Category Archives: Storytelling

What 5 Years of Content Marketing Has Taught Me

I can’t believe that 5 years ago, I started this little blog in the hopes of cms-265127_640promoting myself (back then) as a digital ad sales consultant.

Fast-forward to the present and I am now a full-time B2B content marketer who has worked with brands like the Canadian Digital Media Network, TELUS, Influitive and Shopify.

And I’m proud to say that they are all Canadian brands that I am thrilled to support.

Never in a million years did I think this is what I’d be doing when I started by own business.

But I am so glad that I am exactly where I am today.

So, to celebrate my love of writing and working with customers to tell their brand story, I thought I’d share a few of the hard lessons on blogging and content marketing that I have learned over the years.

  1. Never stop writing and never stop learning

    Even if I am not constantly writing on my own blog, I write at least 3 posts a week (in addition to working on ebooks, case studies, etc.).

    So, I keep trying to perfect my craft. Likewise, I read at least 10 blog posts a day from other writers who I admire.

    There is always room to improve, so I want to see what the pros are doing try to incorporate it into my own writing style.

  2. Only write for brands that you believe in

    Although I also do a lot of ghost writing for companies, I choose to only write for industries and brands that I am passionate about.

    That’s because I only want to put my name on something that I am proud of and I believe that passion is a huge motivator.

    Why bother writing about something you aren’t passionate about? If you aren’t passionate, it will certainly show through in your writing.

  3. Case studies: The customer is always the hero in the story

    This is something I’ve learned over the past few years in writing case studies for clients.

    It’s not the client/software solution that needs to be the protagonist in a story, it’s the customer who has been through some sort of struggle, which led them to that solution, that needs to shine as the hero.

    Basically, the customer is the rock star and the software solution is the roady or sound technician behind the scenes who makes them shine on stage.

  4. Have coffee with your target audience

    Ok, so it doesn’t have to be coffee, but you need to speak (in person) with the people who are likely to read the blog, ebook, whitepaper, etc. for which you are writing.

    You need to understand their pain points and what messages might resonate with them or get them to move from the awareness phase to the consideration phase of the purchase funnel. And that takes some time and experimentation with your content as well.

  5. Let the trolls keep on trolling

    I think I’ve said this before but you can’t please everyone with your writing. Ultimately, if you get more positive comments than negative ones, you are doing just fine.

    That being said, you can always learn something from what the haters are hating on – even if it’s just how to be the opposite of what they are as a human being.

    But sometimes there is a shred of truth to what is being said and you can always use that information to improve for the next piece that you write. Just don’t let the negativity get you down for too long.

    Thanks for continuing to follow my blog and I look forward to share more of what I have learned in the years to come.

    Have a question about blogging or content marketing? Please share in the comments below.

Image via Pixabay

A Content Marketing Spokesperson (or Influencer) Can Help Legitimize Your Business

A lot of business-to-business (B2B) startups and small businesses use content marketing as a 2legit2quitstrategy to generate new business leads and to increase search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. But it’s important to remember that achieving those goals can take a lot of time. And it can be frustrating if you aren’t reaching your desired results fast enough.

What’s important to keep in mind is that while emails may not be flooding your inbox just yet, you are still contributing to an important part of the purchase funnel – the consideration stage. So, even if most of your leads are still coming in through word of mouth, you can bet your sweet aunt Susan that businesses are evaluating your services through your website, blog, social media following and other content channels.

The key is to produce content that provides valuable insights and advice on how businesses can achieve greater results by tapping into your services. This does not mean directly selling your product. Instead, you should sell your vision and tips on best practices related to your industry.

Content marketing is also an opportunity to show prospective clients who you are as a person (if you are a solopreneur) or leader of a service provider. That’s why some of the most successful companies that use content marketing as a strategy have a person, or group of people, lending their voice and perspectives via a blog, social media or other content channels on behalf of the business.

After all, people want to work with others whom they like and trust. And if you come across as friendly, competent and trustworthy in your content, new clients who are evaluating your services will achieve peace of mind – knowing that their investment in you will pay off.

To give you an idea of how to do this effectively, I’ve put together a list of Canadian spokespeople and social media influencers who have successfully helped to legitimize their business to prospective clients through content marketing. Their storytelling skills, expertise and charisma help to showcase what it would be like to work with or buy services from their company. Check them out below.

  1. Peter Aceto, CEO of Tangerine (blogger, speaker, author, and social media influencer)
  2. Erin Bury, Managing Director of 88 Creative (blogger, speaker, TV personality and newspaper columnist)
  3. Tony Chapman, former founder and CEO of Capital C (now a motivational speaker, TV personality, columnist and consultant).
  4. Tara Hunt, Director of Audience Development at Totem (author, blogger, and speaker)
  5. Mitch Joel, President of Mirum (blogger, speaker, author, podcaster, radio personality and newspaper columnist)

Have a name that should be added to the list? Please share it in the comments section below. Or, send an email to andrea [at] therunningstart [dot] ca.

Image source: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/

My Favourite 2014 Blog Posts

Happy New Year! I’m excited to start a fresh year of blogging. But before moving ahead, I think it’s Typewriter spelling the words "Once upon a time"important to reflect on what stories worked well and drove a lot of traffic and/or engagement in 2014.

So, below are some of my most popular posts from the past year (across multiple publications) and my thoughts on why I think they were so successful.

1. Six steps for setting up a small business in Canada

I kicked off 2014 by writing this story for TELUS Talks Business. I think that this post continues to generate a lot of page views because the topic is evergreen – meaning that it is not time sensitive and people can refer to this post as a check list of things to do in order to get started with their small business.

2. Kirstine Stewart says Twitter offers a new beginning for television

Last May, I attend the Clickz Live Conference in Toronto and really enjoyed Kirstine Stewart’s (managing director at Twitter Canada) talk about how Twitter can help drive increased television viewership and engagement. I think that the reason that this story got so many shares on Techvibes is because the title was extremely compelling and it offered insights/thought leadership from a senior level person at one of the world’s largest social media technology companies.

3. Cheers to happy accidents

Although this post didn’t drive a lot of shares on my personal blog, it did drive a lot of conversation on Twitter. I think that the reason some of my Twitter followers chose to respond to this post was because I shared it in the evening (when people are often sitting around after dinner and looking for casual stories to read online). The topic was also very playful and interesting. It’s definitely one of my favourite posts of 2014.

Writing a highly engaging or traffic-driving blog post is an art form. And I am constantly trying to learn why some of my stories tank and others soar. Have a tip for how to drive more traffic and engagement via blog posts? Please share in the comments section below.