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This is the first article in a two-part series about creating and implementing a content marketing strategy. If you have a written business plan, now would be a good time to print it off, or dust it down from the drawer its been stored in since the bank loaned you your start-up expenses.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process by which an organization promotes its knowledge, products and services through regular content creation. This content can be in the form of, for example, blogs, video, social posts or infographics.
The goals of content marketing are:
- to build your brand and market yourself as an authority within your industry
- to regularly create high-quality content that will help your SEO efforts
- to grow qualified and engaged traffic to your website
- to inform, educate and entertain your audience
- to generate qualified leads
- to drive sales
In the coming weeks I will explain in more detail the following elements of content marketing.
Define Your Business Goals
As is the case with most marketing efforts, knowing exactly what you want to achieve as a business owner will inform your marketing strategies. This is no different for content marketing. At Pioneer Digital Media our initial meeting and discovery session will help you define your (business and personal) goals and think about what content and digital marketing plans will be best suited to help you achieve them.
Know Your Audience — Create A Buyer Persona
Segmenting your audience by understanding your target market(s) is another element essential for consistency with content and its messaging—along with many other aspects of digital marketing. If your targeting too broad a demographic your voice can get lost in the noise as it's not relevant to many people you are trying to reach.
In essence, even if your products or services have mass-market appeal, you may still need to target different demographics with a different voice, different forms of content, and on different social platforms, for example.
Personify Your Business and Find Your Voice
Once you know what you want to achieve, and who your audience is, it's easier to work backwards to understand what is your business. Writing a list of what defines you and your business is a great start:
- I'm a local business that cares about my community
- I want to make a good standard of living but not at the expense of great relationships with suppliers and customers
- My business is unique and speaks to a specific demographic
- I'm in a competitive market but I set myself apart by...
Once you've defined your business you can personify it and say who it is. This is a similar process to defining your buyer personas. Once you've defined your business as a person it becomes a far simpler task to find a voice, identity and style. Finding a voice is integral to creating content with consistent messaging for your audience. It will also help create content with a style. Many people across the web are publishing content on similar topics—it's how and why you write or create content that will set you apart.
Inform, Educate and Entertain your Audience
One of the major shifts with the rise of the internet is the change from outbound marketing (cold calling, junk mail etc) to inbound marketing (content, social and other non-interruptive forms of digital marketing). Hubspot defines inbound marketing as:
Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.
We live in a world of savvy audiences and consumers. We know when we are having a message, product or service rammed down our throats which, generally speaking, we don't enjoy. The power of being found during an inbound process is that the searcher is at the beginning of their buying journey, and if you can build trust and a rapport with informative and entertaining content at this early stage there is a good chance you end up making the sale, especially if you have relevant content as potential customers move through each stage the buying process (or sales funnel).