Last week I had the good fortune of attending Content Marketing World in Cleveland, OH. Not only was I surprised and delighted by the city itself, but I was blown away by the excitement, enthusiasm and knowledge of the presenters and attendees.

In case you’re not quite sure what content marketing is, here’s a definition from the conference: “Content marketing is the process of developing information that your audience loves, in order to help you build raving fans, grow your list or sell a product,” said Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner.

Here’s another one for you, compliments of Ann Handley of MarketingProfs: “Content Marketing is anything an individual or organization creates and shares to tell their story.”

Fear not if you’re unsure how to get started with content marketing for your business. If you have a product and website, you have content. But let’s break it down even more.

Here are 5 lessons I learned at Content Marketing World that you can use today:

  1. Fascinate: Keynote speaker, Sally Hogshead, said you don’t have to have the best product or biggest budget to succeed. What you need to do is fascinate your audience. It’s the content around your commodity that makes it the most valuable – such as an interesting story about you, your product, or your consumer. So the question, then, is how to fascinate? By being the most captivating! Test your messages and content to see what gets the best results and is the most compelling.
  2. Find and Share Your Story: During the conference it was brought to my attention that many businesses don’t feel like they have a story. Or they do, but they think it’s kinda boring. In a nutshell (as Ann Handley put it), your story is who you are as a person, brand, or company. Your story starts there at the root of it all. Be honest and authentic and you’ll attract the right audience. All good content marketing is, is a good story.
  3. Do a Content Inventory: Another dilemma many businesses come across is how to find content. It’s helpful to do a content inventory in order to see what you already have. From there you figure out how/when/where to distribute, as well as what new content to come up with. I bet you’ll be surprised with how much content you already have in your arsenal!
  4. Serve Your Customer: This is another theme that ran throughout the show, and it’s important because by serving your customer, you earn their trust. The next thing I write might sound counter-intuitive…you should also give away some content for free. A gift with no string attached is the best kind. It tells your customers you’re interested in their well being, that you care about them, and not just your bottom line. But the good news for you is that by being helpful and solving a problem, you’re creating a customer for life. Next time they have a problem they’ll come back to you. And because you have their trust they’ll be more likely to spend money, too.
  5. Develop a Real-Time Mindset: David Meerman Scott, another keynote speaker, spoke about real-time content marketing. This is the idea of responding to life as it happens – taking action immediately – rather than waiting until after the fact. If you write a blog post or send an email about something that happened last week, it’s already old news. David encouraged the audience to develop a real-time mindset and take charge of “now.” Someone needs to be a Chief Real-Time Officer, and that can be you. So, what’s relevant to your business and happening right now that you can share?

Riddle me this: What’s your story?

© 2011 – 2013, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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