You have a finite marketing budget and every penny has to work if you are going to compete effectively. The problem is thepeople you want to reach, are greeted with a huge amount of digital noise each day and for your content to reach them it needs to do quite a lot of work.
To get your message to connect to these people, you must find some way to get their attention, get them to come to your website and get them to buy your stuff. Nothing complicated about that. One way to to achieve this is to employ a content marketing strategy.
Sounds sexy doesn’t it?
These days adding the term, “strategic” makes anything sound more powerful. “Kids, we are going to initiate a strategic, ice cream acquisition methodology that will have an intrinsic, synergistic outcome with the soda we are about to drink.”
It’s natural for any digital marketing person to overcomplicate things, this is mostly because we tend to think about the stuff way too much than is normal. We forget the simplicity and elegance that is effective content marketing.
Because at it’s most fundamental, content marketing is about only two things.
Everything else is fluff.
When buying content from anywhere, ask these two questions.
“How is this piece of content going to be communicated?”
“How is this piece of content going to persuade anyone?”
If the answer is overly long, or difficult to understand, then it probably wont work. For something to be effectively communicated it must be able to reach the person it is aimed at. It must cut through all the digital noise and distraction and be able to get in front of the gaze of whom it is for.
A content marketing professional will tell you that the content will be “promoted”, but what does that actually mean? How is your digital agency actually going to promote your content to the people it is designed to reach.
The truth is that content promotion should begin even before the content is conceived. Most regard promotion as a thing that happens after the content is created, however if you design the content promotion before the content creation you can make sure the content is extremely effective at achieving its promotional goals.
For example, the people who will be interested in such content, or in the problem that the content is addressing will already know what will attract them – because really it’s not about the content is it? It’s about the solution that the content solves with regards to a specific problem, such as, “Which is the best Hotel I can stay in Rome, for the least amount of money?”.
And so if you ask the people whom you are going to promote the content to, “What content are you actually interested in?”. Then you immediately know that this is what they want and not only that the person is probably going to be interested in seeing the content when it comes out.
This is a very good technique with journalists, simply asking them, “What content are you interested in seeing next week that will help you with your own work?” Is the perfect question for a deadline focused, overworked journalist.
When it comes down to it, getting your content to be properly communicated is a simple process of using techniques that are common sense and conducive to the positive interaction with your fellow human beings.
If your answer to, “How should we communicate this content?” Is simply to shout about it blindly over your social media network, it is going to be drowned out when up against content that has already been promoted to highly influential people in the creation phase.
The relationship with the individual the content is being promoted to is crucial, and should be deemed as an asset to be invested in.
But in this world of push button marketing the human relationship is often neglected and yet it is essential to the effective communication of any content.
Persuasion is where things get interesting.
First you must know what the point of your content is, what is its objective? Your content must justify its reason to exist in the Universe. It has to earn its keep. It must impact on the reader and be able to persuade them to perform a specific action, such as a retweet, or to allow them to think about something differently. For example develop a stronger emotional attachment to your brand, so next time they are thinking of buying they are more likely to buy.
Content marketing is rarely used for direct sales, although it can be. It tends to be more effective in positioning the brand in the mind of the consumer in a positive light.
This is more akin to seduction, even to romance. It is subtle and it is nuanced, but it does not have to be complicated. There are distinct steps towards a piece of content being able to persuade.
People must hunger for information that will give them the ability to solve the problem in their head.
Your voice must be trusted, no reason to doubt your message should exist. You build trust by showing you know your subject, by caring about the people you are communicating with.
An individual must relate emotionally to the message, this is because a change in the state of mind must occur for things to move in the direction of motivation and an action.
Sometimes the objective is to achieve a positive social signal, get a link or some other overt action. These should be seen as physical acts which the reader has to be motivated to perform, a click of a mouse, a few clicks of a keyboard. You need to be able to motivate the reader to action.
If there is no action have you really persuaded. This is the point of the whole exercise, to initiate change. To make something happen, even if it is something internal, which cannot be seen such as a change in attitude.
Content marketing can be deep with regards to implementation and as a whole can have a lot of moving parts which have to work smoothly together. But fundamentally the technique is simple and straight forward. There is no need to overcomplicate things, unless of course your motivation is that you need to hide something.