Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency that helps companies increase market share and brand awareness through integrated search, social media, online PR and content marketing. TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog consistently ranks as one of most widely read marketing blogs today, providing insights, resources and commentary on a range of digital marketing and public relations topics including search engine marketing and optimization; social media marketing; content marketing and online public relations.
An international speaker, blogger and columnist, Lee is also the author of Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing. Lee spoke with ProofHQ about his new book, TopRank’s approach to blogging and why marketers struggle to create good content…
1. Blogging has allowed your agency to never have a salesforce or advertising. What is it about blogging that has made TopRank so successful?
Blogging is a powerful publishing and engagement tool that can really level the playing field for small businesses. But the effectiveness of blogging is not an isolated activity and there are multiple factors to consider from the content plan to audience engagement and promotion.
In the case of our agency at TopRank Online Marketing, blogging alone isn’t what has attracted all of our new business over the past 12 years or allowed us to avoid advertising costs. It’s the integration of the blog with offline activities like speaking at conferences, media coverage in industry publications and our social media marketing efforts that result in new project inquiries every week.
The success comes from empathizing with our buyer and how they are influenced during the sales cycle to hire an agency with TopRank’s capabilities. Understanding our customer helps us make decisions about what topics we’ll write about, what conferences and topics we’ll speak on, the interviews we do with journalists and how we behave on the social web. All that said, I think if we did advance our advertising and sales channel, we’d be able to grow even faster.
2. What are the most common problems that companies ask you to solve for them?
Companies will either identify a specific business objective like growing sales or developing more brand awareness and community engagement, or they’ll want help with a specific channel like SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Paid Search or Email Marketing. No matter what the problem, the discovery, audit and recommendation process for each client is very similar, even if the objectives are a bit different.
3. Why do some companies struggle so much to create compelling content?
Most companies need their marketing and communications to scale in order to be competitive. Creativity does not naturally scale, so compelling content can be a challenge. A lot of business marketers focus on content that is descriptive, features and benefits, but facts only tell, it’s stories that sell. The mistake often made is to define “compelling” by the brand’s standards, not the customer’s
By understanding the community and target customers interests and needs, content can be planned, created and promoted that meets the needs of the audience it’s intended for without any more effort than standard content creation. The difference is the initial home work and being set up to continuously refine based on monitoring and analytics.
4. In your new book, you talk about the “Content Marketing Trilogy.” Give us a brief breakdown.
We live in an age of information overload where consumers are bombarded with messages and media every second they’re connected to an internet enabled device. Content and media are commodities, yet consumers have an insatiable appetite for content. By understanding three simple connections between consumers and content, marketers can elevate their effectiveness.
Those connections are Discovery, Consumption and Engagement. How does your target audience discover content and information online? What are they searching for and talking about on the social web? What are their preferences for media or content type and device for consumption? What kind of message or content will inspire your target audience to engage and take action? By answering those key questions, the “Content Marketing Trilogy”, marketers can develop a more meaningful vs. mechanical approach to integrating search, social media and content.