As a Content Manager my day is generally “Share, share, share, share, share, create, share, share, share, share, share, share, share, share, create, sleep”. And with all that sharing there’s also rejecting of a lot of content pieces. Especially when I’m curating content for the Diocese of Olympia. The niche is really tight, and the audience is fussy. Not many content pieces make the grade, but I wish they did. It would make my job easier.

In their new book, Valuable Content Marketing, Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton have created the Eight Guiding Principles for Valuable Content Marketing. These use sales language, but remember the communications premise and mentally switch the word sales for donate, change behavior, educate; whichever makes you feel more comfortable.

Sonja and Sharon start the discussion with a valuable attitude, “…not ‘Look how great we are’ (as in a traditional brochure) but ‘See how useful and interesting we are – we have answers to your problems’.” Yes, it got a love tag in my notes, but it’s deserving because it sets the scene really well. Marketing, and in particular content marketing isn’t about us. It’s about the audience.

The Eight Guiding Principles

  1. Put your customers first
  2. Help don’t sell
  3. Give ideas away generously, for free
  4. Always know why
  5. Think niche
  6. Tell a bigger story
  7. Commit to quality
  8. Write from the heart.

I’m not going to go into detail discussing each of these. Sonja and Sharon do it really well (buy their book), plus they really shouldn’t be anything new. While accepting the basic premise of any business is to make money, doesn’t it make sense to solve your customers’ problems and help them make money too? The guidelines are really just a how-to achieve to achieving the valuable attitude.

How Does This Help Content Marketing?

The Eight Guidelines help us to create and curate valuable content. Look at all your content pieces. Do they meet at least most of the guidelines? I’d say there’s a little flexibility on guidelines two and three, but the others should be mandatory. Otherwise, you’re just creating more clutter.

We’ve chosen to implement these guidelines at the Diocese of Olympia. OK, well, it was the general premise until I saw this list last week. Previously we used an editorial calendar for each ministry or department to write to a schedule. It worked for a couple of areas, but, generally speaking, the blog became a hated part of our website that no one read. We weren’t writing from the heart, and we didn’t commit to quality. Instead, we committed to a schedule. In contrast, a blog post responding to the Pew Research Center’s findings that church attendance is dropping is one of the most popular pages on the entire website. Just below the staff directory. Its Facebook reach was 557% of page likes. That one post met all the guidelines.

I’m still reading Valuable Content Marketing, but you’ll get the review soon. I recommend you buy a copy. At only 24% in I’ve flagged so many great ideas and examples.

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