Content marketing is becoming more and more fashionable and is used by every other. It’s time to find out what it is, why and how to properly deal with it.
Content marketing seems to be rather simple: you write content → form reputation → attract customers → get profit. But in reality, it is a minefield, where you can easily lose a mountain of money and not get any results at all. So here you need to think over your actions in advance. This is far less exciting things to do than to prepare a dramatic presentation or to fight in the comments.
What is content marketing
Content marketing is a tool to attract customers through interesting and useful content. Not through advertising or recommendation of friends, but namely content.
- any useful text: tweet, post in a social network, an article in the blog, press release, book, etc;
- useful and interesting video;
- interactive application or service that does something useful for free;
- presentation at a conference or seminar with the useful report;
- the training course, webinar, master class.
The keyword is useful. Content differs from advertising in that it tries to be helpful by itself, without the hidden commercial intent.
How to do it. Purpose and audience
Before writing a line of a useful text, a clever entrepreneur answers two questions:
- Whom do I want to attract by these actions?
- What should I tell about my company to attract these people exactly?
The questions are simple but the answers are rather complicated. They determine what content to produce and how to measure the results.
For example, if your company deals with the websites:
- You can attract big business owners with old well-known brands. You need to tell them how the websites affect the success of huge old brands.
- You can attract medium business owners who provide services for the “big business”. You need to tell them how to win a large client.
- You can attract startup owners who want to open an online business on the American canon. You need to tell them how to adapt these canons for themselves.
- You can attract young entrepreneurs who want to open a food delivery service. You need to tell them about the restaurant business.
- You can attract designers for your own company. You need to tell them how you organize the work and what projects you value.
The analysis of audience and objectives helps to clearly define the scope of the thematic content marketing and its effectiveness criteria.
Why is it important to understand your audience and objectives?
Without understanding your audience and objectives you will wander in darkness: publish something, spend time and money, but without understanding what you are actually doing.
Unlike advertising, content marketing works for a long time. Today written articles in a blog can attract the customer in a month or a year. You can not quickly test the effectiveness of an advertising channel and, if anything, immediately block it.
It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of content marketing in sales: people will hardly come to you for purchase immediately after reading your blog. But it’s easy to measure the audience that reads you. Therefore, before starting working you should answer the questions: “Who will read us?” and “What should we tell them?”. If you tell them something and they do not read it, it means that you are telling the wrong things and publish them in the wrong place. If you tell them something and they read it, you are on the right way.
The system of content production
You need to figure out who will produce content for your company and how you will carry this content to the target audience.
Content is produced by the leader
The leader is the best source of knowledge about your business. No one can tell about the cases, methods of work and business philosophy better than he. But he is always busy. And besides, the leader is not necessarily good in writing.
It’s reasonable to hire a writer who will write on behalf of the leader. The leader meets with the writer, talks to him half an hour, the writer records the conversation on tape and then decrypts, writes and edits content. Since the writer understands the structure of the text, logic, and style of presentation, he produces a decent product.
The employees get the task of creating an interesting blog or social network on behalf of the company. To satisfy this, a project manager is appointed and bonuses are given for good content. When it is properly organized, the right to write something in a corporate blog becomes a privilege.
But to make the content interesting, you need something better than “tasks” and “bonuses”.
Such companies usually have an editor or PR writer who edits all public texts and leads them to a common mind. If not – that’s a reason to hire or rent a remote service.
There are special agencies that produce content. The minus is that they could hardly understand the life and experience of your company deeply. The quality of your content will always depend on the person hired for its production. And if you work with a medium-sized agency, then welcome to the world of endless approvals and inability to meet the deadlines. The only advantage of this approach is that you do not spend time on your content marketing.
Any industry lacks experts. It is a viable strategy to use their knowledge to create your own content. An expert is unlikely to write in your corporate blog, but if you open an independent platform, he would be happy to participate in it. On platforms – just below.
Platform and delivery system
It is also important to decide exactly how you will deliver your thoughts to the audience. And it is not so easy.
A corporate blog, Twitter, YouTube – all this can be a viable platform for publishing useful content.
It is important not to overdo with self-promotion. It should be not less than 80% of useful content on a corporate platform. For every 4 interesting articles, you may publish a small note about your new product. Better – even less. You have to accept that a corporate blog will no longer be a blog about the company, it will be a blog for the customers. One or two full-fledged articles a week is a great place for a useful corporate blog.
However, corporate platform is not a place for outside experts. Really powerful content marketing begins on independent platforms.
The first step beyond the corporate blog is writing for third-party resources. No matter if you pay for the placement or not. It is important that your material is not advertising. Only useful articles and videos that the reader will want to add to his bookmarks.
Find websites, blogs, and media that your audience reads, create articles on the exciting current topics (in accordance with the purpose and objectives of your marketing content) and publish them.
To have a commercial effect, put the name of a company and the author at the end of the article. But please never, under any circumstances do not mix hidden advertising into a useful material. This is an important precaution. Once the reader figures out that you want to make a hidden sale, he will lose the confidence to you, and it’s worse than if he did not know you at all.
When you finally debug the process, you’ll see the problem: the life of the content in the blog and the media is very short. It seems that you can work better. However, you will already see the results of your content marketing. You will have a loyal audience and brand advocates. It’s the right time to go to the next level.
Create your own content project: an independent platform on which you will submit all your old and new content in a convenient form. If you use ready-made applications for publishing content such as “WordPress”, then it’s a question of one day.
Transfer the articles from your blog to a new independent website. Add new sections, build new links between the articles, add pictures to attract attention. Your new content will get a worthy setting. All new content will be printed directly on the new website. Information about the new website should appear in the blog and on the main page of the corporate website.
The main thing is that not only you can write on the website, but also outside experts. You will increase the value of your site due to their work.
Another option of creating useful content is to “pack” it in an electronic or printed book. Branded printed book is a powerful tool of promotion outside of the Internet, but you need the help of publishers for its release.
EBook can be done by one designer and one editor in a month. Further, this book is published on your website. You can give it away in exchange for the recipient’s email address: then you will accumulate not very relevant database of email addresses. Or give it away for free and simply promote your brand through the book.
You can not immediately write a book or open a successful independent website. Therefore, you should start with small steps and see what works and what doesn’t work. When everything works smoothly on the current level, you can proceed to the next one.
- Identify and describe the audience, purpose, task.
- Start writing in your own corporate blog. Achieve the regularity.
- Connect the colleagues to the blog. Develop regularity.
- Distribute content on social networks.
- Start building materials for external resources. Put it on stream. Collect everything you post outside your blog.
- Collect enough material for a great website or book. Pay for their creation.
- Start creating unique content for social networks.
- Run separate content projects in the social network.
- Prospects are endless.
Content marketing: does it suit you?
Content marketing helps companies to create the necessary reputation and thus attract the interest of customers. It’s an important and expensive technology, and it is not for everyone.
YES: intelligent services
Content marketing is ideal for anyone who sells intelligent services and complex equipment. Planning and design, specialized industrial services, consulting, analytics, research – usually it is B2B-market.
NO: resale, distribution of goods
If your business is based on resale and you do not add the cost of the product, it will be difficult to create a lot of useful content. Trading companies usually create stories about how their products are used and how they affect the lives of people – it’s too boring to capture industry.
YES: undeveloped market
If you have a new product or you satisfy the need that the market has not realized yet, content marketing is the best weapon. Bring knowledge to the masses.
NO: saturated market
If your market has a lot of content (business consulting, design, marketing), you will face serious competition from the companies which produce content for a long time. To succeed, you have to create something better than everyone else or to find your own niche.
A clear definition of the audience will be very helpful: to write about e-commerce for the restaurants of healthy eating is much easier than to write about e-commerce in general.
YES: national and online business
Your content will be distributed to the cities and countries and people from everywhere will gradually start to come to you. It will be good, if you are able to serve them.
NO: local business
Another thing is if you sell farm products at a shop in the suburbs and do not plan to expand. Even if you win people in your area, it will slightly affect sales.
As a result
Content marketing is a great thing. We are sure that it is the future and the present because it is based on the principle of utility – you’re doing something useful to the world, and the world responds to you in return.