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Content Marketing in 15 Minutes a Day: 3 Content Hacks #12experts

July 12, 2015

Welcome to Day 2 of 12 Days of Experts! This month, we'll be featuring 12 hand-picked articles by industry experts and thought leaders, offering a wider perspective on marketing, business, and leadership. We hope you enjoy these voices from outside the WordStream world. I'm tremendously excited that an author, speaker, and writer of Ann's renown would allow us to share her insights with our readers. - Larry 

Content Marketing in 15 Minutes a Day by Ann Handley, Head of Content, MarketingProfs

ann handley influencer

Part of me is allergic to the headline I just wrote—or, at least, the “15 minutes a day” part. Because starting out with a stingy marketing mindset runs counter to the spirit of the rich content strategy for the web.

It reminds of me of punching a clock at a job you hate: How little do I have to work? How much responsibility can I shirk?

But, still, businesses—especially very small ones—have certain constraints and often-ungenerous realities. What if you really have only mere minutes a day to focus specifically on marketing? What if you run, say, a restaurant or a pizza shop—and you’re squeezing out a Facebook post in between the lunch and dinner rush?

Can it be done?

Yes. But only with a solid plan and strategy in place.

At least, that’s the message Shelly Kramer and I gave in March at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.

(Yes, a pizza expo is a thing. And, yes, there was a lot of pizza there. And wood-burning ovens. And industrial dough mixers. And did you know you can buy crushed tomatoes in containers the size of trash barrels…?)

At a session I co-presented with Shelly (of V3 Integrated Marketing), titled Content Marketing in 15 Minutes a Day, we focused on helping the mostly small restaurant owners in our audience think about dumping boring corporate messaging and embracing social media and content as a cornerstone of their marketing. In other words: Quit marketing, start engaging.

(Side note: I talk to a lot of marketers, and talking to a group of mostly owner-operators is always a good bubble-bursting reality check.)

In addition to the why of social and content, we talked about the how, advising them on two primary things:

1. Creating a strategy and a road map. That means focusing on what’s reasonable and sustainable for a small retailer with limited time, few resources and a budget smaller than a personal pan pizza.

2. Using short-form “micro-content” mobile marketing to get the word out about their businesses. Some restaurants and pizza companies do have more ambitious publishing efforts—Otta Pizza in Portland, Maine, has been publishing its engaging blog for almost three years now.

Take-out delivery service Eat24 has a highly entertaining blog, and two weeks ago, its open “breakup letter” to Facebook went viral. But for most time-strapped, budget-conscious pizza joints, a blog is likely a bit of a stretch.

And not entirely necessary. Because this is pretty much what all of our customers look like these days:

(Image source: http://cheezburger.com/6943892992)

Content—especially short-form social media content like Vine, Twitter, Instagram, Instagram video, Snapchat and Facebook—presents an immense opportunity to connect in wholly different ways with our customers: not by broadcasting our silly old messages, but by treating our prospects and customers with respect, engaging with them directly in brief snippets of conversation, with personality and humor.

And it’s not just for fun: Consumers who engage with brands via social media demonstrate a deeper emotional commitment to those brands and spend 20 to 40 percent more than other customers, according to a report from Bain & Company, as reported in MarketingProfs.

For Inspiration (Slightly More Than 15 Minutes a Day)

For inspiration, restaurant owners can look how Taco Bell has been killing it on Twitter—creating a hip, fun presence to turn customers into evangelists. Based in part on its snappy, very human interactions, the fast-food giant generated enough early buzz last year to make Doritos Locos Tacos its most successful product launch to date. (Taco Bell reportedly sold 100 million in the product’s first 10 weeks, and its parent company, Yum Brands, registered a 15 percent increase in profit during the launch quarter.)

More recently, Taco Bell created the first Snapchat “film” to introduce its latest Doritos-taco mashup, the Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos.

I know, I know… Taco Bell is spending way more than 15 minutes a day on social and content. So what about smaller restaurants with nowhere near that luxury of time and budget?

Here are three content hacks Shelly and I shared for creating and sharing content:

1. Curate, Don’t Create

A few weeks ago, the MarketingProfs team bonded after hours at Bowl and Barrel, a Dallas-based bar and bowling spot. I shared a photo from there, because it’s what I do when I’m in a ridiculously photogenic place: the interior brickwork just begged to be Instagrammed.

So I did, and I geo-tagged the location. A day or so later, Bowl & Barrel featured my photo (with full credit) on its burgeoning Instagram feed.

Content hack: Monitor social feeds for fans creating content at your own establishments. Seek republishing permission and republish on your own feed. You’re recognizing your customers and making them a star for a day, while also sharing relevant content with your own audience. Win-win.

2. Crowdsource Utility

I like the way Comodo, a Latin American restaurant in NYC, crowdsources an “Instagram menu” to help customers decide what to order. The restaurant includes the hashtag #ComodoMenu on the bottom of its real-life menu, subtly encouraging guests to check out menu items and add their own. In the past year and a half, Comodo customers have shared almost 1,800 dishes.

Content hack: People are going to take photos of their food anyway, right? #ComodoMenu goes one step further—encouraging useful content designed to serve the needs of customers.

3. Tap into Conversations Already Happening

Go where your customers are, and align yourself with what they are already talking about, assuming that also aligns with your brand sensibility.

DiGiorno Pizza is the poster child (poster pizza?) for this idea, tapping into trends and events their customers are already talking about on social channels. I particularly love the way they do it with a sense of humor; the brand’s live-tweeting of last December’s Sound of Music Live was epic:

They also routinely jump into ongoing conversations—like March Madness, or Sunday’s MTV music awards—with on-brand, funny commentary.

Or look at how Dunkin’ Donuts consistently does this, across several social channels. Here’s Facebook:

Content hack: Quit trying to get patrons to pay attention to you. Instead, talk about what interests them.

To Sum Up

Shelly and I shared more ideas, which you can see in the deck below. But to sum up our philosophy as well as give some context to the content hacks here…

  • Be a person, not a faceless corporate entity.
  • You get what you give: Give your customers content “gifts.”
  • Have fun: Never underestimate the power of a smile.
  • Don’t be a jerk.
  • Quit marketing.
  • Technology can help, but it can’t do it all. Real social success requires you.

Content Marketing in 15 Minutes a Day for Restaurants from Ann Handley

Ann Handley originally published this article on her blog. It is republished with permission of the author.