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Talking Content Marketing – With Brian Honigman


Talking Content Marketing gives a warm welcome to content marketing consultant, Brian Honigman.

I enjoy his articles on Honigman Media, as well as Forbes and Huffington Post and Inc.

Brian believes that great content with a compelling purpose behind it can not only help brands meet their business goals but can contribute real value back to their consumers. In fact, he believes that the content that ends up working does so by virtue of the fact that it helps people and creates value.

Brian stands by the crusade to rid the world of noisy ads and commercial messages that no one wants to see and start making things that actually matter (and that work to boot)!

I wanted to delve into the importance of having a space that businesses have complete control of, but truly understand the importance of the role they play for others.

You mention it is still important to have a home base for your content? Why do you consider it important to still have a home and not the lure of a better reach on Medium/LinkedIn? 

This is an excellent question that is only becoming more relevant as direct-to-platform publishing is taking root. The answer is three-fold:

  • First, you can always publish in both places, just look at these platforms (Medium, LinkedIn and soon Facebook) as additional distribution platforms where you syndicate content that “originally appeared on your blog.” 
  • Second, much of the upside of having a home base for your content has to do with control. You have to be able to decide how your brand is presented and you have a lot more liberty to make those choices when you control the container. 
  • Lastly, having content directly on your site might narrow the top of the funnel, but will help decrease the number of steps consumers have to take to convert and will make the whole process less leaky. 

Essentially, there is virtually no downside to using multiple platforms, so you have nothing to lose.

Content is easier to produce, but harder to stand out. In order to be recognised, where do businesses start?

Your business needs to start by answering three questions.

  • What do you stand for (that’s bigger and higher level than the thing or service you sell)?
  • Who is your audience (narrow this down ruthlessly, better to narrow focus first and grow then vice versa)? 
  • What valuable things can you create that will align with answers #1 and #2.

Content as in baseline material might be cheap to make (someone in India can pump out 500 word articles for peanuts) but content that is relevant and interesting and different is rare.

Core economic principles tell us that scarcity, paired with demand creates value. You have the potential to hold a monopoly on great, valuable content for a narrow set of people (that just so happen to be your customers). You’d be remiss not to at least try and cash in on that opportunity.

How do you see the split between content creation and distribution? Have businesses become too focused on the creation and getting it on ‘the blog’ and then walking away rather than promotion?

So many brands come to me, they want to get started on Twitter (or any other channel for that matter) and they say “but we have nothing to Tweet!”

You look at their existing Twitter, which has maybe one Tweet a month (yet has been around since 2010) and they all essentially say “buy our thing!!!” 

My answer to them is “Of course you have nothing to say, because you’re not doing anything worth talking about!”

Distribution channels really only work once you have something to distribute. Sure, it’s not always gonna be your own content that you distribute, but it should be more often than not.

Creating content that is worthwhile is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for success, true, but it is the part of the equation that requires significantly more attention.

Focusing on distribution first is like trying to fire a machine-gun without any ammunition. Sure you could also fail if you load the gun but never pull the trigger, but this takes much less work.

Make things that are really great, consistently put them out there and make friends with the people that talk about it, and word will get out.

Before we get carried away and think that there is the pot of gold at the end of the content rainbow, do companies have to understand why they are doing this and what they stand for?

I have a name for a phenomenon I see all the time – Graveyard Blogs.

It’s a company blog that is almost like a dead branch hanging way off to the side of their core website. It has maybe three intermittent posts, and they all pretty much stink. What’s even worse is that these posts are likely in the top ten search results for their brand. 

The number one reason why you see so many Graveyard Blogs is because companies just do not get content marketing. They are so used to the instant-payoff of traditional advertising that the turnaround time they’re looking for is something they think can be measured in weeks.

This transactional frame of mind, where you try to pay X dollars/pounds to extract Y value will be setting you up for frustration when it comes to content.

Content marketing is a slow-burn strategy and one that thrives on generosity and patience more than anything.

Which brand, in your opinion, is getting it right in terms of audience their audience and the ability to provide value?

I have been vocal about my admiration for the work being done by online design tool Canva.

Their blog (or as they like to call it “Design School“) is beautiful, useful and generous and just all-around wonderful.

How do you learn? What inspires you?

I read a lot about marketing. Staying abreast of the industry is certainly a baseline goal of my continuing education.

However, I like to read much more widely than just digital marketing. Great fiction, interesting blogs and podcasts, the news, etc.. Really just anything I can get my hands on.

You never know where inspiration will come from.

Huge thanks to Brian for his time and being part of the Talking Content Marketing project. Here are some places for more from Brian’s perspective:

30 Page Content Marketing Style Guide (recommended): click here

Honigman Media: click here

Brian on Twitter: click here

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