Since it seems that not everyone knows, or understands, content marketing a primer with the basics may be necessary.
Content Marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on creating, publishing and distributing content for a specific audience. Instead of creating need for a product or service, content marketing addresses the existing need of the customer.
James O’Brien of Contently wrote on Mashable, “The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story.”
Content that Connects
Content is all about reaching, engaging, and influencing prospects, but it’s not just about any content. Prospects are overwhelmed by low quality content that doesn’t delivery on its promise, or even serves any recognizable need. What they need, and want, is content that is deeply relevant and provides actual value (in the form of education, resources, solutions, and/or entertainment).
Today’s buyer is savvier and more demanding. They expect more. If you don’t provide content they can use, they’ll go somewhere else.
Just to stay on the buyer’s radar, content must be current, frequent and consistent. To earn trust, that content had better be worth consuming. Each piece published must demonstrate expertise, though leadership and/or provide a solution to a specific problem.
Why You Need Content That Connects
Let’s look at ONE MINUTE of content activity.
This is where you’re trying to grab attention, where you’re trying to stand out enough for a customer to come back.
What Makes Content Great
The best business content tells a story: the reader becomes more engaged, more invested, and more likely to take action.
- True – Good writing is about telling the truth. The content should feature real people, real situations, genuine emotions, and facts. As much as possible, it should show, not tell. It should show products and solutions as they exist in the real world, and how they add value to customers (ease troubles, or meet their needs)
- Relevant – What’s the purpose of your content? What is its key message? Why are you telling it and what do you hope to accomplish? Try to express the gist of a piece of content in a single sentence. This will help focus on what it’s about, and what the reader will take away from it.
- Human – Good content must have a human element to it. Because your readers are people, which means they’ll relate better if you’re on their level.
- Passionate – You have to care! If you don’t care about what you’re writing, neither will your audience.
- Original – Content should give new and fresh perspectives on our topic. What’s new about it? Why is it important?
- Surprising – Good stories have an element of the unexpected. Arouse curiosity and surprise your readers. This also drives viral sharing and enhances a company’s personality.
Simplified Content Marketing Funnel
I’m not a fan of referring to “funnels”, but it is a simplified way of explaining where your buyers are in their journey. Prospects will generally fall into one of three basic stages.
- Awareness – All of the people in your industry that you can possibly talk to. They don’t know who you are, or what you offer, and they don’t care, yet. This is where you grab their attention. Show them who you are and what you can do.
- Evaluation – Yay! You’ve got their attention. You want to be included in the vendors they are considering. Statistically 67% of a buyer’s journey is done digitally, 57% of purchase decisions are made BEFORE a customer even calls a supplier, and 9/10 online buyers say content influences their decision (The Marketing Blender/)
- Conversion – You not only have their attention, but they’re buying from you.
Remember, like any funnel, there’s an open end at the bottom where your customers go back out there. Don’t forget to nurture their needs so they don’t go to someone else who will meet their new needs.
Content Marketing Matrix
There are different ways to use content in the “funnel” from Awareness to Conversion, so that potential customers don’t get bored and still want to learn more.
Entertain, Inspire, Educate and then Convince. The buyers are people. It’s easy to forget that the person reading our marketing content is really a person. People like pictures and videos, and when they want to know more to make a decision, something a little more educational with facts and data.
First 10 and Smart Insights have created a matrix to show the different types of content, and how they can be used:
Seems a little overwhelming to create all those types of content? Are you freaking out? No need!
From one piece of good content, you can create more! Like this, from TopRank Marketing. Just as an example, if you have an eBook or a white paper, you can create short form blog posts, newsletters or articles, and from there you can create infographics, or social posts.
Approaches to Content Development
What can you talk about when you’re at a loss for something to say?
- Chat with customers, or your customer service team
- Interview luminaries
- Share real-time photos
- Monitor search and social media keywords
- Industry news
- Go behind the scenes
- Go to an event
- Create “how-to” content, best practices or productivity tips
- Dig in the archives, update old content
- Invite guest posts
- Check out the competition
- Create a regular content series (themed series)
- Start a meme
- Offer your two cents (reviews), channel your inner teenager (debate, rant), get inspired by your own passions
- Curate other people’s content
Great. So now you have oodles of content. What do you do with it? How often? This is also called a Channel Plan.
There are three types of channels:
- Owned Media
At the very minimum you probably own a company website. This is the home for all of your content, on landing pages, in a Resource section, News or Blog.
You can drive organic traffic to the website with things like Email Marketing, Social Media and Paid Distribution.
- Social Media
This is media that isn’t owned, but you can “borrow” it to put our content here. You put micro-content here, and link back to our website. As a strategy, a social media presence is crucial. 55% of buyers are looking for information on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and others. When 84% of CEOs and VPs are using social media to direct them towards purchasing decisions, you need to be active and engage in social conversations. (webbiquity.com)
- Paid Distribution
This is exactly what it sounds like. Anywhere a company has to pay to put their content. ie. Google Adwords, promoted Tweets, LinkedIn solutions, or even the advertising video you see before a movie on a plane.
A publishing schedule, also called an editorial calendar, is the second part of your distribution plan. This will help give content consistency and make it easier to manage.
The suggested model is “1-7-30-4-2-1”, but it can be modified to suit your own needs, ambitions, and of course available resources. Check out the original guest post by Russell Sparkman of Fusionspark Media on the CMI blog.
Now you know what content marketing is, where to get ideas, and how to get it out there. You’re all set!