by Don F Perkins
When it comes to finding new customers online, it can be a bit overwhelming because of the many choices and approaches available. To make matters worse, most companies I talk to have so little time to devote to their online presence, which makes it tough to really do it up right. When it comes to content marketing, there are always going to be some unique things about your brand, your customers, your market, etc. but when it comes to building a truly effective content marketing strategy, these tried and true best practices always bubble up to the top no matter what pieces and parts you employ.
Great Content=Online Presence=Conversations=Conversions
Content marketing creates an online presence for your business, with the goal of getting you into conversations with your customers, and ultimately converting those conversations into business partnerships. Your content needs to meet people wherever they are in the buying cycle. They could be actively looking for you, or not know you at all or not even know that they need you. Content needs to tell a story they can see themselves in and like the way that feels, no matter where they are in the buying cycle.
Purposeful Content Creation – 3 Basic Types
There are three basic types of content based on what it will be used for: short ad copy; 140 characters at most, designed to catch the eye of internet patrons. Then once you have their attention, you want to deliver on that promise with stories, pictures, video, etc. that give the consumer what they clicked through for. Then once they’ve consumed the content, you need to offer them next steps. Make it easy for them to know what to do next. Do you want them to buy something, read more content, sign up for a newsletter? Etc.
Type One – What’s Your Story?
As Rand Fishkin CEO of SEOmoz said in a recent presentation, your #1 priority in content marketing is to get your brand’s story right. What you do and why it matters to people is the foundation that all your other content and media will use to reflect your online presence. Your brand story needs to be concrete, emotional and easy to share in just a few words. Like an elevator pitch – your online voice needs to explain what you do in less than a minute in a way that will be clear, highly relevant and memorable to your audience.
Type Two – Delivering On The Promise
Your prospect is on your website. They’ve clicked through because of the great copy you wrote, linking back to here. Now it’s time to deliver a rich experience and some valuable content. There are really three main things people are after from online content: they either want to be educated, to be entertained, to see something interesting, or any combination of the three. Some of the best content my clients have had success with are stories about other clients – stories that prospects are able to see themselves in and like what they see.
Type Three – Where Do We Go From Here?
If you’ve done everything else right, your content should have prepared and motivated prospects to take action. It’s critical to provide several ways for them to take action, depending on what stage of the buying cycle they’re in. Insert social sharing links, ask them to comment, provide links to related content, or a great offer for them to take action. This is the point in the conversation when it is their turn to do something. Make it easy for them to know what you want them to do next.
Holistic Marketing- Use a Human Voice
Some people get so focused on selling that they forget an important fact: people like to buy from people. If you’re not careful, your online presence can become just another digital billboard. ICK! Make your online presence use a uniquely human voice. Humans are not one-dimensional beings. We have personalities, we have lives outside of work, we desire relationship and we appreciate whole people. Don’t be afraid to be human and let people know who you are.
Online Community – Be a Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself
Another area people tend to forget about is community. There are dozens of social media forums that allow us to grow our influence exponentially. Great content spreads like wildfire among a thriving online community. I have old-school customers that tell me “all my business comes from word of mouth.” To which I tell them: “Yes! and social media is the new word of mouth. The sky’s the limit.” Get good at online community and your content will gain a lot more reach.
The Whole Is Greater Than Just The Sum Of It’s Parts
Some of the most successful companies today have realized that marketing is not a silo. It cannot be isolated from the rest of the company. In years past, this may have worked, but with content marketing, each employee has a lot to offer that you simply cannot get anywhere else. Make sure that everyone in your company knows your brand’s story and find a way for each person to contribute to marketing the business – writing blog posts, engaging clients on social media, creating logos, messaging, or just brainstorming ideas to get noticed for the things that matter. Instead of relying on the star center, why not put a full-court press on your content marketing?