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And the Winner is…High-Quality Content! March 7, 2011

Posted by David Dirks in Communication, Creating Marketing Materials, Creativity.
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In early March of 2011 Google confirmed for all time what I contend has always been the foundation of success in any medium: high-quality content.  Scrolls, books, magazines, newspapers and all other content delivery vehicles before the digital age have always lived or died based their content.  All Google did was declare war on sites that deliver low quality content that offers little use for readers.

As a creator and user of information myself, I’ve always been critical of content vehicles (digital or not) that offer little or no useful information.  In the digital world, the art & science (more art than anything because Google keeps its algorithm a secret), of “search engine optimization” or SEO, has created players who would rather game the system than provide you with solid content.

So it’s nice to know that the rules of the content game remain safely the same.  If you want to develop content of any kind, it must be created and engineered so that people easily recognize and value it.

I’ll throw in three basic tenants for developing content that I’ve learned over many years of trial, error, and success.

Relevant:  The content must be a match to the reader or user.  People will search for content in any delivery vehicle (magazine, website), which is material they instantly recognize as useful in the context of their interests.

Engaging:  High-quality content engages the reader by pulling their minds in directions they delightfully didn’t expect to go…but are glad they did when they get there.  Content that challenges and inspires the mind on a subject has always been a jewel.  High-quality content should be a great experience.

Insightful:  Content, whether written, verbal, or visual has to have enough depth to allow the creator to draw out any number of valuable insights.  My bias is for content to have insights that have a practical and actionable nature for the user.

Creating and sharing high-quality content is a timeless way to provide valuable information for both prospects and clients.  Google’s war against low-quality content just reaffirmed what we knew all along.

You Are Not A Graphic Artist May 20, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Creating Marketing Materials.
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If I have a great marketing idea, should I also be the one to do  the creative for it too?  NO.  NO.  NO.  Too often I’ve seen great marketing ideas go kaput because the same person who took the time to think up the idea was also playing creative director or graphic artist.  Look, as a business owner you’ll come up with all kinds of good ideas to market and promote your business.  Here’s the catch:  You shouldn’t do the creative (i.e. create the mailer, packaging, business card, brochure, catalog, etc.) for anything unless you have done it professionally in your previous career.

All to often I’ll see a marketing piece and cringe when I see it.  It’s usually awful.  Spacing, use of colors, crazy fonts, dreadful copy, and this list goes on and on.

As a marketing professional, I can conceive of the marketing campaign and put it together but the designing of the creative materials I leave to the professionals.  You might be the cook, bottlwasher, owner, and marketing genius but you’re not a creative professional who knows how to take your goals and objectives for a marketing piece and create several professional looking variations.

Why do business owners decide they can be creative directors at the same time?  I’m not sure but it’s probably a variation of control freak, ego, and being too cheap to have someone locally do the creative work.

My advice: stick to what you know.  Have a great marketing idea?  Great.  Put the plan together and then do the right thing: hire a graphic artist who has a reputation for creating high quality work at a reasonable price.  The Big Dogz spend the money to make sure they have every chance for success when they send out any marketing material to a current or potential customer.

Don’t cheap out.  Spend a few bucks and do it right.