How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy That Stands Out From The Crowd
Content marketing is white hot and doesn’t show signs of cooling any time soon. Regardless of whether your business is consumer-oriented (B2C), business-oriented (B2B), professional-oriented (solopreneur), charity-oriented (not-for-profit) or part of the government, you need content to attract prospects and persuade them to buy from your firm.
IDC Research estimates that content created and shared will reach just under four zettabytes (that’s four trillion gigabytes) by the end of 2013 and will double to eight zettabytes by 2015!
To ensure your content marketing breaks through this ever-expanding amount of information, you need a plan to ensure that your information stands out from the crowd regardless of the amount of resources you have. Here’s an easy-to-follow, thirteen step plan to get your content marketing on track to succeed.
1] Determine the goals for your content marketing plan.
These objectives should be aligned with those of your business, product and/or brand. The most common options are to:
- Support your brand by extending the reach of branded content.
- Generate business leads, preferably qualified ones.
- Close sales by providing content customers seek.
- Keep more customers by giving them post-purchase support.
2] Know your content marketing audience.
Content doesn’t work unless it’s targeted. Otherwise it looks and sounds like any other piece of corporate communication.
- Think beyond the actual end user. Consider influencers, purchasers and other people involved in the buying process.
- Create a fully fleshed out marketing persona and social media persona for each segment of your target market.
3] Incorporate your brand into your content.
Give your content marketing a personality so that it’s associated with your brand.
- Use your brand’s colors. Consider whether your brand colors translate to readability. How do they present online?
- Select an easy-to-read typeface. Typography is an integral part of your brand. Make sure that your font can be presented well online.
- Associate sounds and/or audio with your content. It can incorporate your audio logo or make special noises.
- Sound human including your language. This includes the type of words you use, foul language and accents.
- Include visual cues. This can be your logo or other brand mascot.
4] Determine information your audience seeks.
Remember that content marketing isn’t about you. It’s about your target audience and the information they seek.
- Provide product information. Give your prospects the details about your offering.
- Answer the questions your prospects, customers and the public have. This can be easy to accomplish by gathering input from your customer service and sales personnel.
- Show your audience how to use and style your products. Create educational content related to your offering. Show customers how to use your product in the context of other products.
5] Tell your firm’s once upon a time.
Skip spewing facts and figures since your market won’t remember them. Think stories. (Here are twenty-nine ideas.)
- Tell your firm’s history. Find the stories in your past whether it’s about your founders, your business or your location.
- Show your products background. This is important to persuade buyers to choose your product.
- Let your employees and customers contribute. Collect their stories in text, images and video.
6] Use different content formats.
Your audience varies in terms of how they consume information. This translates to the use of a variety of content formats.
- Utilize text. This is the most common content format.
- Add attention-getting photos. Show your products, employees and customers. Photos attract an audience.
- Put your products in movies. Think 360° views as well as story telling.
- Give your content a voice. Use audio.
- Show your information. Create presentations whether in real life, at conferences or just for Slideshare.
7] Build an editorial calendar.
Create an editorial calendar to plan your content creation on a regular basis.
- Decide on major content offerings. Integrate content into all of your major events.
- Establish recurring content features. Craft regular columns.
- Plan for content reuse. Create multiple pieces of content from each major effort.
- Leverage the power of content curation. Incorporate your insights on select content from other sources.
- Encourage co-creation. Get your employees and customers involved.
8] Make your content attractive to prospective readers.
Useful content, while necessary, isn’t sufficient to convert prospects into customers.
- Eliminate poor grammar and bad spelling. It hurts your authority.
- Use headlines that attract attention. Understand that only one out of five prospects will read further than your title. Spend time editing your titles.
- Add eye candy. Include catchy images that attract people.
- Chop your information into easy-to-consume chunks. Long pages of uninterrupted text appear difficult to read.
- Employ design elements to guide readers into your content. Think in terms of outlining and bolding to help make your content more accessible.
9] Make your content findable.
You can have the best content in the world but it’s wasted if no one can find it.
- Incorporate the words your audience uses. Create a list of ten to twenty keywords around which to focus your content.
- Include links to both internal and external content. Your content doesn’t exist by itself. It’s part of a larger information ecosystem.
- Optimize every piece of your content. Associate descriptive text and keywords with non-text items.
10] Allocate sufficient resources.
Content marketing doesn’t appear out of thin air. It requires both budget and employees.
- Redistribute budget from other areas. Consider where you can transfer extra resources such as your advertising, customer communications, product information and other content related areas.
- Dedicate employees or outside resources to your content marketing. Remember if content marketing isn’t part of their job, it probably won’t get done.
11] Distribute content.
Ensure that your content reaches it’s target audience.
- Place content on owned media. This includes your website, emailings and blog.
- Leverage third party media. Consider guest posts and articles. Also, present at conferences.
- Include social media. Use a variety of different social media platforms. As well as social sharing where appropriate.
12] Promote content.
You can’t assume that distributing your content by itself is sufficient.
- Support your content distribution with advertising where appropriate. Think in terms of social media and paid search.
- Cross-promote your content on other owned media. Don’t underestimate the power of your retail establishment and other advertising.
13] Measure content marketing results.
You must track your content marketing to ensure that it yields sales and profits.
- Include a contextually relevant call-to-action.
- Track the appropriate metrics. These metrics should flow from your content marketing objectives. Here’s a list of fifty-three content marketing metrics.
You need a content marketing plan that’s integrated with your business objectives to ensure that it yields results.
How have you incorporated a content marketing strategy into your overall marketing plans?
Even though Content Marketing World is finished until next September, you can still get all the content from 2014's exciting conference. The CMWorld On Demand package includes: Audio and video from the 2014 keynote sessions, audio and PowerPoint presentations of all the breakout sessions, over 40 audio sessions from the leading B2B and B2C brands, as well as keynote video performances.
An annual gathering of the best and brightest content professionals on the planet. People who know the secrets (and are willing to share them). People who value content as a business asset. People who have made it their life’s work to develop repeatable, systematic approaches to producing amazingly effective content.
Join the discussion on Tuesday, December 2 - Time: 2 PM (EST) / 11 AM (PST) to learn how small and medium sized businesses don't have to have an entire content marketing organization (or budget) to be successful in content marketing.
Joe Pulizzi, Author and Founder of Content Marketing Institute and Werner Mansfeld, President of NetLine Corp, discuss realistic and actionable methods for your company to get awareness, consideration and sales leads using marketing content – without the budget or resources of an enterprise-level organization.
Here are just some of the questions you'll get answered:
- What is content marketing and why is it important?
- What do I need to have in place to compete effectively using content marketing?
- How do I drive sales leads and get a positive ROI using content marketing?
- How can my small business (or budget) compete with my larger competitors using content marketing?
- What can I start doing today to start seeing results?
Joe Pulizzi and Werner Mansfeld are experts in Content Marketing and Content Syndication. Learn from their combined experience how to take advantage of content marketing for your business, no matter the size.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/5251078306/s