Organizing Your Content Marketing

Since I am in the market for a marketing certificate, I thought I would do the mental work of creating an organizational chart for how I would create various content marketing campaigns for various personas. Below you will see Names, Profiles, and fundamental fears, followed by test titles and test topics.

I organize everything in Microsoft OneNote, because I find it to be the most extensible for sharing with others and being more of a mental sketchpad for myself, without all the coffee stains and booger marks.

NB: Content marketing has the same drawbacks as any other form of advertising. It runs the risk of being passed over very, very easily. Unless it is genuinely of service to the individual and tells an effective story, it will blend into the background. Also, I keep the titles and topics separate, because often titles have little to do with the actual topic, and we are in a race have the highest click-through rates.

Alright, here goes.

Molly Marketer

Took one “digital marketing” course as part of her Business Administration: Marketing (BA), loves it and wants to complete an additional certification to make her stand out.

“If I don’t get a job within 3 months after graduation, I will be a complete failure. I wish I had an additional something to make me more attractive to employers.”

Fundamental fear: being irrelevant

Test Titles

  • How I make the cover images for my blog posts
  • The excuses stop now. (time-sensitive)
  • Why not you?
  • I’m off-track with this goal
  • How to write a $10 Million sales page
  • Are you up for this challenge
  • Going the extra mile…
  • Why employers are looking at other candidates

Test Topics

  • The real secrets of what hiring managers are looking for
  • How to discover your professional mission / elevator speech.
  • Why the first 30 seconds are what matters, and three tips
  • Having job experience when you don’t have job experience.
  • Why stats was your most important class.
  • What specific skills your employer will swoon for.
  • Creating an always-current marketing CV/Resume.
  • Where succesful job seekers are really looking (crunchbase / angelist)

Amelia Apparel Deisgner

BA in Apparel Design. Wants to work

“I have no freaking idea what I am going to do with this degree. I want to move to LA, but I don’t know what I’d do when I got down there.”

Fundamental fear: being dependent.

Test Titles

  • Can we talk? (really)
  • Shocked by what this guy wrote about me
  • Time-sensitive (plz read now)
  • Here’s how to get started as a marketer
  • “Oh boy, this is huge!”
  • This is about you
  • Are you ready to ACTUALLY change your life?
  • I’m looking for copywriters…
  • Your opinion, please?
  • Why HR managers should be fired.

Test Topics

  • Why your odd academic training is extremely valuable to employers
  • The practical steps to take post-graduation to make sure you are employed.
  • How to shine up unconventional experiences / degrees.
  • More than good looks: how to
  • How to make your Resume measure up.
  • Interview with marketing directors / what they are looking for.

Eric Entrepreneur

Entrepreurialism / unconventional business major.

“My buddies and I want to do a startup (it’s like napster for hotdogs), but really have no idea how to get our ideas to market. I don’t want to have to ask mom and dad for startup money”

Alan Awesomesauce

Graduate: Had a very diverse set of experiences, probably an irrelevant degree, and hasn’t done anything in marketing in 4-5 years

“I want a credential that ‘gets me back in the game’ with employers that I can do part time. I don’t want employers to pass on my resume because I don’t have a credential.”

Since their fears are fundamentally the same, I’m gonna treat them the same: being insignificant.

Test Titles

  • Embarrassing admission
  • Does God care about your business?
  • The excuses stop now. (time-sensitive)
  • Download your free Marketing Manager’s Blueprint
  • Are you serious… or just a big talker?
  • What if this is as good as it gets?
  • If you want to write a book someday
  • Why you may never write a book

Test Topics

  • Lost in Lingo? How to get up to speed with marketing vocabulary.
  • Getting direction with your career.
  • You are already employed: how to treat your job search like FTE (Full-time employment)
  • How to fill in the gaps in your experience- an HR director spills all.
  • Make your connections more likely to introduce you to their business friends.
  • The certifications you may want to consider for your next career move.

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What Makes a Marketer a Marketer

I see that there are two essential functions of any good marketer.

The first is tactics.

A marketer needs to be obsessed with implementing the right tactics in the right way. The great thing is that there are a near endless number of tactics that are important. Social media posts, inbound marketing work, copywriting, printing, etc. These are the essential tools in the marketers toolbox. Interestingly, they are often replaced or refined, some altogether, some only in part. Since that is the case, a marketer is always learning new tools, retiring some, and learning to hack old ones.

However, how does a marketer choose which tools to use? How do they know which skills to devote time into? There are some tools (listening tools) that can help keep an ear out for where the customers are, and then other tools that can be used once we know where they are, but those don’t quite have enough depth to really inspire creativity or get the right message. That’s why we turn to the other half of marketing, the underwater part of the marketing iceberg. I call this, insight.

The second is insight.

Insight is what lets us distinguish a good idea from a bad idea. Insight can be learned, but it requires the brain and training to get there. This is the land of thought leadership, of story-based  branding, of conceptual marketing.

While insight can be trained for, it’s a much more cerebral kind of activity. This is the work of Seth Godin, of Chip and Dan Heath, of Jim Collines of Donald Miller. This is also the work of so many coaches and business books that are written today, who have varying degrees of success.

For me, I have the most fun in insight, but I also love the tactics. Some marketers are on the other side, where they might really enjoy specific analytic tasks or production. Neither of these are wrong, but it is important to have a balance, as both insight and tactics work symbiotically.

If you are a manager of marketers or a marketing team: beware. Do not take all the insight upon yourself and leave all the tactics for your team, or the reverse. If you are not a marketer, do not steamroll over the insight your marketer should be able to provide. Marketing is a fine balance, and the best hires will be a very nice balance of these things.

Creativity: A Semi-Finite Resource

When our lives undergo tremendous change, be it moving jobs, homes, traveling, marriage, divorce, children, etc, we are required to respond. However, we can either choose to use creativity and joy or we can use fear.

If we look at change as something scary, that is is painful and to be handled, it can easily burn through our energy in just a few hours. We might not feel inspired to “create” because we are “dealing” with change, that is, we are spending down our creative resources.

On the other hand, if we look at it as an opportunity to express our creativity, to solve problems in creative ways, we can actually receive a tremendous amount of energy and further creativity. As I arrived at a creative solution to a problem while on the treadmill the other day, in the blink of an eye 40 minutes had passed, while normally I only run for 10-15. I was pumped!

Fear is the enemy of creativity, but creativity is far more powerful than fear. Fear invites us to burn through our last remaining molecules of creativity by making us worry, making us wonder “what if,” and so we have spent our creativity on a soul-sucking waste of time. That’s why we can become mopey and alone and exhausted. We have spent our last bit of energy being creative through fearing.

In those moments of fear, that is the best time to return to something that you do well, something that gives you joy, something that is of service to others. For example, working on a drawing, painting, singing, organizing something, cooking a meal, planning an event, making lists. All of these things are small ways to actually “do” something and restore the creative juices so that you can start re-energizing yourself.

This is why I say it’s semi-finite, it depends on how you use it.

Stability and Creativity

There are few feelings as sweet as creative juices pumping through your veins, with moths in your stomach over a new idea that you can’t wait to pitch, with the feelings of endless possibilities at your fingertips. You will hold court in a few days and colleagues will walk away inspired and awestruck with how their world has shifted. And, I bet, you would do almost anything to stay in that place for as long as possible. Being “creative” is part of our human nature, it is an almost transcendental experience where we take the best of who we are and try to gift that to the world and inspire it.

However, sometimes we go through ruts in creativity. In a recent book, the accidental creative, author Todd Henry suggests a neat set of techniques for developing your own creativity, even though you don’t necessarily consider yourself a “creative” type. I am with Todd on all of this, however, I am going to add a few things:

To become creative we need to find our place of stability. This does not necessarily mean a geographic location or financial success.

Stability in the traditional sense is not always for the best. Sometimes it really takes one getting out of their comfort zone, really trying to do hard things, pushing your heart and soul to the max that helps them discover what the real foundation for stability is. In Pamplona I see many pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago, all of them looking for something deeper, for some greater stability than just the creature comforts of a comfortable bed and a clean kitchen.

What it does mean is we need to find either faith, a routine, a ritual, a coffee, a ____ that helps us feel “okay.” It’s hardest to  be creativity when we don’t have that feeling of being “okay,” because we are then operating without security, with a sense of fear. For those who are more self aware than myself, they have discovered the capacity to operate in any environment and not be controlled by the environment of where they are. They are almost always “okay.” As a man of faith, I find prayer to be a place of stability, that which allows me to function, even when everything might be changing around me.

The great thing about pushing our limits with stability is that it allows us to have even greater creativity when we are in a more familiar environment. The results of doing something hard are always worthwhile for helping us grow into more of what we are, into being more creative. Pushing ourselves allows us to know our own created greatness and inspire others to become great themselves. Perhaps, this is the most fundamentally important thing to keep in mind about creativity, especially when we are going through periods of instability.

A Name Change and a Retraction

So, yesterday I was musing about how to create a compelling narrative for my own story and experience in Spain using “comedy” as the form of it. I was going to practice this week. However, as I began sputtering and halting, trying to crank out something, I realized that I need to know the genera a little bit better before I dive in. Indeed, it might be that I need to simplify that task. So, I will not be printing that this week.

Second, as often happens, I was at the gym musing about what is important for me to write about and why. For me, writing stems from a sense of vocation, what I am called to do. I’m not saying I’m a great writer, only that it is good for me to write. In particular, I have observed that where I get the most joy is when I am thinking through a problem / situation and providing some creative insight. That is the core of what I offer.

In marketing, one does not eat on creative insight alone, but rather the right combination of a whole host of different factors. There needs to be balance. While insight is the core of what I want to offer, I know that there is a fair amount of content development that goes along with those insights, there is an understanding of search engine optimization, of graphic design, or writing techniques, of packaging, of technology. Also, since you can’t really “teach” insight there are aspects of understanding our humanity that are essential. Moments of creativity stem from life experience, which is not something that can be purchased through a degree.  Additionally, questions of integrity need to be discussed so that we do not use our power to influence for evil.

Creative insight is the main course of what I offer, but the whole meal is well balanced. So for now, I’m picking “the well balanced marketer” as the new title for this blog. Maybe it will stick, maybe it wont. Either way, I’m happier making a choice.

Keeping Track of all Those Ideas

For people who are strongly creative, the most frustrating thing is when you have a great idea and then you don’t have anything to write it down, or you are in a hurry or you have whatever it is going on in your life. Most frustratingly, so many ideas come when we are not using our brains in any particularly constructive way, like in the shower or walking somewhere that we pass by most days, in the line at the coffee shop, etc.

But perhaps the most frustrating part about all the ideas we develop is when we don’t get to take action on them. If we are thinking of something that is just brilliant, and then we lose it, we feel that we have lost a piece of our soul to the altar of hurry. What made us feel inspired and wonderful was spoiled by whatever it was, and we quite resent that.

Occasionally, and perhaps I should say very occasionally, I will pause to write down an idea, or make an audio recording of the idea I had. I guarantee you that I actually pick these up these ideas again less than 2% of the time. The audio recordings inevitably get lost, and often the notes are written in such haste that either the handwriting is totally illegible (guilty) or that the message typed in our note pad app lacks any of the crackle that our initial idea felt fresh in our minds.

On the 2nd episode of the Storybrand Podcast, they pointed out that people who are able to put information in the context of a story have a near infinite ability to remember information presented in those stories. Gut check yourself to an excellent story you heard–do you still remember details about how her lipstick was a Revlon red, about how the Dave Matthews loved Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, about how the the ice cream was chocolate chip mint. This is why I remember watching a video similar to this in high school…more than 13 years ago, on one day. I realized that there was a story behind these elements.  Each of these details only remain in your mind because they played some role in the story that was told. In addition, every detail remained with you because it had some function and that it fit with the way that your brain is designed to present information, it fit according to the story.

 

The truth I have to admit to myself when I feel an inspiration, is that I often lose those moments because I haven’t figured out the way it works into a bigger picture, or the way the idea will develop. Writing this blog, for example, is a way for me to begin telling a story, I have to begin connecting pieces together that will allow me to create a compelling narrative.

So, the resolution I have is not to stop and write down every idea I have, but rather to spend the time to develop the ideas into compelling narratives. Writing ideas down is best done when some pre-frontal processing has a already been done, and the ideas will flow naturally and easily.  And it’s more fun!