As strategists, it can be easy to forget to lead with the why behind every initiative, especially the ones that have become second nature. While presenting a content strategy, which has become deeply ingrained in every project I take on, I was asked, “Why is it important for this information to go on a blog instead of the regular website?” I answered the question quickly and moved on excitedly to my content ideas.
Looking back, I realize that the answer to that question is the why behind all of the content we’d be generating as a company. And, I consider content generation to be one of the most important parts of the work that I do. So, I want to take a step back and provide a deserving answer.
Whether you know the importance of hosting content outside of the website or you’re completely new to content marketing, reminding ourselves of or uncovering the why can be the key to success. Let’s take a look at some of the major reasons that you should have a content hub, a place other than your website where you host the valuable information you create and curate for the world.
Build awareness in a new way: people don’t want ads, they want information.
It’s time to answer the question “How will you fulfill my need?” in a new way.
The Internet is moving beyond its “traditional” advertising. Think about it, when is the last time you willing clicked an ad online? Cindy Gallop, CEO and famous ad-executive, made the point that we loath ads so much that online videos literally have to give us a countdown of how many seconds are left during a placement. The number of people who are clicking on ads is decreasing. Instead, we’re compelled to click on articles and blog posts that answer our questions, alleviate our fears and speak to our desires.
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When you do a great job at answering those questions, providing information that solves a problem or alleviates fears, people are inclined to share your content on their own sites and social networks. In addition to creating online word-of-mouth, shared content indicates to search engines that you’re doing something right. The more of your content that is being shared, the higher your search results and the more relevant awareness you’re able to build.
Build trust and thought leadership before selling — It’s less about you and more about them.
B2C, B2B, products, services or both– no matter what you’re selling or who you’re selling to, content will only serve you to its fullest if it’s based on this rule of thumb: it’s less about you and more about them. Content provides the beautiful opportunity to share valuable knowledge, build trust with your audience and position yourself as a thought leader. Instead of content that directly markets your organization, create content that caters to your audience. That way, when people do decide to buy from you, they are advocates not just customers.
When you’re the thought leader in your industry people don’t have to even consider the competition. You’ve already been there, supporting them with information that has enhanced their lives or their businesses.
Use content to create an extended experience.
Because people are much more inclined to spend time reading a valuable article or post than browsing your website, the content you create allows you to share your organization’s values and brand lifestyle.
For example, are CEO’s are having a hard time understanding a specific part of your industry? Share resources like book lists that support your industry niche and conduct interviews with experts. Have interesting customers? Craft their experiences into compelling stories that trigger an emotional response from readers. Expedia did this with their Find Yours campaign. They shared travel stories that people could connect with emotionally without selling. “Expedia resisted the urge to drop ‘and you can find the best price on air travel’ plugs in its stories, following content marketing’s rule of thumb: if it feels like marketing, no one will spread it for you.” explained Shane Snow, Co-Founder of Contently, in 7 Branded Content Campaigns That Got It Right In 2012 on Ad Age.
Most importantly, listen and create an highly catered experience for your audience. Answer their questions in the most meaningful way possible. People want to know more about who they’re doing business with without feeling like their being marketed to.
Some business see the value of content creation so much that their content hubs have turned into much more than blogs. In fact, they run more like media sites. Two of my favorite examples are hosted by the content publishing experts at Contently– The Freelance Strategist and The Content Strategist. SyFy has also built a full technology site, DVICE. And, while here we’re mainly focusing on web content, an honorable mention must by dedicated to Cambria, a company that sells marble countertops. Cambria offers a print publication fully dedicated to valuable user content. The whole publication is less about them and more about their readers. They interview chefs, share recipes and talk about the latest in home decor.
Each of these organizations know their audiences well, and they’ve listened enough to create whole publications dedicated to serving them. While creating and curating this level of content is time consuming, it’s the perfect way to create awareness, build trust and turn people into advocates that will act as inbound marketers on your behalf. You can start small– with care and consistency you’ll see the value of your efforts.
Do you have any questions about content creation? Do you want to share comments on the points mentioned here or suggestion additions? I’d love to hear from you– you can reach me on Twitter or via the comments section below.