Scott Robertson Offers Five Tips on Content Marketing

Scott Robertson had a great post up last month on how to make content marketing work: be relevant, be different, be real, be useful, and be consistent. Here are some excerpts along with additional thoughts and commentary.

How to make your content marketing interesting

“I believe that content marketing works. It is much better to attract an audience to your message than to interrupt their lives with it.  But I also believe that said “content” must be interesting in order to work and rise above the noise in a pretty distracted world.
Scott Robertson in “How Any Brand Can Be Interesting

Robertson lists five key attributes of interesting content:

  1. Topical / Relevant
  2. Different
  3. Real
  4. Useful
  5. Consistent

Five tips for content marketing that works

1. Be Topical/Relevant: we are a society that follows the news and we always have.  Keep up and see how your brand’s message/story can possibly tie in.  But don’t force it either.
Scott Robertson in “How Any Brand Can Be Interesting

For B2B niche markets this can mean two very different things. The first is to identify the implications of events, developments, or announcements from within the niche that you believe will prove significant or have a major impact. The second is to identify developments or trends occurring outside of the niche that are likely to have a significant impact in ways that are not widely appreciated.

“2. Be Different: if everyone in your industry does things a certain way, says things a certain way, then go a different way. It takes guts to be different and that’s something they don’t tell you in marketing text books because when you really do it, you’re standing out there by yourself and that can be strange and uncomfortable to a society of people taught from a very young age to blend in.”
Scott Robertson in “How Any Brand Can Be Interesting

Like cayenne pepper a small amount of differentiation can go a long way. In an established market most of the rules and conventions have survived because they work and prevent problems. Often you only need to break one or two, at most three, to stand out in a way that is sustainable. I find startup entrepreneurs are much less troubled by violating conventions  so I don’t find they need as much encouragement as Scott is offering to content marketing folks in larger firms.

“3. Be Real: I say this a lot and that’s because the marketing profession as a whole isn’t real. Still hiding behind talking points and spin, most brands lack the courage to say what they really think.  I like real brands and I find them interesting.  Try it.”
Scott Robertson in “How Any Brand Can Be Interesting

Again many entrepreneurs are at best lightly varnished in their writing or talks. The trick is not so much to focus on the operating reality of your business as the reality of the customer’s situation. Too often entrepreneurs write about real problems inside their startups without connecting the dots to customer needs or problems.

Write about the reality of your customer’s pain. When Mary Sorber started NightingaleRX she didn’t talk about polypharmacy or patient compliance with prescription dosing schedules–the typical description of the problem by the medical profession–she worried that “Grandma had a very big bag of pills to take” and it was not clear she was taking all of them at the right time in the right amounts.

“4. Be Useful: You know like Thomas the Tank Engine who always tried to be a “very useful engine” Too many marketers and brands want to be “a very loud interruption.” Help people and I mean honestly set out to help people.  For example, my company wants to “save communications from bad/average marketing” and my posts are meant in some small way to help do that. Offer advice and solutions — it will change your brand’s tone for the better.”
Scott Robertson in “How Any Brand Can Be Interesting

I love this phrase a “very loud interruption.” Too many social media pundits and growth hackers advocate the equivalent of bringing a bullhorn to a cocktail party and saying “May I have your attention please? I would like to take a minute to describe my product so that you can determine if you should talk to me.”

I think the way the entrepreneurs maintain their focus on helping people is to sustain their desire to solve a particular problem or address a need their customer’s have as much as they spend time thinking about how to improve their product. One test is that you are willing to recommend other products or services as soon as you realize that they are a better fit for a prospect.

“5. Be Consistent — Don’t put out a post and leave the conversation for several months. Think of your content as building something like a big LEGO spaceship. Every post, every comment is a brick. Make sure you’re adding bricks on a consistent basis.”
Scott Robertson in “How Any Brand Can Be Interesting

I think if you are describing different aspects of problems or needs this is good advice. But intentions count here in way that should encourage experimentation. Not everything has to fit the messaging architecture you developed two years ago when you knew much less about the problem, customer needs, and the market.

The neat thing about a LEGO spaceship is that you can reconfigure and re-architect it and you should not be afraid to experiment with different blocks if you believe the ensemble will align with your mission. Perhaps you can build a few fighters to scout around your big spaceship: think about content marketing that helps you explore the needs of new types of customers and adjacent markets.

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