Successful content marketing doesn’t just happen. Even the most gifted writers among us don’t just sit down and create on-point content at the drop of a hat. Knowing what, when and how you want to communicate with your prospects and customers makes all the difference.
Content marketing is about creating and distributing content that has value in and of itself, and is not just about promoting your goods and services. Quality content can help move the audience along the buying path by boosting your profile and cementing your position as a leader in the industry.
How can you produce an effective content marketing strategy?
1. Know who you are and where your opportunities lie
It’s all well and good to say you want to increase business, but you need to figure out exactly what you offer and how you can take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. What are your competitors doing? (Don’t pretend they don’t exist.) What is your point of difference? How is the landscape of your industry changing?
2. Define your audience
In content marketing, you have an audience before you have a customer, so who are they? Who are you releasing your content for and what do they need to hear from you? Take some time to define your ideal customer and remember that you are producing content for them.
3. Be clear on your broad areas of focus
One of the biggest mistakes businesses that are new to content marketing make is trying to be all things to all people. Choose your broad areas of interest for the year and stick to them. Your business may do a lot of different things, but focus on three or four main areas of growth and outline your key message for each area. Without being overly repetitive, your content should always circle back to your key messages.
4. Understand your content options
Content marketing isn’t just about blogging your opinion on a relevant industry event a week or two after the news breaks. To get the benefits of content marketing (that is, ultimately an increase in sales), you need to utilise a range of content marketing tools.
A blog post or article, for example, works well to offer a solution to a single pain point for a customer. A white paper, on the other hand, can offer a more in-depth analysis of several topics that interest your customers. Blog posts are usually free, but it’s reasonable to offer a valuable white paper in exchange for a reader’s contact details. This allows you to deliver further content to them in the form of newsletters, or to make phone contact without going in completely cold.
5. Stick to your delivery strategy
A plan is really only as good as the execution of it. It’s mind boggling to see how many businesses take the time to create an awesome content marketing strategy only to have it gather dust on the boss’ desk.
In the same way you won’t get fit by simply joining a gym, your sales and profile won’t improve with a content marketing strategy if you fail to stick to it. If you plan to release three white papers and ten blog posts in a year on defined topics, make sure you do it!
Your customers don’t benefit from the things you planned to do but didn’t, and neither will your business. Creating a content marketing strategy is only step one. The real challenge, and real rewards, present themselves when the strategy is executed.
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