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We have covered the most utilised forms of marketing content through the first eight articles of this series. This last article in the series functions as a ‘catch-all’ for the remaining content forms. Each of these forms of content may be used more or less frequently, depending on the organisation using them. Note that this article spends significantly less time on the details of each form.
The explanation of video content should be self-evident. Videos are produced to reach a target audience with a given message that is best presented in the video format. Videos can be as short as a minute or two or as long as 9-10 minutes. The thing to remember about videos is to not make them too long. Once you exceed the 5-minute mark, you are already taxing a viewer’s patience. Getting beyond 10 minutes virtually guarantees your video will not be watched in its entirety. Two to four minutes is about right for most videos.
Reasons for Creating Videos
In the world of marketing, there always has to be a reason for doing what you do. Though not an exact science, marketing does follow certain tried-and-trusted principles. One of them is that content without a purpose is a waste of time. This is why purpose was discussed in each of the eight previous chapters. Where videos are concerned, purpose is best explained by discussing the reasons marketers create videos.
The top five reasons for creating videos are as follows:
- The internet is a visual environment more friendly to images and videos than plain text.
- Internet users will more readily watch a video than read long blocks of text.
- Images and music can be combined in videos to create a more pleasant experience.
- Videos have the ability to convey a message in a shorter, more direct way.
- Videos have the ability to imprint on the memory in a way text alone cannot.
Text-based content is important for a lot of reasons, SEO value being one of them. But it’s hard to deny the value of videos when it comes to imprinting on the consumer’s mind. Need proof? Stop and ask yourself this question: how many blog posts or new articles do you know of that have gone viral?
Videos go viral because they engage both the intellect and two of the five senses. Combining thought with visual and audio stimulation sends a much stronger message than relying on the intellect alone. This is the inherent power of video content.
How to Create Videos
Understanding why videos are important for marketing purposes is the easy part. Actually creating videos is another matter. This is a case in which you might need to get help from others with more experience. Having said that, the process itself is easy to understand even if you do not have any skills with video.
Video creation starts with a script. In other words, you plan out exactly what you want your video to say and how you want that information to be presented. A script lays out all those details. You can write a script that utilises any of the following components, in any combination:
- Live speaking to the camera
- Overlaid vocalisations
- Photographs, graphics, and other images
- Text (both animated and non-animated)
- Charts, graphs, etc.
- Music and animations.
In order to create videos, you are going to need some software. In fact, you are going to need three kinds of software packages:
- Graphic manipulation software (to create or modify graphic images)
- Recording software (to record live video)
- Video editing software (to create the final product).
From time to time, there may be a need to record your desktop for a video. Should you plan to do that, you will also need appropriate software. The good news is that there are plenty of free and inexpensive software packages out there. For example, OBS is a free, open-source broadcasting package that can be used to record live video and mix it with other components. It has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Where to Publish Videos
Publishing videos is a matter of finding the right platforms to reach your audience. YouTube is by far the number one video platform; it is a platform with universal appeal to businesses and organisations of all kinds. This is the place to start. Not only can you publish videos on YouTube, you can create your own YouTube channel that functions much like a Facebook or Google+ page.
Another option for videos are the many streaming TV platforms now on the market. Roku is a good example. With Roku, you can establish your own channel on either a free or paid basis. On that channel, you can upload as many videos as your heart desires. Anyone with a Roku device can subscribe to your channel.
You can also publish videos on your own website. Be cautious with this option, however. Videos use a tremendous amount of bandwidth and storage space. If you want videos on your site, you are probably still better off publishing them on YouTube and then using YouTube links to embed them on your own site. YouTube still stores and publishes the videos, but they can be viewed on your site with an embedded viewer.
There is a common misconception in the modern business world that newsletters are dead in the digital age. Nothing could be further from the truth. Newsletters are not dead; they have just evolved from documents printed on paper to a form of content that is transmitted digitally.
Some of the biggest names in corporate business still rely heavily on the newsletter to reach customers. Their newsletters are essentially web pages with numerous news stories that subscribers are interested in. Those subscribers receive e-mail notifications on a regular basis, prompting them to go and get the stories they want to read.
The purpose of a newsletter is to market your organisation by keeping subscribers up to date with what is going on internally. Let’s say you ran a business heavily involved in the tourism sector. You might construct a daily newsletter containing three or four stories pertaining to travel in your area. You would then solicit subscriptions from the travelling public, as well as travel agents who might want to send their clients to you.
Creating and Publishing Newsletters
The best part of modern newsletters is that they are easy to create and publish. If you can write a blog post, you can create a newsletter. A newsletter is nothing more than a series of short stories put together with headings, subheadings, and other elements typical to blog posts. The only difference between a newsletter and blog post is tone.
Newsletter articles should always be fact-based. They can be promotional, and they often are, but they should never be solely opinion. Remember that the point of the newsletter is to keep subscribers up-to-date on company and industry news.
As for publishing newsletters, the general rule of thumb is to publish them on your own website. You just create a new page or post and away you go. Subscribers can go directly to your newsletter page if it is public, or you can make the newsletter private. In either case, every subscriber would receive an e-mail whenever a new edition of the newsletter is published – just to remind them to go and read it.
One last thing to note is that you can publish printed newsletters as well. There are some companies who still do this because they prefer putting something tangible into the hands of customers. Non-profits and community organisations still use printed newsletters as well. Just remember that going with printed materials adds to the cost of producing newsletters. Publishing exclusively online limits your costs to only the time it takes to write the articles.
Brochures, Flyers, Etc.
Almost every form of content we have discussed in this article is intended primarily for the digital world. Does that mean you cannot produce printed content? Absolutely not. In fact, printed content is still a valid way to reach a target audience. Depending on the industry you’re involved in, it might even be the best way.
Printed materials like brochures and flyers make it possible for you to put something tangible into the hands of your customers. Take the printed restaurant menu as an example. Creating a single page menu your customers can take home with them gives them something visual to associate your restaurant with their dining needs.
If a customer is impressed with his first experience at your restaurant, you can bet he will hold on to that menu for future reference. He might even stick it on the fridge or in another prominent place at home. It will serve as a constant reminder that your restaurant is the place to get good food.
Writing the Content
Printed materials are great candidates for combined content that includes both text and images. Writing the text should be fairly easy. The key is to style your writing according to the kind of material you are printing. If you are printing a menu, there will be very little by way of commentary. Most of your text will be menu items and descriptions.
If you are creating a brochure to introduce your business to new customers, your text would obviously be more descriptive. You would focus on important highlights that you want customers to know. You might touch on the history of your company, why you do what you do, and what your company can offer customers.
Creating something like a coupon allows you to use your advertising copy skills. You can be as creative as necessary to come up with a punchy slogan along with some attention-grabbing text that strongly encourages your customers to take advantage of the coupon.
The most important thing to remember about printed materials is that the goal is short term messaging. You are looking to get a targeted message into the hands of your customers; a message they need to know here and now. They may retain those printed materials for later reference, but the message itself must be pertinent to the moment.
Ebooks have been around for more than two decades. They got their start through Amazon, when the company was primarily a purveyor of printed and digital literature. In the last 5 to 10 years though, ebooks have become a content marketing tool as well.
An ebook is a good way to introduce a company or organisation by delving into a particular topic important to the target audience. The thing that makes an ebook different is the fact that it is viewed as a more reliable form of content among readers. By their very nature, ebooks tend to command more respect and authority because they are considered more serious works compared to blog posts, news articles, etc.
For better or worse, people simply attach more respect to books – be they printed or digital. Content marketers can take advantage of that respect by using ebooks as marketing tools.
Creating an ebook is as simple as stringing words and sentences together. Creating an ebook that is effective as a marketing tool is another matter. It is anything but simple. Effective ebook writing requires understanding your audience, knowing how to fully explain your chosen topic in a way your audience will understand, and putting everything together in a way that presents a logical flow of thought from start to finish.
Ebooks are obviously divided into chapters with titles, headings, and subheadings. Each chapter discusses a particular component of the overall topic. In most cases, each subsequent chapter builds on the previous one in order to create that logical flow of thought.
Beyond the actual writing of the book is the question of publishing. There are a number of different publishing formats including the Amazon Kindle’s .AZW3, Apple’s .ibook, and the industry-leading .epub format. The problem with these formats is that there are dozens of them proprietary to the readers that use them. Even though the .epub is the most widely used of the proprietary formats, not all readers can utilise it.
The other thing to consider about proprietary formats is getting your text rendered properly. Writers use commercial word processors like Microsoft Word to put together their text before converting it to an ebook format. This is all well and good, but converters are notorious for not formatting text correctly. It could take you hours to hunt down one small error that is preventing accurate conversion.
A better way to go is to simply publish your ebooks as PDFs. The PDF is a universal format nearly every device can read. If you are worried about protecting your digital rights, you can use Adobe’s PDF software (or any other PDF Creator with the right functionality) to create DRM protected documents. A DRM protected PDF does not allow direct copying of text.
Reasons for Using Ebooks
Marketers use ebooks for a variety of purposes. First, an ebook represents an opportunity to expand on a particular topic much more extensively than you could with a series of blog posts or articles. This can be helpful when you have an especially complex topic to discuss.
The second reason for creating an ebook is to reach your target audience in a more personal way. All the forms of content discussed in this module are, at least to some degree, impersonal in a marketing sense. Perhaps the only exception is social media marketing that is approached as a conversation. Ebooks are just a more intimate form of communication.
Some content creators write ebooks for promotional purposes. In other words, you might use an ebook as part of a free giveaway campaign to encourage new subscribers to your website. Every new subscriber who joins within the next 30 days gets a free ebook discussing some topic that is important to them.
Still another reason to use an ebook is to boost the reputation of the company owner or staff member. Ebooks are great tools for establishing authority in the minds of readers.
The beauty of ebooks is that they can be whatever you want them to be. You still have to be a skilled and creative writer to come up with something people actually want to read, but you are not limited by any particular format, length, tone, style, etc. Your ebook is entirely up to you.
Here are the other articles in this series: