Content marketing: Developing a content strategy
Content might well be king, but only if you have a good content strategy. Here are some tips for getting clear on what you want your content marketing to achieve, and how to make it happen.
Good quality content marketing is not about churning out blog after key-worded blog, tweeting incessantly and updating your Facebook status every 10 minutes; it’s about creating relevant, timely content that reaches and engages your audience. Whether you’re yet to set up a business website or WordPress/Twitter/Pinterest/Facebook/LinkedIn account or you’re already publishing content via these platforms, you need to be clear on your content strategy if you want it to really work for you.
Here are a few things to consider.
What does your content need to do?
Of course you ultimately want your content to generate sales. This is also the goal of advertising, but it’s important not to get content marketing and advertising confused.
"Sales copy… is like a one-night stand – it gets what it wants and it’s outta there. Content, on the other hand, is like a long-term romance."
Sales copy, whether it’s a direct mail letter, website or brochure, is designed to persuade and close the deal. It’s like a one-night stand – it gets what it wants and it’s outta there. Content, on the other hand, is like a long-term romance. The relationship is built more slowly. It’s the kind of friendship that will not only last longer, but will also compel your customers or followers to share their love for you.
So while generating more sales might be part of your content strategy, it’s only one part. Other goals for your content might include:
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- Build your brand (personality, tone of voice, values)
- Create a community
- Be part of a conversation
- Learn useful insights about your market, industry, clients, products, services
- Provide genuinely helpful customer service
- Save customers time and/or money by sharing useful tips
- Position you as a thought leader on a certain subject or market
Does anyone really want to hear what you have to say?
Hands up if you feel completely overwhelmed with information overload. Yep, thought so – and your customers probably do too. Not all the information at our fingertips is good, so we’re more discerning about what to spend valuable time reading or watching.
So how do you cut through the content clutter?
Put yourself in their shoes. What would be useful, relevant, interesting – and appropriate given the timing and channel? Do they want entertainment, helpful guides or interesting ‘big picture’ insights? Can you create personalised alerts, VIP deals, fast-track service or insider views?
What’s in the mix?
Self-confessed geek and basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal revealed his Twitter content formula at the recent SXSW event in Austin: “60 per cent to make you laugh, 30 per cent to inspire you, and 10 per cent to sell stuff.”
It’s a formula that engages his 6.8 million Twitter followers and fans. But I wonder how many businesses would try to flip that and make it 60 per cent to ‘sell stuff’?
A good content marketing strategy balances the mix. Curated and original content. Written and visual information. Stories about your business and about your customers. Humour and big ideas.
So, where do you start?
A good strategy takes into account your resources, and I’m going to make a wild guess that time and budget are not endless right now. So, keep it simple.
The three most common content tools I see small businesses using are:
- A website – probably the most important content you own so please give it some love
- A regular email newsletter or blog – provides useful news or insights (not a direct-mail sales spiel)
- One social media channel, updated even more regularly – whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or something else depends on where your customers are, what your business is all about and what you feel comfortable using daily.
Make it easy for your customers to share your content or get in touch. Make sure each of content tools links to the other and, most importantly, that they all have a message that is useful, interesting and of value to your audience.
Are you clear on your content marketing strategy?