Content is king!
One of the biggest shifts in marketing over the past five years has been the move towards Content Marketing and the creation of banks of information which can be used to illuminate the expertise of your company. However, much like social media, content creation on its own is rarely valuable.
Blogs, video and eBooks that you have invested huge amounts of time and money in die on the vine without effective distribution, and unless your content is proactively planned, produced and circulated to defined target audiences, you could find yourself shouting into the void.
What is Content Marketing?
"The art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyers more intelligent or perhaps entertaining them to build an emotional connection." (Joe Pulizzi).
Content marketing’s aim of course is to allow you to engage with your target audience in a way that starts to build a rapport which will see your brand awareness and trust increase. It can be a slow-burn strategy, but if done right can have a big effect, allowing you to differentiate yourself and rise above your ‘sell, sell, sell’ competitors.
Content marketing can also have a big impact on the success of your Public Relations (PR) strategy.
You will hopefully already be a publisher and thought leader, producing whitepapers, video blogs and creating webinars on industry hot topics and misunderstood issues, giving valuable insight on the day-to-day business challenges of your potential customers. The good news is your PR can capitalise on content generation by increasing the quality and quantity of engagement with the key trade press. This will then (hopefully!) increase the number of content consumers coming back through your marketing channels to the sales team. Plus, of course, your PR team can then feed back into the success of your content plan by injecting what’s hot in the press and the market rather than just what's hot within your business, thus creating a virtuous circle.
Sweat your assets
The creation of really strong original content is therefore going to be hugely important. Consider developing market insight through customer surveys on your customers’ challenges, processes and decision-making criteria. This can then be shared with the press as a story in its own right. But it needn’t always require new content to be developed. There’s also value to be had from sweating your existing materials. Guidance from your whitepapers can be used to create press releases on a current hot topic. Senior management comment intended for a blog can be pitched in to relevant industry articles. And newsworthy video content can be positioned directly to the press. Journalists checking out your website will also find your company spokesperson has published other blog posts and can source material which will help build credibility and encourage them to reach out for comments on general market stories.
Creating content is time and cost intensive so to get the maximum value you should share and re-use where ever possible – For example:
- Press targeted: content created purely for the press such as press interviews can be used to create blog posts or extracts for use in whitepapers.
- Blog sourced: content created for the blog can be used for press outreach perhaps by running with an idea from a blog post and pitching it to the press to gain a by-lined article commission.
- Event presentations: slide decks can be reused to produce a webinar or you could take excerpts from the slide deck and produce a series of blog posts. A major piece of content like this can be turned into five or more blog posts.
- Published content: share and comment further on articles that the company has had published in the media and link out to these.
The type of content you create will of course depend upon your business, the pain points of your customers, their personas and the topics currently dominating the agenda within your sector. But to become a ‘thought leader’ (a much over-used but often misunderstood term) you should seek wherever possible to innovate and create topics for debate. Coming up with original perspectives is where your PR team should add real value and, if you do break stories on a regular basis, the company will become a trusted source of comment for the press, creating even more (trusted)awareness of your brand and products
Building your content pot - Where to start
To begin with start small and simple. Build up a bank of content before embarking on other initiatives. Blog post length can vary but should generally be between 500-1000 words. It’s the quality and refreshment of content that is key, so look to consistently produce two to six pieces of content a month. Initial steps include:
1. Identify personas (character types) and verticals (key sectors) with particular pain points to help steer content towards a specific audience. These may already be in place as part of your marketing and/or sales strategy.
2. Use a platform such as Wordpress to coordinate, schedule and publish content to a blog on the company website, but disable the comments function. This is unnecessary and could provide a platform for querulous comments and lots of spam.
3. Use an editorial calendar to plan content generation where possible. This will allow you to designate content generation and to map it against your core selling propositions.
4. Assign content generation. Ideally you want more than one voice on your blog, so involve your in-house talent and get them to commit on a rolling basis. Don’t be afraid to invite others to contribute as ‘guest’ bloggers to your blog too.
5. Give your company a human face. Ensure you have author photos, Twitter handles and LinkedIn accounts for the content writers which are displayed with their posts to enable readers to reach out to them directly.
A joined-up content marketing and PR strategy can make the difference between a content strategy that is purely short term lead-focused and one that is truly engaging. Content can and should talk to your audience, be authentic, advise and enlighten. Share that content widely and you’re far more likely to reap the rewards and see the reputation of the company benefit.
At SHC, we’ve established a reputation for creating original, diverse content – from whitepapers to blog posts and opinion editorial for the press which we publicise via targeted sales campaigns, as well as social media channels for our customers. If you would like to have a chat about how we could help join up your content and PR programmes or just pick our brains on best practice on all things marketing we would love to talk!