Although relatively young, content marketing has already developed a standard set of rules and methods by which you will get the best results. But are some of these rules made to be broken? You bet.
With so many companies using content marketing as their major source of lead generation, there's a lot of content out there. If everyone always follows the same rules, your content may look a lot like the next guy's, and we all know that readers want cleverness and variety. So what content marketing rules can you break? Maybe the more appropriate question is, "What content marketing rules SHOULD you break? Try these:
1. Make it non-promotional.
The rule of thumb is to write content that is authoritative but not promotional. The idea behind this rule is that people don't like sales pitches. After years of telemarketing calls and door-to-door sales, as a nation we're sick of sales pitches, and we can spot them a mile away. I don't advocate that you write sales pitch slanted content all the time, but a well-placed proposition here and there can work wonders for your sales. Some consumers will never take action unless you ask them to.
2. Make it SEO-optimized.
We all know that SEO optimization gets more traffic to your site, but we also know that pure SEO web content can be boring. For instance, it doesn't take readers long to figure out that every single post on your blog was designed to contain multiple repetitions of the keywords, "Des Moines medical supply." Mix it up and improve your content by dismissing SEO optimization for some of your content. Don't ditch SEO completely because you still want to drive fresh traffic to your site, but don't be overly rigid about SEO.
3. Make it relevant to the reader.
If your company is a yoga studio, you might assume that the only topic your readers want to hear about is yoga. But that's not true. You don't have to write only about yoga in order to hold the interest of your readers. In fact, by touching on a wider range of topics, you're likely to win some new fans. What else is relevant to your customers? If they like yoga, they're probably concerned about health topics, menu planning, outdoor activities, and family health. Expand your idea of what's relevant, and your customers may trust you even more and look to you for engaging content.
4. Make it relevant to your company.
It's true that reminding your readers about the source of your outstanding content will lead them to your website and hopefully to a sale, but this too is a rule to be broken. You don't always have to mention your company or even discuss ideas that are relevant to your company. Sometimes it's helpful to speculate about innovation in your industry or to comment on current events. Such forward-thinking content may establish you as a "thought leader" in your field, and the thought leader reputation has value of its own.
5. Make it prove that your product is valuable.
Marketing dollars (and minutes) are spent to sell products and services. However, not each piece of content you produce has to prove that your product is valuable. Some content can serve other purposes such as conveying to readers that you understand their concerns, responding to questions, exploring industry trends, and helping readers with timely how-to articles. A more well-rounded approach to content production might be helpful in gaining consumer trust.
Content marketing is still relatively new, so don't box yourself in with rigid rules as to how it should work for you. Examine your marketing needs, and adapt the content marketing strategy to fit them. If your company isn't currently known for good customer service, solve that problem with helpful social media customer service, which is visible to nay-sayers. If your company seems unreachable, develop an engaging blog and respond to all reader comments. Content marketing has great potential, but you may have to break a few rules to make the most of it.