The Secret to Content Marketing – and Why You Should Care (Part 1)
We’re going to let you in on a little secret. “Content marketing” is really just a fancy way of saying “developing and sharing information that creates interest in your product or service.” So, let’s peek behind the curtain and figure out what constitutes good content marketing – and why you should be doing it to create more meaningful relationships with your members and prospects.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior.”
At its best, content marketing gives you a chance to create deeper, more meaningful relationships with your target audiences. And these days, relationships are the name of the game. Today’s consumers are too savvy to engage with a company that just wants to sell something to them – they want a connection. If you can make that connection through your content, then you’ve struck gold. Your ideal customer will give you that email address, demographic information or payment in exchange for the valuable information that only you can provide.
So, what exactly does content marketing entail? At a minimum, you need to:
- Create a content marketing strategy. Do you want to increase visitors to your site? Increase membership? Enhance awareness? Drive attendance at events? Whatever it is you want to accomplish, making a plan to get you there is essential. B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy are far more likely (66% vs. 11%) to consider themselves effective than those who don’t.
- Create compelling, valuable content. The good news for many associations is that the most difficult part of content marketing – content creation – is often already done. Whether it’s an in-depth industry analysis or an infographic, develop content that speaks to your target audience’s pain points and helps them solve their problems. If your product or service helps them do that, all the better. But whatever you do, don’t let your content sound like a sales pitch.
- Create a content distribution pipeline. Don’t rely on one method of distribution – repurpose the contents of a white paper into a series of blog posts and then tweet about the posts to your social network. Create a webinar on industry trends that is highlighted in an e-newsletter and also gets posted to your website. From online checklists to YouTube podcasts and from LinkedIn to web toolkits, making your content available in myriad ways will help you build your audience.
- Measure the impact of your content. Use sound analytic practices to measure how your content marketing strategy is working. “Measurement reveals how your content fits into the customer’s buying cycle,” say the experts at MarketingSherpa. Measure the traffic to your site, measure the number of retweets, measure how many attendees come to your conference, measure whatever is important to you and your organization. Then, with the results in hand, you can adjust your content and/or your distribution channels to ensure your messages are resonating with your customers.
So, why should you care about content marketing? Do it well and you can create a solid relationship with a community of loyal followers who may just be willing to pay for your content and your product.
Read Part 2 in the series. Your Content: Lock it Up or Set it Free?