Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
At its heart marketing is all about storytelling. Tell a good story and people will buy into your brand and give you their hard-earned cash. Humans have told stories for as long as they could speak. We have a scientifically proven biological predilection for stories.
Everyone loves a great story. Why? Because we all want to feel connected to a group, to belong, and stories help forge connections and create bonds. Stories give us a reason to communicate and relate; stories are stimulating and give us something to believe in; stories make us feel better, smarter, safer, or even loved.
In a similar way, business storytelling creates a bond, an alignment, between your business and your prospects and customers.
Content marketing is the strategic process for creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent ‘stories’ that attract and retain your target audience or audiences. When done well, content marketing builds trust. And if your audience trusts you, they’ll be more willing to do business with you when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.
Content marketing has a big job to do.
Firstly, it has to attract the right people, then it has to convert those people into leads, then it has to nurture and grow their trust and then it has to help convert them into customers. But it doesn’t stop there — content marketing helps maintain that relationship with your existing customers, it stops them going elsewhere, it keeps them revelling in your brand and ultimately it turns them into advocates for you. Priceless!
Chances are you’ve heard of / read some Simon Sinek in the last couple of years. The author and inspirational speaker has written extensively about communication and how organisations use it to inspire their customers, staff and stakeholders.
The Golden Circle is his model for understanding the tenets of human decision making. It aligns with how our brains work and can be used as a guide to vastly improve leadership, corporate culture, hiring, product development, sales and marketing. Read more about the Golden Circle here.
Pretty much every business has a good handle over WHAT it is they do. Everyone is easily able to describe the products or services a company sells or the job function they have within the system. WHATs are easy to identify.
HOW is a little trickier. Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do. Whether you call them a ‘’differentiating value proposition’’ or ‘’unique selling proposition,’’ HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better. They’re less obvious that WHATs but they still miss that truly differentiating detail.
However, very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. This isn’t about making money – that’s a result. WHY is all about your purpose, cause or belief. WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed in the morning? And WHY should anyone care?
When most organisations or people think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason – they go from the tangible to the intangible. We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.
But when we’re selling from the inside out, the WHY is the reason we might buy and the WHATs serve as the tangible proof of that belief.
Content marketing helps you articulate your why. It inspires rather than manipulates your audience which in turn brings greater loyalty.
Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” They say you need to ask ‘why’ five times to get to the root of motivation.
Try that with your business – write Why? Five times on a sheet of paper with space between and try refining your ‘why’ each time.
Generating content ideas
Why do you need a process for generating content ideas? Well, because good ideas can be hard to come by! Having a good process in place doesn’t take that away completely but it will help you to come up with a predictable flow of original, high-quality, and relevant content ideas.
There are four things you should keep in mind when generating content ideas on your own:
- What are your buyer personas’ reading habits?
- What are your competitors doing?
- What are people talking about online in relation to your product or service?
- What can you learn from your search engine optimisation efforts?
Make a list of five ideas for your next content piece — in any format(blog post, guide, ebook, infographic, etc.). Each idea should be educational or informative about your industry, not your brand. Most people won’t know who you are (unless your Nike or Google, in which case you probably don’t need this guide!).
Understanding who your content is for
Who will benefit from your product or service? AND what kind of person, business or organisation are they? It is so important to really understand your target audience. Not least because if you understand them you can target them more efficiently and effectively and we’re all into not spending money needlessly right?
Your content marketing needs to ‘speak’ to your target audience. They need to engage with it, empathise with it and buy into it. But you can’t do that if you don’t know who they are or what makes them tick.
Have a look at this article on How to Create a Buyer Persona
Relevant content at a relevant time
The goal for your content should be to help your target audience through the awareness, consideration, and decision stages.
While there’s no magic number for the amount of content within the buyer’s journey, start by identifying three pieces of content — one for each stage of the buyer’s journey. We recommend starting with a comprehensive, educational awareness-stage resource like a guide or ebook. This way, you can prove your value and help your primary buyer persona regarding your industry, which is a great way to start building a relationship.
Become an effective writer
Why does effective writing matter so much? Well, because for content to do the job you want it to it needs to be relevant and useful to your audience, your reader. It needs to make your reader — not your company and its revenue targets or goals — your number one priority. Your writing should use your audience’s language and show that you understand their pain points, challenges, and goals. It should be produced to help people, not just sell them on your products or services.
Select one of your blog posts and review it with a fresh perspective. Make sure your content follows common grammar and style best practices, such as:
Extend the value of your content – repurpose
Great content is the foundation of your content marketing plan. It attracts new visitors to your site, strengthens your online reputation, and builds trust, which ultimately leads to converting prospects into leads and eventually customers. However, it can take a lot of time and effort to create effective content on a consistent basis. Repurposing content allows you to extend its value by changing it to serve a different purpose, like transforming the messaging of a blog post into a video. The messaging is the same, but the channel or format in which it’s consumed is different.
Promote your content
Great content is crucial but it’s useless if no one knows about it! Content promotion is the distribution of content through a variety of marketing channels. These channels include social media networks, blog posts, email, and live events, to name a few.
As a content marketer, it’s important to understand how to leverage these promotion channels to connect with new audiences and prospects in the right place at the right time. Each marketing channel you use (social media, newsletters, email, advertising, etc) provides a different user experience. Simply copying and pasting the same message across all your marketing channels may save you time, but it doesn’t provide the best experience for your audience.
Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward transforming yourself into an efficient content marketer.
The next step is to continue to build your plan and stay consistent in your approach. Always be on the lookout for new content opportunities that provide value to your audience.
Would you like help producing great content, repurposing it and promoting it?
The Cotswold Marketing Agency has a formidable reputation for producing engaging and effective content. We are able to quickly ‘get under the skin’ of your business, understanding why you exist and how you help your customers. If you’d like help with your content, get in touch for a chat.