Content marketing is not limited to marketers with million dollar budgets and large content factory teams. The market is ripe with easy to use tools and prevent tactics to make us all look like content marketing pros.
Businesses, large and small, can distribute content into the hands of their target audiences quickly, professionally, and in the channel of their choice. In other words, you can meet the most pressing marketing mandate of today: deliver the right content, right customer, right time.
Content marketing challenges
So, what’s the hardest part of content marketing? Without a doubt, it is challenging on two fronts:
Rigidly focus on understanding your target market so you can deliver content that matters to them
Produce high quality content consistently rather than average content relentlessly
Know your target market inside and out
As long as you have something relevant to say, there’s a tool to help you say it (and look like a marketing master while you’re doing it). But how do you determine what’s relevant and useful?
As Joe Pulizzi puts it in his book, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less:
“Your customers don’t care about you, your products, or your services. They care about themselves. Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you.”
Relevance is the lifeblood of content marketing. It’s what serves the goals and aspirations of your target market. That’s it – no more, no less. Eliminate everything else that clouds the waters.
Understand your ideal customer and their challenges. Learn what they want to gain, and offer support throughout the customer lifecycle, from start to finish. Your blog, online videos, Facebook Live sessions, white papers, etc., must demonstrate that you understand what matters most.
If you don’t already know what your target audience cares about, answer their questions, share your resources, and give away your secrets. This convinces customers that you understand them which naturally leads to the conclusion that you can help.
Consistently produce high quality content
Robert Rose hits the nail on the head when he reminds us of our duty to deliver relevant, valuable, and compelling content–not just more content.
“Our job, as marketers, is not to create more content. It has never been about that. It’s about creating the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of behavior change in our customers.”
Whether B2B or B2C, if your content isn’t high quality, meaning useful, you’ll fight an uphill battle to drive profitable business growth. Why? Consumers won’t be inspired to be loyal or motivated to buy from you.
High quality, behavior-changing content delivers what matters most, while demonstrating your brand personality, tone, story, and promise in a salient and thought-provoking manner.
The great news is you are probably further along than you think. The even better news is that if you aren’t, you can develop your content marketing strategy with relative ease.
Here’s where to begin:
Write down the topic (i.e., challenge) that matters most to your audience right now.
Jot down 5-10 thoughts and answers that are associated with this topic.
Choose one format you’re most comfortable with for your first attempts. There’s time to experiment with other media later when you have greater confidence. Some people are a natural in front of a camera. Others can tell a compelling story with pictures or words. Pick what appeals most to your skillset – blog, video, podcast, SlideShare, infographic, and so on.
Search for online for free/low cost tools, if needed.
Start creating, experiment, and have fun!
Publish and promote your content using all channels available to you.
Make it easy for your audience to move between learning from you and buying from you – a brightly-colored button labelled ‘Buy Now’, ‘Start Your Subscription’, etc., (e.g., also, written and verbal instructions work well).
Always include a prominent call to action for next steps.
Start crafting your next piece, and back to #1.
Most importantly, be patient!
Audiences are not built overnight. It’s discouraging when a mere 3 people view your YouTube video or 12 people click on your Facebook post and 8 of them are related to you (personal experience!).
It typically takes time to develop a following, expand your exposure, and increase sales. Focus on the quality of the engagement rather than the quantity. These are members of your audience that are most likely to do business with you.
If you create average content that isn’t designed with your audience in mind it devalues your brand. In fact, it is a complete waste of time. Rigidly focus on understanding your target market and produce high quality content consistently. It is a choice, a hard choice but nevertheless, a choice, that gets you in front of your audience. That’s a great start!
This article has been edited.
Nicola Roark is a freelance marketing strategist and frequently consults with startups and entrepreneurs. She loves helping businesses succeed and is currently developing a series focused on helping small businesses manage their own marketing like pros! Connect with @xhilarationmktg on Twitter.