Why Content Marketing?
With all the demanding responsibilities of a business owner, marketing, particularly content marketing, can often fall to the bottom of the priority list (if it makes it onto the priority list at all).
However, driven companies pro-actively prioritize content marketing for a variety of reasons, including heightened brand awareness and enhanced relationships with their target market(s).
But how do these companies consistently produce content that is not only good, but effective?
Before we dive into the fundamentals about how to effectively do this, let’s define what content marketing is and why it could be more valuable to your brand’s bottom-line than you think.
What is Content Marketing and what will it do for me?
Content marketing is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but also sounds kind of vague in terms of what it actually means.
Essentially, content marketing includes any content (video, photography, copy, etc.) produced for promotional/branding purposes, but falls outside the scope of traditional marketing approaches.
While traditional marketing typically focuses on directly promoting a brand/product/service, content marketing typically focuses on the details that surround the brand/product/service.
In one sense, content marketing promotes the brand/product/service without directly promoting the brand/product/service.
Examples of content marketing could include a video about the inception of the organization, a posted article with information of interest to the target market, or a picture of the management team having accomplished a project.
On one level, these examples raise awareness of the brand/product/service without directly promoting it. On a deeper level, each example offers an opportunity for the brand to connect with its targets in a more informal, less salesy way than traditional marketing, and offer an enhanced relationship than traditional marketing typically achieves.
However, types of content marketing can vary a lot, with a wide spectrum that includes a strong salesy angle at one end, and an innocuous and humble angle at the other.
To be successful in building this enhanced relationship with the target, it takes consistently producing content that’s at a thoughtfully balanced point on this spectrum, authentic and nuanced, but also effective.
Great. So what do I do?
Simple Questions Offer Effective Solutions
Ask yourself these simple questions to get started.
How do you put this into practice?
One of the simplest and most effective ways to approach your own content marketing is to flesh out the answers to the following five questions; Who? Why? What? and How?
First, start with the Who, your target market(s). Who are you talking to and what specific characteristics do you attribute to them?
Start broad and get as specific as realistically possible. Examples of specific characteristics of your target market could include, its age range, the main geographical locations, specifics needs and interests, their preferred method of communicating (email, text, social media), etc.
Second, once you are clear on the characteristics of the your target market(s), now it is time to define the Why, that is, the goals of doing this.
Another way to ask “Why” is to ask, What do you specifically want members of your target market to to do? What would be your best results? One desired result could be increased traffic to your website. Another desired result could be to have more followers on your brand’s social media channels. A third result could be additional monthly sales.
Whatever you want members of your target market to do, create a prioritized list of the top five actions you want them to take.
The What is the actual content created (social media posts, videos, blog articles, email newsletters, landing pages, etc.) to connect with the members of the target market in order to get them to take the action defined in the answer to Why.
The What is the most creative step of the process, which allows for a lot of latitude to test different ideas and approaches.
It is also the most counter-intuitive step of the process. Many think it makes sense to create content focused on the brand itself, which is a common pitfall of many brands.
However, the most effective solution for generating engaging content is to focus it on the interests and needs of the targets your brand serves, not the brand itself.
Knowing who you are talking to and what they are interested in should guide the content you create. If it isn’t of interest to your targets, what’s the point? They won’t pay attention to it, much less take the action you want them to take.
Drill down to get content ideas by considering what’s specifically interesting to them.
– What are their worries and concerns?
– What do they look at you to be the expert in?
– What content could you share with them that they would find informational and educational?
– What would interest them about what you do?
Use those answers to create content for social media posts, blog posts, landing pages, email newsletters, etc. that will connect with your target market(s) because it’s about what matters to them.
With content chosen and produced, now it is just a matter of creating a simple schedule for what will get posted when, and establishing the channels through which to distribute that content.
Establishing the channels is fairly straightforward by creating an account on the relevant platforms, which depends on what you are posting and whom you are trying to reach.
When it comes to social media channels, it doesn’t matter what social media platforms you do or don’t like, it is only about which platforms your target market(s) like. The biggest and most popular US platforms include; Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and WordPress.
A content marketing schedule can take whatever form is best for you, whether that’s a spreadsheet, a calendar app, or notebook, as long as it is effective at keeping you consistent.
The schedule details the timing of the production of new content, and the scheduling of completed content. This way there are always clear deadlines for when new content needs to be completed and posted.
There are a number of tools available (many of them are free, or at least with solid free tiers), which can be helpful to operationalize this work and help to keep it consistent.
Here are a few of my top choices;
Google Drive offers free shared calendars and an office suite, which includes spreadsheets that allow teams to collaborate from different locations simultaneously.
Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts ahead of time to multiple channels with one click. Super helpful. For example, you could schedule ten posts over three weeks all at once. This service is free with four or less social media accounts connected.
Mailchimp is a top tier email newsletter program that is easy to use with additional tools and tracking. Solid service. Free to use with under 2000 email subscribers.
Take the Simple Steps to Better Engage with Your Target Markets
It makes sense to invest in content marketing because it is unique in how it can help you connect with your target market(s) in ways that other types of marketing can’t.
To determine what content marketing to produce, consider first what you want out of it, and the answers to the basic questions focused around the wants and needs of your target market.
There are a lot of parts to this, but keep it simple and keep at it!
Questions? Feel free to reach out to me.
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