Content Marketing – What’s the Point?

by | Nov 9, 2015 | Content Marketing | 0 comments

Hearing the phrase “Content is king” anymore all but makes my stomach churn—and I’m in the content business. Before you think my reaction seems a bit odd, consider how often this phrase is used today. It has become so much of a cliche that I don’t think enough people are stopping to put it into perspective and actually plan their content, let alone their content strategy (yes, they are different). Instead, they’re just throwing up content wherever they can as fast as they can because it’s supposed to be “the”’ thing to do.

“Content is king” was not first said as the green light for people to go out and create content for content’s sake. Rather, it was said to highlight content’s place as a powerful element for businesses—when a true content marketing strategy is in place.

Boost Your ROCI

You wouldn’t get a new software system or other new technology without a good reason. You wouldn’t hire a new employee or add to your product offering if it wasn’t going to directly help your business. In addition to having a purpose in mind when you make changes like these, you also have a clear idea of what you need from them in order to justify your investment in them. That’s basic return on investment thinking.

Your digital content strategy approach should be no different. You need ROCI—Return on Content Investment. That means every piece of content you develop must be directed to helping your business in some clear way. How do you do this? Let’s start at the beginning.

What is the Role of Marketing?

Most people would agree that marketing’s job is to support, drive and facilitate sales. Hence, you often hear “sales and marketing” put together. The two are intimately connected. There’s no point to marketing without sales and sales without marketing seems all but incomprehensible in our highly competitive world.

You can break down the goal of marketing into these three things:

  1. To get new leads.
  2. To convert those leads into customers.
  3. To keep those customers.

Can content help with any of these? You betcha—with ALL of them.

Plan the Power of Your Words

The somewhat casual nature of blogs, social media and other content forms today can make it too easy for marketers to put purpose aside when they sit down to craft a message. Do not let this happen to you. Every blog post, every Tweet, every guest article and then some is an opportunity to support one of the above three goals.

Consider what content can do for you and how each of these benefits aligns to the above three goals:

Increase Site Traffic

How do you think most new visitors find your site? Things like search result listings (yes, your metadata is content), pay-per-click ads, guest blogs and more all serve the hugely important tasks of increasing awareness and driving interest in your business. Ideally, that translates into click-thru’s.

Aligns to marketing goal:              #1—Get new leads

Establish Your Expertise
With your content, you can establish yourself as the expert in a particular field. Answering questions, offering helpful tips and providing how-to information are all great ways of doing this. Home Depot has mastered this not just in-store but on its website as well. Nobody would argue with their knowledge or hesitate to seek home-improvement information from them.

When you have captured the attention of people in your prospect pool in this way, you increase your chances of being the go-to provider when they need to buy something that you offer. You can also tip the scale for people in an active buying mode and build deeper relationships with existing customers.

Aligns to marketing goal:             

#1—Get new leads

#2—Convert leads into customers

#3—Keep customers

Stimulate Imaginations…and Create Demand

Some of the best marketing content pieces today are those that leverage the power of storytelling. In this approach, you can set a stage and identify for your readers how life can be made better—with the addition of your product or service, of course. Subtleness is key here as a hard-sell method will have people clicking away fast. You need instead to touch people at an emotive level.

This is what traditional advertising has long done. If you wear Nike gear, you’re a better athlete. If you have Whirlpool appliances, you’re a great parent. If your man uses Old Spice, all of your dreams can come true. If you drink Budweiser with your friends, you’ll have more fun. You get the idea. Connect what you have or do to some very basic need or desire.

Aligns to marketing goal:             

#1—Get new leads

#2—Convert leads into customers

#3—Keep customers

Create and Cultivate Connections

Once heralded as the death of interpersonal connections, the Internet today is actually a facilitator of them. Social media alone has proven this. The preference for local businesses is more than just a retro-based phase but rather a reflection on how customers want that more personal connection with the folks they do business with.

Even e-commerce businesses can create these relationships and using content wisely is one of the best ways to do this. This can be done with pre-sale and post-sale nurture stream emails, website content, social media posts, blogs and more. Let people know that you understand their needs and problems. Anything that is intended to “humanize” your business and draw people to you is part of this.
In a recent blog post, Zappos did a two-part series on clothing sustainability tips. Yeah, they know their audience.

Aligns to marketing goal:             

#1—Get new leads

#2—Convert leads into customers

#3—Keep customers

Offer Solutions

The corollary to touching on prospects’ and customers’ problems is to offer them solutions. Certainly this should be done differently in different pieces of content. A landing page or website product page can—and should—be more direct with this type of message than should a blog post, for example.

In offering solutions, be careful not to be egocentric. Too much “we offer”, “we can do this”, etc. and you risk turning people off. Instead, focus on the benefits that the customers will realize. You should know many standard customer objections so weave in messages that essentially pre-empt these objections.
At TriSports.com, the first sentence in a brand of triathlon wetsuits gets right to the heart of the matter. No doubt any triathlete will want to read on.

Aligns to marketing goal:             

#1—Get new leads

#2—Convert leads into customers

What about SEO?

I know that many people look at content as the path to improved SEO. However, that should never—I repeat, never—be the reason you write anything. That is about as spammy of a technique today as is off-site link building. The content that meets the above goals is the content that ultimately generates better SEO results. So, if you want to boost your SEO with content, stop thinking about that and review the points we just covered.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

So by now hopefully you can see the power of content and how it can really help your business. But, again, no content can do this on its own. It must be executed within a larger framework. For every piece of material you create—from a 30-second branding video script to an in-depth how-to blog post—you should first identify which marketing goal (or goals) you want it to achieve. From there, you will outline the basic message that you want to convey. Finally, you will determine which content vehicle will be used to push it out.

With these three elements clearly established, you can begin writing. It is at this point that the quality of your content really comes into play—and where it can soar (or be “king” if you prefer). When you write with purpose, with passion and with a clear vision on what your work should do, you position yourself to get the maximum benefit from your effort.

As noted above, this is what you do in other parts of your business already so the concept should not really be new. It is just a matter of extending that thought to your marketing content.

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