‘Content is King’, as the saying goes. And It’s true because content is everywhere, underpinning each experience along the customer pathway.
Customer expectations in this digital age are high. They expect things RIGHT NOW. The way they want it. On their timeline. And fast.
Every business needs a base understanding of content marketing fundamentals to stay relevant.
A content marketing strategy can help you answer customer needs by providing relevant, engaging, and entertaining information along the way.
Helping them make decisions to work with you, buy your thing, or simply engage and stay in touch. When you’re consistent with your content, it helps you build trust and connect with your target audience.
What is Content Marketing?
It seems everyone has their own definition of content marketing, which is not surprising as the lines blur between content planning, strategy, and execution.
The official definition from the content marketing institute is this (and they ought to know right?).
“Content marketing strategy is your “why.” Why you are creating content, who you are helping, and how you will help them in a way no one else can. Organisations typically use content marketing to build an audience and to achieve at least one of these profitable results: increased revenue, lower costs, or better customers.”
Whether your company has been developing content for years or is just starting to dive in, creating a content marketing strategy will help your business reach its target audience (and meet your goals).
Content marketing generates over 3x as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
Source: Demand Metric
Taking a strategic approach to content marketing will help you create and publish content that’s valuable and relevant to your audience, with the intent to attract potential customers and retain them.
Content brings your vision to life.
My take on Content Marketing Strategy
Benefits of Content Marketing
Benefit 1: Brand Awareness and Visibility
With clear, engaging positioning you can start to create content that gets your name out in front of people, and attracts your ideal client because they know straight away what you do and how you help.
Benefit 2: Build authority as an expert
Companies and small business owners who release informative, fresh content are seen as the experts and thought leaders in their field.
The 2022 Edelman LinkedIn Report, highlighted thought leadership is one of the most effective tools an organisation can use to demonstrate its value to customers during a tough economy – even more so than traditional advertising or product marketing, according to B2B buyers.
Benefit 3: Stand out from your competition
Most industries have similar service offers and features across products. Where you can stand out is when you provide helpful, entertaining content that your audience values. You stand out by your unique take on a topic, sharing opinions, and giving potential clients those ‘a-ha’ moments.
= more leads = more sales
Content marketing is all about getting to know your audience better and understanding what is going on for them.
This means you can overcome sales objections with copy that’s targeted to address common fears, objections, or transformation. The focus is on benefits over features and encourages interaction or invites a sales conversation.
Benefit 5: Search Engine Traffic (SEO optimised)
With a strategic approach to content, you plan content around how your potential customer thinks during all parts of the customer journey.
Drive more traffic to your website by answering their questions and using the words and phrases they type into Google.
Benefit 6: Client retention
When you consistently produce great content you’re reminding your customers you exist and that they made a great choice/investment in working with you.
Benefit 7: You have a clear plan
Most business owners I chat with don’t know what they should talk about, how to show up, or what’s important.
With a content marketing strategy all that uncertainty goes away. You end up with a clear path to follow and know how to talk about what you do (and how often).
The Content Marketing Strategy Framework
Content marketing is an essential tactic within your strategic marketing plan.
Working alongside your business plans to support growth targets, brand strategy to influence consumer perception, and your service goals to shape the customer experience.
My framework isn’t anything fancy but has evolved from learning and experimenting with many marketing models, user experience design, and being the person trying to implement the strategy. I know it works. And useable is better than a strategy that sits on the shelf.
Step 1: The Why
Get clear on the reason you create content and how you’ll present yourself.
Step 2: The Who
Get up close and personal with your audience before you write a single word.
Step 3: The what
Decide your content themes and need for content along the customer journey.
Step 4: The How
The ins and outs of how you’ll create, distribute and amplify content.
Step 5: Measurement
Decide on a set of metrics to measure so you’ll know if your content is working or not.
Detailed explanation of the Content Marketing Steps
For those of you who are interested to know more, I’ve outlined more detail below.
Step 1: The Why
The first part to why is around goals.
Content marketing supports business goals and helps drive outcomes (otherwise, it’s just content for content’s sake).
When your content goals and business goals are in alignment all areas of the business are considered.
The other why is your brand story and how you want to present to the market.
– Tone of Voice
– Brand Values and Vision
– Value Statement
Storytelling brings this all together.
Step 2:The Who
One of the most critical elements in documenting your content strategy is knowing who your customers are and understanding their wants and needs.
In this step, we define who your audience is, what motivates them, their dreams, and desires and what’s in their way. Where possible we do first-hand research and leverage known audience profile traits.
Knowing this helps you create relevant content that solves their problems.
Step 3: The What
Because we understand your goals and your audience, we move on to what you should talk about and what type of content your audience needs along the way.
In marketing terms, we talk about content pillars, which are a way to group content into themes that support what your business does and what you want to be known for.
Sub-topics sit underneath those pillars and you can mix up the way you present content using a variety of content mediums (articles, videos, infographics, courses etc).
Content Pillars are also used to inform SEO efforts to drive more people to your website. By having agreed topics, you can research what your customers are looking for.”
For example my content pillars are:
1. Marketing Strategy
3. Content Marketing
4. Small business life
They are broad themes, with many sub-topics to create content underneath them in various styles and formatting.
Mapping your customer experience
Your customer has different expectations and questions along the path to working with you.
By mapping and analysing customer needs along the way, you can design content and insert into the sales cycle to help the decision-making process
Step 4: The How
You can map out your content needs for the year, decide which channels you’ll use to distribute (socials, emails, website, youtube etc).
It’s not enough to simply produce all this content, you need to share and amplify its effectiveness. You want to make sure the right audience sees your content.
Along with posting your content on social media, you might want to consider creating an email campaign to distribute your content to your subscribers or enlist referral partners or employee advocates to share content with their networks.
And if you’re a large enough company, this is when you need to create a content creating blueprint for creation, sign-off, management and release of content.
Step 5: The Measure
Without measures in place, we’ll never know if content works or not.
There’s a strong argument that it’s not any one piece that gets someone to buy from you, but a sum of all the parts along the customer journey.
Create content goals with specific measurements you can track.
– client conversions
– engagement rate
– website traffic
– form completions
The more quantifiable the better.
Content Marketing Fundamentals
So there you have it. The five steps to creating a content strategy and why it’s a good idea for your business to have one.
Having content ideas alone won’t get you far but when they feed into a comprehensive content strategy, they can feed into the success of your business. Your brand’s content will align with your overall marketing strategy and your target audience’s needs and lead to more sales.
And who doesn’t want more sales?
Because content is considered organic (not paid to distribute) makes, it a handy marketing tool for businesses with a smaller marketing budget.
About the Author
Rebecca Cofrancesco is an experienced marketing strategist and content creator.
She works with professional services brands and offers freelance services without the overhead of a full-time employee.
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