Thursday, November 29, 2012

We're All Publishers, Now.

2013 will be the year of Content Marketing, will you be ready?

What is Content Marketing?

How do I do Content Marketing?

According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI), it is defined:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing goes deeper than what we may have done in the past and the tools to distribute content are more accessible than ever before.

Earlier this month, Joe Pulizzi, founder of CMI, was the guest speaker at a BMA Chicago luncheon. I walked away with an insiders’ perspective and new ideas.  Content marketing may not be a new concept, in fact it has been around for quite awhile. Pulizzi made reference to the cookbooks Jell-O developed to sell its (new) gelatin product. Think Coca-Cola, Harley Davidson and Red Bull and the strategies used to cultivate and educate their loyal audiences. We should be creating the ‘stories to sell products/services’ and our content should be as good or better than any publisher.

What am I going to say? Start with “why?” Check out Simon Sinek’s TEDx Talk about inspirational leadership (video has garnered nearly 8 million views).

What keeps our customers awake at night? How can we address these issues and reassure our customers that we have the solutions they don’t even realize they need?

According to Pulizzi, go deep and small by developing quality content that fits with your overall marketing vision and editorial calendar with the customer/client as primary focus.

Here’s an example:
  • Develop key topics that you want to cover for the year, say 4-6.
  • Next, dive deep into keywords connected/derived from the key topics.
  • Then, create unique content products scheduled for distribution through the year that includes ebooks, blogs/editorial, video and slide decks, etc.

Your ebook is the main product with extended shelf life for blog entries, info graphics, landing page, social media posts, etc. (Replace ebook with case study, research report or video and you’ll have enough content for several months.)

Tracking results can be achieved using your website analytics for page visits, Google Analytics and alerts to make adjustments in your key topics and key words for the next content marketing product.

Content Marketing Unspoken Rules

  1. One Call To Action
  2. Give Content as Gift (freebie)
  3. Social Media Etiquette (promote others and keep your own self-promotion and thought leadership entries to a minimum).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Brainstorm With A Teenager For New Insights

My apartment is filled with images captured by husband, Dominic R. Sondy. A lifetime of creativity on film, slides, transparencies, 4x5s, prints and digital files; all stored in archival quality sleeves, bins, DVDs and USB devices.  And he continues to create more everyday.

We began curating collections and publishing books, beginning with “Saigon Shuffle” his Vietnam experience covering his assignment at the front and then as a military correspondent covering Asia.
Since then, I’ve always tried to look for opportunities to extend the products available for each collection.
For The Trees #19 Poster

One of his most recent, “Can’t See The Forest For The Trees” is pure imagery. An esoteric look at the oddities on trees in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Think inkblot meets horticulture. Naturally, individual prints are available, over 100!. But I was looking for opportunities to extend the product line not only for “Can’t See The Forest For The Trees” (“FTT”) but also for other collections.
Publication of the FTT book took several iterations to get the quality just right. Working with image rich content requires higher standards than just “ink on paper”. Everything from size of book, image wrap vs soft/hard cover, paper selection and print quality were examined carefully.  

While reviewing one of the early editions, my youngest daughter started flipping through the pages and free-styling ideas for products.

 Posters! iPhone/iPad cases! Calendars! Oh, my!

For The Treest #093
Productions of calendars was already on my list, but I hadn’t thought about posters and skins for devices. I started to listen intently to my fourteen year old who was selecting images for these products. “
Mom, this one would be great for a poster. I’d put this up on my wall.”  “Imagine this one on my iPhone staring at you.”  
I went to work creating the products and building the landing page for the “Can’t See The Forest Through The Trees” product offering.

We were doing the victory dance last night when I blurted out to my daughter that we sold one of the posters!  

My New ‘Youth-Oriented’ Focus Group
Sometimes I get so stuck in my own, old, conventional methods that I fail to realize that my audience may be much different.  It took the off-the-cuff suggestions of a daughter reviewing her father’s work to add new thinking to marketing and product creation. In addition to the product suggestions, she went further, hinting at a pricing structure for each product and poster size. In other words, what she would be willing to pay to hang a poster in her room.

Since my daughters are part of Dominic’s and my social streams and their friends tap into their streams, that presents an opportunity to connect with new markets that I hadn’t seriously considered. I’ll be looking forward to another serendipitous focus group session with my (smart and insightful) teenage daughter.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Same Product, Multiple Platforms

The last few months I've been managing more transitional and integrative projects; adding an additional phase for web-based/mobile components.
For example:
Going forward, I'll be asking how we can extend a brochure, presentation and profile (e-book) across platforms for your audience.

This month's FREE Powerpoint template, a business-focused design with a blue and gray palette and clean sans serif typeface.  Easily drop in your own information and logo on the master slide. (Free Download via SlideShare)
View more PowerPoint from Creative Aces

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kickin' My "Stage Fright" To The Curb

Some of you may be aware that I've been a 'docent-in-training' with the Chicago Architecture Foundation since January. The added workload and classroom time has forced me to come front & center to prepare a 2-hour presentation. Yes, two hours!  Twelve historic buildings and the Chicago Loop serve as my visuals and the script {for the most part} memorized; with notecards for occasional reference.

Well, it paid off... I am now a Docent with CAF!
Before practicing could commence, I invested hours storyboarding my presentation based on the established route/buildings of the tour. Sorting through a ton of information, facts and urban myths to weave my own presentation that I thought would be interesting to visitors and Chicagoan of all ages.

The audience for an architectural tour versus business presentation is quite different; but one aspect will remain constant: KEEP IT INTERESTING.

Utilizing the storyboard process early in the development of any presentation, we're able to see how the theme is introduced and carried through to the conclusion. Supported by well-written content and strong visuals to re-enforce your idea and sprinkled with “colorful” stories to connect with directly with your audience can yield a powerful presentation.

So, if you're in Chicago, I can use all the practice I can get for my “Rise of Historic Skyscraper” tour and soon I'll be storyboarding my “Modern Skyscraper” tour.

Image Credit: City of Chicago "Historic Michigan Boulevard District" (