Is everything really content? Well, yeah, kinda! It depends a bit on your definition, of course, but if you choose to believe what ad-man and creative director Dave Trott has observed as the new world order of content marketing, every medium via which you communicate with your clients or customers could be a potential opportunity to deliver a content marketing message.
Let’s talk a little bit about the opportunities you might not yet be taking to package and publish content. Mind you, these items don’t have to be filled to the brim with content — that’s just distracting, and dilutes your main message — but a sprinkle here and a dash there of well-thought-out content can pack a punch.
Here are eight concrete opportunities to publish thoughtful content you might be overlooking — places where it might make sense to wrap in some of your company’s messaging since (1) you’re creating and “publishing” them anyway and (2) because they aren’t already packed full of content marketing “stuff.” A caveat: I’m not suggesting that you use all of these avenues to push out your message, but incorporating a few into your content marketing strategy can help differentiate you from your competitors — and get your messaging the maximum possible exposure.
- Invoices: They have to get sent out every month, anyway. Why not use them to do more than just collect? Is your company running a campaign to promote a new service line? Add a sentence to the header or footer of all of your invoices for the next few months announcing the addition. Of course, follow up with your phone number and/or email address…which, by the way, should be added to your invoices ASAP if they aren’t appearing there already! Make sure whatever content you share here stands out graphically from everything else on the invoice so your message doesn’t get lost.
- Email signatures: Ah, the email signature. We’ve all seen those that seem to go on forever, with their recycling symbols and “save the earth, don’t print this email” messages — as though that would deter anyone with their heart set on having a hard copy — and those that are just plain ugly, unwieldy, and uncommunicative of anything meaningful. In some cases, the poorly constructed email signature can even have negative implications on your client relationships. Then there are those that include messaging but are just ham-handed in their execution. Use your email signature to link to content on your website, or announce something new, or invite people to an event. But don’t try to do 14 things at once, and remember that sometimes less is more. One simple message, presented well, can often be most effective.
- Job postings/recruiting websites: If you aren’t using the position descriptions you send out to Glass Door, Monster, Indeed, and other job sites to include some exciting and differentiating information about who your company really is, what you’re up to, or what it’s like to work for you, you’re missing a big opportunity to capture the attention of great, discerning candidates, and honestly, potential customers, too.
- Customer questions/FAQs: A really good answer to a customer question posted on your website, or an FAQ response, is an ideal place to offer more information that’s relevant to a particular concern even if that information hasn’t been asked for expressly. Why? Because the person asking the question is inherently interested in getting help. Why not offer a little extra? It’s really the essence of content marketing. Offer useful and educational information. They’ll come back for more.
- Media advisories/Press releases: Usually, these bad boys are used to simply let the press know what’s coming or what’s just happened, so they tend to be super bare-bones and include just the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why). But as long as that critical content is present and easy to locate, you can add some ancillary resources at the end. You’re making the journalist’s job even easier by pointing them to other relevant stuff about your company and its mission or goals.
- Proposals: If you regularly bid for business and send out proposals, you’re likely used to making sure your appendix is packed with useful information about past work in a given client’s industry or, lacking that, about your company’s work in general. But don’t just copy and paste the same appendix content over and over. How long has it really been since you dusted off what’s in there? It might be time to do some updating.
- Packaging: Whether you’re selling a product or a service or both, you have some kind of packaging. Engage a skilled designer to help you determine a tasteful and eye-catching way to incorporate messaging into whatever packaging you use.
- Pricing sheets: The same deal goes here as with invoices. There’s potential to be informative and create a sense of goodwill with your customers, as in “here are some other useful tidbits in addition to the information you asked for specifically.”
Overall, with any of the above suggestions, you’ll want to make sure the content that is supposed to be front and center remains that way. Don’t get too carried away, and don’t allow ancillary messaging to take the spotlight away from the primary information the piece is supposed to convey. An invoice should clearly tell the reader how much they owe you. It will only cause frustration if you “bury the lead.”
Oh, and one more cool thing about these examples: they illustrate how design can play a role in content marketing and brand perception even in the most seemingly mundane and administrative communiques. For these items, the “look” and not just the words themselves can feel important, too. After all, who wouldn’t rather receive a delightful-looking invoice (especially if it softens the blow of a high bill).
In the end, the importance of the type of medium you’re using ends where the quality of the content itself begins. As I’ve written before, the medium and the message share importance. I’ll keep saying that as long as people keep publishing pretty-to-look-at but otherwise crappy stuff on the internet.
If you’re not sure how to create effective content worth sharing with the world, start by downloading our eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide,” then give us a shout — we love figuring out how to use content to solve problems.