Tag Archive | "ideas"

Finding Ideas for a Video Series or Podcast – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by PhilNottingham

Video and podcasts are only growing in popularity, proving to be an engaging way to reach your audience and find ways to talk about your industry or product. But it’s a crowded market out there, and finding a good idea is only half the battle. Join video marketing extraordinaire Phil Nottingham from Wistia as he explores how we can both uncover great ideas for a podcast or video series and follow through on them in this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday.

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. My name is Phil Nottingham, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going to talk about how to come up with a great idea for your video series or podcast. I think a lot of businesses out there understand that there’s just this great opportunity now to do a longer form series, a show in podcast or video form, but really struggle with that moment of finding what kind of idea could take them to the next level and help them stand out.

1. Audience

I think the most common error that businesses make is to start with the worst idea in the world, which is interviewing our customers about how they use our product. I’m sure many of you have accidentally fallen down this trap, where you’ve thought, “Ah, maybe that will be a good idea.” But the thing is even if you’re Ferrari or Christian Louboutin or the most desirable product in the world, it’s never going to be interesting for someone to sit there and just listen to your customers talking about your product.

The problem is that your customers are not a unique group of people, aside from the fact that they use your product. Usually there isn’t anything else that brings them together. For this kind of content, for a video series and podcast to really stand out and to grow in terms of their audience, we need to harness word of mouth. Word of mouth doesn’t grow through the way we often think about audience growth in marketing.

Many of us, particularly in the performance marketing space, are used to thinking about funnels. So we get more and more traffic into the funnel, get more people in there, and ultimately some of them convert. But the way word of mouth works is that a small group of people start communicating to another group of people who start communicating to another group of people. You have these ever-expanding circles of communication that ultimately allow you to grow your audience.

How to find a niche audience

But that means you need to start with a group of people who are talking to one another. Invariably, your customers are not talking to each other as a kind of rule of thumb. So what you need to do is find a group of people, an audience who are talking to each other, and that really means a subculture, a community, or maybe an interest group. So find your group of customers and work out what is a subset of customers, what kind of community, wider culture they’re part of, a group of people who you could actually speak to.

The way you might find this is using things like Reddit. If there’s a subculture, there’s going to be a subreddit. A tool like SparkToro will allow you to discover other topics that your customer base might be interested in. Slack communities can be a great source of this. Blogs, there’s often any sort of topic or a niche audience have a blog. Hashtags as well on social media and perhaps meetup groups as well.

So spend some time finding who this audience is for your show, a real group of people who are communicating with one another and who ultimately are someone who you could speak to in a meaningful way. 

2. Insight

Once you’ve got your audience, you then need to think about the insight. What the insight is, is this gap between desire and outcome. So what you normally find is that when you’re speaking to groups of people, they will have something they want to achieve, but there is a barrier in the way of them doing it.

This might be something to do with tools or hardware/software. It could be just to do with professional experience. It could be to do with emotional problems. It could be anything really. So you need to kind of discover what that might be. The essential way to do that is just through good, old-fashioned talking to people. 

  • Focus groups, 
  • Surveys, 
  • Social media interactions, 
  • Conversations, 
  • Data that you have from search, like using Google Search Console, 
  • Internal site search, 
  • Search volume 

That kind of thing might tell you exactly what sort of topics, what problems people are having that they really try to solve in this interest group.

Solve for the barrier

So what we need to do is find this particular little nugget of wisdom, this gold that’s going to give us the insight that allows us to come up with a really good idea to try and solve this barrier, whatever that might be, that makes a difference between desire and outcome for this audience. Once we’ve got that, you might see a show idea starting to emerge. So let’s take a couple of examples.

A few examples

Let’s assume that we are working for like a DIY supplies company. Maybe we’re doing just sort of piping. We will discover that a subset of our customers are plumbers, and there’s a community there of plumbing professionals. Now what might we find about plumbers? Well, maybe it’s true that all plumbers are kind of really into cars, and one of the challenges they have is making sure that their car or their van is up to the job for their work.

Okay, so we now have an interesting insight there, that there’s something to do with improving cars that we could hook up for plumbers. Or let’s say we are doing a furniture company and we’re creating furniture for people. We might discover that a subset of our audience are actually amateur carpenters who really love wooden furniture. Their desire is to become professional.

But maybe the barrier is they don’t have the skills or the experience or the belief that they could actually do that with their lives and their career. So we see these sort of very personal problems that we can start to emerge an idea for a show that we might have. 

3. Format

So once we’ve got that, we can then take inspiration from existing TV and media. I think the mistake that a lot of us make is thinking about the format that we might be doing with a show in a very broad sense.

Don’t think about the format in a broad sense — get specific

So like we’re doing an interview show. We’re doing a talk show. We’re doing a documentary. We’re doing a talent show. Whatever it might be. But actually, if we think about the great history of TV and radio the last hundred years or so, all these really smart formats have emerged. So within talk show, there’s “Inside the Actors Studio,” a very sort of serious, long, in-depth interview with one person about their practice.

There’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” which has got lots of kind of set pieces and sketches and things that intermingle with the interview. There’s “Ellen,” where multiple people are interviewed in one show. If we think about documentaries, there’s like fly-on-the-wall stuff, just run and gun with a camera, like “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Carrying on the food thing, there’s “Chef’s Table,” where it’s very planned and meticulously shot and is an exposé of one particular chef.

Or something like “Ugly Delicious,” which is a bit more like a kind of exploratory piece of documentary, where there’s kind of one protagonist going around the world and they piece it together at the end. So you can think about all these different formats and try to find an idea that maybe has been done before in TV in some format and find your way through that. 

A few more examples

So let’s think about our plumber example. Plumbers who love cars, well, we could do “Pimp My Ride for Tradesmen.”

That’s an interesting idea for a talk. Or let’s say we’re going after like amateur carpenters who would love to be professional. We could easily do “American Idol for Lumberjacks or Carpenters.” So we can start to see this idea emerge. Or let’s take a kind of B2B example. Maybe we are a marketing agency, as I’m sure many of you are. If you’re a marketing agency, maybe you know that some of your customers are in startups, and there’s this startup community.

One of the real problems that startups have is getting their product ready for market. So you could kind of think, well, the barrier is getting the product ready for market. We could then do “Queer Eye for Product Teams and Startups,”and we’ll bring in five specialists in different areas to kind of get their product ready and sort of iron out the details and make sure they’re ready to go to market and support marketing.

So you can start to see by having a clear niche audience and an insight into the problems that they’re having, then pulling together a whole list of different show ideas how you can bring together an idea for a potential, interesting TV show, video series, or podcast that could really make your business stand out. But remember that great ideas are kind of 10 a penny, and the really hard thing is finding the right one and making sure that it works for you.

So spend a lot of time coming up with lots and lots of different executions, trying them out, doing kind of little pilots before you work out and commit to the idea that works for you. The most important thing is to keep going and keep trying and teasing out those ideas rather than just settling on the first thing that comes to mind, because usually it’s not going to be the right answer. So I hope that was very useful, and we will see you again on another episode of Whiteboard Friday.

Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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2 Key Factors that Distinguish Satisfying Content from Forgettable Ideas

Have you ever read a blog post, listened to a podcast episode, or watched a video and thought: “I kind…

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The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas

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The Art of Finding Ideas

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Why You’re Missing Out if You Save Your Best Content Ideas

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8 Content Distribution Ideas to Meet Your Brand’s Goals

Posted by AlliBerry3

There’s a lot to consider when creating a content strategy in 2019. Not only is there more competition than ever online, but there are so many types of content and ways to reach your target audience. Do you start a blog? Do you podcast? Should you focus on research studies or whitepapers? How do you really know what to do?

But before you do anything else, you need to define what goals you want to accomplish with your content. 

I’ve written previously about the importance of having an audience-focused content strategy before — and it’s still relevant. Every single piece of content you create needs to be mapped to a goal, otherwise, it’ll leave your audience wondering why they should care and what to do next, assuming it even reaches your target audience at all.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you have your goals and your brand’s unique angle nailed down, you’ll also need to prioritize your means of content distribution. This is especially important if you’re just starting out — you should zero in on a few key distribution channels and master those before you expand into others, or you risk spreading yourself too thin and sabotage your chances of success in any of them.

This post will help you zero in on what distribution channels make the most sense for your goals, and how to create content that will perform well in them.

Content goal: Brand awareness

If you’re a new brand or a lesser-known brand in your vertical, it’s crucial to expose your audience to your brand and demonstrate how it can solve their problems. There are many distribution options for brand awareness, and they all involve using external platforms in some way to help you connect to a larger audience of people.

1. Syndication

If your brand publishes a large volume of daily content that covers broader, news-worthy topics, content syndication can be an effective way to get your brand in front of a new audience.

I work for a new affiliate marketing venture called The Ascent by The Motley Fool, and our coverage of broad, personal finance topics makes us a natural fit for content syndication. From Flipboard to Google News, major news outlets are always looking for money and finance-related content. Even though the SEO value is limited for content syndication, as links are typically no-followed, this is still an effective way for us to fulfill our brand awareness goal of reaching a wider, qualified audience. Just be sure any syndication partners will provide a canonical tag back to your site to ensure you don’t end up with duplicate content issues. The Fractl team did an impressive piece about understanding the networks of news syndication if you want to learn more.

Content created for syndication typically has a timely slant to it, as that’s what major news outlets are looking for from syndication partners. Whether it’s a finance topic related to an upcoming holiday (i.e. 7 Personal Finance Lessons Learned in 2018) or something happening in the news (i.e. How to Financially Prepare for the Government Shutdown), it needs to be a gripping headline with information valuable to a reader today. It also needs to be quality content, free of errors, and not miles long.

Answer the headline entirely, but eliminate the fluff. And don’t forget to include relevant links back to your site, so you can get this larger audience to visit your website.

Musts for Syndicated Content:

  • A catchy headline
  • A timely topic
  • 1,000 words or less
  • Links in the content back to relevant content on your site

2. Sponsored content or guest posts

If your own website doesn’t have a great following, engaging in sponsored content on a more prominent website can be valuable for building brand awareness. The type of sponsored content I’m referring to here is online advertorials or articles  that look like normal articles, but are tagged as “sponsored content,” typically.

BuzzFeed is a prominent platform for brands. Here’s an example of one of their finest:

At the bottom, there’s a pitch for Wendy’s with a link:

Because visitors can see that this content is “sponsored,” they are naturally more skeptical of it — and rightfully so. To create a quality native advertising piece, you’ll want it to be genuinely helpful and not overly promotional. It’s already clear it’s a promotion for your brand, so the content doesn’t need to reinforce that further.

This above example clearly does not take itself seriously. It provides a quiz that is on-brand with what a BuzzFeed visitor would expect and want to see. There’s no overt promotional play for Wendy’s in the quiz.

If you don’t want to pay for a sponsored content spot on another website, you could also look for relevant sites that take guest posts. This post you are currently reading is an example of that: I’m not paying, nor am I getting paid to publish this post with Moz. But, I am getting more brand exposure for my team and myself. And Moz is getting unique content with a fresh perspective.

It’s a win-win!

If you do pitch a site for a guest post, make sure it’s compelling and in line with what their audience wants. Keep it helpful and not promotional. You will need to establish trust with this new audience.

Musts for Sponsored Content or Guest Posts:

  • A budget (for sponsored content)
  • Content is not promotional, but helpful or entertaining
  • A pitch and link to your site at the end of the content

3. Paid advertising

One of the big advantages of utilizing paid advertising is that you can see results right away and get your content in front of a qualified audience, whereas, organic takes longer to see growth.

To get your content to perform well in paid search, it’ll need to be more niche and targeted to the keywords you’re bidding on, otherwise, your quality score will suffer. Google, Bing, and Yahoo all have their own forms of a quality score that takes into account a number of factors, including your expected CTR, landing page quality and relevance to your ad, and ad text relevance. This might mean you’ll need to develop more landing pages to cover your topics than you would for a page created for organic search. That’s not an issue from an SEO perspective as long as you no-index your landing pages.

For example, the query “podcast software” gave me a really relevant ad for Buzzsprout.com, not only using my keyword in the ad but also providing relevant extended links below.

Once on the landing page, it also gives me exactly what I’m looking for. The language varies slightly to “podcast hosting,” but it clearly answers my intent.

Similarly, both Facebook and Twitter have a ‘relevancy score’ that acts as the quality score. These social platforms are measuring your expected engagement rate with an ad, which indicates how well your content matches the needs and interests of the audience you’re targeting.

What this means is that, like with paid search, your content needs to be more niche and customized to your audience for higher performance.

So many different types of content can work for paid advertising. Visual content can be incredibly powerful for paid advertising — whether it’s through video or images. There’s no better way to know how something will perform in paid marketing than through testing, but it’s important your content has these primary components:

  • A catchy, keyword-aligned headline
  • Standout images or video
  • Content that supports your hyper-target audience and keywords

Goal: Organic acquisition

Organic traffic is often an appealing distribution method because prospects qualify themselves through their relevant search queries. Not only do you want to have targeted content for key search queries, but it is also important to build domain authority by acquiring relevant, authoritative external links.

For this, I have included two important tactics to achieve better results organically for your brand.

4. Blog posts

Blog posts are among the most common ways to rank well in organic search and acquire featured snippets. My team has almost exclusively been focused on blog articles up until this point, as it’s relatively easy and efficient to produce at scale.

There are many types of blog posts you can create, both for more the discovery phase of a prospect, as well as the mid-level, narrowing down phase in the customer journey. Some blog post ideas that tend to perform well include:

  • How-to articles
  • Question and answer articles
  • Comparison articles
  • Best of articles
  • First person stories (ideally from a customer perspective)

The key to successful blog posts is to have a targeted topic informed by keyword research. The Moz Keyword Explorer or SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool are great places to find topics for your blog posts. I have found both with The Ascent, as well as in my previous role at Kaplan Professional Education is that having blog posts that target specific long-tail keywords tend to perform better, and are more likely to pick up a featured snippet. However, the best way to know for your vertical is to test it yourself.

In my experience, writing using the inverted pyramid technique works wonders for featured snippets. Answer the query broadly and concisely at the beginning of the article, and then dive into more details further into it. It’s a technique from journalism, so readers are used to it and search engines seem to really take to it.

Musts for Blog Posts:

  • Have a target keyword/topic
  • Follow the inverted pyramid technique (cover the topic broadly and then narrow)
  • Contain a call-to-action

5. Original research

If acquiring external links is one of your SEO goals, conducting original research can be a powerful tactic for achieving success. What makes original research so powerful for link building is that you are the only source of your data. If you publish data that is unique to your organization or conduct your own survey or focus group and report the findings, it provides new data with unique insights to glean from it (assuming your methodology is solid, of course).

Here is a great example of original research about how frequently brands produce original research (how meta!). It also provides great data on types of original research brands do if you want to learn more. This original data came from a survey of 700 marketers, and it worked. It got linked to by all kinds of prominent industry blogs like Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute, Orbit Media, and now, this one too!

If you don’t have any data that you can or want to publish from your organization directly and you don’t want to conduct your own surveys, there is also the option of mining official sources in your industry (government or census data work well in many cases) and finding a unique take and interpreting it for your audience to understand. Often, there is rich data buried in technical jargon that people don’t know about, and your original perspective can add a lot of value to your audience.

For example, my team published this secondary research during the government shutdown in January. All of the government data in this piece is accessible to anyone, but it’s time-consuming to find and difficult to interpret. Our writer’s original take on it surfaced important insights that journalists incorporated in their shutdown coverage.

Remember: Putting your own research out there won’t necessarily acquire links on its own. Even if you are a well-known resource, your efforts will be better served with outreach to relevant journalists or bloggers. If you’ve got the resources to dedicate to outreach, or the ability to hire an agency to help, this can be an extremely effective strategy that can help to build the authority of your entire site.

Musts for original research:

  • An original take with supporting data
  • A solid research methodology (explained in the content)
  • An outreach strategy with custom pitches

Goal: Lead generation

If generating leads is your goal, your content will need to be compelling enough for a prospect to give you their contact information. They know what’s in store for them by giving you their email or phone number, so they won’t sign themselves up for marketing messaging for just average content.

6. Whitepapers/E-books

Although we just talked about original research for link acquisition, original research can also be an amazing way to generate leads if you want to put your research behind a sign-up wall. While the basic principles remain unchanged, find a topic you can create a unique study on, and execute it using a solid methodology. You should focus on the prospective leads you are trying to attain and create a research study or whitepaper that is irresistible to them.

At Kaplan Financial Education, I developed e-books for each licensing prep product line. Using survey data that I gathered from previous Kaplan students, the intent was to help better prepare future Kaplan students for their journey through licensing and starting their career. The setup for creating this type of lead gen content was pretty simple: I pulled a list of previous customers and sent them a short survey via Survey Monkey. I asked:

  • What do you wish you had known when you were preparing for the licensing test?
  • What advice do you have for new professionals?

After gathering over 100 responses, I extracted the data and grouped them into themes, pulling direct quotes for future insurance professionals. This is still successful lead gen content because it’s evergreen — it tells real stories from real people who have gone through the licensing process and started a relevant financial career. Prospective students can better understand what they are getting themselves into.

At the time, this kind of advice from so many qualified professionals didn’t live anywhere else, making the e-book exclusive content. Qualified prospects were willing to download it for it’s exclusivity and saving them the time of having to conduct multiple informational interviews.

Ideally, when you have lead gen content, you’ll want all of your free content to naturally lead into a call-to-action for your whitepaper or e-book. That way, any traffic that you attain through organic or paid advertising will naturally flow into the download. Creating a pitch at the end of your articles is a good habit to get into, as well as linking within your articles as appropriate.

It’s also a good practice to only ask for the minimum amount of contact information that will allow you to market to these leads. If you plan to send them emails, only collect their email address, for example. The more information you require, the lower your conversion rate tends to be.

Musts for whitepapers and e-books:

  • An original take with compelling data specifically targeting prospective leads
  • A solid methodology (explained in the content)
  • Enticing content that leads users to the lead gen download
  • Minimal contact information required to download

7. Webinars

Webinars that provide informative content for prospects can be an extremely effective medium for lead generation, particularly if you are using visuals to help explain concepts. The “in person” element also allows prospects to build a relationship (or the illusion of one) with the presenter(s) because they can hear and see the speaker live. You can also play up the exclusivity angle with webinars because the content is only available to those that choose to attend.

Types of webinars that work particularly well for lead gen:

  • Demonstrations or how-to’s
  • Panel discussions about a relevant, timely topic in your industry
  • An interview with an industry expert
  • An in-depth presentation with a fresh take on a timely topic

Similar to e-books and whitepapers, you’ll want to collect the minimum possible amount of contact information on your sign up form. If you only need an email address or a phone number, stick to that. The more you ask for a life story, the fewer sign-ups you’ll receive.

Musts for webinar content:

  • Unique, relevant topic to prospects
  • Content that is designed for a real-time, audio and visual medium
  • Minimal contact information required for sign up

Goal: Revenue

Of course, any content program’s ultimate goal is to drive revenue. Content that leads to conversion directly, though, is often not given as much attention as some of other forms of content.

8. Product pages

Regardless of whether you sell your products online or not, your product pages on your website should be focused on driving action to purchase.

To do this, you should keep your pages simple. Each product, no matter how similar, should have a unique product name and description to keep you clear of duplicate content issues. Focus on what the product is and how it will ultimately improve the life of a customer in a brief description. Bullet points in the description help the user scan and digest the important features of the product. Ian Lurie at Portent recently wrote about utilizing Amazon Q&A to inform what common questions people have about your product, and answering those in your product page bullet points. If you can do that, that’s a winning formula.

Include images of the product, and if necessary, video too for a more holistic view of the product. And add a trust signal. Common trust signals include reviews, a customer quote, or a statistic about how the product helps customers.

Most importantly, you need a prominent, clear call-to-action. It should stand out, be above the fold, and have clear language about what will happen in the next step.

Must-haves for these pages:

  • Product Description
  • Visual of product (image, video)
  • Call to Action
  • Trust signal – ie. a quote or review, statistic, etc.

Of course, these are just some of the most common goals I’ve seen in content strategies — there’s plenty more goals out there. Same goes for types of distribution for each of these goals — I’ve only scratched the surface. But if I listed out every possibility, you wouldn’t have made it this far through the post! 

Over to you!

These are just some common goals that have proven effective to me with clients and brands I have worked for. I’d love to know what you think, now: 

  • Do you agree with my points? 
  • Do you have other tactics that work for any of these goals? 
  • What different content goals do you have if they weren’t mentioned?

If you’ve got other suggestions or ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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A Cool New Resource for Developing and Sharing Your Ideas

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3 Reasons Why Good Ideas Are a Real Threat to Good Writing

Ahh, the elusive “good idea.” Writers spend a large amount of time thinking about them and looking for them. It’s an undeniable part of the creative process. So why would I consider them such a pervasive threat to good writing? The answer is simple. Good ideas are just part of what it takes to produce
Read More…

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Wanted: Session ideas for SMX Advanced

We want your input to help us plan our upcoming SMX Advanced conference, taking place June 12-13, 2018. Specifically, we’d love to hear from you if you have a great idea for a session that you think should be on the agenda. And if you’re interested in speaking at the show, the absolute…



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