Do 7 simple things the right way. That’s the key to successful content marketing.
Your ultimate success boils down to doing these 7 things well:
1. Know your customers.
Spend time face to face with your customers. Enough time that you know what it’s like to walk in their shoes.
Especially when your customers are carefully considering purchases of six figures or more, you need real insights about them.
Learn buyers’ worries, their feelings and their questions. What keeps them up at night?
Do your buyer persona research to find out these essentials:
• What sets buying into motion?
• What questions do your customers have? What information do they seek?
• Where do customers go for information – online, word of mouth, printed materials?
• When they search online, exactly what are they searching for?
• Which obstacles do they face? How do they overcome them?
• Who is involved in making the buying decision? Who recommends, who decides, who implements the buy?
• What are the steps in the buyers’ journey? What do buyers look for at each step?
2. Know yourself.
If you’re like most marketers, you’ve already created so much content that you can’t even recall it all. If so, then it’s time for an internal content audit.
If you don’t have time to do it yourself, find an intern or freelancer to help you. The advantage is that a third party can better take an objective, holistic view of your content and its performance.
Inventory all your existing content assets. Look for opportunities to repurpose your most successful content and translate it into other media.
3. Know your competitors.
Smart competitors never stand pat. At least once a year, take an X-ray of your competitors’ marketing.
Audit your competitors’ websites, apps, social media, news media and electronic marketplace presence. You’ll not only see strategies that are working, you’ll see the strategies they abandoned. And evidence about why certain activities didn’t work.
Steal your competitors’ best ideas for your own content, combine their ideas in inventive ways and improve on them. In other words, make them your own.
During a competitive content analysis, you’ll find ideas that are worth stealing. Steal wisely. As James Joyce said, “Amateurs borrow. Professionals steal.”
Yes, I really said, “Steal.” Believe me, someone is already stealing your best stuff. A tip of the hat to Austin Kleon and his inspiring book Steal Like An Artist.
4. Build a content marketing strategy.
What if you could be 8 times more successful at content marketing? Here’s what it takes: write your strategy down and follow it.
As Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute points out, following a written strategy increases your chances of marketing success by 8 times.
That’s why it’s hard to believe: Most marketers don’t follow a written content marketing strategy. Only 27% of B2C marketers and 48% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy written down.
Use my free template for your 1-page content marketing strategy. This approach has been working for years; I can vouch for it.
5. Build a simple message.
B2B marketers, the #1 reason people leave your website is the lack of a message. When customers don’t get what you’re trying to say, they go back to Google … and you lose up to half of your potential sales.
Create a Message Map for your company or organization. A facilitator can help you.
By involving all the decision-makers in creating the message, you can head off most of the pains that come from unnecessary changes in the review process.
Those pains always occur when decision-makers have not aligned around a simple, clear, compelling message. With a Message Map, your content grows more crystal-clear and your review process gets much simpler.
6. Measure to see what’s working well, and make adjustments.
Examine the content you’ve created to see what’s working and not working, using tools such as Google Analytics.
Start with your website. At the same time, look through your data on email deliveries, open rates, and click-through rates. See how much engagement you’re getting on social media.
Do more of what’s working, and fix up what’s not. Or abandon it. Here’s a way to apply big data thinking to the results of your content marketing.
7. Create great content.
Now that the groundwork is in place, it’s time to create new content again.
Bring your customers the answers, ideas and insights they need to succeed in their work. Help buyers solve their problems, and remember to always help before you sell.
Keep it fresh, keep it lively, keep it attuned to customers’ needs. Make it visual. Make it punchy. Make it stand out.
That’s the way to win in content marketing, in 7 simple steps.
By following these 7 steps, you can give customers what they’re looking for, outflank your competitors and generate sales. At its heart, success in content marketing springs from doing 7 things well.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.