Over the last few years, much of the marketing world has turned to content marketing: the idea that the best way to engage with audiences and raise your visibility is to share robust, usually educational content for free. This content takes many forms – blogs, videos, podcasts, books (and particularly ebooks, given their ease of distribution), material on social media, and more. Basically, anywhere and any way that folks learn.
Recent studies have, time and time again, shown the the same thing: content marketing works. It works in large part because there’s a hunger for substance in marketing – for folks to talk to one another, teaching and sharing knowledge, rather than talking past one another with fluffy pitches. But as the research has shown, it’s not just a feel-good strategy, but a serious driver of growth. So how do you go about implementing it for your own organization?
The kernel of wisdom at the heart of content marketing strategy really applies to all communication. Try to have something to say – preferably, something that your audience will find interesting or useful. When you’re trying to figure out what to write about in your content marketing program, consider the following three points:
Utilize your unique experience
Do you have extensive experience in a particular sector of your industry? Maybe you approach your area of expertise from a niche or novel perspective, giving you the insight to report from the bleeding edge. Think of specific, relevant knowledge that you’re particularly qualified to share.
If you can deliver that knowledge with some personal flair and compelling enthusiasm, all the better. Think of some of the best professors you may have had: they probably had the gift of infectious enthusiasm for the topic of hand. Few things establish your credibility more effectively than enthusiastic, authoritative educational content.
What types of content are you particularly well-suited to produce?
This question shouldn’t limit your strategy, but it may provide some guidance in the beginning. For example, if your topic of expertise is especially hands-on or visual – and if you have the resources – you might consider producing video tutorials for Youtube. (If you don’t have the resources, you might investigate external partners who do.)
Other types of content have lower barriers to entry, along with real and measurable benefits. Take blogging. You can get an awful lot out of regular educational blog posts: not only do they share your authority, they can boost the profile of well-regarded or rising figures in your organization, all while building up a rich, dynamic base of content perfectly suited to draw the roving eye of search engines.
And that brings us to keywords
Those roving, Google-y search engine eyes? They fall on your site (or don’t) according to presence of absence of words and phrases that folks actually search for when they’re looking for answers in your area. So the more content you have, the more opportunities you have to build a beacon with your keywords, drawing the right audiences to your corner of the web. And the more success you have, the higher your search profile will grow.
Keywords can also help you guide your initial content strategy. Conducting keyword research can help you understand what your audience is searching for – and then you can create a content strategy that provides the right answers. This can reassure you that you’re not just taking a shot in the dark…and that you’re filling a real need for real people in your audience.
From content to relationship
As you fill those knowledge gaps, you build up real trust. Folks might find your site because they searched for a quick tutorial that you provided in your blog. When it turns out that your tutorial is funny, wise, and helpful (especially over time) that same visitor is going to feel more comfortable offering up their email for deeper content – a free ebook, say. When that content delivers, a visitor will be more inclined to respond to an offer for a free consultation or webinar.
And if you take away nothing else, make it that: in marketing as in life, real communication – substantive communication – is the basis for relationships. You have unique experience. Unique expertise. Write what you know, make it real and relevant, and your audience will want to know more.
This article was written by Chris Ourand, Account Director at Hinge, a marketing and branding firm that specializes in professional services. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-391-8870.