Content marketing is maturing in 2016 from a social media tactic to a formalized go-to-market strategy, but that doesn’t mean that, as marketers, we must generate more content.
With companies increasing their expenditures on content marketing this year, many are wondering if it’s even worth going down this road in the first place.
I would answer that it is definitely worth it, even if it does nothing more than help you know your customer more intimately.
But to keep from throwing good money after bad, we have to be smarter in our approach. Just because we can reach people 24/7 doesn’t mean that we can get them to care.
Remember, the goal of content marketing in the first place is to create a minimum amount of content that gets us the maximum amount of desired behavior from our prospects and customers.
So if you’re serious about using content marketing to gain exposure and generate leads, you’re going to have to do less of the “me too” content in favor of exploiting niches with real thought leadership.
That means creating an experience for your audience and personalizing content. This idea has been discussed a lot lately, and it seems to me a bit esoteric on the surface.
So how do you improve the quality of your content?
- It’s about your audience, and they have all the control. Many companies make the mistake of developing content like it’s just another marketing campaign. But campaign-driven approaches worked when the goal of marketing was branding and awareness. And back then, sales people could book appointments based on that name recognition. Not to say that it can’t still work, but for the most part, it turns buyers off. Any time I get an email solicitation, I just delete it—but if you tap into a specific problem that I have, I’ll take your meeting. Overall, however, we don’t shop that way anymore.
- Figure out what your competition is not publishing, and provide the best thought leadership in that niche. I get emails from my competitors and others in the marketing space daily. It’s a lot of stuff, and I can’t possibly consume that much information. But I certainly pay attention to those that consistently write about the issues I face on a daily basis. That’s who you want to be in your market—the one who providers content that people want to consume.
- Earn your audience, don’t buy them. In a recent interview with Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he noted that many organizations have a false notion that they can simply buy an audience, but the problem is that they’re not real and they disappear. “You have to build your audience one person at a time, and you keep them one person at a time.”
- Be in constant contact with sales. At a recent Content Marketing meet-up in New York City, Meredith Wood, editor-in-chief of fundera.com, said that she is constantly bugging sales to understand what objections they hear all the time from their clients, and then proceeds to create content that addresses those issues. That way, the content basically writes itself.
- Write content like you’re talking to one person. Noah Lemas, VP of Distilled in New York, recently commented on how he approaches content generation. “Typically, after persona research and understanding the proper segmentation of our customers, I will personally come up with an individual in my mind that I know well enough to understand their sense of humor, and I will actually start writing to them as if I’m writing a personal letter and then craft it into an article from there. The short of it is to always be keeping the audience in mind.”