Captivate & Compel: The Complete Guide to Content Marketing

We at The Brand Builders like to give credit where credit is due. To that end, we say this: You are an expert in your business. You know your customers, your product, and you have a sense of what works and what doesn’t within your industry. Not only do we always acknowledge that in our clients, but we use it to our advantage in partnering with them to build the right strategy, and in strengthening their presence as experts in their field.

However, when it comes to marketing that business (ie: telling and sharing your story with others), you might have question marks—after all, your expertise lies elsewhere. Maybe there’s a tactic you haven’t tested before, or a strategy that hasn’t been explained fully. So my goal is to introduce these tactics and strategies to you in a way that helps you decide if something works well for your business, or if it’s not a good fit. You don’t have to be an expert on how to implement it, but you should know what it means and be able to identify if it fits into your business growth strategy.

Today I want to break down one of the biggest recent buzzwords in the online marketing space….

CONTENT MARKETING.

Heard it mentioned once or twice? I’m sure. The truth is, though, for as much as it’s thrown around, that term doesn’t tell you too much. On it’s own, it’s not going to give you much insight into the opportunities it presents or where you might be able to leverage it.

The basic idea of content marketing is using communication–specifically written communication on the web –as a way to add value to your customers, to get found by them, and to bring them into your business. You’re putting content out there, and drawing customers in.

Think of it as drawing bees to honey. You’ve identified that ‘bees’ are your target customers who are most likely to buy, and you know that they are seeking honey. Your competition has honey, but they don’t give the bees an easy way to get it–their site just gives a contact number or a way for them to request to be contacted eventually. But you–you produce many compelling versions of honey, attracting the bees to you.  Simple.

And also, remember that the bees don’t care how they consume the honey. So too, content can exist in any format—blog posts, ebooks, audio content like podcasts. You’re taking information that is being sought and making it available to be found on your domain.

Simple and straightforward.

For a little bit of a more thorough look, I want to share a really great definition by the Content Marketing Institute: Content marketing is the marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

You can’t really say it better than that. But let’s break it down a little to really understand all the components of this tool. Specifically, let’s focus on the need for a clearly defined audience, and then, creating valuable and relevant content that’s distributed to that audience.

Clearly defined audience:

For the most successful content marketing, you must focus on a clearly defined targeted audience that speaks to your goals. The point of content marketing is to have communication with quality prospects and customers. You’re opening up the curtain and sharing your expertise with them while using the content to give them an entry into a relationship with you. It’s a one-on-one interaction through your website, and so it’s critical that you know who you’re interacting with, otherwise you will miss the mark with them

Having a clearly defined audience is at the core of making content marketing effective. You can say the same thing to two different people, and you’ll see two different outcomes. For one person you might be hitting the mark, whereas the other might not only not care, but might have a negative response to you. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, the content is worthless.

There are a few ways to get clarity on who you’re speaking to:

  1. Create buyer personas. We’ve discussed these at length, so we won’t detail them again here, but these are the representations of your target audience, and the first thing you need to ascertain on your way to inbound marketing success.
  2. Have a clear idea of what goal you’re trying to achieve with content marketing. Looking to create brand awareness? Generate leads? Educate? Great, and you can even achieve all with one piece, but you need to understand your specific and measurable goal in order to determine frequency, context, and ultimately the content that you need to create.

In other words, you need the WHO and the WHY. But remember that content marketing on its own doesn’t have a primary goal. It’s just a tool in the online marketing toolbox. Your COMPANY should have a goal—whether growth, customer acquisitions, revenue numbers, etc. Once you have that goal, you’ll know who you need to target for that goal, and how to create dynamic and effective content for them.

Creating valuable, relevant, and consistent content.

Once you understand your clearly defined audience and know who you’re speaking to, you need to figure out how to be valuable to them and create relevant content. Through your buyer persona research, you’ll understand the pain points and challenges of your prospects. From there, you can work backwards and say a) how can we help them? and b) how do the products we make solve that problem or challenge? Content becomes the way of answering those questions, and telling that story while serving a prospect.

It’s important that you don’t just talk about yourself or your product, but address the specific pain points of your customers. If they’re concerned with how to lower manufacturing costs, then write a guide to lowering manufacturing costs.  And you don’t have to mention your own product or company, because your website clearly positions you as  the experts at lowering manufacturing costs–your article on the topic will make that more than clear. Create content around where your expertise lies.

{You might hear another term thrown in with content marketing: thought leadership. Thought leadership is about showing that you have an expertise in a certain area, and that you’re the most relevant person to speak to about this subject matter. You have the experience, background, the time that you’ve put into the industry, and you can confidently speak on this topic matter. And content marketing is how you show that by sharing that story of your expertise and experience in industry. through a written guide or blog post. In other words, thought leadership is the idea and content marketing is how it’s disseminated .}

Content Distribution

A big piece of the content marketing puzzle is distributing that content. There are two main ways for someone to come across content you’ve produced.

  1. Finding it on their own, organically. This touches hands with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and you can utilize that tool by using the same terminology that your buyer personas use (ie: keywords). How do they speak? How are they asking questions? What are the words they’re using to ask questions and describe pain points? Use the wording that they’re searching with, in the content that you want them to find, to enable the search engines to understand that you are offering up the most relevant answer.
  2. Distribute on your own. This is where social media comes in, but also where you should take advantage of LinkedIn, as well as industry sites and forums to push content out to a targeted, relevant audience.

Distribution is key because content marketing is not just about knowing your audience and sharing your expertise and building up thought leadership. You also have to get that content out there to new eyeballs and have people read and engage with it.

Content marketing is the integral part of the first stage of the inbound marketing process. But to utilize it correctly, you need to step back and understand what it is, what it means, and how to make it a relevant part of your business.