27 Ideas to Break Your Creative Slump

By Ann Gynn

ideas-break-content-slump (1)

“When are you going to start?” Blink.

“Are your fingers frozen?” Blink. Blink.

“Why aren’t you typing?” Blink. Blink. Blink.

“Don’t you know what to create?” Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.

The cursor is a silent but pesky critic.

Do you ever want to curse the cursor when you’re in a slump?

Do you ever want to curse the cursor when you’re in a #writing slump, asks @AnnGynn. Read more >>
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You can’t write that lead. You can’t come up with the visuals to illustrate the story. You feel like you’re crafting the same content you did yesterday. Wait, or was that last week? You can’t imagine how to find another way to talk about your core topic.

Well, instead of watching a mocking cursor, take a tip (or 27) from your fellow marketers on how they get out of a creative content marketing slump.

Grab some toys

LEGO blocks are great. The same blocks used to build a house can be used to make a Death Star. Get a bucket of blocks (use DUPLO if you want bigger ones). On each block, write one word or phrase that relates to your products and services: attributes, content themes, personas, customer challenges, stage in the buyer journey – anything that relates to your marketing. Color code them if you wish and start playing.

Bring together random blocks, then look at the connections. Write them down. See if they can be brought together to create new content angles or ideas. Pull apart those blocks and start again. You can apply some rules too. For example, put together one persona-related block, one block about the customer journey stage, two challenge blocks, and one product block.

The …read more

Source:: content marketing

How to Brainstorm and Prioritize Your Best Content Ideas

By Garrett Moon


How does your team prioritize marketing projects?

Are you focused relentlessly on nothing but potentially high growth ideas?

Or are your priorities unclear or unproductive, leaving you stuck in a constant scramble?

When crystallized and properly communicated, prioritization can, in some estimates, reduce costs by roughly 15 percent and improve your team’s capability to meet your marketing goals.

What is the process to truly remarkable ideas and ruthless execution?

Million-dollar gap between 10x and 10%

Because the goal of any marketing program should be to drive profitable customer action, the best marketers prioritize high-potential growth projects over incremental improvements.

Our team adopted a simple process that helps us do exactly that – the 10x vs.10% framework. A 10x project multiplies the results by a factor of 10. A 10% project improves results by a measly 10%.

A 10x project can positively impact a huge number of people in your audience and produce incredible revenue returns for your business. If plotted on an x-y chart, a 10x project falls high on the upper-right quadrant:

A 10x marketing project affects a huge chunk of your audience & produces incredible returns. @garrett_moon
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A 10% project, on the other hand, provides a little bit of value to a few people. Looking at things this way provides a framework for understanding and predicting impact. And therefore, it’s perfectly suited to help you prioritize which projects to take on and which ones to take a pass on.

At CoSchedule, the startup I co-founded, you’ll hear this mantra daily: “Think 10x. Forget 10%.” Prioritize the work you do to reach your marketing goals 10 times faster. Don’t do the trivial minutiae that …read more

Source:: content marketing

5 Steps to Find Your Brand Voice

By Erika Heald


Editor’s note: You may have missed this article when CMI published it a couple years ago. Interestingly, brand voice remains a critical need and this guide can help you create a helpful one.

If your logo didn’t appear with your content, could your audience identify the content as coming from your brand? Would someone viewing your content on different channels know it all came from the same brand?

If you’re not careful, you can end up with a random assortment of voices and tones in the content produced across your marketing ecosystem that doesn’t provide a consistent picture of your brand, or even use the same language consistently.

This inconsistent brand experience is more common as an organization grows and is often exacerbated as external entities such as freelancers and agencies get thrown into the brand’s content creation mix.

You may be asking why a brand voice matters – isn’t it more important to work hard to make your brand sound more human? A brand voice, though, isn’t about the creation of a non-human voice. It’s about being consistent with the voice you are creating – positioning yourself as an easily identified and authoritative source for your area of expertise. Similarly, a consistent brand voice and vocabulary is essential to implementing localized content and intelligent content strategies effectively.

A #brand voice isn’t about creating a non-human voice, says @SFErika. Read more >>
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Luckily, you can create a brand voice chart to help address the issue. I’ve outlined the five steps to establish, create, and maintain a desired brand voice to drive consistency in your content creation efforts.

1. Gather a representative sample of your content

You want to cast a wide net – gather everything from videos …read more

Source:: content marketing

3 Keyword Research Trends to Reshape Your Content Optimization

By Ann Smarty


No matter what your content marketing strategy is, keyword research is the fuel.

Keywords inform marketers as to what their audience strives to know, let them monitor their competition, and offer a constant source of content ideas.

Now, the approach to keyword research is different from what it was even a couple of years ago. Search engines are becoming smarter and keyword research tools are getting more advanced. The web is getting to be a better place after all.

Just as the SEO world is changing, so should we. Here are three SEO trends quickly reshaping the keyword research concept and with it the way we brainstorm, create, and optimize content.

1. Being in first place is no longer enough

This is the trickiest and one of the most frequent questions when it comes to keyword research. How much traffic is that top Google position going to bring? Is it worth the trouble?

The short answer: It’s more complicated than it ever was. Search engine results pages provide less visibility than they once did and that should factor into your keyword optimization process.

Search engine results provides less visibility to links than they did, says @SEOSmarty. #SEO
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If you want to invest the time and effort into ranking first, here are resources to help you understand how to evaluate your traffic:

General click-through rate for Google’s top position

Through the years, a few studies have shown the breakdown of clicks generated by the top five positions. My company did one last year, 2017 Google Search Click Through Rate Study, which found the top position attracts 21% of clicks, while the second and third positions generate 10% and 7.5% of clicks, respectively.

CTR for a #1 Google ranking for All Queries was just …read more

Source:: content marketing

4 Tips for Engaging Instagram Content [Examples]

By Shane Barker


As a marketer, you might have noticed how traditional advertising is less effective. Even mobile ads are disliked by 70% of users. What can you do to effectively connect your products to your audience?

Instagram is a good answer. Its audience has grown rapidly, totaling over 800 million (increasing 200 million between July and September 2017 alone). And, according to Social Media Today, referrals from Instagram “spend the longest time on e-commerce sites with an average duration of 192 seconds, which is almost double Facebook and triple Pinterest.”

Referrals from @Instagram spend longest time on e-commerce sites w/ ave duration of 192 sec. @socialmedia2day
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Which types of Instagram content work best? Consider these opportunities and be inspired by the examples.

TIP: The first step in a successful Instagram strategy is to know your audience members so you can create relevant content for them.

1. Leverage user-generated content

One of the best ways to achieve maximum reach and engagement is creating content that encourages your viewers to create their user-generated posts featuring your product or message.

One successful example of this approach is the Instagram campaign conducted by Australia-based beauty brand Frank Body to promote its coffee ground-based body scrub. It hired a team of influencers with highly engaged audiences to showcase the product in creative ways. Each post included “#Let’sBeFrank” or “#TheFrankEffect.” The bold content encouraged users to post their own images of the coffee scrub using those hashtags.

25K+ Instagram users generated dirty images & promoted @frank_bod’s coffee-based scrub. @shane_barker
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The results? Over 25,000 user-generated images posted to Instagram and 350,000 followers in 12 months.

<img src="http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/frank-body-coffee-scrub-600×384.png" alt="frank body coffee scrub" width="600" height="384" srcset="http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/frank-body-coffee-scrub-600×384.png 600w, http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/frank-body-coffee-scrub-125×80.png …read more

Source:: content marketing

Falling Behind Your Competitors? Build a Content Brand

By Marcia Riefer Johnston


“It’s 2018. We can’t hoard knowledge any longer.” Andy Crestodina, speaker, blogger, etc., shared that nugget of wisdom at the recent Intelligent Content Conference in Las Vegas.

If you need proof of how true his observation is, look no further than the Capital Group, a conservative, trusted financial services company that – until recently ­– lagged far behind its competitors in thought leadership and digital marketing.

“We were hiding our light under a bushel,” says Will McKenna, describing the company’s marketing efforts in the talk he and Fred Macri gave at Content Marketing World 2017: Awakening a Sleeping Giant: Crafting a Successful Content Brand in an 86-Year-Old Enterprise.

“Our marketing was immature,” Will says. Meanwhile, their competitors had become, as Will describes, “very visible, very good at this. They’re out on CNBC. They’re out on the digital space. The world had kind of passed us by.”

The Capital Group, which manages $1.7 trillion in assets, had amassed many loyal financial services advisors as clients. Yet it risked losing market share to competitors that more openly shared insights ­on news that affects investment decisions.

Fred and Will tried something to catch up to – and even leapfrog – competitors. Their idea? Create a content brand: Capital Ideas.

Launching a content brand is one thing. Making it a success is another. Capital Group succeeded because it positioned its content to provide answers its audience is hungry for – answers it’s uniquely capable of providing.

Capital Group’s content answers audience questions it’s uniquely capable of answering, says @MarciaRJohnston.
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Fred and Will’s story offers many takeaways for anyone launching a new content initiative.

  1. Ask (and answer) why a content brand makes sense.
  2. Choose the content you will (and won’t) focus on.
  3. Stay plugged in to audience needs.
  4. Invest in your email newsletter.
  5. Find internal supporters to help …read more

    Source:: content marketing

7 Powerful Tools to Automate Tedious Content Marketing Tasks

By Bill Widmer


You know what every content marketer loves?

A good tool that saves you hours of time (and money).

OK, maybe that’s just me. I absolutely love online tools that help automate tedious tasks. A good tool gives an amazing ROI while simultaneously improving the output of your work.

In this article, I share seven of my favorite content marketing and SEO tools. Let’s dive in!

1. Social Report for social media management

Managing your social media can be a big pain. And a big time suck.

Social Report is a social media management platform that cuts the time it takes to respond to your followers, interact with commenters, and grow your networks.

Beyond simply making interactions more efficient, this tool also has:

  • Advanced analytics to show which posts receive the most engagement
  • Social monitoring to see when your brand or your competitors are mentioned
  • Automation of responses to people who “like” or comment

Here’s a screenshot of the analytics dashboard:


While it can be a bit overwhelming at first, once you or your employees get the hang of it, it can shave hours off your social media time every week.

Use #socialmedia management tool like @TheSocialReport to shave hours off your time every week. @TheBillWidmer
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How much does it cost? Starting at $49 a month

2. Sumo for social-share bar and pop-up creator

Speaking of social, you can get more shares by having share buttons on your content.

Plus, having the number of a post’s social shares in the sidebar gives you social proof your content is worth sharing, reading, or linking to. (Although, I admit, a lot of the social networks are making their API harder to integrate with these …read more

Source:: content marketing

Are Personas Just a Nicer Word for Stereotypes?

By Ann Gynn


We have soccer moms – married women who live in the suburbs and are best known for transporting their children to and from sports practices and other activities.

We have NASCAR dads – blue-collar, middle-aged Caucasian men who graduated from high school and like watching stock car racing.

And don’t forget the millennials – young adults who are entitled and lazy, live on their phones, and were raised by helicopter parents.

Are those stereotypes or personas?

The soccer mom designation, which came of age in the 1996 U.S. presidential election, and NASCAR dads, which became a target audience in the 2004 elections, are closer to personas, though too thinly described. And millennials? Well, those are more likely stereotypes that have been around for most of this century.

“A poorly constructed persona can seem a lot like a stereotype, such as all millennials want information delivered via mobile devices,” says Kevin Smith of Kevin W. Smith Consulting, which advises financial services firms. “The key to powerful buyer persona development comes down to three important factors: grounded in fact, functional, and more than demographic data.”

We posed the stereotype-or-persona question to marketers and got their input on preferred ways to develop useful audience profiles. And, in some cases, they share why – stereotype or not – personas aren’t a good fit for their marketing.

Go deeper than a stock photo

Elliott Brown, marketing consultant and publisher, Back Office Basics, says:

A small business owner is not some guy in a striped apron who smiles with pride as he turns around the “open” sign and picks up a broom to sweep up his shop. That’s the stock photo of a small business owner.

A small business owner persona needs to have a name. Let’s say it’s Mike. And Mike needs to wake …read more

Source:: content marketing

Road Map to Success: Content Distribution Essentials That Win Eyeballs

By Jodi Harris

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No matter how much time and care you put into building your strategy, outlining your editorial plans and processes, or crafting persuasive, engaging, high-quality copy, your brand’s potential for success often lives or dies by your distribution and promotion choices.

Though a lot of work must happen before you reach this point, the distribution phase is ground zero for your content marketing program – the point where your goals, audience insights, tactical choices, and creative executions get put to the test. And remember, with so many media channels and platforms to choose from and so many messages competing for your audience’s attention, you also need to promote what you publish (through social media or other paid and unpaid techniques) to fulfill its marketing promise.

The distribution phase is ground zero for your #contentmarketing program, says @joderama.
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Ready to set the stage for optimal content discovery, engagement, and performance? Read on for a handy tutorial on the essentials, along with resources to help you hit the ground running.

Before you proceed: If you aren’t confident you have the right foundation to support your distribution and promotion – or just need a quick refresher on a topic – review our previous Road Map to Success guides:

Practical view of content distribution

There are three main components in the process for enabling your brand to build (and grow) communities of loyal, engaged consumers around your content:

  1. Evaluate your distribution options.
  2. Develop and document your channel plan.
  3. Promote your content and amplify its impact.

1. Evaluate your distribution options

Many brands mistakenly assume they need to post their content anywhere and everywhere to increase their chances of achieving the desired results. But …read more

Source:: content marketing

5 Steps to Strategically Reboot Your Brand’s Content Marketing

By Mat Zucker


Content is a brand’s currency to demonstrate relevance and, with emerging channels and interfaces like chat and voice, it’s bringing brands closer to their customers. But to succeed, company-driven content needs a more strategic approach that rebuilds a brand’s foundational and experiential elements.

Here’s the formula to strategically evolve your brand communication:

1. Rearticulate your brand story

Your brand story is the emotional narrative that expresses the vision and purpose of your organization. Adapted for different stakeholders, this story shapes understanding of your mission and value proposition.

There’s no better place to express it than on your About Us page. More than half of the 100-plus pages we examined were under-leveraging this 24-7 canvas.

No better place than About Us page to tell an emotional brand story expressing vision & purpose. @matzucker
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The good examples range from the mission-driven Patagonia to the surprisingly unconventional General Motors.


General Motors Example

2. Define your verbal strategy

Most marketers know they need a visual strategy, but few apply the same rigor for a verbal strategy, detailing these key components: Some key components you should build:

Messaging themes

The biggest ideas driving the brand are converted into actionable guidance for marketers and communicators. With proof points, copy blocks, and usage considerations, messaging flexes across touchpoints, channels, and content – while equipping you to tell a cohesive story that helps audiences understand who you are and what to expect.

Brand voice

Messaging is what you say, voice is …read more

Source:: content marketing