Content marketing is an important strategy for B2B organizations and according to the Content Marketing Institute, 88% of respondents said they use content marketing. However, about 70% of those respondents admitted content marketing was ineffective.
How do we make a strategy that is critical to a brands success online more effective?
Well of course there are many things that can be done based on your organization’s goals and resources. But when you are putting together a content strategy, there a four questions you should ask before you write a single piece of content?
- Who is my audience?
- What are the interests of my audience?
- Who are the influencers?
- What action do I want readers to take?
Let’s take a look at each of these:
Who is My Audience?
If you’re going to write content that attracts prospects, leads and or customers, you need to have an understanding of who your audience is and what your audience needs. This should go without saying, but this is one of the biggest mistakes, which is why the majority of respondents likely found content marketing ineffective.
What about needs? What keeps your audience up at night? What don’t they understand about your service or topic?
The content marketer has to view the world through the eyes of the prospect. It is not enough to “think” like your audience you need to become your audience. This means you will need to read the same articles, visit the same websites and more importantly understand the circumstances that trigger the search for your product or service.
It is a lot more work, than just sitting down and writing an article, but it is necessary to be effective.
What Are The Interests of My Audience?
One of the biggest issues with content marketing is that of running out of relevant topics to write about. This is true for huge brands and smaller local companies.
This usually occurs because we, as businesses, think only of our products and services. We write about how cool our widget is, how much it cost and how it is different than competitors. This causes two issues:
- It is only speaking to someone further in your buying cycle that is familiar with your product, type of product or competitors.
- It is usually not engaging content. Content that would make someone subscribe to a newsletter (and read it) or share with colleagues or friends.
Your audience interest will lead you to create content that is not specific to your product and or service. However, if you target the interest, you attract the audience.
If you create organic home cleaning products, your audience may be interested in the more general topic of health.
This would open up a much wider array of content topics that you could write about and are more likely to get shared (if done well).
The important things (or hard part) is you need to understand the audience, interest and needs well enough to relate it in the end to your brand. This is the magic of content marketing.
Who Are The Influencers?
If you want to amplify your content marketing, you’ll likely need to align with other brands or influencers on the internet.
These influencers already have a platform and the attention of your audience (ex. email list, blog, LinkedIn Group, Facebook subscribers). Your strategy should include who these people are, contact information and should take note of the type of content they share with the audience. If you create similar content, it is likely they will share your content as well (especially if your content is better).
If you can identify these influencers before you start writing content, you can start building a relationship. These relationships may end up being some of your best distribution channels. Yes, relationships are still important, even on the internet.
What Action Do I Want Readers of My Content to Take?
Even though this is the last question in the article. It’s one of the first questions you should ask when thinking through the content you are going to create.
As the late Steven Covey taught us, “Begin with the end in mind.”
When we get in our cars, most of the time we know where we are going. This allows us to take the most efficient route to our destination, eliminating wasted resources and hopefully decreasing the time it takes to arrive.
How much waste is your content marketing?
Why is it taking so long to see results?
We’ll ask yourself do you know where you are going?
These are just a few questions to think through when putting together a content strategy. As always, the exact questions will depend on your available resources and industry. In the end, content marketing can’t fix, lazy marketing. We still have to do our part and find creating ways to provide value in unique and interesting ways.