Friday, July 24, 2009

Content with your Content? Maybe you shouldn’t be!

I don’t pretend to be The Final Arbitrar of things e-marketing. I’m still learning as I go. I do read a lot about the subject, however, and have found several “truths” on my travels that might enhance your web site or e-newsletter or e-pitch.

In a nutshell, the “authorities” (ie those who have book deals so someone somewhere must think their information valuable enough to share) agree on 4 points. Your materials must have good content, real value and usefulness to its readership, a
uthenticity and a genuine point of view, unique products, pricing, delivery or some other differentiator.

Sounds pretty simple and straight forward until you really get down to it. Then it becomes amazingly complicated.

Let’s start with SEO—Search Engine Optimization. You want as many eyeballs as you can attract on the theory that some of those eyeballs will become buyers. Right?

Step back a second. David Meerman Scott says in his book, World Wide Rave, that “performing SEO on crappy site content does not make any sense.”

Hmmm. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you throw a party and no one comes, it was a bust. If you have a website and drive traffic to it, but no one converts, signs up, joins or buys your stuff, then you have a bit of a problem. It just isn’t doing what you need it to do.

So what will make your website better? More SEO-driven words? Probably not. More than one expert suggests you go back to the drawing board and do what you do best. But do it with passion. Let that passion, intensity and purpose shine through your materials. Put quality into your product and passion into your presentation. It’ll shine through. As Steve Martin wrote, “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.”

As an obvious corollary, you’ve got to like what you do. It will show. Like dogs that can sniff out explosives, your audience will sense your enthusiasm or lack of it. If they like what they sense, they will want to be part of it; if they don’t, they won’t.

So what is “good content”? It’s something that you are truly, deeply interested in. It is special knowledge that you have that you want to share. It’s something that you are so interested in or enthusiastic about that you want to share it with others, and you do it with such enthusiasm that they want to know about it, too. It’s something that when you share it, it makes your audience smarter.

What makes it valuable or useful? Your site must impart information that your readers need/want to know. Maybe you’ve got an industry-specific site. Give your readers the best up-to-date info you can on industry trends…legislation that will affect them…tips, tricks and techniques that work.

Whether you’re concerned about Barbie Dolls, a medical issue, a resort on a Caribbean Island or the high school marching band, the rules are the same: if it doesn’t talk to the needs and interests of your readership, you’re a tree falling in the forest. No one is listening.

How can you tell if anyone is there? Talk to them. Blog ‘em. Ask questions. And really, really listen to their answers. You can even poll them with Survey Monkey and Poll Daddy. They will tell you if there is any “there there.” Or not.

So how do you sound authentic? Sincere? Real? The best response is to just be yourself. Some people find that talking into a tape recorder helps. Then they edit.

If you’re not comfortable expressing yourself in writing, find someone who can take your words, your enthusiasm, your point of view and turn it into presentable prose. Maybe someone on your staff can help; maybe your spouse will volunteer—for who knows you better than your spouse!

One last critical piece of advice I’ve gleaned on my travels: There is no get rich quick scheme. You’ve got to be in it for the long term. You’ve got to be constant and you’ve got to be consistent.

Sure, keep an eye on the Google analytics. Measure the audience and see if your audience is building. That’s a good thing. But don’t obsess on the details. If your trend lines are upward, you’re heading in the right direction.

And that’s as good as it gets.

Goodness knows Paul&Partners is trying to get better at this stuff, too. Please contact me and tell me how you think we’re doing. I’d like to know. Really! Call me at 703-996-0800. Ask for Sam.

43670 Trade Center Place, Suite 150, Dulles, VA 20166
Phone: 703.996.0800 Fax: 703.996.0888 1.866.365.2858 sales@paulandpartners


David Meerman Scott said...

Terrific post. Thanks for pointing to my stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your words of wisdom.... yes, I have a lot of passion, but, when I get lost in trying to use words for website optimization which will attract more people to my sight, now, that is difficult! I like the idea of sticking to enthusiasm, passion and your true personality when writing.