Once a novelty niche in the marketing arena, content marketing is now its own branding powerhouse. If you have been put in charge of creating content for marketing your products and services, you already know how important marketing is to create sales and profits for your organization. What makes content marketing different from traditional marketing strategies? It lies in the way information is delivered and how directly or indirectly it aims at its targets.
What exactly is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience…”
There are three key reasons for companies to use content marketing:
- Increased sales
- Cost savings
- Better customers who have more loyalty
Content marketing builds brand value by delivering valuable information that is not directly about the brand itself. By becoming an acknowledged source or expert for information, companies can create transparency and foster deeper connections with consumers that go far beyond goods and services.
However, while content marketing is a force in its own right, it is important to remember content marketing is not completely separate from your company’s overall marketing strategies.
It creates specialized content that can be used on different platforms including:
- Social media marketing
- SEO – Search Engine Optimization
- Public Relations strategies
- PPC – Pay-per-Click, such as search engine advertising
- Inbound marketing
- Content strategy
Before you can use content marketing as an effective tool to drive profits, first you must develop a content marketing strategy.
Here are seven easy steps to develop or revamp your content marketing plan:
- Determine the objectives of your content marketing plan. Ask yourself why you need this and what you expect your outcomes to be.
- What makes your plan unique? What will set you apart from the competition?
- Use metrics based on your objectives. Measure what you have defined as the reason for your content marketing plan.
- Define your target audience. Keep in mind what you think is not necessarily what your audience will think.
- Research your targets. You can use social media, search engines, conversations with customers, feedback, surveys and input from coworkers to create relevant content.
- Use your target personas to understand how, when and where your audience uses information. Create a flexible strategy that changes daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly.
- Amplify your content using social media. Customers help by sending your content to others to boost your online presence.
With a content marketing plan in place, what are some of the do’s and don’ts that can enhance the plan or stop it in its tracks?
Let’s start with the Do’s:
- Focus on Why, Who, What, Where, When and How. Start with why. Why are you doing this? Is it to establish a brand? Improve customer service? Get data for market research? Once you understand your reasons, you can move on to determining your target audience and what they need. Remember, the content should serve not only your customers, but also your company.
- Keep things interesting. Boring content that doesn’t invite engagement or feedback will soon be ignored.
- Find your target audience. Tailoring content for this group will keep you from trying to be all things to all people.
- Be original. Find ways to bring your products or services to your target audience in new and innovative ways using a different style and fresh ideas.
- Keep content short and interesting. Use bullets, lists and ideas to give instant gratification.
Now let’s look at the Don’ts:
- Try to sell your product with a hard approach. The overt purpose of content marketing is to provide interesting and thought-provoking material that is possibly adjacent to your product or services but not directly related, so customers will want to know more about your product and seek you out.
- Promote advertisements about your company.
- Be a copycat. Look for new ideas and try them out.
- Focus solely on your company. You can relate articles or blogs to your company indirectly but use intriguing materials to bring the customers to you.
- Use complex, difficult to use social media and websites.
Being in charge of content marketing is not an easy job in an increasingly competitive technological landscape where every entity is crying out for the consumer’s attention. Relying solely on technology or imitation will not bring you the results you want. The bottom line is to focus on your customers and addressing their informational needs beyond your specific product or services in an innovative way to bring them to you again and again.