If you’re focused on your website’s eye-catching design, capturing leads, or selling selling selling—but aren’t just as concerned with the quality, consistency, and value of the information you’re providing—you’re missing out on one of the most powerful parts of successful marketing: content marketing.
Leading brands like Microsoft, Cisco, and John Deere use content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute notes that a well-planned and executed content strategy can help to increase sales, save costs, and increase customer loyalty.
Not sure whether your content marketing strategy is sound? Ask yourself:
Does your marketing strategy include a specific plan for regularly creating, using, and promoting content that does more than flog your brand?
Do you whip up content in response to last-minute needs more often than you create it according to a set schedule and editorial calendar?
Do you post so-so pieces to your blog daily, just so that you can say you did—or do you post four times in a week and then not at all for four months?
Does every social media post point to one of your products or push a sale?
Do you know what you’ll be writing and publishing three weeks from now?
Do you know which white paper, eBook, or video will help prospects from a specific industry, in a specific role, or with a specific need at each stage of their buying journey?
Marketing Content vs. Content Marketing
Content marketing has long been a bit of a buzzword. Of course, every marketing endeavor involves content. So, what’s the difference between content marketing and marketing content?
The words and images on your website are content. Your branding, logo, and messaging: content. And it needs to be good. It should tell your unique story and illustrate your core values (both in a who we are and what we care about sense and a what we can do for our customers sense). This content should be customer-focused, evocative, and engaging. You should keep it optimized and up to date and should test and measure its results. But that content, while certainly part of your overall marketing strategy, isn’t part of your content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is the strategic creation of content that’s valuable to your ideal customer—without being about you or your products. This means you’re simply creating content that your ideal customers want and need to improve their own businesses and lives. Don’t make it about you.
Take a Strategic Look at Your Content
Ready to get a grip on your content marketing approach? Fortunately, it’s a pretty painless task, assuming you already have a clear view of your ideal audience and have established guidelines to direct the tone of your content. First, take a quick inventory:
Do you have content on hand that—
educates your ideal audience on causes of and solutions to the issues that most likely plague them;
relates vital industry news or provides insights into industry trends;
notifies them of useful events or opportunities, including but not limited to those sponsored by your company; and
is specific to various roles, needs, and buying-cycle stages?
Do you have multiple channels for delivering content, including email, landing pages, social media accounts, and newsletters?
Do you have a documented schedule for who receives each piece of content, when they receive it, and via what channel they receive it?
Do you have an editorial calendar that governs creation of blog and social media posts?
Do you have assigned content creators and a process for content approval?
Do you have a process in place for reviewing (copy editing and proofing) content?
Do you have a process for optimizing content (SEO) and measuring its results?
With these answers, you will be able to see where you have content gaps that need to be filled.
Once you identify the types of content and content channels to focus on, be sure to create a strategy for how you will develop and maintain that content.
Consistency Is Key: Set a Strategy That Makes Sense
As you’re listing your answers to all these questions, you might get a little overwhelmed. Content planning and creation take time—a lot of time if you’re focusing on creating relevant, high-quality pieces.
Take a deep breath and look for ways to simplify your strategy:
Plan with the bigger picture in mind. Don’t re-invent the wheel. As you create your editorial calendar, consider upcoming campaigns and dovetail blogs, social posts, and webinars to support your upcoming themes.
Look at ways to repurpose or reconfigure your assets. Have a strong white paper? Maybe you can work up a blog series covering its main points. Have a great sales presentation? Turn it into an on-demand webinar.
Remember, consistency is more important than volume. Two blogs each month are better than two each week if you can’t sustain a weekly pace for any duration.
Finally, remember that you can reach out for extra help. Your agency partner should be deeply familiar with your customers, your solutions, and your content. Leverage that relationship to expand your available bandwidth and produce truly outstanding content.