• It can be fun and lucrative
  • But it’s not as simple as simply posting an article or a cute video and waiting for the points to rack up.
  • You need to get your team on board, learn the strategy, and understand how to keep score.
  • Most of all, you need to prepare for the long game. If you try to play too fast, you’ll surely lose.
  • Here are some tips to be your best.
  • Before you start, make sure that the others you work with want to play content marketing too.
  • Some may resist saying they are already used to other games, like “Let’s make a commercial” or “Digital Display Jeopardy.”
  • Remind them that the older games are not so much fun any more. It’s just harder to score points than it used to be now that consumers zoom past commercials and banner ads.
  • Well played, content marketing can score a lot of attention.
  • Just make sure that everyone understands that it takes some time and effort to master this game. It’s harder than it looks.
  • Sure content marketing is suddenly an international fad, but it goes back as far as Mahjong.
  • Companies like IBM have long published white papers that help educate their clients while bolstering their image as a leader.
  • Johnson & Johnson did much the same thing with helpful guides to baby care.
  • You’ll see these players have longevity. I worked on parenting content for J&J that is still in use today.
  • The game play has four phases.
  • First, you draw a hand that defines your objective: Your product or service and your target audience. Your hand also includes money cards that limit your budget. The nature of your hand, as we will see, will determine the best strategy.
  • Second, you make content meant to appeal to that audience. It can be useful or entertaining…articles, videos, tweets, apps, or live events…directly involving your product or obliquely related to it.
  • Third, you move around the board, tracking down members of your audience. Some they are easy to capture; others need to be ferreted out of obscure hiding places.
  • Fourth, you play your content for the audience members you find. They return a certain amount of attention, depending on how much they like what you made.
  • In the end, you multiply the size of your audience, times the attention you earn and the persuasiveness of the content to get your total score. If it’s more than the money you spent, you win.
  • Look through all your cards to see what you have that might be interesting to your assigned target audience.
  • It could be the product or what you do with the product. It also might be something about the company, its chief executive or others that are associated with it.
  • Think also about what you can tell about the competing players. If one has a foothold in EDM, for example, you will probably be more effective taking a different tack.
  • Don’t fall into the beginner’s trap: Thinking what you do will be a lot more appealing than it really is.
  • There are good strategies to win with dull products, but you need to know what gambit you are playing from the start.
  • What follows are four types of hands and the best ways to play them.

1) Full house or better: Broad and deep interest

  • If the cards you hold are the ones everyone else wants, you’re in the catbird seat.
  • This means you sell an innovative gadget, a sexy car, a trendy cupcake, a star-filled movie or anything else that everyone is talking about.
  • Playing this hand is straightforward. Trade what you know about your product for the attention that is waiting for it.
  • You can trump nearly any other kind of marketing.

2) Three of a kind: Interest from a specialized group

  • Even if you don’t have a product that is a national sensation, you can do very well if it matches well with the interests of a specific group in the audience.
  • You could be selling something for businesses or for aficionados of pastime, passion or peccadillo.
  • For the right audience, your story is just as interesting as anything from Hollywood or the major leagues.
  • Your challenge is to reach the right people. You’ll need to work hard at your distribution game (which we will get to soon).
  • For now, make sure you create content that is not only appealing to your target audience but also that they will want to share with other like-minded players.

3) Inside straight: Close to something interesting

  • What if you look at your hand and say the cards just don’t add up to enough interest?
  • If you have enough cards that are related to something people care about, you might be able to find one more that gets your interest score up.
  • Ziploc bags aren’t natural chat fodder, and there likely isn’t much of a hard-core plastic bag subculture. But every year, young people set up households and need to get smart. So Ziplock can play content about food storage and safety.
  • Don’t be afraid to invest in making your own content to fill the gap. J&J’s Pediatric Institute sponsored a scientific conference “Advances in Touch — New Implications in Human Development” and published the resulting research on infant massage. (Did anyone need to say baby oil?)

4) Pair of sevens: Nothing interesting yet

  • Sometimes there’s nothing there and you’ve got to admit “They are just not going to be that into me.”
  • Congratulations on your self-awareness. Most players in your situation don’t have it.
  • One option is to fold with honor. Go play a game where you’ve got a better chance at winning.
  • Or you can bluff. In other words, make something interest that doesn’t really have much to do with your product at all.
  • If you can attract any audience, you can find a way to build an association with your brand.
  • Red Bull has sponsored so many concerts and extreme sports events that people think there is a natural connection between snowboarding, alt-rock and super-caffeinated soda.
  • You don’t have to go that far. Just hiring an interesting blogger could do wonders for a smaller brand.
  • Making the content is really only half the game.
  • To win, you’ve got to get the right people to see it. “Build it and they will come” only works in the movies.
  • The key maneuver is to switch from content marketing to marketing your content. All the tools of selling anything — advertising, PR, sponsorship, and other sorts of promotion — are possible gambits.
  • And don’t forget to save some of your budget for distribution. It’s likely that’s going to be the biggest expense.
  • Content marketing is a long game, scored over several years, much like its ailing cousin magazine publishing.
  • Traditional advertising, by contrast, tends to be played in faster rounds. If your campaign doesn’t pay back within a year, you’ve lost.
  • After a year, your content marketing score might look hopeless… All expenses and little benefit.
  • But you may well be positioned for a reversal of fortune. Once paid for, the same content can keep racking up audience impressions so long as you keep up your distribution moves.
  • Among the biggest challenges for newcomers to content marketing is learning the scoring system.
  • Even if you attracted a big audience, how do you know if you actually did more business as a result?
  • There are some variations that try to simplify the end game by tracking audience members. Articles could offer coupons. Or readers might have to register to download the white paper. Then you can add up which leads turned into sales.
  • Otherwise, you need to find a proxy measure. Volume stats, surveys, share of voice, metrics that can demonstrate the interest and brand preferences generated by your content.
  • As soon as you finish one game, start a new one.
  • Today with social media, not to mention your audience measurement, you can learn fast which plays worked well and which need more work.
  • As your game improves, you’ll get much stronger and more sure in making content that can attract, interest and persuade your potential customers.
  • For anyone in business today, doing that is not a fad, but a vital lifelong sport.

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