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Your Top 5 Content Marketing Questions Answered

Last week, I did something super fun: I held office hours at the WeWork coworking space in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. Not only did this pry me away from working solo at my dining room table for a few hours, but I got to meet and advise some really outstanding companies, including a lobbying firm, an international trade advisory firm, and an executive search firm that works only with nonprofits.

If you know nothing about WeWork, let me sing their praises for a second: This NYC-based co-working company employs some of the smartest, motivated, and organized community managers in the world, and the spaces themselves are straight out of a hipster shelter magazine.

Anyway, during my time at WeWork, I chatted with three companies and one old #dctech friend. Their content-related questions were surprisingly similar to what I hear all the time, so here are five of your burning content marketing questions, answered:

1. How can I improve brand messaging on our website?

Though this is a rather broad question, the answer is surprisingly simple. First, look at your value proposition. Does it answer what you do and how it benefits your customer? Is that message amplified and repeated through your copy?

Second, read through your copy and make sure it’s all directed to your customer, not at them. Never write from the perspective of “me,” “us, ““we;” always talk about “you.” All of your content needs to be written as if you were face-to-face with your customer and having an actual conversation. 

One more tip, which might sound harsh, but is VERY true: At the end of the day, no one cares about you, they only care about themselves and what you can do for them.

2. How can I improve my website content?

I always start with the home page, because that is your first and only chance to make a lasting impression. I immediately look for a brief, clear, and powerful introduction to your company above the fold (aka, I can see it without scrolling down). Then I scroll down and look for a brief introduction to your top services or products and the value they provide.

As I move through your website, I want to see a natural flow of information via the navigation. I want to see copy that provides context on each page, including an eye-catching header, an introduction, and a compelling call-to-action. I want to see an active blog, and I want to see a reminder about why someone should work with you on your Contact page.

3. We don’t like our Team page; what do you suggest?

Most Team pages suck, so I hear this complaint a lot. The problems are threefold:

  1. They are usually padded with boring resumes that are high on titles and low on accomplishments
  2. They contain zero information about why each person does what he does – and what he loves about it
  3. They never mention why this team is best suited to handle my needs

So, first you need to yank out the resumes and add a link to each person’s LinkedIn profile. Then you need to reframe their bio and turn it into a story – more on that here. Finally, add an introduction that makes a compelling argument as to why anyone should hire you.

4. I’m having a hard time releasing control of my blog and letting someone else write it. What do you suggest I do?

Whether you are worried about handing off your blog to someone on your team or to an outsider (like me, Meg, or Janine), the solution is the same: Do a trial. Ask the would-be blogger to write one or two blog posts that aren’t necessarily going to be published. In addition to giving them a topic, share with them:

  • The tone of voice you are looking for
  • Samples of your own writing and notes on why it reflects your brand
  • Adjectives you use to describe your brand
  • The goals of your blog
  • Your expectations, around length, timing, subject matter, calls-to-action, outcomes, etc.

Then trust that the would be blogger is not an idiot and will do a bang-up job.

5. What do I blog about?

The easiest way to get started with topics is by answering FAQs. If you are asked the same handful of questions over and over, this is information people want and need. Write a full length (300 words or more) response to each question you and your team handles on a regular basis.

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What other burning content marketing questions do you have?

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