When content marketing became the buzzword marketing strategy of 2013, the rush was on to create easy, consumable pieces that fit into the company’s overall promotional strategy. Now, as we turn the corner to a new year, we realize what a mistake we’ve made.
What? Isn’t Content Marketing a Worthwhile Strategy?
It is. But the problem is that people are so busy constructing content for every conceivable channel and customer profile, they’ve forgotten the original goal – engagement.
Rather than generating heaps of content, throwing it at a wall, and hoping some of it sticks with your prospects, why not spend your time and effort designing a single piece of content that can be leveraged across all major channels and that speaks to all customers at any stage in the sales process?
Sound overwhelming? It’s not as difficult as you might think. Case in point: Velocity Partners produced a B2B Marketing Manifesto that didn’t include the ordinary rehashed content. It focused on encouraging marketers to develop a world view and expose their beliefs in order to separate themselves from the competition:
Velocity Partners’ B2B Marketing Manifesto
These are their core beliefs, distilled into an easy-to-follow guide that anyone serious about marketing in the B2B sphere can download, read, share, and comment on. They capitalized on the traits that all of their relationships with their customers had in common, and then used those to craft a central theme that not only hit marketing “sweet spots” but also inspired others to enter into discussions. The end result began many new conversations with the company’s ideal customers, so much so that the response was nearly overwhelming.
Now You’re Speaking My Language
One major content marketing success for Indium Corporation came from their “From One Engineer to Another” set of blogs. In these blogs, engineers discuss and share a variety of problem-solving tactics, strategies, and methods to help each other. They periodically do experiments to test their theories and report back the results on their blogs:
Do you speak Engineer?
Although the article itself may not make sense to us, the core idea is there – talk to people on their level, in a way they’re familiar with and can appreciate. Build a profile of your customers, beyond just their name and address. Find out where their social circles are and where they’re hanging out. Then meet them there rather than hoping they’ll come to you.
Being able to see which content of yours was read, shared, or commented on can give you a glimpse into where that customer is in the buying cycle. Are they simply gathering information or “just looking” at this point? Or are they comparing prices and ready to make a buying decision? It stands to reason that if they liked and shared one type of article, they’ll enjoy more of the same.
Give Your Customers the Wheel
It may sound counter-intuitive to let your customers direct your content marketing strategy, but the payoff can be incredible. One perfect example is Ford Social – a community organized around Ford fans. With initiatives including the “Fiesta Movement” and how Ford Trucks “Take Care of Business,” every aspect of the social site is designed to get people talking, further guiding the company toward the kind of content their customers want to consume:
Ford Social poses a question to its community. Their answers can be used to help build further content pillars.
Ford, in turn, accepts user-submitted stories and ideas on the site which further propel their content marketing idea machines and suggestions for future releases. Fans can even choose a badge and share their passion for Ford through social networks. One could hypothesize that a potential social gamification could be on the horizon once the community has hit critical mass.
So what can you learn from these examples? First, that more content isn’t necessarily better. Instead:
- Funnel your efforts into creating more evergreen content that reaches customers at various stages of the buying cycle. What information could they use to make their decisions easier?
- Go to your customers where they already congregate, whether it’s Google+, Facebook, forums, or podcasts. As you learn what content they’re consuming and sharing, you’ll be able to establish an accurate profile of what matters to those customers and determine how you can insert your own message in a way that’s relevant to them.
- Give your customers greater control over the direction of your content marketing strategies. This isn’t a particularly bold or adventurous move, but rather one that, when you think about it, makes perfect sense. By creating a community, encouraging stories and ideas, and responding to feedback, you’re signifying that your brand is open to mutual sharing and exchange and that you’re willing to give back to the community.
Now It’s Your Turn
What are some of your favorite content marketing strategies? How are you using them to reach out to and connect with customers? Share your thoughts below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!