It’s no secret that I love to cook. Well, first, I love to eat. You’ve probably seen my posts of Maine lobster, Michigan blueberries and Louisiana crawfish. Because I have always loved to eat, I learned to cook; I found I really enjoyed the creativity the kitchen affords me.
So, allow me to strike a little culinary metaphor: Creating strategic content for the Internet – whether for a website, a blog or social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter – is a lot like making lasagna.
Pour a glass of Chianti and belly up to the kitchen bar. So, why am I cooking up content? In the book, “Get Content, Get Customers,” Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett provide a succinct answer: Your buyers are now increasingly knowledgeable about what they want to buy. They aren’t surfing aimlessly, hoping to be influenced by marketing messages that arrive out of the blue. They want to make up their own minds based on their own information-gathering. Therefore, buyers need content that makes them smarter and more knowledgeable.
All righty then, back to the cooking. You’ve got the lasagna noodles – that’s the foundation for the lasagna. I liken those to the goals and objectives of my clients. Everything is ladled atop of these.
There’s the sauce. I put a layer on the very bottom of the pan and then the first layer of noodles; as we all know, it’s slathered between each layer of filling. This is like my client’s brand … it gives the over-all flavor of the lasagna, but just goals and a brand … not very pleasant eating. It needs something else …
MMM, that’s when the cheese comes in … and we know it’s not just cheese, right? It’s creamy ricotta and mozzarella and parmesan; it’s parsley and oregano and salt and ground pepper (and a pinch of nutmeg) … and it’s whipped together with eggs to not only give it a rise but to meld all that yumminess together. In content world, the cheeses – in all those varieties – are the tactics, what content you’re going to create.
The eggs – holding it together and giving it some rise – are the keywords that are derived from the question, “How will potential customers search for my product on the Internet? What words will they “Google”? Note, you never, ever TASTE the eggs in the lasagna; this is not a souffle. Use keywords wisely and strategically and avoid the dreaded keyword soup.
The seasonings provide the “flavor” of the content. Is it a blog that relates your expertise about your industry (note I didn’t say ‘about your product’) or comments on a current trend? Is it a white paper that reveals your support of a new industry standard? Is it a Facebook post about an outstanding employee? Is it a tweet that tells your customers about a special offer or new product?
And then we bake it … for quite a while, really … about an hour. Lasagna takes a long time to cook all the way through and come together. And then extra patience is required because once it’s baked, it needs to sit for about 10 minutes before cutting. Patience my friends. Success does not come over night. Now, unlike the lasagna, you can gauge how well you’re doing throughout the content process … and if it’s not “tasting good,” you need to correct your seasonings.
Perhaps I buried the lead. The first thing the cook needs to ask: “What would you like for dinner?” You need to work closely with your client beyond their exclamation, “We need content! We want a blog!” Help them work through what they want to accomplish – exactly. That assessment leads nicely to determining those measurable objectives, aka noodles.
Are you out of wine? Refresh your glass for some further reading. A recent blog post from Pulizzi got me thinking about this whole “lasagna” concept, so check out “Content Strategy and the Dying Art of Execution” on his Junta42 Blog. And never one to disappoint, Valeria Maltoni’s blog, “You Have More Content Than You Know” may quell your content anxieties.
On that note, we’re heading into the weekend and, yes, speaking of food, we’ll start some prepping for visiting children, grandchildren and Thanksgiving. Who ever thought they’d be over the river and through the woods to MY house? Quick, hide the wine … but first, pour me a glass.