By Rebecca Bennett
Content marketing is a 44 billion dollar industry and is the top priority of 39% of client-side marketers and growing. Digital platforms are also the fastest growing consumer channel of content. If you are looking to create online content as a marketing strategy, there are essentially 5 basic things you need to know.
Probably the most important requirement. You want to be able to align your business objectives with the interests of your audience. Remember, this does not work the other way around. First, define what is your audience truly interested in. It’s probably not your product, sorry to say. An easy way to figure this out is to ask yourself what are their pain points? Or what do they value? Great places to find this out is to tap into current consumer’s RSS feeds. Another great place is to find online communities who match your ideal buyer persona and mine their social conversations. Once you figure out their interests, you can determine their needs and the type of info they would be looking for. Now you have to make sure that your business has the ability to take a credible stand on these topics of interest by somehow relating it back to what you offer. If it doesn’t relate, then you will not be taken seriously as a credible source of information and no one will read your content.
2) Be sincere
Talk to your audience as a person, not as a company. Take on a human side in your content. The way to do this is to appeal to their emotions and be 100% truthful. This especially holds true for when brands make mistakes. A lot of marketing is trial and error, which is why we do A/B testing. In the process, we an unintentionally offend someone or make them upset. Show your heart by revealing what your true intentions were and apologize. By all means, do not ignore the bad feedback your audience provides you. Acknowledge it, let them know you are listening, and move on, striving to become better from it.
3) Be timely
Events receive the most hits when they are happening in the moment. The trend of a topic looks like a bell curve. There is a steep ramp-up generally pre-event, a spike during the event, and a gradual ramp down in the interest levels post-event. Thus, to give your content the most bang, launch it in the moment as it is happening or even better, right before. You want it out there when the most people are searching for it in order to maximize your hits. Creating an editorial calendar helps to time the best months or weeks to release different topics that can be planned for. As for those unpredictable events, you have got to be on your toes, scouring the online news headlines daily and have a reaction plan in place when something does pop up.
4) Best over 1st
It used to be that you would get the most publicity if you were the first one to respond to an event with relevant published content. Now that has shifted, so now who ever can come up with the cleverest, most engaging content, that is of course timely enough, is the winner, according to Anne-Marie Kline, SVP of Social Content/Managing director of BrandLIVE DigitasLBi.
5) Value over product
If you push a product/service in your audience’s face as the solution to their problem, they’ll see salesman written all over you, and flee. But if you provide them useful information that you can be the authority on that fulfills their information needs, then your audience will naturally gravitate toward you. If they see that you are in fact able to help them with your content, without a hand exchange of money, then they will be primed to think that the products/services you offer will also help them. Aim to help and the sale will follow.
NewsCred. Relevance Has A Deadline White Paper. 2014. newscred.com/theacademy/learn/real-time-marketing-whitepaper.
NewsCred. Content Marketing Strategy 101: Strategy, Design, Delivery White Paper. http://newscred.com/theacademy/learn/content-marketing-playbook-nine-strategies.