Content Marketing Tips Based On Experience (part 2)

Content Marketing tips: I built this list for my students a month ago and I’m sharing it now as I think it could be useful to many. It’s one of these subjects which seem to be very easy but it’s not. You could learn it, or at least its principles, in a matter of minutes. Teaching it is extra hard unless you are not afraid of teaching things that aren’t really – or at least not always – true and are ready to stand up for it and pretend you know the truth and all the content marketing tips and they are all fault-proof.

content marketing tips

Of course they aren’t. Ditto for Word of Mouth marketing and so it is for most subjects linked to digital marketing. One thinks one knows it but when you’re asked to do it then you realise you know nothing. Even I who have been practicing this for 22 years and more. I’m still learning everyday and it’s a good thing because it means I’m never resting on my laurels. Content marketing is all a matter of practice and field experience, trial and error and no truth holds for very long before it is questioned and all you know must be reinvented. So here’s the sequel to our latest post on Content Marketing based on the questions asked by mrs MSC students in Grenoble last month. Our last point was about time and money. I repeat the last question below and we will take it from there. This is part 2 of this blog post, which will be published in 3 instalments.

Content marketing tips

(here I will deliver my content marketing tips through the answer to a few questions I had from my students)

As for SEO vs SEA, engagement could either mean that you pay or you invest time. It’s your choice

(as seen in part one of this blog post)

But that doesn’t mean that the value of social media is in engagement dashboards. In fact, it’s not. It’s in the power to interact and to gain insights from people: clients/partners/influencers/or even the average punter (who cares as long as you have an insight?). One insight only is sufficient for you to change positively and durably a product or service and make a strong impact in your market. Yet, most marketers are lazy and prefer to pay Facebook so that they can show “big” engagement numbers even though you and I know that they are not really “big”.

To sum it up in a few words, I think there is no other technique or strategy to increase engagement, whatever it means. In my eyes, content marketing tip number one is that what is most valuable is the quality of your content (in the broad sense of the term: content could be anything from entertainment to something which is particularly mesmerising or inspirational, something extraordinary which people want to share). I know that the term quality is very subjective and that it’s difficult to define and that it could mean different things to different audiences. That’s exactly the point. Define what that “quality” means for your audience: B2B audiences will most probably favour in-depth content and B2C entertaining content. That’s a starting point, there is no matrix for defining what “good quality content” is. Yet, all we know is that…

Once your content is superior (re the above-mentioned caveat) , all the rest will follow. This is the power of Word of Mouth Marketing. Read more

Questions You May (Still) Have About Content Marketing (1)

content marketing : internet bankingContent Marketing is new. It’s brand new. So declared a few pundits a couple of years ago and to an extent they are right. I can testify for this, I was already practicing it (aka inbound marketing as it is known today) 22 years ago. But as Lyman Bryson once said: “The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe experience is a substitute for intelligence.” So let’s not fall into that trap and let’s realise that content marketing, like any other discipline, has evolved over time. I was lucky enough to experiment with it at Unisys in the very early days of Internet Banking and Web content. Here is a screenshot of the old Internet-banking.com Website on the right hand side.

From the easy days of content marketing to today’s field of innovation 

Of course it looks a bit weird now but at the time its little animated barometer looked pretty cool. We’d had some record sleeve designers design this for us, they were a lot cheaper than anyone else because they weren’t working for any business (apart from the major companies of the Music industry) and they wanted to have a go at the Corporate world. They came all the way from Crystal Palace to my house in Pembroke Mews W8 and we had tea and they showed me that barometer and there it staid for at least 5 or 6 years. I moved on to other ventures and somebody else looked after the Website. But this experiment of ours had proven so successful that I never quite looked for a job anymore, people started calling in. That was great. 4 years ago my personal coach made me update my CV and I realised I hadn’t touched it for so long it nearly made me weep. So I founded my own company in order that I wouldn’t have to update it anymore. And guess what I’m doing? Content marketing of course. And Word of mouth marketing too, goes without saying. Writing content for a living is pretty cool. It’s also what I’ll be teaching at Grenoble EM business school tomorrow onwards. 

content marketing - Grenoble EM

And so I asked my MSC students what their main questions about content marketing were and I devised this little booklet which I will publish in three instalments. This is no.1 of these 3 instalments on their content marketing questions and how I propose to address them. At the same time it serves my purpose: I lecture on content marketing, hence answering questions on content marketing, therefore producing content for the blog, hence raising more questions. And so on, and so forth. Many of the students’ questions which aren’t addressed in this document are part of the main syllabus for the March 29-31 lecture. As a matter of fact, some of the questions below were asked in earnest by our students. I made a selection of the most intriguing ones and those that I thought deserved answers and weren’t already covered in my course. 

Forewarning: no one hold the truth, least of all me. I tried my best to answer these questions to the best of my knowledge but it must be understood that my angle is very personal. 

A few questions about content marketing and my HTG answers (part one)

Do you need to possess creative writing skills to produce good content marketing?

 

content marketing - sounding board On one hand, I would like to answer yes to that question. Of course, you need to be creative to capture the imagination of your readers. It goes without saying. When I refer to content marketing however, I do not refer to Facebook or Twitter posts which are seen more as a mere relay of proper content. Social media is like a sounding board. Your content is like the strings on your guitar (or viola as on the picture). No sounding board, no music. No strings, no sound at all. As simple as that. I know most brands are keen on posting stuff on Facebook for God knows what reason and sometimes, as engagement plummets, they bring Lol cats to the rescue (don’t laugh, I did it one day for Orange, on purpose and it worked). To me, real content comes mostly in the form of long form blogging when talking about B2B. a little less so for B2C. But often you have to write stories on your Website too. Websites and blogs are two different things. Most brands overlook this. They have weak product-centred websites with poor content and they think all content must go somewhere else. This is very weird. So yes! Creativity is a must-have. Not just in writing though, but also with multimedia and God knows most brands are poor with their use of multimedia too.

At the same time, I feel like answering ‘no’ to that question. As far as I’m concerned, I never honed my creative writing skills, I picked it up as I went along, but I have always enjoyed writing stories. I tried and tested things and sometimes succeeded and often failed, and this is how you learn. Would you ask successful writer if she/he took creative writing courses? At the end of the day, I do not know whether you need creative writing skills or not, but I certainly value creativity over anything else. We even use this as a cornerstone of our engagements at Visionary Marketing. Each and every of our employees is capable of not only writing but drawing as well, which enhances the quality of our content and makes it stand out from the crowd.

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Fighting Infobesity With Chris Lewis [ Too Fast To Think ]

Too Fast To Think Chris Lewis: infobesity

Infobesity is all around us and it’s killing creativity. So is, in a nutshell, what one coud say of Too fast to think, the latest book written by Chris Lewis. Chris is an ex-journalist, and the founder and CEO of one of the largest independent communications companies in the World (Lewis employs 700 people in 27 countries). I met Chris virtually over Skype a few weeks ago and I had a chat with him about his book, infobesity, our quest for information and our ability – or inability – to process it and foster innovation. In this insightful video interview, and in his book, I found many lessons which could be useful to you, with regard to your own usage of digital and possibly the way one could try and manage multitasking employees. Above all, you will learn that thinking too fast, may be a really bad idea.

Too fast to think, too slow to edit

I can’t be blamed for thinking too fast, Chris will have to give me credit for that . I interviewed him on January 19, 2017 and it took me nearly 3 weeks to edit this video and a few more hours to compose this blog post. This is without taking into account the fact that 2 months were necessary for us to synchronise our diaries. That being said, I really enjoyed Chris’s point about what he called the “conceit of speed”. One is thrown into a world where communications has never been so easy and plentiful but this only gives us the illusion of communications. And speed. That takes us back to the organisation of our interview I should say.

So we take refuge in our phones and our screens but what is left of our ability to converse and truly socialise? (To that effect I also point you to a video interview of Simon Sinek which is dedicated to millennials but applies to all of us).

Too Fast to think buy the book: infobesity

Tools should be our servants and infobesity is making it hard for us to think

“Tools should be our servants, we should not serve [them]” (this quote of Chris’s should be passed on to my students and without doubt it will).

My video interview with Chris Lewis, CEO (Oops! Sorry, “Grand Enchilada”) of Lewis 

At the heart of Chris Lewis’s thinking there is the fact that infobesity is all around us. An endless flow of RSS feeds, headlines and breaking news to which he himself confesses being a slave. Looking for examples of bad habits in information consumption he admits that he embodies it (“you are looking at it” he said facetiously). He’s a “news junkie and a workaholic” and therefore, he can easily describe what affects our inability to analyse and, as he rightfully puts it, “connect the dots”.

Information overload, he went on, means we are trying to keep up, and as a consequence, his conclusion is that today’s “level of ideas and conceptualisation is diminishing” and that “information overload and infobesity are beginning to erode our fundamental inate ability to solve problems”.

That doesn’t bode too well. So what should we do about it? Read more

Finding my way around the information superhighway – best wishes for 2017

Not many of you might remember the information superhighway. I do, this is how I found my way around business.

From the information superhighway to Visionary Marketing

From a business perspective, 2016 has been an eventful year, to say the least. In fact, the past few years have been very busy. Three years to the day I was working on my computer and on my blog preparing to launch my new company. New isn’t the right term. Visionary Marketing was created in 1995. Out of frustration and seeing how managers were being downsized regardless of their abilities. I then decided to use this new tool one called the Internet (in those days people referred to it as the information superhighway) to sell my wares.

information Superhighway - the early version of Visionary Marketing
The 1997 version of Visionary Marketing, then part of the information superhighway (image, courtesy of the superb Archive.org Webiste)

As I tried to post my CV online and quickly realised that nothing good would happen if I continued to do that, I turned the website around, changed its content and theme to match that of a 100 page report I had written and rebranded it to match the name of the report. Half a year later, I bought a domain name and attached it to the Website.

Information superhighway and best wishes
The Visionary Marketing team wishes you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year

The site may have changed platforms a few times but it has always been there to support my work. I used it to do research, to publish my work, to network, and evangelise. Eventually, I never had to search for a job anymore. People started to call me. I wasn’t fired from Unisys. In actual fact it went the other round, I resigned twice. Once to leave France and get back to Britain. But they wouldn’t let me go and I got an expat package instead. Even though that was deemed impossible at the time. The Website had made me visible and desirable. I went on updating it. And I resigned a second time to join Capgemini for whom I worked in Lebanon and China and France.

I went on updating my website. It got me another job outside of Capgemini and I joined Orange (France Telecom as it was called at the time). The Website got me that job and I never ceased to update it. In 2004 an Orange colleague advised me to move to blogs. I didn’t suppress the Website but went on to build blogs – this blog is one of them – on top of the Website. I was right not to do away with the site, that was visionary too.

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Innovation Is About Keeping Our Options Open

4 visions of innovation with Censhare’s Dieter Reichert

Innovation is on everyone’s lips except that what we see is hardly what we get. For innovation is, primarily, a matter of vision. Technology is nice and it travels fast, but what is it to us who can understand so little about it? It’s as if we, modern day Frankensteins, had invented new creatures and as they come to life, we barely understand what is going on. As the frightful Swiss in awe with his newborn wretch, we run around like headless chickens, trying to embrace these new technological objects of ours or merely trying to survive them. What if the answer were in the hands of the Indians of an obscure tribe in a Mexican desert? I tried to find out while interviewing Dieter Reichert, CEO and founder of Censhare, a worldwide software house set to redesign the way we handle information. And God knows there is a dire need for this.

Visions of Innovation can be found in the way native Americans perceive the world around them, Reichert says
Visions of Innovation can be found in the way native Americans perceive the world around them, Reichert says

Dieter came to visit me some time ago. We had decided I would interview him about software and we came to talk about his background and experience. Talking with entrepreneurs is always a fascinating experience. One gets to understand how they innovate, how they lead their business in their daily lives, how they overcome whatever obstacles they encounter. This is a very worthwhile experience, especially when you are are yourself an entrepreneur. Talking to Dieter for a few minutes, I realised that our interview would be on a totally different level. His was not the experience of an average businessman, but a real journey through life, deeply rooted in experiments. Well, all kinds of experiments, so to speak.

Vision of innovation 1: don’t do what’s expected of you

Dieter started in a way that wouldn’t appeal to most Parents, by flunking school at the age of 18. He wasn’t “cut out for that”, he admitted. By “that”, he meant reading books, and learning with a teacher locked up in a schoolroom. He was one for larger spaces, he fled to India. There he learned Yoga, then became a teacher and eventually, got bored, because “not much happens in India” he said. Not one for contemplation, Dieter, but much of a rolling stone.

He left India soon after that to live among Mexican tribespeople. Columbus had mistaken them for Indians and named them after others, Dieter went on to live with them. He liked it a lot. In actual fact, living with them shaped his vision of life and innovation. His vision of time and understanding the cosmos. He thinks he can understand innovation better than us because of this. This is a life-shaping experience, not just any kind of experience.

So here went Dieter, from adventure to venture, from the Mexican Indians to the creation of an events organisation setting up symposiums with the Dalai Lama and other celebs, then to the creation of a drugs rehab centre, all the time working with and for Apple. Meditation being the link between these things, most probably. “Think different” is certainly a motto that Dieter could live with. For he is a very different kind of person.

Vision of innovation 2: one day, computers will be less dumb

I liked his views on IT too. It’s true that computers aren’t that smart. This is an understatement. The more we are sold new versions of AI and self-driving cars, the more we have to reboot our machines, circumvent bugs and even live without the features one used to enjoy (where has the old Phatware ICR – intelligent character recognition – feature in our year 2000 PDAs gone?) They are just miniaturised versions of their bulky elders, even though we have gone quite a long way from the prehistory of IT, I readily admit.

Yet, exactly 26 years ago to the day, I was tip tapping away on a computer just like the one I have now in front of me. It’s true I was one of the happy few to be equipped with a laptop computer, its battery life was not going beyond 1 hour and a half and it was black and white (two years later I pawned it in exchange for a brand new colour Zenith PC). Having said that, it was a PC nonetheless, with an older but reasonably functional version of Office by Microsoft. Not much less powerful than the ones we have now and certainly less bug-ridden.

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