Content is at the heart of many successful marketing plans, and like any discipline in our industry, it’s rapidly evolving. That evolvement can make content marketing feel inspiring and exciting, and at times it can also seem daunting and confusing if you aren’t sure where to start or how to grow your program.
From hosting our own agency Book Club devoted to marketing tomes and leading Lunch & Learn meetings to attending Content Marketing World and 4A’s events, there are a lot of ways to get smart and stay ahead of content trends.
Here’s the list of the top 10 we’re thinking about as we continue to develop and evolve strategic content marketing plans for our clients.
1. Get Buy-In From Leadership.
We know the value of content marketing and so do many of our clients, but oftentimes many others within the company aren’t as familiar with the power of this discipline. That’s why it’s important to clarify the role content plays in the overall marketing plan and why it’s so meaningful.
Tip: Consider creating a mission statement like “We’re going to be the best teachers of _____ in the world so that _______…” to serve as a simple reminder of why content matters.
2. Start With the Story.
The best story isn’t always the one that’s easy to tell. Instead, it’s always the story your audience wants to hear. Every piece of content you create should teach or touch the target in some way – furthering their education, cultivating your connection to them or both.
Tip: Whenever possible, conduct research to learn more about the questions and affinities of your target – even customer feedback, social comments and reviews and e-newsletters can be terrific resources for insights. From there, you can identify what’s missing and develop content to fill information gaps and make previously missed connections.
3. Bridge the Chasm Between Marketing and Sales.
Content can be a powerful tool to support sales teams, yet many don’t use it to the extent that they could. Work with your sales pros to better understand their challenges, what resources are most useful to them and what resources are missing from their toolkit.
Tip: Map content to specific pain points in the sales process, identifying opportunities to guide prospective customers and reduce friction.
4. More Forever vs. Flings.
Creating better customers who stay with you longer will benefit your organization more over the long haul than simply focusing on the quick sale. Content in all of its shapes and forms can be a great way to provide value and foster relationships with your target for the duration.
Tip: Identify thought leadership, branded and native content opportunities that keep you top of mind so that your target thinks of you whenever they’re ready to make purchasing decisions.
5. Fewer, Bigger, Better.
Consider what content is driving the most connection – whether you’re measuring that by open rate, conversions, ROI or engagement with your audience. Then lean into doing more of that and less of what isn’t working. You only have so many resources to deploy (and your target has a limited attention span), so you don’t want to waste time placing bets on tactics that are just ho-hum.
Tip: Conduct an audit to uncover what content is moving the needle to determine what’s most critical to have where.
6. Novelty + Familiarity = The Sweet Spot.
People love new things, but they also crave the comfort and safety of familiarity. This is known as the Exposure Effect (aka “The Creative Curve”) and means that the frequency of exposure to an idea directly correlates with your target’s affinity toward what you’re offering.
Tip: To find it, you want to ensure your content is relevant, differentiated and true – and then reinforce it repeatedly across a variety of touchpoints.
7. Simplify the Complex.
This is especially valuable for companies where content can often be extremely technical and dense. Instead of trying to pack one piece of content full of lots of information, find ways to distill the complex information to focus on what’s most compelling.
Tip: Use simple language and examples to illustrate complicated ideas – and opt for a series if a given topic warrants a broader, deeper dive.
8. Deploy Video Along the Way.
Not only is video a preferred medium among audiences, it lends well to content throughout the consumer journey in both B2B and B2C settings alike. In the awareness phase, thought leadership and how-to’s can be great hooks. In the interest phase, webinars, case studies and a rundown of products and services can help the target discern how you can uniquely serve them. For conversions, testimonials and proposals make good sense. And in the delight category, education courses, product training and just-for-fun content are winners.
Tip: Take stock of what existing content might translate well into video, and match those topics to the ones that are most top of mind, meaningful and interesting to your target.
9. Own Your Content.
While social media and other third-party platforms continue to be valuable channels for companies to distribute information, they are not yours – they are leased and subject to change. That’s why it’s just as (and maybe even more) important for brands to place content on their owned platforms.
Tip: Build up the high-value content on your website and look for opportunities to drive traffic to it through a balance of earned, owned and paid channels (e.g., media relations, e-newsletters, paid media and more).
10. Measure it (again and again and again).
At Hiebing, one of our core beliefs is that if a tactic isn’t getting results, it’s wasting time and money. From analytics to sales, every content marketing piece should be assigned a specific key performance indicator (KPI) – the keyword being “key” – to clarify what the true measure of success is.
Tip: Make sure everyone is aligned on the KPI for every project, and get in the habit of sharing the results with key stakeholders so that they can track the progress of each tactic.
Curious how putting content marketing to work can benefit your brand? Email Ted at email@example.com to set up a call.