Distributing information about your business in a way that viewers will find valuable — helpful and relevant to their business — is the definition of content marketing. The goal is to create relationships by building trust in your company, boosting your credibility and enhancing your “go-to expert” status. There are numerous ways to distribute content: digitally, in print and in-person. The methods or media you choose will depend on your audience (what channels they access), your budget (the time and money resources available), and your inclination (it’s not an easy undertaking but, done well, can be extremely successful).
Here’s an extensive list of ways to utilize content marketing to tell your “brand story”:
Blog Post: What most people first think of first when they hear “content marketing” — producing a business blog as part of your content marketing strategy is a time and energy commitment that can pay off by accelerating client relationships and improving SEO. Blog posts run the gamut from How-To instructions, helpful lists, beneficial tips, interviews and more. Do you have Blogophobia? The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Create, Publish and Promote Your Business Blog can set you on the road to recovery.
Marketing Email: An email that communicates something that the recipient will find helpful: an article relevant to their business, a how-to tip, beneficial industry news, the list is almost endless. Bottom line: give away the store – the more you reveal, the greater your perceived value.
Email Newsletter: Direct customer contact via email keeps you top of mind. If possible, you want to show up in your prospect’s inbox when the need for your product or service arises. Keep newsletters short — 3-4 items max — include a blog post, links to related posts, some Newzful facts, stats & news and a company announcement.
Social Media: The coin of the realm. The social media platforms you choose may depend on the type of business you’re in. Some businesses may fare well on Facebook or Twitter, others on LinkedIn or Google + and still others on Pinterest and Instagram. Determining your audience and the media they are most active on is step one. Step two? Persistence. Being consistently active on your platform(s) of choice is key. Tweet at least several times per day. Post to LinkedIn or Facebook daily or at the least, a few times per week. Like, Follow and Comment on the postings of others.
Mobile App: Designing and programming a mobile app is not an inexpensive undertaking but if your business lends itself to the medium (i.e., you can provide how-to help, service locations, lists,or guides that can help your audience), consider adding a custom app to your content marketing repertoire.
Guest Blog Post: Repurposing content that you’ve created adds “marketing mileage” to your material. Publishing your blog post on another site provides an opportunity to reach hundreds, even thousands, more viewers than you might with content on your own site.
Video: Incorporating a “how-to” video on your website detailing helpful product or service information, an explainer video describing how your company works or a short introduction of a company leader creates a valuable interaction with your company and, when posted on your website, increases SEO. Keep videos short (1 ½ minutes or less is optimal) and engaging. Be sure to optimize them for search.
Interactive game, quiz, contest: Keeping viewers engaged with your content is, literally, the name of the game. Offering a contest, game or quiz encourages increased viewer interaction, the opportunity for viewers to opt-in to emailed offers and motivates brand evangelism.
Images: Including an image in a blog post is imperative. Most of us are visual learners: a well-chosen image will convey the “story” the blog is going to tell. An accompanying visual encourages viewers to share the content on their social media profiles. Stay away from “stock-y” images (think doughboy figures or the ubiquitous handshake), invest in quality concept images or get creative and manipulate images with a program like PicMonkey .
Infographics: Having become more popular in the last few years, infographics still get a lot of eyeballs — and potentially valuable recognition for their creator (think social media sharing). Illustrating information in a visually engaging way allows readers to gather a lot of information in context and incorporates the visual affinity that social media participants endorse. Online sites like Piktochart offer free options and low-cost subscription plans with helpful templates.
Case Study: There are several formats for creating a case study to describe how a company solved a problem or met a challenge. Consider the PRO template: outline the Problem, Resolution and Outcome. Case studies can be used on a company website to illustrate capabilities; adding new studies helps SEO by keeping content fresh.
Whitepaper: Having their origin in politics, businesses now use whitepapers as in-depth reports on their product or service so that readers might better grasp an issue, understand a problem and its solution or describe the technical aspects or benefits of a business’ offering. They are persuasive in nature.
FAQs: A website page that lists and answers the “Frequently Asked Questions” about your business provides several opportunities: visitors can find out more about your company, better understand your business approach, enhance your “go-to expert” status and, if you’re conscientious about including your company keywords, help SEO.
Ebook: As a published author, you gain credibility in your industry…your CV will thank you. A series of blog posts undertaken with a similar theme can be repurposed into an ebook. Publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) makes the process relatively painless. The design and functionality of your book are important details; consider hiring a graphic designer and digital book producer.
Podcast: The term is originally derived as an “iPod Broadcast.” Think of a podcast as a spoken blog that is downloadable from your website or other podcast platforms. Podcasts allow your audience to listen to you on-the-go.
Webinar: A “seminar on the web” that gives you an opportunity to deliver your message to an audience potentially far greater than those that would need to show up in a physical space. Using video conferencing software, a webinar creates the ability to interact with your audience as opposed to a Webcast, which is a one-way delivery of information.
Events: Put together an event that spotlights your company while providing information attendees will find valuable (enough to make them travel to the location). Events come in all sizes…a lunch for 10, dinner for 50 or a weekend extravaganza for hundreds. The idea is to get in front of as many people as your budget affords and provide a networking opportunity for attendees. Plan ahead and promote like crazy.
Speaking Presentation: Taking your show on the road is another opportunity to exhibit your expertise. Community organizations, business networking groups, conferences, schools, chambers of commerce…all are frequently in need of presenters; gigs can often be yours for the asking. Polish your delivery and use visual aids that are minimal and well-designed. Try to videotape your presentation — good content for your website and to garner future speaking engagements.
Website: Think of your website as the hub of all of your marketing activities. As well, it should perform two important functions: include content that allows people to find you (via SEO)…and find out more about you. It’s where you present your business — what it does, the types of products or services sold, an indication of your ideal customer, the benefits of working with your company and your “big idea” or differentiator: what is it that your business provides that is different (read better) than your competitor. A well-designed site with user-friendly navigation and content that speaks to your audience, is imperative. Frequently-updated content, optimized for search and that is valuable — helpful and relevant to your audience, generates leads and helps convert prospects into customers.
SlideShare Presentation: When valuable information meets good design (think creative visuals, nice layout and minimal copy), that presentation should be posted on SlideShare. Offering a free download of a SlideShare presentation on your website or social media platforms for the price of an email address is a good way to build brand recognition and your email marketing list.
Press Release: A newsworthy item about your business (breakthrough process, client acquisition, new hire, for example) can justify telling the world about it. Press releases are great for SEO when distributed via a service like PRWeb or MarketWired. You may also want to build your own PR list of industry pubs, media outlets, writers or bloggers that cover your industry. Stay in touch with this group with a goal of having them learn more about your company and hopefully feature it in their work.
Collateral: Print is not dead. An in-person meeting with a potential client deserves a nicely-designed, well-written leave behind. Something as simple as a small tri-fold brochure or folder with several sheets highlighting your business offerings and benefits will serve you well.
Direct Mail: I repeat, “Print is not dead.” If you think your email marketing might be getting lost in the mix, consider creating a printed mailer. Design, copy and visuals are crucial. Paper quality and printing, critical. A print version of your Company Newsletter can be an effective marketing vehicle.
Research Report: The findings of research reports and surveys get great marketing mileage. Offer them as a giveaway on your website (in exchange for an email address), tout their existence via a press release and use the results in other content you create.
Curation Sites: Whether creating your own content or admiring the work of others, you can put it all together on sites like Scoop.it or Paper.li. Gathering existing content requires far less time and budget than creating it from scratch (or you can mix the two). The collected content allows you to be found via SEO plus, some platforms allow you to publish a custom newsletter comprised of content you’ve curated. Win – win.
Bookmarking Sites: These sites allow users to both save and share content: articles and posts are tagged and featured on sites like Digg, Reddit and Pinterest. Bookmarking creates backlinks for your content and increases SEO.
Sponsorship: As the sponsor of an event or series of events, most likely you’ll be given an opportunity to tell your story in multiple ways. For example, your company bio and logo could be featured in the print and web promotion of the event, your logo may appear on marketing materials or on the event website, you may be given an opportunity to make a short speech at the event, invite attendees, etc.
Resources Page: On your website, a Resources Page can be a generous way of providing detailed information about your industry to site visitors. You may want to include books, publications, articles, websites, whitepapers and other content that could provide in-depth background information. While you may be directing your visitors off your site and on to those of others, you are reinforcing your status as a knowledgeable source, well-versed in a wide-range of industry knowledge. An FAQ Page that explains terminology, acronyms or processes inherent to your industry is another way to help your audience while building SEO.
Microsite: One page or several, these mini-websites are designed as free-standing channels or as a site-within-a-site. Typically, they might home in on a specific event, product or service that is not covered at all or in as great detail as on a company’s regular site. They may be short-lived, as in a seasonal offering or limited time offer.
Advertorial: Masquerading as an editorial piece, an advertorial is, instead, a lengthy “article” whose purpose is to inform and to sell. The appearance usually mimics the look and feel of the publication in which it appears. Sometimes, but not always, a disclaimer acknowledging the “Advertisement” intent will appear adjacent to the advertorial.
Native Advertising: The online version of an advertorial — the content and appearance follows that of the platform in which it appears. Promoted tweets on Twitter and sponsored ads on Facebook are good examples. This form of advertising is now being adopted by publishers like the Huffington Post, Washington Post and Forbes Magazine.
Packaging: Think back to when you were a kid and read the back of the cereal box while you ate your Cheerios or Wheaties. Telling the brand story — or ways that the product you’ve purchased is helping you lead a healthier, happier, more productive or environmentally-conscious life makes packaging real-estate extremely valuable. Whether you peruse the hot sauce, beer, wine, health bar, soap or tea package in the store or at home, that company is using content marketing to promote their product. With their copy-laden carry-out bags, Chipotle (experts at content marketing) has turned an otherwise plain brown paper bag into a valuable collateral marketing piece.
Premiums/Giveaways: One of the earliest forms of content marketing is acknowledged to be the John Deere “Furrow” magazine that began publishing in 1865 and continues today. The Michelin Guide advised motorists starting in 1900 and Jello began using illustrated recipe books, filled with tasty dishes and helpful hints as early as 1904. Your company could benefit from an inexpensive takeaway that you give away to increase brand engagement.
In-depth Guide: Companies like Hubspot, Eloqua and Marketo are investing heavily in creating copy- and design-heavy guides in successful attempts to solicit clients and build both their reputations and their email lists.
Checklists and Templates: More ways to help the customer — from providing a “plan of attack” checklist to “fill in the blank” templates…the aim of these forms of content marketing is to make the job easier…for your customer. You may feel you’re giving away your “secret sauce” but, in fact, the takeaway may be that, in fact, your client should be hiring you to do what you do best.
Of course, no one company will tackle all of these content marketing tactics — but trying 2-3, more if you’re game, will help build your “go-to expert” status, brand recognition and increase your exposure to new customers and new business. Would love to hear feedback and comments — do you have more content marketing tactics to add to the list?