Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?  Does your company need content marketing?  Yes you do.  If that’s all you’re interested in knowing, feel free to stop reading now.  But, if you’re curious to know why, what it can do for you and how to get started, then stick around – we’ve got some things to share with you.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing can mean different things to different people.  That can make it confusing to know what people are really talking about and how that could possibly relate to you.  You may think “well we’re not interested in producing publications or in holding webinars so content marketing surely doesn’t apply to us.”  And you very well may be right.  But we can just about guarantee you that you do need some element of content marketing for your company, we just need to help you figure out what that is.

In short, we define content marketing as the creation of original content, or curating of content developed by others, that can be utilized to educate and inform your target audience and to establish a leadership/trusted advisor voice for your company.  It is usually not a strictly promotional piece but is something that provides added value to your customer.  Think “less promotional, more educational”.

What Can Content Marketing Do for Me?

That all sounds good, right?  You want to be a leader in your category and to have people turn to you for advice and insight.  But those sound a bit intangible, so how do you convert that into sales?  Studies show that businesses and consumers are more likely to conduct business with companies that they like, trust and respect.  So if you are their go to source for information, they are much more likely to choose to work with you than to work with someone who has not been as helpful to them.

Ultimately, content marketing is about creating an engaging relationship with your customer.  The more touch points that you have, the more information you can provide them (that they truly need, not what you think they need,) and the more dialogue you can have with them, the stronger your relationship will be.  Customers who are engaged with companies have been shown to spend more and be longer term customers.  And who doesn’t want long lasting customers?

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3 Tips to Get Started

So you’re on board, right?  You realize the value of a content marketing program to your firm and you’re excited to start building these relationships.  The next question is, how to do that?  These three tips should help to get you going:

Know Your Customer 

It seems a very basic point.  Of course you know your customer, you do business with them every day.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you truly know your customer, what their pain points are and what their greatest challenges are.  Some exploration is necessary.

The easiest way to  gain insight into your customer’s mindset is simply to ask them.  This can be accomplished in one of two ways .  If your company is small enough and you have very strong, open relationships with a large sampling of your customer base, you can pick up the phone and ask them some questions.  Don’t ask why they like working with you.  Ask questions that have to do with their business.  What are their greatest challenges?  What are the obstacles they encounter most frequently?  Where do they turn to for knowledge and insight on their fields and their business needs?  The key here is to listen.  Don’t try to impose your thoughts and opinions on them.  Let go of your preconceived ideas, and truly hear what they have to say.

If these types of relationships don’t exist for you, or if you don’t feel comfortable having this level of discussion with many of your customers, then online research is the best place to turn.  By using an online research platform, you can easily gather a base of your customers, prospects, etc. into a setting where all of the above can be gleaned.  The benefits of using an online platform are that it can be fast, it can gather a much larger target base than you likely could (including prospects,) and it’s agile.  So if you have additional questions, thoughts, ideas while the research is taking place, you can make adaptations and still get all that information.

Identify the Right Formats

Once you’ve established what it is your customers need to know, stick with the questioning and ask them what the form factors are that work best for them.  Where do they look for their resources and new information?  What resources are most useful and trusted by them?  Be as comprehensive as possible to assess what works for them.  There may be form factors they love, but don’t really think about.

A list to start with includes:

  • email newsletters
  • webinars
  • eBooks
  • podcasts
  • white papers
  • case studies
  • videos

Before you start to panic about all the different form factors on the list, relax.  It’s likely that your typical customer has two or three favorite types of content that they gravitate towards and you can really focus your energies on those.  It’s even quite possible that you have several items in their preferred format already.

Be Consistent

Once you’ve really identified your customer’s needs, pain points, preferred form factors, etc., you need to be as consistent as possible in the content you are delivering.  Set up a regular schedule for the topics you will address, the types of content you will be delivering when, and even when you will revisit your customer research to determine if their needs, favorites, etc. have changed.  You’ll want to stay as ahead of the game as possible to ensure you are always delivering what your customer wants and needs.

Additionally, establish a system of measurement to determine how the content pieces you’re delivering are performing.  If they’re gated (requiring an email address or more contact information to access,) are you getting the types of leads that you want?  Are there some pieces that are getting better response than others?  If so, what’s different about them?  Is it the form?  The topic?  Optimize your program based on the on-going information you’re able to get from measurement.  You’ll find your program keeps growing and improving and prospects will be seeking your firm out for your expertise.

Connect with us to let us know how your content marketing program is going.  We’d love to hear from you @KCMPRBuzz .