Content Marketing has become a top marketing tool in the last few years, leveraging the boom of social media to create an on-going conversation with customers and brand advocates about your brand. It serves as a place to demonstrate your company’s expertise as a leader in your industry, a chance to show how much you care about your customers and your company’s unique voice. The avenues are all in place to be successful in the field of marketing, now all you have to do is provide the right content.
Creating relevant content marketing sounds straightforward, but it can become elusive to marketers who may not understand its importance, and thus overcomplicate their content, losing their focus and audience in the process. How can you skirt the marketing content pitfalls and create content that really connects, you may ask?
- Make original content that is actually useful: Instead of trying to seem interesting and relevant, become interesting and relevant. It sounds so simple, yet many marketers fail in huge proportions in creating valuable content. Lose the blog post about your amazing new product and follow the footsteps of Anthropologie, who created a blog for DIY drink recipes. With their blog there isn’t an obvious sales pitch, no real mention of the clothes they sell, just a lifestyle blog that people actively seek out as a destination in and of itself. Because of this, Anthropologie fans feel more connected to the brand and, therefore, more inclined to align themselves with Antrhopologie, including purchasing their clothing and décor.
- Think like a writer, not a marketer: Instead of thinking of creating content like a marketer whose goals are centered on brand awareness and lead generation, create content like a publisher, a writer, or an artist whose main goal is to establish a relationship with their audience with no strings attached. Greg Satell at Forbes.com writes, “[Marketers] see content marketing as a strategy rather than a meaningful way to exchange value, a ploy rather than a craft.” Don’t fall into this trap; rather look for a way to connect, instead of a way to sell.
- Start a conversation and solve a problem: Work out a real problem like GE did with Kaggle and GEQuest, by opening up a forum for scientists to optimize the efficiency within air traffic control and the patient experience within healthcare. Or create content that is so enjoyable that it gets rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival and is viewed over 11 million times in the first four months, like BMW films “The Hire,” where the DVD was continuously sold out everywhere and raised BMW sales by 12 percent the first year.
- Make content all about the reader: If you are making content that is about your brand and you’re not seeing results, then it’s time to turn it all on its head. People can spot a fake attempt at content a mile away so your content needs to be clearly for and about the reader. Show your audience that you truly respect them and give them original information or content that is relevant to them, entertaining, interesting, or engaging and they will show their respect in return by supporting your social media community, becoming brand advocates, providing feedback and flexing their purchasing power. For example, an Australian company, Metro Trains, created a campaign promoting rail safety with a video titled “Dumb ways to Die.” More than 83 million people watched it on YouTube and Metro Trains reported that it reduced accidents and deaths by 21%. Likewise, Old Spice has a twitter following of around 250K due to its constant stream of humorous tweets, which never mentions their products.
- Make The Best Of What You Have: Ok, so you aren’t BMW and you aren’t making artsy indie films that wow millions. Maybe you make commercial products in a small niche market instead and feel like you have nothing to offer your audience as far as content is concerned. You don’t have to look far to find great examples for inspiration. Indium Corp is a manufacture of solder paste, a powdered metal that acts as a temporary adhesive, (you just can’t get much sexier than that) who has created 10 blogs staffed by 14 engineers to answer technical questions about said solder paste. Simple, yet amazingly effective, bringing them greater web traffic, industry awareness and an overall increase in sales. Blendtec makes commercial blenders. They came up with the idea to have their CEO blend different items together on a website called Will it Blend. It was an internet sensation and raised their sales by 700%. I think that is what you call a marketing success.
If you keep it mind that content isn’t just another way to sneak in an advertisement or promotion and you remember that it is your chance to show your customers that you really understand them and want to connect to them in a genuine way, then you will creating better content and forming a better relationship with your consumer community.
Jessica Stroud is a writer and marketing consultant who helps marketing professionals reach their goals through creating better strategies and better content for their audiences to devour. Jessica currently does freelance writing, marketing consulting, ghost writing and PR for her clients and has worked as the Marketing Director for Card Lab Inc, worked for Nielsen Business Publications and Forbes Magazine. She lives in Texas with her husband, her three children under the age of six, and her dog. She trains for marathons so that she has a quiet moment to think about what she is going to write next.