Guru Columns

Jeff Ryznar:
Use ‘The Force’ of Content Marketing

January 1, 2017

When I was a child, I used to think and act like a child. Now that I am an adult, I have since put those childish ways behind me, except when it comes to “Star Wars.”

While I was born three years after the original movie, “A New Hope,” made its debut, the entire brand has captured my imagination, taking me to galaxies far, far away, and it was all because of “The Force.” The idea that there is this competitive edge some people possess that gives them special powers lack, is an awesome concept.

To this day, I even have my daughters wave their hands in front of automated doors we walk through and have them believe that they used “The Force” to open it. They love doing it but, let’s be honest, not as much as I do.


And while “The Force” is an effective tool for opening motion sensing doors, it is not something to bank on when it comes to outsmarting your competition in business.

However, content marketing may be the closest thing that businesses have to “The Force,” which can give you an edge over your competition in a variety of ways.

Don’t believe me?

As Yoda would say, “That is why you fail.”

Use Content Marketing for Knowledge and Defense
Most businesses use content marketing for self-promoting reasons. Tweeting, posting, writing blogs, having documents available for download – these are great for distributing your own information, but what about your competition?

Content marketing is public, which means your competitors’ successes and faults are in plain sight for you to view and, most important, learn from to improve your own efforts.
A complete content marketing audit of your competitors can deliver information about mistakes they have made that you want to avoid.

You may want to apply resources to do what’s worked for them or to understand their biggest strength so you avoid competing with them on it, especially if it is an opportunity your business is working at improving upon.

Steps to Help You Become a Content Marketing Rebel Spy
As you attempt to use content marketing to overtake your own company’s version of the “evil empire,” here are some basic steps to help find out what your competition is doing:

1. Sign up for your competitors’ newsletter, subscribe to their blogs RSS feed and follow them on every social media platform they are on.

2. Set up a few Google Alerts for your competitions’ names, top products, key executives and any other keyword you think people would search to find them.
Best of all, Google Alerts is free and easy to set up with a simple wave of your hand.

3. Use services such as SocialMention.com or Mention.com to set up social media “listening stations” to track what your competition is posting on social sites.

4. Check out how various competitors’ websites perform for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by looking at metrics such as site speed, meta-tags and site structure with Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly tests.

When looking at this, just remember that what’s most important is that your site outperforms your competitors’ because it gives you an edge in search rankings.

Another tool is QuickSprout’s site comparison tool, which is one of the fastest and easiest ways to compare your site directly to your competition. These basic tools can help you start using “The Force” of content marketing to create an edge over your competition, but don’t get cocky.

While using content marketing to gain insights into your competitors’ behaviors and digital performance compared to your own is more successful than navigating an asteroid field, it requires dedication and on-going training.

After all, “The Force” will be with your company, always and so will content marketing.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.