Content marketing has cemented itself in the minds of marketers as the go-to tactic to win over audiences in an age of skeptics. Gone are the days when all it took was a pithy slogan and stylish campaign to rack up conversions. The right content can give you a lot of bang for your buck, so take some time to refocus and re-energize your content marketing with these tried-and-true tips:
Give the People What They Want
The funny thing about content marketing is that it’s a remarkably old idea. Remember advertorials? Those worked in their heyday simply because they helped people understand what they wanted or desired.
So, what does your audience want? How does your product offering help them get there with minimal friction? Understanding the driving motivators behind your product is the only way to get real value out of your content.
To do this, utilize user data (use Google Analytics, Hotjar, your email service provider, etc.) and schedule interviews with prospects and customers to build buyer personas. Even if you already have buyer persons created, you should schedule and conduct interviews on a quarterly basis to update these personas.
Start Backwards When Building a Content Calendar
Building out your content calendar should never happen in a vacuum. In fact, opening it up will make your job a whole lot easier.
Talk to each business function to better understand the product, goals and who they are targeting. Once this foundation is set, you can work backward to figure out what kind of content best supports this direction. If a new product is launching in 6 months, you need to start planting the seeds now that will prime your audience to be receptive to it when it goes to market.
Start with content calendar templates to avoid reinventing the wheel – knowing your audience coupled with world-class creative and putting pen to paper will demand plenty of time.
Airtable is a solid option when considering content planning tools.
Planning in 36 month chunks also allows you to set up a system for aspects of marketing that require more constant stoking, like social media. Plan out your days and assign a category to each one. For example, answer a big industry question each Tuesday. Every Thursday, spotlight your company culture.
There will be plenty to share in between your planned categories, but having a specific topic assigned to a day will lessen your weekly legwork and help you stay on track. Remember, consistency leads to loyalty and relevance. Miss a month, and you may find your offering irrelevant. I always recommend using tools meant for other functions to keep your thinking sharp. Think too much like a marketer, and you will likely create content that feels overtly promotional or lacks empathy.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
It’s far easier to break up long-form content than it is to add more to short-form. The golden rule: Start big and evergreen. I always preach the power of handbooks to those who need fuel for the content marketing fire. There are two things that can happen to a handbook: It either gets pushed across your social channels and email list once or twice, generates downloads immediately after release and then fades off into the distance, never to be seen again, or it becomes kindling. Kindling to drive press interest, build infographics offering bite-sized value to prospects, break out into individual blog posts, and arm your sales team with a library of materials that only require minor amounts of personalization to connect with a prospect.
Here's an example checklist that showcases the various pieces of content that you can generate after hosting one webinar:
This is just one of many examples of ways that you can repurpose content without breaking the bank.
Crowdsource / Insource Content
No one wants to write a novel for you, but everyone has time for bullet points. And odds are, they have opinions. So generate a few thought-starters and crowdsource your content from within your team.
Here are a few examples of prompts:
- What is the biggest misunderstanding about our product?
- What is the one thing that drives you crazy that you wish you could just explain to everyone?
- What innovations coming down the line are you the most excited about?
Set calendar reminders to ping each business function on a regular cadence. Oftentimes, a Slack message sent to a certain channel can spark an idea for content or help you get unstuck.
Digital content may also be easier for some businesses to create and it doesn't require a huge budget. For example, you can schedule and record (you can use Zoom) a 30-minute meeting with an expert, ask them a series of interview questions and then post the recording in a blog post.
At the outset, the path to content marketing success seems simple: If you build it, they will come. But the reality is that you need to plan it, source it, educate yourself on it, create it and repeatedly socialize and publicize it if you want your audience to come to you and convert. Content leads to conversion – but only when you’re working smart, listening to the needs of your customers and producing work that goes far beyond “one and done” marketing.