Putting Content at the Center of Your Marketing Strategy
Everyone these days seem to think that they are marketing experts. I’m sure some of you are, but for most, a rudimentary understanding of the Four P’s of marketing and a HubSpot account do not make you an expert.
My undergraduate degree was in Marketing with a focus on Advertising, and my MBA in Technology Management was heavily weighted toward marketing. Add to that a good portion of my 30+ year career working in (or adjacent to) marketing roles…and yet I still don’t think of myself as an “expert.” And yet here I am, sharing words of wisdom based on my real-world experiences.
There are countless articles on the web on developing your content marketing strategy, some of it more useful/helpful than others. I’m hoping this blog series will be more helpful than not.
I plan to cover 7 (or more) aspects of building a content strategy from scratch, and will expand on tactics for independents (just you!), small businesses (don’t yet have a marketing team), and enterprises (have a dedicated marketing team).
Quality and Quantity
One thing I’ve discovered is that people are often surprised by the volume of content that is actually needed for a successful content marketing campaign. With marketing, there really is no end to how much time (and money) you can spend to create and amplify your content depending on your overall strategy. However, having co-founded several companies and bootstrapped them for many years, my approach has always been more of a “guerilla marketing” strategy that is more about elbow grease (time and effort) than pricey tools and services.
Even when I’ve had a team and big budget, the underlying principles are always the same.
You always hear “it’s about quality, not quantity.” I disagree. It’s both. Most advertising, in any form, passes in front of your audience for a fleeting moment. The occasional content piece may be riveting, but it can take 10 or more interactions with your brand before something clicks with a consumer, and they pay attention.
The big question is — Where do you start?
Find the Hero
I always begin with a piece of “Hero” content. This might be an eBook or a whitepaper that you want to promote. It’s more substantial than a blog post or even a feature article in an online or print magazine. It’s more of a thought-leadership piece usually supported by independent research, but it should be aligned with your products and services.
I always recommend to keep the body of content very neutral and focused on providing value on the topic to your readers, but then adding in relevant side bars of content to promote your content and services with targeted Call to Action (CTA). A CTA might be to sign up for a webinar. Read more content. Download an eBook. Sign up for a partner program.
Once you have your Hero content (in this case, an eBook), you should build out a simple campaign plan. This might include a webinar where you go into depth on your topic. In the 6-8 weeks prior to the webinar, you should publish one or more pre-webinar blog posts with a CTA to register for the webinar, create your webinar content itself (with a CTA to download the eBook), plan for a post-webinar blog post (with a CTA to register for the on-demand recording of the webinar, which includes a CTA to download the eBook), and pre-build a couple dozen social posts with related images to drive people to each digital asset along the way (that’s right — all of them with specific CTAs!).
Each content component and their corresponding CTA (all with unique tracking URLs, btw) work together to drive customers toward the conversion activities of registering or downloading, with a percentage of those conversions wanting more information about your products and services.
I’m just scraping the surface of what you may consider in your content marketing strategy, but hopefully have shown that it’s much more than just pumping out the occasional blog and tweet, hoping that customers find their way to your doorstep.
Over the course of this series of short articles, I am going to outline 7 key components of a successful content marketing strategy, and provide you with some ideas and tactics that you can immediately put to use, regardless of where you are within the journey.
Here’s what I plan to cover:
- Identifying your brand
- Defining Personas
- Mapping the Customer Journey
- Refining Messaging and Positioning
- Creating Champion Content
- Expanding with a Channel Strategy
- Adjusting the Marketing Mix
If you have any questions, or topics that you would also like me to cover, please drop me a line!