Sunday, May 23, 2010

Integrated Thinking

I was thinking about the advice that a lot of marketing experts give regarding one of the big questions in Social Media world. "How do I generate content?"

I have always been inclined to write about things, for as long as I can remember. I write about things and then wonder if anyone will read it or what those readers might think about it.

For other people who are not inclined to write, however, generating content for all of this Social Media "stuff" can be extremely intimidating. The questions start coming, creating something akin to a mental Great Wall of China. "How can I do this? "Do I need to hire someone to do this?" "Who can come up with all of that content and also make it useful?"

As Shakespeare might say, "Yep, that's the question."

I have a tidbit of advice that helps me. It's not about integrated marketing. I call it integrated thinking. In general, integrated thinking follows the same pathways as integrated marketing, but before fingers touch keyboard, the pathways must be built and lined in your brain, in how you think.

I see and I respond

One effective way to integrate your thinking is to look at once source and use that as an inspiration to create content elsewhere. Blog expert Denise Wakeman notes, as do other experts, that sometimes a blog post can come from a question you receive from a customer. You are put on the spot having to generate content for that one person, although you might not think of that as content while in the process. The next time you receive a question from a customer, ask him or her for permission to talk about that topic in depth. If you think it's a really important issue and if it is possible without too much hassle, videotape an interview with that customer and your response. Moreover, as you are answering your customer's question, ask him or her to keep you posted on how your answer affected or changed their results. Not only will this give your content legs, but it will also pave the way for a future testimonial or case study. But all of this needs to occur in your head first. The actions will follow.

Another way to integrate your thinking in order to generate content is to simply review what the hot topics are in places you might be visiting anyway. Do you visit a blog that often makes you think afterwards? Instead of just absorbing those thoughts into the ether surrounding your desk, write those thoughts down. If you can link or mention that person's blog, you are also potentially building a relationship that will create more back-and-forth exchanges in the future.

It's about efficiency

It might seem like doing all of this thinking on the front end would or could get really darned time consuming. For busy business people, this is a real negative. However, integrated thinking can actually save time in several different ways. Take the following scenario as an example.

Your company has decided to make a real concerted effort to build the most comprehensive and updated website the company has ever had. This requires taking careful looks at your product lines, your past marketing efforts, consideration of keywords. A lot of effort!

Once the website is done, you want to of course generate buzz about it. You want to drive traffic to it. So, what you might find yourself doing is creating a campaign where each channel is being built from the ground up, just like your site was. What are my keywords for LinkedIn or Facebook again? What main points do I want to incorporate into my lit pieces? What points do I want to get across to my customers as I encourage them to visit my site?

Why start from the ground up? 

With integrated thinking, working on the website will by definition create content that could last your company for 18 months beyond the launch of the new site. How is that possible?

Record your objectives as you plan out your site. Record the site map and the conversations that occur. What facets of the site are you building because you think it will make your customers' lives easier? Keep these bullet points saved. When it comes time to write a press release or any other marketing effort aimed at driving traffic, just pull out those bullet points and tell your customers, "This is what we did for you."

As you determine your company's keywords, do a quick search on Social Media sites you think you might want to use in the future. Are those words coming up? Do your competitors show up when you search for those words? Begin the research while your site is still under construction so that when the site launches, so too can your Social Media campaign.

As you generate content for your products, keep those key copy points. Make sure that those same keywords and major selling points turn up in future catalogs, brochures, sell sheets, and more.

When you approach everything you do with a mind to integrating those actions into other parts of your marketing efforts, the actual implementation becomes far less challenging and far less time-consuming. A blog with 50 posts ready to go should practically write itself when launching a site or returning from a big sales meeting. You just need to train your mind to think ahead and broadly. You need to think integrated and you will be integrated. It starts with the brain and flows out from there.

Image by Artem Chernyshevych. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/artM

2 comments:

Ira said...

A thoughtful and inspiring post. I would go one step further. Businesses, organizations and governments need to apply an integrated approach to their thought processes and actions. Most of us in school. university, and jobs have been taught to think in silos, . We do not synergize the different elements of the situation. We think of the individual tactics to reach the goal and not weaving the means to realize a more powerful result.
check out http://budurl.com/smhyp and www.entwineinc.com

Real Life Mad Man said...

Thank you, Ira. Silo thinking is definitely a real danger and it represents a major obstacle in the way of creating Social Media content.

Thanks for the links!