Recently, we discussed two ways that you could become the MacGyver of content marketing – using great visuals and writing excellent content. I want to continue breaking down Neil Patel’s article this week, to discuss two more ways to “MacGyver” your content – in case you’re still wondering what I mean by that, I’ll reference the Urban Dictionary’s definition:
Someone who can regularly cobble together solutions to problems using only the tools available at hand.”
Your content may not be a problem, but we know that in legal, we’re always being asked to do more with less. So as legal content MacGyvers, we’re taking what we know and creating valuable, substantive themes for consumption that provide a secondary benefit to our reputations.
All right, so let’s jump into our two tips for this week.
Tip One: Know Your Audience
This is a tip I mention a lot here on Zen, so you may roll your eyes and say “yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this before, Lindsay!”
But it bears repeating, because it’s so often ignored. We all do it – we’re in a rush, so we assume already that we know who our audience is, and where they are.
Patel points out in his post a very simple question – have you asked yourself where your audience is spending their time online, and where they’re connecting online?
Who your audience is will be different based on what your content goals are (this is why it’s important to start with a strategy).
- If your goal is to raise your profile, then your audience will include clients, potential clients, influencers and amplifiers (such as reporters, conference organizers, etc.).
- If your goal is to increase knowledge in your industry, your audience will include the key players in your field.
- If your goal is to network with possible clients, then your audience will be made up of potential clients and referral sources.
Once you know who these people are, you need to identify where they are – and an easy way to find this out is to ask them.
Patel uses one company as an example, noting that they had no idea where their audience was gathering and engaging.
As it turns out, this company was simply putting content on its blog, without comprehending where its audience was interacting.”
As it turns out, a thriving beehive of people buzzing around LinkedIn matched the customer profile perfectly. The audience loved LinkedIn, formed groups on LinkedIn, argued on LinkedIn, connected on LinkedIn, bought on LinkedIn, sold on LinkedIn, and did business on LinkedIn.”
Is that something you’re doing?
Are you sure that your clients and potential clients are reading your blog, or are they actually engaging over on LinkedIn?
Are the reporters that you’d like to get in front of more interested in searching for things on Google, or are they actually spending most of their time on Twitter?
Are your key colleagues chatting in an online group on Facebook, or using a proprietary listserv?
As Patel says:
Many times, it’s going to be organic search, in which a blog is an appropriate strategy. Other times, it’s going to be something else entirely. Figure it out, and aim your content marketing strategy in that direction.”
The key here though is knowing, and not just assuming. Patel does point out that it doesn’t mean you have to throw your entire strategy out the window – the company he references above didn’t stop producing blog content – “It still maintains a blog, but it also has a thriving and active lead generation and content marketing strategy on LinkedIn.” Just meet your audience where they are.
Tip Two: Think Outside the Blog
This will seem a little funny because I’m sharing it on…well…a blog, but blogging doesn’t have to be the be all, end all of your content marketing strategy.
Patel raises an excellent point:
Blogging has become an entry barrier for content marketing. Instead of being an appropriate entry point, it’s now a distraction that can keep a business from publishing content where it truly matters.”
What does that mean?
It means that some businesses (READ: law firms/lawyers), see content marketing this way:
- OK, we need to do content marketing.
- All right, let’s start a blog.
- Keep blogging …
- Keep blogging …
- Keep blogging, and, by the way, why isn’t this working?
- OK, stop blogging. (No ROI)
‘Content marketing’ in the minds of such businesses begins (and ends) with a blog. If, and when they realize that the blog is useless, they either give up or keep plodding on, throwing content into the lonely abyss of wasted online content.
And, because he continues to say brilliant things, I will continue to share them word for word:
Stop blogging for just a second, and think about the issue strategically. Blogging is not a strategy. Blogging is but one method in an arsenal of content marketing methods. But, before you ever settle in on blogging as the primary method of choice, you must first determine whether or not blogging is the best strategy.”
Content doesn’t mean “blog.” Content is just content. Where you post and promote this content is the key feature of a successful content marketing strategy. Spend time thinking about that question before you ever start a blog.”
Patel links to this article, which asks whether blogging has become outdated (spoiler alert: the answer is NO). But although blogging is still relevant, it’s important to remember that it’s a tactic, and not the substance of content marketing (hint: that’s the content). The article points uses the metaphor of a bicycle wheel, and says that a blog is like the spoke of a wheel (with your website being the hub – I don’t really agree with that, but that’s a subject for another post). Instead, let’s think of your content, the “substance” as the hub. Everything radiating out from that, the “spokes,” is your tactics/delivery method. Blogging is a piece of that, but so is:
- LinkedIn: including posts, publishing, groups, and pages
- Facebook: posts, group conversations, and pages
- And more!
That means that you can meet your audience where they are, as in tip one, and it also means the focus is on your content, which is easily transferable to other delivery methods, instead of remaining stuck with one.
Blogs are great – obviously, I’m a fan. And as long as they work with your strategy, they are a solid, strong tactic. But they’re not the hub of your wheel – that’s your content.
What tips would you add to these?