New brand introduction

Every year I revisit my brand and determine whether it still meshes with my goals and whether it needs a facelift. A lot of those decisions come from how I’m using the various brand elements in my marketing.

For 2010, I’ve modified my brand to what you now see on my blog. In case you’re curious, here are the details:

My previous logo was fun — I really liked it — but it wouldn’t scale well to the places I needed it to appear:  It was quite tall and skinny, and the lines were very narrow, so if I wanted it to fit somewhere small, it would need to be shrunk to an imperceptible size. My new logo took the same elements — a square and an arrow (which have been common elements of my logo over the years) — and updated it. Now it is depicted as a diamond and arrow, two elements that each speak to success in some way: The diamond as an indicator of a standard and the arrow as an indicator of a positive direction. As well, the diamond is a loose reference to my Business Diamond Framework™, a strategy tool I developed that is gaining prominence in my work. Together, the diamond and arrow look like the nib of an old fashioned pen and like a wrench; both “pictures” hint at the work I do: I write and I work on businesses.

My previous color choices were very light and I couldn’t use all of the matching hues. These colors are darker and bolder, they have been intentionally selected so that I can use all of the matching hues in various situations. It also allowed me to switch to a white background on my blog, giving more contrast and making the content more readable than when it was against the light gray background that I used previously.

My name was switched to a serif font (Georgia) because it matches the font on my site. I like the “Business writer and strategist” label and have kept that. I think it still reflects what I do. It changed about a year or two ago; previously it was “freelance writer”, which is close to what I do but doesn’t quite position me the way I want to be positioned. I also like the balance between the serif and sans serif font. One says traditional and trustworthy; the other says new and fresh.

Changing a brand does run the risk of causing it to lose its effectiveness. However, it’s also important to revisit your brand from time to time and make sure that it still reflects you. I try to do this intentionally every year (with minor modifications here and there as needed).

Recommended reading: The Discipline of Market Leaders

I don’t remember where I got this book from. Amazon? Was it a gift? Who knows. It sat on my shelf for a while and when I finally picked it up I really enjoyed it. Authors Wiersma and Treacy say that there are essentially only 3 ways that a business becomes a market leader: through operational excellence, through product leadership, or through customer intimacy. I think a lot about market leadership for my clients so this book turned out to be a surprisingly relevant book.

Ten content strategy tips for 2010: Make your content more effective

Because of the new year and the recovering economy, businesses will likely be increasing the amount of content they publish for their business in coming months — anything from articles to blogs to Twitter tweets to Facebook fan pages.

If you are creating content for your business, you should keep these top ten content strategy tips in mind to make sure that you get the most out of your efforts.

Content strategy #1: Begin with the end in mind. Create goals for each content channel (i.e. Twitter, YouTube, your blog, or an article distribution site). Know what you want to achieve from that channel and make sure it is connected to your overall business goals. Be specific. Higher traffic generation through social media participation and increased sales through tested sales content is a good start (but it can be refined even further).

Content strategy #2: Measure to manage. Every channel should provide you with some kind of relevant measurement. It could be followers or page views or click-throughs or buy-nows… but it should be relevant to your business. Make sure you get hard data, not just vague feelings. If it doesn’t give you the measurables you need, or if the measurables are not relevant to your business, find a different channel… no matter how popular the channel seems to be.

Content strategy #3: Choose your channels. Not every new channel is right for you. Twitter, for example, was supposedly 2009’s silver bullet but it’s not necessarily the best choice for everyone. Select the most effective channels and concentrate on those and ignore the rest. You will second-guess yourself every day but you’ll also save yourself from wasting hours of time. It’s a trade-off. And don’t worry, you can eventually branch out, but start out with a narrow laser-like focus and plan to broaden your channels slowly. You’ll be way more effective.

Content strategy #4: Tiered participation. Last time I checked, there were only 24 hours in a day and some of that time had to be spent performing revenue-generating tasks and, perhaps, visiting Starbucks. Marketing your business 24/7 sounds nice but isn’t realistic. Pick a few channels and participate daily, and pick a few more channels and participate weekly. For example, if you’re going to comment on blogs, find some blogs to comment on daily and others to comment on weekly. Otherwise, you’ll be a marketing master but also a penniless hobo.

Content strategy #5: Strike a balance. Some businesses produce quality content. Some businesses produce a high quantity of content. Successful businesses strike a balance between the two. Each channel will demand its own consideration of what that balance is. One article a month is probably going to give you high quality content but doesn’t achieve the quantity you need to make an impression. Same with one tweet a week or one blog post a month. On the other hand, 100 keyword-stuff articles you paid some poor schlump $1.00 per article to crank out per day is going to give you some significant quantity but insufficient quality to achieve results. There are some tweeters who have similar quantity-over-quality tweets that get them deleted from my list of people I follow.

Content strategy #6: Build relationships. Hello, it’s 2010. If you don’t know that relationships are important for business then you should Google “social media” and find out what it’s all about. Your content should build relationships. Some of your content (like your tweets) will be more personable than other types of content (like articles) and some of your content will be very focused on selling… but it should all consistently build relationships to some degree.

Content strategy #7: Create a path. This is key. Just jamming out a bunch of content each day isn’t going to get you the results you want. Know what your sales funnel looks like and determine how each channel will move your contacts from one step to the next. Twitter, for example, is for relationship building — both early stage and ongoing. Your website’s sales content is for the actual transaction. There are content channels in between that are very effective… if you link them appropriately.

Content strategy #8: Create a content publishing calendar. Please don’t sit down at your blog and think “what am I going to write about today?” That is a recipe for bland blogging. Instead, create a publishing schedule for ALL of your content channels. Create a general publishing calendar for an entire year. It should contain a big list of ideas that you want to publish (in one channel or another) and it should also contain the frequency that you wish to participate in those channels (Twitter might be hourly, your blog might be daily, your article publishing might be weekly, and maybe you produce a press release every month).

Content strategy #9: Provide value. People are selfish. They want to get something out of the interaction; otherwise, why would they ever read your content to begin with? You can provide value to them by first understanding what they want then by giving them information that answers their questions and solves their needs. They will respect you and buy from you when the time is right. (By the way, a tweet like “I am making a ham sandwich” is providing value on Twitter because you’re creating a personal relationship that includes a part of who you are. On the other hand “get whiter teeth by clicking this bit.ly link” is not a value-adding tweet because the value that people want to get from Twitter is relationship-centric).

Content strategy #10: Consistency and patience. These go hand-in-hand when it comes to creating and publishing content. All too often, businesses that create content don’t see a return on it because they aren’t consistent and/or they aren’t patient. You need to be both… and that’s going to be a deal-breaker for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to get rich quick.

Ready to make 2010 a year of great success? Follow these 10 content strategy tips to make your content more effective.

[Photo credit: Tim In Sydney]

Testimonial

“Aaron is a great writer and is very reliable. I will continue to use Aaron on an on going basis for sales content writing.”

-Strategic Sales & Marketing Inc.