Tag Archives: Content Marketing

How Thought Leadership and Social Media is Unlocking Belt and Road Opportunities

Thought leadership initiatives promoted by social media are helping companies, consulting firms and professional services firms unlock opportunities along China’s vast Belt and Road infrastructure development initiative.

As the Economist and the World Bank have detailed, China’s Belt and Road initiative was launched in 2013 and is aimed at strengthening infrastructure, trade and investment links between Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.  71 other countries have joined the initiative, which collectively accounts for over 30% of global GDP, and 62% of the world’s population.  And as the Guardian has detailed, China is spending approximately $150 billion dollars per year on a range of Belt and Road projects.

Belt and Road’s economic impact and opportunity for the private sector is made clear in a report last year from Reuters detailing that China has now become Germany’s largest trading partner, overtaking the United States.  Notably, German government and trade association officials say they plan to continue efforts to expand trade with the greater Asia-Pacific region. And Belt and Road, of which Germany is an original member — is cited among the catalysts for this bilateral trade expansion.

Conversely, as a Nielsen report details, high-growth markets along the Belt and Road are now seen as “showing significant opportunity for Chinese brands looking to expand their operations overseas”.

Emerging Belt and Road Thought Leadership

The Belt and Road is geographically vast, and the power of the internet is already being harnessed by many to capitalize upon its’ opportunities far afield.  Notably, China’s Foreign Office has written to encourage media cooperation along the Belt and Road to foster and promote the initiative’s success.  In response, some accounting, legal, trade and investment firms have established sophisticated thought leadership positions as a means by which to attract new clients and increase their brand awareness along the Belt and Road.

Notably, all of the Big4 accounting firms have begun to write extensively on Belt and Road, including Ernst & Young (EY)DeloittePricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and KPMG.  Asia-Pacific region accounting firm Dezan Shira has established Silk Road Briefing. And international law firms Norton Rose Fulbright and King & Wood Mallesons have also established a growing body of work devoted to Belt and Road subjects. And Belt and Road Advisory, a consulting firm focused on Belt and Road opportunities, maintains the Belt and Road Blog which “encourage[s] a plurality of views on the BRI and…invite[s] guest contributors.”

Perhaps the most significant hub of information on Belt and Road to date comes from the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC).  And PwC’s initiative is a unique standout as it now publishes the PwC B&R Watch —  a “review of capital project and deal activity in the countries that fall under the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R)”.

Too, leading think tanks, multinational organizations and news publications are publishing about Belt and Road in increasing frequency, including the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution, The Diplomat and the Economist. And conferences about Belt and Road, often with substantial social media promotion, are occurring at increasing frequency.  Some of these conferences have been conducted by the Milken Institute, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Cavendish Group International, ATWORK, Innovation Angel Funds, and INNO Innovation Space and the World Transportation Conference.

Create a Belt and Road Thought Leadership Initiative

It remains early days for Belt and Road thought leadership.  And firms that might wish to become an early adopter thought leader on Belt and Road still have time to do so.

Well-planned and carefully cultivated — thought leadership initiatives benefit those organizations that undertake them.  McKinsey Quarterly is perhaps the most high-profile example of this success.  And the World Economic Forum’s blog and social media channels are a superb example of thought leadership and social media promotion combined to promote international trade and investment.

Well designed to appeal uniquely to key Belt and Road audiences, a sophisticated thought leadership position staked out now will likely yield more Belt and Road-related publicity, clientele and revenue for firms that take up the challenge.  Given the substantial opportunity Belt and Road offers, it would be wise for any company or organization seeking to generate revenue, brand awareness and expand their network in Belt and Road regions, to establish a Belt and Road-focused thought leadership position as a key organizational priority.

For more information about creating content or managing social media focused on Belt and Road?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

Want to achieve thought leadership status? Hire a professional writer

If you work in a large business that is seeking to become an industry thought leader, the assistance of a professional writer is imperative to achieve success.

As thought leadership expert Russ Alan Prince has detailed in Forbes, competition for high-caliber clients is “becoming more intense”, and thought leadership has become a powerful way to secure new business amid a sea of “increasingly fungible” competitors.

McKinsey & Company is the example to aspire to

The bar to superior thought leadership is a high one.  The leader in thought leadership for professional services is, as Prince explains, McKinsey & Company, who first published McKinsey Quarterly in the 1960’s.  It’s effectiveness, he details, “has resulted in many other management consulting firms following suit”.

Vital for firms to consider is Prince’s prediction that: “There will be an increasing bifurcation…between the relative few [firms] that are thought leaders and the majority that are not.”  

Becoming a thought leader requires hard work

But Prince also cautions that: “More often than not the biggest obstacle to a professional services firm becoming a thought leader…is a willingness to put in the requisite hard work.” Firms aspiring to thought leadership, he explains “have to seriously commit to the endeavor, or they should avoid it altogether.”

He cites Hannah Shaw Grove, Executive Editor of Private Wealth magazine, who explains that: “‘originality and quality are the keys to lasting success as a thought leader. The barriers to entry are pretty low right now; virtually anyone can make a three-minute video or produce a six-page white paper. But if you can demonstrate depth of knowledge and bring fresh insights to areas and industries that have suffered from decades of conventional thinking you have the ability to transform the game. Nothing else will make the cut.’”

Why a professional writer is helpful

Any large organization seeking to become a thought leader requires a professional writer.  As Maria Wood explains on McGuire Editorial Blog, corporate CEO’s under tight time constraints regularly utilize the services of ghost-writers to help them craft “thought-provoking articles that build their personal brand and show their companies as cutting edge pioneers in their respective industry.”

Addressing corporate content marketing managers specifically, she explains her reasoning for the need to hire ghost writers capable of producing thought leadership pieces: “You know that your company’s leadership and other individual experts in your organization hold a lot of valuable insights in their heads, but you’ll never get them to sit down and write a “big idea” piece.”  “But”, she continues, “you’re hesitant to do thought leadership writing for several reasons: Writing isn’t your CEO’s forte (as it isn’t for many executives and entrepreneurs), and the process would take precious time away from his or her real job of building and growing the business. Fortunately, working with a ghostwriter provides the perfect answer to those challenges.”

“A great ghostwriter”, she explains, “elicits expertise and enthusiasm during… interviews [with corporate leaders]”. A ghostwriter then helps put into writing a CEO’s “big ideas and point of view”. She concludes by explaining how: “A packed schedule shouldn’t prevent your leadership from [publishing thought leadership]. If they don’t have the time to craft a stellar article personally, hire a ghostwriter.”

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How to write blog posts that generate new client leads

The ultimate goal of any content marketing initiative is to generate new potential client leads.  

Julie Neidlinger, writing in Single Grain, explains that: “There’s a general misunderstanding among most bloggers: you think that simply getting people to read what you’ve written is the point.  In an ideal world, they just read your blog post and immediately (and happily) sign up for your newsletter, download your “ultimate guide,” and head on over to your online store. Your amazing content leads to conversions which translates to cold hard cash in the bank. It’s as simple as that, right? Yes, that is what can happen. That is what should happen. But as long as you hold on to that initial misunderstanding, that isn’t what will happen. The truth is, readers don’t automatically become customers. They tend to stay readers unless you make a concerted effort to convert them into a customer.” [emphasis added]

How to generate leads from blog posts

Strong Social has detailed what is required to avoid the pitfall Julie Neidlinger details above — and create successful, lead-generating blog posts.  Their recommendations include:

  • Be clear and concise — “Clarity is the key to mutual understanding between you and your customers.” This requires removing excessive language in blogposts.
  • Ensure your blog posts are client-centric.
  • Break the blogpost up into subheadings and bullet points –  They cite a Nielsen Norman Group study which “found that 79% of readers skim, while only 16% read every word on a page. Breaking up your page with subheads and bullets will make it easier for those 79% to digest the copy—and ultimately take a desired action—on your website.”
  • Avoid buzzwords and industry jargon which can reduce the clarity of your message.
  • Include a compelling call to action — The call to action (CTA) is one of the most important aspects of web copywriting. Ensure the reader knows what to do next. This is perhaps the most important element of a good blogpost, as well as perhaps the most overlooked.
  • Be aware of the web copy your direct competitors are using as a means to keep fully up-to-date with the market.
  • Know your audience — Understand their needs and address them in your blogposts. “Figure out why people buy your product or service, how they buy it, what they use it for, and what really matters to them.”

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

 

How a blog can help your business generate more publicity

Competition for available media coverage continues to increase

Competition for available media coverage continues to increase amid a sea of press releases and publicity efforts, according to an article by Ian Felton in SEO Chat.  As a result of this competition, Felton details, it`s “harder than ever for a business to gain much needed publicity.”

“Getting someone to hear the message is half the battle”, Felton explains. “Having the members of the media consider it newsworthy is the other half. Somewhere, there must be another vehicle that can gain the attention of an already swamped news editor. Help for the publicity seeking business person has arrived in the form of the blog.”

And global public relations consultancy Burson-Marsteller has explained the increased importance of blogs to generating news stories:  “Traditional and Social media are being used in increasingly sophisticated ways to draw attention to issues and mobilize opinion; anyone can now broadcast their views instantly and broadly using the panoply of tools freely available. And with journalists and other opinion-formers using blogs, micro-blogs and other web-based media as core tools to track news and trends, seemingly anodyne issues can be amplified instantly.”

Unique features that make blogs useful for public relations efforts

Felton identifies 4 key elements of blog technology that help make it uniquely useful for amplifying your organization’s messages

  1. A blog can provide an instant pipeline directly to interested news media outlets when combined with an RSS news feed, which employs the same technology as stock market and weather forecasts.
  2. A blog is a search engine optimization vehicle requiring minimal additional effort. The regular addition of relevant and keyword rich content provides a powerful boost to your business in the search engines.
  3. Other blogs and blog-based news sites will often link to content they source for information – which increases your exposure.
  4. High-ranking sites send a message of importance to reporters.  Hence, you may well be regularly called upon as a source as a result.

Consistent, sophisticated content will make a blog a regular source of news stories

Making your blog a source of consistent, well-informed opinion will help it grow to be regarded by journalists as a must-read source of expert opinion on your industry and specializations.  But reaching that pinnacle takes very hard work — which organizations must understand and genuinely commit to before embarking upon any blogging effort with such a lofty ambition.

Felton sums up the blog`s importance with a message about authenticity:  “Blogging as a public opinion medium [leaves ‘spin’ behind] and [instead] presents a message in a conversation with the reader…In that sense…blog[s] cultivate public opinion…with increasing transparency.”

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

Long form content leads to high search engine rankings

In a crowded, competitive market for the attention of customers and clients online, long-form content has become a key differentiator for the strategically sophisticated business, as a number of industry experts have detailed. In particular:

Long form content leads to higher search engine rankings, according to a recent article by Robert Mening (@RobMening) in Search Engine Watch.  Kissmetrics Blog details how long form content creates “more proof of your authority and industry expertise”.  And Jayson DeMers (@jaysondemers) explains in Forbes how long form content is helping businesses “stand out in an ever-more-saturated and competitive market”.  

Long form content helps small businesses compete

Mening explained when smaller companies are seeking to compete with larger, more well-funded competitors – blogging can be an equalizer.  He explained how Google prefers “rich and informative content” — which gives the blogger an advantage over a product or service website page.  

Longer content is vital

Longer content of above 1,000 words ranks better as a means by which to capture higher search engine rankings.  Mening cites a study by serpIQ which details how content comprising a minimum of 2,000 words is required to rank in the top 10 positions in Google search.

What is evergreen content – and why is it important?

Companies that blog need more than just lengthy content – they also need comprehensive evergreen content to most effectively impact search engine rankings.  As Mening explains, evergreen content “works over a longer period of time…deliver[ing] traffic, leads, social shares, and can occupy valuable positions in the search rankings for months or even years after [it’s] publish[ed]”.  

Well-written content is key

Mening emphasized that in order to be relevant to users, content must be well written and address the needs of its intended audience.  Kissmetrics blog also explained the importance of excellent writing to the success of long form content:  “Whether you do it in-house or hire a freelancer, quality will make your content shine. That top quality might come at a high price….but readable, expert content is the difference between content that flies and content that flops.”

Higher rankings, more traffic and more social shares

The benefits to publishing longer, more comprehensive content include higher rankings on Google, more traffic, more social shares and links — and a higher recognition as a trusted authority in your niche.  Businesses seeking an advantage in a crowded market would, therefore, be wise to integrate long-form content into their online marketing strategy.

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

Essentials of Content Marketing #3: An editorial calendar

While many business have turned to content marketing as a means to attract new clients or customers — some have not adopted one of the most essential elements of these efforts — an editorial calendar.

As Sydney Rayl of Turn the Page Online Marketing explains — successful content marketing “means building a loyal following that trusts your brand for quality content and provides you with repeat business”.  Vitally, as Rayl also explains, “the key to achieving a successful content marketing strategy is to consistently [produce] high-quality content that is focused on what you’re audiences wants to see”.  And the best way to do this, Rayl notes, is by adopting and committing to utilize an editorial calendar.  Garrett Moon of CoSchedule Blog puts it a bit differently:  He explains that “the number on way to get traffic to [a] blog is through the very habits than an editorial calendar [helps] develop:  organization.

A consistent, well-planned strategy is required for content marketing success

As Garrett Moon explains in more depth — content marketing “requires a lot of strategy to be successful”.  While understanding your audience is central to strategy — an editorial calendar is just as important from an implementation standpoint.  Without it — you won’t be producing consistent, thoughtful content that attracts a growing audience.   In addition to helping you plan out consistent posts — and editorial calendar permits you to more easily alternate between topics, track writing and editing assignments, new ideas and deadlines.

As Moon argues, a written editorial calendar also helps to keep a content marketing team accountable — helping to make “each individual more likely to deliver high-quality, relevant content consistently over time.”  That consistency, Moon explains, is vital to building a larger following.

The basic components of an editorial calendar

Creme Blog contains an excellent example of an editorial calendar.  Writing for Creme, Tabita explains how to create an editorial calendar.  Here’s what Creme details:

  • Make a list of topics that will be of interest to your readers.
  • Set the number of articles you’d like to publish on a weekly basis.
  • Determine what type of content you’d like to publish — whether it’s written articles, videos, podcasts, pictures, graphics or others.
  • Set dates certain for producing and publishing each piece of content.
  • Determine which channels you’ll utilize to promote the content: Facebook? Twitter?, etc.
  • Utilize a digital, shareable calendar for dispersed teams and easier collaboration.

Discipline will yield better results

Among the greatest challenges to producing regular, high-quality content that address the needs of your key audiences — is consistency.  An editorial calendar will go a long way to creating a disciplined and hence more successful — content marketing strategy.

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.