Or, Why Content Marketing Should be Re-Named Marketing with Content.
Rare is the company these days that isn’t participating in some kind of content marketing activity, so I’m not going to waste breath or keystrokes evangelizing to the converted here.
Where do you stand on the content marketing spectrum? Maybe you’re still dabbling, and trying to figure it all out. Perhaps you’ve dived in whole hog, with significant internal and/or external resources — in the forms of people, time, energy and money — devoted to the practice.
Whether you reside at one or the other of those extremes, or somewhere in between, there’s a Danger Zone to avoid: Too many businesses nowadays are creating content for the sake of content, without paying attention to the marketing side of the equation. After all, it is content marketing.
But I have a better idea. I think we’d all be better off, find more success and produce more results, if we just switched that name around and called the practice Marketing With Content.
Here’s why. It’s just too easy (and fun) to think up great new content ideas, schedule them, create them, post or distribute them, then wonder when all the engagement/awareness/leads/sales are all going to happen.
That’s content for the sake of content.
But there’s a better way: Put the Marketing back into Content Marketing. Here are five strategies for doing it.
Identify Your Marketing Mission
Crystallize the strategy behind every piece of content you create: What is its Marketing Mission?
I am not here to judge the mission’s validity. If it’s important to you, it’s important. But you must know and document what that content’s mission is before you put a minute or penny of resources toward actually creating and distributing it. What’s your goal? Is this content’s mission to:
- Create awareness?
- Build goodwill?
- Start conversations?
- Produce shares?
- Generate leads?
Cater to Your Target Market
Know your target market and continually focus on that persona when deciding on content to create, establishing a direction, and developing the piece.
It’s too easy to get lackadaisical and lose focus on the ideal you are trying to reach. Great marketing speaks to that person as if there is no other person on earth. Great content must take the same approach. Remember that every consumer of your content probably won’t match your ideal persona, but that’s what they want to be. Your persona should include:
- Demographics (of course)
- Goals and Challenges
- Values and Fears
- Needs and Wants
What’s in a piece of content for its consumer? Why would they want to read / view / listen to your content, and what value will they take away? You must know these answers.
Good marketing is all about creating value. Your content needs to deliver on that premise. It’s too easy to create a piece of content with you in mind. A better place to start is with the consumer – your target market — in mind. Ask yourself these questions to make sure your content is going to provide value:
- How does this content address my target’s pain points?
- How is this content going to make their lives easier/better?
- Is this content worth saving?
- Is this content authoritative?
Break Out and Explore
It’s too easy to get into the “This is how we’ve always done it” rut.
Good marketing is about continually trying new approaches. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with templating your content program after someone else’s. But you approach the Danger Zone when you lock in. Instead, push yourself to break out and try new content approaches and formats. Your strategy must evolve, because your prospect is ever-changing in their tastes, desires and needs. A good way to grow is to try something new every quarter:
- Try video. With a new $500 camera and a little software, you’re ready to go.
- Amplify. Reach a new audience buy pushing content out.
- Go ’graphic. Blogs and Ebooks are great, but infographics get big-time views and shares.
Who cares about a few strikeouts? Somewhere you’ll hit a home run.
Ask for Action
There’s no hiding it: The idea behind content marketing is to engage your prospect or customer without a hard-core sales or advertising message behind it.
In short, content marketing is “soft core” marketing. But it’s still marketing. You need to ask for some kind of action. So, just as you are going to identify a mission for every piece of content you create, your must ask for an action from the content user. The level of commitment can vary, but options include:
- Sharing the content (to produce essential social signals).
- Commenting or adding ideas.
- Clicking somewhere else (to other content, your website, etc).
- Downloading material (you generate the lead).
- Signing up for newsletter or other correspondence.
My vote is in: I say we re-name Content Marketing to Marketing With Content. What do you think? Even if it doesn’t happen, the concept is essential to success: Put the Marketing back into Content Marketing and you’ll produce outcomes that matter.