[00:01:12] You may have heard of Seth Godin. Seth Godin is considered a marketing genius and one of his many books, he’s a prolific author, that I particularly like is called Permission Marketing. And Permission Marketing is all about earning the right to ask for business. Another phrase that kind of compliments that idea is content marketing. And if you’ve been listening to my other podcasts, you’ve noticed that I mentioned content marketing in small ways in many of my podcasts. But I decided I would just focus specifically on content marketing for this episode. And I’m going to share what I consider to be fundamentals. So if you’re a person that’s already well-versed in marketing and content marketing, you know, you may find a lot of these ideas to be a gentle reminder of some of the basics. But again, there’s, you know, a lot of very talented people out there who are legitimately content marketing experts, which I don’t claim to be. So I would encourage you if this is a topic that you want to know more about and to dive in deeper than the level that I will take you, you know, seek out those people who, you know, speak on the topic, wright on the topic, and have content of their own that you can consume.
[00:02:33] But I thought I’d start with just a basic definition of content marketing. And this is specifically from the Content Marketing Institute. Yes. There’s actually a thing called The Content Market Institute, and this is their definition for content marketing. I’ll just read it exactly as they have it. The creation and distribution of valuable, relevant, and consistent content that attracts, engages, and inspires a clearly defined audience with the objective to ultimately drive profitable action. Okay. If I were just listening to that myself, my first reaction would be, what the heck is this guy talking about, right? I mean, I don’t even quite understand it. Don’t you love definitions that require that you actually go to a dictionary to like look up some of the words that you didn’t know what they were? And then when you go to the dictionary, now you have to look up even more words because you didn’t understand the definition of the first one you looked up. So, what I’ve done with that definition and this isn’t a criticism of the content marketing Institute, I just think that they made the definition of content marketing so complex that I’d like to break it down for you. Break it down into basically nine words, you know, three different themes that are expressed in a total of nine words. So, here’s kind of what I take from that definition that I really want to emphasize for your benefit. Content marketing needs to be valuable, relevant, and consistent. Those three words valuable, relevant, and consistent are key. In other words, the point of content marketing is to provide value. And it needs to be relevant to the audience that you’re trying to seek, right? The audience that you’re either trying to do business with, or build relationships with. If it’s not valuable and relevant to them, it doesn’t matter what you say, right? If it’s not valuable and relevant, it has no meaning. And they’re not going to pay attention. But the third word in that phrase, valuable, relevant, and consistent is also important. Because if you’re going to put marketing and content out there to try to get business or build relationships, you can’t just kind of do it, you know, haphazardly, whenever you feel like it Because people will actually come to rely on seeking you out for that information. And they will come to expect that, you know, however you’re doing it in the form of, you know, social media posts or a blog or a podcast or whatever it might be, that it’s something that, you know, will be ongoing. So valuable, relevant, and consistent were important parts of that definition. Next three words that I want to bring from that definition is a clearly defined audience. So, who is it specifically that you’re speaking to? Who is it that you’re trying to attract as a customer or who is it that you’re trying to build a relationship with? Or who are you trying to simply get their attention, right? Without a clearly defined audience, it’s hard to know what to say, right? It’s hard to know what your content should be. And then the final three words that I want to pull from that definition is to drive profitable action. Because ultimately, it is about you getting more business. The reason that anyone would engage in taking the time and energy to produce and distribute content marketing is to get business, or to build their business or to deepen their relationships. In other words, there’s a business reason. But, notice that’s the last thing that I said about that definition. In other words, it wasn’t the beginning of the definition, but it needs to be a component. It needs to be a part of the reason why you would do it. So let me just give you an example of something more specific. In the mortgage industry, people who get mortgages find that process to be confusing. And so I came across a recent survey that asked, you know, would people agree with the statement, ‘the loan process was extremely difficult for me’. ‘The loan process was extremely difficult for me’. And they asked this question based on the generation that the folks were in and basically anybody who is about 55 or younger. So that excludes the baby boomers, right? The baby boomers have, you know, they’re over 55, they have owned homes before, probably several homes. They probably would not say that the loan process is extremely difficult for me. But anybody younger than that, so from your 20 somethings, all the way to mid-fifties, almost half of the people that were asked agree with the statement, ‘the loan process was extremely difficult for me.’ So wouldn’t it make sense if you were trying to put some content out there that would be valuable and relevant, that you might specifically focus on how to make the loan process less difficult for people. Because they believe whether they actually know from experience or whether they just have a perception, they believe that the loan process is extremely difficult. So it makes sense to me, that would be the kind of content that you would want to create. Would be content that would make the loan process less difficult for people. That way it would be valuable and it would be relevant. And as long as your defined audience is not baby boomers or older, right, if your defined audience is people who are younger than baby boomers, then you’ve hit that target. You’re hitting the appropriate target that you’re trying to build a relationship with.
[00:08:01] So let me step back for a moment and kind of talk about the differences between what’s referred to as content marketing versus traditional marketing. Because I may have made an assumption that you would have already known that difference, and that probably isn’t a fair assumption to make. So traditional marketing is what some people would call, push marketing, where a message is simply being pushed onto an audience. And content marketing in contrast is pull marketing, where you’re actually pulling people toward you. You know, pulling people in, so to speak as opposed to just pushing on them. And if you think about it, if you were researching an organization to do business with, you want to buy a product or a service and you’re thinking about, you know, various choices of companies or people that offer this product or service, wouldn’t you rather get to know them, you know, before you make this business decision of who to work with? Wouldn’t you rather get to know them because they’re informing you and making you a smarter consumer or through their advertising. See, their advertising would be traditional push marketing. But them informing you about the things that you need to know to make this important decision would be pull or content marketing. In other words, traditional marketing is talking at people and content marketing is talking with people. Traditional marketings intend to simply sell, content marketing’s intention is to inform or advise. Now again, in the background, yes, there is an intention to sell and do business, but that’s not the primary focus. Traditional marketing’s primary focus is to sell something, content marketing’s primary focus is to advise or inform. And so what happens with traditional marketing is there’s a lot of convincing that must be done. If you’re using traditional marketing, you have to convince people to buy what you’re selling, but with content marketing, it’s more about expressing your conviction, right? And so what do I mean by that? Your content marketing should say, this is what I know, and this is who I help. This is what I know, which establishes you as an expert, and this is who I help, which makes it very clear to the person who’s absorbing this marketing to know whether they’re that person or not. Do you help people like me or do you not help people like me? Do you notice how with most traditional marketing, none of that is in there, right? There’s no establishing about, you know, someone’s expertise or what they do. And they’re definitely, it’s like a one shoe fits all approach with traditional marketing. It’s like, let’s just push something out randomly to, you know, millions of people and see who responds as opposed to this is specifically who I help. So that as people absorb that marketing, they can decide for themselves, are they one of those people or not.
[10:55] Now the goals of marketing, whether it be traditional marketing or content marketing, I could probably summarize, you know, are three things. And certainly, you know, folks that are true marketers, have marketing degrees, work as marketing executives in companies, they’d probably have a lot more to add to this than you know, me. I’m an amateur at this stuff. But I think you’ll find this helpful. The goals of marketing are threefold. One is to get attention. So traditional marketing could certainly get attention, right? But content marketing is also very good at getting attention because it’s relevant and valuable and useful, right. And people, if you think about it, just think about yourself for a second as a consumer, you’re online and you’re either looking at like, you know, search results, pages and pages of search results, or you’re on someone’s website and you’re scrolling through a website. Or you’re on your social media platform, whatever social media platform you might have. And you’re kind of scrolling through the feed, so to speak, ask yourself what actually makes you stop as opposed to continuing to scroll, right? What is it that actually gets your attention that is compelling enough that you will stop and at least start to absorb that content before moving on. And again, it seems pretty obvious, it has to speak to you, right. It has to be something that is speaking specifically to you that is valuable and useful and relevant. So marketing needs to, number one, get attention, right. So something has gotten your attention, but that doesn’t take it far enough because marketing also when done well should establish whether you’re a good fit. Are you and this service provider or this product a good fit for each other? Well, that’s where traditional marketing starts to not be so good anymore. So traditional marketing might get someone’s attention, but it doesn’t usually do much to establish if this is a good fit. Content marketing, on the other hand, does that very well. So marketing gets attention. Marketing establishes if it’s a good fit and ideally marketing should try to reduce the risk associated with making the purchase. The marketing itself should be done in such a way that it makes people feel comfortable with moving forward and taking the next step. Again, traditional marketing doesn’t tend to do that unless it might specifically say something about a guarantee or, you know, your satisfaction. We have a warranty, things like that make people feel comfortable. But notice that content marketing is more about building a relationship, establishing you as an authority and that you have an understanding of what, you know, this particular customer needs and that you have something that is probably a good fit for them. And just the act of doing that reduces their risk and makes them feel more comfortable. I wanted to make sure that you kind of understood overview-wise what is the difference between content versus traditional marketing and what are the goals of marketing in general.
[00:13:58] So, what I’d like to walk you through now is I hate to say a formula, so maybe we should just call it key considerations. I’ve got about a half a dozen key considerations that you should be thinking about as you’re developing your own content marketing or your own content marketing strategy. Again, I hate to use the word formula. You’ll find a lot of information out there that sounds like that. A lot of people who will say things like, oh your content marketing, you know, it should be this length and it should be this platform and it should be done at this time of day, and you should do it this often. I mean, those are all formulas that somebody has discovered works for them, but that may not work for you. So rather than, you know, push a formula on you, I thought maybe just gave you some key considerations. But again, you could look at it as a formula if you like that idea. So one consideration, number one, would be the topic and headline of your content marketing. The topic and the headline. Obviously the topic we need to go back to relevant subject matter, right? The topic should be things that are relative and useful and valuable to the audience that you’re specifically targeting. The headline, just know that you’re competing with a lot of other media for someone’s attention. So, you know, headlines are important in terms of getting noticed and getting attention. Again, if you’re not good at coming up with catchy things that get people’s attention, then maybe that’s something that you should seek some help on. But not only does the topic have to be relevant, the headline has to be interesting enough that it at least gets somebody’s attention. So that’s one consideration of about a half a dozen I’m going to give you is the topic and the headline.
[00:15:42] Number two, the format and type. The format and type of your content marketing. And so what I’m referring to here are all the various ways that the content marketing can be put out there. So for instance, I’ll just rattle off a bunch here: a video, a blog, an article, a quiz or an assessment, a social media post, a white paper, or an ebook, case study, an infographic. You’re probably thinking of examples of these things that you’ve seen, a podcast is a form of content marketing. Again, I’ll run through that list again quickly, cause I’m sure you weren’t able to remember all of them, a quiz or assessment, a video, a blog, an article, a social media post, a white paper or an ebook, a case study, an infographic or a podcast. And I’m sure there’s many more, those are just the ones that came to mind as I jotted it down. So you’ll want to give some thought to, you know, what kind of format or type of content marketing do you want to use and will it be a combination of those things or will it just be one kind? That’s part of this formula, so to speak. Ultimately, you want it to be something that is kind of easy to absorb. Something that’s easy for people to take in. And so being kind of conversational in tone, you know, easy reading, basic reading level, you know, not using words and jargon that people don’t understand. It needs to be something that you know, is probably written at a seventh or eighth grade level, honestly. And I’m not saying that to insult anybody’s intelligence, but when you write things at a seventh or eighth grade level, it’s very easy reading and that’s kind of what gets people’s attention. Nobody wants to read something that sounds really academic, where they have to have their dictionary nearby.
[00:17:30] All right. Third consideration would be the length. The length of this content marketing. And again, I’ve just given you lots of different ways that content marketing could be put out there. Basic suggestion with length is that less is more. Just know that people’s attention spans are fairly short. You’re competing for their attention with lots of other types of media that they’re interacting with on a daily basis. So, when in doubt, you know, make it shorter. Next consideration would be frequency. How often would you do this? Again, I’m going to go back to what I said earlier, consistency is important. There needs to be kind of something that people can count on in terms of a consistent thing that they can absorb. But quality over quantity. So don’t get so hung up on this has to be perfect. It has to be exactly right. It has to be, you know, exactly what I wanted to say. It has to be professionally produced. It has to be, you know, on and on and on. The perfectionist comes out in us and we end up not doing anything because we’re waiting for the right time or waiting for it to be perfect. It would be better that it was less frequent but high quality, than frequent and garbage, right. In other words, your frequency doesn’t matter if it’s not valuable and the quality isn’t high. If the quality is high, people will kind of excuse you, so to speak for not being as frequent as they might like.
[00:18:44] All right. The next key consideration would be perspective. What perspective are you sharing in this content marketing? And again, I’m going to share a couple of ideas here. It can either be your perspective, or it could be the customer’s perspective. If you’re sharing your perspective, then obviously you need to talk or write about things that you care about, right? Because the things that you care about are probably things that you know a lot about, so you have expertise and you have some passion and enthusiasm for what you’re sharing because these ideas are important to you. More often than not though, content marketing to be really effective needs to be from the customer’s perspective. So that it’s not really about you. So what are some of the things that you could ask to figure out? Well, if it’s not about me, it’s supposed to be about them. You know, how do I develop content that is about my audience? And so you want to give some consideration to things like, well, what would they want to know, right. So this is where you have to step aside from your perspective. This is what’s so hard when you’ve been doing something for a really long time. You can’t help but look at your business from your own perspective, as opposed to the perspective of the people that you’re trying to serve. The perspective of the people that you’re trying to do business with, they have a very different perspective of your work and how you do it and what it is than you do. So you kind of have to force yourself to ask questions like, well, what would they want to know? You know, if they weren’t me, and they’re just trying to make a buying decision about this business that I’m in, what would they want to know or what would they need to know?
[00:20:32] Another question you could ask is, well, how might they be feeling? So, in other words, your content could be addressing not only things that they want or need to know, but even the feeling or emotional part of this decision about purchasing this product or purchasing this service. What would they type into Google? If somebody knew nothing about your product, what would literally be the kinds of things that they would type into Google to get information about your product? See, you would search with very different words because you already know what the jargon is. You already know what the language is, of your business and your industry. But your average person that you’re trying to reach through content marketing probably doesn’t have that expertise. And so they would use, you know, different language even. So when you ask yourself things like, well, what would they want to know and how might they be feeling and what would they type into Google or what keywords would they use if they were searching for information about what I offer, that gets you out of your perspective and your frame of mind and helps you create content that’s from the customer’s perspective.
[00:21:33] Okay. So just to recap, I’ve gone through five of these key considerations in creating content marketing. The first was topic and headline. The second was format and type. The third was length. The fourth was frequency. The fifth was perspective. The last point I’ll make is transparency. I think the most effective content marketing is honest and authentic. You actually get to know a little bit, you actually get to feel like you’re understanding and getting to know the company or the person that’s creating the content marketing. So don’t be hesitant to share a little bit of yourself, to be a little vulnerable, to risk being a little vulnerable, being honest and authentic. And I guess I’d add one more. I know I said there’d probably be six. I’m going to add what you could call number seven, or this is also potentially just an afterthought. I think content marketing needs to be not only consistent, but I think we need to think of it as an ongoing process. What do I mean by that? I came across this number the other day that really kind of surprised me. It was a recent study that basically highlighted that of the people who get a mortgage, as an example, and have a great experience. So this percentage of people who get a loan and say that they had a great experience, very few of them ever go back to that lender when they need another loan. It’s under 20%. And that kind of made me think, why would people who had a great experience with a product or a service, why would such a small percentage of them go back to where they’d had that great experience the next time they need that product or service? Now, there could be a lot of reasons why that is and the survey didn’t go into what are the reasons why they don’t go back. But I would tend to think that one of the reasons is that you’re no longer top of mind. You’re no longer relevant. You’re no longer useful. In other words, you might have used content marketing to get that business, to attract that customer and ultimately do business with them. But then once you kind of close the transaction, so to speak, the loan closed, then you’re on to securing new business, new customers. And you’re no longer really in contact with the people that said they had a great experience with you. So I think we need to re-think marketing as not just being an acquisition of new business, but the retention of existing relationships. And again, that’s where content marketing, because you don’t need to sell these people anymore. If somebody has already purchased your product or service, they’re not going to want to get advertisements from you. They’re no longer going to want you to be sending them things that sound like you’re selling them, but to stay relevant, to stay useful and valuable and continue to send them things and push information out through content marketing that is engaging and useful, to me, that just sounds like a brilliant idea because they already liked doing business with you and you just need to stay top of mind, so that when they are ready to purchase again, they’ll at least consider you. And who’s been helping them all along. Who’s been there even years after they purchased the product or service. Who’s still the one that keeps in contact with them? I think that would say alot. But so much marketing, especially traditional marketing, is always focused on just getting the customer. And so you have to just repeat that process over and over. And I think it’s a lot harder to acquire new business than it is to keep existing business. I mean, even though existing customers may not purchase that often, especially something like a mortgage, right. They’re not going to be getting a mortgage every year, but it’s a whole lot easier to get them to come back and get another mortgage than it is to go find new people who need a mortgage. And I think content marketing is a way that you could do that as well.
So there you have it. That is it for this episode. But as I always say at the end of these, these ideas are just the beginning not the end, right? Because we think that clarity leads to action, when in fact, it’s action that leads to clarity. It’s only when you put ideas into practice and use them will you really understand what they mean? So I encourage you, please take some of what you heard today to get the maximum return on your investment of time, put them into action, use them. That’s where the real value for you is going to be. This is Blaine Rada with Arch MI, thank you for listening.