February 23, 2017
February 23, 2017
Setting Your Brand Apart: Four Steps to Content Marketing Success
When I started my career, brands primarily told their stories via mass media channels: running ads on TV, pitching stories to print outlets, and putting up billboards. While these tactics are very much still part of the marketing mix, significant shifts during the past decade have presented new opportunities and challenges. In short, due to the rise of peer-to-peer sharing and the fragmentation of the consumer audience, brands now have the potential to become media channels of their own—or become irrelevant if they remain inert. The most successful brands are responding to this new reality by developing robust content marketing strategies—the means by which they harness and tell their best stories in a way that’s aligned with overarching strategic goals.
Many brands have been somewhat late to the game when it comes to content marketing, but if you want to get ahead of the curve, here are the most important factors to consider—and how to get started.
1. Assemble your team and evaluate resources. The most important factor in a content marketing strategy is the people doing the work—but efforts also must be aligned with resources. Start with the core team that’s already focused on your story, determine who will lead the group, and then consider what other resources you’ll need, including help from other departments, outside vendors, or equipment, like cameras and audio tools, to create content.
2. Develop a written content marketing strategy and build out a content calendar. Just like any serious marketing effort, you’ll want to document your goals, the audiences you hope to reach, and the strategies and tactics you’ll use. In a content marketing effort, this includes which channels you’ll use to tell the story and who is responsible for each. Your social media and email marketing content are primarily elements in this, but more robust content marketing strategies also include content for other media, such as website updates and news releases.
Since this can get unwieldy, you’ll want to create a content calendar—incorporating what you plan to share and when you’ll share it—to guide your efforts. The alternative—posting whatever content seems appropriate on a given day—might seem like less work, but it’s actually more labor intensive. In addition, it’s ultimately less effective, since opportunities are often missed and gaps between posts are more likely to increase as social media managers scramble to find something to post (and as they often settle for uninspired content).
3. Get creative, but repurpose existing content, too. With your calendar as your guide, you’ll have enough lead time to create text, photo, video, and audio content that represents you well and anticipates your needs. Another great benefit of this approach is that you can adapt as new ideas evolve, postponing “evergreen” content when time-sensitive opportunities emerge. This is especially important today, given the considerable competition for your audience’s attention and the corresponding need for agility.
It’s also important to look for efficiencies in the form of repurposed content. After all, the tremendous effort that goes into the creation of high-quality content warrants taking every opportunity to use it. Imagine, for example, you’re filming a customer interview. What else might you capture? Photos; insights for future blog posts, website testimonials, and perhaps even podcast episodes; their responses to a set-list of questions about their experience with your brand—the options are almost endless. And don’t forget to consider repurposing footage from the video shoot itself—short teaser videos for Instagram, for example, or outtakes for your YouTube channel. Once they’ve built a relationship with your company, today’s audiences want depth as much as breadth.
4. Measure results—and be willing to adapt. Keep a close eye on results. If a certain type of content is eliciting views, comments, and shares, learn from that and how it translates to other audiences—and if other content falls flat, there’s a lesson there, too. It’s important to avoid taking a knee-jerk reaction to any single isolated case, of course, but trends worth acting on will reveal themselves.
One additional thought: once you’ve made the key initial considerations, it’s better to get started and learn as you go than to wait until you’re absolutely comfortable. The reality is, very few brands will ever get their content marketing efforts off the ground if they wait for the perfect time or circumstances. Your audience is ready, and they’ll follow you even if you occasionally stumble along the way. If you don’t meet them where they are, however, and keep doing only the things you’ve always done, they’ll go elsewhere.
Watch for an upcoming blog post about how we’ve helped one of our clients–Indiana Tech—with its content marketing strategy.