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5 creative content sourcing ideas

Creative Content Marketing with Lee Odden: Connecting Brands with Receptive Consumers

This Friday April 12th 2013,  join Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and author of Optimize for a free Smart Insights webcast on Creative Content Marketing - view here. In this post Lee introduces 5 ideas for creative content marketing and will expand on these with examples and more tips in the webcast.

In the webcast Lee will teach webinar participants how to Get Better Results with Creative Content Marketing.  It’s a topic he knows well, in practice at his agency and as a marketing thought leader sharing his content framework at major industry events from London, England to New York City.

Alongside conversion rate optimisation, content marketing is this year’s top priority for digital marketers. It’s no wonder; companies are tripping over themselves to be noticed over the deafening din of marketing noise facing an increasingly attention-deficit consumer.

In fact, 86% of B2C companies plan to maintain or increase their content marketing investments this year, while 54% of B2B brands indicate they plan to up their spend on content.

Smart marketers aren’t investing in more content, though; they’re finding ways to better connect with the right audience, in the right place, at the right time to build relationships and ultimately influence buying behaviour.

Modern consumers face a deluge of content in a variety of formats – audio, video, visual imagery, text – from the minute they wake up until they retire at night. More often than not, these days, that content is delivered via the Internet and is increasingly sent straight to the palms of their hands via cell phones or tablets, which have reached 87% and 31% adoption, respectively according to Pew Internet.

Clearly, sheer mass quantities of content aren’t cutting it anymore. Customers seek quality content, whether their purpose is to be entertained, informed, persuaded or otherwise influenced.

At the heart of each successful online marketing strategy lies content, he says – top quality content that attracts, engages and converts prospects to loyal customers. Consumers are increasingly savvy and don’t want to be broadcast to; they want to be courted, entertained, educated and positively wooed by brand content.

Brand marketers absolutely must tap into their creativity. Facts tell. Stories sell. A deep and meaningful understanding of customer needs and values is a critical first step, yet one that is all too often overlooked.

It's not just about the customers..

This is where creativity is essential. Yes, you need to find out what customers want and give it to them. However, you also need to take a leadership position and show people things they may not have even thought of before. As Henry Ford said, “If I listened to my customers, we’d still be riding horses.”

Search is based on demand existing, identifying that demand and answering it with content. Content marketing is about demand creation – creating something so interesting people didn’t even know they were looking for it.

The winning content marketing formula has 3 steps:

  • 1. Brand leadership
  • 2. Customer empathy
  • 3. Storytelling and Creativity.

Each aspect is critical; any two together may result in good content, but you need your content to be great, especially in competitive industries.

Optimize 360 Model

I recommend the Optimize 360 model to help marketers understand and always keep in mind the importance of optimizing for attraction, engagement and conversion.

optimize content across the lifecycle

Marketers can optimize across the lifecycle of each piece of content to get maximum value from their content marketing investments. Here are 5 sources of inspiration to help you become more creative with your content.

5 Creative Content Sourcing ideas

Tip 1. Visualize trends
To obtain a bigger picture, look at your keywords and be inspired. Try semrush.com to see how competitors are showing up organically. Google Keywords can show how often people search on a particular phrase or you might try the following:

  • Use Majestic SEO anchor text to see what you (or your competitors) get the best links from.
  • Do a search on socialmention.com and export a list of the words that are most often associated with your keywords.
  • Try ubersuggest.com, which will scrape the auto suggestions from Google Search, News and even Recipes alphabetically and across multiple languages.

Now plug your list of keywords into Wordle.net to see a visualization of your topic.

Tip 2. Use your own site
Do you have an internal search engine? See which queries prompt people to search again and create content around that topic. Or, when people fill out forms on your site, analyse the content for word frequency.

For example, your contact form may have an open text field; analyse that to surface ideas for content. See which question-oriented queries are actually driving traffic to your site. Don’t forget to check your Google Webmaster Tools as well.

Tip 3. Frontline staff
Talk to your salespeople. What kinds of questions are people asking them? Can they be your content team when they respond to interesting questions via email? The content team could then anonymize and rewrite it into a blog post.

Tip 4. Become a publisher
Review planned stories in editorial calendars to get inspired. Watch how magazines structure content; they may have short and long form content, recurring features, monthly or weekly themes.

Think like a newspaper publisher and be objective. Work on your storytelling skills by modeling your content after TV shows – what are they doing to make their content interesting and how can you emulate that?

Tip 5. Know your customer journey
Understand your customer buying cycle and create content to meet the information needs of your consumer as they go through the buying cycle.

In the webcast I'll also be recommending these 4 different types of content for a diverse, engaging content mix:

  • Re-purposed
  • Co-created
  • Evergreen
  • Curated

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