The nature of a good content marketing strategy is to target buyer personas with good quality content that adds value to them, and helps them make better decisions.
By publishing helpful, valuable and relevant content, a company vastly improves search engine rankings, customer engagement and conversion outcomes, as in leads, sales and loyalty.
Content that is developed with a clear understanding of customers, their needs and behaviours, also offers opportunities to develop an active database of a well qualified and receptive audience.
By knowing your customers needs and in particular, the questions that they are asking – of Google, of your sales and support people and their friends and colleagues – as well as understanding the current and future socio-economic and political environment your business operates within (and how that impacts your customers), we can create and curate engaging content in the correct format for best distribution.
Content formats may range from tools (calculators, apps, checklists), to videos – such as a ‘step-by-step guide to getting your house ready for sale’ and features articles like ‘How to implement the paperless office in a New Zealand context’.
The content should also draw on research and experts from within your company as well as recognised industry influencers and experts outside of the company. By drawing on independent comment or input, you will automatically begin to develop high quality, detailed and helpful content – from the simple to the very complex.
And you don’t need the experts to write it either. A competent freelance journalist, or content marketing agency like Iron Road, can interview the experts and create the content on your behalf. For example, a content piece for a catering company involved filming one of the chefs preparing the food while we chatted to him about why catering was such a vastly different art from ‘on site’ dinning.
In this way your company will have an endless source of content – directed by your clearly articulated strategy – which allows you to go on and build a market position as a thought leader.
Companies that meet a customer’s information needs and which helps them solve problems with objective, non-commercial value-added information, is more likely to attract traffic, build awareness and convert followers and customers than other companies stuck in the self promotion paradigm.
The content creation process
1. Identify and create good quality, informative content pieces (video, podcasts, articles) based on your understanding of the target market, but ensure that where possible it is inextricably bound to current affairs. For example, what is making news in your industry at the moment? High house prices, for example, informs content ideas for financial advisors, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, insurers, maintenance companies, property investors… and speaks to their customers concerns.
2. Interview company stakeholders and experts (try to include external experts) to create articles, podcasts, videos and other pieces dealing with relevant or newsworthy subjects.
• Real estate agents tells us the 7 things buyers most want from a home
• How Facebook is changing trademark property rights
3. Curate quality content by third parties – expert, but independent market commentators – that is making news right now. But don’t just re-tweet or repost their content as is. Add your comment or interpretation to what is being said, rather than just promoting third party content. For example, You may want to use the third party piece to inspire your own blog post (while referring back to the original piece).
4. Curate and or re-purpose existing company content. For example is their a presentation that somebody has given at a sales meeting or seminar, that can be repurposed into informative content? Consider even filming the presentation and posting it to your website and to YouTube.
Most importantly however, is to remember that the type, quality, format and nature of your content ultimately depends on the questions your customers are asking, and their needs and their problems.
One of the primary objectives of publishing content is help your company cement ‘ownership’ of its thought leadership position by:
• Expanding the company’s communications and digital footprint beyond that of the competition;
• Engaging, communicating and converting target market customers over a defined period;
• Increase discovery by achieving top organic search results;
• Capture a growing number of good quality prospects;
• Achieve independent endorsement from third party media, bloggers and commentators;
• Deriving benefit from word-of-mouth, including social media shares and likes.
To succeed at this, it is important to attribute as much importance to ‘search authority’ as you do to content creation. The three primary channels for publishing and promotion of content include:
1. Owned media e.g. your website and your blog;
2. Earned media e.g. having your content published on digital news sites because it is newsworthy and interesting. It’s difficult, but can be done with content that is informative, memorable and distinctive enough that people want to read it and share it. Look to establish a network of high authority third party sites that will publish your company’s content.
3. Bought media e.g. this is where you pay a company to publish your content (sometimes referred to as native advertising). This content should still add value and be newsworthy. Anything less is advertorial and nobody reads that.
However you approach your content creation process, it is essential to write with the needs of your audience in mind, to be current and topical, and choose your distribution, or publishing channels, with your end objectives in mind.