What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is consistently creating something of real value, and then distributing it to places where your ideal customer is already searching for it.
You are not asking the customer directly to buy your product or service, but giving them something useful that establishes you as an expert and builds rapport with them. This should underpin your entire content strategy.
- Presents you as a thought leader in your industry
- Builds trust in the mind of potential customers
- Allows you to pre-sell customers and educate them so they are more likely to purchase when they reach your website or sales page
- Generates a feeling of reciprocity in readers towards you and your company, making them want to purchase from you for the great information you have given them.
- Gets shared on social and business networks
Types of content
Choose the most appropriate type of content for your business. Also consider repurposing any current content you have in to different formats.
Articles relevant to your industry or problems that your users are trying to solve. They can be anywhere from 200 to 3000 words in length depending on the audience.
Many users prefer to listen to articles or recorded interviews while exercising or commuting. Usually presented as an online radio show, users are able to download episodes from iTunes, other services like Stitcher Radio
Videos can be created and shared on the major video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Self-hosting videos on your own server uses a lot of server resources and it is easier to host on 3rd party sites and then embed the video into your own site. This also ensures users are served the video from the closest server to their location making playback smoother and a better impression overall.
Case studies outline the problems your client faced, and the story of how you were able to help overcome these to grow their business. These are great for people in the research phase looking to solve similar challenges.
PowerPoint slides can be uploaded to Slideshare and also embedded in your site.
Step by Step Tutorials
Another example of how to add value and be seen as an expert in your industry. Great for lead generation when users see that it may be easier just to hire you to get the job done.
Infographics take boring statistics and turn them in to something visually appealing that is easier to understand. These are then easily shared on social networks like Pinterest, Linkedin, Facebook and others depending on your target audience.
You may be able to build a workflow that maximises the time spent producing content. E.g. Produce an instructional video -> Use the transcript as a blog post -> Use any slides from the video as a slide presentation with or without audio. All this content can be shared in different formats to maximise exposure.
Creating a Content Marketing Plan
Before you charge ahead and start creating content, it is important to start with a plan that creates a foundation for your future content marketing efforts.
Your plan should be:
- Help you make decisions about the content you create
This can be mapped out in an Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc to make it easy to collaborate with co-workers.
Like creating most things of value, start with the end in mind. Defining why you are creating content and what you’re trying to achieve helps your articles stay focused and increases its value to readers.
- What are you trying to achieve
o Generate leads: build a list of prospects ready for follow up
o Presell your products and services to make it easier for you sales team
o General Marketing: Generate Product interest
o Public Relations: Use PR to build your brand recognition
o Engagement: Interact with potential customers and create fans of the brand
o Thought Leadership: Build authority in your industry and your customers minds
- Set Specific Goals
o List your Specific business goals in your plan
o List how each goal will grow your business
o Measure the results against a benchmark
o Review your results against the benchmark quarterly
Define Your Target Audience
You need to clearly define your target audience so you know where to reach them, and the type of content they are most likely to want and respond to.
One of the best ways to do this is to create a Persona, or an example person of your ideal customer.
The idea is that when you write your content, you will have this fictitious person as your focus and will be writing specifically for them.
You can get a lot of these details by checking your websites analytics and looking at the current demographics of people visiting your site. Validate these with face to face interviews or surveys you have done with you ideal clients.
You want your Personas to be as specific as possible, so it is helpful to list:
- Profile Picture
- Household Income
- Marital Status
- Location (state, city, type)
- Challenges & problems they experience
- Language or jargon used
- What do they read?
- What websites do they frequent?
Create an Editorial Calendar
Now that you know what your business objectives are and the types of content you will create, you need to decide on the following:
- How long will it take for you to produce each piece of content?
- Frequency of posting for each content type
- Length of posts / articles or videos
- Review and approval process
Map out the due dates each piece of content and add them to an online calendar so editors and writers have access.
You now have a good understanding of what content marketing is, and the types of content you can produce in a timely manner. We have identified your business objectives and goals, and the specific people you will target. Lastly you have scheduled your content delivery in an Editorial Calendar accessible by all the relevant team members.
You are now ready to produce engaging and useful content that builds your brand and authority with readers.