We’ve all heard this before:
“Content is King!”
So…marketers rush to create content and now there’s so much content that has been created, some have even suggested content marketing may be it’s own worst enemy.
The Many Functions Of Content
Content Strategy isn’t just about marketing. That’s one component, but content can be beneficial across the organization for a variety of reasons.
- Content can be used to capture leads
- Content can be used to move people through later stages of the sales cycle
- Content can be used to keep existing customers engaged and inspire loyalty
- Content can be used to solve customer service issues
- Content can be used to tell the company narrative to attract the right job candidates
- Content can be used to educate and train employees
- …and yes, content can be used to build brand awareness
The big problem is that too many marketers see content strategy through the singular lens of building brand awareness; too many marketers are stuck in the past.
Expanding The Lens Of Content Strategy
When planning a content strategy, it’s important to start with goals and budgets.
Once the goals and budgets have been set, it’s time to think about how content can help to move the company towards those goals.
Let’s examine some of the ways in which content can be used to advance company goals.
If a company is struggling to drive leads, it may want to consider putting together a substantial and valuable piece of content that the target audience would want.
In this context, leads are people that have problems that you can solve and who when presented with a possible remedy, are willing to give up contact information or engage in a dialogue in exchange for that solution.
The general premise is, that if you can understand what your target customer wants to know about, you can offer it to them in exchange for an email address.
- The first step is (obviously) understanding what your audience wants or needs.
- The second step is to create that content in a format that is most useful for the audience, and offer it in exchange for an email address.
- The final step is to build a follow-up process and additional content that can help move people through the sales cycle.
Doing the work to understand the buyer’s mentality, their pain points, and their challenges, will go a long way when initiating a dialogue with a potential customer.
Marketers often think of content as solely a Marketing function, and salespeople are typically too busy with follow up calls and emails to consider how content might lubricate the conversation.
Great social salespeople have compelling content on their Linkedin Profiles, send interesting fact sheet infographics to prospects, and utilize content in their follow-up emails.
The key is to understand how valuable content can help to earn the trust and affinity of your prospect. As a salesperson, it’s important to listen for frequently asked questions, and create content to answer those questions, thereby shortening sales cycles and showing prospects that you really “get” them.
It’s also vitally important to recognize how your online presence impacts a person’s perception of you.
Great salespeople not only can carry a conversation through to the close, but they are also experts at initiating conversation. Sales resources can be one of the most powerful ways to open a dialogue.
Whether it is creating content that acknowledges your customers specifically by name, or en masse, showing appreciation for your customers can be a powerful way to engage and galvanize an audience.
Beyond creating content about your clients, creating content that is exclusively available for clients, can be a great way to show your customers that they are important, even more than the average Joe off the street.
Finally, not all content needs to be produced internally. Requesting content from your audience and then showcasing and promoting it on their behalf provides visibility and acknowledgement that can enrich the relationship with the audience.
Does one of your products have a feature that most of your customers can’t seem to figure out? Create video or a PDF walkthrough that can be sent to a customer when they call in or tweet.
Is there an aspect of your service that your customers get confused about and call for a refresher? Create a resource that you can send to them.
Time is money. Save time, save money.
What is your company culture like? What kind of people will best fit at your company?
Do you have a slide in your office like AWeber?
Do you sometimes have dance parties, like we do?
- Content can help tell the story about your company and give would-be job applicants a glance into what it’s like to work there
- HR departments can work with the Marketing department to create infographics to describe the benefits package
- Recruiters can create pitch decks that live on their Linkedin Profile
If you know your goals, content is only limited by your imagination.
Training and Education
As a business grows it becomes more and more difficult to ensure that tasks are being done properly. As new ideas and processes are created, there is the challenge of making sure the best practices are communicated internally.
But content creation can help.
Whether it’s creating internal blog posts, videos, or exporting slides as a PDF, creating training materials internally may be worthwhile for your company.
Content is also a great way for people across the company to get to know one another, especially if they are not geographically nearby. Colleagues across the country could see and share in each other’s work, and amplify the accomplishments on the web.
And imagine the impact of a weekly video from the CEO talking about wins and losses, acknowledging top performers, and setting short term goals and milestones.
Content doesn’t just have to be externally facing, it can have a huge impact inside the walls of a company.
Let’s start with what not to do.
Many marketers mistake attention, engagement, and impressions with brand awareness.
This could not be further from the truth.
Whether or not someone looked at content, responded to content, or shared content is irrelevant if the content isn’t designed to advance the messaging, voice, and essence of the brand.
Mark my words, if you share cute puppy photos on Facebook, people will interact with it, but it will likely do NOTHING to help your brand build awareness.
Here’s how to do it right
To build brand awareness, it starts with understanding your brand narrative and what you want people to know.
We want people to know that we know what we’re doing as it relates to social media marketing and social business.
We find, curate, and share content that reinforces our attention to what is happening in the world of technology, social tools, and analytics.
We create content that highlights our ability to simplify and explain complex topics into usable, actionable pieces of information.
This is how we raise brand awareness…by focusing on our brand.
Once you know the story…
Then the next step is picking the right format for your content and choosing the correct channels to distribute and promote your content.
Take some time and think more holistically about your content strategy.
It’s not just marketing. Content has the ability to make an impact across the entire enterprise.
How will you use it?