Friday, October 24, 2014

Find me on LinkedIn!

I have transitioned to using LinkedIn and other places for blogging and other sorts of "opinion-sharing" activities.

I would love to connect with you. Please find me on:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How to Target Your Content Through Goal-Setting

The base intent behind content marketing isn't to sell, at least not directly. Instead, the goal is to create content that your customer finds valuable, whether or not that has anything specific to do with your product. This value drives them to your site, and this hopefully carries them down the funnel and results in sales. The way you provide that value is through making your content informative and helpful. They should be able to take the information you give them and go and actually do something with it. This doesn't just happen. It needs to be planned and intentional. To achieve this you need to have a clearly defined goal for each and every piece of content.
Yes. Every single one.
As with a lot of things in content development, having a goal is one of those places where it sounds really easy and obvious, but the execution is where the difference is made. Having a clear goal can skyrocket the quality of your content, but only if you create the goal first, and then create the content around the goals. Don't try to shoehorn goals into content you've already created unless you are committed to rewriting a good portion of it. Here are some guidelines on how to create a specific goal for your content.

Make the goal actionable.
Goals are all about action. You reach a goal by doing. Didn't we already say that the point of doing content marketing is helping your customers perform some action? That action is the goal of your piece of contact. Put another way, a goal is the specific thing that your customer should be able to do when they're done reading or watching your piece.  You know you've chosen a good, actionable goal if it can be measured. We obviously don't create tests at the end of marketing pieces like you would for a training piece, but ask yourself if you could potentially create a test at the end of your piece covering the content. If you can't, then they haven't learned anything and you need to choose a more actionable goal.

Let's say, for example, you run a website where you sell home decor items online. You might want to create a piece of content about the color wheel. The goal of this piece is NOT to increase the sales of related accessory items. That may be your goal, but it is not the goal of your customers. That would be like a salesman walking up to a customer in a store and saying, "So, would you like to help me make enough commission to take my wife to Cancun?"

Here the goal could be for the customer to be able to "explain the color wheel." But that isn't very good. Having the goal be "explain" or "tell" is kind of a cop out. Now, I do it too, but don't let it be a habit. Aim for something more. Instead, our home decor purveyor could create a piece on how to use the color wheel to pick a color pallet.

It sounds like semantics but it's not. This really guides the way you build your content. As we'll discuss in future posts, the goal drives everything. You put different information into a piece where you just tell about a concept than you would into a piece designed to help you apply the information.
Here is a good list of examples of action-based objectives (they follow the same rules as goals).

There is only one goal and only one goal shall there be.
Repeat after me: "Everything I make has a single targeted goal." You can't get in the car and go to both Chicago and New York. If you attempt to do too many things for your content you won't end up getting anywhere.

There are two main reasons you might (incorrectly) have more than one goal in a piece of content. The first and most common is simply attempting to do too much in a single piece. Many a good piece of content has been killed by the phrase "but I'd also." For example, our marketer for the online home decor store might say, "I am going to write a piece on the color wheel and color balancing, but I'd also like to cover using the proper size for accessories, because I have a deal on accessories this week."

No! Bad marketer! #handslap

It is not a question of whether you could "make it work" or if you "have a story." Your piece should have one goal. If you have multiple goals then you won't be able to really accomplish anything very effectively. Instead, you will have an overview because you won't have enough time to really accomplish what you set out to accomplish. Also, it just changes the way you approach the piece. This kind of divided focus will make your content feel obvious and shallow rather than insightful and helpful. Nothing worse than content telling you everything you already know.

The second common reason you might think you need multiple goals is because you're actually thinking of objectives, not goals. An objective is a single step or task that helps you reach your goal. Let's go back again to the online home decor site. Let's say you wanted to have a piece of content that covered color matching, pattern coordination, accessory sizing, and cloth types. Now of course you could separate it into four different blogs on your blog, but what if you're wanting to write something longer like an ebook? That's a piece of content. It needs a goal. If you think you are having multiple goals, what you really have is four different objectives working towards a single goal that should be your eBook.

If you run into this, look at what all of those "goals"/objectives are working towards. Now, beware that sometimes you will have both of the reasons I've mentioned working together. In other words, you may have multiple objectives, but they aren't all working towards a single goal. This is why defining your goal should happen early in the process. What if you are halfway through creating this piece when you decided that you needed to identify your goal. You may have some great content for one of these objectives, but they don't align to the goal you have chosen. For example, you may look at those objectives and say that the goal really should be how to choose great linens, because that goes with most of the objectives you wanted to include. Anything you have written about the sizes of different accessories would probably not wind up in the ebook. However, if it happens to you, don't fret. Just put it in your ideas folder for next time. You do have an ideas folder, right?

There is probably a lot more that I could say about goals, but then, that would fall outside the scope of my goal for this piece. ;-)

Next time, we'll look at how to take this goal and continue down the development process. Until then, if you found this information valuable, I'd appreciate it if you would share it. Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Comment below, or you can reach me on just about every social media platform there is!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why Instructional Design Can Help You Plan Better Content Marketing

If you're in marketing, you've probably heard of "content marketing." It's the latest marketing trend, but it's also sort of a culmination of a number of other trends (social media marketing, SEO optimization, inbound marketing, online marketing, etc.) that have been growing and changing since the internet really look off in the late 90's.

Put simply, content marketing is the idea that rather than spend your time flooding your user with messages (which used to work back in the 60's and 70's), you create great informational pieces that users then find through search or as the "carrot" at the end of some outbound marketing campaign. Stats back up this approach, because just in the past few years, users went from reviewing 5 pieces of marketing content to 10 pieces of content before making a decision. In fact, B2B customers are usually 60% of the way through the buying process before they ever contact a sales person. B2C customers are, no doubt even farther through the process before ever walking into a store or logging onto Amazon. So, if you create great informative pieces that may or may not be about your product, users do that research where the content reflects your message and goals.

Now, when this trend started to flair up some time in 2012, a lot of people said, "Hey, I've been doing that for years! I know how to write white papers and create blog posts!" And so, these people became experts, helping out everyone else who hadn't been on the content train for quite as long. However, as great as all the resources are (a couple good places are the Content Marketing Institute and the Resonance Content Marketing blog), there isn't a lot of information out there on how to actually CREATE the content. The idea has been more of "...and then you create great content. Now, once you've done that, here's how you distribute it..."

Unfortunately, creating content isn't that simple. Sure, you can find lots of hints on how to develop a blog post, and there's information on how to get ideas for content topics, but what about content strategy? How do you make sure your overall approach ties together, rather than going forward with a shotgun approach to content? It's hard to be strategic with a splatter-gun.

Now, to be fair, in the past, we haven't needed to be as strategic with marketing content. Users didn't do as much research before, remember? But now, we need to have more top-level planning, and the marketing field just doesn't have the history to really show what does and doesn't work in that area. So what do you do? Well, that's where you can look to an unlikely source. There is a field that has, for a number of years, categorically studied the art of creating and organizing information that informs the user. That field is instructional design.

Are you this purposeful with your content development?
Believe it or not, training and marketing are actually very similar. Both fields develop content that informs users. And if you look at client training (which I did for 5 years), they're even more similar, because the ultimate goal of client training is to drive sales. So, if we look at the tactics honed by the instructional design field through years and years of research, we can develop better content. By focusing on goals that are sub-divided into actionable objectives for the user, we can develop really informative, helpful content that will keep people coming back and diving in. You can use task analysis to align content to users in every stage in your sales funnel, helping you convert users to MQLs to customers.

Stay tuned to the blog to find out more!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why Apple losing market share actually does matter

I've seen a lot of discussion about recent market share reports for mobile. These reports indicate that Apple is losing market share to Android. The most recent reports indicate that Android took 81% of the quarter (though that was in the quarter right before a new iPhone, so that isn't entirely indicative). 

In response to this, a number of journalists have been arguing that it isn't a big deal that Apple has lost market share. The argument is that Android is mostly taking the "middle market" (that is, the cheaper phones) and Apple has the lead in the high-end market. It would be like saying that BMW should be concerned that more people are buying Kias and Saturns. BMW has never marketed itself to people who buy Kias and Saturns, so why should they care? More people are buying cars, yes, and no, they aren't buying BMWs. But that's fine. Not everyone needs a BMW, and there's plenty of the market for everyone to share.

Sure, that's fine to say, but it's ignoring a key point: with cars there is no ecosystem (other than the LITERAL ecosystem, I suppose, but then I digress...). There are no major ancillary businesses or services around cars that impact which brand I buy (with the possible exception of repair costs). The point is that my car can run no matter which brand I buy. This isn't true of PCs and Mobile devices, which require applications to run. Apps are OS-specific, and if a particular OS isn't as popular, it will impact sales.

Let's say there was an Apple iCar. The car would, no doubt, be beautiful. It would be intelligent and fun, would do things you never thought of doing in a car, would be fast and smooth to operate... and would be really expensive. Still, it would sell like hotcakes. Everywhere you looked, someone would be rolling past in an iCar. Of course, being Apple, the iCar would run off of iGas, and you'd see iGas Stations all over the place.

Apple Car, iMove, Futuristic Car, Electric vehicle
Someone actually came up with an Apple concept car called iMove. Are you suprised? Details:
Now, let's imagine that after a few years, Apple started selling less of the overall car market because buyers were opting for cheaper models from Saturn and Kia. Market position in and of itself wouldn't be a concern, as long as sales remain steady. You can target different portions of the market and do well. Apple is doing extremely well in the highest end of the smartphone market, after all. However, these cheaper cars, like every other car in the world, run off of unleaded gasoline, not iGas. If less people buy iCars, then less businessmen will want to open iGas Stations. 

Let's modify the illustration and look at electric cars. eCars have trouble getting started because electric "pumps" haven't really caught on. But that's partially because eCars haven't sold very well. Less eCars, less pumps, and thus less eCars. However, in this case, it would be as if eCars came out first, and there were electric pumps everywhere, but then the number of eCars sold was going down, and more and more stations were selling gas and electric simultaneously. 

While not guaranteed, it is entirely possible in that scenario that a portion of those stations would eventually stop supporting the electric pumps, as it would cost them money to have them. This would, in turn, start lowering the number of eCars sold. You probably wouldn't see a total lowering to 0 unless a truly superior product came on the market, but you would see it lose a good portion of market share.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mornings w/ Kyle | Episode 1: in which I recap 2 years in a handy 4 min video

Hello everyone!

It's been a long time since I've blogged, but I'm starting up again, focusing on "VLOGs" (video blogs). These seem easier for me to do. Check out my first one for a recap of what all's been going on recently with me!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Choosing My Next Phone Part One: The History

So, I'm getting a new phone soon. Eligibility is coming up fast, and my phone's screen completely died on me, so I'm deep in the throws of researching my next choice.

I'll explain the choices and why I picked what I did, but first, a bit of history:

When the iPhone first came out, I decided to get a Blackjack instead. It was the same thing, right? They're both smart phones! They both play music!

But no, they aren't. The old Windows Mobile format was horrible, there were no decent apps, and it didn't have a touch screen. I liked the phone well enough, but was eager to get something else.

 The next time around, I wanted an iPhone. But instead, I got a Samsung Impression, which is a messaging phone. Messaging phones have cheaper data plans, and it had a slide-out keyboard (which I still like better, but oh well. I'm just old). They both have touch screens! It's the same thing, right?

No, they aren't. The lack of apps (again) plus the limited browser support made it hard for me to use it as anything more than an email checker. I'd really like to be able to write on my phone, read books, etc.

So now, I want a new phone, and I am GETTING a touch screen smart phone.

But I don't think I'm getting an iPhone. Am I crazy? Read my next post to see my thought process.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crazy Family Reunions

This weekend, we're going to Wendy's family reunion. And it definitely qualifies as a crazy family reunion. You may be asking if the reunion is crazy or it's the family that's crazy. Well, maybe it's a bit of both.

You see, Wendy's grandma (who we call Ganny) was one of 21 kids. So, it's a pretty BIG reunion. Oh, and of the ones still kicking, only one of the original kids is a man. The rest are all loud, crazy old ladies. Boisterous would be the word. And they all have to fight to get a word in edgewise. It's what the bible calls "joyful noise."

I'll just say, this trait didn't stop with the grandparents. Their daughters and granddaughters have it too. Of course, I married one of the those granddaughters, so I'm not complaining! I love my wife and her boisterous family! They are a hoot!

It's so much fun to go to these. We look forward to them every year. We get cabins at the state park down by Toledo Bend lake, and just hang out, play cards and eat. And let me remind you, these are southern born and bred Louisiana women who know how cooking is done right. So we eat good. I don't know how well we'll stick to our Weight Watcher points, but we'll eat good.

Now, I'll also say that the loud and crazy female trait must be dominant, because my two daughters have inherited it too. And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Lure of the Tablet

I want a tablet. I don’t need one. I certainly don’t have the money to buy one. But I want one. Why? Because they’re cool.

After all, I’ve been wanting one for years. I mean, didn’t we all want one of these?
(it's a Star Trek reference, for the uninitiated)

The thing is, I don’t actually need a tablet. I rarely go on away missions to distant planets (and when I do, I avoid red shirts for obvious reasons). Nor am I so concerned with the “cool factor” that I’m willing to go out and plop $400 on iPad just because all the Apple lemmings do. (Besides, the iPad would be a bigger draw if it had Flash support.)

However, I want a tablet. I’m going on a business trip in a couple weeks, and it would be SO nice to have a tablet on the plane to watch movies without having to drag out a PC or watch on a tiny phone screen (not that I have an iPhone… yet). And in my head, it would be really nice to write when the urge came. I think I would use one. I think I would.

But then, my eReader is sitting in my bag unused in several weeks. So maybe I wouldn’t, even with the better internet capabilities.

I don’t know. I’m indecisive. Except on one thing:

Tablets are cool.

So what about you? Do you have a tablet? What kind? If not, are you in the “I want one, but don’t have one” crowd, or the “that’s stupid and I’d never use it” crowd?

Friday, July 29, 2011

On the blogger email thing... scratch that...

So, apparently my blog got hacked. IN SPANISH, NO LESS!

Sorry if anyone clicked on any links or whatever, I'm sorry. Wasn't me. :-(

Anyway, seeing as it happened the day after I switched to email posting, I'm blaming it on that. I probably just picked too easy a password or something, and I did kind of put it out there that I have it enabled, but hey. I'm not taking chances. I'll just take the extra few seconds to copy and paste, rather than have my blog hacked because of laziness.

Oh well. Return to your regularly-scheduled programming.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Linking Google+ to Blogger

So, I'll leave this up in case anyone needs it, but see this post to see why I'm not doing this anymore.

Linking Google+ to Blogger

So, I just tested this, and it worked. You can setup blogger to receive emails from Google+.

Now, you can post long stream posts directly to your blog. I tend to occasionally be long-winded on Google+, and I think, "Man, this could be a blog post!" Well, now I can post to Blogger directly from Google+. It has the annoying Google+ email wrapper, which I'll try to go and delete as needed. Still, it's better than an empty blog, isn't it?*

Here's how I did it:

1) Go to Blogger and click on "Settings." Under settings, click on "Mobile and Email."

2) Now, scroll to the bottom and find your blogger email address. You'll need to set a secret passphrase in your email, so that others can't post to your blog. If your blog is and your passphrase is "grapefruit," then your email will be:

3) Go to Google+ and click on Circles. Create a new circle called "Blogger." Click on "add a new person" and enter the email address for your blog.

4) Type your long-winded post and share it with your Blogger circle.

Now, be aware that if you share all of your posts with "Your Circles" or "Extended Circles" then all your posts will go to blogger. Instead, share with specific circles or public, and only add Blogger to the share list when you want it to be a blog post as well.

Hope that helps!

**Blog followers, I promise not every blog post will look like this. It's just something I'm trying.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Make a Million Dollars Writing a Book

Inspiring Me Today: The Over-Ambitious

So, you've heard about all these people writing books? Just sit and type, and out comes a paper-bound money maker. But how do you start?

Ready to rake in the cash? Let me tell you how to make a million dollars writing a book.

  1. Come up with a stellar novel idea. Vampires and Mermaids are hot right now. So are ghosts and love stories. Ok, so, a vampire mermaid falls in love with a ghost! Awesome! Step one done!
  2. Now, go to a Starbucks and write the book. Get a Starbucks credit card to pay for all the mochas you buy.
  3. Get an agent to fall in love with your vampermaid love story. This is the easy part.
  4. Now, the agent gets a publisher to fall in love with it too. The agent sells the book for a low 5-figure advance. Hooray! The advance will almost pay off the Starbucks card!
  5. By some tragic statement about the tastes of today's youth miracle, you just pay through the advance. Now, time to write Vampermaid 2!
  6. Go back to Starbucks and pull that credit card back out. 
  7. Sit down with your PC and piping hot mocha, and perpare to write.
  8. The person next to you asks what you're doing.
  9. You tell them who you're the author of VAMPERMAID, and say that you're writing book 2. Maybe they want an autograph.
  10. The person says, "Hmm... Never heard of you."
  11. A little irritated, you accidentally hit your cup and spill mocha all over you and your computer.
  12. Sue Starbucks for medical bills, damages to your computer, and pain and suffering.
  13. Win million dollar settlement with Starbucks.
  14. Congratulations! You've just made a million dollars writing a novel!
So there you go. Just follow those easy steps, and you're on your way to riches!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Search Terms Find Your Site?

Inspiring Me Today: Google Analytics and Claire Legrand

Recently, Claire Legrand did this awesome (lol. Read to see why I laugh) blog post about the hilarious search terms people used to find her blog. While my results can’t hope to compare to her baffling results, I did find my results (from Google Analytics) interesting.

My top results are:
  • S Kyle Davis, Kyle Davis, or some other variant obviously.
  •  Various searches for info on J.K. Rowling’s plot planning sheet because I analyzed it here
  •  Intern Amie variations because I defended her back in the day
  • Dialog vs. Conversation variations because of this post
  • “Finding a plot” variations for similar reasons
  • Logline-related searches because of a critique session I did once
  •  Searches for Steven Malk because I did a post on something he said in an interview once
  • Jodi Reamer variations because I mentioned her ONCE in passing
  • Searches for other people I’ve mentioned in passing, etc.
  • yWriter variations because I’ve mentioned several times how the software is awesome and free

So, those are the normal results. What about the weird ones?
  • kyle davis” stranton. you make one Office joke…
  • Celtic demi-goddess. You know, you can just say you think I look nice in my photo. You’re taking the flattery too far.
  • Faster faster kyle davis. Fine, fine. I’ll hurry up.
  • Graffiti on the wall interview skills. I’m not sure what this means
  • How do you get “a thicker skin”? some sort of body armor perhaps?
  • If your name is kyle your name is davies. No, it’s Davis, actually, and that’s a logical fallacy.
  • Kyle davis it’s your life Great, now I have Bon Jovi stuck in my head. “Bow wow.”
  • Meaning of “ledger domain”. This is because my book used to be called “The Ledger Domain.” If you’re searching for this, it’s a pun. Legerdemain is a French-based word meaning “sleight of hand” or magic
  • Nextbook 2 (and variations). No clue why searches for this come to my site. Maybe Nextbook wants to sponsor me! If so... sure! I’ll say they’re the best things ever if you give me one for free!
  • Semiotic analysis of beatles blackbird. This. Is. Awesome. If someone actually does this, please leave the link in my comments.
  • The man in the trenchcoat and the fedora dreams umm… creepy…. (especially if you’ve read this book)
  • The usual suspects logline. I love this movie, but... ???
  • What influenced james patterson to write daniel x? Kyle, remember: if you can’t say something nice...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Five Years with an Amazing Woman

Inspiring Me Today: My wife
Yesterday, I celebrated five years being married to a truly amazing woman. I don't normally get super personal on this blog, but I just wanted to say that Wendy Davis is, in a word, awesome! She's smart, funny, and kind. She's also my best friend.

Wendy Davis is my ghostwriter. She's the one that helps me come up with the ideas, from the big ones to bits of dialog.

Wendy Davis is my alpha reader. She reads my work and lets me know if its crap.

Wendy Davis is my crit parter. She thumbs up the good ideas, and (very kinds) thumbs down the stupid ones.

Wendy Davis is my biggest supporter. She encourages me to keep going, tells me it's going to be ok, and lets me leave her alone with the kids so I can write--or run off to a writers conference. I couldn't do this without her.

Thank you Wendy! I love you!


Oh, and if you're curious, here's Wendy's blog post on our 5 years. She said it much more eloquently than I did, but then she's the real writer in the family.

Love You Something Fierce: 5 Years: "Five years ago, my whole world changed with two simple words...'I Do!' Five years ago I put on a beautiful gown, my momma put my veil on, ..."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to Pitch

Inspiring Me Today: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

So, as many of you know, last weekend was DFWcon. I do have coverage coming. I promise. Just need a bit of time to edit the videos.

Anyway, I met so many authors there, and they were all trying to tell me about their story. What I found was that a lot of people have no clue how to do that.

Don't feel bad. I didn't either.
Here's a case in point. I was walking back to my room after The Gong Show, a hilarious and enlightening event where a deep-voiced "movie trailer"-style announcer read anonymous query letters. Five agents had "gongs," which they would sound at the point they'd stop reading. Anyway, the thing they said over and over was, "Get to the story! What's the story?!"

As I was walking back from this event, I started up a conversation with another conference-goer about The Gong Show. She complained, "They always tell us they need the story, but it makes no sense! It's all so confusing and contradictory. I have no idea what they're looking for!"

Well, I'm going to tell you what they're looking for. And really, you've probably heard it before. When the agents want the story, they want to know this:

When [beginning of book] happens, [main character] must overcome [what stops him/her] so he/she can [goal] before [bad stuff happens]. 

That's it. That's what they want to hear. And they want it soon, not two-thirds of the way through the query or pitch. Work hard and develop that sentence. That's your pitch. If you have that, you can do any of those other little marketing things. You can scrunch it down into a twitter pitch. You can expand it into a query letter. You can even use it as a springboard in a face-to-face pitch or elevator speech. 

Now, don't tell me your book doesn't fit into this formula. It does. Or rather, it should, unless you've written something really REALLY experimental (which you shouldn't attempt unless you're already a very accomplished author, because this takes skill). So figure out what the inciting incident, goal, obstacle, and stakes are. Who knows? You may find you need to revise your manuscript to really bring this out. I've done that. My book is much better for it.

Oh, and the other thing you'll need for your pitch: the hook. What's a hook? Well, we'll get to that next time.