[VIDEO] Future Proof Your Content Planning with Advice from Tim Washer
Knock knock. Who’s there? Disruptive marketer. Disruptive mark–BUY MY PRODUCT!
Okay it’s not the best joke, but comedy isn’t exactly what we do here at DivvyHQ. Tim Washer on the other hand, has built his entire career around bringing comedy to content.
Whether writing and being featured in hilarious skits on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, or breathing comedic life into router technology at Cisco, Tim has a long track record of delivering laughs to improve content performance.
If you’re like many content teams, you might be hesitant about injecting comedy into your content. That’s for stand up comedians, “fun” brands like Skittles and B2C football commercials, right? Wrong. No matter your product or service, there’s a human being on the other side of it. And every single person on the planet can connect with comedic storytelling on some level.
In our recent content marketing research, nearly 40% of respondents reported that, “coming up with creative ideas” was a top content planning challenge, whereas 64% reported “coming up with a comprehensive strategy” is a top barrier.
We were lucky enough to grab a few minutes with Tim and learn how he overcomes these very same challenges. In addition to lessons on comedy, he reveals step-by-step planning and strategy advice to fuel a successful content marketing strategy.
In addition to our ongoing video series, we recently published a free content marketing strategy guide featuring insights from 12 top content professionals. This guide was built to help brands react to emerging technologies and go from hectic to ahead of the curve.
In case you’re one of the few folks who still likes to read content instead of watch (bless your heart), here are 3 takeaways from Tim Washer’s interview.
1. Balance Comedy with Brand-centric Content
“People don’t like to get hit with a call-to-action all the time. Schedule a balance of fun and entertaining content so viewers don’t feel all they hear is the company talking about itself.”
Legacy marketing and traditional advertising are built around single-touch customer interactions. TV ads, banners, radio commercials, even magazine ads all attempt to entertain and close the sale in one fell swoop. The reason for this is simple. Advertisers in the 20th century believed that the first contact with a customer was also likely to be the last. In response to ads blaring at them 24/7, many consumers began to tune marketing and advertising out altogether.
As digital media has grown more complex, consumer access to information and technology has empowered the average B2B and B2C buyer with reviews, social media content, and thousands upon thousands of pages of search engine results about any product and brand. As a result, today’s consumers more advanced in their buying process, and likewise new opportunities have arisen for brands to make contact with customers in an organic and helpful fashion.
Salesforce claims it takes 6 to 8 “touches” to generate a single sales-ready lead in business. Just imagine if every one of those touches starts or ends with a call-to-action or spammy message. Buh-bye customer!
Here are a few ideas for balancing comedy and brand-centric content:
Use the “5-to-1” rule
It takes multiple pieces of content and multiple contacts to generate a customer’s trust over time. So for every 1 piece of sales content you produce, write 5 entertaining, funny, or helpful customer-centric content pieces.
Pick Your “Funny” Channel
Comedy can be challenging to write, or perform. So don’t feel like you have to write a 1,000 word blog post that leaves your audience bouncing in their chairs with laughter. Pick a medium that you can tinker with confidently own with comedic value. Whether it’s a cartoon strip shared via Twitter, or a weekly meme about a common audience challenge to lighten the mood, choose your channel and go for it!
If you’re struggling to create funny content from scratch, there’s nothing wrong with curating and sharing what your audience already loves. Consider developing a monthly round-up of videos, jokes, memes, or Gifs subject matter that hits home with your audience. Is your company a translation service? How about, “10 Translation Moments from History that went Hilariously Wrong.” Do you sell ecommerce software? How about, “5 Painfully Funny Shopping Cart Jokes that Ecommerce Pros Will Love.” The point is, you can start small with curated content and build narrative comedy from there.
2. Context Is Everything in Both Comedy & Content
“We also look at what the customers have going on in their lives. That’s an important piece to planning. We try to figure out what information we can give them at just the right time to support what they are going through.”
A misplaced joke, or pun at the wrong time can really backfire. And delivering even a high-quality piece of content when the customer doesn’t need it likewise won’t help. That’s why understanding the context of your customer is so essential.
Take advice from Tim and ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Do my customers have seasonal demands or needs?
- Where are my customers going before and after viewing my content? How does that change what I produce?
- Are there industry trends, news, or events that my customers are paying attention to? How can I act as a resource within the context of those touch points?
- What are my competitors offering my customers? How do I raise the bar on that content experience?
3. Quality Content is King
“I believe every content marketing team’s priority should be getting to a point where you can publish strong content. You need a good group of writers, editors and producers who understand how to do that. If you don’t have quality content, the distribution and promotion simply won’t matter.”
As Tim pointed out in our interview, it doesn’t matter how much money you put behind a campaign if the content is lackluster. In an age where customers have access to endless on-demand entertainment, delivering mediocre content won’t do much good.
You might have heard that content is king. The cold hard truth is in order for your content to really rule the land, it better be good.
Struggling to define “quality?” Here are a few thought starters for ensuring your content is top-notch:
Identify pop culture competitors
Most of the time we consider the competition to other companies in our category. But, the truth is your brand is vying for attention against an onslaught of ads, television shows, smartphone games, disruptive emails, and more. Figure one pop culture show, game, or series you know your audience is into and compare your content to it. Now how does your stuff stack up?
Less is more
Many teams struggle with the amount of content they feel they must produce. With the pace of change on the internet, it’s overwhelming for even the best of teams. While the trends and research point to more content being better, that’s not true if you can’t keep the quality up. Gut check all the work. If it doesn’t pass muster, you’re better off refining it and delivering something stellar in a day or two.
Quality is resonance
Many seasoned writers fall into the trap of thinking grammar, spelling, and solid prose add up to quality content. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t enough. More than anything else, your content must resonate with what your audience wants, needs, and expects. Are they searching for instructions on how to use your product? Give them the most useful step-by-step guide on the internet. Do they want to know your brand cares about the world or a specific community? You need a narrative piece of content that pulls at their heartstrings, and screams compassion. The bottom line is quality and resonance are the same thing.
Tune in Next Week for Megan Golden
Curious how to create sticky content, avoid marketing laziness, and align a global team around content goals? Next week we’ll be featuring advice from Megan Golden, Group Manager – Global Content Marketing at LinkedIn. She weighs in on big brand content planning and strategy, and reveals some advice for aligning a global team.
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