Content marketing is in. Marketing directors, brand, digital marketing and social media managers, and startup founders are flocking to content marketing as an effective and relatively low-cost way to increase awareness of, and interest in, their products and services. The secret is to create content that’s valuable and shareable, get it to the right people, entertain, inform and educate them, and position yourself as an expert.
1. Make sure you understand the concept of content marketing
Content marketing involves creating videos, blog posts, bylined articles, photos, contests, podcasts, news, ebooks, and social media status updates, and sharing them with, or setting them up to be found by, your target demographic to get their attention, generate interest, build awareness of what you’re selling, get leads, and increase sales.
2. Identify your target buyers
Who are your target buyers? Before you start creating content, you have to know who you’re creating it for. Who is your ideal customer? Who is most likely to buy what you’re selling? Be specific. If there’s more than one, make a list.
3. Identify who influences your target buyers
Second to getting to your target consumer is getting to the people, channels, blogs, and publications that influence them, especially concerning their buying decisions. Identify writers, journalists and social media influencers that actively discuss topics relevant to your target buyers. You will need to reach them too. Look at the gatekeepers as well. Decision makers often have assistants tasked with finding the right solutions to their needs. Be sure to include these ‘influencers’ as part of your target audience.
4. Decide what content is most important to your target buyer
What problems do they need help solving? Become the place they go for solutions. What information is important to them? Are they looking to be educated, entertained or both? What makes them laugh, cry or care? Get specific. These are your customers. You should know the questions they have. Answer them with good, valuable information. Start thinking like a publisher. Look at the types of content you read and watch, and think about what it was that attracted you and why you go back to that source.
5. Select which content marketing formats to focus on
Depending on the product or service you offer, the age range of your demographic, your marketing budget, and how much time you and your team have to commit to content creation, go with the format you think you can stick with best on a consistent basis. The idea is to build a fan base for your content, so you have to be consistent. Is your team best set up to conceptualize and shoot videos? Write blog articles? Update and engage your buyers and influencers in real-time on social media channels? Make cool photos? If not, look at bringing in a digital creative agency to help you with strategy, concepts, content creation, and delivery.
6. Decide on a distribution frequency and make a content calendar
Resources and priorities will always be a factor, but like anything else, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. The best approach is to commit to a schedule, lay out a calendar, bring together the resources you need to make it happen and be consistent. Set deadlines and stick to them.
7. Decide which social media channels you’ll use most heavily
This is the question we get most when working with a new client. There are two ways of thinking about which social media channels are best. It’s okay to be on lots of channels, but don’t try to be active daily on every channel just because it’s there. Study which channels your target buyers use most and start there. See which ones work best then update the rest at a slower pace.
My favorite approach is to hit hard on just a few channels, develop your voice, and add more as you go. Again, some of it depends on your budget and bandwidth, as well as your industry and the preferences of your target buyers.
8. Start creating and sharing shareable content
Focus on topics and content that will not only appeal to your end customers, but will be shared by them and their influencers. People typically share because they like something, they learned something, they were entertained and want to share the experience, they want a reaction or they want to use your expertise to validate their own opinions.
Give them content that does exactly that.
9. Optimize for search
As you develop your content, and write up new video titles, article topics, or create photos, be mindful of the types of things your target buyers are searching for. Optimize the wording to pick up common search terms and phrases. For this article, I chose to include the phase ‘content marketing strategy.’
10. Stay on top of analytics and measure leads, sales and determine ROI
Comparing analytics to inbound leads is the best way to determine what is working. Look at which types of content are being shared most. Is this leading to an increase in leads? Sales?
For example: a certain blog post or video is getting shared a lot but you are not getting more leads, which means one of two things. One, you’re missing your target audience. Two, you’re hitting your target audience, but not positioning yourself properly so they make the connection between your content and what you’re selling.
Content marketing involves trial and error, but the key is to start somewhere, have a plan, measure results, do more of the things that work, and stop doing the things that don’t.
# # #
David Murdico is the executive creative director and managing partner at Supercool Creative, a digital creative agency specializing in big ideas, social media marketing, interactive, and online video production for brands like Capcom, Dish, T-Mobile, Pizza Hut, and IBM. Connect with David on Twitter @DavidMurdico.