Taking content marketing back to basics

When it comes to the fast-paced marketing and communications industry, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest fads, trends, and shiny new social media networks.

Snapchat’s the latest craze among younger demographics…should our brand get an account?

Video’s all the rage…should we drop everything and start producing videos?

Sponsored content is growing and becoming more accepted…is it smart for us to jump on board?

With every industry-related article you read, these are some of the thoughts that may be swirling through your head as you think about your plan for the year ahead.

But before we start creating new initiatives and strategies, let’s take it back to the basics. At its core, content marketing (while it has many different definitions) is about, “the creation and distribution of journalistic, audience-focused content that helps people do their jobs or live their lives.”

Here are four ideas to bring content marketing back to its original purpose in 2015:

1. Remember who makes up your audience. Before you create any piece of content, consider your target demographic. Research these people- find out their likes and dislikes, discover where they live, work and play and learn about their online (and offline) habits. The more you know about your audience, the smarter you’ll be when you create content for them. For example, just because Snapchat is receiving a ton of press lately, if your audience doesn’t fall within a very specific demographic, this probably isn’t the site for you. Don’t be tempted by shiny pennies- know your audience and stay the course.

2. Quality writing is key. Our definition of content marketing differs from many others because it includes the word “journalistic.” To us, great writing is of the utmost importance. It’s why we consider content marketing more of an outsourced to be newsroom-driven. While content marketing can be many things- video, social media posts, blog posts, articles, etc., quality writing will always matter. When you write well, you are able to communicate messages clearly to an audience. At its very core, that’s one of the main purposes of marketing.

3. Be useful. Content marketing differs from regular marketing or advertising because it is meant to be USEFUL, not simply promotional. Much of the content produced with “content marketing” in mind is meant to educate, help or inspire. Each time you create a new piece of content, ask yourself, “Will this help my audience? Will this piece of content make their lives easier or better in some way?” If the answer is no, go back to that piece and try to infuse it with “youtility.”

4. Don’t forget to evaluate your efforts. In this ever-changing, quickly-moving world, a lot of times we find ourselves in, “go, go, go” mode, never stopping to breathe or slow down. But think about this: What good is continuing to do the same thing over and over without stopping to ask, “Is this working?” Remember to take the time to evaluate your content marketing efforts. Some things to consider checking to help with the evaluation process: Web analytics, clicks, open rates, email list growth, sales numbers, social media statistics/impressions and, more and more, time spent..

Never stop innovating and moving forward- you should always strive to do better when it comes to your content marketing efforts.

But in the process, don’t forget the basics.