Content marketing is a sure way to produce what people want (interesting, useful content), in stead of producing what they shun (intrusive, arrogant, or clumsy advertising).
It also shows (rather than tells) potential customers that you’re the right choice to solve their problems.
Good content is inherently worth reading, listening to, or watching. It delivers an enjoyable & entertaining experience to the audience. It might make the audience laugh, or cry, or stand up in righteous outrage, alas it must move them in some meaningful way. The smart content marketer thinks in terms of a target audience, rather than “prospects” or “leads.”
To truly be effective, content should be structured with:
- A headline that instantly commands audiences' full attention.
- An introductory few sentences that pull the audience in, making it tough to turn away.
- Useful information that solves a problem the audience genuinely cares about.
- A single, focused point or “moral” to communicate.
- Stories, metaphors, or examples to teach that point.
- A call to action at the conclusion that rouses the audience to take the next step.
If you've tried your hand at content marketing, but do not generate likes, shares or traffic, you have to take a hard look at the possibility that your content is not as good as it needs to be.
But how can you tell if your content is worth consuming? Content is worth consuming if people consume it —you don’t decide. The audience decides.
You need to monitor what content gets the most traffic, the most links, the most social shares, and the most comments. You keep trying new and creative approaches, and observe the results carefully, then do more of what works, and less of what does not.
Create Your Content Blueprint
In order to create a content marketing platform (as opposed to just publishing a bunch of stuff you find interesting), you need to understand your content blueprint. The blueprint stems from what interests and engages your audience.
For starters, you need to know what kinds of important customer problems your business is designed to solve. If you are familiar with copy writing, these are the benefits of doing business with you. Your company exists to make customers happier, more confident, wealthier, better connected with their family, more successful, wiser, less anxious, or some other wonderful benefit. All effective marketing communication needs to come around to the benefits, and not just the features, of the product:
- The features of your product or service are what it does and what goes into it. The dimensions, horsepower, ingredients, and so forth.
- The benefits are what the product or service does for the customer; what they get out of the experience.
Start with 10 or more posts that really encapsulate your company’s fundamental beliefs and values about your topic. (These can be text, audio, video, or a mix of formats. The right format is the one that your audience prefers.) Focus on educational content that solves a few simple prospect problems relating to your business.
Next, pull your best posts into a series of well-focused content landing pages. A content landing page is simply a page on your site that aggregates your best material on a particular topic. Write a great intro that pulls the audience in, and end with a call to action to connect more strongly with your business. (Very often, this means subscribing to a permission-based email list.)
These solidly useful pages are a great place to focus your SEO (search engine optimization), PR & copy writing efforts, as to promote the sharing of your content by the reader and this is what optimizes your website and/or content.
Not only does this promote brand awareness, marketing, advertising, etc. but will inevitably lead to generating qualified leads, sales and business relationships.
How do you attract the right readers?
Attraction content is typically where you’ll put most of your daily effect in your content marketing program. It’s the regular blog posts, the YouTube videos, the podcasts, PR, opinion pieces, etc.
Because this content is all about getting the attention of an audience that isn’t familiar with you yet, you’ll need to bring your best headline-writing skills into play. Content that attracts attention also tends to have a strong, well-defined point of view.
While your blueprint content tends to lean a little more in the direction of usefulness and education, your attraction content will lean more toward entertainment and fun. You still want to be useful, but you must be entertaining, or at least interesting.
In review: the correct content educates your audience on why the reader needs your service or product. Your content needs to lend to focused landing pages that take your traffic and translate it into the action you desire. That action might be signing up to your email list, contacting your, buying a product, etc.
Ensure all links and forms will deliver on promise, i.e. take the reader to the location the link should lead to, or forms work properly.
Landing pages call for a more experienced professional, persuasive copywriter, so this is a good place to bring someone in if you don’t have a resource in-house who has strong landing/sales page experience. With a lot of practice and some experimentation, you can learn to make content marketing work for you.