What You Learn From Blogs, Books, & Conferences


Read this blog and then go to the bookstore and schedule your next marketing conference. In that order.

My advice to marketers at all levels of experience is to immerse yourself in the latest and most in-depth learning that you can find. Blogs are an excellent way to seed your ongoing interest in the latest concepts and strategies. I believe in the power of great blogs and read several posts per week.

Yet, there are ideas and concepts that need longer-form expression. Well-written books will give you the depth of thinking that is required to enhance the strategies that will make your marketing effective. Most blogs can’t provide the explanation and exploration that you will find in a 50,000 word book. Continue reading

The “Idea Etherverse” (or How to Be More Creative at Work)

Idea Etherverse graphic

Original post: 2/4/2012
Updated: 2/3/2019

Introduction to Updates: Since writing this in 2012, the world of digital and creativity has evolved quite a bit. At the time, I was working in the digital marketing division of a large agency called Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide. The agency is still operating, but I have moved on to work on the client side. The updates here will reflect that shift in my employment role.

Talking About “Creativity”

In my line of work, people talk a lot about creativity. I’ve worked as a content strategist and copywriter at a marketing agency and on the client side. No matter where you work, people look to creative teams for fresh ideas. After all, that’s why we’re called “creatives.” Continue reading

How to Plan a Consistent Visual Content Strategy | Video Tutorial

A consistent visual content strategy will help your target audience to have a consistent brand experience along their personal user journey on any channel or device. Planning your visual content strategy must go beyond the initial creation of content. You must consider how your content will be managed, governed, analyzed, and maintained as the technology can channels continue to evolve.

In this video from Content Marketing World 2018, I talk about how brand teams can plan a more effective and scalable content strategy that includes a strong visual content strategy.

 

Too often, brands start developing creative designs and channels without really planning how users will actually discover and interact with content resources on multiple channels, including social media. Continue reading

3 Types of Behavior Change for Marketers

Types of Behavior Change in Content MarketingThree Type of Behavior Change: Part of the Content Strategy Basics series. 

Behavior change is usually an important component of content marketing strategy. There are many types of behavior change, but you can distill these down to three that matter to brand marketers.

Behavior Change #1: Try my product.
You’re not using my product, so I will give you reasons to try it.
A user may be unaware of your product or may not see it as an option. In traditional funnel terms, this is qualified lead.

The desired change is for them to try the product. This is usually bundled with awareness and/or disruption marketing that is designed to trigger an action. The action may be as simple as visiting a website or initializing a search on Google or Bing, but it is an early stage action that may benefit from activities in public relations, advertising, social media, and other related tactics. Continue reading

SEO & SEM: The Dynamic Duo of Website Traffic | Content Strategy Basics

Batman & Robin SEO SEM

The Dynamic Duo of SEO and SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are essential techniques for driving users to your website properties. These core tactics are similar, but not the same.

SEM and SEO are often confused, particularly since these acronyms only differ by one letter. Of course, if they were the same thing, we wouldn’t name them different things. Plus, it’s the acronym that’s different, not the underlying meaning.

I’ve found an easy way to remember these different tactics. These may help you differentiate for your extended strategy teams. If you’re a content strategist, it is essential to know how SEO and SEO work together.

SEM: Paid Advertising for Driving Traffic to Your Website
For SEM, the “M” may as well stand for “money.” That’s a nod to the fact that this includes an out of pocket (OOP) expense.

SEM works for a wide range of click traffic to websites, mobile properties, YouTube, apps, and more. Google and Bing give brands many options for driving traffic. For simplicity, let’s just talk about website traffic for now, even though your specific needs may be in a different channel.

It has been pointed out that this isn’t marketing at all. That’s true. SEM is primarily paid advertising. At some point, there was an effort to rename this search engine advertising, but the name didn’t stick.

The dominant player in SEM is Google. Their Google AdWords platform accounts for the majority of their billions of dollars in income. Google earns money each time someone clicks on a paid ad, which is why SEM is also referenced as pay per click (PPC).

Google AdWords and Microsoft’s Bing Ads both work from a similar auction-style model. There are limited ad slots and users bid for top slots. The highest qualified bidder (more on this later) will get the top slot. Continue reading

What Geek Culture Means to Your Content Marketing

Some say that the geeks shall inherit the Earth, but I say that we already have.

Geeks have changed the world, and in doing so, have changed the perception of pop culture, fandom, and the way people interact with brands. Understanding this emergent geek culture may have an immediate and lasting impact on the way you develop your content marketing materials.

I’m a geek. I’m into classic science fiction, comics, and other niche media that was laughably out of fashion at one time. Actually, some of it still is, but I love it anyway.

The concept of “geek chic” was non-existent when I was a kid. “Geek” wasn’t a badge of honor. It was something you kept quiet, lest ye be stuffed into a locker by high school bullies.

Fandom was not organized and finding fellow fans was a covert affair. It was also gender based, making it difficult for girls to like “boy toys” and boys to embrace “girly” things. Vintage gender-based advertising guided kids to play with the toys that they were “supposed” to play with.

Geekdom has many meanings, but it is generally associated with niche culture and often clusters around comics, science fiction, fantasy, and technology. In an article in Wired titled “So What Does it Really Mean to be a Geek,” Erik Weks writes:

“One of the great reasons to identify with the word “geek” is that it gives you permission to like what you like no matter what it is. Many of us self-identify as geeks because we have been put down, excluded, and hurt by others due to our interest in “uncool” things like comic books, or board games, or computer programming.”

The majority of us conformed to the rules in public, but privately enjoyed our passions. It was easier to pretend not to like something than to endorse your passions. Continue reading

HIGHLIGHTED: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Photo of Ann Handley

Author Ann Handley

Writing is easy. Writing well is hard. (But with some practice, you can do it.)

If you’re a content marketer, you probably spend a lot of time at the keyboard. You may not think of your emails, tweets, and creative briefs as “writing with a capital W,” but it is writing nonetheless. You may as well be good at it.

Ann Handley is very good at writing. So good, in fact, that she can help you become a better writer. Ann’s bestselling book “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content” is an excellent tutorial for novice and experienced writers.

I read “Everybody Writes” a few years ago when I interviewed Ann at Content Marketing World. I decided that my own writing needed a bit of improvement, so I descended on Ann’s book with my trusty highlighter. Ann’s book on writing is the book that professional writers read for inspiration and instruction. Continue reading

How Chevrolet’s Ads Played It “Safe” & Failed a Safety Story

Chevrolet had me at “safety.” Sure, it was a print magazine ad, but the topic of safety has become increasingly important to me. The started with “safety” and then added “story,” and I wanted to know more.

It may seem odd to talk about a print advertisement on my blog about digital content marketing, but it’s not at all. Content strategy needs to connect the dots across all channels — print and digital alike — to ensure the best possible user experience. Continue reading

Visual Content Strategy: Content Marketing World 2016

You are invited to my soon-to-be-legendary presentation at Content Marketing World 2016 in Cleveland. I’ll be rocking the stage with a brand-new presentation on visual content strategy called “Creating a Visual Content Strategy that Scales.” Continue reading

Marketing Tesla & What It Says about Us

2016-tesla-modelsAs if enough praise hasn’t already been heaped upon Tesla Motors, here’s a bit more. This time, it’s not about the car. It’s about the marketing of the car and what it says about us.

The Tesla is just another car. When you get down to it, it’s a manufactured to serve a utilitarian purpose. It gets you from Point A to Point B. All cars are designed to do this, and so is a Tesla. Continue reading