I have always been a fan of Lee Odden – one of the digital marketing industry’s thought leaders – and got the chance to finally meet him today after watching his talk at SES NY. Odden strength is in his effective communication and knack for weaving that skill into great content strategy, production and distribution. He recently authored Optimize, which I hope to win a free copy of by live blogging from the conference (I have been taking notes and pictures throughout the session, which have been going up on Twitter – @blueliner while citing @leeodden with the #sesny hashtag throughout). Win or not, I plan to read the book because I value what Odden has to offer, and encourage other marketers to do the same. His message is simple, but the work required behind it is not as easy as it looks. It requires real dedication, of time and resources, to follow through on an effective Content Marketing strategy. Luckily, Odden gives us some good tools and a framework to approach Content Marketing, while weaving in SEO and Social Media (notice that 3 of our 7 Pillars are covered).
Here is a quick summary of my notes from today’s one-hour session in a kind of slide show (Odden’s slides, not all of them or in the order they were presented) + commentary (my observations) format:
[SLIDE 1: KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE]
Odden reminds us that Content Marketing is not just about adding more content and pages to your website; but rather about strategically devising content for specific audiences. It’s common sense, but surprisingly, a lot of businesses don’t spend enough time doing their research and segmentation on the types of customers they have. Odden instructs that this process should be part of the initial discovery stage of a content marketing strategy.
[SLIDE 2: CREATING CUSTOMER PERSONAS]
Once a basic level of research is done on existing CRM and Analytics data, creating Personas – which are essentially profiles of what your target customers look like demographically and behaviorally – is the next step. These Personas then guide the content, Social and SEO strategies. Odden got into a lot more detail about this, which I would refer to you to his new Content Marketing book website to learn more about.
[SLIDE 3: HUB & SPOKE MODEL]
Odden utilizes this Hub & Spoke Publishing model to demonstrate all of the various channels through which we can distribute and repurpose our content, as well as that of others. Some useful tips are recommended, like “Oreo cookie commentary”, where you curate other people’s content with your own twist (kind of like what I’m doing with this blog entry, leveraging Odden’s content – the Oreo filling, but adding my own introduction and perspective around it). Ultimately, depending on the size of your content team, a realistic checklist and process has to be agreed on, then activated via a manageable Editorial Calendar.
[SLIDE 4: SEO FITS IN EVERYWHERE!]
Odden advises us to “think more holistically about where (and what) you can optimize.” Most companies have more digital assets (such as PowerPoint presentations, videos, white papers, and images) than they realize. Identifying those, and building a Digital Assets Management system, so that these nuggets are accessible for various Content Marketing initiatives, is a good step. This slide also illustrates how pervasive SEO is to the entire life cycle of a customer’s experience with any product or service category.
I have a bit more to say on this topic, and more slides from Odden’s workshop to share in Part 2 (published on March 26, 2012). For now, I just wanted to get something out while still at the conference, while it’s fresh.