June 10, 2013:
A few weekends ago, my husband and I took a trip north to Burlington, VT for a mini-vacation. Considering it was 91 degrees that Saturday, a new June 1st record for that part of the state, and the fact that I’m eight months pregnant, there was little I could (or wanted) to do other than to sit inside and eat.
So that’s what we did. For 48 beautiful hours, we enjoyed Burlington’s culinary delights from the comfort of air-conditioned cafes, coffee houses, restaurants, and basement lounges. On our way home, as I waved goodbye to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, I got to thinking about the smorgasbord we’d inhaled over the weekend (everything from seitan pot pie and steamed kale to crispy eggplant napoleon and haricots verts to oatmeal pancakes and sesame tofu scram). Arguably, there was no rhyme or reason to the foods we ate (unless you count local cheeses of Vermont and Bing cherry compote as reason to keep on eating!), but, somehow, all of the various styles and cuisines blended together perfectly.
When it comes to content marketing, some would say finding the ultimate recipe for success is a little like putting together the right flavors and ingredients to make a meal. Forbes calls this the “complete content dining plan” with a goal of “not only [motivating] consumers to come to your ‘content restaurant,’ but to keep them coming back and to bring other people with them.”
Let’s look at a few ideas about how this might work:
- Plan Your Menu
When cooking up your content marketing recipe, be sure to think ahead. Before you even begin writing, ask yourself: Do you know exactly what it is your target audience is interested in reading about? Whether you’re mining Q&A sites like Quora or Yahoo! Answers to discover what kinds of questions your readers are asking or you’re searching forums or social channels to read up on what people are talking about, make sure to do your research in advance.
At KoMarketing Associates, our content team collaborates closely with our social media team to make sure we’re targeting the type of content our readers are asking for on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. By keeping tabs on the types of blog posts and articles that are engaging our readers, we’re establishing a loyal audience built by creating a great deal of relevant, useful, and perhaps even viral content.
- Let Your Ideas Simmer
As any experienced chef knows, you can’t rush a 5-star meal. The same holds true for effective content marketing campaigns. By keeping a log of ideas for future blog posts or articles, you can maintain a steady flow of creative inspiration coming your way at all times. But keeping your ideas on the back burner offers another distinct advantage: With your thoughts already slow-cooking, you’re ready to leap into a new post quickly when the timer goes off and it’s time to write.
- Turn Up the Heat
When you’ve hit on something you’re sure will be a success with your target audience (based on all the research you’ve done in advance), by all means strike while the iron (or skillet, rather) is hot! “Be ready to respond to controversies, developing trends, and breaking news by following what’s going on in your industry,” one writer recommends. “Not sure how to fit this into the schedule? Delay publishing evergreen content to make room for more current articles, graphics, or videos.”
The content team at KoMarketing closely monitors trending news in each of our clients’ industries to make sure we’re covering the most recent, relevant, and share-worthy content we can produce. By staying on top of the latest industry developments, we’re not only delivering timely information to our clients’ readers, but we’re also keeping ourselves in the know.
- Presentation Is Everything
Let’s face it: We all judge a book by its cover. For a professional chef, half the battle is likely to be serving up a dish that looks—as well as tastes—appealing.
When it comes to content marketing, it’s important to pay attention to your blog or article titles because they’re the key to attracting attention to your work. Copyblogger recommends starting with the headline first because a proper headline is a “promise to your readers. Its job is to clearly communicate the benefit you’ll deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time.” Using subheads is another way to grab your reader’s attention—and keep them engaged in a blog post, from start to finish.
- Add a Dash of Salt and Pepper
To avoid ending up with stale content, don’t be afraid to spice up whatever it is you’re working on. Ann Handley, chief content officer at Marketingprofs, recommends “reorganizing, rewriting, and remixing” old content to get the creative juices flowing: “One key to making the task easier and more sustainable [is to treat] everything you create not as a ‘one and done’ but as a critical piece of a larger whole, an important link in a sustainable content ecosystem.”
By rewriting, editing, starting over, or even enhancing existing collateral, you can be sure you’re keeping your blogs or articles as interesting as possible for your readers. After all, with only a few seconds to grab your reader’s attention, the worst thing your content can be is bland.
When I was a kid, my mother kept a small wooden box labeled “Recipes” on our kitchen counter. I was too little at the time to read what the box said but, when my Dad caught me one day dumping the contents of the box out on the kitchen table, I told him “Recipes” spelled “Stacy can play with this.”
Whether you’re taking matters into your own hands, as I (literally) did, or you’re following the advice of others for content marketing success, what defines your ideal content marketing “recipe?” What kinds of dishes are you serving up to your readers in order to boost engagement, increase brand visibility, and encourage social sharing and interaction? We’d love to hear your thoughts, advice, suggestions, and opinions in the comments below!
Restaurant Photo Courtesy of Leunig’s Bistro & Cafe
©iStockphoto.com/John Clines; Ivan Bajic