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Father, Forgive Me: I Failed to Provide Value

Father, forgive me. It has been 24 years since my last confession*. These are my sins: 

  • I created content solely for the purpose of creating content;
  • I distributed useless content; and
  • I failed to offer value to my readers.

Childhood Excuses: Sharing my professional blunder throws me back to my youth, when I knelt in the confessional, trying to remain anonymous before Father Ciaola, though I was fairly certain he could see through the dark linen cloth.

To ensure a light penance, I relied on the same three sins every kid my age did: I lied, I fought with my brothers and sisters, and I disobeyed my parents. (If you weren’t raised Catholic, just ask someone who was.) Anyway, like I said, I knew I would get off with a light penance if I admitted to these three rote, somewhat-acceptable sins.

A Teenage Error in Judgment: One time – one time, mind you – I told Father Ciaola the truth. What I had done was a bad thing for a 14-year-old girl (I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t THAT bad). Anyway, I confessed it, thinking my honesty would create a sense of mercy in Father Ciaola. It didn’t.

He told me what I already knew, “You shouldn’t do that!” Then he gave me a harsh penance and sent me on my way.

The Shameful Blunder a Professional Content Writer: I didn’t have to confer with Father Ciaola, or anyone for that matter, to know that I had gone astray. All I had to do was look at what I’d written and say, “I shouldn’t have done that!”

I’m a content professional, and I believe I’m good at what I do. When it comes to sharing a business message, I guide my clients in the following practices (which are also detailed in The Archery of Good Communications: 4 steps to convey value).

  • Figure out who needs what you offer.
  • Respect your own expertise; believe that you have knowledge worth sharing.
  • Share valuable ideas and useful, concrete tips.
  • Don’t write to sell.
  • Write well.
  • Give your audience something worth remembering or something worth doing.
  • Find out how your audience wants to receive information, and follow their lead.

Takeaways: The takeaway here is that professional blunders come with a cost, and that cost can be a lot more than a light (or even harsh) penance from Father Ciaola.

We should always think about what we have to lose before we push ideas or content or products or services that provide no value to our audience. We could lose:

  • Relevance
  • Credibility
  • The patience of a faithful audience
  • Our place as a trusted expert

Even worse, the failure to provide value to our audience can and will eventually result in a loss of business. So, whether we are delivering knowledge, services, or products, the onus is on us:

  • We must always put the needs of our audience first.
  • We must always respect the time of our audience.
  • We must, to the best of our ability, always deliver value and quality.

Sometimes the hardest lessons come in the form of failure, and that’s something even Father Ciaola could not have instilled in me.

*This content should not be construed as a religious or doctrinal statement; rather, it is a sarcastic bit of self-deprecating fun.

Double your audience with relevant content

Would you like to double your audience? You can do it with content that is buoyant and fluid – content that keeps on giving.

To get the most of this conversation, we need to begin with one premise in place: Content is an asset. For a little background on this, read Content Marketing: Fairly Tales or Business Sales.

BUOYANT CONTENT is relevant and worth sharing. 

Every minute of every day, gobs of content are tossed into a virtual Mariana Trench. Some content sinks immediately, never to be read or retrieved. A smaller percentage of content is read and absorbed. This content is buoyant; it remains relevant and worth sharing.

Shark Tank-investor Mark Cuban said in an interview with Business Insider that every entrepreneur should read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. What’s interesting about this piece of advice is that Rand penned The Fountainhead in 1943. The book started off with slow sales, but eventually it reached 6.5 million print copies sold. Instead of sinking into oblivion, the content remains buoyant; it is relevant and worth sharing, even today.

Buoyant content remains relevant, visible, and worth sharing.

Your content is unlikely to reach an audience 6.5 million, and that’s to be expected, and probably even preferred. Few businesses are prepared or capable of serving a million-person audience.

It’s more likely that you are trying to reach a community, a list of top-ten clients, a selection of mid-sized companies, or some other targeted market. The only thing that matters is that YOUR content is relevant to YOUR target market.

Buoyant content has greater lead potential.  

A client who received 117 initial LinkedIn views within one week of sharing content had 451 LinkedIn views six weeks later. The numbers aren’t high, but the lesson is valid. This client experienced a 400% increase in audience touch with a single, brief blog.

FLUID CONTENT remains visible and worthwhile.

The Fountainhead was initially available in print only (no surprise in 1943). Its audience continued to grow, however, for two reasons:

The Fountainhead has intrinsic value that makes people want to share it. There’s no way that a book authored in 1943 would continue to grow a modern audience if it weren’t relevant. Something had to be significant enough about the work to make a splash on the Internet, some 75 years after it was written. It’s buoyancy results from its relevance and its appeal to its target market.

The content’s visibility results from the fact that Rand’s story became fluid; it was shared across many channels: magazine interviews, professional testimonials, and Internet searches.

 

Fluid content is visible in many places, so it can be retrieved and recirculated by many people, long after it was first penned. This is residual value.

Content can’t pick up the same traction in one channel as it can in several. This is a lesson for every business dabbling in content creation. Don’t get stuck in one mode of communication; explore opportunities to share your message in print and in multiple digital channels.

When your content begins to slip into oblivion, it takes only one, two, or more people to revive it, to recirculate it, and to bring its knowledge back into view for a completely new audience.

You might not be Ayn Rand, and your content will likely never reach an audience of 6.5 million. What you might achieve is a 5%, 15%, or 25% increase in audience touch and lead potential, and that’s a worthy investment.

 

Influence Your Vertical Markets with Industry Content

A strong content marketing strategy helps you become visible within a particular industry. In turn, that visibility helps establish you as an industry expert. The result? Enhanced visibility and credibility pour directly into increased lead generation.

As with most things in life, you have to spend money in order to make money. Before you decide how to spend your marketing and business development dollars, it’s important to consider how you want to influence your verticals.

I’ve never had a business owner say to me, “I want to spend money to market to my competitors.”

Don’t dilute the value of your marketing dollars.
Many companies, unfortunately, waste money by marketing to their own industry. Let’s use this example: you are an IT consultant and you get an article published on a site frequented by other IT consultants. It’s rewarding to get published, but in truth, your voice is absorbed into a black hole, along with the voices of other IT consultants who already know what you have to say.

In this case, you are spending money on good content, and your content is being seen, but you’re not reaching the right vertical market. The result is a lack of influence. This example, by the way, is applicable to every industry.

Invest in a 4-part content marketing solution.
The best approach to content marketing is to write for one end-user niche, or one vertical market, at a time. This vertical approach to content marketing results in a consistent message that makes it easier for your audience to envision how your service is their solution. From my experience, when you focus on vertical marketing content, you will be sharing knowledge with an audience that few others have tapped.

Following are four important components of a successful content marketing strategy:

Identify your vertical markets. A good first step is to target one vertical. This allows you to refine your message and create enough visibility to make an impact. Once you have established a foothold in one industry, you can more easily adjust your existing content for alternate vertical markets.

Repurpose your content. Achieving content visibility through print or online channels is a definite win and a great first step. What you do from there, however, matters just as much. The key is to use that content again and again, through social media, on various blog channels, on your website, as a part of an email marketing campaign, or as a webinar resource. Make sure that your content strategy specifically addresses how the value of your content can be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d!

Engage a content marketing expert who does more than write well. Partner with a professional who can provide a comprehensive content strategy. in addition to producing top-notch content.

Trust the process. When a new restaurant doesn’t deliver what you expect on the first visit, you can quickly write it off as a bad spend. The same cannot be said of content marketing. Give your strategy time to work and your audience the opportunity to absorb why you are the answer to their problem.

Ready to learn more about influencing your vertical markets?  Take a look at my content portfolio, and then give me a call at 412-352-4830 or email me at Kathy@KathySerenko.com. I would love to talk with you!

#contentmarketing #verticalmarkets #contentwriting #content #strategy #marketingstrategy #contentstrategy

 

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