content marketing on vacationEven though there will be plenty of vacationers hitting beaches, hiking trails and theme parks this summer, it doesn’t mean your content marketing should take a vacation too. After all, content marketing serves multiple purposes for a business, which means it should be consistently maintained throughout the year. Failing to do that could lead to negative repercussions well into the fall and winter.

Here are five reasons why you should keep your content marketing working tirelessly through the summer:

Search engine rankings may suffer: Search engines don’t take vacations, which means your blog should stay hard at work all summer long. While your blog is not solely responsible for your search engine rankings, it does play a key role. Even if you blog just weekly, your search engine rankings will benefit more than if the blog sputters its way through the dog days of summer.

Newsletters lose steam: Content marketing comes in all shapes and sizes. Newsletters make up an integral part of a successful inbound marketing strategy. To be effective, newsletters must go out on a consistent frequency, if only to stay top-of-mind among your audience of prospects, customers and followers. Since newsletters are your chance to share your latest company news and drive interest in your new products and services, don’t miss out on this opportunity to keep the inbound marketing tap flowing all summer long.

New inbound leads dry up: If you are not careful to mind the ‘content marketing store,’ you could see your rate of inbound leads begin to dry up by the end of the summer, causing a nasty dry spell in the fall when you’re team is back and ready to work. At the very top of every B2B sales funnel is a sieve. If you don’t continue to nurture those early-stage leads, then they will fall eventually fall out and go somewhere else.

Your reputation suffers: Like it or not, we are judged based on the little things, such as showing up on time or following through on promises. When a lead is drawn into your sales funnel, it’s the reliability of the content marketing engine that carries the biggest load when it comes to establishing your initial reputation — that and an effective PR campaign. If you send out newsletters, ensure they remain at the same high-level of quality your audience expects to receive. If you hold webinars, keep them engaging and full of valuable insight. Whatever content marketing activity you engage in, just be sure to satisfy your customers and prospects as though it were a revenue-generating service.

Newton’s First Law of Motion: That’s right, even the rules of physics apply to content marketing. In this case, Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Translation: If you let your content marketing lapse for any period of time, it will have a greater probability of staying that way. In other words, don’t stop or you may not start back up again. Avoid this from happening by keeping your content marketing machine in motion for the entire summer.

Looking for a content marketing strategy to keep your business booming all summer long? If so, drop us a line at info(at)

Deep summer in B2B tech marketing brings to mind those classic seafaring movies about whaling schooners and man-of-wars that suddenly hit a long patch of hot weather.

Perhaps your own company’s summer sales doldrums feels the same way? Like a once-animated ship now sitting listless in a dark blue ocean, white sails hanging lifeless, an impossibly bright sun beating down on the deck. With water running low and the precious rum stores under lock-and-key, the ship’s crew is put under incredible stress. Grumblings from below deck begin to bubble up, hinting at mutiny or the search for a convenient scapegoat (sailors were a superstitious lot). Eventually the ship nears a breaking point.  At the brink of the crew’s heat-induced madness, a gust of wind blows life into the topsail, lifting the crew’s spirits and setting the ship back on course.

Okay, maybe your company doesn’t go through such a perilous downturn every summer but the slowdown of summer is real for many smaller tech companies. And many of those companies put their own version of the ship’s stores under lock-and-key.

As you enter this summer, I recommend that you avoid the same draconian measures as those memorable sailing movies — the bosun handing out 10 lashes, mutinous crew clapped in irons, etc.

Instead, make a plan to keep your content marketing busy working for you. It’s the equivalent of keeping a bored, listless crew hard at work swabbing the deck, mending the sails and scraping away barnacles.

I’ll post something later this week on how to ensure your content marketing does not go on summer vacation with the rest of the world. After all, you never know when a hot prospect may be lurking in those deep, calm waters waiting to surface and give your company a record haul.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech digital marketing & PR agency specializing in integrated digital marketing & PR for tech businesses in 2009. Feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.


Businesswoman pressing unlocking on virtual screens, technology for cyber attack, computer crime, information security and data encryption.

It is a decision that needs to be made up front in every B2B content marketing strategy: which content assets will be completely free for all (ungated) and which ones will require a contact form to be filled out prior to making the content available (gated).

This blog post you are reading is ungated. Anybody can read it, with nothing asked in return. On the Manzer Communications site you will also find a series of white papers covering topics as diverse as crisis communications, trade shows and social media campaigns. We love to make this content available, but in return we ask for just a little bit of information.

No sales without leads…

So what is the logic behind choosing whether content needs to be ungated or gated? Do companies randomly decide to make some content freely available and others not? The answer of course is: no. The ‘gates’ in the form of the sign-up webforms are meant to collect information on the person (and company) who wanted to access a certain kind of content.

In content marketing speak, gated content is meant to identify the person who shows an interest in a particular marketing piece and ultimately understand to which buyer persona he or she belongs, what is motivating the search and where in the sales funnel to place the lead.

… but no leads without awareness

A general rule of content marketing is that the more perceived value a piece of content has, the more a prospect will be willing to share about himself or herself in return for the content. A 200 page booklet can be made available at a higher ‘price’ than a 10 page white paper.

The 2015 Form Conversion Report by Formstack showed that there are on average 11 fields on a lead form and that the average conversion rate of the form amounts to 17%. By most lead gen standards, 11 fields is a very high number, if not completely unrealistic at a 17% conversion rate. Perhaps there is even a disconnect with the study or a research bias but what is not disputable is that lead conversion rates are impacted by the number of required fields. In our experience, it’s better to keep the number of required fields below five unless you have a content piece that is based on intensive industry research.

So while gating content is important for lead generation, it does not mean that you can and should pass on ungated content. Websites generally contain more ungated than gated content for a reason. Search engines cannot index content that you put behind a gate. That means gated content won’t contribute in any significant way to your site SEO strategy, unless you provide a summary page as part of your landing page.

Gated content cannot be shared with a single click so with that easy social sharing is out the door. You need the ungated content to create broader awareness and encourage more social shares among your prospects.
The advantage of ungated content is that it fills the ‘top’ of your funnel and thereby increases the number of prospects who will be tempted to consult your gated content, thus becoming leads. Ungated content can be ideated from the start as ungated content, but it can also take the form of a repurposing of gated content. An example of the latter is when you make a chapter of an ebook freely available on your blog or through LinkedIn Pulse.

Two illustrations: a gated webinar of Salesforce and a collection of ungated manuals of Harte Hanks. The Salesforce form asks for among others the job title and the size (as measured by number of employees) of the company.

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 12.03.29 PM

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And the winner is…

There is a time and place for both gated and ungated content. For many B2B marketers, the right balance may vary greatly based on the perceived value of leads versus raw website traffic. What is indisputable is that ungated content will pull in more website traffic while gated content will assist in lead capture and converting leads into new customers over time.



There once was a content manager who happened upon an immense struggle. He lay awake at night on his extra-firm mattress with plush pillows and duvet pondering, “Should I apply for a copyright on my new digital short and accompanying media campaign? Do I actually need one? What will it do for me? Oh, the agonizing burdens that I must carry.” “Have no fear,” said the Copyright. “I am the answer to all of your questions and will provide peace of mind so you can get much needed beauty sleep (ahem).”

If you’ve ever pondered the same questions as our hero, the following discussion of copyright functions and how they apply to online content creation may provide some guidance. The story of copyrights and content managers isn’t especially alluring, but with proper implementation, it can still lead to a happy ending.

What is a Copyright?

Formal copyright protection applies to original works of authorship, including literary, musical, and pictorial works, as well as others listed in Title 17 of the United States Code. Common items that online content creators may need to have copyrighted are websites, blogs, images, and other publications.

Keep in mind that a copyright is different from a trademark, which applies to names, titles, and logos; and a patent, which applies to invented processes, machines or designs. A good way to differentiate the 3 ideas is to think about the context of a song. The song lyrics themselves can be copyrighted, while the song title would require a trademark application. The apparatus used to play the song (smartphone, CD player, cassette player, or record player, depending on your level of hipness) would be patentable.

One point of frequent confusion around copyrights regards the extent of protection that federal copyright registration provides. Barring contractual agreements to the contrary, you, as the content creator, own all right to the content as soon as you create it. You do not need to apply for a copyright to obtain the rights to use the created work as you see fit. However, there are several benefits to registering the copyright that we will discuss next.

Why Should I Apply for a Copyright?

There are two main reasons to consider applying for a copyright – protecting your work and the ability to expand your reach through licensing.

  • To protect your original content.

Has anyone ever tried to pass off your work as their own? Maybe a photo or a speech at a political convention? Registering your work product with the US Copyright Office can serve as evidence in your favor in case of a copyright infringement dispute and can dissuade potential plagiarists who find your work(s) in the federal registration database. It can also protect your clients in case the content you created for them becomes the source of an infringement claim. Taking the relatively simple steps to apply for a registered copyright can provide peace of mind and extra protection for the work that you have diligently invested time, and possibly money, to create. While copyright ownership of the original work arises when the work is initially created, copyright registration serves as an official record of the date the work was created and gives notice of the owner’s claim to the copyright. If you ever intend to enforce your copyright ownership against infringement, it should be registered.

Take note that employees and independent contractors may not have copyright ownership over “works for hire,” which include original content created for an employer or principal. In that case, the employer/principal likely owns the copyright. Employer contracts and independent contractor agreements frequently address these issues, so be sure to review them carefully when entering a new employment relationship.

  • To expand your reach through licensing.

In addition to protecting your work product, copyrights allow the owner to issue paid licenses to approved users as a source of extra income while retaining control. For instance, that insightful article you drafted about craft libations in East Austin can be licensed to a nationwide magazine to publish for an agreed price and time frame. The license can be as limited or broad as the licensor (copyright owner) determines.

How Do I Register a Copyright?

It’s easy and (relatively) cheap! Once you decide to apply for copyright registration, the process is relatively simple. You can apply electronically through the United States Copyright Office by registering with the website, uploading the applicable documents for copyright, and submitting the appropriate fee. And if that’s too much headache for you, a handy dandy IP attorney would probably be pleased to submit the application in your stead.

Single document copyright registrations (ie, a one-time article) currently require a $35 filing fee, though group registrations for periodical publications and other types of registrations (ie, photos) may have higher fees. After the application and fees are submitted, an attorney for the Copyright Office will review the application and register the copyright if approved. The review process can take several months, but the registration will be listed from the time of initial submission.

Doesn’t Using the © Symbol Get the Job Done?

Yes and no. A copyright is not federally registered unless you apply and receive approval through the US Copyright Office. However, using the © symbol does tell the world that you are claiming ownership of the work that the symbol references and can deter potential infringers from doing so. Again, you should register the copyright in order to preserve evidence of your ownership to make a claim of infringement.

How Can I Legally Borrow Someone Else’s Copyrighted Content?

This is a loaded question with potential for another blog entry in response, but the short answer is to get permission. For images that you publish, either take your own photos or purchase a license from the image owner that allows re-publication. If you are citing information that you obtained from another source, give credit where it’s due and cite back to the original source. Hyperlinks are great for driving traffic back to the original publisher, who will probably appreciate the vote of good faith.

Republication of content from social media sites and other websites will most likely be subject to the particular site’s terms of use and not necessarily up to the person who posted the content. If a client says something positive about your firm on Facebook, use the compliment as a reason to reach out to them and ask permission to share their words on your website. Even if you don’t absolutely have to do so legally, the client will most likely be flattered that you value their opinion and avoid any question of unpleasantness later.

So there you have it. Copyrights inherently belong to you, the brilliant content creator, but registration is relatively simple and can be a very helpful tool to protect your creations. For additional questions, please contact Emily Morris, JD. And for more unromantic stories like the above, I recommend visiting your local law library.

About Emily Morris: Emily Morris, Principal at The Morris Law Firm, is a Texas business and real estate attorney with a marketing background.  She enjoys working with creatives and other business owners on the necessary evils of legal issues so they can focus on the work they do best.  When she isn’t drafting contracts and submitting trademark applications, Emily enjoys singing with Chorus Austin, exploring as many new locales as possible, and two-stepping with her husband Andy.

News outlets integrating “native ads” into their news stream has become a familiar sight in the news media. Native ads are designed to blend in almost seamlessly with the other content on the site and can potentially be considered regular editorial content by the inexperienced reader. Native ads have eye-catching titles (‘Lose 10 lbs in 2 days: learn how!’) that set high expectations with their readers.

Native advertising offered by content discovery platforms has been hailed by some as a potential savior for a beleaguered media industry. Publishers who have watched revenue from traditional ad sales implode have been looking for ways to generate more revenue from their traditionally “free” online content. Native ads combines the best of both worlds — it showcases talent of their writers and generates ad revenue in a way that is consistent with their content layout.

The rise of native ads came with the emergence of specialized content discovery platforms such as Taboola and Outbrain.

Here are 5 important tips on maximizing the outcome from money spent on content discovery platforms:

5 tips: how to maximize your ROI from content discovery platforms

The content pushed through content discovery platforms tends to have a low engagement rate as ChartBeat CEO Tony Haile illustrated convincingly in this Time contribution. On a typical article two-thirds of people show more than 15 seconds of engagement, on native ad content that drops to around one-third. Mind you, this doesn’t mean that those numbers can’t be improved. Key marketing metrics can and will go up if brand communicators take into account the following 5 tips.

Use a headline and picture that relate to the actual content

There are many ads out there that employ clickbait (intentionally provocative photos) and headlines that have very little to do with the content that is actually being promoted. A stronger correlation between picture, headline and content will get the right visitors to your landing page, which will only increase conversions. While traffic is important, Google’s search engine algorithm does not like landing pages from which people immediately click away. Stronger engagement and conversions over pure traffic will do more to improve a site’s SEO in the long run, which begs for more authentic native ads.

Use a landing page that delivers on the promise

Do you promise content on mistakes people make when installing an HVAC? Are you telling people they will learn 5 ways to save on taxes? Then keep your end of the promise by building a landing page without unnecessary click-throughs and with genuine value added content. And you should have call-to-action buttons to promote your product or service, get newsletter sign-ups, etc. But delivering on the promise of the ad comes first.

Use content that is relevant to the reader

Make sure to use all the segmentation buttons that your content discovery network has in place to ensure the right kind content is offered to the right target audience. Every platform has different functionalities, different value propositions. For example Outbrain will allow you to pick the publishing sites based on the information you shared about your target audience(s). While Outbrain does not let you make a list of the publishers you want to publish on, it does allow you to work with a list of sites that you want to exclude. In other words, you wouldn’t want to push a new Detroit gas-guzzling muscle car in front of an eco-minded audience.

A/B test your content

 Use 2 variations of headlines to test what drives the most traffic and, ultimately but what makes for the most conversions on the landing page. Subtle tweaks in headlines can make a big difference, as can the choice of pictures used. Should you offer a 30 days free or a 50% discount? You won’t know until you test it.

Measure and adjust

No marketing campaign can be successful without continuous monitoring, and native advertising is no exception to this rule. Are the different target groups clicking in sufficient numbers on your ads? What is visitor behavior like on the landing page? How long do visitors stay, and do they convert through one or more of your CTA’s; if so, at what rates? Use what you see on your dashboard to your advantage by measuring and adjusting again and again till you max out your desired results.

Finally, here comes the caveat

Content discovery platforms are not a good fit for high equity brands. Content discovery platforms have let their advertisers push a great many ads over the last years that are little better than tabloid quality. Having presence on a major news outlet like CNN or NBC may have its benefits, but what happens if that B2B market leader suddenly appears next to ads showing celebrity mug shots, or promises scents that will make every woman succumb to a man’s charms? The past experiences of readers with content discovery platforms is a liability for brands that have a lot of equity to lose.

content discovery network

Here’s an example of Outbrain on a CNNMoney web page on May 16, 2016.


Blogging is a laborious, tedious, and sometimes delirious activity for marketing professionals to pursue. That may explain why there are very few companies that do it well.

Despite the challenges, blogging on a regular basis can and does deliver impressive results, not the least of which includes higher search engine rankings, new leads and thought leadership.

So we decided it was high time to share some of the tools we rely upon to produce our weekly blogs (okay, sometimes bi-weekly blogs). Here is a short-list of the must have blogging tools you will find useful:

1) Twitter: use Twitter trends to see what topics are hot and potentially worth building into a theme for your post. Remember when the Hunger Games came out last year? There was an explosion of Hunger Games references in blogs. This wasn’t a cheap way to rip-off a title but a smart way to associate a blog post with a popular search term that can move the needle on site visits.


Twitter Trends

2) Blog Topic Generator
: built by HubSpot, this tool can help you brainstorm some nifty titles for your upcoming blogs. The results can seem pretty canned from time to time, so don’t take the suggested titles as gospel but as a starting point for your topic creation.

3) BuzzSumo: this tool helps you find topics similar to yours that have performed well and breaks the metrics out by social media platform. It does have a flaw in that the best performing articles/posts often tend to come from the most popular media outlets. For example, an article on “real estate agents cars” will show that Inman, a popular real estate site, had the most shares. Go figure.

4) CoSchedule: a marketing planning tool that includes strong blogging scheduling support. Its intuitive calendar scheduling feature allows you to set up blog posts weeks out and even add social media posts in support of the blog post. It will also help you measure the popularity of your posts so you can dial in on what your followers enjoy the most. It’s also easy to work alone or in teams using CoSchedule.

5) Google Calendar: similar to CoSchedule, it helps you plan out your posts in advance to ensure you stay on track. The great thing is that it’s free, but the bad thing is that it lacks many of the integrated social media and blogging functions of CoSchedule. You get what you pay (or don’t pay) for.

6) Grammarly: a must have for the writing-challenged among us. Not everybody went to school and studied English Literature or Journalism. Mastering those dangling participles and misplaced modifiers is no easy feat. Copy and paste your blog post and Grammarly will catch the mistakes faster than your high school composition teacher.




7) Google Docs
: Google’s word processing app is exceptional, automatically saves updates, is shareable with others on your team and doesn’t have all the distracting options that a Word doc has. In short, it allows you to write efficiently and easily copy over to your blogging platform. We are using Google Docs to write this post now, in fact.

8) Yoast SEO: this free WordPress plugin is essential for applying best SEO practices to each of your blog posts. Yoast sits at the bottom of your post and you can quickly optimize a post with just a few clicks and text entries.

9) PhotoPin: a high traffic blog usually has photos to draw in a visitor. The problem is that most sources of quality stock photos can cost an arm and a leg. PhotoPin to the rescue! You can search millions of Creative Commons picture files to add them to your blog post without the high cost. There are sponsored pics on the site in case you run across a particularly good photo and you don’t mind making an impulse purchase.

10) Digg Digg: a floating share bar, this free WordPress plugin makes it super easy for visitors to your blog to share it across their social media platforms. It’s a no-brainer and we’re planning to add it to our blog soon, too!

Thanks for reading our post and please let us know if you, too, have any blogging tools you can’t live without.

About the author: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech PR agency specializing in communications & strategic inbound marketing for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. If you have any PR or content marketing questions about your business, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.

This is a continuation from last week’s post where I gave the reasoning behind  getting your brand into fighting shape with content marketing. This installment gives you some concrete tips on how to begin flexing your muscles to get your brand more buff in the eyes of prospective clients.

I recommend you follow three of the following content marketing exercises at a minimum:

Blogging: you should keep a blog for your business and write for it at least weekly, if not more frequently. As you blog, you can embed a URL to link back to pages on your business website. “Backlinks,” as they’re known in SEO parlance, tell Google your website is of value and should be ranked higher than those without backlinks. Blogging frequency is important for two reasons: 1) it creates lots of backlinks from your blog to the website and 2) it builds an audience of readers who, over time, will share your blog with others and become advocates of your content. Blogging platforms include WordPress, Tumblr, Medium and Blogger.

Contributed Articles: find a trade magazine, business blog or local news outlet and ask the editor if you can contribute an article about something that relates to your business expertise in some form or fashion. Next, ask the editor if you can place an embedded URL into a phrase of your bio allowing you to get a valuable backlink to your website for the keyword you are seeking to optimize. A personal trainer might want to use the phrase “Seattle personal trainer for moms” for the backlink.

Comment on Blogs: another way you can gain quality backlinks – meaning they come from a reputable website with some relevance to your industry or topic of interest – is to read other blogs and make comments with a reference to your business website. Some blogs will frown on a backlink to your website so consider a backlink to your blog where you talk about similar topics in hopes that the breadcrumbs eventually lead back to your website.

YouTube: start a YouTube channel this year as a way to drive clicks, buzz and backlinks. Don’t worry about creating elaborate scripts and paying thousands of dollars for professional videographers. Sometimes the most viral of videos look like they were taken by a smartphone without regard to make-up, lights and elaborate props. Just keep at it, create enjoyable content, and eventually you will be rewarded. After all, I owe Canyonman1963 my life for showing me how easy it is to replace a lid switch on a Kenmore washing machine! Because Google owns YouTube, the powerful search engine includes videos in the search results of key words and phrases.

Twitter: use the popular microblogging platform to send out offers, links to your blog, etc. It creates another source of inbound traffic to your online assets, some of which will enhance your search engine rankings while others will boost the credibility of your brand, eventually leading to new customer leads. Don’t forget to use hashtags like #FitnessAdvice #MomFitness to jump on popular terms or trending news.

LinkedIn: don’t overlook the stodgy old network of business professionals as a way to spread news about your brand’s events, offers and accomplishments. By now, you should already have a company LinkedIn profile; if you don’t, it’s not too late to start. Any time you have a blog post, feel free to post it to LinkedIn Groups you belong to in hopes of driving more traffic and brand awareness. I have a PR over Coffee Group, which I launched in support of that organization’s events, blog posts and general networking. Every time I post to my blog or have an article picked up in PRDaily or another media outlet, I invariably post it to LinkedIn.

Facebook: one effective way to grow your content marketing muscles is to promote your content – blog posts, videos, etc. – through a boosted post on Facebook. While I still hate Facebook for monetizing what used to be free, the new service does come with enhanced features like micro-targeting demographics. A fitness coach in Seattle show likes to work with kids could target women between the ages of 25 – 50 in the Seattle area in hopes of reaching lots of Moms who want their kids to spend less time gaming and more time playing games outdoors.

eBook: consider writing an eBook to boost your though leadership bona fides. This is especially effective for providers of professional services like marketing, consulting, PR and even fitness. Writing an eBook can help you earn paid speaking engagements and quotes in the media about trending stories. It tells the world you sat down and worked long and hard to come up with enough content to fill up a book’s worth of knowledge. Plus, being an eBook, you can embed links back to your online assets to help you with your inbound marketing strategy.

eNewsletter: another way to work out those content marketing muscles is to create a weekly or monthly eNewsletter, which combines the best aspects of drip marketing and content marketing. People love tips and helpful content and an eNewsletter keeps you top-of-mind for their future buying decisions.

Brand Journalism: this is the equivalent of body building in the world of content marketing. Your aim is to create generous amounts of content for your website such that it has some of the the look-and-feel of a media outlet. You probably need to hire on somebody with strong editorial experience, either as a full-time employee or 3rd party provider. The goal is the create an extra-strong perception of credibility, reliability and integrity among a broad base of constituents: customers, prospects, influencers and media. Along the way, you become a champion content body builder capable of flexing even the most obscure brand muscles. A startup I think does a great job of brand journalism is SpareFoot, which did a very smart thing and hired long-time business writer and editor, John Egan, to edit, write and curate content for its blog.

White Papers: those tried-and-true brand exercises still work. White papers work well as click-bait and generate solid business leads. My advice? Format them a bit more like “listicles” and keep them on the short-side, no more than 5-10 pages, full of call-out boxes and graphics to make the piece easy to consume. And, of course, be sure to insert a call-to-action to plant a seed for a future inquiry. See an this white paper we launched recently on how startups can get into TechCrunch.

These content marketing ideas should put you on the path to turning your brand into a body building behemoth. Ideally, you will choose to blog or vlog (video-log) on a frequent basis. Social media platforms need pretty regular nurturing, too, if you hope to win enough followers who are willing to share your wisdom, wit and timely observations.

Don’t underestimate the value of contributed articles as this is the gold standard of a search engine optimization strategy, which is to place a backlink to your website in a highly trafficked, relevant website. Backlinks from 2nd and 3rd tier blogs are a good start and build your portfolio over time.

Now it’s your turn. Will you start exercising your content marketing muscles and finally turn that couch potato website into something Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of?

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech PR agency specializing in communications & strategic inbound marketing for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. If you have any PR or content marketing questions about your business, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or drop email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.

You hear a lot about content marketing these days from all quarters.

Savvy marketers have long espoused the value of blogging for a brand. PR professionals are wringing their hands over the demise of traditional media and wondering how their story-telling skills translate into the click-through economy. Media owners are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon by offering more flash-in-the-pan articles and sponsored content to drive clicks and ad revenue for their online assets.

Bottom line: content marketing, combined with a good PR strategy, can help you get to the top of organic search engine results like nothing else out there.

Why, you ask, is it so important to get to the top of search engines? Take Google as an example. There are approximately 100 billion searches on Google every month, which means 3 billion searches happen every day as consumers look for information on all kinds of topics — including product and services research in advance of a purchase.

Say for instance you are a personal trainer in Seattle, Washington. If I lived in Seattle and needed a trainer I might look up “Seattle Personal Training” to check out reviews of trainers and hopefully narrow down my search. Thing is, I’m a lot more likely to look closely at the trainers I see on the first page of results then glance at the top of the second page. If you’re on the third page you might as well be in Siberia, not Seattle. The average consumer is way too impatient to keep looking.

Translation: you really need to be on the first page of search results for certain relevant key words. Getting to the top three is priceless and probably yields 3x the number of clicks than any others on the list (according to my very unscientific estimation).

So how can you become a master of content marketing in order drive more qualified leads from search engines? After all, you’re not an SEO wizard or you wouldn’t be reading this.

Just like a personal trainer will tell you about getting your body into shape, it simply takes practice and consistency. If you don’t use your muscles, they atrophy. If you don’t practice content marketing, your digital brand atrophies. Neglecting to exercise your content marketing muscles at least several times per week will turn your brand into the equivalent of thunder thighs and double chins. When you’re getting the once-over by a prospective customer, don’t you want your brand to look its best and stand out from the crowd?

I’m not trying to fat shame any brands into action, just call their attention to a need to flex those content marketing muscles, especially if the goal for the upcoming year is to enjoy healthy, sustainable growth.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech PR agency specializing in communications & strategic inbound marketing for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. If you have any PR or content marketing questions about your business, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or drop email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.

Blogs number in the hundreds of millions on the Internet, and there are millions of blog posts each and every day on platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, LiveJournals, Blogster.

With such a massive number of blogs jockeying for attention on the Internet you would think that starting and running your own blog would be the equivalent of trying to be heard in the middle of a hurricane standing next to a passing freight train during a Seattle Seahawks game. And yet you would be wrong.

A surprisingly small percentage of those 100s of millions of blogs actually post with any predictable frequency – despite the incredible benefits an active blog can bring to a brand.

Perhaps more important, a blog for most brands is less about being heard by millions and more about being heard by the few hundred or thousand readers that really matter – existing customers, motivated prospects, influencers like industry journalists or media critics.

So with that in mind, here are the top 25 reasons you should start (and keep) blogging for your brand at least weekly, if not 2-3 times per week:

  1. Buyer advice: 61% of consumers made a purchase based on advice or a recommendation from blogs [courtesy of Ignitespot].
  2. Landing page: a blog post can be an ideal landing page for your next marketing promotion.
  3. [In]Credible: blog consistently and long enough and eventually you will be viewed as an [in]credible source of information about your industry.
  4. SEO: that all encompassing term for getting your brand to the top of the search engines for certain key terms which are related to your business offerings; blogs are a backbone of search engine optimization strategies.
  5. Lead gen: small businesses with active blogs generate 126% more leads than ones without [courtesy of Ignitespot].
  6. Announcements: you can make announcements like industry awards, new hires, promotions and customer wins.
  7. Test message: marketers can test the impact of a new brand message with the blog.
  8. Social media integration: blogs provide a way to engage customers and various publics seeking interesting information on social networks.
  9. Product launches: a product launch is a multi-faceted initiative involving everything from product slicks to an email campaign; the blog should be integrated into the campaign to provide additional information outside the scope of a product brochure or press release.
  10. Brand personality: blogs help shape a brand’s personality in ways few other media can, if only because its tabula rasa layout allows you to post text, pictures, videos and even audio; the frequency of your posts helps you solidify or evolve your brand personality as time goes on.
  11. Press releases: don’t want to send your release out on the Wire? Try posting them to the blog instead; it’ll save money and still pay dividends for your SEO strategy.
  12. Sales promotions: got a seasonal promotion or a fire sale to move some inventory? Use the blog to support the email blast that you send out to customers and prospects.
  13. Apologies: every now and then a company screws up and has to issue an apology; blogs are the perfect place for that because you control the message and medium.
  14. Instructions: you can share how-to advice and instructional videos on blogs.
  15. Event: use your blog to tell followers about an upcoming event, party or celebration.
  16. Guest posts: a blog allows you to solicit contributions from other experts and could lead to alliances that pay off in the future.
  17. Trust: 81% of US consumers trust advice from blogs [courtesy of Ignitespot].
  18. Thought leadership: in the past you often had to write a book to be considered a thought leader in a particular space; nowadays, a really active blog accomplishes the same thing.
  19. Reviews: you can use a blog to do product reviews of your own products.
  20. Review income: some bloggers make money from writing reviews about products.
  21. Ad revenue: blogs that have lots of views every month can make money by getting paid for ad placements.
  22. Kick the tires: blogs are perfect for pre-sales activity in that prospects can get over the ‘know-like-trust’ barrier to making a purchase.
  23. Content Marketing: 37% of marketers believe blogs are the most important part of a content marketing strategy [courtesy of Ignitespot]; you can add my name to that list.
  24. Savings: blogs are an affordable way to spread awareness of your brand, especially compared to traditional advertising (but then anything is cheap compared to buying ads).
  25. Media coverage: a well-executed blog may get picked up by another blog or media outlet with a ton of Internet traffic, leading to more attention to your brand, traffic to your site and higher search engine rankings.

Want to start a blog for your brand? It’s actually really easy to get started. It’s also very easy to fail. You may want to address these items before starting:

  • Use a blogging tool that is easy to use and maintain.
  • Find free photos/images and be sure to ascribe what you use back to the source; or consider using your own photos to add a little originality and fun to the blog.
  • Create an editorial calendar to make sure you don’t run out of content and aren’t constantly searching for new ideas the night before a deadline.
  • Assign blogging responsibilities and hold bloggers accountable to deadlines.
  • If your website has a blog post plug-in, strongly consider using it as it will help add links and traffic to your business website.
  • Never give up!

Do you have any ideas to add to the conversation? Please feel free to comment.