Importance of Writing For People, and Not Machines
Content marketing isn't about simply churning out content. Getting your message across can be daunting even if the quality is up to the mark. The aim should be to create content that resonates with the target audience and then optimize it to resonate with the algorithm.
In a conversation with Anirudh Singla, Founder and CEO of Pepper Content, Brett McGrath, VP of Marketing at The Juice, talks about how you can create content that resonates with people.
Here are some excerpts.
1. Please tell us about your journey in content marketing.
I am a B2B marketer. I've worked in probably every function imaginable in the marketing space and spent the back half of my career leading teams and focusing on brand and content. I lead marketing at The Juice, and we are a content curation and distribution platform for B2B marketing and sales professionals.
So content is near and dear to my heart because it is the space our product is in and is also what I'm doing daily. You can say our CEO is a pretty good sales guy. He got me on board since we were a content company, not a product company. The vehicle to start the work was how can I build and develop our content, how can I understand what's going on in the market and how can I begin to connect with other marketers in the space and have conversations like this in order to begin to build out our content program? I'm in it pretty deep, but I love it.
I think it is a trending function, and content marketing is really going to be the group or the function where the next crop of marketing leaders comes from.
2. What do you think are the key KRA of a content marketer?
Content marketing should also touch every function inside and outside of marketing. The most successful B2B brands today have created a content culture where they view their people as their most important distribution channels. And people go out on LinkedIn and Twitter and share content and information.
The individual creator or employee is becoming the advocate for the brand. So I think we are no longer in a space where it's acceptable to sit the content marketer in a corner and say that we need to publish a new blog post every day and just hit publish for machines and not for people. As content marketers, it's now a bigger opportunity than ever to use our skill set, take the content, and have it not only connect and build bridges across functions but also use it to build and develop trust in the market.
3. What do you think about the content quality versus quantity debate?
I have spent a lot of time writing about this, and I think this is probably the number one thing I would recommend anybody in a marketing role to consider and learn.
For so many decades, it's been about quantity, right? How can we drive as many names from a spreadsheet into our CRM, distribute it to sales, and beyond to the next campaign? I think no matter the scale and business you are in, there will probably be some focus on quantity. But I think while focusing on quality, less is more.
Connecting with fewer but the right type of people is the way we're moving in the market. This is something that we're practicing pretty religiously at The Juice. We ensure that we're taking time and creating quality content, not just batching and blasting it all over the internet. We are very thoughtful with our distribution strategy ensuring our content is getting in front of the right type of person who could be one of our future customers.
4. What do you think about working with on-demand teams, freelance teams or agencies, or other platforms?
If you're a small team and you're not in a position to hire right now, I think freelancing is a great approach. My feedback would be to not think about the freelance relationship as transactional but to think about that individual as an extension of your team. We work with freelancers regularly at The Juice based on the scale we are. And I think the more we've treated those individuals like they're part of the team, the better results we've seen.
To me, it's not just about trying to create on every channel possible but identifying the right channels and being consistent with the delivery.
5. If you were to advise emerging content marketers on what not to do, what do you think that would be?
I would say, first and foremost, write for people and not machines. Everybody is doing content marketing right now. Your opportunity to blow past everybody is not to operate content marketing as it was done a decade ago. That's just publishing a bunch of blog posts with keywords stuffed in them and hoping for the algorithms to pick it up. What's happening is that the investment in content is going unseen, and it's falling into internet purgatory where no one is ever viewing it. I would avoid that.
I think content marketing is an opportunity to help build your brand voice and show the people on the other end that you are a person or a brand that can understand the problem your target audience is facing and create solutions through content for that and just be authentic. That's where you cut through the noise and begin to stand out and win hearts and minds.
6. When you think about this concept of every company becoming a content company, how can a marketer build that? How does one start thinking like a content company?
The first thing you should do if you're trying to change the content culture is to try not to blow up everything at once. When it comes to content, I've always found the best way to begin is to work on experiments that you think can help change the trajectory of your business.
And don't just discard things that have been done in the past, but make sure that when you are creating content, you're working with sales and can tie that work back to a revenue number. The more you're able to do that and prove it, that's when you can, on the side, start to get in this content sandbox and run experiments, and through that experimentation, you'll figure out the things you need to double down and focus on.
While trying to do all these new things and experiments, keep focused on attaching content to revenue, working with individual salespeople, and ensuring that you don't lose trust with them. That's typically what has worked for me in the past.
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