All too often, a company gets intrigued with content marketing and decides to give it a try. But then, after just a couple of blogs, executives decide that there just isn’t any tangible return on their investment, or that it’s not measurable, and so lessen their content output, or abandon the initiative altogether.
In most cases this is due to poor planning and a failure to ensure that the content produces the best impact possible. And, with so many options these days, businesses can get confused about what content marketing actually is. Content marketing includes video content, social media, blogs, articles, white papers, how-to articles and even press releases — Any way you can get good information out in front of your audience and create an impact. The types of content and ways to distribute this content are increasing almost daily.
The key is to ensure you plan well in order to deliver the best message and ensure that it creates an impact. Have a strategy in place to coordinate your content so again, you create maximum impact. You could have written the best blog in the world, but if nobody reads it, it won’t matter. So coordinate your content strategy. If you post a blog on your site, post a link to Facebook and promote it. Tweet it out. Be sure to post it on your Linked In and to any Linked In groups that make sense. If you are a member of any relevant industry best practice social sites, consider posting it there too.
Some content, such as social media, is designed to deliver a relevant message in a fast, short format, similar to a sound bite. You don’t have much time, or many words, in which to craft a message and catch the person’s attention. So this type of content needs to be relevant, interesting and formatted properly for the platform. If your post drives them to a destination site, you better be sure that the promises you make in any social media content are delivered when they get to that site. Unless it is a targeted ad, if they click through and get a big product pitch and not the article, blog or piece of advice they were hoping for, the chances of them returning decrease with every occurrence.
Next, all your pieces of content should be designed to support each other. Perhaps your company is planning a sale or launching a product. A great strategy would be to start with some soft-sell, educational blogs and articles supporting the concept overall and the need for the product you are about to launch. Please don’t be promotional, just touch on the general subject with an opinion piece, or some industry best practices. For example, if your company is launching a mobile product, blogs and articles should be focused around mobile, and perhaps explain the importance of a mobile experience. Write articles on the subject and publish them in an industry publication. Create a social campaign around the subject. These blogs, articles and social postings can help to reinforce and keep the importance top of mind until… surprise… you publish a press release announcing a new mobile product.
Each piece of content should be tailored to guide your customers down the buying funnel. At the Top of the funnel your audience should receive messages and content that supports the overall concept and market need of the product and service you are about to offer. A soft sell, overall educational approach – not promotional. Each subsequent piece of content should then support that message.
Content marketing isn’t inexact. Each platform has a purpose and the lower you take someone down the buying funnel, the more promotional you can get. The end game is that your audience will start paying attention to your content when they are top funnel and follow you down the funnel as their need for your product or service (or your content convincing them of that need) progresses.
Only then will the audience think that your service is right for them. And when that happens, and they contact you, you no longer need to sell value, but only close the deal. Why? Because you’ve been selling value for months … and that’s why they contacted you in the first place.
Take advantage of content marketing. But be sure to do so in a way that is less about aggressively pushing your product, and is more of a coordinated strategic path. You will see your efforts pay off much faster and your executives will start buying into your strategy and be a heck of a lot happier about it!
Author: Sara Callahan
Sara Callahan, Carter West Public Relations Founder & President
Sara Callahan is the Founder and President of Carter West Public Relations, one of the top agencies that specializes in retail automotive public relations.
Born in the United Kingdom, Sara Callahan re-located to the United States over twenty-five years ago and held executive positions in several marketing/communications firms before founding her own agency, Carter West Public Relations, in 1990.
Ms. Callahan’s particular strengths include community and media relations, content development, social media, campaign strategies, trade shows, special events, print and broadcast media placement.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org