Ben Richardson wrote a blog post on ‘Content Equals Money‘, using Vincent van Gogh as an inspiration source for content production and blogging. Ben looks at the extraordinary productivity and persistence of van Gogh. He calculated the world-famous painter created one piece of artwork every 1.7 days.
Although van Gogh was Dutch, he did pass some time in Belgium, so as a Belgian and a content marketer I couldn’t resist. You know what Ben’s blog is about when you look at the huge content production – oops, artwork creation frequency – of Van Gogh, right? It’s about persistence, passion and ‘a willingness to keep going even when you don’t immediately see the results you want’.
Some content pertinence tips, content production considerations and content marketing thoughts.
Persistence and the human brand
Just like van Gogh kept going on, so should we in our content production and our blogging efforts, Ben says. But wait a minute: isn’t content more about relevance/pertinence and quality than about quantity? More about that in an instant. And wasn’t Vincent van Gogh a little confused at times?
Maybe it takes some confusion and being a bit “different” to create great work, whether it’s art or content, whatever form it may take. Heck, maybe I should be relieved I can be a bit confused at times too. From a content marketing and content production perspective, Ben does advise us to do some things van Gogh probably never heard of such as using editorial calendars.
If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. (Quote attributed to Vincent van Gogh but I guess he didn’t say it in English)
He also advices us to keep exploring our interests as one of many ways to keep that content production going such as looking at all the interests we have – including art – for content production and storytelling ideas.
In many ways I can relate to what Ben says. Persevering, exploring interests, sharing the personal stories to humanize the brand, etc. In fact, I often wonder why there are so many blog posts about how to find new ideas for blogging and the production of great – and pertinent – content. If you take some time and distance, listen, watch, explore and detect it’s hard to run out of ideas.
Content production and pertinence: content marketing lessons
And if you do content marketing the right way, you can NEVER run out of ideas. Here is why and some more content production and marketing tips:
- Content marketing is more about listening than producing. So, take better care of your ears than van Gogh did. Listening and knowing the pain points of prospects or readers is really crucial to develop a professional content strategy. You want to use content to attract, engage, inform and close the deal in the end. But you also want to have content in the stages between attracting and attention on one hand and closing the deal by informing with more specific content on the other.
- Content production matters, really it does. But it depends. Despite what many will claim, I believe in keeping up a certain content production volume, especially if you’re a blogger. Yes, it’s a fallacy to think that more simply equals better, of course it is. But I don’t care what some experts say: there is a story every day and there is no reason – certainly for bloggers – not to write frequently. Just go ahead and blog, even if your English is not that good as in my case. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all content marketing tactics or channels (of which blogging can be just a part but also more than that). Pertinence trumps production in many cases.
- Explore the interests of your audiences. While Ben advices us to explore our interests – and it’s certainly something to do – I advise you to look at the interests of your target ‘audiences’. I assume that as professional content marketer you know your buyer personas and as a blogger or publisher you know your ‘audiences’, right? Please say yes. If it’s no, you might want to read this introduction to content marketing personas right after this post.
- Don’t focus on the content production too much. It all depends on your goals, story, promise, reader/prospect needs and the persuasive content objects you need across the journey. Sure, in blogging persevering and passion matter. However, if you’re in content marketing for reasons such as demand generation, then make sure you first of all have all the content you need to be wherever it matters in that buying journey. Again, pertinence trumps production here.
It’s not about you. Really? Isn’t it? Then why am I writing about me in a way? Because I’m blogging. Sharing some quick tips and thoughts. But in content marketing strategies it’s never about us (except in the end stage, when the buying decision is made, then it’s about pratcical content). It can be about van Gogh if the story fits the overall brand story and goal. In blogging it’s a bit different and I guess that’s why I like blogging so much. It’s your little place to be really personal. But being personal doesn’t mean that you need to talk about you. Talk about what others want to know. Does all this mean other content marketing tactics and formats shouldn’t be personal? No, sure they can be personal. But the other person is more important: what does he/she need, seek and prefer and how can you match that with your goals, without even talking about you?
- Have a call-to-action. If you’re in business, you’re not creating content just for fun, right? Sure, many people blog for fun but of course blogging is more than business and a blog certainly is more than having a content marketing strategy. The content you create is there for a reason. And even if the call-to-action is not a direct one (“check out our eBook”, “contact us for this or that”, “sign up for abc”,…) you want some action that ultimately drives to something just like getting that content shared among your target groups and – via them – an even broader group of people in your target audience. Maybe van Gogh wouldn’t have been such a great painter if he sold more than one painting during his life. Great art often comes from suffering, right? So do great ideas sometimes. But I bet your manager won’t be happy if your content marketing strategy doesn’t lead to more sales – directly or indirectly.
- Content marketing requires more than inspiration. It also is about perspiration and collaboration. If you want to develop a nicely integrated content marketing strategy you need those editorial calendars and content production flows. But most of all you need to know the different touchpoints of your buying personas, the channels that work best for your target groups and goals, and so much more. It also requires collaboration and in most cases even community. To have a sound content strategy and content marketing strategy (they are not one and the same) you can’t afford to drink too much or to be a relatively loner like Vincent ended up being.
PS: I often stay in The Netherlands to take a break and regularly go this great region, called ‘De Veluwe’. It’s just a few hours from where I live. If you’re a Vincent van Gogh “fan” and ever get there make sure you visit the Kröller-Müller Museum. Entirely off-topic and personal.