While seasoned marketers and Internet writers have been hearing about content marketing for years, for many small business owners and managers, the phrase may sound new and intimidating. Five years ago, the Content Marketing Institute released a post describing the differences between content marketing and its younger, closer cousin, inbound marketing.
Both rely on bringing customers to your business, but content marketing, as they wrote in their post, is the “practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through brand evangelism.”
To be successful, though, it’s important to note that content marketing is more than just publishing a few blogs and social media posts. It’s vital to incorporate certain strategies to make sure that your time and resources are being effectively channeled into outcome-producing activity and generating results that help your business grow.
Fail to Prepare — Prepare to Fail
Forbes notes that 88 percent of B2B marketers will be using content marketing in their strategies this year — but that only 32 percent of them actually have a content marketing strategy.
Before you dive head-first into the world of content marketing, decide upon certain goals and benchmarks you want to accomplish. If you’re looking to increase your brand awareness, you’ll take different steps than if you wanted to create a more engaged audience. The same goes for generating sales leads and converting your sales leads into actual customers.
Decide what you want to do first, and you’ll see a greater return.
Defining Your Audience
While many people say that content is king, the king needs subjects; in the case on content marketing, these subjects are your audience members. Just as a king can’t rule over someone from different kingdom, your content should be tailored to your brand’s audience members, giving them the information and education they need to increase their attachment and loyalty to your brand.
Develop an avatar, or picture, that maps out the demographics of your target audience, and make sure to focus your content on that person.
Select a Content Creator
Once you’ve identified your target audience, and how you want to reach them, you’re ready to begin developing content. While many companies will turn to their sales and marketing departments, it’s important to consider the skills needed in content marketing. Creators must be able to write, and write well under pressure. They should be able to find a story in any situation, and must be able to relate to your customers. Content marketers are planners, researchers and analysts who can visualize networks and create both compelling copy and graphics.
Many times, former journalists and copywriters make some of the best content marketers, but there are many free copywriting courses that can help you hone your skills. With all of the new changes to marketing, many companies are finding success in outsourcing their marketing.
Select the Right Social Media Platform
Going back to your target audience can help you define the best social media platform for your content. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the biggest three players, and each has a different, very specific user demographic and content marketing plan of attack. New players in the content media market, like Pinterest and Snapchat, have also made waves, and again, have a very narrow user scope and need a very targeted approach.
Choose the social media platform that will reach the largest number of your target audience members to get the best results.
Stand Out in the Crowd
With content marketing’s long history, recognizing that this is a growing field can help set you apart from others using similar strategies, including your competitors. Your content should be valuable and strive to improve your customers’ lives by giving them a more in-depth education or look at the company, a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what goes on in your business, and one-of-a-kind content that will be shared and, ideally, acted upon.
Provide Clear Calls to Action
If your content doesn’t include a call to action, your customers won’t know what action to take. Make sure that each piece of content is leading toward a direct action, and inspire and motivate your customers to take that action, whether it’s calling your company for a consultation, sharing a social media post, or, ultimately, purchasing a product or service.
Analyze Your Results
Regularly monitoring your results can help you direct your next steps and your future campaigns. Look to see what actions were taken as a result of your piece, study the times and demographics of people who those action, and start shaping your next pieces to fit the need being expressed and shown by your target audience. As you develop and hone strategy, you’ll begin to learn more about your customers’ needs. As a result, you’ll start to see your results grow exponentially.
If you’re ready to take the next steps toward bringing content marketing to your company, we’re here to help. Contact us for a free consultation and learn how to get started.