Back in 2001, I connected with a fellow from InternetViZ and interviewed him about email marketing. A few months later, a client closed his business. It was one of the primary sources of my writing income. That taught me the importance of having a variety of clients instead of one or two that make up the bulk of your income.
Discovering content marketing
I came to a crossroads in my writing career where I had to decide whether to get more business or let it wither away and be a corporate woman for life. Not wanting to give up, I started writing an email asking people if they needed writing support to help their business.
While writing this (I still remember it as if it happened yesterday. And goodness knows I’ve written many emails.), my stomach knotted and I debated whether to do this. Finally, after re-reading the message many times, I hit “Send.” (Good thing Gmail and its “undo” feature didn’t exist or it may not have made it.)
The fellow responded and connected me with his business partner, Hank Stroll of InternetViZ. I’ve worked with Hank ever since. (He’s in Minn. and me in Texas. We met in person in 2007 and it was like old times. Still is.)
Little did I know he would launch my career in content marketing long before this fancy name came about. He figured it out — before most people did — that companies could better connect with clients and prospects through email newsletters and valuable content instead of marketing their stuff.
The content marketing secret’s out
Now every marketer is in on the secret and trying to churn content. (A lot of content is crap.) Multiplying like the “Star Trek” Tribbles. Even as a writer for more than 10 years, I get stumped for fresh ideas. How many articles have you seen that give you ideas for content? Zillions.
I blog less often than I should. However, I’d rather not blog than recycle something that others have said many times, many ways. Like “Green Eggs and Ham” — these articles have been delivered on a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train. OK, more like in a blog, on a SlideShare, in a video, in a tweet.
Finding a fresh take on popular content topics
So how do you provide a fresh take on a popular topic you need to cover? Yes, there’s a catch. It means reaching a smaller audience.
The secret: Write about the topic with a specific focus.
Let’s say you need to write about content marketing. Here’s how you’d get specific:
- 7 Ways B2B professional services companies can use content marketing.
- How content marketing boosts your luxury car dealership.
- Content marketing lessons from a information technology research firm.
- Is content marketing worth it for the oil and gas industry? Yes!
- Team up marketing automation software with content marketing.
- 5 ways to promote your tech support services with content marketing without sounding like an ad.
You get the idea. True, not many people will seek articles on oil and gas and content marketing. The magic comes in feeding search engines by having the keywords in the headline and link, such as http://www.rockingB2Bprofessionalservices.com/blog/7-ways-b2b-professional-services-companies-use-content-marketing.html (This is a fake link. Any resemblance to real links, living or rotted, is purely coincidental.)
It may not mean much traffic for the article. (This is where social media rocks. Link to the article from social media and email newsletters.)
This link boosts keyword power for “b2b professional services” especially if the company’s other content uses those keywords in other blog posts and page headlines. While few may search for “b2b professional services content marketing,” “b2b professional services” in the headline and link pump the site’s keyword muscle.
This narrow focus content approach …
- Lets you produce fresh content for your website. (Search engines <3 that.)
- Strengthens keyword power for your site.
- Allows you to give away your expertise for free — which builds credibility and trust.
“But, Meryl. Doesn’t adding keywords like this come across as phony and smart search engines will catch on to such tricks?”
As a writer, I’m more sensitive to keyword fakery in web content. You probably have lots of stories you can tell about your business. Turn your story into an example and those keywords will fit naturally. Don’t force it. Just write conversationally. Edit and tweak. Repeat. (Not too many times, though!)
One more suggestion: Skip mentioning your company, product or service in these articles.
Competitors and fans of competitors won’t link to your article. In searching for articles on niche topics for clients, most of the good ones mention the company, product or service. While a competitor or its fans may not want to link at all, they may be more willing to share because it’s important to them to be a trusted resource. (Great article on this: Why You Should Link to Your Competitors.) When an article promotes something, then that’s a little much.
How do you find content ideas that have been rehashed many times?
The mysterious Paul in this case is my husband! And he arrived this very day in the year Star Trek debuted. I’ve mentioned him before, but I don’t expect y’all to memorize details in this blog. Anyway, he and the Super Bowl are the same age, so I never have to convert the Roman numerals into English. Or rather, I brush up on them using his age.
I’ve been out all day. Just finished talking to second graders about college and careers. Went well. Whew. Talking to my kids’ classmates always makes me feel uneasy until I explain to them that I’m deaf and have an accent. After that, it’s a smooth ride. We discussed writing as a job, so I had one child write a sentence on the board:
“My dog ate my homework.”
What a great sentence! At first glance, it didn’t need editing. However, the class worked together to make it better.
“My golden retriever scarfed down my homework.”
I hope this taught them the value of editing even when the original sentence has no grammatical errors.
And for fun because we’re allowed…
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