Let me guess, as an entrepreneur or startup founder, you have been told to ramp up your content marketing.
More content means more leads, right?
But you’re not really sure where to start or maybe even what it means.
The truth is content only works if it’s useful.
First, let’s agree on a definition of content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all things content marketing related, defines content marketing as:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
The keyword here is ‘valuable’.
As a business owner, you want to create content that is valuable and useful to your audience. You want to help solve a problem for your target audience by producing free and relevant content that helps them along the buyer’s journey process.
What is the buyer’s’ journey you ask?
It’s creating content at every step along the journey your customer takes to purchase your product or service. The buyer’s journey is usually broken down into three phases.
- Awareness. Prior to awareness a customer may have a need, but they are not aware there is a solution.
- Consideration. Once a customer is aware there is a solution, they will perform research to educate themselves. At this point the customer starts comparing different products from different vendors to make sure they’re getting a high quality product at a fair price.
- Decision. Finally, the customer makes their decision and moves forward with the transaction.
Once you have mapped out your buyer’s journey, and all the steps within those stages, you need to identify what is unique that you offer at each stage.
Content marketing tends to tap into the first two stages of the buying process by raising awareness of solutions and educating the customers about a product or service they may have never considered.
Content marketing programs set businesses up for predictable, scalable, and cost-effective traffic and lead-flow that doesn’t always have to rely on a big budget. The reality is that businesses that focus on content marketing increase their leads by 3X compared to paid search. That is why the best content marketing strategy complements other marketing techniques at various stages of the buyer’s journey.
So, how do you get started?
Like any initiative, content marketing requires some planning and thought (fun, fun, fun!). To get the success you want and to start to see some dividends to your business, start here with these three but important basics.
1.Don’t reinvent the wheel.
If you want to jump in and start creating content yourself, don’t recreate the wheel. There are already a number of awesome content marketing resources out there that will help with ‘how-to write’ blogs, ebooks, etc. I always tell everyone wanting to start their content strategy to follow the pros. Check out Copyblogger and you’ll quickly learn how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into clients. And in the words of the very smart and talented Anne Handley, write that first ugly draft, and then don’t look back.
2. Make it genuine (…and enjoyable to read).
You have to make content genuine.
Ask this question: Does it resonate with the reader?
Think about what you paid to read lately. Why did you pay to consume that information? Did it bring you joy? Was it educational?
That is how you have to treat your content creation process. Your audience doesn’t want to be sold something. They want to learn and consume something that feels genuine to them. If you do that than content marketing will be good for your bottom line – and your customers. That means you have to genuinely care about the audience you’re serving. You may not have a huge budget to start but you can still give potential customer valuable information.
Some people say this is the secret sauce. But it shouldn’t be a secret.
The truth is that adding value is so important.
From a customer’s standpoint, if you’re not adding value, they just skip it. If you want to create content or a message that doesn’t get skipped, add value for your customers. If you’re not sure how to add that value through content marketing, ask your existing customers what kind of content you can produce that would be helpful to them now or would be helpful to them if they were looking for your product or service. They’ll tell you.
The goal . . . to create valuable, genuine content that resonates with your target audience. Create something that they want to look forward to reading.
If you do that than content marketing will be good for your bottom line – and your customers.