It's Art That Sells You
...And it's at the core of inbound marketing.
This past Saturday night I found myself the lone awake person in my house while my wife, kids, and dog were asleep.
Something was stirring inside me, because rather than zoning out on the couch or grabbing some precious zzzs, I took this opportunity to sit down in my music studio for the first time in probably 6 months. Work has been crazy, my oldest kid is entering highschool and made the J.V. cheer squad (It's quite a thing to be a cheer parent, by the way... or so I am learning), my middle child is neck deep in volleyball season, which I am coaching, and youngest is turning 1.
Sleep and studio time seem non-existent these days, but the latter was calling me, so I had to oblige.
After listening to some old songs my buddy and I put together for about an hour or so, I found myself thinking about something a new client of mine said on a call the other day:
"You are the artist."
He was referring to the dividing line between our roles in the project. My agency was hired by him to implement a SAAS marketing plan with inbound as our engine. When he said those words, I was a little taken off guard, because I hadn't really thought about it that way before.
But it's absolutely true. Content marketing is deeply engrained with artistry, and marketers who dabble in the digital mediums are definitely artists. We're artists on a pragmatic, logical mission - So, to help illustrate why artistry is so important for your outreach efforts, here are 4 components of digital media marketing that are built on logic and code, but delivered through creativity and passion - with the sole purpose of getting more clients.
In case you haven't heard -
In 1996, Bill Gates famously coined the term, "content is king," in an article he wrote about the state of the internet, and where he saw it going in the future. "Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products - a marketplace of content."
Here we are, a couple of decades later - There are hundreds of millions of websites, and the task of crawling and sorting has becoming monstrous, as you can probably imagine. But Google and friends are handling it. They've entered a new phase of maturity, and with it, Bill's predictions have become eerily true. Content IS king.
Haven't you noticed the difference in your search results over the last few years? Blogs are showing up a lot more. Websites are all becoming mobile optimized. And the riff-raff seems to be losing ground.
- This is no accident, people. This is progress.
How did we get here? Well, we still must follow a certain set of logical parameters to succeed with digital marketing, because although Google, Yahoo, and Bing promote educational and enjoyable content, there is still a formulaic approach - which means we still need some programmer sensibilities about us.
They want you to appear a certain way in search results, and be able to adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions for example. And those things often require coding.
But beyond that, there is a little thing called "user experience" that the search engines are trying to elevate for you. It's how they ensure that you go back to them time after time for your queries. If the content isn't relevant, personable, and enjoyable to read, people aren't going to engage. If they don't engage, then we've missed the mark. If we miss the mark, well... Google's watching, so let's try to avoid that.
This takes an extraordinary leap for some, because SEO, just by the way it sounds, seems more like a type of rocket fuel or C++ coding language. To muddy it up even further, SEO has historically been handled by IT or web programmers, so it's a misconception that's well deserved..
But that that was then; THIS is now.
SEO, for those who are unfamiliar with what it means, is how we optimize your website so search engines can find it. (Learn more from SEO Marketing Experts HERE)
The thing about Google and the other engines that compete with Google, is that they realize how important user experience is, so they're grading more than just the basic technical components. They want to know that your visitors are sticking around beyond that initial click. If they are, then something about your website is delivering on the promises it made within the truncated descriptions that show up in the search results.
They also want to see that authoritative domains are linking to it. This means getting links from websites with a lot of traffic - none of this link-farming nonsense
So, how do we get them? - We earn them... with content that people want to link to.
Writing blogs takes creativity. Sure, we blog around logical parameters, like using our keywords as topic drivers, and placing strategic inbound links and CTAs throughout that lead to strategically placed landing pages and content offers, so we can convert visitors into actual leads... (download the blogging strategy ebook HERE)
When I was telling my client this, he cut me off and started talking about ideas for BOTs he could develop to acheive the keyword scores he wanted to reach.
I told him that yes, there is a programmer sensibility to blogging, but one must also be creative to really pull it off. Writing is an artform - one of the oldest ever in existence, and we have to think about our readers first and about ranking second. After all, what good does it do us to attract them if we can't keep them around once they've arrived?
As Bill Gates said, this is a marketplace of ideas, and automation or BOTs just don't get us there. Artistry and content do. As bloggers, it is our job to help people find answers to problems they are experiencing. We must connect each post to the bigger picture outreach strategy, meaning, there should be an end-game of finding folks who may need a little more help after they have diagnosed their problems.
And we must do it in a way that is enjoyable.
3. Social Media
Talking about social media as an artform or conduit for art is another difficult concept for many to accept - especially for my programmer-lovin' SAAS companies.
Social media requires you to be social. Yes, there are logical, programmer-like qualities here as well, such as knowing when to post on which platform, how to use hashtags and author tags appropriately and effectively, and how to find your target audiences. There is also a formulaic ratio for posting - original content marketing vs advertising vs 3rd party curated content. There are even social media management tools that will make scheduling posts and monitoring their results a breeze. It's a programmers paradise.
But again, social media is about being social.
We need to be involved in the bigger picture conversations that our clients are having. We need to engage in meaningful relationships at the individual level, and display personality and brand appeal at the corporate level. We need to tie in the same artistic expressions being conveyed within our website, blog posts, and content downloads through our social media posts. (More on Social Media Management Strategy HERE)
People who read what we publish are going to dissect every word of it, and with limitations like 140 characters on Twitter, we need to know how to succinctly describe ideas that are interesting, thought-provoking, and properly spelled. Earning legitimate followers takes creativity, intuition, and a connection with language and our social environment.
Also, curating by itself is not enough. We should take the time to read the content we're distributing first and provide real insight to it. What happens if we post an ad for one of our competitors? Or what if it's full of grammatical or factual errors? Is that how we want our company represented?
Sure, we're not responsible for what others say, but when we post something in our social streams, we become connected to it.
Your ebooks, checklists, white papers, briefs, and other downloadable content are brimming with artistry. From the photos we choose to the flow of the documents and its written content, there is no argument to be made that it should be left in the hands of a programmer.
This is where the statement, "you are the artist," first surfaced, and was promptly followed with, "I don't want to get in your way."
There is a formulaic approach to writing an ebook, however, which means there is logical coding here too. We want the pictures to have alt text, embedded links, and other vehicles for driving website traffic and conversions. We want to have it displayed properly with a landing page, gated by a form.
We want it to be factual, but we also want it to be engaging.
What is Content Marketing? - It's Music to My Ears.
The big surprise for my SAAS client, as is with many, is how much artistry and creativity is required. It wasn't like this 10 years ago. Heck, "content marketing" and "inbound marketing" weren't even really things 10 years ago.
But the digital worlds we live and play in are changing every day. The internet has truly become an eppicenter for ideas and content. This is great news for businesses on a mission. Your story and connection to the problems you solve will elevate you above the rest - This is about assembling a vehicle to deliver your message and brand's purpose. It's what YOU do that matters most.
Want to see the inner workings of content marketing delivered through inbound? Download the ebook!