“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.

11 essential content marketing links from Q2 18

  1. The best way to pitch a content marketing plan to your boss

We kick off with a story we saw back in April, but it’s among the biggest things you can do. Don’t forget that the whole idea of content marketing is still new to most people. So know the WHY as well as the HOW.

 

  1. 5 stellar examples of emotional storytelling in B2B marketing

We don’t always associate the B2B space with the same use of emotions and empathy as consumer marketing. Why not? Here are some examples you might not know, along with one or two classics.

 

  1. ‘Home run for us’: Inside Chase’s in-house agency

Believe it or not, we’re big fans of doing work in-house. It’s just that most can’t… or at least can’t do so as much as they’d like. Here’s a success story.

 

  1. 11 branded content masterminds who are elevating the art of marketing

Follow these people. Follow their work. Inspiring, eclectic stuff. (Bonus: Young Bjork! Double bonus: Rule of 11. Hey, where’d they learn that?!)

 

  1. How to be a copywriting genius: The brilliantly sneaky trick you must learn

Getting tactical for a moment, this isn’t about clickbait headlines. Think CTA – the humble ‘call to action’ – and always having a next step for your reader in mind.

 

  1. 5 journalistic tips for conducting better interviews

As we’re a bunch of ex-journalists ourselves, this Contently piece caught our eye. Journalists can be your not-so-secret weapon, but understand this isn’t about aggressive questioning and pork pie hats.

 

  1. 10 (mostly) quick wins to steal for your original research project

So much longform content is based on research, but what else can you do when you have unique and (hopefully) interesting data? This is a great breakdown by the Content Marketing Institute.

 

  1. Consulting firms are now a serious alternative in the eyes of more advertisers

How is the industry changing? It hasn’t taken long for Accenture, Deloitte, IBM and other big boys to punch their weight in an ecosystem once dominated by marketing agencies. Meaning what, for the rest of us?

 

  1. Travel content marketing 2018: Top trends + takeaways

Every quarter, we like to mention a specific vertical in this round-up. Travel has spawned more than one content marketing guru. And there’s a natural fit. What can we learn?

 

  1. Why you should ditch the idea of the perfect publishing time

We’ve long argued about this. Publishing online should always be about the group of people you’re trying to reach, not average numbers across whole populations. This, and more, in this must-read.

 

  1. The pie chart: Why data visualization’s greatest villain will never die

And finally, we thought we’d end on a pet hate of ours: a cliché of visual presentation. What other techniques can we use instead of the time-honoured pie chart? Well, quite a few, it turns out.

 

And why 11 links? Traditionally the shirt number of a tricky winger.

 

 

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

 

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Content marketing trends #2 Parallax web design

What are the newest trends and tactics used in content marketing? What’s catching on as a way to provide additional value to clients?

Following on from the first post on ‘gifographics’, we look at another content format gaining momentum: parallax web design.

As this article explains, making online content more interactive and visual in this way helps brands make a bold statement that target audiences will respond to and increase their engagement.

Research by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that 46 per cent of surveyed marketers use interactive content, with the main reason being to engage and educate their audience. In addition, 79 per cent of those that use it say they plan to increase their use of interactive content in the next 12 months.

In its report, The Symphony of Connected Interactive Content Marketing, the CMI said: “The key power of interactive content is that it provides valuable experiences where our audience wants to willingly provide us with insightful information.”

Something that is particularly powerful is parallax web design, which allows background and foreground images and text to move at different speeds (and directions) when scrolling through content. It often also includes animation.

This approach has been employed extensively in journalism. BBC News has used the technique to powerful effect in stories that examine news in depth, such as this story that explains how events unfolded in the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London and this one about the rise to power of Angela Merkel in Germany.

The Huffington Post has also been making use of the technique in Highline, its long-form journalism strand, which promises “stories that stay with you”. A good example is this 8,000 word article looking at the economic future faced by Millennials. This story also has graphics for stats and images that move in and out of the main article, suggesting a descent into economic depths.

In the content marketing realm, parallax design can be used in a range of ways, whether for a one-off article, a microsite or even a full website.

Car maker Peugeot makes great use of the technique in the microsite for its HYbrid4 technology which provides different travel modes on its road cars. It’s presented as a graphic novel complete with a dramatic soundtrack, in which the protagonist embarks on a dangerous mission. Through the unfolding narrative, we learn about the different HYbrid4 modes of SPORT, 4WD, AUTO and ZEV (Zero-Emission-Vehicle). It’s well worth a look.

Another great example is the website for Seattle’s Space Needle, which invites the reader to scroll down to see facts about the tower and find out what attractions are on offer at each level, from the base to the observation deck, and beyond into space.

The ‘Make Your Money Matter’ website promoting credit unions, meanwhile, tackles a drier subject with a range of cartoon-like backgrounds and images that move in different directions to explain the benefits of credit unions and provide useful stats as the user scrolls through the site.

Parallax design is a great storytelling tool and like other approaches that started off in journalism is a means for brands to tell their story in a more engaging and interesting way. The approach gives the sensation of a story that is moving, giving extra impact and driving the narrative forwards to maintain the interest of the reader.

No wonder it’s an approach that is becoming more and more popular in the content marketing world.

 

 

 

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6 tips for writers pitching editors and agencies

Cash for words. That’s the brutal equation of much professional writing. But if you’re a freelancer or moonlighting (hey, it happens) pro writer, how do you start a relationship with someone new who will pay you?

As an agency, Collective Content relies not just on our in-house team of writers and editors but on experts who work with us on specific client accounts, projects or even just one-off articles. So every week we see a lot of good and bad approaches.

The following is advice for those who are just starting to talk to people like us (‘pitching’ maybe isn’t the best word). But this also applies to writers seeking work from publications and the editors who make those decisions. (We were once those kinds of editors, so know the similarities.)

  1. Be super responsive – So many conversations just dry up at some point for no obvious reason. Remember the “80 per cent of success is just showing up” line? (Actually, it was originally “80 per cent of life…” – good writers also check their facts 🙂.) Sure, sometimes this is a busy editor’s fault. Take the initiative if you think the interaction is dying.
  2. Be authentic – Be yourself. If you’re working through an agency – or even agencies – but meeting clients or on calls with them, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Check with your agency on how you’ll introduce yourself. “I’m your writer on this project. I regularly work with Collective Content.” That’ll work. Remember, it’s easy for anyone to Google you and find out about you. And we’re big believers in being open about everyone involved (what we’ve termed ‘farm-fresh content’).
  3. Show, don’t tell (mostly) – When you’re trying to persuade an editor that you’re right for an assignment, examples of work are better than qualifications or employment history or nice endorsements on LinkedIn. But there’s a big ‘but’ with that. All good editors know that content is a team sport. A great article in your portfolio might have been down to three, four – even more – people being involved. Share the process, and your role within it. Be generous about others who helped. Show you know that this is How It Works.
  4. Be available – We work with people across multiple time zones. Be generous about making meeting times with clients. Most, in our experience, will be flexible if at all possible. But the occasional late or early call will earn credibility. Most companies are now also used to working with people all around the world. Compromise on both sides is key.
  5. Don’t be “free in three months” – We know a few really amazing writers who have done what they do for a quarter of a century. They are ex-media or from the highest rung of an agency’s creative team. They get to take four holidays a year and set their own terms. Most of us aren’t in this group. When we hear someone say, “I’d like to work with you too, but I’m next free in three months”, we hear you passing on the gig. We’re not saying over-commit and end up unable to fulfil. But sometimes fitting in an important job will cement your reputation, much like making that 5:30AM conference call.
  6. Know and tout your niche – Most agencies and publications have very specific beats or industry sectors that they cover. Know what you do well. Position yourself as an expert. Counterintuitively, the more niche, the better – as long as it’s in an area with demand. Be the go-to contributor for subject X. You will be remembered and called upon more than the generalists.

Perhaps more than anything, relationships are everything. You are your network. And doing this well takes time. Good luck out there.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 086 9333