As consumers take the task of educating themselves on products and services upon themselves, the value of traditional marketing has declined. Content marketing is a great way for marketers to provide customers and prospects with valuable information in exchange for winning not only their business, but also their loyalty.
Content marketing requires an ongoing commitment, an understanding of your buyers and prospects, market segmentation and the use of insightful content to move customers through the purchase funnel.
Before you embark upon the rather daunting task of creating a plan for attacking this exciting form of marketing, let’s review a few of the “you shall” and “you shall not’s” of content marketing.
You shall not pitch products. This is rule No. 1 of content marketing. Buyers are wise to blatant product pitches and will automatically disregard anything you are trying to communicate with them if it’s proceeded by any type of product endorsement, which will damage your reputation and brand.
You shall know your buyer. Where do your buyers and prospects “live” when online? Are they on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Digg? What types of content are they most interested in seeing (blogs, ebooks, videos or podcasts)? To find the answers to these questions, take the time to prepare a buyer persona.
You shall think like an industry thought leader. Producing smart content that separates your brand from its competitors will engage prospects, educate them and help them move through the sales funnel. It helps to enlist the support of in-house experts who can share their expertise, insights and credibility.
You shall not try and do it by yourself. Content marketing requires the careful coordination of an entire team to handle the required writing, production, design and promotion. If you do not have the resources available to you in-house, enlist the help of an outside service or freelance professionals.
You shall think about how your content will get found. Creating engaging, educational content is a great start, but if readers can’t find it, you’ve failed. Cross-promote your content in relevant communities such as Slideshare, establish a keyword list, ask influencers to share your content and send emails that include forward-to-friend functionality.
You shall devise a strategy first. Before launching a content marketing plan, be sure to set clear objectives for the program and determine how to measure whether they were obtained after the fact to determine the program’s effectiveness and make necessary adjustments moving forward.
You shall not forget about marketing and promotion. Creating great content is just step one. It must be distributed and marketed properly and organized and presented on your site in a manner that allows visitors to easily find it in order to gain traction.
You shall repurpose content. The amount of fresh content and the frequency at which it must be created can easily overwhelm first-time content marketers. Don’t forget simply repurposing content is a great way to maximize the value of content you already have.
You shall not work without an editorial calendar. Good content marketing requires research, thought and a long-term plan that all must be documented in an editorial calendar. Be sure and assign specific people to specific tasks along with deadlines. Doing so without is like flying blind.
You shall be consistent. If you think writing one blog or publishing an article is all that’s needed, think again. Deploying a content marketing strategy is all about building momentum and that requires a long-term commitment by everyone on your team. If content isn’t relevant and fresh, visitors will stop coming to your site and your campaign’s effectiveness will fall flat.
Content marketing can help you forge new relationships with your current customers, reach out to prospective customers and strengthen your brand’s reputation. It requires, however, a carefully thought out plan and the ongoing efforts of the entire team to not only craft the messaging but to promote it and present it in a way that’s appealing to make sure it hits its target.
Can you think of more content commandments? Share them in the comments below.
Barb Schmitz is professional writer with over 20 years of experience writing for B2B and B2C publications and web sites. She served as an editor on Computer-Aided Engineering magazine for over 10 years before starting her own PR/freelance writing business in 2000. Her expertise includes interviewing, researching and writing whitepapers, blogs, e-books, case studies, and feature articles.