Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Want More Timely Marketing Content? Think Seasonally!

I'm writing this post about a week after Martin Luther King Day, and about three weeks after New Year's Day. Did these holidays offer particular opportunities for your business? Did they at least align themselves nicely with your organization's brand identity, mission, values or goals -- and if so, did your marketing content reflect or comment on them?

Of course you want to populate your blog, social media channels and other inbound marketing platforms with timeless or "evergreen" content that will always matter to your target audience (and always help you rank higher in search results). But national, state or local observances of all kinds make an impact on our daily lives. The seasons themselves can play a huge role in how consumers behave, what they search for and what they buy. Take Valentine's Day, which is coming up in just under three weeks. If you're a candy maker, a confectionary retailer, an upscale restaurant or a florist, does this holiday matter to you? Of course it does, so you'll advertise special discounts, storewide sales or other promotions accordingly. It would also make good sense to blog on the topic, if only to jog your potential customers' memories on the subject and push them into action.

But seasonal behaviors are often much less obvious than that -- which is where online analytic tools and savvy can come in handy. For example, if you have a particular product you want to promote, try running that keyword through Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends to see how the numbers for that product spike or drop at specific times of year. You may find that the search timing appears disconnected to the relevant time of year; people planning a June wedding, for instance, aren't going to wait until June to engage all the necessary services. Analytics help you understand when and how fast the "gears" of the consumer decision-making process actually turn -- and this enables you to time your marketing content to reach them at just the right moment.

Get imaginative with your seasonal approach to content marketing. Yes, Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day and President's Day tend to grab all the media attention in February, but what about Groundhog Day? Doesn't this goofy minor holiday have something to say about the advent of warmer springtime weather -- and might those weather changes (for better or worse) influence your audience's buying behaviors? If you're in the health and wellness industry, what about all the national health awareness days that occur in February, such as American Heart Month, National Children's Dental Health Month and African Heritage & Health Week? Or what about state and local holidays such as Texas Independence Day or Maryland Day? 

All of the observances mentioned above -- and many, many others -- represent golden opportunities for touching your target market with especially timely and relevant information. So get ahold of a skilled, experienced marketing copywriter and start seasoning your marketing calendar with seasonal content!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Improving Your Ideation Skills for More Brilliant Blog Posts

Most great accomplishments begin with a great idea. That may give a distinct edge to the world's certifiable geniuses, but it's likely to drive the rest of us, well, certifiable, especially when it comes to creating fresh, original blog posts and other forms of marketing content. Nothing can cause more frustration and mental agony that ransacking every resource you possess for that insanely great topic idea that's somehow escaped you in scores or hundreds of previous articles. If you're a business owner not in the habit of creating marketing content, you may find this aspect of the process overwhelming; if you're tasked with hammering out tons of client content for a marketing agency, you're probably aghast at the amount of time it's taking you. Here are some smart strategies for more effective ideation.

Ask Yourself What the Reader Needs

Inbound marketing is all about getting your content in front of people in response to their demonstrated needs and interests. You want your brilliant, entertaining article to pop up when a prospective buyer searches online for help with a specific challenge or question. So it's not enough simply to populate the Web with general-purpose explanations of your products and services -- you have to ask yourself, "What is my reader likely to need some help with right now?" For instance, many of you probably reached this article because you had questions or concerns about ideation for your blog posts. (And here we are, examining that specific challenges and its possible solutions. Mission accomplished!) Focusing on specific issues will help you identify focused, relevant ideas to write on.

Expand Your Scope

Sometimes your ideation process actually needs to become less focused to generate fresh results. This was the case when I was ghost-blogging for a company that sold metric screws and bolts. We discovered very quickly that discussing the various features of the products themselves was a fast track to boredom, not to mention the fact that there were a finite number of products to discuss. So I expanded the ideation focus outward to include applications for these different items. What do screws and bolts go into? Boats! Motorcycles and bicycles! Sports cars! Cutting-edge computing devices! Cool stuff that pertains directly to users' everyday needs. (See above.) We even got into the history of screws and bolts, metric versus Imperial measurements and other "fringe" topics that nevertheless fed real-world interests.

Use Springboards

A famous comedian once held his audience spellbound for several minutes -- only to say, "I told you that story to tell you this one," at which point he began telling the anecdote that actually contained the joke. Do major news events, customer success stories, famous fables or other existing tales hold the kernel of your next great article? Is it analogous to some specific aspect of what you do? Does it illustrate a point that you want your audience to absorb and respond to? Amazing developments are floating in the air (or on your browser's news feeds) all the time. Grab one and run with it.

Compelling, unusual, specific topics can take your inbound marketing content to a whole new level, whether you're coming up with them yourself or getting help from the experienced creative mind of a professional marketing copywriter. Don't shy away from the challenges of ideation -- conquer them!