I'm proud to say I snagged a big fish to interview the other day futzin' around on Twitter. None other than Jonathan Kranz of Kranz Communications. Jonathan's everywhere on the Web these days, and he's so nice, he even called me for a chat about our favorite topic, content marketing.
It's getting so phone call's a real treat, I can only take so much email and Tweets! He's not afraid to pick up the phone and call to connect, just like real human beings used to do, back in the day…
Jonathan's a cracker-jack copywriter and all-around web savvy guy who knows his way around content and marketing.
So it's only natural that I feature him as our star content marketer for September! Here're a few of Jonathan's insights on how he does content marketing well. I found these insights really useful, and I hope you do too.
Thank you so much for inviting me to participate on your blog! Below are my responses to your interview questions. Please don’t hesitate to call or write me if you have any questions or comments.
What does Content Marketing mean to you in your business?
Everything! I’m now in my fourteenth year as a copywriter and I’m seeing tremendous shifts in the way my clients market themselves.
I cut my teeth in direct marketing and in the mid 1990’s, getting a 3% response rate was considered very good. By the end of the 1990’s, expectations dropped to 2%, then 1%. By the time I got out of direct mail, getting even a half-percent response was considered an achievement!
Obviously, the old way of doing things just wasn’t working the way it used to. Fortunately, something new was in the wind. Initially, it was just the excitement of the Web as a fresh medium. Then, after the bubble burst in early part of this decade, a new kind of reality emerged: businesses could win customers, not by knocking them on the head with sales messages, but by attracting them with information, entertainment, know-how and insights they genuinely desire: that is, with CONTENT.
What’s all this mean? By creating information our audiences value, we can engage them at the most important points in the sales cycle — when they’re researching opportunities, investigating options, and forming opinions regarding whom they can trust.
How are you doing it now? (Blog, email, newsletter, white papers, ebooks, special report, etc?)
Me personally, I’m big on the following things:
- ebooks that establish my authority in key content areas
- articles that connect me with like-minded communities of marketers
- a blog that links me to larger conversations on the Web
- Twitter as a means of identifying potential allies, friends and partners
- I also have an e-newsletter as kind of nurturance, keep-’em-warm-on-the-back-burner tool.
- I’m experimenting with video — with mixed results.
What kinds of content work best for you to attract and stay in touch with readers, build your KLT factor (Know, Like & Trust), and makes sales?
I think a multi-tiered approach allows us to achieve different goals, with different readers, at different points in the marketing process. As deep, long-form content, ebooks give me (and my clients) a chance to drive a stake in the ground — to establish a turf of expertise that lifts us above the competitive pack. (Another nice thing about ebooks: they can have a relatively long shelf-life.)
Blog posts allow me to address more timely issues, to be part of an evolving conversation; they give prospects a reason to come to my site, bookmark it, and visit it again. Articles fit somewhere in the middle: not quite as deep as ebooks, not as timely as blog posts, but a valid way of sharing insights with people interested in similar issues.
How does all this lead to sales?
Ironically, by taking “sales” out of the equation. If someone contacts me after having read something they respect, there’s no need to “sell” them on my services. Instead, we can have a substantive conversation about what they need and how I can help.
Which social networking sites do you use, what works for you, how do you manage time, etc?
I’m covering my head to protect myself from the stones that may come in my direction, but here’s what I’ve experienced thus far (and that could change over the next few weeks, months and years):
- Twitter: Not a medium for deep content (at 140 characters, how could it be?) but a terrific way to find people who share my interests and values. Once I find them on Twitter, I follow up by leaving comments on their blogs, writing emails, and picking up the phone. I’ve made a number of important business connections this way.
- Google Reader: I know, it’s not a social media site, but a syndication/aggregation tool. But it IS social because it allows me to track the deeper thoughts of people I admire and join them in conversations on their own blogs. I think we tend to overestimate the importance of our own blogs and underestimate the value of participating on other peoples’ blogs.
- Facebook: Not so hot — for me anyway. I find it too difficult to separate the personal from the professional.
- LinkedIn: I’ve really been disappointed by the quality of the groups on this site. Too many of the posts are overtly self-promotional and insubstantial. (Dear reader, I’m more than happy to have you prove me wrong.)
- AMA Connect at http://connect.amaboston.org/: Compared to other social media sites, this is a small pond. But I love it because I’m able to actually MEET people I connect with on this site; that’s often hard, or impossible, to do on larger sites. I found my web developer, Agency3, through AMA Connect and am very happy with the results!
Regarding time management: Oy vey! I have no good answers. When I’m busy with client work, for example, my blog suffers. And I often really struggle to keep up with the good stuff other bloggers are generating. For me, effective time management is still very much a work in progress.
How does CM work for you? How do you know it's working? What kinds of results are you getting? Sales? Leads? Subscriptions, downloads? Search Engine traffic? Blog comments, Twitter retweets?
In their book, Get Content, Get Customers, authors Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett argue for something smart: a Return On Objectives. Sales processes can be loooong, so instead of tying content to absolute end results (sales figures), I tie them to interim steps. I look for website traffic, ebook downloads, Twitter mentions, incoming email inquiries, speaking opportunities, etc.
When these cylinders fire, the business follows. (And you know what’s great? I don’t have to harangue anyone; instead, people come to me of their own free will.)
How isn't it working like it should? What did you expect that didn't happen? What's missing, needed?
Well, the time management issue mentioned earlier remains a big challenge. As many others have said before me, social media may not require a big investment of dollars, but it does take a lot of time. And there’s a definite air of unpredictability about what’s hot and what’s not. Many times, content I think is sure-fire just flames out without attracting any interest. Conversely, I’ve seen throw-away, after-thought posts take off like no one’s business. As Fats Waller once said, “One never knows, do one?”
Again, thank you Patsi!