Strategic Content Marketing: 5 Keys to a Plan That Pays Off
Content marketing is proving to be a game changer for many marketers, both in how they engage customers and position brands in the digital space. According to the Custom Content Council, 60 percent of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and they are also more likely to buy from that company. Whether generating leads, supporting sales efforts or improving search engine visibility, content strategy plays an increasingly important role in successful marketing programs.
Here are five tips for developing a successful content marketing strategy.
1. Marketing Strategy First, Tactics Later
This may seem like common sense, but many marketers jump into tactics before developing a focused content strategy. Content marketing is just one component of a larger integrated marketing program. First, you need to understand the audience and what motivates them. Next is message development, which informs what tactics and channels will best engage your audience. Finally, remember to include measurement.
Your content marketing program should leverage your core go-to-market strategy, orchestrating scenarios that drive awareness and move quality prospects through the sales funnel. Regardless of the tactics employed, stay disciplined.
2. Don't Overlook Internal Content Opportunities
Once you've established a solid content strategy, start filling the content pipeline. Certainly you will leverage your thought leaders, but there are hidden gems throughout your organization.
Consider the perspectives of your sales team and customer service representatives. They are engaged in dialog with your target audience everyday and can share insights that are meaningful to your customers. Also consider your company's internal education sessions. Do you bring in outside vendors to educate your staff? Do you hold lunch-and-learns to share the latest industry trends with your employees? Would your customers and prospects benefit from this information as well? Sometimes great content is in hiding in plain sight. You just need to find it and use it.
3. Remain Agile
With a solid content strategy, an organization can be more agile and strategically opportunistic in identifying great content. This means being prepared and understanding the difference between on-strategy content and just making stuff.
We ran into this issue recently with a client: The team was at an international trade show and we knew some key customers would be in attendance. Our team worked to orchestrate potential content opportunities in advance. We were looking for moments of meaningful dialog and insight—interactions with customers. We captured a great three-way discussion between one of our client's best customers and the editor of the industry's leading trade journal. Because we were prepared and opportunistic, the client has a great piece of relevant content.
4. Make the Right Investments
Effective content marketing is only possible with the right resources in place. A team should be designated that can share the responsibility of creating content. Consider an outside agency to partner with your internal team. Content marketing requires a depth of resources.
You should also implement quality assurance and messaging consistency review processes, but mandate quick approvals to keep content timely. You must also hold your team accountable. Making content creation a priority adds a new level of responsibility. Just as content marketing is changing the way we do business, we must re-shape our teams to do it right.
5. Spark Action
It's crucial to evaluate how your content will motivate the audience to take action. Effective content marketing doesn't sell—it educates and assists. We want the audience to reexamine their approach and thinking. We want to produce "ah-ha" moments for our customers. This is how you open the door and build relationships that boost sales opportunities.
Don't be shy about sharing your content. Readers become invested in the end result when you help them understand a complicated topic or provide great insights. At the end of the day, they'll either view you as a reputable and valued source of information, or they'll turn to you for your help and expertise.
Matt Daly is vice president client solutions at Harrisburg, Penn.-based integrated marketign agency JPL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Daly is VP of Client Solutions with JPL, a full-service, integrated, marketing agency. Daly provides strategic counsel to C-suite executives on building their brand and improving the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. JPL delivers strategic thinking and creative execution across a full range of services that include brand, digital, integrated marketing and internal communications.