This past weekend marked the end of the lockout-shortened NHL hockey season. Playoffs begin on Tuesday, but yesterday the playoff seeding had yet to be finalized. Why? Because of one final game between the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins. This was the game that was postponed by the Boston Marathon bombings. Initially there were thoughts that the game might have been outright cancelled, especially if it didn’t affect the playoffs.
Turns out that they HAD to play the game. The outcome of the game determined 3 of the 4 first round matchups. One game. Can you imagine that?
I am a Montreal Canadiens fan, that’s me celebrating a Habs goal in Pittsburgh a few years ago. (It’s a screen capture, so I’m teeny tiny, but it’s me!)
Given the outcome of their final game on Saturday night, it was possible my beloved team would play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Living in Toronto makes it a little difficult to be a Montreal fan, but I manage. However, if the Senators won their game, that would mean that Montreal would win the Northeast Division, get the third seed, and play Ottawa in the first round. A Bruins win would have them with the division, and Montreal would play Toronto.
So I became a Senators fan for one day. I cheered each goal. And I cheered the regulation win for the Ottawa Senators. BAM!
Now, what does all this hockey talk have to do with content marketing? Simple: by diversifying my content (read:loyalty) for an evening, I ensured that my product (the Canadiens) had the strongest possible chance of succeeding.
You can do the same thing with your content marketing.
Use a Real World Event
By intentionally combining a recent news story or idea with your marketing message, you’ve instantly created a compelling marketing message for your audience. They may have clicked on your content because of that news item, but they’ve continued reading because it’s compelling and engaging. You’ve taken advantage of that story and turned it into timely traffic for yourself.
I knew that I to cheer for the Senators because I follow hockey news online and on tv.
How you can do it
Use tools like Google News, Feedly, or simply by scanning your local newspaper. Then write up a post that takes advantage of that story and publish it IMMEDIATELY. This type of content cannot wait to be published. You have to do it immediately.
Know Your Audience
I’ve written about this a few times now, and I’ll keep repeating it. Know your audience. So why not create content that your industry values? Study your audience and you’ll see trends about the content they crave. What content is getting shared most? Which one generates the most comments? Has anyone asked you any questions on specific things? All of these questions will help you identify the content your audience is looking for, and dictates what content topics you cover next.
In fact, analyzing your audience will help you determine if you need to pivot your blog and start covering different topics. Buffer discovered this recently.
How to do it
- On your existing blog: Read the comments and see which posts are getting shared on social media.
- On social media: See which content is getting shared. Follow other companies in the industry and see what they’re talking about.
- In your company: Talk to your sales people and customer service folks. Ask them what are their top questions from prospects and customers.
Get Geeky and Talk About Data
Everyone loves data. You love it, I love it. It’s great. That’s why the list post is still so popular. Adding data and insight based on that data has a higher chance of being shared because people weren’t aware of that information before you told them. Be seen as the expert and trusted advisor by sharing the data.
How to do it
Cite studies and surveys. Create infographics based on the data.
Share the Secrets to Your Success
Admit it: you want to know how the Big Dogs do it. Find out the secret that made them the Big Dog. Simply by having a blog, you’re creating that transparency. It gives everyone a peek behind the curtain and see how you do what you do. Sure, you don’t want to give away ALL your secrets, but give them some hints and they’ll keep coming back for more.
NHL reporters talk about interviews with coaches, what they see at team practices, and show team lineups before games. They’re able to give us fans an inside peek into the world of NHL hockey teams. The NHL did this to great effect with their HBO-sponsored series 24/7 for the Flyers and Rangers last year, and the Penguins and Caps in 2011. My Montreal Canadiens did it this year with their Bell-sponsored series 24CH.
How to do it
Have your CEO or CMO write a regular blog post. Talk about how you prepared for a webinar or presentation. Have a monthly series about one of your employeees. CrowdSpring does this wonderfully, with their series 12 Questions.
Creating Different Kinds of Content…
…isn’t always easy, especially for technology companies. You’re constantly battling the non-disclosure demons and the “we’ve worked on this for 3 years & I don’t want to reveal anything till it’s ready” ogres, but face it: if you don’t start talking about your product a little more in detail, no one’s going to buy it. And since your products are in the B2B space, you need to talk about the details because your product probably costs a leetle more than your average B2C one, right?
But if you’re able to capture your audience’s attention with the right content, with a good mix of content types, then you’re half way to winning your own Stanley Cup.