Hello ! @ # $ % ^ & *

I was staring at my keyboard when I got the idea for this post. And there they were, right in front of my eyes and at my fingertips: eight keys to content marketing.

Take a look at your keyboard. Look at the number keys, specifically the eight symbols on the number keys. In my mind (and now yours), each symbol suggests an effective approach to creating more meaningful content.

The holy smokes key

Exclamation point key to contentThe exclamation mark. It’s used to indicate strong feelings. Perfect!

Strong feelings inspire you to act. You’ll share the content that moves you. You’ll comment. You might sign up for, or buy, something. When something truly pushes one of your buttons, you’ll remember where you found it and maybe who wrote it.

Thinking about this simple idea made me think of how author, speaker, and marketing leader Jason Falls often speaks of what he calls “holy smokes” content. I thought, “Holy smokes, it’d be cool to get Jason to join us here to talk about this powerful idea.”

The conversation key

At key to contentThe @ key gets a whole lot more use now than it ever did in the typewriter age. The key signifies [email protected], right? Fitting that it shares space with your 2 key because it takes 2 to interact.

If your content is all about looking out for number 1, you’re a self-serving bore. Your content should aim to invoke a conversation.

    • Social media is where it’s @
      Discover content there and put content there. Start conversations there. Join conversations there.
    • Email is where it’s @
      Make it personal. Take it personally.
    • Online groups and forums are where it’s @
      Get in some groups and get involved in the discussions taking place.
    • Conferences are where it’s @
      Are you networking? It’s fun it. It’s valuable. It opens doors.
    • The phone is where it’s @
      The smartest thing you can do with your smart phone is to talk to someone with it. At a conference I attended, Ted Rubin, a great social media pro, stressed the value of interacting. I’m thrilled to share a conversation Ted and I had recently.

The what’s happening key

What's happening key to contentThe hashtag key has become the ubiquitous symbol of unity. While its applications are multi-faceted, the # mark is generally followed by a word or phrase of common interest.

You use hashtags to signal your subject and find common interests among peers, customers, prospects, partners and the influencers in your market. Your hashtag highlights “what’s happening.” If your content is going to be meaningful it has to be about what’s happening.

The money key

Money key to contentIs your content actually marketing? The dollar sign key is right there at your left hand, guiding you in the right direction.

This is not a call for greed. Nor am I suggesting you sell when aiming to serve.

I think, because it takes so much effort to consistently create meaningful content, you can lose sight of why you’re doing it. We place great value on engagement—and we should. But remind yourself of your objectives. At the end of the day (week, month, quarter and year), measure your efforts in business terms.

Meaningful content marketing exists where your company’s and your audience’s ambitions meet.

The media mix key

Percentage key to contentAre you overly fixated on one medium?

You might be pouring every ounce of energy into your blog. Or Facebook. Or YouTube. Or whatever. And you’re bound to hit a wall.

You might also be focusing 100 percent on a how-to approach, or some other approach, and failing to experiment with other tactics.

As a content marketer, you need to push yourself. Your audience is bound to consume a variety of different media, for different reasons, in different times and places. Try to meet them in a variety of channels. Look at your content marketing mix and look to reduce a percentage of your efforts in one place to explore new territory.

The higher aspirations key

Up key to contentAre you challenging yourself to grow, get better, and try new things? The ^ key suggests the way to go.

How can you increase the size of your audience, influence, engagement, and leads?

How can you learn more, gain new skills, create a stronger team, and become more inspirational?

I can’t tell you what you need to know or which direction’s best. I can tell you to keep aiming up.

The collaboration key

And key to contentAs you know, the ampersand key means “and.” I propose it means put an & in your content creation plan more often. Collaborate.

  • & create content with employees
  • & create content with customers
  • & create content with partners
  • & create content with industry leaders

And never cease looking for opportunities to collaborate with people you admire and value.

The star key

Star key to contentI’ve mentioned influencers a number of times now. There are all kinds of stars in your space: those you read, watch, listen to, serve, work with, sell to, and so on.

Listen. Learn. Expand your universe.*

*The stars in your space can help you make more meaningful content.