There’s a line that Bill Gates used, nearly 20 years ago, that comes up again and again whenever people talk about content marketing. You’ve heard it before and I’m not going to wheel it out here. If that’s not clear enough, just think about content and royalty. That phrase is more true today than it’s ever been and, if such a thing were possible, it’d be getting truer.
The thing is, while content itself holds a certain amount of sway, that doesn’t mean content alone is enough to be successful. ‘Yeah’, I hear you tut, ‘the content has to be good.’ That’s true but it’s not what I mean. Great content isn’t really the trick in content marketing. Mediocre content can get by on a good strategy; and mediocre strategy can get by on great content.
Strategy Vs Quality Vs…
In fact, mediocre content can get by on a largely mediocre strategy, as long as one facet hits the right notes. Typically, that one facet is the one that gets the least coverage when we talk about the vital components of successful content marketing.
The key factors discussed are always the same: -
Quality of content: A vague catchall term covering relevance, readability, importance, facts, grammar and anything else that separates ‘bad’ content from ‘good’.
Keywords: Are you using the right keywords? In the right places?
Topics: You’re advised to cover relevant topics that have a clear relationship to your brand identity and product set.
Strategy: Share in the right places, to the right people, in the right way.
Each of these factors is important. The very best content marketing strategies excel in all of these areas. However, it is possible to excel in each of these and still miss the real skill of content marketing. That skill is in understanding how much to give away, and how much to ask for in return. That’s where the greatest content marketing campaigns really get it right.
What Is Content Marketing, Really?
By way of explanation, let’s take a really simplified view on the ideal content marketing campaign. At its core content marketing is about giving away a little bit of your business, for nothing. Then giving away a little more for a token. Then offering a little more for a little more, and so on until your reader becomes a client.
You offer a tweet that provides value, for nothing. That tweet encourages someone to look at your bio or your website where they are offered further blog content in exchange for a visit. That blog then provides a little more valuable info, with the offer of even further depth within the site or via downloadable content, all in exchange for further exploration of your online presence. Within that process, you offer an eBook or whitepaper in exchange for an email address and you follow that up by encouraging the reader to subscribe to updates. That subscription will lead to a wealth of content.
All the while you’re demonstrating the knowledge and value you have to offer and giving away a little more of that as users go along. However, you continue to hold something back. The vital ingredient that makes you great at your business stays in reserve and forms the ongoing offer that’s available throughout. When the reader becomes a client, they get the whole lot.
The whole strategy is based on whetting the appetite, fulfilling your promise and leaving the user wanting more at every step. The skill of great content marketing is in measuring how much you give away, and how much you hold back. Finding that balance will draw potential clients in, push them towards a purchase and prove that content really is, ahem, regal.