Over the past year, dozens of public relations and marketing agencies are using a new phrase to more aptly describe what they offer to clients: Content Marketing. Essentially content marketing is the art of storytelling with the consumer as the audience and the brand as the muse. Content marketing involves the development of sharable, multiformat, multimodal assets to attract new customers and retain existing ones. For some, the end product of this effort could come in the form of a video, press release, tutorial, informative list, blog post, infographic, opinion paper, original research document, microsite, etc. etc.
However, content marketing that is worthy of positive mention and imitation cannot be likened to throwing a handful of noodles on the wall in the hopes it will stick. Good content should be:
- oriented to a specific marketing objective,
- relevant to consumer needs and questions,
- unique amongst content developed by competitors,
- appropriate for the distribution channels utilized, and
- executed in a manner that supports the brand message and builds trust.
Why is Content Marketing Important?
It plays nice with Sales. Relevance and meaning spurs on motivation.
It works well with Search. Content marketing possesses excellent attraction components and link building opportunities.
It has a reciprocated crush on Social Media. Good stories are told over and over again.
It leads to More Content. Good content breeds better content in time with proper testing and measurement.
Content marketing does not overtly sell a product or service. It demonstrates, educates and assists. Often times it ties a product/service to related themes that have meaning and impact on our everyday experiences. Here are just some examples:
Man of the House – a site created by Proctor & Gamble chock full of compelling articles for married men and fathers.
Photo Tips from Kodak – a comprehensive collection of photography tips that mentions nothing of buying a camera but rather teaches people how to use their cameras better.
Where Does Great Content Come From?
How can your organization identify those unique storytelling elements that will resonate with all your consumers from the most loyal to the oft fleeting? Here are a few suggestions:
Customer Service – What are people complaining about? What are they raving about? Some organizations see customer service as a necessary evil. For you, it should be viewed as an opulent content cornucopia.
Social Media Conversations – Great tools are at your disposal to pick up on trending topics directly or indirectly relevant to your offering (I’m a recent convert of ViralHeat). Use them. Eavesdrop to educate your content marketing team about how to modify and update your content editorial calendar.
Search Behavior – By analyzing the volume of phrases used in search engines that are relevant to your business or product offering, you can gain a better understanding of customer intent. This often leads to discoveries about common questions that are being asked that you can answer with unique content. My friends over at Tallwave are experts at this.
Website, Social & Email Analytics – Our best customer profiles will often help to identify new prospects. Learn more about what your best and most frequent customers like, share, click and visit today. Then align tomorrow’s content creation accordingly.
Here are some less conventional methods for identifying great content opportunities:
Take Your CEO to Lunch – All brown-nosing opportunities aside, spending time with the most passionate person within your organization (most likely the founder or chief executive) could provide a bounty of content marketing ideas. View that passion as a precious resource to learn more about delivering your message in new and creative ways.
Play Outside Your Sandbox – Spend some time doing a little bit of research on how organizations outside your industry produce content. Learn from the best and adapt their methodologies and strategies to industry-native tactics.
Kill Your FAQs – Well, maybe “kill” is a little rough. Instead, translate every answer to a frequently asked question into a contextually relevant piece of content that can be shared. While your at it, seriously kill your FAQ page. If you are doing a good job with content strategy, development and distribution on and off your website, you really shouldn’t need one.