So, what is content marketing? The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as: ‘…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action’.
However, I prefer the following two definitions of what content marketing is about and what it delivers:
Andrew Davis, marketing speaker and bestselling author:
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
“Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm and ideas about how to solve that problem.”
Depending on your sector, it might seem that everyone is putting out content, but are they doing it effectively? Here are 8 tips for getting started on and / or improving your content marketing:
- Align your content with your personal brand or organisational goals – You should consider what you are trying to accomplish and how this fits in with your goals. Knowing your goals helps you to pre-determine your content marketing plan. Your goals should be measurable and have a date by which they should be accomplished i.e. Increase followers on Instagram by 30% by 31 December 2020 or build your list to XXXX by March 2021.
- Know your audience – Have a clear idea of who you’re talking to and create key customer profiles or avatars. These profiles should include age, gender, location, benefits/pain points, what they read, what social channels they use etc. Give your avatars a name and make them real people with specific wants and needs. The more detailed and personal you make the profile, the easier you will find it to create content that will appeal to these people. It will also ensure that you’re targeting the right people with the right message in the right format.
- Define and develop your key messages – Consider what your audience want/need to hear? Be clear on what makes you and your product or service unique in the marketplace, what you stand for and against as well as what you need to achieve the goals you have set. In terms of quantity, consider including one to three headline messages, with sub-points for more detail.
- Know your content marketing strategy and pull together your content – Content marketing strategies fall into three categories: long-form, short-form and conversations. Long-form is anything that is longer than a Tweet (2-3 sentences) and could be a whitepaper, blog post etc. Short-form includes social media updates and graphics. Conversations and sharing includes participating in and driving conversations through blog commenting, link sharing and comments on videos. You can use one type or all three is better. The next step is to develop the content you are going to use. It needs to be unique and different. Include your key messages into the content without purely pushing your product. Content can be evergreen or topical. Evergreen content can be used at any point in time as it’s always relevant, whereas topical content could be news jacking – i.e. piggybacking on an article in the press or something that is happening in the wider world relevant to you and your business.
- Create a content planner – Developing a plan is key, but it should be flexible to allow for all eventualities. The plan should include strategies, specific tactics, suggested headlines, content deadlines and who’s responsible for what. It might also include themes, you could have a day for case studies, a day for product benefits, a day for newsjacking etc. This allows you to plan your content in advance.
- Establish Relationships – Next, you need to get out there and start building relationships with your potential prospects. You can do this by joining existing communities and commenting and sharing their content initially, whilst you start building your own groups across the social media platforms you plan to utilise. Remember: you are there to add value not just promote yourself and your business – as a rough gauge, we’d suggest you follow Pareto’s principle and have 20% self-curated content and 80% commenting and sharing others in your niche.
- Spread the Word – Search engine optimisation (SEO) can help if you know your stuff. For example, any tags you’re adding to your blog posts should be used to generate traffic, as this helps you to be found i.e. consider what words your target audience would be searching for is. Are they location-based or subject-based i.e. plumbers in Enfield, mortgage brokers for commercial property in Liverpool?
- Measure Effectiveness and Review – Measuring the effectiveness of your content, will ensure that you stay on top of your plan and will determine if it needs to be altered, or whether it’s delivering the results you are looking for. Measurement can include, page views, retweets, likes, shares etc. Review what is and isn’t working and adjust your content planner accordingly.
The truth is anyone can be successful at content marketing if they know their message, market and channel. The key thing is to be consistent, it’s better to post regularly and less frequently than five times one week and then nothing for a month. You can now be your own publishing house and all you need is time and a little know-how to be successful.