difference between good and bad content? How can marketers create content with
limited resources? What are some major content marketing trends to watch?
sat down with one of our favorite experts – Matt Heinz – to tackle these common
content marketing questions.
somone who really, really gets marketing and sales. As the president of Heinz
Marketing he helps major clients – including Amazon.com, Trulia,
Concur, Seagate, and many others – find smart, creative ways to reach bigger
audiences and increase revenue. Prior to founding Heinz Marketing, Matt held
various positions at companies such as Microsoft, Weber Shandwick, Boeing, and The
Seattle Mariners. He is also a prolific author who has litterally
written the field guide to modern marketing.
So what is
his advice for content marketers? Check out our Q&A below to find out:
Q: What is
the difference between good content and bad content?
content tells an engaging story to a targeted audience that you’re intending to
reach, and it compels action.
you to do something. Not all content needs an explicit call-to-action, but it
must have the ability to inspire you to be better, to do something, to make you
want to learn more and do more. That can take a lot of different shapes, so the
specific tactics and the format of the content is secondary to having a
Q: In your Secrets to
Successful Content Marketing Guide you say that not having a plan is one of the biggest mistakes brands
make when diving into content. How should marketers approach developing a plan?
What are the key things to think about?
A: The foundation of a content plan is
knowing the targeted audiences that you’re going after and then the stages of
the buying journey that you want to address content for.
So, who are
the people you’re trying to reach? Are there three or four different decision
makers or roles you’re speaking to? What kinds of content are they going to
need to see?
The answer to
that last question is based on different stages of buying journey. Create a
simple spreadsheet and say: this person is at this stage, these are their
needs, and these are the storylines I might want to use to address that person.
That is the
foundation from which you can build an editorial calendar. From there you can
also determine the right formats and the right frequency. It all starts with
that content map.
marketers we talk with say they are struggling to create enough content. What
would your advice to them be? How can companies create significant amounts of
content with limited budgets and staff?
A: Well, first, all the content doesn’t have
to be your content.
Some of the
best content strategies I’ve seen include a very healthy component of content
created by others. You can get a lot of credit for helping your audience find
interesting pieces without having to write it all in-house.
there is no way to get around the fact that creating content worth reading
takes time. It takes resources, and you have to deploy those resources
efficiently. Content is an investment.
Now, are you
going to go from zero to a huge content pipeline immediately? No, of course
not. It’s OK to ramp-up over time.
Q: How can
brands extend the reach of their content? Should marketers use paid
A: I have no problem with paid media and paid
amplification. It takes time to build up an audience organically.
It also helps
to look at who the influencers are in your industry and to create content that
they may want to share with their audiences. Plus, look inside your company and
get employees to share and to amplify your content. It’s an effective way to
Going back to
the original question, sponsored content is a great way to get people to start
to recognize that you are a regular source of something of value.
that doesn’t mean they all are going to engage right away. I think about this
analogy with social media quite frequently: It is like driving by someone’s
house at 45 miles per hour and trying to throw something into their mailbox.
You are going to miss a lot. Not everyone is going to see all your content all
the time, but eventually they will recognize that when they do check the
mailbox, there is something good in there. After a while they come to associate
you with good content.
work if your content is selfish, though. It can’t all just be about you.
However, if your content is valuable, people will want more and paying is a
great way of getting started.
Q: What is
the perfect content marketing channel?
A: Well, I don’t think there is one answer to
that. I think everybody has the channels that they are most comfortable with.
journalist by training and education, so the written word is what I’m most
comfortable with. I know other people who don’t like to write, but are very
good on camera, so they do video blogs.
You also have
to take into account which channels your audience is using. Snapchat is really
interesting to me because I’m still trying to figure out if it has any
relevance to B2B marketing. If I’m trying to reach senior decision makers, and
they love Snapchat, then I should be using it. It’s all about understanding of
where your audience is, and what type of content they are engaging with.
metrics do you look at when evaluating an existing or new content channel?
A: Ultimately, I want to see the influence on
sales. I want to see how it is contributing to the pipeline.
can be measured directly against sales, but you can often see if the content is
sparking deeper product research, or conversions, or engagement.
There is also
some content that is just chocolate cake. It is simply about getting someone’s
attention so that you can have a future business conversation with them.
attention is really valuable. Over last year and a half my wife and I have been
doing a pretty massive renovation project on our old farmhouse, and I had no
idea how effective the pictures I shared on social media would be as a content
marketing tactic. All these people I see at industry events will bring it up;
they will talk about the renovation and ask questions about it.
I was mostly
publishing the pictures so friends and family members could follow along, but
it ended up being a great conversation starter. Should I attribute deals
specifically to pictures of our remodel? No. Do I believe that it had an impact
in building relationships and maybe even moving people towards our firm? Yes.
Q: How often
should a company evaluate their content distribution channels?
A: We encourage our clients to do a quarterly
business review of what’s going on, what’s working, and what needs to be
changed. Anything more frequent than that and you are probably not spending
enough time on the actual execution. Any less than that and you might be
missing out on something new.
It is also
important to have a day-to-day openness to new ideas. Today’s marketer has to
have a greater level of agility than ever before. You can have the best plan in
the world but once you hit the battlefield, things are going to change. Just
because Snapchat wasn’t part of my marketing plan in January doesn’t mean that
I’m not going to think about it now.
Q: Are you
seeing any common content strategy mistakes?
A: Two things: First, companies often create
content that is about themselves and that doesn’t help their target groups. It
shouldn’t be about the organization, it should be about the audience. I often
see a lack of customer-centered content.
Second, I see
a lot of content that that dead ends. Content should have a purpose. Does that
mean that everything has to lead towards a free trial offer or a conversion
offer? No, but your content needs to compel some next step.
Q: Where do
you see content marketing heading in the next few years? Are there any big
trends that you are watching or you think marketers should be watching?
A: It is always important to watch the
evolution of channels; Snapchat wasn’t nearly as big a year and half ago and
now you see podcasts making a comeback. Channels continue to change and you
need to stay on top of that.
The one thing
that is going to be universal five years from now, 10 years from now, and even
50 years from now is the importance of story.
The definition of a
great content is that it’s emotional; it tugs on people’s heartstrings; it gets
them to think differently; it gets them to react not just with their heads but
with their hearts. That will always be important.