One of the first things you have to do to be successful with content marketing is to forget everything you know about marketing. I know that’s a scary concept. Trust me, I’m a marketer and I get it.
For decades, businesses have been following marketing strategies based on interrupting consumers. However, for your content marketing efforts to work, you need to put that aggressive promotional mindset on the back-burner and focus on writing and publishing shareworthy content that people actually want to engage with and talk about.
With that in mind, every piece of content should be created with your audience’s needs and pain points in mind, not your business goals. Remember the first tenet of marketing and copywriting:
Your product or service is far less important than it’s ability to fulfill your customers’ needs. No one cares about you. They care about how your product or service can help them or make their lives easier or better.
In other words, create the content your audience wants and needs! Here are some simple steps to help you do it successfully:
1. Shift from a Marketer to a Publisher Mindset
You have to think like a publisher to be successful with content marketing. That means you must publish far more useful content than promotional content. I always advise sticking to the 80-20 rule where 80% or more of your content should not be self-promotional and 20% or less can be self-promotional.
But hold on! Just because 80% of your efforts aren’t directly self-promotional doesn’t mean they’re not indirectly marketing your business. In fact, it’s indirect marketing that makes content marketing (and social media marketing) so powerful. That’s because every piece of content you publish or share can add value to the online experience and further strengthen your relationship with your online audience of brand advocates who will talk about your content and share it with their own audiences.
What does that sound like to you? Sounds like the most powerful form of marketing ever — word-of-mouth marketing! It’s just not in your face. Don’t think content that doesn’t directly promote your business isn’t helping to drive revenues. It’s just happening indirectly and might not be apparent immediately.
2. Add Value, Stay Relevant, and Be Shareworthy
By following the 80-20 rule, you can build relationships and set expectations for your target audience and among online influencers who can help to spread your messages. They’ll see you not as an ad and instead, as a source of trustworthy information. In other words, your audience will build an emotional connection with your brand which is a very, very big deal!
Get started by researching the type of information, messages, and content your target audience wants from a business like yours, and then deliver that content in a professional manner. You also need to offer content that your audience will share with others. Let’s face it. No one is going to share poor quality content, and that includes the design and the words.
Never has there been such an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs, startups, and small and mid-sized businesses to stake their claims and position themselves for success — because now, it’s not necessarily the depth of your wallet that leads to success through content marketing but rather the depth of your words. Make sure they’re useful and meaningful for your audience.
Content marketing gives you a way to meet customer expectations and add something extra to the consumer experience that helps develop trust and loyalty but only if you’re investing the time and/or money into publishing high quality content.
3. Leverage the 3 S’s of Customer Loyalty
Through content marketing, you have a perfect way to grow by leveraging the important 3 S’s of Customer Loyalty, which I’ve discussed here on the KeySplash Creative blog before. To recap, the three S’s are:
- Stability: Customers become loyal to a product, brand, or business when it sends a consistent message they can trust and rely on.
- Sustainability: Customers become loyal to a product, brand, or business when they believe it will be with them for a long time or at least a specific amount of time with a predetermined end.
- Security: Customers become loyal to a product, brand, or business when it gives them a feeling of comfort and peace of mind.
As you can see, consumers actively look for products, brands, and businesses that they feel they can trust and that won’t abandon them. They become emotionally involved in the products, brands, and businesses that help them feel a sense of comfort. Therefore, a well-executed content marketing strategy can offer the stability, sustainability, and security that customers seek, and it can help them develop an emotional connection and relationship with a product, brand, or business. See how everything comes full circle?
Your Next Steps
Begin by creating buyer personas for your customers, so you know what kind of content to create. At a minimum, your content should do one of three things in order to add value to consumers’ experiences: educate, entertain, or motivate. From there, you can develop your content calendar, and then start creating and publishing content.
The more quality content you publish, share, and talk about, the more entry points there are to your website, the more ways there are for people to find you, the more ways there are for people to trust you, the more ways there are for people to talk about you, and the more ways there are to drive sales and profits.
As always, if you need help creating shareworthy content of any kind, don’t hesitate to contact me!
This article was partially adapted from Content Marketing for Dummies by Susan Gunelius (Wiley, 2011).