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Editor-In-Chief: Al Anderson
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The Shortlist

Creating Content for a Content Marketing Program

Content doesn’t need to be difficult to create. The trick is to be organized and take the Tom Sawyer approach to getting help. Remember how Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer enlisted his friends to complete his chore of whitewashing the fence around his house? He turned the task into something they wanted to do. You can do the same: make the process of developing content something that people are willing and happy to help with.

No matter what form of content you’re working to create (e.g. articles, white papers, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc.) successful content development starts with writing. Even for videos you’ll want to have a written outline or script for what you’re going to communicate. You can start here with just bullet points of ideas.

Your role: be the organizer.

As the person responsible for creating the content, your job is to plan and organize the what and the how: what the topics are and how you’re going to get it done.

If you happen to have enough relevant expertise, you might be able to write an unlimited number of articles or record video on your own. However, that's unusual and if it doesn’t describe your situation you should take a journalistic approach. Journalists rely on subject matter experts (SMEs) who they interview (on camera if you’re creating video) to create stories.

Enlist the experts.

It’s likely that there are numerous SMEs within your company – engineers, sales associates, customer service representatives, your executive team – that you can tap into. Although time is scarce for everybody these days, most people will respond well to helping you if you’re well organized and if there’s benefit for them – and you should make sure their efforts benefit them as well as the company. Give full credit to your sources. Give them the byline or let them be the hero in the video. It will help them become a more visible expert, and you’ll get the support you need to create strong content. Don’t overlook or shy away from approaching your executives – they’re often the ones with the most expertise and generally the most willing to support business development activities.

There are other sources you can tap into as well: your vendors, suppliers and partners. These sources may have unique insights into particular products, materials, processes, and techniques, and may be happy to share their viewpoints in return for the exposure that you’re offering. You’ll want to consider how you work them into your program. Do you want guest bloggers, or do you want to interview them and create your own content? Whichever path is right for you, the effect is the same: you end up with new, original, valuable content that will help your customer on their journey related to your products or services.

Get it done.

For you, the process becomes relatively simple: identify – interview – write or record. Working with our model of two hours per week, in week one you define topics and SMEs, and reach out to those SMEs. In week two, you do a little planning then interview one or two SMEs. In week three you write a story (or ask them to provide a draft). If you write the story, send it back to your SMEs for their comments. In week four you finalize the piece and seek any necessary approvals. Then you run it on your blog, push summaries through social media channels, and move on to the next topic in your editorial calendar. Voila, content in a few hours a week. In this way, you should be able to create and publish at least one or two pieces a month, and then grow from there.

What if I can’t write?

If you’re not a writer and you don’t have someone on your direct team who writes well, find a contract editor. You (or your SMEs) outline the main story points, making sure the expertise of your firm shows through and the content will be truly valuable to your audience, and your editor will craft the story. This is often an efficient way to create content because if you’re not a writer, you’ll find that professional writers and editors generate high-quality content much more quickly than you do.

Keep your team updated.

Once you’ve gone through a couple cycles, you’ll find that you’ll get into a flow and can get several SMEs working to help you at the same time. Remember to keep them engaged. Let them know when a post has gone live and suggest that it’s ready for them to share with their own social networks. Thank them for their contribution. Ask what other ideas they have that might be good follow ups.

Get creative in your approach to content development. You’ll find that there are lots of potential contributors. Coming next: what results can you expect from your efforts?

Charles Ogden, Co-Founder and CEO of Antics Digital Marketing, has a 20-year background planning and guiding content marketing programs for companies such as KPMG, PayPal, Sun Microsystems, SAP, Shutterfly, Actavis Pharmaceuticals, and others. His work in content marketing began in 1996 when he and Antics helped Netscape Communications design and run the world's first largescale email newsletter programs. While content marketing has changed since then, the foundations of its benefits go back much farther and Charles continues to help companies advance their business through content. He views his work as an extension of his degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, which he'll discuss if you're curious.

Learn more from Charles Ogden at the May 18 SMPS SFBAC Digital Marketing Bootcamp.

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