by Kiersten Bagley
Content marketing sounds like an easy enough thing to do. Put words on (figurative) paper, hit publish and slap a link on Twitter or Facebook, or something. Easy, right? Well, let’s take a closer look.
What exactly is content marketing? Content marketing is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable and engaging content to a target audience with the goal of acquiring new customers and/or increasing business from existing customers. So, it’s like advertising? Nay. Content marketing is not all you-you-you. It’s about providing valuable information in order to make your customers’ jobs easier and their lives better. It’s not a sales pitch. We should all be here to help, not hype.
Numerous times, organizations have come to me with ‘quality articles’ to post to their website. Really, they’re centered on their business, products and how their service is the best of the best. That’s not helpful; why should users take your word for it that you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread? You want them to come to that conclusion on their own. So, you offer them the unbiased (even if it is your opinion, try to stay balanced), helpful information that they came to your website for.
- Client: craft store; topic: “three basic tips to get started knitting”
- Client: bank; topic: “how to prepare and save for the holidays”
- Client: nonprofit animal-related organization; topic: “how to keep outdoor pets warm in winter months”
- Client: digital agency that aims to excel at content marketing; topic: “what is content marketing and how are you doing it wrong?”
Who should market content? You should market content. There should be experts in the field of which you work, or at least those willing to put in the effort to get on the path to become one. It’s the challenge and opportunity of the modern marketer to not be part of the “noise” and actually serve as a source of value for the user. With successful content marketing, you are able to help them by serving as an informative resource, assisting in solving the problems they are seeking an answer for. When you establish a mutually beneficial relationship based on the offering of expertise, users are more likely to come to you (and trust you) the next time they are searching for something within your industry, be it a service or physical product.
Specialized or largely technical industry? Even better. Users in those specific, technical industries may be hard pressed to find a wealth of content that suits their needs; this is about knowing your target audience and this is where your valuable content comes in. The narrow market makes it even easier to be found.
What’s next? We’re driven by processes at Speak, so we may sound like a broken record when we say: develop a strategic plan. Research your audience(s) and their behaviors. Then, roughly:
- Ask the questions that users who you would like to see visit your website may ask.
- Formulate an editorial calendar of sorts for a period of time (at least a quarter) that aligns with holidays, relevant milestones/deadlines and keywords.
- Take that expertise and craft a meaningful post (250 words is plenty) with a case for something, suggestions, tips, how-to’s or other valuable information. Make sure your content and headline includes the keywords your targeted users are searching for, otherwise your awesome content may fall to (gasp!) page three of Google (noooo!).
- Strategically share that post on the right social channels the right way. Again, not too sales-y and reach your users where they are (again, research and aforementioned plan).
Best of luck to you and your content creation in the new year.