This is a guest post by Greg Elwell of B2B Inbound, a content marketing agency. Recently, Greg produced a podcast with Brody Dorland who co-founded DivvyHQ, the spreadsheet-free editorial calendar application. Here he shares some additional perspectives for using a tool like DivvyHQ.
Are you a smart marketer who sometimes feels stuck using dumb tools?
I'm a tool geek and a gadget-a-holic. I have an app on my iPhone that makes it easy for me to create lists of things I'm likely to forget about. One of the lists is for the gadgets, tools or apps I hear about and simply must try.
MarketingProfs produced a document I was a sucker for: "Build Your Content Factory: Must-Have Tools to Get Your Assembly Line Humming." DivvyHQ was the first tool discussed. When I read the part that said, "...This program can truly be the Excedrin of editorial organization needs," I stopped, and got it into my list making app. You see where this is going, don't you?
Fast forward a couple or so hours in Divvy and I was like a dork at a Consumer Electronics Show. (That's geek-speak for "died and gone to the big electronics show in the sky!") The visual aesthetics and user interfaces were awesome. Its core features simple, yet functional and connected in ways remarkably useful - especially for collaborative workflows and automatic notifications between team members. (Something even the best spreadsheet-based editorial calendar cannot do.)
I was hooked. In the second week of my free trial I contacted Brody and arranged to have him on my Expert Interviews Podcast to spread the gospel of DivvyHQ.
But it was on about the 42 minute mark of that podcast, when I asked him to share some getting started tips, that he spoke of another gospel: the gospel of a smart content marketing strategy.
"Before you can even think about using an editorial calendar solution like DivvyHQ, or any tool for that matter," preached Rev. Dorland, "you've got to think about the gospel of content strategy." Hmmm, I thought. Not what I was expecting to hear.
It was like, I just lobbed you a big fat juicy softball to smack out of the park! A veritable walk-off homerun! And you want to talk about strategy? Listening back to that segment, I know he was right. Why before how. That's how we must roll.
So (just) before you get all juiced up over the latest and greatest, cloud-based editorial calendar application, consider the gospel of a smart content marketing strategy.
Set Aspirational and SMART Marketing Goals
Begin with the end goal in mind. Your goal is to grow in some dimension that benefits your business. So think first about the big picture and why you want to produce content in the first place What's your aspiration? It could be to:
- Become a recognized thought leader in your niche
- Generate awareness for, open or enter a new market
- Reduce or eliminate advertising costs
- Build an audience (tribe) of loyal followers and leads
Be as bold and audacious as you can with your content marketing aspirational goal. Swing for the fences. Michael Stelzner had the aspiration of making Social Media Examiner the most-recognized, go-to source on the topic of social media in the world, second only to Mashable. His goals at launch in 2009, in support of this aspiration were to achieve 40,000 email subscribers, publish a book and become the top provider of virtual events in the marketing industry.
By June of 2012 SME had 159,000 email subscribers, Stelzner published Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond The Competition (I highly recommend this book!), and was operating a multi-million dollar business. How?
He did it by setting aspirational and SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound), and executed with the mindset of a publisher, not a marketer - he ditched marketing and sales pitches until he had a sizable audience built and engaged to support his business offerings. He did it with great content his audience found remarkably useful in navigating their social media jungle. As I write this post, SME now has 200,000+ email subscribers.
The Good News of smart content marketing is that you too can take a step back, set aspirational and SMART goals, then consider how you can help others.
Create Smart Marketing with Youtility
Once you know where you're headed, you must realize it's your audience that will get you there. So be sure to not only develop well-crafted buyer personas, but keep them fresh and alive all throughout the content creation and publishing process. What are their aspirations, goals, needs, desires, problems? What do they need that you can help with?
Jay Baer, a leading social media strategist is coming out with a new book this June entitled, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype. Read Stelzner's Launch now, then get Youtility! The definition of Youtility is "marketing so useful people would pay you for it."
Here's the thing. You are a publisher, but you are competing not just against other companies and publishers of content (your competitors), you are also competing against everything and everybody for attention - everywhere - all of the time. We are drowning in content and information. Plus, we have the convergence of business content and relationships with personal content and relationships. How do you win the content marketing game?
The best way, according to Baer, is to create smart marketing: Youtility - be truly and inherently useful. Think how you can create and share content in a variety of mediums and channels that provides relevant, useful and real-time information.
In his keynote address at the recent Marketo Summit in San Francisco, I heard Baer tell the story of how Geek Squad founder, Robert Stevens created hundreds of 'how-to fix your computer' type YouTube videos. Baer asked how this made any business sense if you're in the business of generating income by fixing other people's computer problems. Stevens replied that first of all their best customers think they can fix things on their own, (and some do) but for those who can't, guess who they call? Geek Squad. Youtility.
By having the mindset of smart marketing with Youtility, you will be able to create a broad array of topics and types of content by which to reach your audience in the channels most applicable to them.
The Good News of smart content marketing is there is a ton of opportunity for you to create really useful Youtility with your content that will win over the attention of those you want to serve.
And, most likely, if you're doing this right, your content will come in the forms, frequencies and places most useful to your personas. Example:
- 3 blog posts per week
- 2 guest blog posts per month
- 1 eBook per quarter
- 1 eNewsletter per week
- 1 video per month
- 1 webinar per quarter
- 2 podcasts per month
- 2 PR/news releases per quarter
- Daily Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ status updates
- 1 mobile app
And that's just for starters. I haven't even mentioned paid media, promoting what you've published or engaging with your audience. And yes, even if you're a small or one-person business, this is how you need to think, plan and execute in today's connected economy.
But before you get too dizzy and sick to your stomach on how to execute this smart content marketing stuff, there's more Good News. There's a tool to help you plan and conquer all this. It's called DivvyHQ.
Plan and Conquer with DivvyHQ
I can see Brody nodding his approval, "Preach it, brother!" Finally, I get to talk about the tool! Thanks for making it this far.
DivvyHQ can be your content planning, scheduling, organizing, collaborating, producing, promoting...ally. Keep in mind it's just a tool. But oh, what a tool it can be in the hands of a smart content marketing team, large or small!
Burn the boats (and the spreadsheets along with them)! Once you've started using DivvyHQ you'll never turn back. It will still be hard work to produce and publish great content. But with this tool (and perhaps a little help from your marketing agency) you won't be focused on the cumbersome and broken process of tools like Excel and over run inboxes.
You won't be wondering, "What's the status of that eNewsletter scheduled for Thursday?" you'll know. And you won't have to sift through emails because activity notes and workflow stages are built right into the application. You'll be focused on smart content marketing, not dumb documents and services never meant to be used for content projects.
I'm just scratching the surface here. The Good News is you can try this out yourself for free. It costs nothing to trial DivvyHQ for the first 30 days, you don't even enter credit card information. Just some basic information will get you started. Sign up for your free trial. Or, ask if your marketing agency has an account with DivvyHQ. If not, tell them to read this post.
And, if you want to hear how DivvyHQ got started and more about its features, listen to my Expert Interviews Podcast: Brody Dorland on DivvyHQ the Spreadsheet-Free Editorial Calendar. I also produced a blog post with 3 video tutorials: How to Setup an Editorial Calendar with Workflows in DivvyHQ you might find to be of Youtility ;-)
Let's recap the gospel of smart content marketing: (1) Set your sights on something really big and important, (2) Figure out how to help others get what they want with your content, and (3) Find the resources that will enable, not hinder you to plan, Divvy and conquer. Because after all...The gospel of smart content marketing doesn't let marketers use dumb tools! [Click to Tweet]
Can I get an Amen?