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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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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Social Selling at the heart of Facebook Marketplace

Welcome to the Internet : the land of Marketplaces ! We all know Amazon marketplace, Asos Marketplace, or many other platforms dedicated to peer-to-peer selling. For a lot of people, the Internet is the best place to sell products (new or vintage) to other people. It’s as easy as 1,2,3 ; just find a popular platform like Craigslist or Leboncoin for our french readers, and post the most convincing image (sometimes even adding some filters to beautify it), with a short description and a price tag. And wait.. until someone makes the move. To try and boost the sale of an old couch, people share their posts on social media. Who knows, maybe one of our Facebook friends has a cousin who needs a vintage couch, right? Now Facebook, that social network we use ‘all day everyday’ is launching its own Marketplace. In this article, we’ll go through the basics of that new Facebook feature.

Don’t hesitate to give us your opinion.

Selling your old couch? Photo by Mia Tawilé
Selling your old couch?
Photo by Mia Tawilé

Facebook Marketplace: All about social selling

First things first. For those of you who do not know what social selling is (not everyone is a geek), let me explain it briefly. Social selling is the process of making the best out of your social media platform, to find potential clients to target, communicate with them, build trust and credibility. All this is done, of course, to end up with a sale.

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5 Ways to Use Content Marketing for Ecommerce Success

If you are looking to sell products online, whether that’s clothing, jewellery or anything else, content is important.Valuable, great content creates trust, builds your brand and helps you stand out from the crowd of other e-commerce stores. Content marketing can draw in prospects, it can convert these prospects into customers and most importantly can close more deals and create more sales for your ecommerce store. Content is the big buzz word in digital marketing at the present, as everyone is saying “content is king” (I even feel cliché for saying it). But, content has become the most important part of digital marketing, and should be the backbone of your e-commerce marketing too.

Content Marketing and E-commerce

Here are a few reasons how a proper content marketing strategy can give you e-commerce success:

  • Improve user engagement, increase your customer base and build important relationships between your current customers and your brand.
  • Raise awareness of your brand.
  • Improve your ranking in search engines, target keywords with your content to find customers who are searching for products just like yours.
  • Provide support and help. Create useful content like how-to’s, user manuals and guides. And don’t forget to promptly answer customer queries.
  • Enhanced social reach, share content through social media to reach a larger audience.

What content should you be creating for your e-commerce store?

This can depend on your industry, what products you sell and your target market. This is a point you must remember, not just for content marketing, but it is the #1 rule in marketing, know your market, before creating any content, know who your current customers are, know who your potential customers are, and make sure your content is optimised for them.

E commerce and content

So here are 5 ways to use content marketing for e-commerce store success.

  1. Set a Goal

Before creating your content marketing strategy, you should set goals, for both each piece of content and overall. Set something to aim for, whether that is increasing overall sales and customers, gaining new email subscribers or even just engaging or helping your current customers. Having a goal will help you create content for a specific cause.

  1. Create How-to Videos and Guides

Creating how-to videos or guides are a great way to hook people into your product through your content. Making how-to videos which simply and easily explains your product is great, although how to use your product may be obvious for you, it may not be for your customers. Giving customers and potential leads advice on topics directly related to your product builds your authority, as well as your customer base. A great example of this is to create a large amount of content that informs and teaches people beyond your specific product to reach larger audiences. This works great, as you are giving something away for free to attract potential customers to your product and brand. Never underestimate the power of teaching others. Read more

Don’t Make These Mistakes When Choosing a Domain Name

Choosing a domain name seems straightforward, but there are actually many things to consider before you register your business’s website. And while domain names usually aren’t terribly expensive, it can be a real hassle to try to reroute all of your webpages to a new address later on, should you change your mind. Instead, spend a little extra time up front brainstorming multiple domain name options. To guide you, here are some definite mistakes to avoid:

Choosing a Domain Name That Is Easily Confused With Another Brand 

At best, you’ll receive an uptick in site hits from people who have simply typed the wrong address. At worst, you might be hit with a lawsuit, especially if the brand you’re being mistaken for has a big budget and thinks you’re stealing customers. For example, if you sell fence building materials, you might think “Wall Mart” is a clever business name. But trying to register wallmart.com might result in a cease-and-desist letter from the lawyers of Walmart. Play it safe and make sure to choose a domain name that is quite unique.

Matching Another Domain Name But Using a Different gTLD 

Let’s say you already have a great domain name picked out. The only problem is that someone else has beaten you to the punch, and the .com generic top-level domain (gTLD) is already registered. That’s okay because you can just choose to register as a .net business or use any number of other gTLDs, right? Wrong … for the same reasons as Mistake #1, this is a bad idea, but you’ll also be positioning yourself in the shadow of another business. It could hinder your marketing efforts if you have to keep reiterating that your business is the .net version, not the .com one.

domain-name

Using a Domain Name That Is Difficult to Pronounce or to Spell

When you network with others face-to-face, you want to be able to casually throw out the name of your website and have it stick in the recipient’s mind. You don’t want to have to stop and laboriously explain how the domain is spelled or make it difficult to pronounce. For best results, choose a domain with words that are spelled how they sound and sound how they look. Read more