Funny how all the social media pundits were screaming, “Content is King!” from rooftops as far back as there were social media pundits. If you heard that line once in advice, conference talks or webinars from 2005-2008, you heard it 10,000 times. Unfortunately, most of those very content-as-king promoters never put the words “content” and “strategy” together in the same sentence and businesses suffered as a result.

“Ya know … just, like, ummmm … write cool stuff, ya know?”

Fast forward to 2010 and you’d better come to bat with more than just “Content is King” or clients will laugh you out of the building. Many brands and businesses don’t know anything about content, wouldn’t know good content if it bit them in the ass, have no idea how to generate or where to buy good content and no clue how much it’s really worth. As a digital marketing (or, I would argue marketing marketing) consultant or practitioner, understanding content strategy needs to be among your chief professional assets.

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That’s why the Social Media Club Louisville and International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in Louisville are again partnering to make anyone interested smarter about content strategy. We’ll present the IABC/SMC Louisville Content Marketing Summit next Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the Crown Plaza in Louisville. The lineup is, in my humble opinion, an all-star team of content marketing experts. Those attending will walk away with not just great ideas about content, but an actual blueprint for their own content strategy.

You can read more about the event at the IABC Kentucky website, where you can also register. Members of either organization get access to the one-day event for just $149. Non-members, just $199. And if you want to join IABC Kentucky, you can do so for just $100 extra.

While the highlights of the day will most certainly be Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 and the Content Marketing Institute talking about content marketing strategy and Michael Schechter of Honora Pearls giving brand-side perspective, or content talks from the perspective of search marketing (Chris Baggott from Compendium Blogware), email marketing (Greg Cangialosi of Blue Sky Factory), media relations (Amy Mengel from readMedia), social media channels (Mike Lewis from Awareness) or even building the foundation of content marketing success with strong social media policies (Susan Gosselin from Vest Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations), I’ll be adding a unique spin to the day. My part of the festivities will be to walk attendees through a content blueprint exercise, specific to their business, that will give them a direction to head in as soon as they get back to the office on Wednesday.

To provide that blueprint, I’ll have attendees answer a litany of questions. The ones that I start with may be helpful to you in thinking about a content strategy for your organization. Those questions are below. I’d be happy to hear your suggestions for additional ones in the comments.

Six Questions To Jump-Start Your Content Marketing Plan

  1. What do we know?
    Generally speaking, what knowledge do you have that others don’t? There’s value in that. Perhaps it’s expertise within your industry or a different take on an existing product or service that your company evangelizes. You have knowledge as a company and individuals within your walls have even more specific knowledge that is most definitely worth sharing.
  2. What can we give?
    Yeah, we can all give away product, but think about the expertise you can give away. Teach your audience how to do things. Share the how-tos and the what-thens and become a trusted resource for doing so.
  3. What can we explain?
    You know what would make me read content from an accountant? Content that explained that world to me in bite-sized chunks I could understand. I hate math, but am fascinated to know why taxes apply to some companies and not others, why outstanding invoices count as revenue and why my accountant wasn’t smoking crack when she told me having a few more items charged on my credit card may help me come year’s end.
  4. What can we share?
    What other companies, media outlets or blogs can we share with our audience to make the audience smarter? Do any of them offer their content under Creative Commons in a fashion that allows us to republish it?
  5. Who can we interview?
    Whether it’s clients, vendors, partners, friends or even people who come to your booth at a trade show, a Flip cam and some interesting questions go a long way.
  6. What can we have fun with?
    Whether it’s the company softball team or the quirky old guy in the building with the funny sayings, there’s something about your business that gives you a chuckle or needed relief from the seriousness of work. Identifying it and sharing it with your audience makes you much more fun.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for what we’ll do and discuss next Tuesday. If you’re within a decent drive from Louisville, we’d love to have you at the Content Marketing Summit. Register and join us!

In the meantime, what questions would you add? The comments, as always, are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://twitter.com/smartreno Bret Simmons

    With all due respect, the idea that someone did not put “content” and “strategy” together caused business to suffer is hyperbole. Ok, it's nonsense. There is always a problem when a business allows itself to be spoon fed by a consultant. The idea of the value of becoming a content factory is indeed novel for many businesses, but anyone that spent time themselves creating content, reading the content of others, and learning about content would quickly reach the conclusion they needed strategy and tactics (some of the things on your list are tactical, not strategic). The REAL failure is a consultant that leads a business to believe that they can have something for nothing, that they can keep content and engagement at arms length and totally outsource it. That's a recipe for mediocrity.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Bret. I'm speaking from years of experience working with lots of

      clients in the space. Certainly there are perfectly fine content efforts out

      there, and I completely agree with you that content coming directly from

      brand-side producers is far better, more qualified and genuine than the

      outsourced type, but the sad fact of the matter is that most businesses are

      jumping into “social media” without an honest understanding of what that

      means. In most instances, it means providing content like they never have

      before.

      You CAN outsource newsletter content and what-not. Many people do. But to be

      successful with content online typically demands more than just buying a

      cookie-cutter newsletter.

      So the post is meant to help those who have not had to fight the content

      battle before begin to look at how THEY can be the content provider and

      producer. Yes, consultants like me are here to help guide and, if needed,

      provide. I would object to your statement that this approach is a recipe for

      mediocrity. It can be if the content provider is disconnected or

      disinterested in the brand. You certainly can find bad consultants and bad

      content providers. But applying the all-or-nothing label here is a mistake.

      I know a fair number of brands with outsourced content (most big ones

      outsource it to their ad agencies) that do a fantastic job of providing it,

      engaging their audiences and measuring success as a result.

      Thanks for the push back, though. Nice to be kept honest.

  • http://twitter.com/JGoldsborough JGoldsborough

    Good questions, Jason. Especially Nos. 4 and 6. A friend told me the other day that orgs need to “own their industry” via social media. Seems to ring true. And too many orgs don't know how to do anything but push key messages. Have some fun and don't just talk in key messages. People don't talk that way and your consumers don't want to be talked to that way via social media.

    Per your and Brett's convo, I think another question to ask is “Do you understand the resources required to make content marketing work?”

  • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

    Love the six questions Jason and really looking forward to the event. Thanks so much for setting it up!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Can't wait to meet in person, Joe. Looking forward to next week.

  • http://twitter.com/ramseym Ramsey Mohsen

    While these are good tips, it's important first to consider what you're trying to achieve. Don't you think Jason? You must know what business outcome do you want to reach? Without considering this first, all of these tips just leave you in a greenfield with no direction.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Sure is, Ramsey. But this post is about jump starting your content marketing

      strategy, not jump starting your overall marketing strategy. There's an

      assumption that you know your audience, establish your goals and so on. Good

      content strategy can't happen without all that being solidified first.

      Thanks for the gut check.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Sure is, Ramsey. But this post is about jump starting your content marketing

      strategy, not jump starting your overall marketing strategy. There's an

      assumption that you know your audience, establish your goals and so on. Good

      content strategy can't happen without all that being solidified first.

      Thanks for the gut check.

  • http://twitter.com/ramseym Ramsey Mohsen

    While these are good tips, it's important first to consider what you're trying to achieve. Don't you think Jason? You must know what business outcome do you want to reach? Without considering this first, all of these tips just leave you in a greenfield with no direction.

  • Frank_Strong

    Content is king. But an adjective is needed: relevant content. And you are absolutely right: Relevant content needs a strategy!

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    Jason, Great lineup. Wish I could come. The one group I'm surprised you haven't tapped are journalists. They are the original content creators, and know how to pull out stories and angles out of thin air. I know, because I once was one. And many business reporters have spent years and decades writing the sorts of content companies want on their own blogs. Seems like an ideal match to me.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Almost all of my recommendations are to hire journalists to fill the content

      role. I feel ya, bro!

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  • http://flairification.com/ BryanJones

    Jason, thanks for this. I've used this list several times to help people begin to understand just how much they have to offer beyond bottom line items. Though this list is just common sense, it's rare that folks apply this type of thinking to their business practices. Cheers!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for stopping by, Bryan. Glad to be helpful.

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