Back in 2009 we wrote a small post entitled, “3 things you need to know before redesigning your website”. What were the three things? Content, Content, Content.
So, let’s talk about content. What is it? How can you leverage it for the growth of your business? What will your customers and clients think about it? Even people who don’t exactly know what “content” is are likely producing it every single day. However, there is an important distinction to be made between most “content” and the effective content needed to create a successful brand.
Start with Why?
Why are you making changes to the content? Take time to assess your goals and how that should influence the content. Doing something because everyone else is doing it should not be the reason. Changes to content should reflect the values of your business and audience. Making sure you have a firm grasp of this before all else will be time and effort well spent, and it will create a roadmap that feels worth it and will pay off.
There are several reasons to begin leveraging content marketing. Some may be to increase engagement with your brand or to promote a new product or service. Whatever the motives, it is important to create content that increases the chances of you making that why a reality.
What Is It?
The way I like to describe content to people is simple: “Any information that is designed and created for consumption”. Ideally, it comes fully packaged to be shared with an audience and enjoyed by them. Like products, information (content) can be necessary or a luxury; it can be clear and factual or poetic and mysterious; it can be technical or experiential. It comes in many diverse forms such as audio, text and video to name a few, but regardless of its format, content needs to be relevant, compelling, timely and valued.
Creating and distributing VALUABLE, RELEVANT and CONSISTENT content attracts and serves a clearly defined audience, which ultimately drives an increase in profitable customer action. The keyword here is “valuable”. You can’t expect anyone to engage with what you have to say or show if you don’t provide value. Therefore, incorporating content creation into any marketing strategy requires empathy and an understanding of what is valued by the intended audience.
How to Create Effective Content
If you haven’t already done so, establish who your target audience truly is. While this may seem fairly obvious to some people, the necessity of this stage is often forgotten. Determine who already buys your products or services. What is their demographic? What are they interested in? What stage of life are they in? How do they consume information? Find out when they go online and what they enjoy doing offline.
There are many tactics you can use to target different kinds of people. With the digital tools we have available today and society’s high level of engagement, targeting even very narrowly defined audiences is not only possible, but expected. Rather than being “creepy” as some have suggested, our ability to send targeted messages to specific people means that we can stop wasting many other peoples’ time or interrupting/annoying the wrong crowd, and start focusing on building relationships with people we can actually help. So get specific!
This brings up the importance of understanding people above all else. As a marketer, it’s easy to get lost in all of the latest tools and current trends. I’m not suggesting that being up to date isn’t important. In fact, relevance is key. However, the foundation of all marketing should be based on understanding people’s needs and desires, which will give you the ability to provide more value to their lives. This is not only a clear-cut competitive advantage for any business; it’s the very purpose of business in the first place.
Key Points to Remember:
- Be real with your audience and they will be real with you. The content you create and distribute should clearly reflect the culture of your business.
- Don’t underestimate people and don’t fake your commitment to them.
- Throughout the process of planning your content marketing strategy remain open to finding areas within your business that need more thought or development. Nothing exposes weak spots like having to communicate with others about them.
So, What Does it All Mean?
It’s important to understand that content, when used correctly, builds relationships. When your audience takes the time to engage with your content, TRUST GROWS, which in turn, reflects on your business. Remember:
“It’s never about volume. Get your message right and be very strategic in what you do.”Amrita Thapar
P.S. Having said that, we still need to consider distribution. Without a strategic distribution plan most content fizzles out and dies on a blog somewhere. It doesn’t have to be that way. The same information can be repurposed into videos, emails, e-books, tweets, Facebook posts and a variety of other formats. Repetition and consistency are key. Check out our next post that will deal with the issue of effective content distribution.