Those of us in the business world have definitely heard of it, and everybody, at some stage has been exposed to it. A content marketing strategy can include the use of video, social media, blogs, podcasts, email newsletters, white papers, SEO and landing pages, to mention a few.
The idea is that you provide informative posts for your audience so that they talk about you or share your content. As a result of this inbound attraction, (rather than outbound messaging), you become much more customer-centric than traditional methods and are favoured over competitors.
Easy right? Well no, because of the balancing act between a) being able to provide something useful for free, b) building trust and c) not overselling. And no one is saying that this is easy.
There are many prospective clients that we meet who want to ‘have’ a content marketing strategy in its narrowest form e.g. social media. Unfortunately, rarely will one form of content suit a marketing strategy and sometimes it might only be a mindset that needs to change. Look at it this way, if the real goal of marketing is to advance your business, surely all your marketing activity should be contributing to that goal.
Is Your Content Just Writing?
If content marketing is not facilitating the achievement of a business goal – then it is just writing. The only caveat is that it doesn’t become a constant irritant by way of a sales pitch. Fortunately with regard to selling, there is no cheating in a content marketing strategy because the very people you want to attract, will ignore a sales pitch. It might be argued that native advertising is content marketing, but that’s a discussion for another post.
Whatever way you look at it, a basic human trait is that we are constantly trading amongst ourselves. This may not be a financial transaction but basically, doesn’t everyone want to sell something to everyone else, even themselves? (e.g. personal branding).
So, if you decide that your business is going to develop a content marketing strategy, and you know it shouldn’t be used as a sales tool – that’s fine but bear in mind, it should, at least, market something.
Well, if it’s not just writing – what is content marketing? We believe, it is creating and/or sharing relevant and useful content for a specific audience. The long term goal is that you instill a sense of value and grow trust amongst a community of people, with a view to building a mutually beneficial relationship.
Should a business write their own content?
We have written in previous blog posts about how business success is built on a foundation of strong relationships. We’ve also previously suggested that relationships can only be successful if there is a two-way exchange of relevant value (in whatever form), manifested in suitable communication.
Your content, therefore, needs to be professional and solve a problem that your audience cares about – or, at least, is somewhat entertaining. Each piece of content you supply should really make them feel good in that it rewards your audience for consuming it.
Of course, it is easy for a CEO to say ‘let’s have a content marketing strategy’ and the minions start a blog and set up a few social media accounts. However, without a well thought-out strategy this will only result in tears.
WARNING: Sometimes business owners should not be allowed to write their own content. Despite the arguments that they would know their clients the best – here are seven reasons why they should be convinced to leave it to the experts:
- They can write content but doing so for online purposes is a different challenge
- They can’t write – sometimes even people who are great conversationalists just can’t write
- They find it difficult to write about themselves and is usually faster when done by a third party
- They won’t always have the time – e.g. the cobbler’s kids, not having shoes
- They might not have the skills for social media distribution or SEO.
- They don’t understand the significance of original content
- They are afraid to trust a third party and waste money by micro-managing.
In many respects, implementing a content marketing strategy can be likened to attending a networking event.
Bear with us here.
Think about it, both involve telling stories about how value can be exchanged, in an interesting way. Both require being in the right place at the right time and having good listening skills. And usually, a ‘once off’ meeting is rarely enough.
Tips and Timesavers.
Admittedly, content marketing has become a buzzword in marketing but, as alluded to above, it is not an easy task. Ideally, for it to work it should be part of a long-term business strategy. Here is a great chart from Curata that outlines approaches which may help you with your content strategy:
- Appoint or employ someone to create content from within the business
- Encourage staff members, outside of the marketing department, to contribute content
- Outsource externally to an expert agency
- Obtain stories from ‘happy’ customers and build content communities
- Some media companies license content that you can brand as your own
- Curate content from experts and share with your own community (linked to the original source)
The objective of using well-written and relevant content in your marketing activity is to build trust, credibility, and engagement. The trouble is, that these may also be objectives of your competitors.
So here are some thoughts to remember – develop concrete content objectives (thought leadership/information/driving traffic etc.), do research on your competitors (audiences/keywords etc.), ensure that your content plan fits in with your overall marketing objectives and always track your progress (engagement rather than ‘likes’).
Sometimes the challenge is simply to adjust your mindset.
“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.
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This content was originally published here.