Thanks to the rise in content marketing, I have recently learned a lot about myself. I know what state I should live in; I know who should be my ideal soul mate. I recently learned how to fold my T-shirts in three seconds; I now know five ways to eliminate the ring from my bathtub; and I realize that in all of my years, I have been peeling my bananas incorrectly.
We live in a time when meaningless, scatter-shot, “pretty-picture” advertising has been replaced by impactful, targeted chunks of content of all sizes and scopes. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, the average B2B enterprise uses 13 distinct tactics to push ideas to consumers. The rank order of these tactics can be observed in the attached chart:
With all of these channels for companies to connect with their customer base, it’s easy to fall into the trap of committing content “malpractice” – creating zipless, irrelevant or boring blips of information that are as dry and lifeless as the Sahara.
But, maybe creating cool content does not have to be that hard. I’ve worked with many on the road to successful content marketing – and have found that earning a measurable return from a contextual connection to a consumer can be distilled into five steps:
1. Time is money: From the moment your consumer begins to read what you have written and shared, they have made an investment of their time. Make it worth their while. Write your content in a way, and using a format, that is easy to comprehend and easy to follow. And, if a specific result – a specific action, social sharing, a user-driven dialogue, increased sales activity – is desired, make sure that call to action is crystal-clear.
2. Education = Empowerment: Everybody is addicted to learning new things. It’s how we are wired. And there’s no better way to gain new respect for your company than to offer content that teaches the reader something he or she didn’t know a few moments earlier. We live in a world where immediate gratification is not just possible, but insisted upon – why shouldn’t you be the authority on your market segment – the one people turn to for that new, fresh perspective.
3. Be Real and Relevant: If you have done a good job of building out your customer personas, you know what questions your consumer has about your market segment, what challenges they face, and how your product solves these challenges. You know what questions they are asking. By addressing these topics frankly and insightfully, you’ll convince your consumer that you know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with addressing a prejudice or misconception about your product or service – mixing in a little humor – to ingratiate yourself to a skeptical reader.
4. Entertainment = Enlightenment: Stay close to home – think about use cases involving your product or service that might be a little offbeat – the nuggets that have surprised or delighted you and your customers. Keep it interesting – but not weird. A great target for this type of content is the personas of those who already have a familial knowledge of your company, product or service since they will be best able to identify with the situations.
5: The Right Person for the Job: All the formulas and tips are helpful – but a great writing resource can be the ticket to not just meeting – but exceeding – your company’s content marketing goals as well as your consumers’ expectations. Great writers are people like authors, editors and former journalists who can quickly understand your core idea and apply time-honored principles to delivering a result that is clear, focused, accurate and ready for its close-up.
Make today the day you end your “discontent” with your content – putting these insights to work for you and your company will get you on the road to a pertinent -- and prosperous – dialogue with your consumer.