Online matching sites have become wildly successful due to the ability to connect people based on their profiles. In dating, the more you know about someone and understand them, the better chance you have of making a real and lasting connection.
The same is true in business. As marketers, our job is to know our prospects and customers, and to match our knowledge and expertise with their needs for products, services and information.
We have to understand what makes our prospects and customers unique, what drives their passions, and where they find their inspiration.
We have to be able to connect with them in more personal and authentic ways by sharing information and resources that help them achieve their goals, and adapt our marketing efforts to reach them in ways that create long-lasting connections and relationships.
There will always be competition for their affection, so we have to stand out from the crowd in order to win their hearts and minds.
And that’s where content marketing comes in . . .
Deliver Value & Differentiate Your Business
Here are nine essential steps for every organization’s content marketing strategy:
1. Define and differentiate your brand.
What’s your story? What makes your organization different and remarkable? What value (i.e. expertise, resources, guidance, tools) can you bring to audiences?
Your core brand messages, vision and values should be reflected in everything you publish, so start by looking in the mirror.
2. Build your content creation team.
Your success depends on the strength of your content team. You need business-savvy writers, and ideally an editor to guide planning and production, and keep the team on track.
Producing great business content requires a unique blend of capabilities. Your team (whether internal or outsourced) must be able to deliver content that is: strategic, brand centric, buyer persona focused, optimized for search engines, technically sound, creative and results driven.
3. Profile your buyer personas.
To help personalize your target audiences and make them come alive, it’s beneficial to give them names, distinct traits and even photos. Then, when creating strategy, visualize these archetypical people (i.e. buyer personas) and direct your messaging to them.
4. Connect content to your goals (and theirs).
Know what you want your content to achieve, such as customer loyalty, lead generation and brand positioning. But more importantly, know what your prospects and customers want to achieve, and generate content that meets their goals. Help them:
- Gain knowledge.
- Build confidence in their buying decisions.
- Achieve peace of mind that they are choosing the right company, product or service.
- Increase efficiency and productivity.
- Differentiate themselves.
- Find their competitive advantage.
- Drive growth.
5. Choose your publishing tools.
Know your audiences and how they consume information, and then choose the tools that speak to them.
Blog posts, email newsletters and video seem to be the obvious choices for many organizations, but consider the potential of press releases, original reports, case studies, white papers, eBooks, content curation, webinars, streaming video, photos, social network status updates and podcasts.
6. Develop your editorial calendar.
Create quarterly editorial calendars that outline what content you plan to publish, topics, authors and deadlines. Also consider developing abstracts to ensure each content piece is on message, relevant to your buyer personas and connected to business goals.
7. Integrate your search, social & PR strategies.
Content must be fully integrated with all other marketing strategies — including search, social media and public relations — or else you’re wasting your resources. To achieve consistency across channels and ensure that all of your team’s efforts are working together, develop an Inbound Marketing GamePlan that will keep you on track.
8. Establish your budgets (time & money).
Consistently publishing quality content that produces business results requires a significant investment of resources (both time and money) and highly skilled professionals who are in tremendous demand, but short supply.
Marketing departments and agencies will be transformed in the coming years as budgets are increasingly shifted to content marketing. Whether you hire internal staff, or outsource to a content partner, don’t shortchange your investment in content.
9. Launch, measure & evolve.
Be agile with your content strategy. Constantly monitor key website metrics (i.e. visits, pageviews, downloads, conversions, inbound links), and shift budgets to the content that produces results.
Keys to Success
- Understand what makes audiences unique.
- Have a plan and build a strong content team.
- Be remarkable and memorable.
- Take chances.
- Put their needs and goals ahead of yours.
- Bring value to their lives and help them find success.
- Driven By Content video series
- What Your Blog May Be Missing
- 7 Key Elements of Great Business Content
- How to Build Your Inbound Marketing GamePlan
- Content Curation: Bringing Order to Information Overload
HUG 2010 Presentation
This post is based on my presentation at HubSpot’s HUG 2010 conference, “Give Your Customers the Content They Want — Persona Based Marketing.” You can view the slides below:
Paul Roetzer is founder and president of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. He can be found on Twitter @PaulRoetzer.