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«Content Marketing How to Build an Audience that Builds Your Business CO N T E N T M A R K E T I N G : H O W TO B U I L D A N AU D I E N C E T H AT B ...»

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You’re still keeping the selling under the radar at this point, especially if you’re using a blog to deliver your content. At this phase, you’re building your case, establishing trust, and increasing the intensity of your audience’s desire.

When you’re ready to take an order, send your loyal fan to a well-crafted landing page. That page does the most explicit selling, with a killer offer and a clear, direct call to action.

There’s definitely an art to writing an effective landing page, but if you’ve primed your audience with a smart content strategy, the landing page doesn’t have nearly as much work to do.

How to be in the “third tribe” If you don’t see yourself using the hard-sell, high-squeeze tactics of the traditional Internet marketing crowd, but you also don’t want to eat Ramen noodles for the rest of your life as a “cool but broke” blogger, ignore those two tribes and join what we call the third tribe.

People in the third tribe take the best elements from hardcore Internet marketing but deliver them with the passion, personal voice, and credibility that the best bloggers have to offer.

Content marketing is the third tribe’s most important tool. In fact, it’s the tool that defines this tribe.

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Why Content and Social Media are a Powerful Match Creating stellar content for your marketing is great. But great content doesn’t (quite) distribute itself. It needs vehicles for people to pass it along, discuss its merits, argue over its controversies, blog it, mash it, tweet it, and even scrape it.

Which is, of course, where social media comes in.

Social media didn’t create content marketing, but it’s an unsurpassed tool for getting it distributed. On the flip side, great content gives social media life by giving people something more interesting to talk about than what they’re ordering right now at Starbucks.

Social media is the third tribe’s sacred hearth.

The new breed of smart, savvy online entrepreneurs are creatures of the social web. Gathering places like forums, Twitter, and Facebook are the campfires that pull the tribe together.

Some of us have been convening around digital campfires for a long time,

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perhaps even before the invention of the World Wide Web.

Social media has grown so explosively because connection is probably the deepest drive we have. The campfire gives us a place to share information about the day’s hunt, a forum to air out the tribe’s differences, even a place for us to consider new and better ways to build campfires.

No, it’s not a utopian picture. Our campfires are places for bickering and malice as much as for inspiration and community. But without a connecting place, without a central spot to bring us together for conversation, there is no tribe.

Our gathering places are never perfect. They’re human. Which is what makes them so extraordinary.

Great content is the third tribe’s saga and story.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Yanomamo in the Amazon rainforest or friends at a barbecue in Teaneck, New Jersey. Anywhere people gather around fires, they’re going to tell stories.

It’s in the nature of the human animal to play with language to create fables and songs and nonsense to entertain ourselves with. And it’s in our nature to make beautiful objects and embellish anything that will stand still long enough.

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These instincts are alive today in the great writing and imagery being shared all over the Web. The impulses that make us reweet a blog post or a fantastic Flickr image are the same ones that bring a superb Navajo weaver renown across four states.

Wonderful words and beautiful images capture our attention, no matter who we are or what technology we might have at our disposal. Our impulse to create and our desire to remark on skillful creations haven’t changed much since we started walking upright.

The third tribe is on the move In addition to our passion for connection, the other remarkable human trait is adaptability.

No other animal can adapt to as many different ecosystems and environments as we can. We’ve built dwellings in Antarctica and in space. We’ve survived the Ice Age and world wars, tsunamis and earthquakes, and even Joan Rivers winning Celebrity Apprentice.

When the environment is stable, we get complacent. We settle into calm, selfsatisfied habits for thousands of years at a time.

But when the earth starts to shake, we wake up again: the same smart, watchful, inventive, and dangerous monkey we’ve always been at heart. The recent

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economic meltdown has been described as “economic climate change.” We don’t know where it’s going to get unbearably hot and where the temperature will plunge to permafrost. The system is too complex to predict, except we know it’s going to change and it’s likely to change fast.

But some things won’t change.

If we can sing a remarkable song, others will gather to hear it. And now, digital campfires connect us from Kuala Lumpur to Iceland to Dallas.

If we create content that’s worthy of attention, the world will show up and talk about it. We don’t know how they’ll show up in 5 years (or 5 months), but we know they will.

Our jobs are to make something amazing, then use the global network of digital campfires intelligently to find the people who will love and appreciate it.

So let’s go over the ten most important elements of creating an amazing content marketing strategy...

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The 10-Step Content Marketing Checklist Everyone knows that content marketing is the “new” marketing approach that all the cool kids are supposed to be doing.

Coca-Cola is doing it, IKEA is doing it, Copyblogger has been doing and talking about it for years now, so it’s a no-brainer, right?

Except, uhhhh, what is it exactly, again?

Boiled down to its simplest form, content marketing is communicating with

potential customers in a way that:

• An audience actually enjoys paying attention to, and that

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Combining those two “simple” factors can be a little tricky to execute, though.

So here is a checklist to make sure you’re building your content marketing on the right foundation.

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Just like nutrition, parenting, and the designated hitter rule, there are passionate schools of thought that differ on some of these.

Consider this the “essential” list for you to build the foundation of a solid content marketing program on. Check these off, and you’ll have the right framework to create a successful program.

1. Don’t build on rented land.

Before you create a single piece of content, think about where that content will live and how audiences will get to it.

Effective content marketing takes work. You’ll need energy, thought, and time to create good content — whether you create it yourself or use a capable professional writer.

This means that nearly all of the content you create needs to live on a domain you control, using a platform you can do with as you please.

That will ensure that you’re not producing the bulk of your creative content for Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. And you’re not publishing on a “website in 20 minutes” solution that forces you to use someone else’s domain.

If your domain isn’t www.YourWebsiteName.com, you don’t own your platform.

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If you can’t publish what you please, with the wording, sales messages, and images you please, you don’t own your platform.

About 99 times out of 100, self-hosted WordPress is the right solution here.

We don’t just say this just because we sell fantastic-looking premium themes or provide the best managed WordPress hosting available (although we do both).

We say it because WordPress is flexible, it’s robust, it’s easy to find excellent developers for, and it makes life very easy for you as a content publisher.

You can absolutely use social sites like Facebook and Twitter to nurture customer relationships and get the word out about the content that you create. In fact, they can work beautifully for both purposes.

But don’t build your entire business there — it’s a dangerous mistake that can end up costing you hours (or years) of lost work.

2. Craft your cornerstone.

In order to create a content marketing platform (as opposed to just writing about a bunch of stuff you find interesting), you need to understand your cornerstone.

The cornerstone of your platform comes from what interests and engages your audience. If you’re just starting out, you can start with what interests and

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engages you, then observe and adapt from there.

If your site is brand-new, start with about 10 posts that really encapsulate your fundamental beliefs and values about your topic. Think about what you would want every single reader of your site to know about.

If you’ve been writing for a while but your site lacks focus, look through your most popular material and pull your best stuff into a series of well- focused content landing pages.

These useful pages are a great place to focus your SEO copywriting efforts, because readers love them and they naturally tend to attract links and social sharing.

3. Make your content worth reading.

This one is tricky.

We’ve seen marketers claim that their content is “high quality” because it contains a certain number of words, because they didn’t use article- spinning software to write it, or even because they actually know something about their topic.

There’s a lot of lousy, unreadable content that conforms to those three standards.

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If you don’t get likes and shares, if Google suddenly hates you, or if your traffic tends to bounce like a superball, you have to take a hard look at the possibility that your content just isn’t as good as it needs to be.

How can you tell if your content is worth reading?

Content is worth reading if people read it. You don’t decide. Readers decide.

That means you watch what gets the most traffic, the most links, the most social shares, and yes, the most comments.

Content worth reading usually:

• Appears under a headline that attracts and pulls in the audience, and

• Is genuinely useful, focusing on problems readers actually care about, and

• Is formatted to engage and hold attention, and

• Is at least moderately entertaining.

Leave any one of those out and you’ll find that content marketing is depressingly, horrifyingly hard.

If, after a hard look, you realize that your content sucks, all is not lost. Partner (now) with a writer who’s great at creating terrific content, but who struggles with some element of business that you’re really good at.

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There is no way around this step.

You either create content worth reading (or watching, or listening to, if you’re doing multimedia) or you don’t. Anyone who tells you otherwise is slowing you down and will lead you to failure.

4. Give your content a secure environment.

Having your site hacked is just no fun, and it happens too often. But there is a lot you can do to protect yourself.

Make sure your web host takes security seriously. Keep your site software (WordPress or whatever other tool you might be using, including your theme and all plugins) up to date.

We have been consistently impressed with a service called Sucuri that monitors your site 24/7 and alerts you instantly if they find any malware.

They can even clean it up for you if it does happen. We use them to do “security sweeps” of existing sites before we bring them onto our hosting platform, because they do such an excellent job. (These daily sweeps plus cleanup are included in all Synthesis hosting packages.)

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5. Don’t give your great content an ugly place to live.

Your words might be brilliant enough to make unicorns weep, but if you put them into an ugly, amateurish, or cluttered design, your readers won’t come back.

The right premium WordPress theme can give you a beautiful, professionallooking design at a very attractive price. It will provide other benefits as well, including improved security and code that doesn’t get in the way of your SEO rankings.

6. Create content that attracts a wider audience.

Your “cornerstone” content will help you start to build strong relationships with the people who can eventually become your customers. Now you’ve got to find readers for that content... which means you’ll create content that is specifically designed to attract and widen your audience.

This is where you put all your headline-writing skills into practice. Content that attracts attention also tends to have a strong, well-defined point of view.

A little controversy can be good for attracting new readers, as long as you don’t fall into the trap of seeking attention for its own sake.

You’ll still rely on the factors that make your content worth reading: make it

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useful, make it interesting, make it readable, and put a killer headline on it.

A numbered list or two wouldn’t kill you either.

7. Build an email list sooner rather than later.

Content on a public website (like a blog) is fantastic for snagging attention — but to deepen the relationship, nothing works like email.

The email autoresponder is a proven way to use your very best content to build prospect relationships and create an environment of trust.

Email hits readers in a more intimate way, and it tends to engage their attention more fully. When you want readers to take a specific action, send them an email.

8. Create content on a larger stage.

If you feel good about items 1-7, you’re ready to start looking for a larger stage to play on.

This is where guest posting comes in.

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