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10 tips to keeping your head above the content marketing wave

19 Feb

Outsourcing stress

We all know that content marketing is a critical part of any marketing plan but quite frankly the sheer volume can be overwhelming. I’m currently creating a Marketing Strategy for a small business and naturally content is a large part of the plan. However, the creation of this content is time-consuming and needs to be well thought through.

The problem, especially for small businesses, is making it work and keeping your head above the content marketing wave. Here are my top 10 tips on coping. If you’ve got any tips to add, please let me know.

  1. Create a content strategy – this is a critical part of content marketing. Align the content strategy to your brand as well as your target market. Use any information that you have about your customers and potential customers. Analyse your current social media interactions and see what works and what doesn’t. Also, it is very important to set objectives for your content marketing – what do you want to achieve? Please see the infographic below, created by David Colgate,
  2. Decide on your content channels – you don’t have to be everywhere all at once. Understand what works for your business and stick to it. It is pointless being on Facebook, for example, if you’ve been going at it for ages and are getting nothing back. Pick your channels carefully in terms of what will deliver the best results for your business.
  3. Create a content calendar – this is a really critical step to surviving! Look at your social media channels, your competitors’ social media channels and let this guide you in creating your content calendar. This will give you some real insight into what the market craves in terms of information. A content calendar is a great planning tool. Remember quality is far more important than quantity, although of course you do need to be active in you social spaces. It is very important to remember that this plan needs to be fluid…you don’t want to stick to it like a fly and miss opportunities based on news and trends amongst others.
  4. Staff up – make sure you have the resources to be able to deal with creating the content – whether it be articles, press releases or infographics to name a few. Consider using staff and client interviews as well as testimonials for additional content that is easy to access and makes your brand more personal. If you’re able to handle the load in-house, that’s fantastic. Alternatively, hire freelance professionals to handle some of the content that you’re unable to get done.
  5. Support – follow loads of other businesses in the social media arena within your industry or for specific clients you would want to target. This is a way to get your name noticed and to encourage people to follow you on social media too.
  6. Share, share, share – this is a great way of creating content but not actually writing it yourself. If you see tweets, updates or posts that are great, share them – reblog, retweet, share on Facebook. Shares get you noticed. Share something, give credit and add a bit of your own opinion.
  7. Get guest bloggers – ask experts within your industry to guest blog for you. This is a great way of getting some excellent content out there.
  8. Join groups – join groups on LinkedIn and keep the conversation going. Ask questions, put your opinion forward and engage. This is also a fantastic way to get noticed and to position yourself as an expert
  9. Be active – don’t leave your Social Media accounts just hanging out there, keep them active, respond to comments and make sure you spend at least half an hour a day working on it
  10. Comment – always comment on various Social media platforms…get noticed.

Content Strategy


Some very funny social media cartoons

11 Feb

I have to say, I’m a bit of a sucker for funny cartoons…these all come from Growtoons by Joey Strawn. They are brilliant, hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Thanks to Joey Strawn for these awesome cartoons

Thanks to Joey Strawn for these awesome cartoons

evolution Frankenstrategy growtoon_NYresolution MarsLanding Romance-2_01 Secret-Words Social-has-talent1

If you can get this excited about your marketing…you’ve got it made!

7 Feb

What’s all the fuss about content marketing?

6 Feb

There is so much out there on content marketing and it’s a revolution happening right before our eyes. I wanted to explore this phenomenon and discover what all the fuss is about…using myself as the content interactor. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the challenges you face with content marketing…

The content marketing revolution...what's the big fuss about?

The content marketing revolution…what’s the big fuss about?

I decided to use myself as the ‘test subject’ so to speak, to get an understanding of this revolution that is taking the world by storm. I used a typical day in my life, as a consumer and as a business woman, to get the inside scoop. What I’m trying to get to are my behaviours and actions, as a consumer, with the various content that I come into contact with on a daily basis. What works, what doesn’t and why? What am I looking for in content and what do I get out of it? These are critical questions that marketers need to ask themselves when creating content.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

Here is a day in my life…

8am – I’m at my desk and the first thing that I do is trawl through my emails. Due to the nature of my job I am subscribed to every blog and newsletter out there that deals with social media and content marketing. This is an ever-changing landscape and keeping up, let alone doing my own work, can be challenging. When I turn on my computer there are normally at least 14 emails relating to these subjects. What speaks to me and what doesn’t? I only have a certain amount of time…so grab me upfront.

So much to read...grab me quick

So much to read…grab me quick

  1. The headline (obviously), but it really can make a difference. Something that stands out as particularly relevant to me, doesn’t sell or has a humorous angle, are normally the ones that catch my eye.
  2. The design of the email – if it is well designed and clean with a click-through to an article this is normally ok with me…I find dense text a bit overwhelming. Quite frankly I don’t have the time.
  3. Bring me an infographic…well I’m right there with you. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s useful. Perfect for us busy creatures of today.
  4. The initial interaction – if the opening paragraph is dull as dishwater – Hasta la vista baby, I’m out of there. The headline needs to deliver on the promise it makes.
  5. The body copy – the headline and the first paragraph have drawn me in as it’s relevant and a bit humorous or particularly thought-provoking. Now I carry on reading, taking up my precious time. Then, with horror I realise that the body copy is not entertaining, doesn’t deliver on the headline promise and quite frankly I’m practically asleep. Cheers, it’s been nice knowing you. Unsubscribe to that email newsletter quick. Phew at least there will only be 13 tomorrow to trawl through (well let’s hope that they manage the unsubscribe quickly as they should!)

10am – So I’ve trawled through my emails, what now? How have I interacted and what has set my world on fire?

  1. I’ve visited a couple of times and quite frankly you’ve hit the nail on the head with me. Guess what, I trust your content and I really like your writing style. I have to mention one of my all-time best blogs here  My favourite post headline was ‘How to totally suck at Marketing’. In all my interactions, I’m looking for trends to keep up to date with (this differs from person to person) and this did it for me. I also used this presentation for a company I’m working with to prove my point about certain marketing techniques. So this article ticked all the boxes for me. Another very interesting article was ‘How to be a spammer in 20 simple steps’ This article amused me and once again I used it to prove a point…woo hoo! So for me it was a win, win situation.
  2. Now that I trust you and feel like you are targeting the right information at me, I’m visiting more regularly. In fact I’m even starting to engage with you. Then the next part of the magic formula, I love your content so much that I’m beginning to share it too. Your marketing sweet spot and my needs are met. Perfect!
  3. Now what’s really ticking the next box for me…please don’t try to sell me something each time you send me an email. I immediately shut off. My decision process is continuing all the time as I’m interacting with you and my curiosity is growing as I’m starting to see how your product could help me…yes really. Soon, oh soon dear company who gets it right, I will be asking for a quote.

In Summary

What’s the big fuss about?

  • The people who are doing it right are fulfilling my need
  • They are also helping me solve some business problems
  • They are not selling to me…they are guiding me in my decisions – gently
  • They are also sending me regular information, and because I now trust them, I’m sharing their stuff

So that’s why there is a big fuss about content marketing – and rightly so! Tick all the boxes for your clients.

But be warned when you embark on content marketing for your business – have a content strategy, have a content plan and calendar and churn it out (quality over quantity works)! Be prepared that this takes an immense amount of time, and that cannot be ignored. Get experts in your field, get the right people and also have copywriters to help with this process. Keep learning and adjusting and it will pay off…even if it takes a bit of time. It is not an overnight success story.

I’ve worked in many industries in generating content, and have a large amount of strategic experience, so if you do need any help, give me a shout and I’ll see if I can help out (it’s not a hard sell I promise!).

How are you managing content within your organisation? Is it taking an immense amount of time and is it paying off?

My favourite proofreading blunders…

7 Jan

I absolutely love seeing these errors…I hope you enjoy them too. If you have other funny ones, please let me know.  As long as they’re not mine then it’s fine!

Top 8 tips for finding a good proofreader

6 Jan

Each and every piece of collateral that you need to be proofread is important…so make sure that you get the right person to do this important job for you. Below I’ve highlighted my top 8 tips – if you think there are any other important ones, I’d love to hear from you.

  1. Check out their experience – always check a proofreaders experience and ask for a portfolio. In this way you’ll be able to see what they’ve done and if they fit the bill for your particular requirements.
  2. References – ask for references. You can check things like quality of work as well as whether they are able to deliver on time and on budget.
  3. Industry knowledge – although this is not critical, it can help for a proofreader to have experience within your industry, as it makes your documents easier to understand. This is more important when you work in a very complex or technical industry with lots of acronyms and reference to specific acts or laws.
  4. Local knowledge – in my opinion this is incredibly important. Each country has its own special way of getting a point across. Also, when a particular document is more conversational in style a proofreader needs to be able to take this into account.
  5. Rates – cheapest is not always best, and as they say in Afrikaans ‘goedkoop is duurkoop’. In a nutshell, you get what you pay for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying go for the most expensive, but judging a proofreader on rates alone is not the wisest move. Obviously budget is critical to any project. If you really like a proofreaders experience, but they are too expensive, speak to them. You never know they might be able to help.
  6. Check their website – I know this sounds rather trivial, but if their website is full of errors, it doesn’t really say much for their proofreading skills.
  7. Developing relationships – again, this might sound trivial, but if you can’t have a good relationship with someone you are asking to do the work, then it is likely that there will be disagreements. Talk to them and see how you feel.
  8. Do a test piece – ask the proofreader to do a SHORT test for you so that you can see whether their skills are correct.

If there are any others that you can think of, I would love to hear from you!

How to write a good creative brief

5 Jan
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Click here to read more about me and what I do…
A creative brief is an essential part of any form of marketing that you do. Get it wrong and you won’t be pleased with the results. Get it right, and you’ll get your creative and messages spot on. It is very possible as marketers to kill the creative mind…I explore this below. I’ve given some ideas below on writing a creative brief, but I would really welcome your feedback on how you do this.
How to kill the creative…
Creativity can be killed, and it happens day in and day out. What you put into a brief is what you get out! Having worked both sides of the fence, client and agency side, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Believe me, I was certainly part of a few uglies in my first year…and this kills the creative process.
A good brief creates good creative! Remember one thing…creatives need to be inspired, feel passionate about your product or service and you want them tearing out of that meeting enthusiastic and ready for action. But how to do that…now that is the question.

When I was first let loose at a creative brief, I was a fresh new Account Exec at an agency in London. I had no idea what to expect or in fact what to do, but I soon learnt with a rather large failure. The agency had one of the best creative directors I’ve ever seen, but I was terrified and intimidated at the same time. I used to see Account Execs running out the door crying…this does not bode well for me is what I thought, and how true that was. So before my first briefing, I had shaking knees, voice and hands…and I walked into the lions den. It started off in a very civil way, but then all my little mistakes and inattention to detail were slowly and methodically pointed out with large gaps and lack of inspiration in a very bad brief.  It was awful! The creative that came out of that brief was hardly inspiring.

So my mission from that day on was to master the best creative brief out there. Ok, so I still haven’t mastered it…as we learn things each day. But I can honestly say that I have delivered some great briefs in different ways that have produced outstanding results. But how did I go about it?

Creatives are just that…creative!

So we should treat them as creatives…get your creative juices flowing, whether you’re the client of whether you’re the agency and inspire.

One of the first things I did after that was to truly get to grips with the product or offering that I was dealing with. What is it and what is unique about it? And even more critically, who is your target audience – their wants, their needs, where they live, what they like and what they don’t like…I’m sure you get the idea. Now this is part of a normal brief that we do each day, but there is a hook there that you will find if you look hard enough and think about in a different way – challenge your thinking.

A brief needs to be creative in the way it is presented and also ‘brief’! Who wants to go through 20 pages of words…certainly not me and certainly not a creative!

Watch this great video on You Tube from a creative – it’s brilliant. Being from the other side, it just speaks to me.

I worked for a large entertainment company and often due to time constraints, our briefs with our creatives were held over quick telephone conversations, in the hallway or sometimes there wasn’t even a brief…we need to deliver X by Y date and goodbye. Go do your thing. We couldn’t understand why our agency just wasn’t delivering the world class creative we should be getting with such an exciting product to work with. The simple truth of the matter is that we were not paying enough attention to the most critical part of the creative process. The brief. There was no leniency for creative thinking or the opportunity to push the boundaries.

How to present your brief

A video brief?

First, think about the sector or industry you’re in. In the brief I describe below, I had the luxury of working with a truly entertaining product – TV. We had heaps of content that could stir up all sorts of emotions from our viewers…so we needed to stir up the same emotions with our agency. Instead of doing a written brief, I decided to do a visual brief. In short, it was a video. I used movie, sport and entertainment clips, with some pretty awesome sound as well as vox pops with our customers! I presented the ‘brief’ at a local cinema…so it was a cinematic experience, which was what our brand was all about. I did have a written brief to go with the video to give the nitty gritty. The editorial and creative strategy that emerged as a result of this was pretty awesome.

Target audience, target audience, target audience…

In my opinion this is one of the most important parts of a brief…you cannot create a campaign for everyone…it just doesn’t  make sense! Be niche in your approach. Different people react to different things – is a working mother of three going to respond in the same way as a male technical engineer? I think not.

Even presenting the target audience should have a bit of a creative flair…yep it really can.

You could do two things…

Create your own ‘pen profile’ – not being a creative at least you can all have a laugh about your drawing skills…see example below, and I truly encourage you to laugh at my drawings!

My very novice pen portrait of a target customer just to get you laughing…

I also created a mood board of who we were and what we were trying to portray in our communications.

How about presenting your creative brief in a mood board form?

Use the same principles for any industry…what makes it special? Really and truly think about the bare minimum that needs to go in to inspire those creatives and that’s all there should be…you could have back up documentation if it is really necessary. Remember a creative is about words and pictures not about long corporate ‘stuff’. If you put it in, ask yourself why they need to know this and will it really add to the creative process…my guess is a lot of it probably won’t. Maybe you need to do a round tour of site visits, get your aency to speak to customers…anything that can make it come alive. The key here is to get the message across loud and clear and with passion.

For the above, I clearly had too much time on my hands, and is not necessarily practical in today’s day and age, but for this particular brief it worked.

Who are we talking to?

For me, one of the things that is often a bit unclear in a brief is the target audience…lots of stats, facts and figures and not enough insight or real juice to work with. Sometimes I’ve even just got an answer of ‘well we’re targeting everyone’…that doesn’t really work for me as how am I meant to get the messages relevant and spot on.

I used to create a ‘Pen Portrait’ as shown above. It was great fun to do, and was incredibly powerful. I literally used to draw a portrait of my target audience (yes even though my drawing skills are no match for a creative!). That person had a name, she had an address, we knew her family members, her interests, what she liked to buy, what she liked to eat, where she went on holiday and what motivated her. Instead of reading loads of words it was a simple but effective way of seeing exactly who you’re dealing with.

In a nutshell…

Use your imagination when briefing creatives…try and get those creative juices flowing! What would inspire them? What would excite them? Get the brief right, and you will surely be on your way to a highly successful campaign.

Good luck!

I would love you to share your tips on how to present a winning brief? Please let me know!

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