Content is everywhere and being talked about all the time. Companies have cottoned on to the fact that great content can be a secret weapon: it provides knowledge and information, gives insight into an interesting topic or technical field and entertains in a way that’s friendly, approachable and non-invasive. With such a proliferation of content on the web, how can you make yours stand out? Good messaging is key. So we’ve devised these tips to help you establish what the ‘content’ of your content marketing should be, how to create that content, and make sure it’s read and shared! After all, you want people to engage with your content, instead of it blending in with the 78% of content that’s just white noise!
What’s the content of your content?
1. Content isn’t about selling
Good content is interesting; it is not a sales pitch. But keep in mind that the goal of any marketing activity is to sell something. Confused? Think of it like this: informative content portrays you as an expert in your field, and expertise sells itself. While someone may not purchase your product or service directly off the back of reading your LinkedIn post, for example, it opens a channel for a two-way conversation that can lead to a sale in the end.
2. Establish what makes you different
What are your USPs? Is your software leading the way? Is your product a game changer? These are factors that can form the basis for your content. But don’t just state the obvious! Accountants saying “we get to know our clients’ businesses”, is tired and frankly quite dull! On the contrary, a case study on how your groundbreaking new accountancy software helped a start-up put their affairs in order and grow the company is far more compelling; because it isn’t just an interesting read for another start-up, it might make them think, ‘maybe this accountant could do the same for me…’. So why not take a look at what your content is saying – and is it any different to what your competition is saying?
3. Put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes
What do they like? What are their interests? Saying your coffee is the best in the world is one thing, but if the Trip Advisor reviews of your coffee shop say otherwise, your barista is going to be very bored! In a B2B setting ask yourself if your potential customers have a ‘problem’ or ‘need’ that your product or service could solve. Identifying what their ‘pain’ is and what motivates them to part with their cash gives you a good understanding of how to appeal to your target audience.
4. Focus your mind on the big question
“Why should a prospect spend money with you?”. While content isn’t about making a direct sale, having the answer to this question clear in your own mind will make it easier to convey to potential customers further down the line. This may be obvious to you and your colleagues, but unless your product/service is so niche that no one’s thought of it yet, chances are somebody’s doing what you do. So your potential customers need to be shown the reasons why you are a good option, over the competition. And saying “we care about our clients” just won’t cut it.
So, now you’ve worked out how what you’ve got to offer fits with your customers’ wants and needs, you’ll need to create some content.
While the basics of good writing don’t change – poor spelling and grammar isn’t likely to impress anyone – there are a few things to keep in mind when writing for a specific audience.
5. Know who you’re talking to
A good marketing strategy involves segmenting your marketplace – if you missed our last series of tips, check out our post on market segmentation. The key here is not trying to be all things to all people! Say you’ve a piece of document scanning and filing software that works brilliantly for a range of professions – your marketing collateral should reflect the different target markets, by being appropriately addressed to them. Write to solicitors in a language they understand and to estate agents in a way that appeals to them.
6. One is the magic number
Good content isn’t only about segmenting your marketplace. It’s about making your reader feel like you are talking to them directly; that you’re answering their worries, or challenging their status quo. Be personal, without being over-friendly. Don’t talk like a salesperson, just be natural and be real. We’re all marketed to every day – lay on the fluffy marketing guff and your audience will see right through it.
7. Don’t be too clever
You’re creating marketing content, not writing a children’s story. That doesn’t mean that you should favour the complex over the simple; be clear not confused, be specific not vague, speak in real terms not in jargon. There’s not much that is going to hold your reader’s attention, and if you make it difficult for them, they’ll be off, never to be seen again. The last thing you want is to lose the interest you’ve worked hard to gain.
8. It’s not all about you
Content is about sharing insight and providing something useful. Industry insight, tips on how to do something, a new way of looking at an old problem are all valuable to your audience, because they give something. On the other hand, a newsletter announcing the latest award you won, or who your new MD is, isn’t likely to have an immediate impact on your readers’ lives – so leave it out, no matter how important you think it is. If in doubt, apply the ‘So what?’ test. If your content doesn’t pass, it’s back to the drawing board.
So now you know how to create a stellar piece of content, what are you going to do with it?
Putting your content out there – make sure it’s seen and shared
Simply posting your content on your website’s blog page and hoping that passing web traffic stumbles upon it, isn’t going to cut it; indeed you may not get anyone look at it at all! You need to give people a nudge in the right direction, rather than expecting them to be drawn to it. So how can you put your content out there?
9. Email marketing
A compelling, well-written email is a great way of directing traffic to your content, provided it is humble and not pushy. Remember, content isn’t about selling directly! Placing the content on your website and sending people there through email marketing drives traffic to your site too. The email recipient may even take a look at some more of your content, customer testament, or other products/services you offer, and you never know what conversation that may spark.
10. Social media
Just remember that not all social media platforms (i.e. Facebook) are appropriate in a B2B environment, so make sure it fits with your business and those people you are trying to reach before you embark upon an intense campaign that won’t yield the results you’d like. Twitter is a useful tool to drive people towards a chosen piece of content, but it’s a very congested space – you need to constantly put your message out there in order to make yourself heard above the noise. Our blog ‘How many Tweets make a sale?’ has more on this – it may surprise or even horrify you! Blogs can be posted on LinkedIn to demonstrate your expertise to your connections. You can also post content in different LinkedIn groups, therefore increasing its visibility. Although, as with Twitter, you need to constantly put your content out there, or else it sinks out of sight, like a stone thrown into a pond. Just remember the golden rule: content isn’t a sales pitch. Keep it professional and informative or you risk coming off as spammy.
Why not get creative and see if you can repurpose your content and give it a different presentation? Have it recorded and upload it to YouTube, record a podcast, use it as the basis for a webinar, or if your proposition is particularly complicated perhaps an infographic or an animated video could explain it. Could your case study become a customer testimonial? Maybe your client could explain how happy they are with the company’s work, giving you not only a new piece of content but a powerful piece of customer advocacy that builds the reassurance needed to encourage people to buy.
12. Printed material
In the days of digital, print is a rare treat. We’re not talking about the Domino’s Pizza flyer shoved through the door here, but quality, creative, even lavish print. In the same way that a handwritten postcard from a friend is a lot more personal than a blanket text flashing up on your phone, a physical piece of print feels exclusive. So why not turn your content into a printed fact sheet, then pass it on to contacts at meetings, through direct mail or at exhibitions? Bucking the digital trend could just set you apart from your competitor, and make your content that bit more appealing to potential customers.
13. Don’t be afraid to be creative
As the above points show, there’s more to content marketing than the written word. Engaging, shareable content takes time to create and promote. Make sure you get the most out of it, by making your content work hard; think outside the box and with a few tweaks you can repurpose your original piece of content and give it a new lease of life.
The most important thing to remember out of all of this is that whatever content you create, don’t leave it to languish in a dusty corner! You’ve put a lot of hard work into creating a great piece of content, and it deserves to be seen. And you never know what conversation it might spark. We hope you’ve enjoyed our series of tips. If you’ve any questions, or would like to find out more, please do just give us a call. We’re on 0117 947 6090 and would be happy to help.