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A Content Marketing Lesson from Jazz and the Superbowl

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Feb 04, 2013 @ 09:02 AM

This weekend I experienced two live performances that made me think about why the communication in our content marketing should be direct, useful and, above all, personal.

The first performance was a jazz concert at the Nyack Library in Nyack, New York featuring the wonderful Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi and two masters of Brazilian guitar, Roni Ben-Hur and Paul Meyers. The setting was the library's charming and intimate Carnegie Room, which seats maybe 150.

The two sets that comprised the evening were as much conversation with the audience as concert. For example, during the introductions the emcee had a memory lapse concerning the many top performers Roditi has played and recorded with. Audience members began to help, shouting out favorite collaborations.

I contributed singer Mark Murphy to the list. Roditi played on a marvelous album called Night Mood, the music of Brazilian composer Ivan Lins. When the players took the stage, Roditi asked, "Who just mentioned Mark Murphy? Last week I listened to the album I made with him. Hadn't heard it for years and man it was a good session!" Listen to a cut here with a great Roditi solo. docs/02 - Madalena.mp3

That was only the beginning of the musicians' connection with the audience. The entire evening was a conversation on many levels. The music was incredible and included well-known standards, as well as original compositions.

We also heard behind-the-scenes stories about life on the road with other jazz greats. We learned about Roditi's musical influencers and interests. There was fun and humor. The audience was fully engaged. When the call to action came before the intermission to buy CDs, dozens of hands went for wallets.

On Sunday evening Jeff and I watched the Super Bowl, both for the football and Beyonce's half-time show. Even though it was happening live, the game had the trappings of a recording. By the third time the sound-enhanced graphic of the SuperBowl trophy whooshed onto the screen between plays, I wanted to run into the kitchen and make popcorn to escape. But at the heart of the game was a rivalry of cities and brothers and the drama of a power outage caused by human error. Salvation.

Beyonce's performance was electric and overly produced, but her singing was authentic – quashing the criticism that she sang to a pre-recorded track in her far more human and emotional performance at the presidential inauguration two weeks before. According to reviews, the most human moment – Beyonce’s reunion with the members of her original group Destiny’s Child – was the crowd favorite, trumping pyrotechnics and special effects.

Oh…and let’s not forget the Super Bowl commercials. According to USA Today’s Ad Meter, the top five ads as voted by almost 8,000 viewers all used humanity and gentle humor to engage.

  • Budweiser – The tale of a man and the Clydesdale he raised from birth and their subsequent emotional reunion. (Watch above if you haven't seen it yet. Get a tissue first.) By the way the YouTube version includes a call to action for further engagement - Name the Baby Clydesdale.
  • Tide – Gentle humor when a football fan finds a ‘miracle salsa stain’ of Joe Montana on his football jersey which his wife, a Baltimore Ravens fan, washes out with Tide – ending media fame and fortune.
  • Chrysler Ram Trucks – Paul Harvey’s ode to the American farmer reprised in magnificent photography from the heartland.
  • Doritos – In Fashionista Daddy a father and his burly football friends play princess dress-up with his daughters in exchange for Doritos. Silly and heartwarming fun.
  • Jeep – A tribute to our servicemen and women fighting overseas.

I think you get the message by now. The most engaging formula for creating successful content is to connect authentically and personally. Share your business knowledge and expertise, your products and services. But do it with humanity. That’s what makes people want to buy from you.

What are your favorite content marketing take-aways from the Super Bowl? Thanks for reading and sharing in the comments. Please take home some Lead Generation Tips while you're here.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Strategy, E.R. Becker Company, Content Marketing, Claudio Roditi, Beyonce, Super Bowl 2013

How to Improve SEO: Create a Link-Building Strategy

Posted by Ellie Becker on Sun, Apr 15, 2012 @ 13:04 PM

Over the last several posts we’ve been looking at search engine optimization. When most people – even so-called experts – think SEO, they think about on-page SEO, the keywords and search terms that are visible to visitors and/or search engines. A much-overlooked aspect of SEO is link building: that is, encouraging other websites to link to our content.Anchor text links improve SEO

Why is link building important? And how do we build links to our site? First, the ‘why’.

When someone types a query into a Google, Yahoo!, Bing or YouTube search field, the #1 objective is to return the most relevant and credible results. On-page SEO speaks to the relevance. If your copy and meta data contain the words the seeker is looking for, ostensibly your content is relevant to that search.

However, is the information you’re providing factual and based on expertise? Is it credible? That’s where links come in. when another site links back to your site, it conveys to search engines that the site finds your content of value.

Not all sites that link to yours are of equal value. The more traffic and authority a site has, the more valuable a backlink from them is to your search engine rankings. So work to get important sites with trusted domains to link to yours.

Now for the ‘How’.

In general, we – and other SEO specialists – do not recommend paying for links. In particular, don’t fall for pay-for-play schemes that promise high rankings in exchange for a paid backlink. A link from some of these sites can actually demote your site in rankings. Google doesn’t like scams and is expert at ferreting out bogus, low-quality sites and content. (Note: The link above is a backlink to Also see the discussion on anchor text at the end of the post.)

There may be legitimate industry directories with far higher traffic than your site that you can list in for free or for a fee. But don’t rely on directory listings for link clout.

The best way to build link authority is to create great content and publicize it to your online communities through social media. If your content is topic-specific to their interests, they’ll link to it.

As in all web-based marketing, building relationships is the key concept in link building. Social media offers access to influential people – including bloggers - in your industry. Engage these influencers in conversation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, adding to the conversations they and their other followers are having.

As they get to know you and value your contributions, they’ll feel comfortable linking back to your site. Commenting on their blog posts can be an excellent way to become a known quantity. If it’s truly relevant and adds to the conversation to put a link to your content in a comment do so, but be judicious. Self-serving actions don’t help in social media. In addition, links in comments of most important blogs are set to have the ‘no follow’ attribute, which means they carry no value from an SEO viewpoint. 

Ideally, relationships with online influencers can lead to online opportunities like guest blogger gigs and offers to participate in webinars and other forums. These all add to your credibility.

Remember that links show search engines the relationships among pages of content. When you link to other blogs or to other pages within your own site, instead of creating a link from words like ‘click here’, use a keyword or search term as what is called the ‘anchor text’ for your link. The link earlier in this post is an anchor text link. Here’s an example of an anchor text link tied to one of the keywords this post is optimized for - 'improve seo': In case you missed the first post in this SEO series, learn why you should improve SEO for competitive advantage.

Next time we’ll talk about how usability figures into the SEO picture.

While you're here, grab some more content about successful marketing online.

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The image of anchor links is from the Flickr photostream of chefranden umder Creative Commons license.

Topics: SEO, Content Strategy

Marketing Differentiation: How Canned Content Can Backfire

Posted by Ellie Becker on Wed, Feb 01, 2012 @ 15:02 PM

In a highly crowded and competitive online world, marketing differentiation is critical. We must take the time to understand and communicate what we bring to the marketplace that is unique and important to our customers. This is especially important if we’re in industries where we may be perceived as ‘cookie cutter’ to begin with. Here’s a good example of how not to differentiate yourself!Canned Content Can Backfire for Marketing Differentiation

Yesterday morning at 11:32 an email came across my desktop with the intriguing subject line: Happy Groundhog Day – which it wasn't. At 12:19 a second email with the same subject line arrived. I thought to myself, why did this person send me the same email twice within a short time frame?

When I had time to actually read my emails later in the day, I realized that I had received the same identical email from two different financial advisors with two different companies. Both emails included a link to a cute flash card with another link to the identical message, personalized with my first name. Each of their cards was signed with their name with yet another link to a contact form if I wished to leave them a message.

It was obvious that these guys had bought a canned content and ‘lead generation’ program. At the bottom of their emails I found a tell-tale link to a website: The url took me to a site called eRelationship, obviously intended for people who need to generate sales.

The headline promised to ‘Increase Your Commissions’.  The site offers automated emails, what they call ‘Validity Generators’ (enewsletters, articles, and other content), ‘Likeability Generators’ (Cards like the Happy Groundhog Day one, 4th of July, birthday, etc.), Lead Generators (‘For those appointments you couldn’t close’).

Nowhere do they warn that a prospect might get exactly the same content from your competitor. The only good news in that possibility is that he or she will look like as big an idiot as you do.

Look everyone, I understand that this Inbound Marketing stuff takes time and it’s easy to be tempted by services that will provide you with ‘content’. But for marketing differentiation, your content really has to be different!

Did these guys validate themselves as knowledgeable? Did getting their twin emails make them more likeable to me? Did their effort generate a lead? The answer to all three is a great, big NO!! In fact, what it got them was a click on the ‘unsubscribe’ link.

And here’s the main point of all of this. The goal of content marketing is not to get your prospects to like you. It’s to get them to trust you. There’s no way I can trust someone who doesn’t respect my intelligence or who won’t take the time to understand who I am and what I need so that they can provide information that’s useful.

So differentiate your marketing for marketing differentiation!!


Learn more about how Inbound Marketing can help differentiate your business, build trusting relationships with your prospects and lead to more sales.

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The image is from the Flickr photostream of Timparkinson under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Strategy, Marketing, Lead Generation, Market Differentiation

Face Change by Changing Up Your Content Game Plan

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Dec 05, 2011 @ 18:12 PM

New York Times Video Content Strategy Last week on morning TV I noticed that a couple of news segments featured high-profile on-camera interviews by the New York Times. For a number of years, the Times, like all traditional print media, has been trying to figure out its future in a digital world.

Providing exclusive video content to TV networks strikes me as a highly adaptive strategy. Times reporters have amazing interviewing skills, some of the best in the world. And they have credibility and access to top newsmakers. So why not branch out?

I’ve been seeing links to feature story-type videos on the Times’ home page for quite awhile. But these recent hard/breaking news stories – like an interview with Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky – seem to be an evolution of video content development.

The decision to venture from the comfort zone of print – whether on paper or online -- and become a video content provider is smart, smart, smart. It will be interesting to see how the Times monetizes video going forward. It’s one thing to develop video for one’s own online channel and another, entirely, to create footage that can be provided to other news outlets for a fee.

The takeaway here is that we’re all in the same boat as the New York Times. Our marketing has changed, our channels have changed and so have our opportunities. The way we navigate this change and the way we use it to forge our futures will determine our future survival and success.

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Image is from the Flickr stream of henrivzq under Creative Commons license.

Topics: New York Times, Content Strategy, Ellie Becker, E.R. Becker Company

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