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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: A Comic Lover’s Guide to Blogging – Part Two

Superman-Comic

Superman is attributed with saying, “You asked for my help.  That’s all that matters.”  Now, I’m not claiming to be the Superman (or woman) of blogging, and you may not have asked for my help.  However, the point is you landed on this page, reading a blog about what comics teach us about successful blogging, so for the time being I am going to be the Captain America to your Bucky, the Batman to your Robin, the, dare I say it, Holden McNeil to your Banky Edwards (obtuse comic reference, ten points for you if you get it) and school you on what comics teach us about blogging.  If you haven’t checked out the part one to this post, click here.

I laid out five specific points previously regarding this topic, and that was probably enough to establish some general guidelines for you.  Read on to complete your knowledge and successfully apply some useful comic teachings to your blogging:

  • Strategic cross-selling isn’t just for corporate sales guys:  You are sadly mistaken if you believe that the cross-STK4605571selling principle was founded, and only works, in some Fortune 500 setting.  Truth be told, it’s not some sleek corporate drone who first came up with the idea to reel a customer in by hooking them on several products.  Comics are great at this concept. You will notice that when you pick a book up, rarely can you satisfy yourself with only buying one series.  Usually, there is tons of backstory that you have to get caught up on. Then you have to figure out the inside jokes, and what about the plot twists and the fact that even as one story is unfolding, an entirely separate subplot is happening in a sister comic?  This type of cross-selling means that a reader is hooked, and there is enough pull for the individual to invest in multiple areas.  How this applies to your blog?  If there is some other piece of content, information or a product available to a reader, you need to mention it.  Understand demand and how your information or product fits in.  Analyze what people will want after they are done reading your blog, and then deliver it.  You are the captain of this environment and, as such, you have the power to direct traffic.
  • The customer has control: Considering the customer-focused strategy employed by the majority of comics, there is little wonder why many comic series have such loyal followers. Sure, there have been times when a comic creator decided to do something risky—in turn, he might have received praise from fans, or a severe outcry.  Ultimately, it is the personal approach that many comic creators are provided with through conventions, workshops and fan fairs that allow them to connect with their customers. This interaction helps them to realize what is going over well and what is falling flat.  While your blog might operate on a smaller scale than the fandom found at Comic-Con, the fact is, there are plenty of ways for you to get to know your readers and understand what they are thinking.  Ask for feedback, employ a review widget on your blog, listen to what your reader base is saying on social media and implement all of this into your blog or editorial strategy.
  • Expert approach to brand management: It might be argued that the term “brand” is vastly overused in today’s marketing and technology-driven world.  While it might take some time to sort through the noise in order to truly understand and develop a brand strategy, the case remains that brand management is integral to companies large and small today.  Even individual bloggers, social media experts, content creators and the like are focused on this concept, because it is integral to how they attract customers.  All in all, brand management is not a new concept and it’s something that comics have been doing well for decades.  Think of it: Spiderman, he’s a brand, so is the comic house Marvel, DC Comics, Superman, Wolverine, The Avengers, the list goes on.  Stan Lee, for goodness sake, a comic creator, is a brand name.  Moreover, all of these brands are loved and doted on; they are an obsession for fans. While the marketers behind these brands might occasionally push the line on boundaries and ideas, they stay true to the overall message that has been passed down through the years. And they are consistent.  The lesson here is this: know your brand, understand what it means to your customers, readers or followers and stay on point and on message in all things you do. This includes the products you are in charge of, the content you create and the message you send over social media or in guest blogging opportunities. 
  • The power of a multi-faceted approach:  It’s true that the average comic has ample opportunity for promotion Amazing Spider-Man poster 3on a multitude of platforms; cinema, toys, graphic novels, traditional comic books, cartoons, clothes.  Your brand or blog might not have so many outlets, but it is here where you have to get creative.  Where exactly are your customers or readers?  What do they want?  If your message is one that could be turned to video, get proficient on YouTube.  You don’t need a studio to produce this material, just a good camera phone.  What social media platforms appeal to your readers?  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest?  Understand how your customers want to connect with you.  Or, maybe there is opportunity for that cross-selling opportunity.  Does the material you write about interest other bloggers?  Is there a chance that a subject you are an expert in could be expanded and put into an eBook?  The lesson?  Don’t be one-dimensional.  While Spiderman might have started off as an image on the paper pages of a comic book, today he is so much more.  Find your platform and expand your brand.
  • Artful repurposing:  Content creation is hard work, especially when you are trying to stay relevant and interesting.  Keeping that in mind, as content creators, many of us are guilty of presenting material and then letting it rot in the ether, never expanding upon it, revising it or introducing it again.  This is a crime, especially when we stress ourselves out trying to find topics to write about, when the material we have already created and the information we have presented is usually evergreen.  Comics, on the other hand, are typically serialized weekly, on the fortnight or monthly.  However, it is then that storylines are recycled into other series, issues are repeated, there are special issues, bonus issues featuring a supporting character, graphic novels, re-issues and other ways of recycling past material.  This is a huge opportunity!  Always be on the lookout for a chance to repurpose something.  Maybe you have the opportunity to republish an article on a guest blog or in an actual print magazine, maybe you can take snippets from an article and create a series of tweets from them or maybe you can bundle several posts together and create an eBook.  The opportunities are endless!

So, in closing, as you blog, remember: you do have the power to direct your readers and plot your course.  Following these rules, putting in the time and being strategic will get results.  Just remember what V from V for Vendetta said, as the words are truly wise.  “I, like God, do not play with dice and do not believe in coincidence.”  When it comes to blogging and being successful online, these words are especially sage.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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Holy Blogging Batman! Lessons Comic Books Teach Us about Writing for the Internet – Part One

batman-robin-19Let me state one thing for the record: I have never been a huge comic book fan.  While I have an appreciation for the art form, I admittedly offer that my exposure to the medium is largely because of my dad.  My mom recounted a story to me that when she and my dad found out they were going to have me (they hadn’t planned on having kids, so I was a surprise), my dad was faced with having to sell his comic book collection in order to get some quick cash; at the time my parents were in their 20s and, like most young people, a bit broke.  Now, I wasn’t aware of this until I was an adult and my dad decided to go about buying up his old collection, when he was decidedly in a different financial position.  And while it seems like a funny and innocent mid-life crisis, anyone who knows my dad knows that he is passionate about his comics.

What Comics Have Taught Me

Of course, I’ll listen to my dad if he wants to talk about Spiderman (within reason) and my husband is really accommodating when my father comes to visit and wants to go on an outing to our local comic store.  However, my dad’s love for comics has also allowed me to consider the art form from a perspective other than that of an annoyed daughter who has an “interesting” father.  In fact, as a writer who creates materials for use online, there are myriad lessons that can be learned about content creation and content marketing from comic books.  Consider these tips:

  • Content should be made for skimming.  Unlike a full novel, the story conveyed in a comic is told via sound bites and through a reader skimming the text.  There aren’t tons of words used to tell the story, but what is there is short and to-the-point.  This is perfect for readers who are excited, who have the capability of being distracted and who are looking for “the meat.”  There are catchphrases used by characters, which means creative wordplay is important.  Moreover, the length of a comic allows for greater consumption; readers are able to digest book after book quickly.  The content also is accompanied by exciting images and graphics, making it easy for attention to be captured.  The lesson here is that, as a writer, you need to make content easy, compact and consumable.  Internet readers have very short attention spans, especially when on the hunt for information that suits their needs.
  • Human drama captures interests.  Comic book stories are fast, engaging and dramatic, and while much oTony-Stark-iron-man-2268535-605-872f the action is somewhat elementary (fighting, etc.), the stories connect with a reader for a reason.  Ultimately, a comic’s plot makes you care about what is happening to the characters; you connect to them.  For instance, think about Peter Parker.  Here was a kid who was bullied and picked on.  He suffered the loss of loved ones and had relationship problems.  Or, consider Tony Stark outside of the Ironman gadgets and crazy workshop.  He had drug and alcohol problems.  Yes, he was a playboy gazillionaire, but there were personal issues present that made him seem real and relatable to a reader.  The point here?  People love to connect with people, they love to see the human faces behind a company or product, and they love to learn the story of how said company or product came to exist.  When it comes to the comic lesson learned here it’s this:  Consumers connect with people first, a brand second.  If your content can be social, inspired, and relatable and come alive through human-interest stories, you will connect on a more personal level with your targeted audience.
  • Longevity counts.  Think about it, how many writers have the ability to create a story that lasts for decades.  Comic writers have nailed consistency and storyline continuance.  Spiderman, Superman, Batman, these guys have been around for years, and even generations!  However, something else is at play. No matter if the character’s story is delivered via TV, movie or print, the fact of the matter is the tale is always evolving and changing with the times, while also staying true to its core.  A brand must be able to do this when offering their message on the Internet too, but what a customer loves and appreciates your company for must stay consistent as well.  It’s okay to experiment with new things, testing new products or concepts and changing with the times, as long as the brand doesn’t take for granted consumer loyalty and what brought a person to be a patron initially.
  • Excitement and anticipation inspires.  Comics are all about the cliffhanger, what super-villain is coming next, what challenge our hero is going to face…the anticipation and excitement presented in visuals and storyline inspire you to want to know what is coming and dammit! They make you want more!  If my dad has shown me one thing it’s that he can’t wait to go buy the next issue in whatever comic series he is reading. He cannot wait to go see the new Ironman. HE! CANNOT! WAIT!  This is storytelling at its finest, and can be carried over into the world of content marketing.  You need to think about what your customers want to see next. Then present the information that excites them but also leaves them on the edge of their seats, checking back in to your Facebook page, clicking on your website, always looking for more.  As long as you deliver on the information you have promised and tantalized with, your customers will stay excited, and hence, stay loyal.
  • Visuals matter.  In today’s Internet-driven world, content might be king, but visual complements help drive traffic—the growing popularity of Pinterest as a social media platform should show that.  Comic books illustrate that balance between written content and visual images is the key to user engagement.  In the world of content marketing, it is possible to create this balance on your social media pages, your website or your blog.  Compelling pictures draw traffic in, and interesting, well-written content keeps a reader’s attention, while also appeasing search engine algorithms.  Ultimately, the lesson here is that you cannot rely on visuals or content alone, mixing them both together provides for greater consumption.pow

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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5 Content Writing Marketing Tips that Boost Your Business

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For the past year or so, content marketing has largely been viewed as optional; that “thing” you do as a business owner or marketer when you have some downtime.  Right.  I have to say that I have held this perspective for a while, but realized that I can no longer afford to not engage in content marketing.  Yes, it’s another thing on the to-do list.  But it’s necessary.  One thing is for sure: in 2013 content marketing must be viewed as an integral part of reaching out, connecting with and educating your clients and prospective customers.

I recently read an article in Forbes about a company by the name of Blendtec.  The founder of the organization, Tim Dickson, decided to promote the blenders manufactured by his company by filming a video where he donned a lab coat and blended everything from an iPhone to a garden rake.  I have to say, I found this intriguing and was really excited to watch an iPhone being puréed (anyone who knows me will get this, as I am staunchly anti-Apple products—long story, don’t ask).

Anyway, because the video produced by Blendtec was so unique and entertaining to watch, it went viral and the company’s sales increased 700 percent overnight.

Not bad for a YouTube video!

Now, it has to be said that the success of this small Utah-based company isn’t something that will happen to every business if they produce a YouTube video about their products or services.  However, it can happen if you are ready to be diligent in your content marketing efforts and spice up your strategy with some creativity.  If you are contemplating re-launching or revamping your content marketing activities in 2013, follow these tips:

  1. Dedicate the time: To be successful at content marketing, you must make the time commitment.  A survey conducted by RainToday noted that 97 percent of customer purchasing decisions are influenced by a company’s website or online presence.  Moreover, a survey by Roper Public Affairs stated that 80 percent of business decision-makers noted they would prefer to get their information via articles and other informative content, not by way of advertisements.  This means that, as a content marketer, you must be researching and understanding what your customer wants.  You won’t be able to determine that if you don’t put in the time to do this work on a regular basis.
  2. Creativity is key: There are so many ways to deliver your content; via blogs, videos on YouTube, pictures on Pinterest and Tumblr and then more written content and links on Facebook and Twitter.  All of these platforms give your company limitless opportunity to personalize and promote your brand.  And, if you put a little thought into your strategy, it is possible to create an effective and concise message across platforms with both written and visual content.
  3. Engage in a bit of storytelling: Let’s face it, people want to be entertained.  Ultimately, consumers today want to feel a connection to a brand and it is important for you to humanize your business.  Think about it this way.  When I was a kid, I went on a trip with one of my great aunts to Alaska for two weeks.  When I came home, I pulled out the pictures to show my mom and she looked at me quizzically.  Sure, I had tons of pictures to show exactly where I had been and what I had seen in Alaska.  However, my smiling face was only in a handful of them (usually when there was a sled dog around to pose with, when I was bundled up in gear to go whitewater rafting or in a pair of Wellies, knee deep in a river panning for gold).  Truth be told, I hadn’t even thought about that aspect when I was taking them (in my defense, I was only 11), but I realize now that those pictures are less personal.  Sure they tell a story, but they don’t necessarily connect me to that story and that is exactly what my mom wanted to see.  This little anecdote can be tied to your business.  If you are working on Pinterest or active on a blog, tie yourself, your employees and what makes your business unique into the content you create.  Your audience will appreciate what you do all the more.
  4. Create a plan and stick to it: It’s true that social media platforms, blogs, YouTube and the rest can all feel a little bit scattered.  No wonder so many people suffer from ADD.  However, when it comes to your company’s content marketing, do all in your power to push aside the symptoms of attention deficit disorder and focus on what you hope to achieve, what your goals are, what you ultimately want to get out of this for your business.  Create an editorial calendar and plot your content marketing course, identifying what topics are important on a week-to-week basis for your company, what trends are occurring in your industry and, finally, what platforms are most effective for handling discussions.  Realize that you cannot work on every platform out there and it is going to be confusing and disorganized if you try.  Instead pick a few networks and give it your all.  For instance, in a company like mine, written content is obviously important; therefore, I consider the platforms that could benefit Grammar Chic the most—a blog and Twitter for instance.  I have also tried to think outside-of-the-box.  We just created a Pinterest account, and while I don’t manage it, I have some very talented and Pinterest-savvy staff members who assure me that it can be used to inject some humor into our message.
  5. Listen, listen, listen: A content marketing strategy is no good if you aren’t listening to what your audience wants.  Tune in to what your customers and prospects are saying and consider what your competitors are doing.  Set up Google alerts, invest in HootSuite and set up streams in Twitter for keywords that affect your business. Or, read the posts of colleagues on LinkedIn and really understand what is happening in the marketplace.

In closing, 90 percent of all businesses now engage in some form of a content marketing strategy. If your company is in the 10 percent that isn’t, you are being left behind.  Not to fear!  No matter if you are new to content marketing or an old pro who just needs a helping hand, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. for assistance with developing the best and most exciting content for your business.  Our team helps businesses of all stripes create a concise and compelling message for use across platforms that consumers and search engines love.  Call 803-831-7444 or email info@grammarchic.net.  Find Grammar Chic, Inc. on Twitter @GrammarChicInc.

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