Content marketing is the new buzz that marketers and businesses are flocking to address the dramatic changes that have taken place in how to promote a product or service on the Internet. The idea is simple: Consistently create, publish and broadcast content that your prospects will find engaging and valuable (That’s easy, right?)
With so much noise about this transformation underway and how to address it, I share these insights from the 2011 Content Marketing Conference which I recently attended in Berkeley.
When it comes to your content, forget the chest pounding and hard sell. If you think people are interested in you or your needs, it’s time to revisit your thinking. Today, more than ever, it’s about WIIFM (What’s in it for me!). So you better frame your content around the benefits and the value that you’re going to deliver to your prospect or customer.
As Joe Pulizzi of Junta42reminds us, successful Content Marketing falls into 2 basic categories. A. Content that is relevant, informative and educational B. Content that shows prospects a good time through entertainment So, if you want to be noticed, shared, remembered or acted upon, decide how to approach content creation with these two categories in mind. It will help keep you on track and hopefully deliver better results.
If you’re going to create content that others will share or engage with, it better be relevant to your prospects. And relevance is determined if content addresses an issue or pain point that your prospect is dealing with and would like to mitigate or overcome. If you’re unsure or unclear on what your target customer’s pain points are, get some input and gain some insights by creating a survey, create listening posts on your stream, setting up Google Alerts or actually doing field research with interviews and a structured questionnaire.
This is so obvious, yet it’s amazing how frequently it’s overlooked by so many. It gets to the heart of direct marketing and the essential techniques for furthering the selling cycle of a product or service. For every post or content asset that you create, be sure to integrate a CALL TO ACTIONto guide the prospect or customer to what you would like them to do next.
It’s time to change the Marketing Department from the message and logo police to continuous producers of content. And as anyone in these positions knows, that is so much easier said than done. Letting go of the old and moving to new technologies and media that meet the needs of customers may involve new cultural, skill-set, and thinking techniques that are not necessarily aligned with the current competencies in many organizations. But like all change, some will find it painful and others liberating as marketing continues to transform like never before.
Come from and be clear on what you stand for and what makes your brand different. The best way do that is to do the rigorous work of defining a value proposition that is meaningful, relevant and supportable by what you offer. Ensure that this proposition considers a personality that is unique to you and reflects what inspires others to turn to you for a solution.
Continuously creating and broadcasting content is a formidable task. So start by breaking it down into manageable activities and parts. For example, create a CALENDAR that organizes all of your content creation activities into subject matter, media, and resources responsible for execution. And always consider how to leverage your investment in a piece of content to get additional reach and pass along by taking one piece of content and turning it into many. For example, your blog interview could turn into an ebook, a SlideShare presentation or a series of short topic posts and even a podcast.
With all of content that is being produced at a mind boggling pace, there is one component that has a higher value above all others. It’s QUALITY—and it consists of the subtleties of story telling, language, design, nuance, timing, editing, coloration and visual impact that can turn the ordinary into extraordinary. When in doubt, invest in the effort to make it great because you increase the opportunity to extend the reach of your content through others who will share it with their communities.
Collaborate with your sales force and align your efforts with theirs to ensure that the content that you are investing in furthers a defined and predictable selling cycle that has the goal of turning prospects into customers. Do a competitor test and evaluate what your competition is doing that is effective, memorable and worth considering for your brand.
Do it! Do it! Do it! as Peter Caputa from HubSpot likes to say. Getting it done is more important than thinking about it. Study after study is now recognizing that consistency and frequency of creation, distribution and optimization of content is the single best practice that drives traffic, promotes conversion and fosters engagement with your audience.
So what techniques and methods have you found that are delivering the best results? Please share them with us so that we can include them in our checklist.