Content marketing turns your knowledge and value propositions into inspirational stories and images that pull people into engaging with your brand. Done right, content marketing will enhance and likely boost your sales.
As a niche, content marketing is the offspring of second-generation digital technologies. It’s not advertising, which interrupts people to beg for their attention. It’s not salsey. Content marketing is about sharing what you know free of charge yet realizing returns.
Content is the words and images that share knowledge in compelling and manageable configurations. Marketing is sharing that information in various formats such as articles, posts, infographics and across multiple platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, email campaigns, YouTube, etc. Strategy is determining when, how, and where to share the content as well as analyzing the results and responding with appropriate course and speed changes.
“Content marketing strategy is the practice of planning the creation, distribution, activation, and optimization of thoughtful and relevant content, in order to inspire positive engagement and profitable action,” according to Pace Communications.
Three Questions to Ask Before Launching a Content Marketing Strategy
Our role is as much project management and coaching as it is marketing. If someone is not a good candidate for content marketing, we don’t recommend it.
Here are three screening questions:
- Can the cost of a month’s worth of “content marketing” be recovered with three or fewer sales, grants, referrals, etc.?
- Are you willing to engage in creating content with us for at least a three-month trial?
- Do you believe that your business or organization is a leader and has something genuinely unique and/or important to share with people who need what you offer?
If you cannot say yes to all three, maybe you should stick with advertising and referral-based sales or some other configuration. Many companies consider taking on a three-month content marketing strategy a big leap of faith. We say that piecemeal marketing is a much bigger leap by either placing trust in sales growing without strategic marketing or hiring a variety of providers who don’t have the vision or a stake in the company’s success.
Five things to expect from a content marketing strategy and team
Content marketing can get complex and expensive. In many cases, it’s worth it. If you are just getting your feet wet, here are a few things you should expect:
- A sense that your content marketing team gets your vision, understands the budget, and offers reliable performance metrics and benchmarks. Beware of companies offering too much, too fast. If you feel confused, ask more questions. Get a second opinion.
- Content that makes you say, “Wow, that’s a great description of what we do.” That kind of content – words and images – will not have a short shelf life. As-a-matter-of-fact, whatever you put out onto the web has no shelf life. Good content will have at least three purposes, e.g. article, blog post, Tweet. It’s fair to ask your content marketing team to work with you to produce a sample product. Do expect to pay something to get the ball rolling seriously.
- Content marketing should begin with first assessing and “beefing up” your basics. Is your Linked profile complete, do you have a professional head shot, are your email signatures consistent and professional across the company, does your website have enough content and in the right places, should you be on Facebook, do you have a professional-looking video, etc.
- A plan to create, distribute, and track top-notch content on a regular basis is imperative. A once-a-month plan is minimal. It should include, and perhaps alternate between, articles, case studies, white papers, infographics, and even compilations of the “best of” thinking in your niche. A simple email template is a good way to distribute your fresh content and drive traffic back to your website as well as facilitate forwarding by your existing fans.
- Someone needs to be thinking about your strategy, how to use your content effectively, what’s working and what’s not working, and keeping up with a calendar of the past and future. This is something often assumed when engaging a larger firm, but it’s not a given. You’ll know within three-months if your project manager is paying attention or not. It’s a two-way street though. Don’t blow off her calls and emails and then wonder why your content engine is stalled out.
The Digital World and ways to create and distribute great content as well as interact with people virtually continues to grow at warp speed. If you are new to digital marketing, go slow. Develop a relationship with the people supporting you, just as you would a long-term client.
Email or call us with a question or better yet a story about how content marketing did or didn’t pay off for you. If you like the newsletter, sign-up. We promise to never ever sell your email.