Creating valuable content to inform, connect and motivate your audience is not only conceivable, it may be one of the few remaining vehicles left that allows you to build relationship at scale. The trick is to use a measured approach, focus on understanding your audience and how you can be a part of their journey online and off.
This article explains what it takes to weave content into your marketing strategy. I hope you find a few things here to add to your content marketing arsenal.
Successful content marketing depends on how well you know the customer’s needs. Listening is required.
In today’s hyper-connected world, grabbing the attention of potential clients is no simple task. People are literally being bombarded with messages from all directions. The average American spend 70% of their waking hours consuming digital media, not to mention the billions (182 Billion at last count) of emails that hit our inboxes every day, it’s enough to make your head spin.
To start off my research I decided to go to the mother ship, Content Marketing Institute or more specifically Joe Pulizzi. If there was ever one person to call the ultimate evangelist for content marketing, it would have to be Joe. Some even call him the Godfather of content. Back in 2007, he founded Content Marketing Institute to evangelize and educate on content marketing’s ability to drive business results. Today CMI is one of the most well known resources on the subject.
One of things that Joe said really resonated with me, he said “Stop Writing about Everything. So many brands create content and try to cover everything, instead of focusing on the core niche that they can position themselves as an expert around.”
My conversation with Joe Pulizzi covers all things content marketing, from what it takes to build a media company to the launching of a successful conference, think Content Marketing World. We follow that up with the highlights of his latest book, “Content Inc,” where he illustrates the consistent success of companies that focus on building a community first before trying to sell a product or service. Make sure you listen to the podcast to get your fill of Joe’s content marketing knowledge. But to stay on track in our quest for understanding content marketing, let’s start with the definition that I prefer from the folks at CMI.
Content helps you get found on the web
The best brands are built on ever deepening trust and consistently providing value to a targeted audience, it just so happens that as with most brand experiences today, the lion’s share of the trust building happens online long before a anyone meets you in person or consumes what you have to offer.
While it would be wonderful if all you had to do was wait for people to discover your awesomeness, you would miss out on the countless opportunities to be useful to your target audience while they’re not necessarily in the market for what you’re selling. That’s where content marketing comes in, it helps you engage with your audience at every stage of the consumer journey. When they’re not buying, to strengthen ties with the ones you already know, and build relationship with the ones you’ve yet to meet.
So what you need is more than just content. You need strategy. You need a plan for how you will engage with audiences and how to turn that engagement into profit. A starter kit on how to do content marketing right.
The place to start is by asking a few questions.
What do you want to accomplish?
Copyblogger has an excellent post on the 10 Content Marketing Goals Worth Pursuing that will help you define the purpose of your content marketing. Here are some of the outcomes you can achieve.
- Build trust and rapport with your clients.
- Establish your subject matter expertise.
- Attract new prospects.
- Forge strategic partnerships.
- Foster your reputation & brand.
- Create discovery opportunities with SEO.
- Nurture prospects through your sales funnel.
- Engage with customers to enable retention, referrals and reviews.
What are the rules of content creation?
If you read the vast majority of articles on content marketing, you may be falsely led into believing that writing blog posts is all there is to it. In reality, finding the right mix of “content” is really determined by your content strategy and the resources you decide to allocate.
Quickly you’ll start to see there is a mix of audio, visual and written information meant to help or enlighten your audience in some way. That content marketing ecosystem can include:
- Blog posts
Those, of course, are merely content forms. Within those categories, you’ll have different segmentations, like types (guides, tutorials, tool and templates, etc.) and topics (for me it might be, personal branding, content marketing, public speaking or marketing strategy, etc.).
At it’s core, content can be anything you think could be useful to you clients, partners or leads.
What resources are needed to create good content?
This depends on the type of content you want to produce and how large your company is: Are you a soloprenuer or running a business with multiple employees? What does your budget look like? And so on. Regardless of size, however, it’s imperative that you have someone on your team who is a strong writer and editor. If you can swing it, a graphic designer will also do wonders for your business. After all, a picture is still worth 1000 words, actually 60,000 words, as the human eye processes images 60K times faster than the written word.
When you get ready to begin scaling your content marketing team, check out these great tips by Smart Insights on Hiring the Right Content Creator for Your Business. This conversation with Joe Chernov about team building when he was VP of content at Hubspot is filled with insight.
Remember: It’s not enough just to create content. If no one is reading or sharing, you’re simply wasting time and money . Hire great designers, writers and editors who will create click-worthy content likely to represent your brand well and bring in new clients.
How should you think about content strategy?
Content marketing is about creating more content, strategy is about asking a lot of hard questions: why, how and more. – Kristina Halvorson
The moment I realized that simply creating content randomly wasn’t going to achieve the results I had imagined, I started focusing on data. Getting a real sense of what was converting. What type of content or topic is inspiring current customers and pulling in new leads? It’s rarely the same content.
Here’s a strategy conversation worth listening to with Robert Rose, Chief Marketing Strategist at CMI.
To go even deeper on strategy, listen to this interview with Content Strategist, Micheal Brenner.
How do you measure your efforts?
You should also check out this great infographic by Brandpoint, which focuses on awareness, consideration and conversion to determine how well your content marketing efforts are going. Here are some other measurables worth considering
- Consumption: page views, video views, document views, downloads and social chatter.
- Sharing: likes, shares, tweets, +1s, and pins, forwards, number of inbound links.
- Lead generation: form completion and downloads, email and blog subscriptions, blog comments and your conversion rate.
- Sales: Look at both online and offline sales that are influenced by content.
- Thought leadership: requests for speaking, blogging and public participation.
- Loyalty: advocates, referrals and word of mouth.
It’s time to get started!
Here’s the trick – you have to take the time to create content with a purpose.
You have to hustle. You are the special sauce that that will make content marketing a success. – Seth Price
You don’t have to get everything just right to get started, it will be an evolution, a process of determining what works for you and your market. There’s no doubt that content marketing means many things to many people, but at it’s core, it’s about providing value to a target audience in the form of answers and entertainment for a specific business outcome. The best content shows compassion for your audience and serves them in ways that they’ve never experienced before. It surfaces information that they find helpful and in the process it educates them. It’s what good marketing is all about, now get to it.