Janette Lonsdale is a professional writer, editor, content strategist, and the owner of The Red Stairs, a boutique content consultancy who helps in the planning and development of digital content for B2B business in manufacturing and health care.
Janette has also served on the boards of the St. Louis Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the St. Louis Publishers Association. She also has worked in Asia, the U.K., and the United States. She will once again be a speaker at the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference where she will share her expertise on how you can grow your business using her strategies.
Q: What are some of the worst mistakes a business could make when it comes to content marketing?
* Not having a person whose job it is to manage content.
* Not having a content calendar. Marketing content is a serious part of your business. Publishing consistently good content means having a plan that keeps you on track, and on message.
* Not following, or not having, a documented strategy and plan for content marketing. It is not good enough to just post material; everything needs to have a purpose and should, in some way, tie into a company’s business goals.
* Not using professional content writers and developers. While it seems like a good idea to get the experts in your business – your engineers, lawyers, warehouse manager, etc. – to write content, it is usually not a good idea. Subject matter experts are not content experts.
Even if they have a good command of language, they are not copywriters, and they probably won’t know how to frame your material in a way that gives you a competitive advantage.
Q: What do you think is next for content marketing? How will it evolve in the coming years?
* Educational content
I think educational-style content will continue to be paramount to attract prospects to your digital platform. The emphasis will continue to move from volume to quality, and well-crafted content will increasingly give brands a competitive advantage. Quality means a lot more than good grammar – it is content that achieves its goal as part of a well thought out strategy.
* Focus on results and funnels
There will be increasing scrutiny on results. This means content needs to be integrated into the sales process.
This will mean putting more attention on marketing and sales funnels and how the content relates to the buyers’ journey. People make 60% of their buying decisions based on the content they find online.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation systems give marketers the opportunity to map out the sales process, identify what content is needed to support sales, and manage when it should be sent.
* Personalized content.
This will mean using writing techniques for creating modular content. Modular content is not new to us at The Red Stairs because we have such a strong publishing and management background. I anticipate new technology will make it feasible for businesses of all sizes to use personalized content.
* Marketing automation
Automation is going to be vital in the near future, even for small businesses. Right now, automation is very complicated. Configuring these tools is not something for the faint of heart. At the top end, the tools are expensive and they require technical skills to configure and operate them.
* Technical skills
Developing technical skills to configure marketing automation, and learning how to use the systems, is increasingly critical for marketers. At The Red Stairs, we have the business analysis skills that help clients identify their marketing process strengths and challenges and the appropriate technology solutions.
Q: Social media marketing is free, right?
No. It is not. And the trend to monetize these “free” platforms is not going away.
* It costs time and energy to create the content you need to feed the social media beast.
* Using social media effectively requires skill and training.
* Managing social media for brands requires tools for posting, listening and more.
* Businesses, especially those that want their staff to talk about the company on social media, need to create social media policies and offer training.
Q: A small business owner has to wear many hats and time is always tight. What are some social media time management tips you have to help them stick with their social media campaign without losing a lot of time?
- I am a big believer in setting time aside. Don’t try to do your marketing ad hoc. You’ll get busy, and it will fall off your to-do list.
Schedule when you will research and write your material. And, set up a time every day to check your accounts. It is important to engage and interact with your followers.
- Find and use productivity tools. Buffer and Hootsuite both help you schedule your posts. Feedly is a great tool for gathering information.
- Be focused – know your purpose and why you are posting material. When you post content that is not relevant to your purpose you are wasting energy and opportunity. You may also risk confusing your audience.
- Watch your stats – make sure you are reaching the right people and that you are posting when they are active on social media. For example, posting lunch specials at midnight may not bring in the lunch crowd.
- Don’t try to post to every platform. Find out where your audience hangs out and focus your efforts there.
- Consider outsourcing. A professional has the skill to do a great job. Remember there is an opportunity cost to doing everything yourself.
Q: According to you, what are the top three mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging digital marketing?
- Having no content strategy. Effective content is woven into the fabric of your business process and is created to satisfy the needs and wants of the audience you’d like to buy your goods and services. Good market research is the best way to find out about your audience.
- Talking about what the business wants to tell its customers instead of providing resources that help prospects and customers discover what they want to know.
- Not using professional content developers who know how to create persuasive content.
Q: Which are your three favorite digital marketing tools?
- Email marketing tools. For basic newsletters and the more complex email series that are part of the sales funnel. Although I don’t have a favorite platform, clients are looking for solutions that are integrated into their CRM and marketing automation systems.
- Hoot Suite for social media.
- WordPress – robust platform for business websites and blogging.
Q: What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for digital marketing profile?
- Proven copywriting skills – they must be able to communicate marketing and sales messages in writing.
- Personable – easy to work with.
- Customer relationship skills.
- The ability to walk in another person’s shoes. A student of humanity.
- Understanding of copywriting techniques.
- Creative problem-solving skills.
- Digital marketing experience.
Q:Who are three people you respect when it comes to digital marketing?
– Ann is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content and co-author of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs; a LinkedIn Influencer and a keynote speaker.
– Brian Clark
– Founder of Copyblogger and CEO of Copyblogger Media.
– CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, a world-renowned content strategy consultancy. Author of Content Strategy for the Web. It is considered the “gold standard” for content strategy literature and is credited with creating the foundation for what is now a rapidly-evolving industry.