When you get it right, the value of content marketing is enormous.
It helps you establish your reputation and your distinct voice in the marketplace. It sets you up as an influencer in your field. It attracts traffic to your website. It gives you countless inroads to start conversations with potential clients, adding value, building loyalty and helping you to convert internet window-shoppers to paying customers.
When you get it right.
Because here’s the thing: a hell of a lot of people get it wrong.
Why? Because they treat content marketing like advertising. They’re too focussed on what they want out of the exchange. They haven’t thought deeply enough about how to create good content for their audience.
Or they go the other way. They’re firing out free content like there’s no tomorrow. They blog like their life depends on it. They’re literally giving it away. They don’t have a clue how to feed the benefits back into their business.
If you want your content marketing strategy to be a success, you have to do three things:
- First, you have to create content that people actually want.
- Second, you have to make sure you’re targeting that content to the right people.
- And third, you have to make sure that you’re using the content to guide the conversation to where you need it to go.
Let’s look at this a little more closely.
Give the people what they want
What is good content? It’s stuff that educates and engages your audience. Stuff that solves a pressing business problem, or fills in gaps in their knowledge.
Think about the biggest issue that your business has right now – something that’s holding you back, or that you wish you knew how to address. Wouldn’t you love for someone to show you how to fix that problem? That’s the kind of thing your audience wants, too.
But a word of warning: what that absolutely no one in the entire world wants is to waste time following a clickbait headline that promises to solve their problem, only to find it’s essentially a 1000-word ad trying to get them to buy something that could fix their problem. It’s sneaky, disingenuous and counterproductive. Don’t do it.
Focus on the people that matter
I mean yeah, it’s nice if 2,000 product design students in Paraguay have downloaded your eBook, but if your target market is actually Norwegian engineers, it’s kind of by-the-by.
Remember that not every retweet is equal: you should be working a lot harder to get that one share or endorsement from a thought leader with thousands of followers in your industry than from 25 twitter-bots followed by 100,000 other twitter-bots. Focus on the quality of the connections you make with potential customers - not the quantity.
Guide the conversation
When they reach the end of the content you’ve generously provided, your reader/viewer/listener needs to know where to go next. If you don’t keep up the momentum, they’ll take what you’re offering, head off and forget all about you. Or worse, they’ll keep exploring the topic – but on a competitor’s blog.
As we said before, this isn’t about trying to strong-arm your audience into parting with their cash. It’s about knowing what it is that you want this person to do next.
Never make promises at the start that you don’t try to uphold within the piece of content itself. But do make sure that you set up a new promise, offer or enticement in the call-to-action at the end.
The skill is to impress your audience so much with the quality of your advice/depth of your industry knowledge, or to make them so hungry to learn more, that they’re keen to jump to the next piece of content/call you for a chat/sign-up for your service (whichever point they’re at in your content marketing strategy).
And, on your part, you need to be prepared and ready to seize on their interest and guide them to that logical next point without delay.
Want more expert, practical advice on creating a killer content marketing campaign (see what we did there)? Download The B2B Content Marketing Masterclass.