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In-Flight Content Guide: Creating a Memorable Content Experience


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Are you looking to create a memorable content experience? In this second ebook in the Content Marketing World 2017 series, the teams from TopRank Marketing and CMI partner to interview speakers and industry authorities. We're ready for takeoff, so make sure you're registered for CMWorld 2017 taking place September 5-8, 2017!

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In-Flight Content Guide: Creating a Memorable Content Experience

  1. 1. Ann Handley Doug Kessler Wil Reynolds Michael Brenner Ian Cleary Jay Baer Matt Heinz Ardath Albee Carla Johnson Jillian Hillard Ahava Leibtag Scott Berinato
  3. 3. A MESSAGE FROM YOUR CONTENT CAPTAIN Congratulations! After getting off the ground by reading our first In-Flight Content Guide, you should be ready to take your content to cruising altitude. So, can you kick back, eat some peanuts, and just coast for a while? Nice try, Maverick. If you cool your jets now, your content performance will drop like a rock. It’s time to reach peak speed by improving the overall content experience you are delivering to your audience. According to our annual research, 78% of B2B and 80% of B2C marketers report their organizations are, “focused on providing an overall exceptional experience for our audience.” While these numbers look promising, there are others that raise major red flags. When asked which elements are included in their content marketing strategy, closer to half of both B2B and B2C respondents included “deep understanding of audience personas.” Which means nearly half of marketers simply don’t know what type of experience their audience desires. While the overall value of creating compelling content and amazing experiences are self-evident, the path to creating audience- centric experiences will be strewn with failures if we aren’t willing to incorporate audience needs into our content strategies. As we strive for relevancy in this noisy time, we must obsess over our customers and audiences. We must strive to know more, ask why, and uncover actionable data that can drive us in creating more targeted content experiences. In the following pages we offer tips from top experts on how to create memorable content experiences. We hope you enjoy this journey! Joe Pulizzi Founder, Content Marketing Institute & Content Marketing World
  4. 4. Are you ready to start – or continue – your expedition? Join these speakers and many more at Content Marketing World 2017 this September. We’re ready to provide you with all you need for a successful journey. Register for CMWorld using the code TOPRANK100 for $100 off main event and all-access passes. Content Marketing Institute is the leading global content marketing education and training organization, teaching enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multichannel storytelling. CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and the Intelligent Content Conference event is held every spring. CMI publishes the bi-monthly magazine Chief Content Officer, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. Watch this video to learn more about CMI, a UBM company. To view all research and to subscribe to our emails, visit
  5. 5. “Slow down your publishing process to be sure your content is truly as valuable as it could be.” - @MarketingProfs
  6. 6. HAVE A RECOGNIZABLE POV Be original. Ask yourself: Is this piece truly unique or does it seem derivative of something someone could find elsewhere? Does it truly convey our perspective, personality, point-of-view? Ask yourself: WiiFYS? (What’s In It For Your Squad?) (And by “squad” I mean community, tribe, audience.) Create less content. The drumbeat you march to is called “quality.” Slow down your publishing process to be sure your content is truly as valuable as it could be. (See #1) Don’t dismiss long-form. Embrace it. The sound you hear is all of us choking the word “snackable” until it turns blue in the face and passes out. Hire an editor. Follow the established rules of journalism around sourcing, research, quoting, curating, copyright, headlines, first lines, white space, images, and the rest. Ann Handley Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs @MarketingProfs Dream Travel Destination When the summer sun starts to fade and the breeze off of Boston Harbor turns nippy… I dream of a special place with special resonance: Cleveland. I dream of hugs, high-fives, the fries at Lola. Cleveland isn’t just a city; it’s content’s Homecoming.
  7. 7. TAKE YOUR TIME Spend some time with people in your target audience. I’m thinking over a Frappuccino. Do your homework. Pack in the value. Don’t be lazy. Rewrite and edit ruthlessly. Be honest. Be mean. Doug Kessler Co-Founder & Creative Director, Velocity Partners @dougkessler Dream Travel Destination I dream of going to the Ossau Valley in Béarn, the Northern Basque Country. They make a cheese there, out of sheep’s milk, called Ossau-Iraty. I picture mountain pastures and lots of sheep and blue skies and all the cheese I can eat.
  8. 8. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS Change Google browser settings to show 10 suggestions when searching, instead of 4. Ask, “what question are people highly likely to ask Google after they get to my piece of content?”, then promote that next content step on the current page vs. a newsletter popup, or other exit overlay. Review the top ranking sites, are they similar to you? Or are they all publishers and yours are B2B, are they all e- commerce and yours are lead gen? Are they all local, and yours is a national service? Look for times when you aren't a match, and ask yourself, does Google think companies like mine should rank in these positions? Wil Reynolds Founder, Seer Interactive @wilreynolds Dream Travel Destination I go to Rio, Brazil yearly. It’s the right combination of beach, city, music, and food. :) I guess you could say I'm "livin’ the dream”. :)
  9. 9. START WITH A STORY A great content experience starts with a story! Start by defining your hero and the villain. Next, focus on making it interesting. Walk a mile in the hero’s shoes and then let your readers know what really scares or excites them. And finally, tell the story that your readers want to experience with passion, drama, curiosity or suspense. Sounds challenging, ask yourself: "what's in it for the reader?" Michael Brenner CEO, Marketing Insider Group @BrennerMichael Dream Travel Destination Italy
  10. 10. “If your audience is not taking action on your content, they are more likely to forget the content.” - @IanCleary
  11. 11. CATER TO YOUR AUDIENCE Do research with your audience before you publish your content, so that you build your content based on what they want rather than what you think they want! We need to cater for how our audience enjoys consuming content. For example, some of your audience will like to read the detail and others may prefer to learn through visuals. Catering for different content consumption preferences of your audience is important. When you share 'what to do‘, think also about 'how to do'. If your audience comes across a great idea, make sure to include practical examples so your reader can take action. If your audience is not taking action on your content, they are more likely to forget the content but also forget you! Ian Cleary Founder, RazorSocial @IanCleary Dream Travel Destination I'm very passionate about kick boxing, and there's a resort in Thailand where they will train you in Muay Thai kick boxing for a week. I love the people of Thailand, I love a challenge and I love the sport. Experiencing Thailand while also training in a Thai sport would be awesome.
  12. 12. BEFORE YOU CREATE CONTENT... Before you create content, write down for whom you are writing specifically (persona). Before you create content, write down the problem you are solving for them (purpose). Before you create content, write down what you want them to do immediately after finishing your piece (next action). Jay Baer President, Convince and Convert @jaybaer Dream Travel Destination My favorite place I’ve been so far is Tahiti. I really love New Zealand, too. I’d like to go to Fiji, and I absolutely want to do an African photo safari some day.
  13. 13. KNOW WHAT YOUR READERS WANT Know the objectives of your readers – what are they trying to learn, what are they trying to do in their job, what do they need to know in order to do their job better? Know what you (and they) want next – no piece of content should be a dead end. What’s the next step? It might not be a call-to-action, it could just be the next piece of content in the series, or something new to explore. Make it interactive – there are too many static blog posts out there. Get your audience engaged directly with the content itself! Matt Heinz President, Heinz Marketing Inc. @HeinzMarketing Dream Travel Destination Wrigley Field. I’m a die-hard Cubs fan living in Seattle. An afternoon game in the Wrigley bleachers is heaven!
  14. 14. MAKE THE AUDIENCE THE HERO My three things during content creation are: 1.  Make the audience the hero of the story you’re telling. 2.  Focus on what they care about - not your product. 3.  Based on what they take away from “this” content, point them to what comes next. Ardath Albee CEO, Marketing Interactions, Inc. @ardath421 Dream Travel Destination My dream travel destination is Rome, Italy – for the food and the architecture. I’ve already been there but I’d love to go back.
  15. 15. “A great experience starts with disrupting expectations.” - @CarlaJohnson
  16. 16. HAVE A CONTENT VISION When marketers have a bigger vision for what they can achieve with content, that's the first step to making sure that they deliver a great experience. They can do that with three things – 1.  Find inspiration everywhere. Be open to ideas and experiences around you, and look at how you can transplant them into your own work. 2.  Practice creativity. A great experience starts with disrupting expectations. But to do that, we have to practice doing things differently every single day. Repetition builds your creative muscle and that's how you stand out in ways your competition can never copy. 3.  Compete on a broader scale. What's the bigger story that you can tell? It's never about what you sell, it's about the difference you make in the lives of your audience. Carla Johnson President, Type A Communications @CarlaJohnson Dream Travel Destination Bali! I'm a lover of travel and that's one part of the world that I haven't been to yet. It has a rich history, beautiful beaches and is still undeveloped enough to be truly tranquil. And I hear they have fabulous surfing in the area.
  17. 17. MAKE CONTENT WORTH THEIR TIME One thing: be useful. Address the why, the “what’s in it for me?” for your reader. People consume content to gain further insight into the topic at hand, so you better make your content worth the reader’s time. Content can be found anywhere, but good content is read. And, while you’re at it, make it visually appealing with easy cues. People are distracted today with little time, so make it easy to consume no matter how long it is. Jillian Hillard Director of Brand Marketing, Small Appliances, Electrolux @JillianHillard Dream Travel Destination Take a year and travel to all the fabulous places I have ever wanted to visit to truly experience the culture, food, environment, and do so uninterrupted so my mind is able to fully absorb and digest everything I am taking in with each breath.
  18. 18. GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE Focus on your audience: You must, must, must get to know your audience - and not just through research. Try to find representatives from each segment to get a sense of what they really want from your expert content. What are their questions, fears, expectations and how can you alleviate them? What words do they use around this topic? Tip: Ask them what type of content is most helpful: written, video, audio or graphics. Get the expertise you need: Talk to your domain experts and understand their point-of-view and how you can bring it alive through content. Ask them about their vocabulary around their expertise. Prompt them to describe their knowledge in terms of talking to a child. Language boards and SEO research: Create a language board that reflects the words your customers use and how your domain experts refer to those things. Do tons of SEO research to get a sense how to weave all those terms (if appropriate) throughout your content. Ahava Leibtag President & Content Strategist, Aha Media Group @ahaval Dream Travel Destination I want to go to Jupiter and find out what that giant red spot is all about.
  19. 19. DITCH THE MARKETING JARGON Avoid jargon. People don't like to read about "solutions" and "turnkey systems" and so forth. It's like a screaming siren: I'M TRYING TO SELL YOU. Use pictures. I believe in visualization and the power of visual communication. Sometimes a chart is better than four paragraphs. Use narrative. Human brains want stories, and they remember stories better than anything else. Scott Berinato Senior Editor, Harvard Business Review @scottberinato Dream Travel Destination Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. I am a giant geek for Mozart (the real one, not the movie).
  20. 20. CARE TO SHARE YOUR IN-FLIGHT EXPERIENCE? Click any of the icons below to share the in-flight guide on your favorite social network.
  21. 21. WHAT’S NEXT? The joyride doesn’t have to end here. Sign up for our exclusive CMI Airlines Perks Rewards Program* today, and you’ll receive a ticket to our next In-flight Content Guide, “Making the Most of Your Content Journey.” This piece will feature even more amazing advice from industry experts on how to measure and amplify your content marketing efforts. Due to legal restrictions, we will not be serving peanuts, pretzels, or alcoholic beverages during the next flight experience. Just ToFu, BoFu, and a bit more ToFu content to round out the flight. *There is absolutely, positively no such thing as CMI Airlines Perks Rewards, but we WILL send you amazing content advice (and only when you want it) if you sign up for our newsletter!