1. Know Your Audience
We’re going to kick things off with some research. We’re going to bet that you could stand to update your buyer personas. No one likes doing it, but damn are you going to thank us later. After all, how do you make content that your audience will like if you don’t know what kind of stuff they want?
It’s crucial to evaluate how well you understand your customers. Have you been keeping up with them as their needs and demands change? And as the market evolves around them? Or are you using the same outdated assumptions to pigeonhole them?
Take some time to sit with your client-facing colleagues to ask about what you might be missing. Is there a new piece of fancy tech in the industry? Are business sectors consolidating? What are your customers afraid of, and how can you help mitigate those fears? Or, how does your product attack these stressors head-on?
2. Get Better at Creating
Take stock. Do you have enough resources to charge toward content marketing? Do you possess the time, talent, and budget required to set goals, create content, and measure it against your objectives? If not, don’t get into the content game.
Content marketing is arduous. It takes a well-planned strategy, considerable time, and large amounts of work to churn out a lot of content. And even if you do have enough resources, there’s no guarantee it will land the way you want it to. Don’t enter this endeavor lightly. Bulk up, plan, and get to work.
3. Benefit Your Customers, Not Yourselves
The educational needs of your audience are paramount. Your business goals are secondary. The content you produce needs to create a tangible benefit for the people who are consuming it. They are seeking answers, and your brand needs to provide value. If the content you push is just a polished sales pitch, disguised in a commercial, you’ve failed. Patting yourself on the back might feel good, but your arm is going to get tired fast. Your audience won’t be there to congratulate you if they’ve already moved on to a brand that’s giving them what they actually need.
We preach this time and time again. Content is a vehicle for education, not pitching.
4. Hire the Right Talent
There are a few key components to keep in mind when creating your content: your story, your goals, and your talent. Your brand needs to have a compelling, authentic story as the central thread running through your strategy. It needs to be consistent, focused, and ensure that people feel something - after reading your piece, they should cry, laugh, or learn. Otherwise, you risk being scattered and disorganized, or failing to make an impact. Once the story is set, plan the distribution channels, and set robust benchmarks. Understand how to measure your content before you need to measure it, and realize how those metrics speak to your overall business goals.
Crucial to both of these is introducing the right mix of talented employees. You need people who are good at content strategy on your team, and you should also have others who are good at content production on your roster. These are two core, separate roles, and you’ll rarely find someone with the talent to do both well, or the time to do one at all. Get the story, then the strategy, and then start building the content. Strategists and producers can’t live without each other, and communication between them should be constant to produce the best work.
5. Measure the Right Data
Set your goals. Why are you investing in content in the first place? What are you hoping to achieve with it? How is it going to help your bottom line? And how are you going to measure that?
Are you trying to create more leads, or maybe seek out more in-depth relationships with current customers?
Consider the data that can help prove your impact. It could be a high number of views that define a good piece of content, for example. You could report that your content received thousands of shares on social media. It would be great to say you’ve made a tangible sale as a result of the content. The truth is, these are all good on their own, but even better together. Throw in an audience’s emotional response to your storytelling, and you’ve got a good foundation. Make sure your measurement is relevant to the content you’re producing, and the benchmarks you’ve set.
6. Build Tangible Relationships
Make your business known outside the digital space. Build a community. Host events, dinners, conferences, and parties. Meet the people your business relies on in-person, and make them rely on you. Create a space where they feel comfortable talking about their challenges, and they’ll never leave. Your content can extend beyond articles on your blog: make it reach out in the real world. Get on stage, make eye contact, and shake hands.
These relationships lead to positive effects on your bottom line and can have deep impacts on your customer retention.
7. Reward Customer Retention
The job isn’t complete once the customer buys your product. That’s when the real work begins. Content marketing requires education far into the customer lifecycle, and once your customers are deep in the funnel, retaining them is key. It’s less expensive to keep customers than it is to make new ones. Once you have them hooked, customers are going to rely on you even more. It’s imperative to evaluate whether you are meeting their needs continuously.
This effort is absolutely worthwhile. These close relationships and consistent business can drive you into the future, build your reputation, and grow your bottom line. Marketing never stops.