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Content Marketing: How to become a better marketer … of your ideas

More than 60% of marketers are increasing their content marketing budgets, according to the MarketingSherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report. If you're like the majority of lead gen marketers, you see the value in content marketing for your products.

But, what about content marketing for yourself?

I know, it feels a little gauche to talk about self-promotion. However, allow me give to you some license to sell yourself with content. Sure, it can help your career, but it can also help your ideas. After all, rarely do people judge a message without judging the man and/or woman behind it.

Here are four quick tips to help you with content marketing for yourself.

Tip #1: Be helpful

Content marketing involves challenging subjects like SEO, integration across marketing channels, and measuring content marketing effectiveness.

But, if you had to break content marketing down to just three little words, I propose these – just be helpful. All the rest is commentary.

The funny thing is, this is a great way to look at our careers as well. In essence, we're just helping people. A marketing manager is helping Sales get leads. A sales rep is helping a customer find the right solution.

So focus on helping your audience, not social media updates showing how fabulous you are. That's not content marketing. It's exhibitionism.

Tip #2: Write what you know

This little piece of advice is why there are so many books about writers and so many YouTube videos on being a struggling actress trying to get that big break.

But, it rings true. If you're like many marketers that want to engage in content marketing but just don't know what you should write about, keep it in mind.

Here's the thing, you're likely creating lots of content every day. You're simply not putting it into a format that is consumable by the public at large.

Let me give you an example from my own career. I was helping a co-worker here at MECLABS understand what makes a blog successful. I took the discussion from that meeting, and turned it into this blog post – Content Marketing: An 8-point analysis for your blog.

Tip #3: Gain third-party credibility

It's one thing to have an idea. It's quite another to have an idea that has been presented through content to your industry peers, and received feedback and validation from outside the organization.

Here's my bad analogy. A company is like a family. I'm sure Tito and Jermaine Jackson recognized Michael was talented on some level, but in the Jackson household, he was probably just their annoying little brother. However, when he took the stage and the crowd went wild, they likely saw him in a new light.

When I asked for input from Shawn Burns, Global Vice President, Digital Marketing, SAP, he focused on the importance of getting your ideas out there, "External speaking, blogging, success sharing in the public domain, etc., can support, enable and in many ways, accelerate project success. Public response to our ideasis a way to first validate them as relevant. It never ceases to amaze me how we can communicate something consistently through internal channels, but it only truly gets heard when it enters the public domain."
Another way to gain third-party credibility is by winning an industry award (I'll save you any Michael Jackson/Grammy Awards analogies).
There are many industry awards out there, but for my own self-serving reasons, I would point you to MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014. Not only will winning an award like this give you third-party credibility, but winners can speak onstage at Email Summit 2014 as well, giving you a chance to hear feedback on your campaigns from others in the industry. Plus, there's no entry fee.

Tip #4: Optimize the product

That would be you.

As with any content marketing campaign, if the product doesn't deliver on the brand promise, you will alienate people and lose customers.

When I discussed this topic with Karyn Scott, Senior Director, Go-To-Market Campaigns, Salesforce.com, she said, "Always be honest, even when the truth hurts, humble, even when you know all the answers, and reliable."

She brought up another good point – don't forget the customers at home, either. "I have always told my staff if they log in during vacation I will suspend their VPNs."

Daniel Burstein is director of editorial content at MECLABS (parent company of MarketingSherpa, MarketingExperiments and the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog). He can be reached at editor@meclabs.com.

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