The answer is YES. But to get to the Yes, there are several things that businesses need to understand and put into action.
First and foremost, Content Marketing requires careful planning, consistent execution, hyper focus and a deep understanding of who your customer is and how they come to their buying decisions. Adding a “Blog” section to your website where you discuss your family outings every three months when Grandma Lily comes to town is not going to help your Bakery business.
The other aspect to understand is that Content Marketing is only one part of your entire marketing plan. If you’re looking to replace your entire marketing strategy with content marketing, then you’re not going to “make ends meet.” Finally, content marketing has a long-term horizonA Short-term horizon is considered to have a time horizon of less than three months, while a long-term horizon is 1 or more years., meaning rarely, if every, are you going to debut a video and instantly see your cash register light up. Another way to put it: content marketing is an incremental process that part art and part science.
1) Planning Phase – Developing Your Content Marketing Strategy
A) What is your ultimate business goal for developing content?
(And how does this goal fit into your larger overall marketing strategy?)
Once you’ve established your goal, you can then start to drill down into how each piece of content is going to serve that goal and provide a rewarding experience for your potential customers. What determine’s rewarding content? Well, unless you’re Petsmart, videos of your cat are not what we’re talking about.
B) Who is your customer?
Many companies create a profile of their ultimate customer. Also, known as a Buyer’s PersonaA buyer persona is a profile of your ideal customer based on observations, research and specific data about your current customers., this profile guides your efforts by identifying…
C) Your customer’s problems and pain points
During your Persona’s Buyer’s Journey, you can discover the problems and pain points your prospective customer is trying to solve. This is extremely important, and something many marketer’s completely miss: Create Content For Your Customer, NOT For Your Company.
Many companies don’t understand why their content is not gaining traction and this is one of the primary reasons. While you may think that video of you doing a wheelie in front of your motorcycle repair shop is awesome, and a great promo, it does nothing to solve your customer’s problems. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes…what are they searching for? What are they researching? What pain point are they trying to alleviate throughout their journey from research to purchase? THAT’S YOUR CONTENT!
2) Execution Phase – Focus
This is one aspect other Content Marketers tend to neglect, but I feel it’s super important. When developing content, be hyper focused so you can own, or at least stake a large claim, to one particular delivery channel. This is especially important for companies just jumping into the content marketing waters.
A) What’s your intent or reason for creating content?
Some call this a Content Marketing Mission Statement, but I use it to help companies find their focus. It should be one sentence that tells WHO is the market niche, exactly WHAT type of content will be distributed, and what will the RESULT be…
The What is not “a video” or “a blog” it’s what type of rewarding content it will be such as, tips, educational content, how to, etc.
For this website, my focus is to Provide useful information, insider insights and frank advice to small and midsize companies who want to succeed in their content marketing initiatives.
B) Pick one or two channels (at the most when starting out) and KILL IT. So many companies think they need to start a blog, create a podcast, shoot videos, design infographics and so on from the start. That is a bad strategy that’s only going to end up yield poor quality, poor execution and poor results. My advice is for you to pick one, or two if you can repurpose the content from one channel to another, and just nail it. And by nailing it I mean: Providing consistent and enriching content at the highest production value that targets customer problems for each defined point in the Buyer’s Journey. An example of repurposing is to transcribe your recorded podcast as a single, or multi-part blog post.
3) Execution Phase – Establish An Editorial Calendar
What you’re going to distribute and when you’re going to do it.
An editorial calendar determines all your content deliverables and keeps your focus on exactly what content you’re providing. This is very important and holds you accountable for failing to deliver valuable content on a defined basis. It’s important to address industry trends when they occur and even develop content specific to trade shows or special events.
4) Execution Phase – Creating Content
In addition to determining a content marketing schedule, each content asset has its own production trajectory that an editorial calendar must accommodate. The process to setup, light, film conduct, edit and publish a video interview, is far different from what needs to happen to great a great infographic. Since each type of content has a very different creation process, it’s important to understand exactly what is involved in establishing realistic time frames and delivery dates in an editorial calendar.
While content ideas are created by advertising agencies via brainstorming sessions where they create briefs, content marketers develop content based on answering questions throughout the buyer’s journey.
5) Promotion Phase – Get It Out There!
3) Evaluation Phase – Results