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Talking Content Marketing – With Sharon Tanton

Sharon Tanton_talking content marketing_the Id Group_bournemouth_content marketingOur Talking Content Marketing quest for opinion, knowledge and best practice heads a lot closer to home with Sharon Tanton, Creative Director of Bristol based, Valuable Content and co-author of Valuable Content Marketing

Here we talk about whether the UK has now ‘got it’ when it comes to content marketing, the dangers within the B2B world and who Sharon would never press the ‘unsubscribe’ button to.

Six questions, six answers, lets talk….

A small intro about you, what you do and what you stand for?

I’m Sharon Tanton, Creative Director of Valuable Content. Valuable Content is a content marketing consultancy and training business, and we help good people get great results from their content marketing. What do I stand for? No one’s asked me that before! I stand for humanity in business marketing for real people, and loving what you do.

When it comes to a content approach, have we ‘got it‘ in the UK with a changed mindset?

I think we’re getting there. A couple of years ago people were asking us ‘what is content marketing?’ and now the question is ‘how do I make content marketing work in my organization.’ It’s a bit of a no-brainer, really. We’re all so sick of thoughtless hard-selling, and of cold calling and spam emails – people are relieved to find a way of marketing that doesn’t make them act in ways that make them feel icky! At its heart content marketing is just really helpful marketing – it’s answering all your customers’ questions in the way they want to hear it – and that’s a comfortable place to be. Having said that, I still got 5 irritating cold calls from EE last week wanting to flog me broadband, so not everyone’s got it!

Your ‘Feel Good Marketing‘ article looks at businesses building trust by showing you care. Is a switch from promoting product benefits to being a valuable information resource an ongoing commitment not a three to six month trial?

Absolutely. If you just dabbled with content marketing for three months I’d put money on you failing. Sticking up a couple of e-books won’t suddenly get your phones ringing off the walls. Just writing a blog or sending a few tweets isn’t going to solve all your marketing issues. Content marketing is an ongoing commitment that involves your whole organization.

You look to work with the right clients (as highlighted in the ‘not more clients, but the right ones‘ article) by not saying ‘yes’ to everyone. Is creating a customer persona a way to build authority and send those who don’t buy into your way of working/thinking, packing?

Yes, we’re looking much more carefully at the clients we really want to work with. We’re a small business, and we have no plans to get huge, so every account really counts. Happiness is written into our marketing strategy, so lovely clients who get us and our approach are a must!

Customer personas are a brilliant way of making your perfect client come to life. And once you have that picture, you know the stories you need to tell to pull them towards you. I was really inspired by a chat to Doug Kessler. We gave Velocity a Valuable Content award, and he talked me through their journey towards finding their ideal clients. Use your content as a filter, not a magnet – I think that’s great advice for everybody, but especially for consultancies.

Your ‘Valuable Content’ awards recognises those who stand for something. Which UK companies do you consider as having a voice, a purpose and consistent message?

We’re big fans of Hiut Denim. Hiut Denim is a business with meaning and an innate ability to communicate. I love their ‘Do One Thing Well’ message –there’s a lot of power in those four very simple one syllable words. (From a copywriting background, I get very excited about good messages written well. So often businesses are scared by raw simplicity, but it’s got such strength, particularly in our era of information overload.) Hiut’s story is at the heart of things, and their content makes it fly. Their valuable, inspiring content spread across their website and beyond gets them found and turns people into passionate advocates for their business.

 Do you think that the B2B world is in danger of becoming a ‘me too’ all inclusive resort (social channels predominately used to sell, content created is repetitive, opinion is limited, repetition and interruption is high)?

Interesting. I guess there is a danger of that, and now you make me think about it, I am skipping over an awful lot of B2B marketing chat and opinion in my social media feeds. I don’t need to read another article on why content marketing is the way forward for B2B marketers. Or whether content shock exists. Or doesn’t exist. And I definitely don’t need to read anything illustrated with a stock shot of fingers pointing at a board with content marketing written on it!

 Whose newsletter (or anything that you subscribe to digitally) would you never press the ‘unsubscribe’ button?

Chris Brogan’s newsletter is the one constant that I make time to read every week. I did his Mastering the Digital Channel course last year and learnt a lot. I read the newsletter for lots of reasons – firstly his advice is so valuable and clear, he always makes me think. Secondly I love his very human approach. He absolutely wears his heart on his sleeve (sometimes maybe too much for his own good) but I love the vulnerability, it makes me like him, and want to keep reading. It’s a very cool newsletter! It’s an ambition to get him to come and talk at our content group one day!


Valuable Content Marketing. Content marketing The ID Group, Bournemouth, DorsetHuge thanks to Sharon for her time. Her book, with Sonja Jefferson, Valuable Content Marketing is an award winning publication packed full of advice, tips and knowledge to implement a working content marketing strategy for your company. Click here to get your hands on the book. Why not download a FREE chapter of Valuable Content Marketing? Just click on the image of the book.

To find more from Sharon’s world:

Sharon on Twitter: click here

Valuable Content: click here


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