Tuesday, May 1, 2012

You would be surprised how much bad marketing there is. After a while you won’t be able to go anywhere without seeing it.

By Mark Helfen

“You would be surprised how much bad marketing there is. After a while you won’t be able to go anywhere without seeing it.”

By focusing on what your readers (or prospects) want to read instead of what you want to say, you can make your marketing program more effective, either getting more results from the same investment, or spending less.

So says Paul Gustafson, President of the TDA Group, a marketing communications company. Or perhaps more precisely, a content production company. Gustafson’s background includes both an engineering degree and experience as a journalist.  Over his career his experience equipped him to act as the engineering, sales, and marketing go-between. Writing was one of his strong points. 

Gustafson will be speaking at the next SVForum MarketingSIG meeting on May 14, at our regular EMC location. (Please sign up in advance at our Meetup page.) His talk is titled Content Matters: Getting Your Audience to Listen.

Content can sometimes have the connotation of creating information of little value with the sole objective of maximizing search engine positioning, but in TDA’s case Gustafson’s target is to write information that closely matches what readers want to see – describing his company as the intersection of technical competence, communications professionalism, and marketing, focused on business-to-business marketing.

Of course, marketing departments and consultants have been producing “content” for a long time, and in large volumes, before it was called content. But social media has changed the equation, putting the reader more in control. As content has become integrated with the social media world, people choose what they read based on their social connections, colleagues, friends, and professional connections. The model has changed from getting “stuff I don’t want” to choosing “stuff I want.”

When people first begin to get technical and product information through social connections, they sign up for a lot. After a while they prune down the list, and you want to be sure that your brand is left as part of the mix. This demands that marketing writers deliver a “higher standard for reader service,” clearly understanding what readers, and potential customers, want to read or learn.

There is also a change in the audience. At one time, technology and business executives were different people. But the differences are disappearing, at least among leading companies. From Gustafson’s perspective every company is now a software company, and every company is now a media company. Your marketing material needs to adjust.

At the meeting, he will outline three strategies to deal with creating content that gets noticed.

- You need to better understand you reader (and proposed customer,) by surveying, or somehow getting feedback.

- You need an outside viewpoint. He uses the example that you can give yourself a haircut, but it doesn’t usually come out very well. To get a clear vision of how others respond to your material you need someone outside your organization to do the evaluation.

- You need a regular production process or workflow. He will outline the process used at TDA to give a working example of how to product content people want to read.

PLEASE REGISTER IN ADVANCE for Content Matters: Getting Your Audience to Listen on our meetup page:



Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

He can be reached at: mhelfen@wordpixel.com
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