a white paper, then leverage for 3-5 different platforms. Or create a phase around growing traffic on your blog, or increasing shares on social media. DeMers also points out strategically allocating resources, and the importance of being consistent while still staying flexible.

Content Creation Strategy First

You may already have decided on your content creation strategy. You need a white paper, you need 2 mini-white paper excerpts, you need 3 blogs a month, and you need a slide presentation.

And you may be absolutely right — but you may be awfully wrong. Content is not about what you need. It’s all about what your customers need and what they are looking for when they search to solve what hurts.

To create that content, you need to understand:

  • Who your customers are. If you don’t know who your target audience is, or even who might be interested in your content at all, you’ll get nothing out of it. Finding the right people is a large part of content marketing.
  • What are their biggest pain points you can solve. You must understand your client’s goals and when they want to achieve them. If you can’t give at least one clearly defined reason (i.e., a compelling benefit) why your client wants your content, you’re not going to have much luck.
  • What keywords they’re using to search for solutions. They won’t find you if you don’t rank for their search terms.
  • What sale stages you need to align with. Different content appeals to different people. If you haven’t written something that your client(s) want, they won’t buy it.
    What business and marketing trends are drawing your customers’ attention. There’s a time and a place for everything. People who might have needed your content yesterday may not need it today.

Strategy first, then the editorial calendar.

Data Breach, Meet Sony

It’s been a month of data breaches and ransomware for me — fortunately not on my laptop, but writing about it for clients. The big news is writing in the morning about Yahoo’s 2013 and 2014 breaches, and a few hours later sending an email to the editor with the subject “Stop the Presses!” I have always wanted to say that.

I had to revise the piece to say that Sony just suffered another big breach on March 1. Suspicion lands squarely on North Korea, which has certainly been busy lately.