“Now that You Have Their Attention, What Are You Going to Tell Them?”

This post was written by John White on Mon, 09 Aug 2010 20:44:36 +0000
Posted Under: blog,content marketing,publishing content

Content marketing is an exercise in keeping plates spinning. Not only do you need to keep your readers’ attention, but you also need to feed their appetite for content.

Josh Shipp, the motivational speaker behind HeyJosh.com, freely describes his rough upbringing as a foster child. Realizing that he was adept at grabbing his classmates’ attention and making them laugh, he plied that talent in ways that disrupted class and got him into trouble at school.

One day, a discerning teacher asked him,

Good job, Josh. Now that you have their attention, what are you going to tell them?

This question helped to turn his mischievous side into a constructive one, and he has spent much of his life bringing parents and teens together.

As a marketing manager focused on content marketing, you need to keep that same question in front of you.

Now that you have their attention…

Social media, blogs, video and networking sites are this year’s vehicles for getting attention and building an audience. Here’s a story of how I got a little attention a couple of weeks ago.

Last spring I figured something out about social media and how I fit (or don’t fit) into it. I hammered out a pretty good blog post on the topic, but realized I could put it to better use as a guest-post on a social media-oriented blog. So I spent about three months watching blogs like Copyblogger, Duct Tape Marketing, Convince and Convert, Marketing Pilgrim, Social Media Explorer, Social Media Examiner, Brass Tack Thinking, Techipedia, Louis Gray, Brian Solis, Problogger, Chris Garrett and Junta 42 – trying to find a post with good traffic that would accept content from guests.

(This was an education in itself, and frankly not as easy as some would have you believe. I hope to post on it in greater detail one of these days.)

Finally, I submitted it to Mark Schaefer of Businesses {grow} who liked it and thought it would be a good fit. He ran it on July 29 as “This is why you’re a social media loser.” I had created a signature with a link to my own blog and site, anticipating a bump in traffic.

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of tweets I received (69, though most were duplicates) and the number and tone of comments that Mark’s community wrote. Even Mark himself parachuted into the comment stream and gave me a tip of the hat.

Well, now that I had their attention…

…what are you going to tell them?

What, indeed?

The morning the guest-post ran, I was waist-deep in an e-book I’d been planning as incentive content for the visitors from the guest-post. I designed the e-book for marketing managers who need to – but don’t really know how to – hire writers, Unfortunately, I didn’t finish it in time to catch this wave of traffic, so I need to chase the wave on Twitter and hope to catch up to it.

Of course, this is just one loop around the cycle. For most of us, the nature of content marketing is to launch one attention-getter after another, then tell or sell one new thing after another to the ever-growing audience.

If you’re in content marketing, your job is to keep the plates spinning. No wonder Jay Baer says,

Every company is its own TV station, magazine, and newspaper.

Plan to keep the hits and headlines coming. And always be ready with the next thing you’re going to tell them.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his e-book, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: lissalou66

Reader Comments

Great points, John. It’s essential that there’s quality call-to-actions when the content strikes and drives traffic to your site.

One of my frustrations with blog design is that it’s not really optimised to convert traffic into genuine B2B leads. Sidebars are out of view!

I don’t have answers to this issue, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

#1 
Written By Jon Buscall on August 10th, 2010 @ 2:29

I’m so glad you wrote this. It’s a great overview of how content contributors need to be thinking strategically about topics, distribution, and success metrics. The content creation itself is often the easy part. Thanks for the mention, too. Much appreciated.

#2 
Written By jay baer on August 10th, 2010 @ 5:14

@Jon: Yes, the content-generation spirit may be willing, but the blog structure is weak. Still, others are making it work.

@Jay: I think that the only easy part is setting up the blog or newsletter template. The hard parts – getting their attention and telling them something – begin after that.

#3 
Written By John White on August 10th, 2010 @ 7:48

This is probably my biggest challenge too. I’m only one guy. I have a family, teach college, run a business and blog … in that order. There is no time to think about optimization, conversion or promotion. So, it is what it is and if people find me … that’s a bonus.

Besides, the primary benefit of blogging for me is the relationships. I know that sounds trite but it is absolutely true. You and I are connected now (and as a matter of fact I’m also connected to Buscall and Baer) and you never know where it will lead!

I know you made many new connections from the guest post. Stay connected, be helpful and the long-term benefits will out-weigh anthing you would get from giving away the eBook.

I’m glad I’m the only one with the vision to run your post. It was an outstanding contribution to the community! Thanks again!

#4 
Written By Mark William Schaefer on August 10th, 2010 @ 10:58

@Mark: Right. Staying connected and being helpful are part of the what-you’re-going-to-tell-them.

#5 
Written By John White on August 10th, 2010 @ 11:51