While I am not a huge fan of “buzz words,” content marketing is more than just a hot topic right now, it’s a strategic plan. We hear it all the time: Content Marketing is the new way of marketing, but that exactly does that mean? A basic description of content marketing is using content and storytelling that is relevant to your audience as your primary marketing tactics. Oftentimes content marketing refers to a combination of blog posts, website content, videos, social media, and much more. Our blog post, “What is content marketing and why should you care about it” goes into full detail about what content marketing is, so check that out if you’re new to the content marketing discussion.
When it comes to content marketing, it’s not a spontaneous strategy, it’s planning, organizing, scheduling, etc. To help you get started, I’ve organized the process into six steps. We explained in our last post mentioned above how to find out WHAT you should say and I’m going to help you decide HOW you should say it:
Step 1: Messaging
Messaging is a fancy term for what words you are using to talk about your company, services, products, etc. Once you decide who your audience is, where they are, and what they are looking for, your messaging helps you capture that audience with your content marketing. So how do you come up with your messaging? You talk about it. What are key phrases that you use to talk about your services? What are the highest priority “buzz words” for your products? I recommend creating a “Message document” with general phrases, description words, etc. for your product, service or company so that you are consistently using the same voice, words, and content in all of your marketing platforms. You’d be surprised at how recognizable your phrases will become to your audience. Think about your wireless provider, I know which company’s commercial I’m watching before I see the logo because I know HOW they describe their services.
Step 2: Planning
You’ve come up with your messaging phrases, you’ve decided on a plan to reach your audience, now it’s time to plan your approach. The key to content marketing is saturating your audience with messaging, but not overwhelming them to the point they want to tune you out (unsubscribe from your emails, unfollow your social media accounts, etc). Start with deciding where you want to market: industry magazines, website content, social media channels, billboards, radio, TV commercials, etc.
Lots of magazines create yearly editorial calendars, pay attention to their deadlines and plan their pitching ideas in advance. Billboards, radio and TV only have so many spots available, so decide where you want to be, when you want to be there, and start planning how you’re going to accomplish all of it. We usually suggest sitting down at the end of the year to plan for the next year in advance and then schedule monthly meetings to make sure everyone is on track with the annual plan.
Step 3: Creating
This is the fun part…or the hard part, depending on how you look it. You’ve decided to pitch to a couple of magazines and want to film a TV commercial along with updating your website content. Now it’s time to write, create and produce all of that content. This is the most time consuming portion of content marketing and can overwhelming for many, including the experts. My advice: don’t try to take on too much at once. Rewrite website content one page at a time, write social media posts one month at a time, write one or two blog posts at a time. Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself because then you will get burned out and your content marketing efforts will suffer as a result. (And don’t forget, you don’t have to do it alone.)
Step 4: Scheduling
Grab your calendar, the scheduling portion is the part you have to keep most organized. Keeping up with all of that planning you did and getting your content scheduled is the most important part of the content marketing process, because if you don’t post it or send it, your audience will never see it. This is one of the places that monthly marketing meeting I mentioned under planning will come in handy. Find a scheduling tool you like (CoSchedule, Calendy, etc.) and stick to it. This part shouldn’t be as time consuming as the first couple steps, but if you’re unorganized with it, you might find it more difficult.
Step 5: Monitoring
Listening to your customers is one of the most important things you can do as a marketer. We get so caught up in our daily tasks that we forget to hear what our audience is saying, and they are saying a lot, even if they say nothing at all. Perhaps you sent out an email blast last week and 120 people opened it but only 2 people clicked on the call to action, are you listening to what they are saying to you in that scenario? Monitor your emails, your website traffic, your social media platforms, etc. to see how people are engaging, take note of that and discuss it at the next meeting.
Step 6: Analyzing
The last and final step, but it might be the most important (ok, I know I’ve said that about all the steps, but I really mean it this time.) Analyze the results of your campaign. See what worked and generated more leads and what didn’t. Your video series was a lot of time and work and only one lead come out of it – is it worth it? Look at how your content performed, evaluate it and adjust your strategy for the next campaign.
Content marketing is a strategy, and like any other strategy, it takes practices, trial and error and most of all, patience. But if you do it correctly, it can be a great marketing tool. Good luck. And don’t forget, Red Sage is here to help!