Content marketing is the process of creating and delivering valuable content to your target customers. While the essential ingredient is, of course, content, the recipe only works when a bond forms between your brand and customer. Because in a connected world, the disconnected are doomed.
End of story? Yes, but it's the starting point for this one.
Magnetism: may the force be with you.
Dig into a book or paper about content marketing and you're bound to come across a metaphor about magnetism. Two reasons:
1) Magnetism is the force of attraction (or repulsion). Your website is your company's marketing HQ now, so it needs this force. It must act as a magnet with the power to pull visitors in. In a world gone electronic, pull trumps push marketing by an electromagnetic mile.
2) Magnetic content not only attracts visitors, but engages them such that they stick around, click around, and invest time there. The idea is to establish trust and make an emotional connection, the kind that inspires visitors to introduce themselves, subscribe, come back for more, share and talk about your content, interact, qualify themselves, make a purchase-or all of the above.
Ultimately, your ability to create content marketing magnets translates to sales.
Let's take a look now at how to create seriously strong content marketing magnets.
This isn't the list you're used to, that is, the media plays. Yes, you want to understand your various media plays and for a thorough roundup of them, I suggest the e-book "Content Marketing Playbook 2011 - 42 Ways to Connect with Customers," from the Content Marketing Institute. However, the media plays in and of themselves aren't magnetic.
The magnetic pull of your content is about the content.
Perhaps what I just wrote sounds like calling the sun bright, but I am trying to make a point. You see, "content" is an awfully generic word, kind of like "copy" or "picture" or "page." Sure, these are the things we put on our websites, but they're not the things anyone's attracted to.
Here are 21 things I believe billions of web-browsers are attracted to:
- Demonstrations-Can you show what it is you're trying to say? Do it. Since the dawn of marketing, demonstrations have demonstrated to have massive magnetic power.
- Comparisons-Windows, Mac; Venus, Mars; men, women; apples, oranges-comparisons give us context. Us humans long for context, so bring it when you can.
- Mistakes-As magnets go, nothing pulls quite like telling someone what they're doing wrong. If you know the moves and maneuvers that lead to failure, offer 'em up and expect the bugs to come a buzzing like flies on you-know-what.
- Interviews-Hey, know someone who knows what they're talking about? Get 'em to talk and people will line up to listen.
- Instructions-How to (blank). Fill in that blank. Everyone responds to instructions, even leaders.
- Stories-Once upon a time some character met some other character. They overcame a conflict and lived happily ever. You love that story. I do too. Everyone does.
- Examples-There's no denying the court of public opinion values evidence. If you have some, take the stand and present it. Reveal stuff that actually happened, for example.
- Stupid truths- People love this stuff. "It ain't over till it's over" and all those ironic truisms Yogi Berra spouted get a rise out of people, however obvious they may be.
- Exposés-We all love rolling around in the shit, so go ahead and expose the pigs.
- Threats-Know what? If you know something that poses a serious threat to something, something tells me you're onto something people will be drawn to.
- Findings-If you did the homework for someone or you somehow managed to stumble upon the answers to, er, anything, you'll find sharing what you found will find a good size audience.
- Confessions-Hmm, 12 suggestions into my list and I'm feeling a little opportunistic, dirty even. But I must confess, we all harbor a hidden desire to hear what priests get to hear.
- Scores-If you have the credibility to call the score, call it my friend. Us humans really want to know who won, who lost, or if the game's still being played, what the score is.
- Reasons-Why does this cause that? You have no idea what I'm talking about and still you're dying to hear me give you the reasons. It's reasonable to conclude we want reasons.
- Humor-Laughter is such powerful medicine. If you have something funny to share, it'd be tragic not to try tickling some funny bones.
- Applications-There might be 100 things you can do with a toilet paper roll. You can really fascinate an audience by detailing how to apply something that seems so ordinary in different ways.
- Quotes-People relish what other people have said. You can quote me on that.
- Opinions-Insiders, outsiders, experts, novices... Everyone has an opinion and everyone has an opinion about someone else's opinion. Valid or not, it's divine to opine.
- Lessons-The guide, primer, 101, cliff notes, need-to-knows... Any form of "how to" is magically magnetic.
- News-Old news: everyone needs to know what's new.
- Lists-What author in his right mind would write an article called "21 Seriously Strong Content Marketing Magnets" and leave lists off of such a list? People love lists and good ones keep you hooked until to the end.