A content marketing strategy is like a gym membership: Everyone knows they should have one, but very few people understand what they really entail, and nobody has the time to use it as much as they want to. Which means most people will eventually fall off the wagon.
And the small businesses that do manage to keep to a schedule? They often post irrelevant updates about current events, cuddly animals, or (even worse) political controversies, instead of utilizing their blogs, newsletters and social media to show their expertise and foster community. I know because I see it all the time. (As a copywriter, I’m always looking at what others in the industry are doing so that I can pivot in response to new challenges – and so that I can learn from their mistakes, because it’s less painful than having to make mistakes of my own.)
So how do you create a content marketing campaign that gets attention and wins loyal customers? Here’s what you need to know.
Audience-Centric Content: Do Your Research Before Anything Else
The first step in creating a high-impact content marketing campaign is research. Start researching what your audience is already interested in. What are your potential clients and customers looking for on Google? What do they talk about on Internet forums and social media? Once you understand what problems they’re trying to solve, you can start crafting content they want to read.
Keep Yourself On Track with Content Calendars and Brand Guidelines
Starting a content marketing campaign is easy. Continuing one is hard – especially if you’re not seeing immediate results, which you probably won’t. It can be tempting to deviate from the plan – to start talking about different topics that aren’t related to your industry, or to jump on the newest content fads just because they’re new.
But the problem is that content marketing relies on consistency – both of publication and of brand voice. Audiences expect a consistent experience, and they’ll become confused and irritated if they don’t get one.
The best way to ensure consistency is to create a content calendar and brand guidelines. A content calendar outlines which topics your content will address and when, which keeps your content relevant all year round. With brand guidelines, you can describe the voice and brand personality you want to convey.
Need Inspiration? (Ethically) Steal from Relevant Magazines
One of the biggest challenges in content marketing is constantly coming up with new ideas. Consistent content marketing is one of the best ways to establish authority, generate a following of loyal customers, and boost your website’s SEO – but, according to Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute, inconsistency is the number one reason why content marketing campaigns fail. So how can you constantly come up with new ideas for your content marketing?
The easiest way is to steal them. Now, I don’t mean just copy-pasting competitors’ articles onto your blog. The right way to steal ideas is to look at what your competitors are talking about – and present your unique perspective. This is something that I myself have done, with great success. Here’s an example:
There’s been no shortage of online articles about the death of SEO. This topic has been covered by Entrepreneur, Forbes, ClickZ, and others. So when I needed content for my own website, I looked at the “death of SEO” topic and saw a gap: Nobody had yet satirized the concept. So I did.
The key is that you steal the inspiration – and then create something original around it. Content marketing, when done right, is one of the most effective tools for reaching an increasingly ad-immune target market. And with a solid plan, some determination, and endless ideas, you’ll turn your business into a thought leader and win your customers’ loyalty.
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