Content marketing is changing the way we do business—in how we engage our customers and position our brands in the digital space. According to a study by Roper Public Affairs, 70% of respondents said content marketing helps them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60% said that company content helps them make better product decisions. Whether generating leads, supporting sales efforts, or improving search engine visibility, content strategy plays an increasingly important role in successful marketing programs.
Following are five tips that will help you develop a stronger content marketing strategy:
Start with strategy, not tactics
This may seem like common sense, but many well-intentioned marketers jump into tactics before developing a focused content strategy. Content marketing is just one component of a larger integrated marketing program. First, you need to understand the audience and what motivates them. Next is message development, which informs what tactics and channels will best engage your audience. Finally, remember to include measurement.
Your content marketing program should leverage your core go-to-market strategy, orchestrating scenarios that drive awareness and move quality prospects through the sales funnel. Regardless of the tactics employed, stay disciplined.
Don’t overlook internal opportunities
Once you’ve established a solid content strategy it’s time to start filling the pipeline. Certainly, you will leverage your thought leaders, but there are hidden gems throughout your organization. Consider the perspectives of your sales team and customer service representatives. They’re engaged in dialog with your target audience everyday and can share insights that are meaningful to your customers. Also consider your company’s internal education sessions. Do you bring in outside vendors to educate your staff? Do you hold Lunch & Learns to share the latest industry trends with your employees? Would your customers and prospects benefit from this information, as well? Sometimes great content is in hiding in plain sight. You just need to find it and use it.
With a solid content strategy, an organization can be more agile and strategically opportunistic in identifying great content. This means being prepared and understanding the difference between on-strategy content and just making stuff.
We ran into this issue recently with a client. The team was at an international trade show and we knew some key customers would be in attendance. Our team worked to orchestrate potential content opportunities in advance. We were looking for moments of meaningful dialog and insight—interactions with customers. We captured a great three-way discussion between one of our client’s best customers and the editor of the industry’s leading trade journal. Because we were prepared and opportunistic, the client has a great piece of relevant content.
Make the right investments
Effective content marketing is only possible with the right resources in place. Designate a team that can share the responsibility of creating content. Consider an outside agency to partner with your internal team. Content marketing requires a depth of resources, and a partner that focuses on these needs will lead to more consistent outreach and better content.
You should also implement quality assurance and messaging consistency review process. But mandate quick approvals to keep content timely. You must also hold your team accountable. Making content creation a priority adds a new level of responsibility. Just as content marketing is changing the way we do business, we must reshape our teams to do it right.
Make it actionable
It’s crucial to evaluate how your content will motivate the audience to take action. Effective content marketing doesn’t sell; it educates and assists. We want the audience to reexamine their approach and thinking. We want to produce “aha” moments for our customers. This is how you open the door and build relationships that boost sales opportunities.
Don’t be shy about sharing your content. Readers become invested in the result when you help them understand a complicated topic or provide great insights. Ultimately, they’ll either view you as a reputable and valued source of information, or they’ll turn to you for your help and expertise.