If you're in marketing, you already know how important content is. While traditional advertising remains an integral part of any comprehensive marketing strategy, it is no longer the only component, nor is it even the primary one. Simply put, in today's marketing environment, content is king.
Good content comes at a price, however. Owners of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in particular, question the value of devoting a great deal of time, effort, and/or money to not only developing content but refreshing it on a regular basis. The initial cost often puts people off and they end up creating content for their websites and/or social networking sites on the cheap. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
What about your website's content? Do you feel good about how it represents your company? Do you have a business Facebook page? Does it convey the personality your brand? Is blogging a part of how your enterprise communicates with consumers? Perhaps it's time to take a critical look at your current content and assess whether it's performing as well as it should.
Content marketing, whether it be via a website, social media, or blogging, is intended to accomplish one very simple thing: Convert consumers into customers. Effective content marketing does so by connecting with the consumer, communicating information the consumer finds to be valuable (engaging), and then by calling the consumer to action in a meaningful way, all of which can cause the conversion you want.
In order to be effective, your content marketing should address the following items:
- Who are you? How does management perceive the company and is that perception consistent with how the company is viewed by the consumer? One way to check if there is a disconnect is to survey existing customers to find out how they see the organization. Perception is, of course, reality. The question is: Whose perception and whose reality? Once that's answered, then developing the desired online persona can proceed.
- Who are you talking to? In other words, who is your target audience? Which consumers do you want to reach? Resolving this particular issue will also impact what message is ultimately conveyed.
- How does the target market access information online? Are the consumers you are trying to reach more likely to visit your website, Instagram account, Facebook page, or perhaps even stumble upon your blog? Again, your choice of medium most likely to reach the intended audience will influence the type of content required.
- What resources is the enterprise willing to devote to the development and management of content? A business might opt to have someone in-house handle all social media and website content or it may find that an independent writer is more appropriate given the time and money required.
- Wash, rinse, repeat. Many SMBs take the steps necessary to create some pretty compelling new content but then make the mistake of considering the job done. New content doesn't stay new. It becomes stale, at which point it essentially becomes content without any content, so to speak. Effective content management requires that it be refreshed on a regular (if not frequent) basis.
- Consumers are hungry for information and updating your online content gives them a reason to keep coming back to your social network or website. The more traffic your various web-based modalities can generate, the more exposure your brand receives and the more opportunities you have to connect with consumers and convert them into your customers.
- Put another way, vibrant content generates traffic which generates buzz which generates more traffic
- Effective content involves good storytelling and good storytelling evokes emotions that cause a reader to become more interested, more engaged, and more invested in the story and the brand it represents. If strong enough, a consumer's emotions can even outweigh logical and practical considerations in buying decisions. Emotional attachment can create a sense of loyalty that is often communicated to friends and relatives who may, in turn visit your website or social media sites. More traffic, more possible conversion targets.
One final suggestion: Content inventory should be taken as objectively as possible. The exercise is no time to defend the work that was done or justify why certain decisions were made. Those factors are irrelevant to the task at hand: Creating the most compelling, engaging, informative and useful content possible so that consumers want to become your customers.