Posted by robinparallax
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.
In this article, I’ll examine the art of thinking sideways for one of the slightly more tricky marketing clients I’ve worked with. I hope that this will provide an insight for fellow content marketers and SEOs in similar scenarios.
It’s amazing what you end up finding online working in the SEO game. Some of the most obscure business sectors have thriving communities and many online magazines and publications. It’s really quite staggering.
What any SEO or content marketer should know is that there really is a conversation happening online in every industry. However niche it might at first appear to be, positioning your client to become a part of that conversation is the challenge!
I’ve worked on a pretty mixed bag of clients over the past two years or so. From pharmaceutical services to interior design products, and from renewable energies to our digital agency’s own efforts.
But one client has really stood out in terms of being a âboring’ business. However, this has actually become the most fun and exciting campaign I’ve worked on.
The business? Car parks.
The starting point
As a more content production focused SEO I must admit that I panicked a little. How on earth could we create content around what is essentially a concrete space with a few white lines painted on it. Car parking is a generic, mundane service that no one really cares about. Or do they?
Of course, the obvious link building technique would be reaching out to local businesses and organisations in the surrounding areas, asking them to link to their nearest car park for their own customers’ information. However, that had its limitations in its own right – it was finite.
We needed to consider how we could create awesome content around their brand and sector.
Brainstorming for “boring”
I always find myself coming up with loads of ideas for clients, some good, some bad. A good content marketer will admit that some of their ideas are rubbish, while some will have more clout. One thing I must recommend to SEOs and content marketers is that no idea is useless.
Some of our agency’s best ideas were sparked from the ânot so exciting ideas’ that have then been developed and refined into more engaging pieces of content. They’ve had an awesome effect – but I’ll come onto that in a moment.
No matter how extreme or bizarre your client’s business sector is, there will be ways of creating content around it. The best place to start is by throwing down all of your ideas and initial concepts and sharing this with your team. One person’s âaverage idea’ might spark an idea in a colleague’s head and develop into an awesome campaign.
Here’s my equivalent of Rand’s Whiteboard Friday image:
From refining some of these ideas, we began to think about content curation and the opportunities that might manifest from them.
The art of thinking sideways
To create outstanding content you need to go beyond your own expectations. If it doesn’t âwow’ your clients, it’s never going to âwow’ your target market and get those highly authoritative, juicy links.
In our first few meetings with clients, I always explain that their content is something that already exists. It is the refining, SEO repurposing and creating of it in a suitable way for web audiences that should be the role of the digital agency.
It is really interesting to read recently on Moz that more SEOs are spending a proportion of their time working on site with their client rather than from their agency office. This is something we’re trialing with our clients at the moment.
This gives SEOs:
- A greater understanding of the client’s business
- An insight into the brand and content possibilities
- Ongoing exposure to content opportunities
As an SEO, by repositioning your understanding of the client’s business you can think from a new perspective. You’ll begin to see opportunity where you wouldn’t previously have imagined.
Content is something within the business, something within the brand. It can come from customers, staff, right through to the business’ CEO. Without sounding too evangelical, it’s something within the personality and aura of the business. The role of the SEO agency should be to help tease this out. Hallelujah!
Finding an insight of interest can come from those in the business – after all those who work in it will always know more about the business, its operations and how the sector works. We worked with our car parking client to figure out what drives (pardon the pun) engagement and interest that we could piggyback off and play up to.
We had a few interesting ideas emerge from our discussions after our first few meetings and jumped on the bandwagon of drink driving – which is regularly in the news.
We launched with a drink drive awareness piece of content during the Christmas holidays and also created partnerships with local authorities and national charities to push a road safety campaign
Clicking through the images will show you the creative outcomes we arrived at for a ‘boring’ client.
We worked over the past eighteen months on a few different pieces and have a few more in the pipeline. By thinking around the client’s content opportunities, we also created the following pieces:
We’ve seen some awesome movement for the client’s keywords over the past eighteen months and are continuing to create content that will provide value and engagement to users. We’ve also been able to organically get a few thousand people liking a car park company Facebook page too!
All of the business’ success has come from thinking sideways around how content can be created, and gaining insights around the industry. We have involved the client’s team from car parking attendants right through to MD as part of the process.
The art of thinking sideways can really provide SEOs and content marketers an opportunity to create outstanding content that will heavily influence a client’s business objectives.
These key points can help break through any content blocks or idea barriers you might come across, but most importantly will help you to create outstanding content.
Marketable assets: Everything to do with the client’s business is a marketable asset that can be repurposed or manipulated for search marketing.
Get out of the office: Working a day every month at the client’s office will give you a new perspective on their service or product. This can lead to new ideas around the type of content you will need to be creating.
Conversations: Talk to people within the organisation across different levels, they will all offer up different types of insights and perspectives. These might be insights that you can turn into amazing ideas for content.
Value: Is the content you’re creating providing value of some sort to those using it? This could be emotive, or practical.
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