”Content is King”
This is a phrase you have probably heard hundreds of times as it pertains to marketing strategy. Bill Gates seems to have been the first to make the connection in 1996 with his essay on the now now-familiar subject. At the time, Gates predicted there would be a lot more “information and entertainment” flying around cyberspace and whoever produced the best work would reap the benefits, just as competitors did in the early days of radio and television. He was describing a world in which public access to digital platforms and a hyperactive sense of competition elicited a flood of digital content. Decades before the idea of content marketing came to light, Gates had the foresight to predict where it would lead to for marketers:
“If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will.”
– Bill Gates
During a time when companies used advertising to talk a lot about themselves and what their products could do, Bill Gates was telling us that marketing was actually about building relationships and authentic experiences with our customers to make them the hero!
The best content marketing delivers valuable information to current and potential customers instead of selling the features, functions and benefits a particular product. Great content marketing strategies employ an omni-channel approach – presenting this valuable information to customers in many different formats including: videos, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, diagrams and photos.
For example, a local hardware store might offer free “how-to” guides for building a deck, renovating a bathroom, or other tricky home improvement projects.
The idea being that if the customer understands what is involved in the project, makes a personal connection with an expert staff member, and builds trust, they will be much more likely to buy tools, equipment, and materials at that store.
This type of content also raises awareness about the store and humanizes the brand. So when the customer is ready to kick off their project, they are more likely to think of this particular hardware store and perhaps even a specific staff member who they trust.
To get you on the path to reigning over your content marketing, here are four tips to get you started:
1. Build Your Website on Strong Content Pillars
People do more shopping online than ever, and your company needs a great website to win your fair share of business. A good website engages your target audience with meaningful content, draws insight from their needs, wants and interaction preferences. A great website is designed on a set of content pillars that helps visitors easily find the information they are looking for on your website. A pillar page is actually a piece of long-form content that gives an overview of a broad topic. To this, you link more specific blog posts on your website. In this way, you can validate what content resonates with your audience and measure how effectively you change their purchase behavior. How you invest in and align your content marketing activities to reach and engage your audience says a lot about what makes you different. And, the specific tradeoffs that you make say just as much, if not more, about you. After all, no great brand can be all things to all people. In that spirit, content marketing is the most important thing you can do to strengthen your strategic positioning and not let your website just become another easy-to-copy marketing tactic.
2. Publish Valuable and Shareable Content
Once people discover your website, you need to make sure you keep them there, impress them with the value of your content and keep them coming back for more. Your content should be entertaining, relevant, useful and easily consumable (i.e. bite-sized!). Great content is not just about you and what your company can do. Ideally, it’s about why you do what you do (i.e. your purpose) and why a customer should care. When your audience reads your stories and interacts with your content, they should discover that your customers are the heroes (not you or your brand). The best content compels the audience to want to make your brand story a part of their personal story – which leads them to share your content with others. When executed properly, content marketing not only turns prospects into customers, but it also transforms customers into advocates.
3. Align Your SEO and Keyword Strategies
It’s a fact that Google ranks sites based on dynamic, valuable content. So to get the attention of the search engine spiders and your audience, you need to have readable and relatable content – even if you rely on sponsored content to get things going. A search engine optimization strategy is essential for getting your business’s website to rank high in search engine results. With a great content strategy, potential customers will visit your site and make purchases, increasing your sales. You should also be able to reduce your advertising budget by focusing on providing free content. There are many online business guides on affiliate programs to help lend a hand, so if you need guidance, be sure to turn to the experts. What’s more, content needs to be regularly published, as this will keep readers coming back to see your latest posts. The best keywords to attract searchers change often, so it’s a good idea to update your content frequently and get advice from an expert. Along with keywords, you can increase your SEO by adding links and making sure your pages load quickly. You can also encourage other pages to link to your content. This is called off-site SEO, and it uses backlinks that direct people back to your site.
4. Engage with the Right Personas
A buyer persona is a detailed profile of a typical person who would be interested in your business. Most businesses have more than one type of customer, and knowing those customers’ preferences can help you improve sales.
For example, many cosmetics companies have one line of products for men, one for adult women, and one for teens. By creating a buyer persona for each group of people, you can increase your business’s understanding of its existing customer base as well as prospective customers. A buyer persona should include both basic demographics (i.e. age, gender, ethnicity and income levels) and psychographics (i.e. attitudes, aspirations and preferences).
You will need to do some primary research to get at this kind of insight about your target audience and that will allow you to personalize your content marketing.
If you follow this guidance, you can conquer your content marketing and win more profitable customers in the process. As a by-product, you will also increase your search engine rankings, make your website more interesting to visitors, and introduce more people to your brand story. But, be strategic in how you approach content creation. Again, it’s about quality over quantity. So, take the time to go through critical steps, such as: keyword analysis, building buyer personas, creating copywriting style guides, and mapping customer pain points.
From there, think about the outlets to reach your audience. Is it through a blog, website, audio, video, podcast, word of mouth or some other way? However you do it, your method of communicating content needs to be guided by your customers’ interests and needs….as well as, a deep respect for their time. No one likes to be interrupted or ambushed, so don’t do it with your ads either. Make the customer the hero, and design your approach to be personalized and aligned with their interests.
We have a phrase that we use here at TopRight called “ruthless consistency”, particularly as it pertains to the delivery of your brand story. Be ruthlessly consistent in your approach to content marketing, as well. When backed by a clear and aligned strategy and a simple, compelling story, that’s when content is truly worthy of being “king.”
Your audience is seeking efficiency, relevancy, and actionable expertise. To learn more about how to create effective content marketing, sign up for the TopRight blog! If you’d like to receive more great marketing tips like this, please follow me @TopRightPartner, connect with me on LinkedIn, or buy a copy of my latest book, Marketing, Interrupted.