Inbound14 Day Two Takeways: Less inspiration, more perspiration

I’m spending the week at Hubspot’s Inbound14 marketing conference and I’m trying to give you a peek at some of the big ideas I’m hearing. Yesterday I was inspired by Dharmesh Shah’s ideas about reaching big to attract better people. Today I heard a number of talks about how you make this Inbound Marketing scheme really work.

Inbound marketing is full of terrific big ideas. We hear over and over “the prospect is in control of the sales process”, “don’t interrupt, be helpful”, and “teach, don’t tell”. These truths have shaped the thought processes of the modern Internet marketer.

inbound 2014 day two

But just “being helpful” and producing great content isn’t enough anymore. There’s more content than ever, and the search engines have made it more complicated than ever to make your content rank. So Inbound14 Day Two was filled with presentations with titles like:

Today’s content was more practical and down in the trenches. It’s clear there are lots of folks who are working the inbound marketing game plan, but aren’t seeing the fruits of their labor. This whole thing has gotten more complicated. We can’t just publish a blog post and tweet it out — we need to research content ideas for our ideal persona, develop clever visuals, identify influencers and amplifiers, coordinate distribution…The list goes on and on. How do we do it all?

Today’s content was focused around these dilemmas. Here’s some of my takeaways from Inbound14 Day Two’s sessions I attended:

1. Finding really great content ideas is hard.

Mark Johnstone told us to spend 80% of our content creation time/budget on research to find the really great ideas. The best ideas do exponentially better than average ideas.

photo 12. Use a variety of tools to find those ideas.

Review the questions being posted on Quora or use Open Site Explorer to find the most linked to pages on your competitor’s sites. Sure, consider search volume of the keyword terms, but don’t make it your only tool.

3. Content isn’t an event, it’s a project. It needs a plan, goals, and follow through.

As the content creation process has gotten more complicated, it requires more coordination and planning, and we’re spending more money to do it! Since the content is costing more, we want to get more out of it. The stakes are higher. As the stakes go up, we need better planning and accountability.

4. That plan needs to be very specific about who your audience is and what you want them to do when they read your content.

Not all content is the same — some is attracting visitors, while some is for converting visitors. Know what you are creating from the get-go. If you don’t know what you are trying to get people to do, they aren’t likely to do it!

inbound14 day two5. The best content promotion comes before you make the content.

Think about who will amplify that content before you create it. Even co-create it with them, then build it. I heard several speakers talk about working with publishers to create content the publisher would want to publish or link to. The distribution was arranged before the content was created!

6. Don’t use any piece of content once.

Cut it up. Put it together. Share “bites”. If it’s working, use it again… You’ll get a tired of your content way before your audience does. Different people are going to engage with different types of content. You need different “versions” of any content to meet the needs of different social networks, publishers, or communities. By making different end results out of each content concept, you make your investment go further.

7. It’s not about technology.

We are talking to, and selling to, people. We can’t forget that.

Now that people are depending on content marketing to fulfill mission critical business functions, and we are committing real money to content creation, we need to get serious about the results that these investments are generating. This isn’t just a “movement” anymore; it’s big business, and it needs to pay.

What was one of your biggest takeaways from Inbound14 day two?

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