12 LESSONS FROM
By Roslyn Atkinson
Head of Client Services, Mahlab Media
1. TELL STORIES
Marketing is no longer about ads. Storytelling is the most powerful tool we
have to develop a relationship with customers and prospective customers.
How has your brand changed the lives of people for the better?
Story telling is at the heart of all families and all cultures.”
Jonathan Mildenhall, VP of global advertising and creative
excellence at Coca-Cola
People buy brands because of stories, not because you
have the niftiest deal or discount."
Professor Don Schultz, Medill School of Journalism,
2. BE USEFUL
Help people with your content. Provide tips, advice, apps to solve problems,
answers to their questions. Even if the solution isn't your product or service.
If they're people you'd like to do business with, help them however you can
and you will establish trust.
To be useful means first really listening to your buyers to find out what problems
they have. You might think you know, but you won't really know until you talk to
How do you get attention? Just be useful... 'Youtility' is marketing so
useful, people would pay for it. Don't create content. Create Youtility.”
Jay Baer, best-selling content marketing author
3. BE ENTERTAINING
This is especially true if you're marketing to a consumer audience.
If you want great word of mouth recommendations and shareable
content, make your audience smile.
Coca-Cola is in the business of beverages and entertainment ...
We want to develop the world's most compelling content.”
Jonathan Mildenhall again
4. BE EDUCATIONAL
Be a teacher and provide your audience with content that makes them excited because
they’ve learned something new that will help them be better in business or in their lives.
What's quality content? The moment that someone reads it and goes
'ah, now I get it'. That's quality content.”
Marcus Sheridan, blogging star from The Sales Lion (formerly of River Pools)
5. BE PROVOCATIVE
Provide true thought leadership for your sector by challenging people's
assumptions. Inspire debate, provoke discussions, and use research to
support your arguments and make people think differently.
Challenge the status quo that's in your customer's minds.
Every customer thinks 'everything's fine, I don't need that new product'.
The most successful salespeople help to challenge the customer's
thinking - that there's a problem or need that they didn't know about.
Identify trends. Look into the future and show where they are now and
where it's going to go, and here are the things you need to change.”
George Stenitzer, head of marketing and communications for Tellabs
6. BE VISUAL
Humans process images 60,000 times faster than text. Visual content is a powerful
way to tell stories. Images in social media, infographics, video, Slideshare and
Pinterest are all great examples of ways that visual content has exploded around the
For example, Marketo released a whitepaper that received 19,000 downloads.
Pretty impressive - until they made it more visual and uploaded it to Slideshare,
and received 328,000 views.
7. BE STRATEGIC
Content marketing used to be about generating awareness and raising your
brand's profile. It's still about that ... and more. Unless you set strategic objectives
that lead to sales, you'll have a hard time convincing your managers (or your
clients) to keep spending money on the content you produce.
You can get stuck in awareness, but the primary purpose should be
generating leads. Content marketing fuels the (sales) funnel.”
Heather Meza, head of digital media solutions at Cisco
Content marketing has six main goals: build your brand profile,
attract new prospects, increase lead generation, build thought leadership,
drive sales and increase customer loyalty.”
Jon Wuebben, CEO of Content Launch
8. BE SCIENTIFIC
Test your calls to action. Measure against your KPIs and success metrics.
Analyse the behaviour of your audience to gain insights. Utilise technology to help you.
People can't tell you what they think of your brand. You have to look at
their behaviours. Behavioural data tells you what's really happening,
not traditional surveys.”
9. DISTRIBUTE THOUGHTFULLY
Think carefully about how you distribute your content to make sure that it actually
gets read. How can you make it relevant on different devices, for different reader
Note that studies suggest that blogs have the biggest purchaser influence of all
types of media - because they're from individuals, and because it feels like word
of mouth, according to Prof Schultz.
It's not about having the biggest budgets (although that helps!).
Make the best use of the budget you have.
Every time you produce a piece of content, create iterations of it:
an article, a video, a webinar, a whitepaper all on the same topic
or from the same interview.
11. TAKE RISKS
Be willing to fail sometimes. Not every story or piece of content will work,
but sometimes the most engaging content comes from being brave.
If you don't have room to fail, you don't have room to grow.”
Keep trying to get the thing right and eventually you will.”
William Shatner, actor, author and film maker
12. REMEMBER IT’S ABOUT
Speak to your
audience in their
what's in their
VP North American
sales for LinkedIn
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