Content marketing has been around for a very long time but is now becoming the hot area that most consider a necessity to their overall marketing goals. Along with your other marketing methods, such as paid search and display advertisement, social media, traditional print, billboard, and television, content marketing deserves a place, along with a budget.
What is Content Marketing?
Wikipedia tells us: “Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online”. That is a fine definition but it doesn’t tell us a whole lot.
What content marketing boils down to is creating a way to get your audience to look at, and love you, versus your competition. The way to do that is to tap into your audience’s passions and keep giving them something that is unique, interesting and useful.
There is a great article by Jack Neff on Advertising Age “Is It Content or Is It Advertising?” As an undergraduate in history I love his reference of Benjamin Franklin to make the point that content marketing is a long standing method.
Understanding Your Goals
When creating a content marketing strategy you need to ask yourself “What are my business goals?”
- Do you want to get users to the website?
- Do you want to turn those users into actual leads?
- Do you want to convert leads to customers?
- Do you want to keep those customers coming back and buying more?
Since a good number of Searchlight Designs’ clients are schools and associations, let’s give examples.
- Do you want to create content that brings in people interested in the field, say beauty?
- Do you want to have articles written that convinces these people that the career choice is something they should pursue?
- Do you want to have content that convinces prospects that your school is the choice. (This sounds like a repeat of 2 but statistics shows it takes someone researching a school a few times to actually take action, i.e enroll).
- Do you want to have content that keeps current students and graduates coming back for information so they can sign up for continuing eduction, or keep your school fresh in their minds so they can be brand advocates?
- Do you want content that provides valuable information to the profession?
- Do you want content that convinces users that you are the resource for your industry?
- Do you want articles/videos that make the users feel that they need to be a part of your organization? Maybe under a Members Only section?
- Do you want members coming back again and again so they can renew their membership and attend events, because you are the resource they need?
Do you want to concentrate on just one or two of these goals, or all four? Each of these goals will require a different approach, different topics, and more content creation.
Understanding Your Audience
You need to know what your audience is interested in. Answer the questions they have. Google Analytics can tell you about your market – view your Demographics and Interests pages. If you are running Google search advertisement, a good place to look is to see which questions or phrases your users asked to display and click on your ad.
Another great place to come up with content ideas is to speak with your sales team. They are the ones answering the questions and interacting with your market everyday. They should know what makes your users light up.
Understanding You Need a Budget
You need to have a budget in place for content marketing. All that creation requires labor hours, and as we know, time is money. If you have to, start small then increase as your business increases and as you see results. Start out with a plan to post your marketing at least once a month, then twice a month, then every week, then every day. Scheduling is important, but the budget needs to be there to meet the schedule.
Use resources such as guest writers. These can be your current customers or vendors. Create how-to videos which are in very high demand at the moment. Give tips, recipes, uses of your product that your audience might not have thought about.
Good Content Is Around To Stay
Whether “content marketing” will be the “hot new tool” in marketing forever is questionable, but good, solid content will always be around.