Let’s face facts. Most online content is lousy.
It’s too focused on the content creator. It doesn’t make the lives of readers, listeners, and viewers better. An overcrowded content marketplace filled with diverse online text, audio, and video leaves little room for tolerance of the same old marketing spiel.
Bored surfers simply hit the back button and go elsewhere to find interesting content.
To succeed, you need to provide value that rises above the noise.
How do you do that? To make your content marketing engaging, you have to temporarily quit thinking (and writing) like a marketer.
Instead, think like a journalist … specifically, like a trade journalist.
An embedded journalism approach gets you to change gears, to switch your focus to truly serving your readers.
Service is the operative word, a concept discussed as a core online strategy in Welcome to the Fifth Estate.
Businesses and organizations that make a commitment to serving their customers with great content — just as they commit to providing a quality product — initiate interest and build loyalty. They offer value where others simply offer PR messages thinly veiled as blog posts.
Does any of this sound familiar? It should — it’s the content marketing strategy Copyblogger has been using and teaching since 2006. Build your authority and reader engagement by creating content truly worth reading, and the benefits will follow.
Here are three aspects of trade journalism to consider adopting for your content:
1) Create an editorial mission
Most trade journals and top-tier blogs have editorial missions. The editorial mission provides a compass, always guiding writers toward relevant subjects.
What do you stand for? What do you offer customers and readers?
Every company has unique knowledge it can share with customers. Understanding the middle ground between your company and the customer opens the door to value creation.
For more complex subject areas, develop specific topic areas. You or your writers can develop content for these “beats.”
2) Ensure consistent quality content
All trade publications have someone who serves as a managing editor.
The editor finds intriguing stories, shapes and improves them, and ensures that they come out on time and meet the publication’s quality standards.
You need to become your site’s managing editor.
That means developing regular content. Frequency and consistency build a core readership.
Quality engages core readers, builds loyalty, and can result in content-sharing. Producing quality content means not cutting corners. It means delivering your best post every day.
WNBA Houston Coach Kevin Cook said, ““You’re only as good as your last game, and our last game was pretty doggone good.” You should feel the same way after every item of content you deliver.
If you don’t have the talent to create regular quality content, find it. Plenty of former journalists and bloggers with domain knowledge would be delighted to help you out for a reasonable fee.
3) Don’t over market
In addition to advertising and subscription fees, most trade publications sell value-added content like special reports, webinars, and conferences.
The online versions are, of course, ebooks, membership sites, and virtual conferences.
Trade publications promote these services. But they don’t forget what their readers come to them for … their bread-and-butter high-quality content.
We all need to market.
When you have a new product or service that customers will find valuable, you have to tell them about it. And it only makes sense to use calls to action to motivate customers to further engage and buy. But there is a balance to these things, an ebb and flow.
If you’ve created continuing value by providing a steady stream of distinct, interesting content, your community will be more receptive to your marketing … with open minds and wallets.
Do adopt a trade journalism mindset to provide regular, valuable information. This is online marketing that works.
Boring and useless? Not so much.
About the Author: Geoff Livingston co-founded Zoetica, and is author of Welcome to the Fifth Estate: How to Create and Sustain a Winning Social Media Strategy.
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