What content choices have you made lately? Visitors to an online site see the final presentation. Before the first pair of eyes sees your content, strategic decisions were made to make it effective and engaging.
Before discussing pay rates with a content writer describe the scope of the project and a timeline. Good content is a valued asset. It works 24/7 delivering information to the marketplace.
Talking with a general contractor recently I witnessed the power of package selling through content design. The contractor flipped open the pages of a Martha Stewart Living™ catalog she picked up at Home Depot titled Cabinets, Countertops and Hardware. She immediately saw what she wanted for a house renovation project. It was a Seal Harbor PureStyle™/Sharkey Gray cabinet, a polished nickel handle, and a Sea Salt Corian countertop.
All three products were displayed together under “Martha’s Selection” in a 7” x 2” space on page 3 opposite the catalog table of contents. In the building business for 26 years, the contractor had never seen a coordinated package of products like this before. She didn’t need to look through the 74 pages that followed. She didn’t need to color coordinate samples, select from varying sizes and shapes of door handles. She avoided the maze of countertop materials and colors. There they were on page 3, endorsed and scrutinized by the design maven herself – Martha Stewart.
This kind of content requires integration and imagination. I see it in a truck dealership where a truck, maintenance and finance programs may be sold together. The package is explained through content that people can readily understand. I see it with software companies like Podio that create scenarios using content to depict how work processes are streamlined for users. Managers can go to the website and choose a packaged selection of apps designed for their work flow.
In each instance, a content developer connected the dots for the buyer and communicated that in a usable way. People respond to good value from a company that takes the guesswork out of the purchase. The buyer can enjoy the practical application of whatever it is they are looking for. Packages built by content creators are finished puzzles that allow the buyer to see the big picture. Customers save time and products are offered in a way not thought of before. Who in your company can put the pieces together?
Free search tools can open up a new world of content discovery. It has for me. Becoming a content sleuth equips you to respond early and stay current. More than tools, this is a process where content becomes a controllable, valued asset. Learn how to search industry news, monitor social media, and organize real-time syndicated content in one place – Google Reader. You can subscribe to websites, blogs, social media networks, and video feeds.
1. Establish a Google account. All you need to set up an account with Google is an email address. At the top of your Google page select Reader from the menu bar. Near the top of the page click the + Add a subscription button. Enter a search word or phrase. Suggestions might be your industry or product, company name or competitor’s name, depending on why you are searching. For example, if you supply solar panels enter those words.
The syndicated feeds that appear include Internet sites with the number of subscribers. Look at the URLs (website addresses) to see if you are interested in subscribing to any. If so, click on Subscribe under the feed listed. The name of the feed you just subscribed to appears under “Subscriptions” (left column) on your Google Reader page. Also, look directly on websites and when available click on the RSS feeds icon on the website page or in the URL address bar.
2. Add keyword alerts. From the top of your Reader page, select “more” and then “even more”. The Google Options page appears. Select Alerts. Enter your same keyword. In the Deliver to box, select Feed and then Create Alert. This directs your alert to appear on the Reader page, not your email.
3. To find bloggers, go again to the Google Options page (more, even more) and select Blog search. Click on Search Blogs. Type in your same keyword, e.g., solar panels. Click on Subscribe to a blog search feed in Google Reader at the bottom of the page. Then click on the + Subscribe button. This is a good way to find people (including members of the media) who write about your keyword subject. You can subscribe to any of these blogs individually by clicking on the headline and looking for the RSS feed icon on the website page or address bar.
4. To monitor social media, go to the Google Options page (more, even more) and select “Real Time”. Add your same keyword and click on Create an email alert at the bottom of the page. Under Deliver to select Feed. Click on Create Alert.
5. To add videos feeds to Google Reader, select Videos from the menu bar. Enter your same keyword. A list of video URLs comes up. Click on Subscribe to a video search feed for [your keyword] in Google Reader at the bottom of the page. Click on the + Subscribe button.
6. Get industry news by selecting more from you Google Reader page menu, then News. The Top News Stories feed appears. Enter the same key word as before. Click on the Search News button. Then the “Follow [your keyword] news” button. This adds the keyword search to your list of “News” items. For some unknown reason, I can only access this feed from the “News” page and not in Google Reader. I add the Top News Stories feed to Google Reader anyway so I can open it from my Subscriptions list and then select my keyword subject from the News page.
Take Control, Organize
From the Google Reader page, you will see all of your keyword-designated feeds listed in the “Subscriptions” box. Create a directory folder to organize your feeds. At the bottom of the Subscription box click on the “Manage my subscriptions” link. Your feeds appear in alphabetical order. Click on the Add to a folder button. Then select New Folder and give it a name, e.g., Solar. This becomes your directory folder name. Add the others to this folder. When you subscribe to anything related to your keyword, add it to this directory folder using the Manage my Subscriptions link.
You now have the latest Google syndicated news coming to you in real-time for free. Check the feeds every day. Do you have other methods for gathering news that work for you?
I recently received an e-newsletter from Hawthorne Caterpillar that was full of great content. An article on the dealer’s experience helping government agencies prepare for natural disasters was unexpected, and peaked my interest. Another article told the story of CAT rental equipment being used to rescue a cruise ship. Again, not your everyday run-of-the-mill use of rental equipment.
I searched www.hawthornecat.com, wanting to see if a website visitor could find these treasures, and found they were buried deep within the news section. While Hawthorne Cat has clearly done a lot of things right, it missed an opportunity to put this content front and center with website visitors. Wouldn’t it be great if visitors searching under the “Rental” or “Governmental” navigation bars could find these stories?
Not everyone gets your email newsletter. Some people will find you through your website or social media site. Make sure your great (and relevant) content is easy to find wherever potential customers could be looking.
Perhaps your content is still on paper in a salesman’s briefcase, or maybe it’s a Q & A session with one of your best technical experts. (You know –the ones who can actually explain things to the rest of us). Make a list, make a plan and get it out of hiding and online.