Whether you’re a practice leader, thought leader or marketing professional, content marketing is a big part of any marketing strategy today. Many people want to know how to become better at content marketing or just start doing it. The No. 1 answer I always give them is that good content marketing starts with being a good consumer of content. If you don’t read, watch or consume content on a regular basis you can’t begin to fully understand what is going on in your market.
While we don’t often get too much pushback on this concept, what we often get are ‘yeah, buts’. Yeah, but I don’t have time to read. Or, yeah but, I don’t know where to look. Yeah, but, can’t marketing do that for me?
The answers to these questions are simple. 1) You make the time to read and it becomes part of your daily routine. Scanning can be just as valuable as consuming the entire article, and video is often even faster. 2) Read the same sources as your target market as well as sources that will help you stay up-to-date about your profession. (We have a list of ideas below). 3) Marketing can’t build your knowledge for you, but they should also be monitoring key content with you. It should be a collaborative effort.
Now here is where you get started. Here are our recommendations for becoming a better consumer of content.
1. Build a list of content sources.
It’s difficult to consume content before you know where to look. You need to identify the sources of content that will be valuable to you and your target market. These should inform you about industry trends, news, tips, insights, thought leadership, technical changes and more. The best place to find content are:
- Mainstream media (MSNBC, CNN, Wall Street Journal, business journals)
- Industry publications
- YouTube and Vimeo
- Social media
- Associations (AICPA, CPA firm associations)
- Tax and accounting research
- Market research reports (First Research)
2. Set up a system to have content pushed to you.
Let’s face it, we’re all busy. While busy isn’t an excuse for not doing something, being able to get to it means managing your limitations. Consuming content doesn’t have to take long, but you do need to have a way to push it to you. There are a few systems we really like. Our favorite by far is Feedly. It’s an RSS reader that allows you to subscribe to the content you want to receive. That way, you never miss a post, article or video. You can log in and view all the updated content in one place. It’s like reading an online paper with your top content selections. Most companies supply an RSS feed these days. However, some still don’t. For those, we simply subscribe to a regular email newsletterPocket, a read-it-later program that allows you to quickly save articles, videos and more to read or view later.
3. Create a routine.
Once you have content coming to you, you then need to create a routine. I tend to read in the morning or evenings and not necessarily every day. Friday mornings and afternoons are my favorite for content consumption, because I often develop content on those days. I also do a lot of my content consumption on travel days because I am uninterrupted.
4. Scan, then read.
The best-kept secret I can share is that I don’t read everything word for word. I scan articles, headlines and synopses and can usually get a really good feel for the content based on this. If it’s really intriguing then I read further. It’s probably a 60/40 split between what I scan versus read. It allows me to quickly keep up with everything without needing to set aside 4 hours a day.
5. Keep a running list of thoughts and ideas.
The most important thing I do is keep a running list of thoughts, ideas and connections I make as I consume content. I keep a list on my desktop and my phone to capture ideas. This helps me with our content development, but also in our product/service development and in advising our clients. I regularly come back to this list and visit it in all aspects of what I do.
Becoming a better consumer of content is possible—even if you weren’t a natural bookworm growing up. It will make you better at serving your clients, give you the tools to enhance your practice and can help put you on the path to becoming a thought leader in your practice area.
Have other ideas for content marketing and sources you have found helpful? Share them here. Need help with content marketing? Contact us today.