Content Marketers: Stop Wasting Your Graphic Designer’s Time!

Posted December 3rd @ 6:39 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Content marketers can reduce graphic design costs and delays by setting text formatting standards for freelancersContent marketers can reduce graphic design time and costs by setting formatting standards for text prepared by staff writers and freelancers.

Unnecessary text formatting can increase content marketing design costs and and cause  frustrating delays when designers have to manually remove unwanted formatting from text written for ebooks and white papers.

A recent white paper, submitted by my client, required over 3 hours of “de-formatting time” before I could begin to lay it out! Lesson learned…

Encourage your staff and freelancers to add minimum of text formatting when preparing first drafts of articles, blog posts, books, and ebooks for content marketing.

Setting standards for consistent content formatting at the start of projects will save money and ensure faster project turnaround.

Do’s and don’ts of text formatting

Here are a few of the most important formatting mistakes to avoid:

  • Do not indent the first line of paragraphs. Leave it up to your graphic designer to decide how to indicate new paragraphs.
  • Do not press the Enter key twice at the end of paragraphs. This usually adds too much extra space between paragraphs; plus, the extra lines will have to be eliminated before formatting.
  • Do not add graphic images to your drafts. Instead, indicate the location where the graphics should appear, noting the filename of the graphic.
  • Do not format subheads by underlining them or adding bold or italics. Instead, either indicate heading level, i.e. H1) H2, or H3, in parentheses before the heading, or–better yet–use your word processor’s Text Styles feature, as described below.
  • Do not draw or add borders or horizontal lines above or below headlines and titles. Whether created by underlining, or using your word processor’s drawing tools, these can be very time consuming for designers to manually remove.
  • Do not manually add hyphens to adjust line endings. These will interfere with the page layout program later.  Likewise, avoid using the Enter key to adjust line breaks in headlines.These can later cause unwanted gaps.

The following are some suggestions for those who preparing word-processed text for graphic designers:

  • Do familiarize yourself with the basics of text styles. Remember that the text style used for preparing the text of your white paper may not be the final typeface, type size, type style, or line spacing your message will appear in. Learning how to apply the 3 most common text styles, Normal, H1, H2, and H3, will save your designer a lot of unnecessary work, and reduce the time required to prepare your manuscript for formatting.
  • Do fine-tune the Normal text style. Change the Normal line spacing to 1.5 line or double-line spacing. This makes it much easier for you and your designer to review and proofread your document both onscreen and when printed. Adding 12 points of Space After paragraph formatting makes it easy to locate paragraph endings.
  • Do add page numbers and revision dates to the headers and footers of your manuscripts. This can save a lot of frustration and time if you print out your document and the pages get out of order.
  • Do create a style guide for your staff and freelancers. If you’re a content marketer, consider preparing a style guide for your staff. This will boost the efficiency of your designers for years to come. Update it frequently, and be sure to either put it online, or share with freelancers and interns.

Ask questions before you start to write

If you’re a freelancer, the above basics can help you avoid the most serious time-wasting mistakes.

Before you start to write for a new client, find out if your firm has a standards guide or copy guidelines for preparing text. The same is also true when preparing copy outside designers, printers, or book publishers. Each may have their own preferences.

Under-formatting is better than over-formatting!

It’s better to under-format your document, using just the basic Normal, H1, and H2 text styles, than to go overboard and create a manuscript that requires two hours of “formatting “clean-up” design time and fees before your graphic designer can get down to work.

If you’re a chief content officer or content marketing designer, share some of the manuscript formatting challenges you’ve had to clean up before you began to format an article, ebook, or white paper. Share your stories, and suggest additional formatting do’s and don’ts, as comments, below. View other content marketing topics here, including 7 Readability Tips for Designing Engaging Content.

Editorial Calendars: Why Simple is Better

Posted November 25th @ 6:48 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Choosing a simple content calendar increases the likelihood you'll use it; Click to image to learn more about a free call

There’s a wide variety of content marketing editorial calendars available, and some are very robust. But, often, the simplest solutions are the most effective.

I observed the power of simple editorial calendars about a decade ago, when I was helping small business owners and pioneering thought leaders commit to publishing a monthly One-Page Newsletter.

The deal was, as part of their training, these newcomers to marketing and writing for business had to choose the topics for their first 12 monthly newsletters before they published their first issue!

This played a major contributor in the success of their newsletters.

The same thing is true today!

Choosing monthly topics ahead of time works by providing a structure for consistency and success.

Partly, this is because the act of choosing topics ahead of time–and frequently reviewing their upcoming topics– engaged their brains. Thus, while they were driving, exercising, or sleeping, their brains would be on “high alert” for ideas they could write about when the time came to produce their next issue.

In addition, choosing topics ahead of time eliminated the need to simultaneously choose a topic and begin to write about it at the last minute.

As a result, their writing went faster and their messages appeared on time. In several cases, in fact, they were able to write and publish their first book immediately their first 6th issue appeared!

Start simple, and build on your editorial calendar’s success

Today’s content marketing editorial calendars can become data-intensive tools for highly-sophisticated corporate content planning and tracking.

But, that doesn’t mean you have to start out with a complicated editorial calendar. Even a simple editorial calendar can make a big difference to you and your business.

In the beginning, the success is in the commitment and execution, not the complexity!

Learn more about the benefits of simple editorial calendars

Learn more about the benefits of creating a simple content marketing editorial calendar during my coaching call today, Tuesday, November 25, at 4 PM Eastern.

I’ll be discussing the basics of creating a simple, effective Editorial Calendar, as well as sharing ideas and resources for choosing the right options and moving forward.

All Published and Profitable friends and members are invited. To attend, dial 605-475-6150 and enter PIN 513391. Feel free to invite your friends and co-workers to join us. Call in early and say hello!

7 Reasons Every Content Marketer Needs a 2015 Editorial Calendar

Posted November 24th @ 6:36 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Learn how to create a 2015 editorial calendar using worksheets or a mind mapIf you’re using content marketing to grow your business, now is the time to learn how to prepare a 2015 Editorial Calendar.

Regardless whether you use a worksheet or a mind map), an Editorial Calendar is the most important part of your written content strategy for 2015.

Each year, research indicates that the presence or absence of a documented content strategy spells the difference between content marketers satisfied with their content marketing and confident about their return on investment from their marketing.

The remainder are dissatisfied with their content marketing and uncertain about the results.

For details, view the Content Marketing Institute’s recent B2B research and B2C research articles and download the latest research.

Editorial Calendars are catalysts for action!

An Editorial Calendar is key element in a content marketing strategy. It’s the difference between intention and action.

By identifying content themes and topics, and specifying project start dates and due dates, your Editorial Calendar becomes an always-available, sharable catalyst for action that boosts quality and efficiency, keeping your content marketing on schedule.

7 reasons Editorial Calendars make a crucial difference

An Editorial Calendar is a necessity for content marketing success, whether you write 2, 3, 4, or more articles, blog posts, podcasts, or videos a month.  Here are 7 reasons why:

  1. Higher quality. Choosing your monthly themes and scheduling your articles and blog posts in advance improves their quality, keeps your content marketing on schedule, and eliminate last-minute deadlines and mistakes.
  2. Boosts efficiency. An Editorial Calendar with Start Dates and Due Dates for each project helps you make the most of your writing time. You will write more effectively when you know what you’re going to write about before you start working. An Editorial Calendar also encourages you to work in shorter, more frequent writing sessions, leaving enough time to proofread and edit your content.
  3. Better alignment with your market’s information needs. Advance planning pays off in terms of fine-tuning your content to meet the needs of your ideal clients at the five stages of their buying cycle, Awareness, Comparison, Transaction, Reinforcement, and Advocacy discussed in my Streetwise Guide to Relationship Marketing on the Internet.
  4. Balance content creation and curation. An Editorial Calendar’s “big picture” view of your content marketing encourages you to include a healthy balance between content creation and content curation.  This will expand the reach of your content, broaden your exposure to the influencers in your field, and strengthen your ability to thoughtfully comment on trending topics.
  5. Recycle and reformat your most important ideas. Your Editorial Calendar’s “big picture” view of your content encourages you to choose and create content that you can reformat and reuse for additional exposure. A series of blog posts, for example, can be repurposed as an ebook or a series of podcasts. Topics covered in a white paper can be re-addressed and turned into guest blog posts, a series of articles, or an e-course. 
  6. Better time management and delegation. An Editorial Calendar encourages you to be more realistic in evaluating the fit between your content marketing goals and your available resources. You may find that you just don’t have time to do a polished weekly blog posts. Knowing that, you might decide to commit to two excellent blog posts a month instead of compromising quality. Likewise, knowing your upcoming content themes and topics, you’ll be better able to identify tasks–like creating graphics for blog posts and social media–that you might be able to delegate to others.
  7. Building in time to effectively promote your content. The ability to promote your content is as important as the ability to create content. Without an Editorial Calendar, you may be so busy rushing from deadline to deadline that you fail to promote your content via social media and email. You may be missing opportunities to thank others who comment, like, or recommend your content.

Cultivating the habits of content marketing success

Ultimately, an Editorial Calendar is the first step towards creating a coherent, sustainable content marketing strategy for 2015.

Creating a 2015 Editorial Calendar gives you an opportunity to:

  • Review the assumptions, goals, and building blocks of your 2015 content strategy, including updating the personas describing your most important target market segments.
  • Break down your goals into specific tasks to be started and completed on-time and without stress on a week-to-week basis.

Once you have control of your time, there’s no limit to your content marketing creativity and success!

Learn more about creating a 2015 editorial calendar

To learn more about creating a 2015 Editorial Calendar, attend my free coaching call, Tuesday, November 25, at 4 PM Eastern. I’ll be discussing the elements of an effective Editorial Calendar, as well as sharing ideas for choosing the right options and moving forward.

All Published and Profitable friends and members are invited. To attend, dial 605-475-6150 and enter PIN 513391. Feel free to invite your friends and co-workers to join us. There will be handouts and samples, plus an opportunity for you to ask questions and share your Editorial Calendar experiences.

Simplify Planning Your 2015 Content Marketing

Posted November 21st @ 6:55 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Simplify your 2015 content marketing with an editorial calendar you create with Mindjet's MindManagerLearn how a Mindjet Editorial Calendar mind map can simplify your 2015 content marketing.

My latest Mindjet Content Dashboard article describes a 3-step approach to creating a 2015 Editorial Calendar.

My article on Mindjet’s Conspire blog also includes a sample Editorial Calendar MindManager template for you to download!

Editorial Calendar benefits

An Editorial Calendar mind map simplifies planning your 2015 content marketing and book promotion in several ways, including:

  • Eliminates searching for topics at the last minute. An editorial calendar gives you a “big picture” view of your 2015 content. Choosing content marketing themes and topics ahead of time eliminates the stress of trying to decide what to write about the night an article or blog post is due.
  • Keeps you on schedule. An Editorial Calendar mind map helps you and your coworkers monitor upcoming deadlines and schedule your content marketing resources. This helps ensure there’s enough time to write, edit, and promote your content. All of us are deadline driven! We all work better when we are given project Start Dates and Due Dates that we can us to schedule our time.
  • Boosts your efficiency and productivity.  An Editorial Calendar boosts efficiency by making it easier to delegate, or share, tasks with others. It helps you schedule your social media around your content. And it makes it easier to reformat your articles and blog posts as ebooks, reports, SlideShare presentations, and white papers.

My Editorial Calendar article and mind map template is an adaptation of ideas I wrote about in an earlier article  for the Content Marketing Institute blog, A 2-Step Editorial Calendar Template that Can Boost Your Content Marketing Productivity.

Learn more about creating a 2015 Editorial Calendar

To learn more about creating a 2015 Editorial Calendar, attend my free coaching call, Tuesday, November 25, at 4 PM Eastern.

All Published and Profitable friends and members are invited. To attend, dial 605-475-6150 and enter PIN 513391. Feel free to invite your friends and co-workers to join us.

During the call, you’ll be able to ask questions about Editorial Calendars and share your content marketing and writing concerns, questions, and suggestions.  Or, if you’d like, you’re invited to submit your questions about Editorial Calendars and mind mapping ahead of time as comments, below.

Blueprint for Building and Measuring Your Business Success

Posted November 20th @ 6:47 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Paul Roetzer's Marketing Performance Blueprint offers strategies and technologies for building and measuring your business success

Paul Roetzer’s latest book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint:  Strategies and Technologies to Build and Measure Business Success addresses the biggest challenges facing today’s content marketers of all sizes: the need for more content and greater confidence.

The need for more agile and versatile content marketing workers was highlighted in a recent Content Marketing Institute article, A Growing Challenge for 2015: How to Find Trained Content Marketing Professionals.

The article reflects a growing concern emerging from extensive research by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs. You can read highlights from the research and, if desired, download the the full reports below:

A course outline for all content marketers

In The Marketing Performance Blueprint offers today’s Chief Content Officers, C-level executives, marketing staffs, and independent agencies a tightly organized and resource-rich coverage of the strategies and technologies needed to succeed today.

Paul Roetzer is the founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a leading inbound marketing agency and frequent speaker at leading marketing events. His first book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint: The Handbook for Building Hybrid PR, SEO, Content, Advertising, and Web Firms, reflected his day-to-day involvement in today’s rapidly changing marketing world .

Once again, his writing reflects both his agency perspective and knowledge of the challenges facing his corporate clients as marketing technology continues to change. He has tightly organized his latest book in four sections:

Section 1: The Backstory

  • Chapter 1: Mind the Gaps. The Marketing Talent Gap. The Marketing Technology Gap. The Marketing Strategy Gap. The Marketing Performance Gap.
  • Chapter 2: Commit to Digital Transformation. Adoption and Adaptation.Obstacles to Evolution. The Exposed Brand.

Section 2: Marketing Talent

  • Chapter 3: Build a Modern Marketing Team. A Talent War Has Begun. Rise of the Hybrids. The Science of Recruiting.
  • Chapter 4:  Construct an Internal Marketing Academy. Keeping Pace or Falling Behind? The Role of Online Education. An Internal Academy Model.
  • Chapter 5: Propel Growth through Agency Partners. The Marketing Agency Ecosystem. Finding Your Match. Managing the Outsourced Team.

Section 3: Marketing Technology

  • Chapter 6: Create a Connected Customer Experience. It Is Their Journey, Not Yours. The Impact of Automation. Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence. Origins of the Intelligence Engine. Let’s Get Contextual.
  • Chapter  7: Manage the Marketing Technology Matrix. Into the Cloud. Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape. Map Your Marketing Technology Strategy. Core Technologies Snapshot.

Section 4: Marketing Strategy

  • Chapter 8: Perform a Marketing Assessment. Potential for Success. The Marketing Score Model. Business and Marketing Cores. The Strategy Gateway.
  • Chapter 9: Develop a Marketing Scorecard. Metrics That Matter. Getting Started with Google Analytics. Automate and Visualize Intelligence.
  • Chapter 10: Strategize a Marketing Game Plan. E3 Model Snapshot. Evaluate. Establish. Execute.

Skillful art direction and content chunking within the chapters also contribute to the readability of The Marketing Performance Blueprint. Concise writing, frequent subheads, extensive use of lists, sidebars, and itemized Chapter Highlights at the end of each chapter contribute to the book’s success.

Impressions of The Marketing Performance Blueprint

Although marketing today involves mastering and monitoring advanced strategies and  technologies, Paul has managed to communicate with clarity and momentum. At no point did I feel “left behind.”

Here are my two major takeaways, (in addition to the book’s organization, described above):

  • Internal Marketing Academy. I was pleasantly surprised by Paul’s advocacy of creating internal marketing training program as well as the painless way he described it could operate. Only someone, like Paul Roetzer, who is really passionate about his craft and the growth of his agency, would understand the need and the power of the program he describes.
  • Resource thesaurus. The Marketing Performance Blueprint’s value is enhanced by the hundred of resource links and brief descriptions found throughout its pages. These are found within the text, rather than being isolated in the Appendix at the rear, for maximum accessibility.

Have you read Paul Roetzer’s The Marketing Performance Blueprint yet? If you had, I’d like to read your impressions and takeaways in the comments, below.

Bernadette Jiwa Shares Her Marketing Love Story

Posted November 7th @ 6:39 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Bernadette Jiwa's tells how to make customers matter to your customers in Marketing: A Love Story Bernadette Jiwa, a master of engaging brevity, shares an inspiring collection of ideas and tips in her latest bestseller, Marketing: A Love Story–How to Matter to Your Customers.

In an age characterized by the increasing technology-driven tactical specialization of content marketing and social media marketing, Bernadette Jiwa consistently speaks to core issues with a quiet, inspiring voice.

Her books, like her daily Story of Telling email updates, are masterpieces of brevity.

At a time when I’m unsubscribing to many daily email newsletters, replacing them with weekly updates (when available), I still look forward to Bernadette’s 3 blog posts and emails each week. They’re all commendably short, but always share worthy, non-promotional information. She writes with a gentle touch that I greatly admire.

Free bonus inside

Like her other books, Bernadette Jiwa’s Love: A Marketing Story contains an unannounced, but very useful bonus. One of the best was her one-page Difference Worksheet which I described in a previous blog post, Discover Your Difference with Bernadette Jiwa’s Help.

In this case, the bonus is a simple, two-part Value Proposition Hack that makes it easy for you to tell your story by providing a fill-in-the-blanks framework.

Whether you buy the Amazon Kindle version or the paperback version of Marketing: A Love Story, the Value Proposition Hack, by itself, more than justifies the modest cost of the book.

In the case of Marketing: A Love Story, I find the incremental cost of the paperback version is worth it because of the ease of underlining the many key phrases and sentences you’re likely to want to refer back to in the future.

Bernadette Jiwa’s books

Marketing: A Love Story is Bernadette Jiwa’s fourth book. Her previous books include:

Prior to the above books, she was co-editor of Seth Godin’s Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? And Other Provocations, 2006-2012. This is a mammoth compilation of Seth’s core writings–and one of my favorite examples of blog-based books.

If you haven’t yet discovered Bernadette Jiwa’s blog, books, and concise emails, I encourage you to spend some time on her website. While you’re on her site, I encourage you to visit her exceptionally well-executed Portfolio page.