Congratulations; you know about as much as probably every other brand in your industry when it comes to this practice. Unfortunately, everything you thought you knew about content marketing…is wrong. The good news though, is that a more full understanding should help you achieve the results you’re after – and maybe even inspire a #hashtag!
On the surface, content marketing appears simple enough. The process goes a little something like this:
- Create a wacky blog post or video
- Share it on Facebook or make everyone in the company Tweet about it
- Wait impatiently for the wheelbarrows of money be delivered to your home address
Sure, this is putting it lightly; but it isn’t far from how most people expect things to go. However, the key to driving more organic traffic to your site – and eventually revenue – isn’t in trying to produce a single piece of viral content. And even IF you manage to create the next white and gold (BLUE AND BLACK!!!) dress, the way in which content marketing affects your bottom line usually isn’t immediately apparent.
Content Marketing Is A Game Of Chess, Not Checkers
Content marketing is actually the tip of the large sales funnel that encompasses the sales cycle. The blog posts, videos, infographics, white papers, and all other types of digital media you produce serve to familiarize a potential customer with your brand. They establish value, authority, and trust; all important considerations in the purchasing process.
Rarely will these efforts result in a direct sale.
In fact, the greatest content marketing strategies don’t focus on actually selling the consumer. In order to be successful, a marketer must put themselves in the shoes of their audience – attempting to understand what kind of questions they ask, how they search for information or solutions, what their core values are, and even what they do for a living.
Most campaigns get tripped up trying to figure out how to sell a product or service to a faceless mass of bank accounts, rather than a clearly defined “sample” customer. Additionally, production of content is often carried out independent of SEO and social media marketing efforts.
Here We Are Now…Entertain Us!
Alright, enough criticizing – how can you optimize your content marketing strategy? The answer is both simple, and daunting:
Inform and entertain your audience.
Perform the keyword research necessary to learn what kind of questions or issues they’re looking to solve. Use these results to cultivate relevant content topics. Observe how they interact on social media to understand how to speak with them. Take the time to provide valuable and unique insight that will encourage strong or high quality backlinks. In short; identify and serve your consumers. Top it all off with an eye-grabbing, emotional, keyword-driven headline, and you’ve got a recipe for viral success.
Content marketing isn’t about finding millions of new customers and converting them as quickly as possible; it’s about establishing a relationship with those who truly want to buy.
Trust me – I’m a 28 year-old Content Marketing Director wearing somewhat uncomfortably skinny jeans.
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