Scott Abel’s 5 Characteristics of Great Content

Posted May 17th @ 6:56 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Scott Abel’s The 5 Characteristics of Great Content is one of my favorite examples of fine writing about content marketing.

It’s one of those rare pieces of writing that I frequently return to because of its combination of brevity and profound, actionable insights.

Scott Abel shares the essence of content marketing success in just 553 words.

The following appears courtesy of  Scott Abel, the The Content Wrangler, and Steve Rotter, from Acrolinx (home of some of the best ebooks and white papers you’ll find anywhere–see below). Thank you Scott, Steve!

In Scott’s words…

In case you hadn’t noticed, in today’s online world we are practically drowning in content — more content, in fact, than we could ever begin to consume. To give you a sense of the scale of it, just consider that every day 70,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, 2 million blog posts are published, and 294 billion e-mails are sent.

The problem is that a lot of that content is going to waste. Why? Because it’s not very good and, as a result, people are tuning most of it out.

If you’re a business trying to build strong relationships with your prospects and customers, that presents a real challenge. How do you go about creating content that stands out so that your target audience not only reads it, but actually enjoys it and converts as a result?

Great content starts with information that your audience will find relevant, interesting, and perhaps even entertaining. But that’s just the starting point. Your language matters, too. That’s why the trick to making great content is making sure it has the following five characteristics. It has to be:

  1. Readable. When you create content, nothing is more important than making it easy to understand, which mainly depends on whether the content is readable. The readability of a piece of content is shaped by many factors, including your use of jargon, terminology, spelling and grammar, and sentence structure.
  2. Engaging. To build relationships with your customers, your content has to create the emotional connection with your audience necessary to foster engagement. Poor readability makes your content less engaging, but other factors play a part too, including your use of personal pronouns (say “I” and “we”, not “it” and “the company”), how concise and lively your writing is, and how scannable it is.
  3. Consistent. Because content comes from many sources both inside and outside of your organization, inconsistencies are inevitable. Inconsistencies confuse readers. Inconsistencies can also affect your company’s brand recognition. Rising above the noise of a crowded marketplace is difficult, but if your company name, product names, or key messages appear inconsistently, then rising above the noise becomes impossible.
  4. Findable. Whether you’re publishing support content on a dedicated portal, or making marketing content available on your website, you want your most relevant content to appear at the top of people’s search results. While there are SEO “tricks” that you can try to boost your search rankings, the most important thing you can do is to focus on creating high-quality content that includes appropriate keywords in appropriate places.
  5. Translatable. Many emerging markets, such as India and China, have driven huge increases in global trade over the last decade. As these countries develop, they create opportunities for growth far beyond what’s possible in nations with mature economies. To satisfy consumers in these new markets, companies must localize their content into more languages. That means doing everything you can to ensure that you’re writing is clear and readable, to make translation as smooth and efficient as possible.

The bottom line is that it’s not enough just to create content any more. Your content has to be great or you’re losing an opportunity to help your business. Making sure that your content is readable, engaging, consistent, finadable, and translatable will go a long way to getting you there.

To learn more

Scott Abel, is a content management strategist and social media choreographer who helps organizations improve the way they author, maintain, publish and archive their information assets. My recent article, Scott Abel Tells Why Content Strategy Matters, contains links to our recorded interview and links to his book and SlideShare.

Among the downloadable resources available at Acrolinx is their downloadable Watch Your Tone! Why Your Tone of Voice Matters, and How You Can Get it Right. It contains insights from leading content marketers, like Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes.

What do you think of Scott Abel’s 5 Characteristics?

What are your takeaways and comments, below. Do any of them resonate with the content marketing issues you address every day?

New Mindjet Mind Map Dashboard Website Template

Posted May 12th @ 4:15 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

My Website Planner mind map template is the latest addition to Mindjet’s MindManager Dashboard series.

My Mindjet Website Planner mind map template offers an easy way for entrepreneurs, marketers, and web professionals manage the growing complexity of information–including mission-critical usernames, passwords, and size requirements for graphics–needed to manage a firm’s online presence.

Often, additional user names and passwords are required for numerous ancillary services, such as analytics and reporting software, competitive tracking, and third-party add-ins and widgets that enhance blog and website performance.

Advantages of the Mindjet Dashboard Approach

There are numerous advantages to using a mind map as a Dashboard offering immediate access to a large amounts of information.

  • Fast Access to complex data. A mind map like the Website Planner Dashboard speeds access by consolidating a lot of information in one location, where information can be located at a glance. Rather than scrolling through rows in a spreadsheet, logos and icons can speed access.
  • Convenient, secure, and up-to-date. Consolidating access important information in a single document makes information easier to access, easier to share, and easier to update when necessary.
  • Security advantages.  Access and consistency can be enhanced by placing the Website Planner mind map on a firm’s central server, or using a cloud server like Mindjet Connect. Access to the mind map can also be password protected, limiting access as desired.

Simple solution for convenience and security

As businesses of all sizes become more web- enabled and web-dependent, it’s becoming more and more apparent that more and more information is needed to maintain and update blogs websites and social media sites, as well as the services that go along with them.

As our reliance on more online vendors grows, in an atmosphere of hackers and identity thieves, we have to simultaneously choose and protect our usernames and passwords with more care and change them more often. Consolidating this valuable information in a single password-protected location can be an important first line of defense.

In addition, as graphic images become a more and more expected part of today’s social media visual landscape as the tools–like Canva–help non-designers produce better and better graphics, there is need for access for standards and specifications for branding our images with consistent colors and fonts.

How could a Website Planner Template help you?

After downloading the Mindjet Website Planner mind map template and learning more, share your comments, concerns, and questions. Mindjet Website Planner Dashboard save time, protect your usernames and passwords, and add consistency to your visuals? And, while you’re there, check out these other Dashboards, such as the Editorial Calendar, Expert Tracker, #Hashtag Tracker, Podcast Planner, and Presentation Planner.

Ann Handley’s Journey to Everybody Writes

Posted April 30th @ 3:12 pm by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Click to hear Ann Handley discuss her bestselling book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.

This week’s interview with Ann Handley was informative, revealing, and just plain fun. Ann has an encyclopedic knowledge of authors, copywriting, and the overlap between writing and content marketing, and she obviously enjoys sharing writing tips for today’s marketers.

Ann has been writing and editing articles about online marketing for over 15 years.

Presently, Ann is Chief Content Officer of the Marketing Profs, which has hundreds of thousands of followers around the world.  She is also a monthly contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine.

Interview takeaways

During our interview, Ann Handley spoke as clearly and energetically as she writes. She’s informed, spirited, and candid in her speaking as in her writing.
Discussion topics included topics like;

We also discussed some f the implications of Chapter 11, Humor Comes on the Rewrite. It’s Everybody Write’s shortest chapter–just two paragraphs! But, I feel it’s one of the most important.

After you download or listen to the recording of my interview with Ann Handley, share your comments, takeaways, and questions below.

Do You Have Any Questions for Ann Handley?

Posted April 27th @ 6:07 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Join my free interview with Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good ContentDo you have any writing or marketing questions you’d like to ask Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content?

I’ll be interviewing Ann Handley in a free teleseminar interview tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28, at 4 PM Eastern.

Tomorrow’s Author Thought Leader Interview offers you a unique opportunity to learn from one of today’s most popular authors and marketing voices. Ann will be sharing writing and content advice and tips, as well as her writing habits and rituals.

Positioning your book in a crowded field

Our call offers you a unique opportunity to learn from a top presenter and content marketing pioneer–who writes with exceptional clarity and warmth.

At the end of the call, there will be time for you to ask Ann your questions about writing and content marketing. (You can also submit your questions as comments before the call, as comments, below.)

Tips for positioning your book in a crowded field

If you’re an author, or a content marketer preparing topics in crowded fields, you’ll probably be especially interested in our discussion about book positioning. We’ll discussing how she successfully positioned Everybody Writes in a field with over 50,000 competing books.

A new topic, added since the rescheduled date of our original interview, is a discussion of the origins of her Writer’s GPS infographic based on the contents of Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes.

To attend my Ann Handley teleseminar interview

To attend tomorrow’s Published & Profitable interview with Ann Handley on Tuesday, April 28, at 4 PM Eastern, simply dial 605-475-6150 and enter PIN 513391.

Lessons from Adele Revella’s Buyer Personas {Mind Map}

Posted April 25th @ 10:42 pm by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Take your writing and content marketing to the next level with this free mind map of Adele Revella’s Buyer Personas.

Authors will see how a 3-part structure helps organize their ideas and position their books, so they can go deeper than competing books.

— Content marketers will gain a fresh appreciation for buyer personas and a discover a step-by-step approach to mastering one of content marketing’s most important competencies.

Buyer personas versus buyer profiles

Many content marketers mistake buyer profiles for buyer personas. But, there’s a crucial difference.

  • Buyer profiles are composites of buyer characteristics, like age, occupation, education, income, location, health, or marital status.
  • Buyer personas, as Adele Revella emphasizes throughout Buyer Personas, are far more complex, and capable of delivering greater rewards. They are far more personalized. They help marketers identify the triggers that open the door to favorable buying decisions.

As David Meerman Scott wrote in the Foreword to Buying Decisions:

Although the Internet has given us instant access to immense knowledge, even the most sophisticated applications of Big Data won’t reveal what you can learn by listening to your buyer’s stories.

Content marketing and stories

Content marketing success is all about stories; using the power of stories to engage and serve as a vehicle to communicate information. Each year sees increased emphasis placed on the role of storytelling in content marketing success.

Adele Revella has taken the power of story even further!

What Adele Revella has done in Buyer Powerson is to show content marketers that story is not only a vehicle, but is also a key research tool for identifying the content that will resonate with their clients and prospects.

A step-by-step action plan

For years, Adele has been redefining buyer personas for great content marketing productivity through her ebooks and blog posts on the Content Marketing Institute blog and her presentations and workshops like Content Marketing World. You can learn more at her Adele Revella’s Buyer Persona Institute website.

How to profit from the Buyer Persona mind map

Whether or not you’re a user of mind mapping software, you can view my Mindjet mind map Adele Revella’s Buyer Persona at Biggerplate.com. I created it using Mindjet’s MindManager.

  • If you’re not a MindManager user, you can explore the mind map online. You’ll be able to see how Adele Revella organized Buyer Personas into 3 parts and 11 chapters. You’ll be able to zoom in to explore the topics at greater magnification, or zoom out to appreciate the book’s overall organization.
  • If you are a MindManager user,  or you currently using a compatible mind mapping software program, you’ll be able to download the actual file. After downloading the file, you can use it to take notes while reading Buyer Personas or accessing the other resources available on Adele Revella’s website. (You can also use the file as a template for analyzing the structure of other popular marketing and business books.

Mind mapping and content marketing success

This mind map of Adele Revella’s Buyer Personas joins 39  other MindManager mind maps I’ve shared at Biggerplate. My goal is to encourage authors and content marketers to use mind maps to:

  • Study the structure of successful books by analyzing how successful authors have organized their books into sections and chapters.
  • Save time using mind maps to organize their own books and content marketing projects ideas before beginning to write
  • Use mind maps as learning tools by using mind maps to take notes while reading, attending conferences and workshops, or listening to podcasts.

For more information, see my articles and mind map templates on Mindjet’s Conspire blog. If you find them helpful, share your experiences as comments, below. And please share your questions and suggestions!

Can Your Book Pass This Simple Test? {Infographic}

Posted April 23rd @ 3:50 pm by Roger C. ParkerPrint

View the Writing GPS infographic based on Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes.

Then, simply ask yourself:

Can I create a similar infographic based on my book?

If you can’t immediately answer “Yes,” you should take a fresh look at your book and how effectively you have organized your ideas.

Structure and purpose

Thought leadership books–books written to position their authors as experts in their field–require a structure that instantly communicates their book’s purpose and the benefits readers will gain from their book.

The power of proof

When you view the complete Writer’s GPS infographic at a larger size, the 12 benefits of reading Ann Handley’s book are immediately visible.

In addition, each benefit is accompanied by proof in the form of concise “sound bites” of text. As a result, at a glance, prospective readers understand why they should buy the book, what they will learn, and how they will benefit.

Lessons from Everybody Writes

Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes is an excellent example of the type of nonfiction books that are popular today. It’s immediate Amazon Top 100 success, and its continuing brisk sales, is based on the:

  1. Quality of information that’s shared
  2. Depth, or quantity of information
  3. Tone, or the Author’s unique, conversational tone
  4. Structure, or the way information is organized

Everybody Writes contains 74 chapters and 9 tools organized into 9 parts. This organization is a key element in the book’s continuing success.

To learn more about Ann Handley’s Writing GPS

In addition to viewing the Writing GPS at large size, you can learn more about it by reading Ann Handley’s recent article, A Writing GPS: The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Next Piece of Content [Infographic].

The article describes the origin of the infographic and the purpose of the Writing GPS infographic. In Ann’s words:

This GPS gets you from one place to another: from discombobulated thoughts to a coherent, cogent piece of writing that others can grok (and maybe love).

To Learn even more

For a different, but equally-revealing visual perspective of Everybody Writes, you can examine and explore the Biggerplate mind map of Everybody Writes that I created using Mindjet MindManager.

If you’re already a MindManager user, you can use my mind map to take notes while reading Everybody Writes.

As both the infographic and the MindManager mind map show, visual thinking plays a big role in writing success. Visually displaying the contents of your book reveals your book’s structure and purpose.

  • Visual thinking before you write your book helps you organize your ideas–no matter how complex your topic or the amount of detail  you intend to present.
  • Visual thinking helps you market and sell your book by displaying the benefits your book offers and the advice that you share.

Most important visual thinking helps you evaluate your book idea–whether it’s a new book or an existing book–and offers an easy way for you to compare your book to the competition in a whole new way.

How visible is your book’s structure and purpose?

Can your book pass the infographic test? Is the structure of your book hidden in your book’s table of contents, and the contents of each chapter, or can the contents and value of your book be displayed as clearly as the infographic and mind map of Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes? How can you use visual thinking to make your book easier to write and easier to sell? Share your comments, below.

You can also learn more by attending next week’s Published & Profitable interview with Ann Handley on Tuesday, April 28, at 4 PM Eastern. To join us, simply dial 605-475-6150 and enter PIN 513391. There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the call.