How to Develop a Productive Content Marketing Campaign
As consumers become more and more efficient at tuning out standard outbound marketing techniques like commercials, ads, and inbox spam, an increasing number of businesses are turning to content marketing to survive.
Unfortunately for everyone, most of these businesses are doing it, well, wrong.
As an inbound marketing specialist, I hear business owners, marketing directors, and even sales managers tell me regularly, “I’ve got a Facebook account,” or “I wrote a blog post. It doesn’t work!”
If you’re nodding you’re head right now, I’ve got some words for you: It’s not inbound; it’s you.
What is Content Marketing
The objective of a content marketing campaign must be to develop an informed audience. Content marketing is not about pitching your company, products, or services. It is not about writing long-winded blog articles about how great you are. It is not a collection of infographics detailing your accolades. As a matter of fact, it is not about you at all.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Your success arises from educating a refined audience.
By refined, I mean meticulously profiled and intimately understood. Before you start crafting your next content marketing campaign, and long before you sit down to create content, you need to gather some information about your ideal client and about your company.
About Your Ideal Audience
You need to know who you’re talking to. Before you start talking, you need to know what you’re going to talk about. Do the research beforehand. Create fictional representations—aka buyer personas—to give your organization a three-dimensional view of your ideal client(s).
The flesh and blood of your buyer personas should be based on what you know about your target audience from experience. The frame should be formed of hard, empirical data.
Do you know what customers need? You have a great product, a product you’re proud and passionate about. You know in your heart and mind that it is the answer to someone’s problem. That’s great! Identifying and finding a solution to a problem is an important step in operating a business. But marketing is all about understanding customers’ needs from their perspective--not yours.
The difference lies primarily in presentation. Solving a problem is all about you. Fulfilling another’s need is about them. Understand your clients’ needs—the problem from their perspective—and you’ll be able to help them understand it also.
Find out where your ideal clients go for information. It’s easy to write this step off or forget it completely. After all, you use Twitter. Doesn’t everybody?
No, they don’t.
Discovering where your dream clients go to learn about their field reveals priceless information about where to promote your content, when to promote your work, and even what kind of content to create. Wouldn’t it be great to know these things before sitting down to create months worth of content that nobody knows exists? Not to mention the countless hours you’ll spend promoting that content on platforms that are empty as far as you’re concerned.
Time spent now is time saved later. Do the research now. Find out what platforms your target audience uses and then cater your content to those platforms.
About Your Company.
Refine your understanding of all the ways your services can help your clients. Your content should resonate with what your company has to offer. Yes, content marketing is all about educating your audience. I’m glad you’ve got that down. But while you shouldn’t sing your praises from digital rooftops, your content should be intuitively self-aware.
For example, a bakery specializing in artisan cakes for special events runs a food blog where they share cake recipes, tips, and tricks for novice bakers. While each post focuses on catering to the needs of baking noobs, the underlying message is “this is the easy version and it is this hard/takes this long. Now imagine doing what we do.” Later on, when the loyal blog lover’s daughter is getting married, does she do it herself of call the baker?
Chances are she calls the baker. And her intimate, first-hand knowledge of the intricacies of creating a beautiful artisan wedding cake make her happy to hire the baker at any cost.
Gather up all the content you’ve already created. No point in recreating the wheel. The content you’ve already created—even if it’s just for internal operations or a basic website—sets the tone for your company communications.
Content creation doesn’t just happen. Great content is difficult to create and therefore difficult to come by. Treasure every bit of it you can get; let nothing go to waste.
Invest in information. Always analyze everything you do. If you want to be successful in the long run, you’re going to have to adapt quickly and efficiently to consumer behaviors. You can’t afford to wait for someone else to educate you on shifts in consumer preferences, and you can’t rely on the mere hope that your experiences are parallel to others’.
If you’re committed to staying ahead of the curve, you’ll have to invest in quality analytics software. Analytics platforms generate information that guides your adaptation efforts.
Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter offer analytical data on the performance of your posts on their sites. Other software such as Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing offer detailed insight into how visitors behave on your website.
To recap, make sure you know who your ideal clients are, what they do, and keenly understand how your product or service will make reaching their goals easier.
If you’re not sure about a profile or persona, don’t target them right away. Keep an eye on the group and develop a campaign for them when analysis reveals their secrets. Instead, focus on those you know can use your solution, and prove it by informing them on the relationship between your industry and theirs. Once they know they have an issue, they’ll likely come to you to solve it.
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