5 Steps For Creating a Content Marketing Strategy That Drives Business Results

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Here are five crucial steps your brand should take to create a content marketing strategy that grows your business and drives results. “Never ask for anything, and especially from those who are stronger than you. They’ll make the offer themselves, and give it of their own accord” — that’s one popular quote from Mikhail Bulgakov’s book, The Master and Margarita.

Even though Bulgakov didn’t mean that in the context of , that’s a generally good rule. Content marketing is one thing that provides the most inbound requests. In other words, make people come to you first and offer themselves.

According to , 78% of companies with a documented produced effective, meaningful content. Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. However, it’s essential to ensure your is creating content that’s useful to your customers and able to further your company’s long-term goals.

There’s an overwhelming amount of content available in digital spaces, so here are five crucial steps your brand should take to create a content marketing strategy that drives results:

Related: 4 Simple Steps to Creating an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

1. Figure out your narrative

The most memorable and successful brands have one thing in common: They tell an engaging, consistent story. Storytelling is the heart of a great content marketing strategy, so investing the time and resources necessary to perfect this aspect of your business is important.

Psychology Today notes that stories help humans increase feelings of empathy by releasing the “happy” chemical oxytocin and reducing the stress hormone cortisol. The right story still sparks that primal part of the human psyche that engages our emotions and fosters a sense of meaningful connection to each other and the brand telling the story. In essence, stories are how we think and assign meaning to our lives.

Anyone can create a meaningful story around their product or service, and 92% of consumers say they want to see ads that feel like a story. is a notable example of this. Buying furniture isn’t exactly the most exciting task. However, customers are incredibly loyal to Ikea, not because of their quality or prices, but because they’ve created an immersive narrative around experiencing the aspirational joy of designing your home with simple, elegant pieces that reflect who you are.

2. Research your target audience and channels

Before creating a compelling narrative, you must know to whom you’re telling the story. Generating leads and traffic is consistently one of the most challenging aspects of marketing, which is why it’s essential to research your target audience thoroughly.

Create an avatar of your ideal customer, and spend time fleshing out this person’s backstory. What’s their age? Gender? Average income? What kinds of careers might this person want? What do they do for fun? What type of personality do they have? The more three-dimensional you can make this avatar, the more intimately you can understand your target audience.

For an example of how this is done right, scroll through MoonPie’s Twitter. They have perfected their brand voice to reflect their target audience: Someone who enjoys quirky humor and doesn’t take themselves too seriously. As a result, they’re highly relatable to their audience and facilitate engagement in a seemingly effortless manner.

Related: To Reach Your Target Audience, You Need to Use These 5 Steps

3. Generate content ideas

Did you know that, on average, 35% of companies have zero dedicated content marketing personnel? This means that it’s hard to come up with consistently fresh content and stay on top of trends. Tools like UberSuggest, Google Trends and Buzzsumo are all great ways to maximize your content generation ideas when you don’t have a dedicated team, but there are other things your brand can do as well.

Depending on your goals and audience, there are plenty of ways to generate eye-catching, shareable content ideas. You can set up trend alerts on platforms like Instagram and to capitalize on viral videos and memes, or you can even turn to your user base to create a user-driven campaign.

Neutrogena is an example of a successful user-generated content campaign with their Neutrogena Studios platform. For this, they’ve allowed customers to create video content submissions focused on skin health. Not only does this utilize brand loyalty and provide an evergreen source of marketing content, but it also requires minimal resources for a great ROI.

4. Decide on distribution

No matter how great your content is, your time and resources are ultimately wasted if you can’t get it in front of the right audience. From ebooks, blogs and podcasts to graphics and webinars, there are countless ways to distribute your content.

Which channels you choose will depend on your goals and target audience. However, there are three main channels: paid (e.g., Instagram ads), owned (e.g., email newsletters) and earned (e.g., social media shares). In most cases, a successful content distribution strategy will be some combination of all three channels.

The optimal distribution strategy comes after defining your target audience and figuring out your narrative. These two steps inform the types of content you’ll focus on, which helps you determine the best channels for getting your content seen and shared.

A key component of distribution is ensuring your owned channels are optimized, because this is the avenue you have the most control over. Oracle Vitrue’s “Like Can Never Replace Love” campaign saw massive success because the company emphasized promotion through its owned distribution channels (e.g., staff, partners, influencers and customers).

Related: 4 Content Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Business

5. Measure your results

Every content marketing strategy needs goals and measurable KPIs to determine whether or not a campaign was effective. KPIs like content impact, engagement, traffic and sentiment are great starting points. Still, these can be further divided into more nuanced metrics like unique page views, conversions, top exits, bounce rates and social shares. Remember that the metrics will differ for each distribution channel, and understand that figuring out the proper baselines and metrics for your brand will likely take time (and some adjustment).

In the case of Casper, a sleep startup that has built its brand on content marketing, those metrics could be features in top-tier magazines that entail recognition among a broader audience. Despite its financial problems afterward, Casper had first grown rapidly, generating $30 million in revenue and expanding its team from five to hundreds of people in less than a year.

The company was featured as one of the most innovative companies by Fast Company in both 2016 and 2017. “The brand made a splash on social media, releasing a series of creative Snapchat and Instagram stories,” they wrote. Casper also hired journalists and announced the launch of its own editorial venture focused on all aspects of sleep. So, no matter what, Casper has its own identity and a foothold in brand history.

Related: How to Craft a Content-Marketing Strategy That Works

Remember that your content should be emotionally compelling and purposeful. Great content marketing strategies allow brands to establish genuine connections with their audience. Don’t be afraid to explore what will work best for your brand and try different options. Ultimately, it’s essential to recognize that content marketing strategies are dynamic, ongoing processes that will shift and change over time. So, it’s wise to start dedicating time and resources toward it now to get a jumpstart on the future.

Source: 5 Steps for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy That Drives Business Results

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33 Small, Nice Things to Do When Your Relationship Feels Disconnected

We’ve all been there at one time or another. Something is…just a bit off in your relationship. You can feel it. No, this isn’t a lets-draw-up-the-divorce-papers scenario. But there’s a palpable sense of distance and disconnection. Maybe it’s due to a sudden change in schedules. Maybe it’s because every day feels the same and you’ve both fallen into a little bit of a funk. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Whatever the case, you’ve noticed that your relationship feels distanced and want to take some steps to close that space. Good for you. Here, then, are a variety of small, nice things to do if you feel disconnected from your partner. Will they all work for you? No, but each requires effort. And effort is what’s needed to make a change.

Talk about it. Seriously. Your partner is not a mind-reader. If you don’t bring up the fact that you feel distance, they won’t know how you feel and you won’t know how they feel. Hell, they may be surprised that you feel it. Either well, it will be helpful. So put it out in the open, explain what’s on your mind, and listen to your partner do the same.

Don’t blindside them when they have a five minute break from work or they finished bathing the kids. Choose the right time to bring it up.

Show appreciation. And be specific about it. Mention the loving way they defused that tantrum the other day. Compliment them on how thoughtful they are. Tell them they’re a wonderful parent. Make it known that you’re paying attention.

Ask questions. About work. About friends. About colleagues. About sex. About anything and everything. Importantly, listen actively and remember the answers. Curiosity is what keeps couples connected.

Offer up information about yourself, too. Did you eat a great sandwich today? Hear a great song? Are you working on something interesting at the office? Did your toddler do something ridiculous at the park this morning? Tell your partner. You need to be three-dimensional, too.

Make time for one another. Even if it’s just 20 minutes together doing the dishes after dinner. Set aside the time. Disconnection often happens when alone time is not actively pursued.

And make plans for next month. Real plans. The more interesting the better. Is there a cool show in town? An interesting restaurant that you both want to eat at? An axe-throwing place you want to check out? Whatever the case, find something that will give you something to talk about and connect over.

But also discuss far-off plans. Excitedly talking about the future helps make it obvious that you will both be together for the long haul. And who doesn’t like to imagine the good things to come? “Wouldn’t it be amazing to sail around the Greek isles together when we’re retired?” Yeah, it would.

Download a relationship or sex app. Use them on your next date night. Many contain a variety of exercises to help stave off boredom. Here are a few to check out.

Plan a date night. In or out. Fancy or casual. Just make it happen.

Text. Call. Occasionally pop in and say hi. Don’t be overbearing, but check in because you want to.

Put down the damn phone. If you can’t go five minutes without thumbing through Instagram, you can’t expect your partner to think you’re listening.

Say thank you. However often you think you’re saying it, say it more.

Identify your spouse’s love language. Speak it often.

Stay up to date about expectations. The who-does-what-and-how talk is not a one-time conversation. It is an ever evolving one that must take place regularly. It helps keep you both on the same page and does a lot to ward off resentment.

Set goals together. What do you want to accomplish in the next year? What do you want to achieve in the next few years? What does your partner want? Don’t know? Figure it out. Discussing your goals and arriving at a shared set together that you can then map out is a big step in feeling connected.

Try to incorporate some couple’s therapy exercises. So many are designed to re-establish connection. Here are some to consider.

Try to maintain the “magic formula” of a happy marriage. Dr. John Gottman discovered that for every negative interaction you have with your partner, you need five positives. Stick to this as often as possible and good things will follow.

Reflect on the good times. Reminisce. Because A) this shows your partner that you look back fondly on your relationship and B) it helps you both remember why you decided to live a life together in the first place. That goes a long way.

Turn towards, not away from your partner’s bids for connection. That is, when they tell you a story about their day or offer something for you to respond to, respond to them as much as possible.

Hold hands. Touch the small of their back. Give them more hugs. Embrace the six-second kiss. Just make a pact to be more affectionate in general.

Schedule sex. It may not seem sexy, but this is a simple way to put connection on the calendar.

Handle whatever needs to be handled so they can take some time for themselves — be it an hour or an entire weekend. A relationship can only function at its fullest potential if both partners have the chance to feel like individuals. Help them carve out the time.

Call your friends. Talking to and hearing from your buddies fills you with stories to share and advice to receive. It also helps keep things in perspective.

Play a board game. Build a pillow fort. Go go karting. Just do something silly together. Silliness is a big part of connection.

Don’t bother them when they’re doing the thing they like to do. We all need time to decompress.

But sometimes watch that show that they like to watch but you don’t. You know the one. Yup, that one.

Try, really try, to make them laugh.

Hang out together without talking. Just being comfortable together is important, too.

Give them a kiss before they leave and when they return. Or, if you’re the one to leave before you leave and when you return.

Check in at the end of each day. Talk about what went right, what went wrong, what made you roll your eyes.

Say “I love you” often. But not so often that it becomes the thing you say to prevent them from being upset with you. You get it. We know you do.

Play an active role in your relationship. That is, never stop trying.

Source: 33 Small, Nice Things to Do When Your Relationship Feels Disconnected | Fatherly

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Can Consciousness Be Explained By Quantum Physics?

One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist Roger Penrose teamed up with anaesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff to propose an ambitious answer.

They claimed that the brain’s neuronal system forms an intricate network and that the consciousness this produces should obey the rules of quantum mechanics – the theory that determines how tiny particles like electrons move around. This, they argue, could explain the mysterious complexity of human consciousness.

Penrose and Hameroff were met with incredulity. Quantum mechanical laws are usually only found to apply at very low temperatures. Quantum computers, for example, currently operate at around -272°C. At higher temperatures, classical mechanics takes over. Since our body works at room temperature, you would expect it to be governed by the classical laws of physics. For this reason, the quantum consciousness theory has been dismissed outright by many scientists – though others are persuaded supporters.

Instead of entering into this debate, I decided to join forces with colleagues from China, led by Professor Xian-Min Jin at Shanghai Jiaotong University, to test some of the principles underpinning the quantum theory of consciousness.

In our new paper, we’ve investigated how quantum particles could move in a complex structure like the brain – but in a lab setting. If our findings can one day be compared with activity measured in the brain, we may come one step closer to validating or dismissing Penrose and Hameroff’s controversial theory.

Brains and fractals

Our brains are composed of cells called neurons, and their combined activity is believed to generate consciousness. Each neuron contains microtubules, which transport substances to different parts of the cell. The Penrose-Hameroff theory of quantum consciousness argues that microtubules are structured in a fractal pattern which would enable quantum processes to occur.

Fractals are structures that are neither two-dimensional nor three-dimensional, but are instead some fractional value in between. In mathematics, fractals emerge as beautiful patterns that repeat themselves infinitely, generating what is seemingly impossible: a structure that has a finite area, but an infinite perimeter.

This might sound impossible to visualise, but fractals actually occur frequently in nature. If you look closely at the florets of a cauliflower or the branches of a fern, you’ll see that they’re both made up of the same basic shape repeating itself over and over again, but at smaller and smaller scales. That’s a key characteristic of fractals.

The same happens if you look inside your own body: the structure of your lungs, for instance, is fractal, as are the blood vessels in your circulatory system. Fractals also feature in the enchanting repeating artworks of MC Escher and Jackson Pollock, and they’ve been used for decades in technology, such as in the design of antennas. These are all examples of classical fractals – fractals that abide by the laws of classical physics rather than quantum physics.

It’s easy to see why fractals have been used to explain the complexity of human consciousness. Because they’re infinitely intricate, allowing complexity to emerge from simple repeated patterns, they could be the structures that support the mysterious depths of our minds.

But if this is the case, it could only be happening on the quantum level, with tiny particles moving in fractal patterns within the brain’s neurons. That’s why Penrose and Hameroff’s proposal is called a theory of “quantum consciousness”.

Quantum consciousness

We’re not yet able to measure the behaviour of quantum fractals in the brain – if they exist at all. But advanced technology means we can now measure quantum fractals in the lab. In recent research involving a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM), my colleagues at Utrecht and I carefully arranged electrons in a fractal pattern, creating a quantum fractal.

When we then measured the wave function of the electrons, which describes their quantum state, we found that they too lived at the fractal dimension dictated by the physical pattern we’d made. In this case, the pattern we used on the quantum scale was the Sierpiński triangle, which is a shape that’s somewhere between one-dimensional and two-dimensional.

This was an exciting finding, but STM techniques cannot probe how quantum particles move – which would tell us more about how quantum processes might occur in the brain. So in our latest research, my colleagues at Shanghai Jiaotong University and I went one step further. Using state-of-the-art photonics experiments, we were able to reveal the quantum motion that takes place within fractals in unprecedented detail.

We achieved this by injecting photons (particles of light) into an artificial chip that was painstakingly engineered into a tiny Sierpiński triangle. We injected photons at the tip of the triangle and watched how they spread throughout its fractal structure in a process called quantum transport. We then repeated this experiment on two different fractal structures, both shaped as squares rather than triangles. And in each of these structures we conducted hundreds of experiments.

Our observations from these experiments reveal that quantum fractals actually behave in a different way to classical ones. Specifically, we found that the spread of light across a fractal is governed by different laws in the quantum case compared to the classical case.

This new knowledge of quantum fractals could provide the foundations for scientists to experimentally test the theory of quantum consciousness. If quantum measurements are one day taken from the human brain, they could be compared against our results to definitely decide whether consciousness is a classical or a quantum phenomenon.

Our work could also have profound implications across scientific fields. By investigating quantum transport in our artificially designed fractal structures, we may have taken the first tiny steps towards the unification of physics, mathematics and biology, which could greatly enrich our understanding of the world around us as well as the world that exists in our heads.

By: / Professor, Theoretical Physics, Utrecht University 

Source: Can consciousness be explained by quantum physics? My research takes us a step closer to finding out

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