This month’s expert interview is with content expert Melanie Stern of Just Make Sense. She gave us her thoughts on content marketing, what it takes to make your content marketing efforts succeed, and why you need to stick with it to see results. We asked her our “usual” questions. Read the interview below and you’ll see why she’s such a content pro!

Media, Marketing and Success in a Few Words

You asked how I got into “the” business. I wasn’t pushed, pulled or coerced. I fell in love with the power of words when I was young. All I knew was I longed to be able to write like Hemingway or Michener, but there was one problem: I was and still am an extrovert. I enjoy people. In fact, I am in awe of people, the way we contemplate, research, share and act. If you want to succeed in marketing communications, a flexible existence is essential.

Creativity Is My Heritage

My family is deeply embedded in the communication arts: film, television, music and design from creative perspectives and I suppose visual writing and directing lives in me – mind, body and soul. Through job hopping, which was never an ambition but the normal course of a writer, I learned from some of the best. Award-winning copywriters and art directors from Los Angeles, film and episodic television creators and radio icons in Arizona. Though I have a Bachelor of Arts diploma under my belt and production certifications, the beneficial insights and best practices of the trade came from hardcore experience. That’s how Just Make Sense was born!

To Be Your Best, You Must Be Real

The concept of being real for any business is two-fold. As a business owner, you must first be able to define who you are, the good, the bad and the ugly. Once you have that figured out, then you need to consider who you want to be.

During the process of business idealization (who you want to be) configuring short- and long-term goals are essential. But before the goals will ever be realized, you’ll need to know how the heck you’re going to get thereThere happens, by tapping into your creative side. Contrary to popular belief, content marketing isn’t a bunch of fluff. In fact, Google and Facebook continue to change their algorithms and content guidelines to ensure that fluff is flagged. Consumers crave content that is substantive.

You know your business. You’re a subject matter expert in your product or service. But can you write to appeal to existing customers and prospects? Do you understand how art (imagery) and copy (words) work together to bolster your marketing messages?

Now, can you do all of this in a way that speaks who you really are while enticing others to see you as they prefer to see you and your business? Not easy. That’s where content creators come in. People need a business like Just Make Sense to help them with their creative content side. As a business owner, you should be included in the creative ideation process. Why wouldn’t you want to be… that’s the fun part!

Just Make Sense Was Born of Necessity

After working either in-house or as a contractor in a variety of industries: semiconductor, technologies, real estate, behavioral health, medicine, wellness, CP&G, entertainment and more, it became obvious to me that there was a gaping hole in communications, especially content.

Whether the content projects were for B2B or B2C markets, much of the strategies didn’t make sense. Why? Here are the common denominators:

  • No target audience defined
  • No long-term marketing strategy in place
  • Inconsistent messaging
  • Inconsistent branding elements
  • Minimal or no understanding of cross-channel campaigns
  • Impatience
  • “It’s all about me” business mantra
  • No concern for user experience

Effective content marketing doesn’t come from reading the first page list on a google search of best marketing 2018. You’ll find the best results when you partner your business with experts who do what you don’t do – professional small business marketing. It starts with a good marketing strategy so that content professionals like me can bring that strategy to life in our content creation. It isn’t about how great your business is – it’s about how, when, where and why people will think your business is great, without you having to sell them on the idea. This is the real authentic self in business that equates to winning communications. Content marketing is the vehicle for that!

Success Stories Transcend Words

To pinpoint a success story… I’ll share one that just might surprise you. It wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about coming up with award-winning creative. How I look at success is in my ability to make someone else’s life better, if just for a moment.

During a holiday season about 20 years ago, I was filling in for the regular disc-jockeys who were on Christmas vacation. I was pulling 16 days on the air straight, losing my voice, but enjoying the extra exposure as an FM rock radio disc-jockey in Arizona. I did a double shift. It was hell. There was a young man on the phone and he was crying.

His name was Marc. He lost his job, his woman and his will to live. You see, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is notoriously heavy with audience call-ins who have suicidal tendencies. At 2:17 a.m. I had to become a stranger’s friend, confidant and psychologist and talk him out of it.

And I did. Two commercial breaks and three songs later, Marc moved past it. In that moment, success took a deep breath in and exhaled. It still serves me today as a reminder on how to succeed in marketing. As a communicator, when you can provide messaging that is persuasive, engages emotion and enables someone to act – that’s success.

Patty Hughes
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