Repeating content effectively: If it’s worth sharing, it’s worth repeating

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One of the most common questions that comes up when I’m talking about content is whether to repeat coverage of the same topic in content. My answer? Every time: yes, absolutely. Just about every company that’s around for as little as two or three years is going to repeat coverage on some topics if they have a robust content program.

Repetition creates strength - for learning, it strengthens knowledge. And for working out, it strengthens muscles. Repeating content is a good workout for demonstrating your expertise. So, consider me your personal trainer in this particular exercise. And I’m here to tell you it’s not only okay to repeat coverage on a topic, I strongly advise that you do. In fact, this very post is inspired by a blog post from six years ago I decided to revisit with a different approach.

Why should you repeat your message?

There are three big reasons repetition is important:

1) Your audience won’t see every piece of content you produce.

Remember this always. Not only will they not see it all, sometimes the medium you choose isn’t the best medium for them to consume content. Even if they see it the first time and the medium is right for them, maybe the message isn’t hitting them at the right time.

By revisiting topics, you demonstrate your evolving expertise and you’ll capture the attention of new audience members as you grow your following.

2) You learn and grow and experience change right along with your business

Speaking of evolving expertise, the advice and information you give to clients when you start a business isn’t necessarily the same five years in. It matures as you learn and change with the industry you’re in. It’s important to keep your point of view on topics up to date. After all, you don’t want someone to find content from six years ago that’s now out of date and assume that is your current view when it’s not.

By coming at a topic from a fresh angle, you can repeat topic coverage with interest and value by adding new information and context.

3) People learn better through repetition

Think about how you’ve learned all your life. Ideas and information don’t always resonate or catch the first time you’re exposed. But when you hear something the second, third or fourth time, you’re more likely to grab and hold onto it.

Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.
— Napeoleon Hill

By repeating discussion of topics, you give your audience that additional exposure that allows them to categorize the information as more important to them so they’re more likely to remember and act on it.

How do you repeat content effectively?

Next week, I’m going to dive into how you can repurpose content, but here’s a preview of some ways you can cover old topics in a new way:

Use a different medium. If the original was a blog post, can you expand to an ebook? What about a video? Or break it down into smaller chunks and use it for social.

Find a new angle. One way is to approach from the opposite direction - going positive or negative depending on the original approach. Or share an alternative reason to benefit.

Share a case study. You’ve shared your knowledge, now show proof with the story of the journey of solving a problem, finding the right solution and the outcome once resolved.

When you’re doing repetitions as part of a strength training program, changing it up keeps you from getting bored or stagnating on progress. Repeating content effectively works the same way. It keeps your content program interesting and strong - for you and your audience.

How to build content that helps your buyers

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The value of content is in its capacity to answer questions and objections before a potential buyer (even existing customers) ever have a conversation with your business about a sale. It gives your point of view and context around what makes you different from other companies that have similar offerings.

The best content is useful and helpful to the person reading or viewing it without giving a hard sell. And it’s not hard to do. You’re already doing it every single day, but you aren’t calling it content creation. It’s just part of your everyday routine.

Here’s how you can turn day-to-day interactions into a source of content:

1) Answer questions.

Customers, prospects and even your staff ask questions all the time. But does your website answer your most frequently asked questions? If not, this is a great starting place. Don’t build a FAQ page either. Take a deeper dive and write a blog post, record a video or collaborate on a podcast. Answering questions can be done in a variety of ways, from instructional content to best practice guidance to informed opinions. And it’s okay to answer the same or similar questions more than once. After all, you learn more over time and there’s always a different perspective to consider.

2) Answer objections.

If you’ve been involved in the process of making a sale, you’ve had to answer objections. The objections people make to your offerings can be a goldmine of useful tidbits for content. The more you can address objections through content, the easier it is to have conversations when a customer transitions from their research to having conversations. Sometimes objections are sensitive so you need to delicately weave answers to those concerns into your content. Other times you can address it head on. And just like the questions you answer, give fresh answers to objections to reflect changes in your offerings and the market.

3) Tell your point of view.

You can’t be everything to everyone. But a lot of companies really try. One way you can stand out from similar companies is to take a stand. The best approach is to share your point of view on your industry. Maybe you have a somewhat controversial view: write it down and share why you feel that way. It might help you eliminate calls from outside your target market that won’t be worth your time.

4) Share relevant information.

What’s going on in your industry? News? Trends? Upcoming developments? Share it with your audience, even if it’s coming from another source (credible news sources are okay, competitors aren’t). Maybe you’ve been quoted in content or had your content published on another site, it’s great to promote this kind of content when it complements your messages and helps support your goals.

5) Promote community. 

It’s much harder for brands to grow communities now than it was even 5 years ago. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t try. The biggest promotor of community is being present and engaging on social. Reply to comments and messages on social sites. Share content with sources tagged and include relevant hashtags. Give time and attention to social content so it doesn’t sound rushed or too promotional. Social media is where your organization’s personality can shine.

What are some of your favourite examples of useful content?

Marketing requires businesses to be prepared to go the distance

Marketing requires businesses to be prepared to go the distance

One of the most discouraging things I see happen in my work is organizations that want to use all these shiny “new” tools to grow, but think the results will be immediate.

That has never been true for any form of marketing, though there are occasional exceptions. Most businesses need to ignore the exceptions. Statistically, they're outliers and the results aren’t likely to be replicated. The stories about them should all include disclaimers that say, "results not typical."

Web marketing, web presence, digital marketing, internet marketing, social media, new media, content marketing - they're all phrases that essentially represent the same thing: Using web-based tools to build content that builds relationships, increases brand awareness, sales conversion rates, and has a positive impact on an organization's bottom line.

Whatever word or phrase you use to describe it, the activity is marketing and no matter what medium you're using, it's going to take time, effort, and commitment to see results.

If you set up a social media account or website, it doesn't mean people will immediately come and buy from you - or engage with you. It's important to remember that every person, every business starts out with zero followers.

However, compared to large corporations, small businesses start out at a disadvantage. A well-known brand name company will grow an audience fairly quickly. A new small business has to work to build an audience by consistently reaching out to other social media users, start conversations, and begin offering value. 

Evolving to modern marketing practices in 2019 is very different than starting out 5-10 years ago. It can be frustrating and take time to show a return. But for the companies that make the effort to do it well, the pay off will come.

Writer's block busters: 8 ways to get words to flow again

When I first started blogging, and for several years after, I never used the word "writer" to describe myself. It took me a while to realize that what I was doing actually did qualify me to say I’m a writer. That, and I realized I actually love writing. Sometimes I read something I wrote years ago and I surprise myself by thinking it's pretty darn good. Then other times I've struggled with many of the same issues that every writer I've ever known describes:

  • I have something to say and I know the point I want to make, but I can't find the right words or sequence of words to make my point(s).

  • I don't know what to write about or nothing from my list is inspiring me at a given moment.

  • I feel as if I have nothing new to say that is of value.

  • I just don't feel like writing.

  • I am bored by the topic.

  • I fear what others will say or think about what I'm writing.

  • I spend too much time trying to make a piece "perfect".

  • I don't like how the idea in my head is translated on the page. It's just not right.

The reason for the block matters to an extent, though sometimes knowing the reason doesn't give you more leeway to do something about it. If you've got a deadline, writer's block from the pressure of a deadline isn't going to be easily remedied. Though being tired, bored, overwhelmed, or over-saturated by content creation can all be helped.

Over the years, I've come up with different strategies for those times that my struggles with writing threaten to overcome my ability to get content out. 

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Find a new perspective

Maybe you need to view it from a unique position or a new angle. Change your perspective and see if there's a way to refresh your thinking and present a new-to-you view. A great example of using a different perspective to make a point is flipping good advice around,  like Demian Farnworth did in this post about copywriting on Copyblogger.

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Be controversial

This is also about perspective, but it's about specifically taking on a potentially negative view or a view that may invite controversy - or even a view you don’t agree with. It requires a thick skin if you hit publish, though. Use caution if you decide to go this route.

Go old school and get offline

Do you have an old typewriter? Maybe not, but what about a pad and pen? I bet you have one of those laying around somewhere. Pick them up and give your typing skills a rest. Hopefully, the act of physically writing words will help the words start to flow. A coach I worked with once suggested that I follow Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way methods. Her morning pages are such a helpful way to clear out blocks. And it’s simple to do, but not easy to fit in unless you commit. What do you do? Write 3 pages first thing every morning to get everything out of your brain. That’s it.

Use a different technology

Years ago, I got turned on to OmmWriter and DayOne. OmmWriter is a tool I use when I need to write in my happy, zen place. The music is soothing, mellow, and there are no distractions - no formatting, no font choices, the background is relaxing. It's a refreshing writing experience. 

DayOne is my cloud-based journal. I've been journaling since I was 10 and my mom bought me my first notebook for the purpose. I still have every journal I've ever written in. I go through phases of journaling regularly and phases where I say nothing. With DayOne, I can get out anything that's blocking me from writing. It's cathartic and one day my son will have a pretty comprehensive record of my personal dysfunction. Bonus!

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Find another medium

I've been colouring a lot lately since I got the Enchanted Forest colouring book. It gave me some much-needed downtime from writing that allowed me to get back to working on a book I started a few months ago. Colouring is just one medium you could choose. Painting, knitting, crocheting, tatting, macrame, photography, videography - any creative outlet that fills the need to distract you from words can help your words start flowing again.

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Can’t write? Go read.

Reading is one of my favourite ways to get back to writing. It doesn't always matter what I read - it could be fiction or it could be industry information. But getting my mind off the pressure I feel to produce my own intelligible words by immersing myself in something else is key.

Eliminate distractions

I'm an Apple fan-girl. I have a MacBook Air, an iPad, and an iPhone. I can turn on "do not disturb" and the notifications stop pouring in. I recently even deleted Facebook off my mobile devices! I love being connected, but I'm being more conscientious and purposeful about when I'm connected. 

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Get away from the computer

Just go do something else that allows you to recharge: 

  • Take a walk.

  • Go for a run.

  • Dance.

  • Play a video game.

  • Watch a TV show.

  • Get a coffee.

  • Stop for the day.

  • Plan your next vacation.

The key here is to stop thinking about how hard it feels to write and do something that has nothing to do with writing or creating.

Writer's block doesn't have to stop you from writing. It's just a temporary challenge that you can be proactive about resolving.

Did I miss any good writer's-block-busting ideas? Tell me in the comments!

The shoes and handbags theory of building an audience

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I like good quality items.

I remember growing up and, when my dad told me that he spent $300 on his dress shoes, I thought that was a fortune! We weren't a rich family - how could we afford so much money for shoes? (Especially when me and my brothers always got ours from the discount stores.)

Dad explained that he spent that much and then wears them for many more years than he could ever wear less expensive shoes. (And since my brothers and me were all still growing, there wasn't the option of wearing shoes for more than a year.) For Dad, the fit and comfort were better and they would more than make up for the cost given how long they'd last.

Sometimes you choose quantity, sometimes you choose quality

I've never personally gotten to the point of paying premium prices for shoes because I like shoes. A lot. I like rotating them often. However, several years ago, I took the plunge and bought my first very expensive premium brand handbag. (Ahem...well, it was on clearance during a massive store sale, so I didn't pay nearly what I would have at full price, which made it easier to do.)

Months after the purchase, my premium brand handbag - unlike most I've previously purchased (and I always thought I was paying a pretty decent amount before) - was still in immaculate condition. There were no frayed edges. The leather wasn’t cracked even a little bit. It barely showed any wear at all. There were no seams pulling apart in the lining. Previously, at least one (sometimes all) of these things happened within a few months and that lovely bag I thought was so cute was not nearly as appealing anymore. That first purse has been joined by some other friends in the four years or so since. And the quality is unquestionable - even that very first bag.

What's the best kind of audience?

If a business focuses solely on quantity in building an audience - Twitter followers, Facebook likes, blog subscribers, and others - you end up always wanting more. The ten new followers you just got may not be quite right for your product/services, but seeing that jump in numbers feels so good!

Growing a large audience shouldn't be the primary goal, though growth is certainly important. Growing an audience that fits your target market and is engaging with you is a worthy goal.

Which would you rather have?

  • 10,000 followers, with 20 people who buy from you.

  • 200 followers, with 50 people who buy from you.

Personally, I'd always go with the second option.

Small and engaged wins in social media

I really enjoy my shoe collection, but it's a lot like having 10,000 followers that aren't great quality. Shoes get added and taken away, but they don't stick around long because they aren't right for long-term use.

On the other hand, that good quality handbag I got is going to be around for years and years, with fewer competitors for my attention. The more I think about it, though, the more I’m considering a shoe evolution.

So, before you ever think I "only have ## followers", first look at whether those followers fit your target market. If they do, then congratulate yourself for generating good leads and get to work engaging with them! 

What are some steps you take to grow a quality, targeted audience?