Content marketing and differentiation
Useful and usable content should be at the heart of any marketing strategy.
Today, there are lots of ways of avoiding or ignoring advertising so it is vital that your target audience finds your marketing to be both relevant and interesting. Content marketing, i.e. giving something useful away in order to build a relationship with your target audience, is the future. It’s not rocket science but the good news is, many of your competitors either won’t be doing it or they’ll be doing it half-heartedly or even badly.
A content marketing strategy focuses on the overall objectives that content development aims to achieve. Strategy is the key word here. Without a strategy your content may not be seen by or may not appeal to your target audience – worse still, it may even alienate them. In order to create this strategy, you will need to know as much as possible about your audience, your competitors and your own organisation.
Let’s start with you. You should have a clear understanding of your brand values and the strengths and the ethos of your organisation. What are your short term and long term objectives? You should look at your existing marketing and determine whether or not it is likely to achieve these objectives. What do you want content marketing to do for your organisation? It could be to increase awareness, generate sales leads, improve customer loyalty, etc.
You should also look at your competitors in the same way. Find out how they communicate with their customers and what their USPs are. If they seem to be doing it well, there’s nothing wrong with borrowing a few ideas from their content marketing (as long as you avoid plagiarism).
What are the needs and challenges of your customers? What sort of content would interest them and where do they look online? By all means use market research, web analytics, sales data, etc., but for real insight, talk to your customers and to people within your own organisation who have direct dealings with your customers. This will lead to a better understanding of what they need and what motivates them.
With your plan in place, you need to think about the actual content. There is a huge amount of content around and it is growing exponentially. So, ideally, it needs to be something that sets you apart. It needs to be useful, motivational, inspirational, interesting, funny, educational, visually appealing, novel, innovative and easy to understand.
Or at least one of the above.
It should promote your brand and its values, enhance your credibility, differentiate you from your competitors and achieve your objectives. It can take the form of blogs, podcasts, videos, images, case studies, testimonials, tutorials, guides, ebooks, newsletters, interviews, infographics, etc. Here’s one that performs on many levels.
I thought I knew roughly what coding was and, quite honestly I didn’t think I wanted to learn any more but I recently came across this https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-paul-ford-what-is-code/
Published by Bloomberg Business Week in 2015. “What is code?” is a 38,000 word article by Paul Ford. It is an incredibly well written, funny, informative piece containing animated graphics, examples, infographics, statistics, etc., etc. It’s been shared over 100,000 times! I had a ‘quick’ look at it one evening and when I went back to read more the next day (it’s that good), it told me I’d spent 144 minutes on it already. Another excellent example and something that we could all learn from is “32 ways to quit multitasking and focus on what matters” by James Clear http://niklasgoeke.com/focus-on-what-matters/
Always go for quality over quantity, but creating good content alone isn’t enough. You have to promote it. You can do this through social media, turn it into a Youtube video, put it on your website, email it to your customers, submit it to content communities, connect to people who have shared or who have linked to similar content and ask your customers, employees, friends and family to share your content.
Last but not least. Measure the results against the objectives as defined at the start of this process. Has it increased awareness? Generated leads? Increased sales? Established you as an industry expert? Your content marketing strategy should give you focus but this shouldn’t mean that the ideas are set in stone. Be flexible. Always be prepared to refine, tweak, discard or add to the content as you discover what works and what doesn’t.
And don’t forget, the purpose of your content marketing strategy isn’t to be good at content marketing, it is to be more successful in your business.