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Three ways to help your marketing content rise above the noise

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The following is a special guest post from author and content marketing expert, Mark Schaefer

There is just one, massive question on the mind of every marketer today – “How can I be heard?”

I am in my fourth decade of my marketing career, and I can say with authority that this is the most difficult time ever to stand out, to be seen, to be discovered. There are three primary reasons for this:

  1. Communication channels have fractured and multiplied
  2. Entry barriers for creating content are virtually zero as long as you have a keyboard and a wifi connection
  3. The amount of content being produced has resulted in a condition I characterized as “Content Shock.” Corporate content is no longer a novelty. It takes a lot to stand above the noise.

I’m not the kind of guy to sit around and wait for an issue like this to resolve itself. It won’t. In fact, it’s getting harder to compete through content day by the day. The world is filled with advice about how to create better content but today I want to focus on something more — the three best ways to get your content to stand out, and be seen!

1. Focus on Ignition.

Here’s the biggest problem with content marketers: They’re focused on the content.

Sure, you need to create superb, helpful, consistent content – but that’s a given. Everybody’s doing that. The economic value of content that is not seen and shared is zero. The power of content, the true value of content, is in the transmission. It has to move.

Does your marketing department have a content transmission department? No? Well, it’s time to think about it. You need to build a competency in getting content to spread.

This is why I believe social sharing is the second-most important digital marketing metric, only behind conversions. Getting people to share your content is difficult, but it drives the right behaviors in a company:

First, you have to create content that people want to share. That might seem simple – even obvious. But it’s not. Most of the content being shared today has high entertainment value. Are you putting out entertaining content … or crappy press releases? Most companies and their content is not entertaining!

Second, you need to connect with the people who are sharing your content. You need to show up and engage with them. Don’t just pump content out into the world. Get out there and engage!

Finally, you need to reward your best sharers (I call this group your alpha audience). Do you know them by name? These are the people creating the most value for your marketing effort. You should be treating them like royalty.

2. Add your own story.

To stand out in this world, you have to be original and to be original, you only have one choice – You have to have the courage to tell your own story.

Here’s a little quiz. Which blog post would you rather read?

  • The five biggest mistakes with blogging
  • How blogging saved my life.

Of course you would jump to the second headline. Anybody could write the first post. Only one person could write the second one. When people write guest posts for me, I encourage them to write a post that ONLY they could write. You’re sure to stand out … because there is only one you.

I recently surveyed my blog audience and asked them what they wanted to see “more of” in my blog. They answered, “we love your personal stories.” So, I’ll do my best!

I am normally an introverted person. I had to practice sharing my story over time but every time I do, I get rewarded.

Try to add your personality to everything you create.

3. Disagree with something.

I’m sure you disagree with your friends, family, and business colleagues in real life. But have you ever disagreed with anybody through a blog post or video? I’m guessing the answer is “no” … but why?

It takes a certain amount of courage to disagree with an industry thought leader, which is why so few people do it.

In my early blogging days, I was having a hard time getting anybody to pay attention to me. Then I wrote a gutsy post disagreeing with the top blogger in the industry. Yes, I was nervous, but I was also sure that I was right.

Since then, I have publicly disagreed with many thought leaders. I never attack people, only issues. And I don’t do it all the time, and I’m not a bully. I do it when I am authentically passionate about something that needs to change.

Here’s an example. A few years ago, author Seth Godin wrote that “the world gives you so many opportunities to be remarkable, why aren’t you becoming remarkable?”

I thought about all the people in this world who are sacrificing for others. These heroes don’t have time to be remarkable if they’re caring for a special needs child or serving their country. All those people are worthy, even if they are not being remarkable on social media.

So, I disagreed.

The other reason I disagree through my content is to set an example. The only way we will grow in our profession is through debate. It is possible to debate in a way that is professional, and I want to show people how you can do that.

Disagreeing stands out because it is so rare!

So now you have some of my best ideas for making your content stand out. Let me know your thoughts … especially if you disagree with me.

Mark Schaefer is a strategy consultant, keynote speaker, college educator, and the bestselling author of nine books including “Cumulative Advantage.”

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