aStore / Amazon

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Writing Strategies for Distracted Readers [SKIL] Traditional marketing approach

This famous "Man in the chair" advertisement from McGraw-Hill illustrate the problem salesman face

In the last post, the issue of distracted readers was introduced. It's not an idea which we talk about when writers and editors gather together. Most writers want to believe in their ability to get attention no matter what the situation. Yet in business, we need to be realistic (and effective.) It is simply a fact, not all readers are going to be paying full attention all the time. So what do we do to "make them read"? (or listen, watch?) Sounds like a line from an evil character in a bad B movie... Not really. It may seem silly to want to "make" anyone do anything on the internet. But we can still try to help more readers understand something.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Content Marketing In Demand [KNWLG] The next PPC, UI/UX, or HTML/CSS?

Michelangelo's Daniel with an early "content marketing" depiction... are we reliving history?
To find demand for Content Marketing, start talking with business and technical professionals. From ones who simply need a web site to support their marketing efforts, to ones building highly technical product and want to leave their content completely up to a marketing writer. Content Marketing is getting attention. Not too long ago focus was on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. Just before social media a trend of blogging was all the rage. Before blogging, we saw simply a pleasing graphic design or informative product site in demand. Somewhere in parallel there were corporate trends in e-commerce (eBay, Amazon) and SEO/PPC (Google, AdWords) with strong emphasis on massive content writing and link building. Somewhere along the way there are less predominant phases of interest in affiliate marketing and advertising (especially in niche products). All these internet marketing trends rely on writing effective texts. Some need more quantity and some need more convincing or alluring copyrighting. But until recently, content played a minor role in the business of internet marketing. The position of the lowly writer, editor and copy optimizer seems to be changing for the better.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Exciting, Sexy, Alluring, Enticing [OBSRV] Stories get readers...

Playboy's first issue featured Marilyn Monroe "nude" and plenty of stories... some read them!

In the Content Creation business you sell stories and photos to business people. If you are skilled and proven in a small niche, business people will believe you can do the job. You are hired. Examples or references do not help much. Most people have not experienced writing that sells (exciting, alluring, sexy). Exciting people with a story is not only elusive, it does not work for everyone. A business person who reads your blog or a page on a competing site will not get it as an excited customer gets it. If your story is informative, most people who read will not understand all your key points. If the topic is complex or abstract you need to write in more detail or give more examples. This situation frustrates creative writers and photographers. Yet, when a story (or a picture, video) "works" it's magic. Essentially, a clearly written instruction page can stop the help lines from ringing. A sexy or exciting story or demo of a mobile app can go viral and suddenly you have a product that's selling. As if suddenly people noticed you were beautiful and until now you were "just skinny" or had "nice lines". Why stories excite, allure, entice and actually make us feel sexy is a question asked as long as man has been telling them. There are many theories and techniques used to tell stories which are used in the media and advertising industries. Some products actually depend on good Content Marketing. Traditionally these were not called Content Marketing, they were copywriters in advertising and script writers in media. In Hollywood and on Madison Avenue (the advertising center in New York) there are standard well developed techniques to develop "stories that sell". Yet Harry Potter and Red Storm Rising only comes once in a few decades and even Danielle Steel and Stephen King don't know how exactly it was done (they did not write these books, others did). If they did, they would do it themselves and beat the others. But nobody has been able to come up with a sure formula for great writing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Definition [KNWLG]: What is Content Marketing? How does Content Marketing fit your business?

Gartner's Hype Cycle, Where is Content Marketing now?
Content Marketing is a new field in the world of internet marketing. As a new term, most domain experts in related fields, seem to think differently on what it means. The term itself, reflects the technical social media site owners. Social media sites essentially give us a framework to connect and contribute content. Their view is: if we build a friendly and easy to use "frame", the "content" will be "contributed" by the users. Facebook is an excellent example, the structure is provided by the site, the content is user contributed. Content Marketing does not rely on user contributed content. The method uses writing, graphics, video and linking (or quotes) to influence readers to take action. Content Marketing methods usually provide information and show examples of how products are used. Sites like Amazon are a great example where publishers and manufacturers create extensive amount of information on products. Amazon has been so successful using this technique, many people consider the site as a reliable source of information. In many product categories, not only books (i.e. electronics, photo equipment, white goods), the site has more information than even the original manufacturer's sites. Also, with deep product information in a product category, comparison shopping is easier then in almost any other site. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jargon: Content Marketing A Technical Perspective Term

Make no mistake, content marketers, at least the ones in the business more than five years, don't like the term Content Marketing. The bloggers, editors, site owners, curators, publishers, and various other content creators, from photographers to video editors, don't like the back seat position new social media and mobile internet technocrats are putting them into. Simply put, the technologists seem to have come to the game late and are now playing by new rules. If you go back a few years, before the new social media and mobile internet bubbles started, content marketing was simply writing, editing, and gathering stories or pictures. Suddenly, the social group or mobile users came to the web like a flood and the old ways of slowly writing, photographing, and editing videos is just a small part of the brave new world. But in all fairness, there is no shame in the term and the old guard, which is only in this business a bit longer than a decade, should not be put off by the jargon.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Digital Content Marketing: It's Only Starting

Inside peek into the world of internet shops
Tony Hsieh's book about his experience at Zappos and a few meetings the last month came together somehow. Until now, it seems like the term "content marketing" and the idea of writing specific articles to influence buyers, was simply an extension of traditional marketing. Some see content marketing as an extension of other form of digital marketing: advertising, newsletters, affiliate, and SEO (plus other formats). But a few comments from marketing managers and Hsieh's book show a slightly different picture. The digital age plus changes in buying behavior are making content marketing not only useful but actually critical. Yet, most traditional marketers and new digital marketers seem unclear on the differences between content marketing is and  other forms of marketing. 
First about the Zappos book, the title is a hint to what to expect from Hsieh. In short, Hsieh took over Zappos CEO position to put the company into a strong position. His efforts were focused on, you guessed it: making the employees and the customers happy. Eventually the company, selling shoes (compared to Amazon selling books), was sold to Amazon for over a billion dollars. At the time, it was Amazon's largest acquisition. The Zappos story illustrate how Hseih clearly understood how a traditional business (selling shoes) needed to do certain things a little differently on the web. What is interesting about the Zappos story is how even recent history in the digital age is useful in trying to predict future developments. Essentially, the Zappos story comes from the "we can sell anything on the internet" that we sold in 'brick and mortar' shops era. The era was also called the dot-com bubble (or euphemistically dot-bomb / the internet bubble). Like most ideas in technology, what was good to do was also good to overdo. But it's nice to see that in all the cacophony of the early internet days, someone kept his head on his shoulders, and feet on the ground and built a real business. So kudos to Tony Hsieh.