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A Primer for Writing Promotional, Informative and Entertaining Content that Captivates Readers

I recently got an email forwarded to me originally from one of our Research Partners. In it, there was a question:

Could you give me a little primer on what you consider best practices in writing promotional, informative and entertaining content that captivates readers?

What follows is Part I of my answer to that question …


Let’s Rephrase the Question

When my mother-in-law (read: least likely person to read this post) Googles something, it’s always painful for me to watch. She’s one of the more intelligent people I know, but she doesn’t really have a clue how Google works.

Usually, when she searches, she goes either too specific or too broad.

She’ll search “psychology books,” when what she really wants are books about the plasticity of the brain and how to change thought patterns.

Or she’ll search “turquoise curtains” when what she really wants is to look at a large variety of blue curtains in a range of blues.

Of course, it’s not just my mother-in-law. We’re all guilty of this in one way or another.

“There are no stupid questions” has become so embedded in the American consciousness that most don’t think to question it.

While I agree with the spirit of the phrase, the truth is, some questions are better than others. Some questions get us the answers we want, and some don’t.

In this case, I’m going to assume that what you really want is to be a better content developer, advance your career and, in so doing, become a happier person.

If that is the case, the question you really should be asking is this:

What is the best, repeatable method for writing effective content in a business context?

I have two broad reasons for this rephrasing:

1. The term “best practices” is loaded. First, best practices tend to be too universal. When you try to apply best practices to a specific situation, things get muddy and usually they are unhelpful. Second, best practices in marketing are typically just pooled ignorance. Even if you could apply them in a specific context, there is no guarantee they will actually work. What you really need is not a set of best practices, but rather a repeatable method you can apply in any situation and arrive at the best piece of content for that given situation.

2. In the business world, it is never enough to write promotional, informative or entertaining content. It’s not even enough to captivate readers. The objective of all marketing (including content marketing) is to influence a decision. That decision should be carefully placed in the context of a comprehensive business strategy or it will inevitably underperform. Strategy is better than skill. Clearly getting the decision you’re wanting to influence will help you more than any general advice I can give you on writing content.

Okay. My reasons are out of the way. Let’s get to the business of answering our new question.


A Repeatable Method for Writing Effective Content in a Business Context

Step 1: Determine what you’re selling

The first step is essentially determining what your objective is. When I say “what you’re selling,” I don’t mean ideas. I don’t mean the next step in a process. I mean, ultimately, what are you going to give them in exchange for money? If you have multiple products, pick one. If you have a series of purchases before customers buy what you really want them to buy, use the one you really want them to buy. Whatever the best case scenario is for a customer purchase, write it down before you write any content. Have it in front of you for all the other steps.

Action Step: Write down what you want your ultimate sale to be.


Step 2: Determine your ideal customer

The second step is to be clear about who you really want to read your content. Assuming you’ve been honest and clear in Step 1, this should be easy. It’s the person who is most likely to complete that ultimate purchase. Hold that person in your mind as you write your content. You will be writing to them, and only them. No one else, under any circumstances. I’ve found it particularly helpful to write a few paragraphs on who you think the person is, what they like, what they don’t like, where their pain is, etc.

Action Step: Write down who you think your ideal customer is. Write a few paragraphs describing them.


Step 3: Determine the next decision your ideal customer needs to make

The first two steps are looking at your customer in a more universal setting. Now you’re going to want to start narrowing things down for your specific context. Every customer has a series of decisions that they make toward buying your ultimate product. Maybe the first decision is to like your Facebook page. Maybe it’s to click on a search result for your page. The last decision is always to buy whatever we stated in Step 1. For this step, you need to determine where along that continuum of decisions you are targeting with your content.

Be open to the next decision being “to read another blog post,” but also be open to the next decision being “to give my information in a lead form.” Both have their places in the continuum.

Action Step: Write down what decision you are attempting to influence in the continuum of customer decisions


Step 4: Determine the best competitive positioning for your content

At this point, you’ve got the main part of your content strategy down. But to really up the ante with your strategy, you need to see how your piece of content fits in with your competitive landscape. There are hundreds of tools you can use to help you do this, from incredibly expensive to completely free. I personally use two free tools:

  1. Google Keyword Planner (How to use it)
  2. Buzzsumo (How to use it)

Generally, I go through these sub-steps for most pieces of content I produce:

  1. Find the most popular keywords in my topic with Keyword Planner
  2. Examine all the content on the first page for those keywords
  3. Do mini SWOT analyses on each of those pieces of content (no more than two minutes per piece generally)
  4. Plug those keywords into Buzzsumo and examine all the articles that show up in the free results
  5. Do mini SWOT analyses on each of those pieces of content

Action Step: Answer the question, “If I am the ideal customer (interested in this topic and getting ready to make the decision specified in Step 3), why should I read your content rather than these other pieces of content?” (How to answer that question)


Now you’re ready to write your content.

I’ll cover that piece in Part II of this post.


You might also like

B2B Marketing: Content strategy results in 50% of qualified leads being inbound [From MarketingSherpa]

Content Marketing 101: Tips on content strategy [From the MarketingSherpa blog]

Content Marketing: How an energy data company’s content strategy increased leads by 733% [From MarketingSherpa]

Inbound Marketing: Beef jerky company develops content strategy around brand character to increase social media fans 2,113% [From MarketingSherpa]

Content Marketing: Targeted persona strategy lifts sales leads 124% [From MarketingSherpa]

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About Daniel Rodgers

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10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.


#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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