Flexing Your Content

Content marketers are tasked with delivering clear, concise, and relevant content to the right prospect at the right time--content designed to convert prospects into customers. And, for the most part, marketers have absolutely no idea how to do this.
By - Posted Oct 21, 2014
As a content strategy consultant, I'm often called upon by brands seeking to find ways to solve complex content challenges. Far too often, they start off their quest for a solution by asking the wrong first question: "What software do we need?"This is the wrong first question for a variety of reasons. The most important reason is that software products are tools, not content solutions, no matter what software company marketing mavens would like you to believe. Tools help content professionals solve content challenges and meet business goals. Tools, by themselves, do not solve content problems.
By - Posted May 29, 2014
As a thought leader in the content industry, I'm provided with many opportunities to wax poetic on the virtues of starting a content project with a strategy. From conferences, to webinars, to columns in magazines such as this one, I've spent the past decade evangelizing the methods, standards, and tools required to help organizations efficiently and effectively deliver the right content to the right audience, anywhere, anytime, on any device.
By - May 2014 Issue, Posted May 13, 2014
The battle for marriage equality-the ability for people of the same gender to legally wed-is being fought in courtrooms around the U.S. and beyond. Fourteen states, the District of Columbia, and five Native American tribes in the U.S. allow people of the same sex to marry. The nations of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, and Uruguay do as well. England and Wales recently joined that list. And marriage equality bills are pending in another dozen countries. Aside from a few places on this planet where civil rights are in limited supply, the momentum seems to favor a move toward marriage equality globally.
By - December 2013 Issue, Posted Dec 18, 2013
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) report "A World of Opportunity," 96% of the world's consumers do not live in the United States. This important fact is not lost upon American business executives, especially those looking for new ways to increase corporate revenues. That's why many U.S. firms have set their sights on emerging international markets. They're developing partnerships and setting up shop in nations around the globe.
By - July/August 2013 Issue, Posted Aug 15, 2013
I admit it. I'm overwhelmed with information. I'm disorganized, inefficient, and easily distracted. The worst part is, I'm painfully aware that it's pretty much all my own fault. If you're like me (and chances are good that you are), you spend each and every day trying the best you can to meet the demands of your job. You do so by leveraging an increasingly long list of content development techniques, software tools, and electronic gadgets all designed to make your lives easier. But no matter how hard you try, you never seem to catch up.
By - April 2013 Issue, Posted Apr 23, 2013
India is fast becoming a global content factory. Its affordable, educated, English-speaking population makes the country a magnet for cost-conscious corporations looking to save money on content creation. Indian content factories can oftentimes crank out content faster -- and much less expensively -- than domestic writing departments can. But faster and cheaper content can come with a hidden cost: quality.
By - Posted Mar 13, 2013
Early adopters. In the digital age, they're people like you and me-folks who are among the first to see the possibilities of the "next best thing." We sign up for the latest services, test cutting-edge approaches, and try newfangled electronic devices. If we like what we see, we often become unofficial evangelists, helping to spread the gospel of the "next best thing."
By - December 2012 Issue, Posted Dec 18, 2012
Old school marketing drives me nuts. Whenever I encounter it, I delete it, tune it out, turn it down, or fast-forward past it. And, I'm not alone.According to the folks over at GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, 80% of business decision makers prefer to read informative articles about subjects of interest to them. What they don't like are advertisements and thinly veiled marketing disguised as something interesting.
By - November 2012 Issue, Posted Nov 27, 2012
All this talk about responsive web design among so-called content strategists makes me want to puke. Multi-device layout patterns? Fluid proportion-based grids and flexible images? Progressive enhancement? Unobtrusive JavaScript? Want to barf yet? Who could blame ya?Promulgated by well-intentioned members of the digerati -- folks like information architects and user experience designers -- responsive web design promises to help organizations provide a single source of content that is easy-to-read and navigate, especially when it's being viewed on a mobile device.
By - Posted Aug 02, 2012
Outstanding experiences are few and far between, especially on the web, in ebooks, and on smartphone apps. I know it. You know it. And, so do your customers. When I make this proclamation to clients and peers alike, I often get significant pushback. "Hey, we do a good job on the web," they say. "We've had 23,000 people download our app. That's a win!" And, "Our clients don't complain about our ebooks, so we must be doing it right."
By - July/August 2012 Issue, Posted Aug 14, 2012
The web: It's everywhere. It's a modern miracle. An amazing technological advancement that, when combined with mobile devices and wireless broadband, provides humanity with the promise of a more equitable dispersement of information and wealth...err, hypothetically. Despite the ubiquity of technology and the widespread availability of the mobile web, there are many places in the world where information critical to survival isn't available in a way that's relevant to those who need it. But it doesn't have to be that way. All that's needed is an understanding of the actual problems in need of solving.
By - Posted Jul 05, 2012
It's time to put a stop to the content marketing amateur hour on Facebook. Seriously. It's really embarrassing. Begging people to "like" your Facebook page is not only pathetic, it's a waste of time and money.It's also unprofessional. Who cares if 1,563 people clicked the "like" button on your Facebook page? Seriously. What does that mean, exactly? Come on, I challenge you to translate "likes" into something meaningful -- sales, leads, something tangible.You can't. Can you?
By - Posted Jun 07, 2012
Content is often thought of as a business expense; a necessary evil, produced because we must, most often without any clear understanding of the value it provides. This makes absolutely no business sense, of course. If we pay to produce something, we should derive value in excess of its production cost. In other words, you company should receive a positive return on investment from its content.It's actually quite difficult to measure the cost of producing many types of content for a variety of reasons too challenging to explain here. Suffice it to say that if you can't measure the cost, you can't calculate actual value.
By - Posted Apr 05, 2012
The familiar refrain "content is king" is no longer true. It's not. Really. Today, in order to be worthy of a royal title, content must be coupled with an exceptional experience that provides outstanding value. Amazing content experiences provide content as a service and take full advantage of our increasingly mobile, web-connected, device-centric world.
By - April 2012 Issue, Posted Apr 24, 2012
Yes, the typical website registration and login process sucks, to be blunt. It's a user experience nightmare and pretty much everyone agrees. The problem starts when well-intentioned marketers employ site registration systems that prevent consumers from getting to the content they desire unless they are willing to give up an increasing amount of information. Usually it's a laundry list of all sorts of personal, financial, and demographic information.
By - Posted Mar 01, 2012
I'm a digitally-savvy consumer. Increasingly, so are my parents, most of my friends, and almost all of my younger relatives, peers, and co-workers. Yet, despite our differences in age, education, and technology know-how, we all share a common trait. We're continuously victimized by less-than-optimal digital experiences -- especially when it comes to ebooks.
By - Posted Jan 05, 2012
Book publishers are an endangered species. That's right. The producers of textbooks, romance novels, and cookbooks aren't long for this world. Their likely extinction is both predictable and preventable. Even if they put up a good fight, it's unlikely they'll survive in their current form for one reason: They are slow to evolve.Case in point: Two years ago, while book publishers were busy conducting business as usual, an outsider invaded the industry and reshaped it in the publishers' image. The invading force was Apple, a fierce predator with a history of conducting well-orchestrated, highly publicized takeovers. And take over it did.
By - Posted Dec 22, 2011
I've got a challenge for you. Take a look at the way you create, manage and deliver content. No, really. Take a close look. Conduct a systematic, fair, scientific survey of your content production lifecycle. Get professional help if you need to. Look at each and every step in your process and ask yourself, "Is this the best we can do, or is it just the way we've been doing it for so long that we believe it is the correct -- and only -- way to work?"
By - Posted Dec 08, 2011
I'm really tired of being inundated with contextually irrelevant information. I don't want to know what I don't need to know. I don't. Really. And, neither does anyone else.The sheer volume of information available to me in the digital age is overwhelming. Everywhere I look, there it is. Even when I'm not looking, it's there, waiting to be found. Unfortunately, most of what is presented to me is of little use -- or is difficult, if not impossible to find -- especially on the web.
By - Posted Nov 10, 2011
Let's face it. Most product support sucks. And, if yours doesn't, you're among the few organizations doing it right.What's the problem? Support has always been thought of as a necessary evil, something we must provide because it's expected, not because we value our customers and place a high value on providing exceedingly amazing experiences.
By - November 2011 Issue, Posted Nov 22, 2011
Social networks are changing the way consumers obtain information about products and services. Nearly everyone -- except for Prince, who declared the internet dead -- is getting in on the action.Consumer research indicates that members of social networks are more likely to purchase products and services referred to them by their friends, fans, and followers. In fact, 90% of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users. 71% claim reviews from family members or friends exert a "great deal" or "fair amount" of influence on what they purchase, while the same number of consumers don't believe the claims made in traditional advertising messages at all.
By - Posted Oct 06, 2011
According to a recent survey of 600 publishers across the trade, professional, and educational markets, the biggest struggle publishers face is maximizing ebook profits as the industry struggles to go digital. Part of the profit problem will be solved as publishers reduce production expenses by moving to scalable digital workflows, rather than retrofitting existing, outdated and inefficient publishing processes. While saving money by increasing productivity and reducing expenses is an important part of gaining a positive return on investment from ebooks and apps, maximizing profits also requires publishers to find innovative ways of earning revenue and turning those dollars into profit.One such strategy is to sell advertisements in ebooks and apps.Ads in books? Heresy you say! Err, not so fast.
By - Posted Sep 01, 2011
As the old saying goes, "The world is your oyster." Today, that's certainly the case. Emerging markets in China, India, and Brazil are creating a gold mine of opportunity for organizations savvy enough to tap into the fast-growing international marketplace. Unfortunately, most organizations are woefully unprepared for such an endeavor.
By - July/August 2011 Issue, Posted Jul 18, 2011
If you're an investor, you should know about publishing's dirty little secret. Most book publishers are wasting your money. That's right: They're burning through your cash at an alarming rate in a desperate attempt to keep up with changing user expectations. Publishers are throwing your money at problems that can only really be fixed by changing the way the publishing process works.
By - April 2011 Issue, Posted Apr 11, 2011
I am a big fan of collaboration. Teamwork, actually. It's a common sense approach to solving many business efficiency challenges. And yet, despite the obvious benefits, it's not standard procedure. Most organizations simply have no idea what is possible when they improve the way their workers work. Take content production, for instance. The traditional process used to create, manage, and deliver all the stuff that powers business is a poorly orchestrated mess, riddled with inefficiencies, many of which can be drastically reduced—or totally eliminated—when workers work toward a common goal and collaborate together as a team using the right tools for the job.
By - December 2010 Issue, Posted Nov 22, 2010
I'm going to let you in on a secret: You're sitting on a gold mine of content that is just lying around hogging up server space. Some of it may even be hidden in physical archives, concealed in printed documents, or stored on microfiche.
By - November 2010 Issue, Posted Nov 08, 2010
As a content management strategist, I've helped clean up some pretty big content messes. And almost all of these expensive content woes could have been avoided if the organizations involved had realized one important fact: Content is a business asset worthy of being managed efficiently and effectively.
By - September 2010 Issue, Posted Sep 01, 2010