With 91% of B2B marketers using content marketing, it’s safe to say that if you’re a marketer, you’re producing content. For the most part, marketers use content (whitepapers, blogs, webinars, infographics, videos, etc.) to bolster their inbound marketing programs. But as an outbound marketing service provider, we believe that content marketing also has a home in your outbound marketing strategy.
For example, if you’re working with Marketfish to acquire new customers through permission-based, third-party lists, content can work well as a top-of-funnel offer for potential leads. With content, there’s a lower barrier to entry. Done right, top-of-funnel content delivers information in a compelling package with next to no sales pitch. It’s perfect for getting leads into your funnel where you can nurture them with more content.
But content marketing doesn’t come without its challenges; 64% of companies say that producing enough new content is their top content marketing challenge. And while we can’t turn an untalented writer into the next Steinbeck, or give your designer a direct line into Milton Glaser’s creative process, we can share some of the tools we use to expedite the content creation process.
Research is obviously more of a process than a tool, but it deserves a mention. Research adds to the verity of your content; readers respect and respond to facts. I recommend gathering research from your industry’s leading trade publications, but don’t limit yourself to just those sources. If you’re a large organization, and have the budget, consider conducting your own studies and research – these can work as a great lead generation/content marketing tool as well.
If you’re a smaller organization, consider leveraging the research of a larger organization in your industry. You can also look outside trade publications to traditional news sources like the New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal. I recommend making a list of sources, checking them regularly, and saving any pertinent information you find. Last piece of advice, always properly site and link back to any research you leverage for your content.
Beyond a word processor and a quick wit, Evernote is my top content creation tool. The service can seem like a dauntingly blank slate at first, because there are so many uses for this software. I mainly use it to organize research, outlines, and photos for whatever piece I am working on in one central location. The Evernote Web Clipper browser extension (available for most major browsers) makes it easy to save URLs, bits and pieces of articles, photos, etc. in Evernote very quickly. Plus, since it is a cloud-based service, you can access your work from anywhere you have an internet connection. I like to think of Evernote as the central hub of all my content marketing activities.
At Marketfish, we use Photoshop to work with photos, but it’s expensive. If you don’t have the budget, I recommend either Skitch or GIMP. Both of these tools are handy and free photo editors. Skitch is available for OS X and Windows 8. It’s not as feature-rich as other photo editing applications, but it’s easy to use and if you spend most of your time working with stock photos, Skitch is up to the task. GIMP is for Windows and Linux only, but if you need Photoshop-esque functionality, GIMP is your best bet.
In many cases, stock photos are enough for your content creation efforts. When you’re first starting out, you may want to use Flickr Creative Commons, or www.sxc.hu, as they’re both free. You might also want to go this route if you’re producing a lot of content and don’t want to incur the high cost of hundreds of stock photos. But if you need the highest quality images, I recommend paying for the products at iStockphoto and Getty Images. They are industry leaders for a reason.
I use MS Word, you use MS Word, everybody uses MS Word. In all seriousness, there are a bunch of word processors out there, but MS Word is pretty much industry standard. Google Docs is a viable alternative, especially if you need to collaborate on a document with several of your coworkers.
That’s about it folks. We use a few other tools for content creation, but these are the big ones. Let us know what you think in the comments!
Are you involved in content creation? What tools do you use?