You do. Seriously.
For many companies, content marketing has become the link between brand awareness and lead generation. If you can nail it, you’ll build trust with future and current customers. In fact, according to recent studies, search queries for “content strategy” has more than doubled in the past two years. It’s becoming its own medium. It can seem daunting, but with careful planning, a focused strategy, and precise execution, content strategy can work for you.
Wow. Okay, so how do we even begin?
The first thing you need to do when considering a content strategy is to get support from your stakeholders. Content marketing is not something that is short-term. It’s a long-term commitment and requires everyone to be on board and supportive to the point of involvement sometimes.
Having everyone on board means you’ll have to sell the idea to your executive team as well as other people with key roles in your company. When you talk to these people, make it about them, not about the content strategy. Talk about the company’s goals and then prove how content strategy and marketing can help meet those goals. There is a return on investment when it comes to content, but that return is not instant. This exercise is about building a relationship. Like all relationships, that takes time. Make sure you manage those expectations when pitching your content marketing plan.
They’re on board. Now what?
To be successful, you must understand your audience. All content needs to be relevant to their needs and what they want from you. To figure this out, figure out who your customer is. Ask questions like
- Who is our ideal customer?
- How do they make purchasing decisions?
- What makes them happy?
- What are their pain points?
- What areas of their life can we speak into as experts?
Answering these questions will allow you to build a picture of the person to whom you are talking. Once you have that person, give him or her a name. Make it personal.
Gotcha. Did it. What’s next?
Great. So far, so good. Time to figure out what content to create.
Now is the time for research. To create content that will be most relevant to your customer, you need to know what’s out there already — and identify holes that you can fill with your information. Some ways to do that include:
- Looking at social media channels with listening tools (a variety of which are free) to figure out what people are talking about, meaning what conversations are already happening around your area of expertise.
- Take a look at your website analytics and see what brings people to you in the first place.
- Look at the industry as a whole and find new trends and relevant things. Be a thought-leader.
- Yes, just ask your customers what they want to know more about, what they care about, and what they want you to teach them.
Remember: It’s not all about you. When it comes to actually creating the content, it’s about making things your customers want. Is this a video about financial planning? Is it a case study about the current things happening in the market and how they should react?
This fact brings us to the next most important point: make sure your content is cross-channel and cross-media. Oh, and don’t just create content, curate it. Tons of information exists already and can be re-purposed and reshaped to meet the needs of your customers. Plus, finding existing content just shows that you’re out there looking and not stuck inside your brain (or boardroom).
We have lots of great stuff gathered. What do we do with it?
Plan, plan. And then plan. Think of content marketing sort of like writing a magazine. Each “issue” or month must be carefully planned out. Put together an editorial calendar to map out topics and methods of capturing them. This approach is good for overall content campaign strategy, and also a tool to show the executive board that willingly (or reluctantly) agreed to let you begin marketing this way in the first place. Let them in on this process. Let them approve the calendar before a single piece of content gets produced. Then there are no surprises for them, and you can go off to the races. The race to create the most relevant pieces of content for growing your customer loyalty — and your customer base.