Why Your Business Needs a Content Marketing Strategy
By Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute
Be honest with yourself…why should customers and prospects care anything about what you have to say? Everywhere your customers look they are being bombarded with sales messaging. Only a few select messages get through and make an impact on them.
So that means instead of creating all that product and service information that customers don’t need or care about, you need to be truly helpful. Think and act like a publisher. Be the “go-to” informational resource for your customers. It is this thinking (and quality storytelling) that is the steroids behind quality search rankings and social media that spreads and is shared.
Great…there’s an answer, but it’s not easy. Very few businesses have the skills and training to create a content marketing program and consistently deliver on that content promise.
So how do you create content that moves your customers and/or prospects to take action? We need to positively affect them, engage them and do whatever we must to help stay involved in their lives and their conversations.
Here’s the six principles that need to be core to your content marketing strategy to make sure your content is treasured, not discarded, by your customers.
- Fills a Need – Your content should answer some unmet need or question for your customer. It needs to be useful in some way to the customer, over and above what you can offer as a product or service. In some cases, it may fill an emotional need (like Coca-Cola’s content tries to do, or even Red Bull’s storytelling).
- Consistent – The great hallmark of a successful publisher is consistency. Whether you subscribe to a monthly magazine or daily email newsletter, the content is always delivered on-time and as expected. This is where so many companies fall down. Whatever you commit to in your content marketing, you must consistently deliver.
- Be Human (Find Your Voice) –The benefits of not being a journalistic entity is that you have nothing to hold you back from being…well…you. Find what you voice is and share it. If your company’s story is all about humor, share that. If it’s a bit sarcastic, that’s okay too.
- Has a Point of View - This is not encyclopedia content. You are not giving a history report. Don’t be afraid to take sides on matters that can position you and your company as an expert. Chipotle’s runaway viral hit The Scarecrow clearly has a point of view – that locally sourced and responsibly-produced food is, well, superior to how most food is processed today. Don’t be afraid to take a stance.
- Far Removed from Sales Speak – When we create a piece of content that is about our own products or services versus an educational post at ContentMarketingInstitute.com, it only garners 25% of the regular amount of page views and social shares. That point is, the more you talk about yourself, the less people will share and spread your story. It’s that simple.
- Best of Breed – Although you might not be able to reach this goal at the very beginning, the ultimate goal for your content is that it needs to be best of breed. This means that, for your content niche, what you are distributing is the very best of what is found and is available. I know this may sound overly simplified, but if you expect your customers to spend time with your content, you must deliver them amazing value.
Take some time and look at your content marketing strategy. How many of the six principles are you hitting?
Need examples of who’s doing this right? Look at Copyblogger Media. They sell software. At the same time they have over 200,000 regular subscribers to their daily blog posts. Their incredible revenue growth is because they have a loyal audience that will pretty much try any product they have because they are trusted infinitely (because of their content). Or how about OpenView Venture Partners. The small venture capital company has more than 20,000 entrepreneurs who subscribe to their content site, OpenView Labs. Yes, that’s right…that’s 20,000 small businesses that rely on a VC for information on a regular basis.
As a business, your goal is to become part of the content fabric for your customers. If you do, selling to them becomes relatively easy. Start with setting a strategy that follows the six principles above…and before long, you will be the “go to” resource for YOUR customers as well.
Joe Pulizzi is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, and author of the recently released book, Epic Content Marketing. The Content Marketing Institute hosts the largest content marketing event on the planet, Content Marketing World, September 8-11 in Cleveland, Ohio. You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever see Joe in person, he'll be wearing orange.