Should I be on Facebook or Twitter? Do I need a blog? What would I do with a White Paper?
These are questions we’re used to hearing, and when our clients and prospects ask us them, we usually hear a bit of fear and cynicism in their voices.
They’ve read somewhere about the importance of Content Marketing or some other trendy phrase that describes this mysterious delivery of words, or writing, or pictures or infographics is supposed to magically make customers appear on their doorstep or at their website address.
So let’s understand a couple of things first. What is Content Marketing? This definition is pretty complete from the Content Marketing Institute:
“creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
All too often businesses get hung up on the “distributing” part of the equation. They decide they want to be on Facebook so they start writing pithy posts. Or they hear Twitter is the cool place to be so they hire a well-intentioned marketing newbie to tweet in 140 characters. A blog – they think, “Oh, I need to find someone who knows how to do that.”
Our recommendation: Don’t get hung up in the technology.
Choosing a marketer because she knows how to use the platform you want to be on is like building a NASCAR racing team around someone because they have a driver’s license.
Focus instead on content marketing that moves the needle:
- Develop a race strategy. Whether you’re racing from the front with a new business concept or making up time and need to pick off your competitors one by one, your content should be driven by your plan – a plan that integrates your key messages and contributes to your larger business strategy. With the best plans, you know when to recycle, reuse and reinvent to maximize your strengths and resources to the greatest advantage.
- Build the best car. Your marketing should be targeted at your target audiences first and foremost. Choose the right vehicles to get to them. Figure out where your customers are and meet them there with the kind of content they’re looking for.
- Accelerate. You’re the expert in your business. To make sure your content is valuable and relevant, you need someone smart enough to get up to speed on your business quickly. The best content marketers process what you have to say, craft it correctly, use it consistently and speak your audience’s language.
- Set a smart pace. Be consistent. Content marketing isn’t about the start. It’s about becoming an ongoing reliable source of information for your customers and prospects. If you want to be positioned as an expert in a highly technical area and start a White Paper series – you should put them out with appropriate frequency. If you start out tweeting five times a day, don’t lapse to three-month intervals after you get bored.
- Experience matters. Even the most promising rookie is surrounded on his race team by people who’ve been there before. Freshness and energy are important, but wisdom will keep you out of a lot of trouble when you’re putting your reputation on the line.
Content marketing is the latest in a long line of catchy phrases for the new direction of marketing. It’s trendy to talk about storytelling and brand journalists. There are dozens of gurus and specialists who will use the buzzwords.
Take another look. Why do you want to get in the race? What are your goals? And who do you want in the driver seat? Develop a content plan and work the plan.
It matters because the checkered flag belongs to those brands that drive “profitable customer action.”