Revolutionise: Change your conditions, attitudes and operation

Whatever your situation right now – in life, career or business – you probably want change of some kind. Whether it’s about a personal milestone you want to reach, a financial target you want to hit or even another place you’d physically rather be, there is probably a voice within you that calls for a shift from the present situation. For the most ambitious people, this desired change will be so big it amounts to a revolution of sorts.

revolutioniseWhen I think about revolution in the context of business, I think about massive, forced change for the better. I’m talking about conscious changes that dramatically improve the way things are done, the way customers respond to our products or services, the way people relate to our brand, or the way we think about our own business. Revolution, in general, is appealing. After all, who doesn’t want to supercharge performance, radically improve a process or identify fresh thinking to deal with a recurring problem?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, revolution is “a dramatic and wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operation.” So, what can you do to drive forward a fundamental shift in your current situation?

Conditions

We’re all “contained” to some extent by our present situation. These containers might be might be financial limitations, knowledge/expertise gaps, confidence issues or perhaps conservative leadership of the organisation – whatever the specific factors, these are the conditions that are helping to keep you in your current situation. It’s only when you have a good understanding of these conditions that you can think about the steps needed to change (or work around) them. You’ll find it difficult to drive forward any kind of meaningful change while you’re working within these containers.

Attitudes

Sir Winston Churchill famously said “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” How are you and the people around you thinking about problems and opportunities (if they aren’t the same thing)? The attitude you adopt in any given situation is a choice – you also have more power to control the attitudes of the people around you than you think. Positivity, creativity and enthusiasm are contagious – maybe it’s your job to spread the bug. Can your team get to where you want to be with their current attitude? If not, work on changing it.

Operation

Sometimes it feels like the safest way to do things is the way they have always been done, but you can’t then expect the results to be any better. If you’re looking to make a big change in performance, you have to make a big change in what you’re doing or the way you’re doing it. Remember what Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” What action do you need to take to drive that change?

If you’re looking to radically improve any aspect of your current situation, remember that just one shift in gear in the right area is one step towards the outcome you want. So, what will be your first move?

by Dane Brookes
Author of Content Marketing Revolution and Director at Group Dane.

Stop creating content, start creating value

For businesses getting started with content marketing, it’s easy to get carried away with the idea of creating masses of varied content – in the hope that it will mystically help to market their products. So many blogs, articles and books about content marketing focus on maximising the volume of content you’re producing, spreading it across lots of different channels and carefully planning publishing schedules. The idea “if you publish it, they will come” is what gets many businesses into content marketing in the first place. But, like everything else worth doing, it isn’t easy. Before you can even think about volume, channel or publishing patterns, you really need to get back to basics and think about the most important thing of all: value.

Needless to say, the real impact with content marketing comes in the value of the message; the purpose and utility of the content. How is your content going to help, entertain or interest the target audience?

Five key things to think about when maximising the impact of your content

  1. Focus on worth

At the heart of your content is the value that lives within it. What is it actually worth to your target audience? What is the main reason the content will be useful, interesting or entertaining? If you aren’t certain the content is going to be valued by the people you eventually want to sell to, or the influencers of the people you want to sell to, the chances are it isn’t valuable. In such cases, you aren’t marketing – you’re spitting out used bubblegum.

  1. Quickly demonstrate purpose

It’s crucial that you show the purpose of your content early on. If it’s a video, let your audience know what they will get out of it in the first few seconds; if it’s an infographic, clearly highlight the key purpose; if it’s a blog, be upfront about what the point is. You get the idea. Think about how it’s going to help, improve or enrich the audiences’ lives and express this early on.

  1. Don’t dilute

Don’t fall victim to the idea of watering down each piece of content in order to spread it out over more channels and separate posts. Think logically about what the audience needs to get out of this single interaction with your content. What do they need to walk away with that will have helped or satisfied them in some way? What happens when you dilute something too much? It becomes weak.

  1. Get attention

You know those sounds that are constantly in the background. The hum of the air conditioning or the buzz of the refrigerator – you stop noticing them because they’re constantly droning on in the background. You don’t want to be a background hum – you want to be noticed – make sure every noise you make is worth listening to.

  1. Give more

If you think you’re giving away too much for free, it’s probably a good sign that you’re doing content marketing well. Nothing in life is free, you know that. Your audience may not be paying for your content with money, but they are paying you with time and attention. Reward them by giving more value than they expect.

Remember, value is everything – if you can’t see the real value to the customer – don’t publish the content. Great content inspires action.

by Dane Brookes
Director at Group Dane and Author of Content Marketing Revolution.

How to make an impact with real-time content marketing

One of my favourite business experts, Grant Cardone, says “success loves preparation”. It makes perfect sense that you’ll perform better in any given situation if you’re suitably prepared. Content marketing is no exception – the best content marketing is always well planned, executed with precision and highly targeted to the intended audience. This is the epitome of good preparation, right? But, it isn’t always possible to plan for every situation before it arises.

What if something unexpected happens? Perhaps a new product is released by a competitor, there’s a sudden economic slump or even a hot topic of discussion emerges among your target audience overnight. As content marketers, sometimes the only way we can take unexpected opportunities and swerve dips in the road is to adapt and respond quickly, if not instantly with relevant, valuable content.

timeReacting and adapting to the audience’s world can make your voice more relevant and dynamic, but it can be a risky tactic, so you need to make sure everything we publish in “real-time” supports your strategy.

CREATING IN REAL-TIME

Sometimes an opportunity will arise that calls for content to be created from scratch. The scope for pay-off will be more risky because there just won’t be time to follow all of the usual planning and development processes. However, there are a few questions to answer before creating anything on-the-fly, including:

  1. How will the content specifically contribute to your big aim, goals or objectives?
  2. Will the topic still be ‘hot’ by the time it is ready to publish?
  3. Are there any legal considerations associated with publishing the content right now?
  4. Is the situation really time-limited?

IDENTIFY KEY CONVERSATIONS

What are the topics, issues and discussions you want your brand to be associated with? They might be conversations people are already having, or they might be new ones that we’re anticipating. Think about how you can valuably contribute to and fuel these conversations early on. How will this content help to bolster your voice among the target audience?

LISTEN UP

You can monitor the use of keywords and phrases related to the topics and conversations you’re interested in. The best way is to use social media monitoring tools and online keyword scrapers to sift through blogs (including blog comments), news articles and other user-contributed content. There are a large amount of systems available to help with this:

  • For social media monitoring, my favourite system is Radian6. With huge data depths, this system scours the internet and highlights virtually every relevant conversation happening right now across the social web.
  • Services like BrandWatch dashboard complex keyword searches across social platforms and beyond, with a high degree of filtering. Like Radian6, this is a paid option, but well worth considering if budget allows.
  • The best of the free systems is probably Hootsuite, which enables you to identify the words and phrases you’re interested in across various social channels, all displayed in a series of real-time feeds.
  • Google Alerts is a great free service that allows you to identify keywords and phrases and get real-time alerts when they appear in news and other online publications. There is also a special setting to include results from social media sites.

stand-therePIVOT AND ADAPT CONTENT

It is important that you’re ready to adapt to the market challenges and opportunities whenever necessary. Don’t be afraid to bring scheduled content forward in the content calendar if it’s particularly relevant to a current topic. Market need always trumps the schedule.

The same goes for archived and live content. If there is an opportunity to bring it back to prominence or reinvent it, go ahead and adapt, refocus, or republish. But be careful not to crowbar content into tenuously linked topics, as the lack of relevance will be obvious and will only devalue your voice.

INDIVIDUAL TARGETING

We have already discussed how important key market influencers are. While it is crucial that you listen to how they are using their dominant voices, you must remember that every single member of our audience has the potential to influence others.

Some of the biggest companies in the world, such as Philips, take the time to respond and deliver bespoke content to audiences of just one person. There is no engagement like a one-to-one engagement.

Creating ad hoc content for individual customers might sound like a great deal of work, but it shouldn’t actually be an indiscriminate process. In reality, it is more about responding to individual customers in a very personal way with content that will also appeal to the rest of the audience segment.

ADD VALUE OR GO HOME

Although you need to look for content marketing opportunities around the hot topics you’re interested in, you don’t need to interact with every single conversation and related sub-topic. Only get involved with hot topics that are relevant to your audience and that you’re able to add value to.

DON’T KILL CONVERSATIONS

If you see conversations on websites, social media, blogs and forums that you want to get involved with, it’s important that you keep your contributions appropriate and highly-relevant. We want to position ourselves as part of the community, almost like friends sharing useful information. But, bear in mind that nobody likes that friend who won’t let anyone else speak; you can be that clever, understanding and helpful friend instead.

Remember, you’re not telling people where to go next or what to do, we’re just going with the flow of the conversation and helping with content where it might be useful. Avoid spammy interruptions!

FINAL THOUGHTS

For me, real-time content marketing is about heightening empathy by listening to customers’ rants and sharing their joys. If you aren’t watching, listening and relating to customers, they will quickly realise you are speaking at them, not with them.

Before you start publishing any content “on-the-fly”, it’s important to be sure it contributes in some way to the overall aims, goals and objectives of your content marketing strategy. If it doesn’t help you move towards your purpose, don’t publish it.

This blog post contains an excerpt from Content Marketing Revolution by Dane Brookes and is used with permission. You can buy the book on Amazon and the offical book website.