After all that’s precisely why your brand is investing in content marketing, right?
To drive value and build a tangible outcome through content. So ask yourself and more importantly, ask your wider organisation…. is this content journey going to provide a clear, measurable outcome back to the business?
Ideally your content journey will be building for your organisation its own subscribed audience, and you’ll be doing this through researching, listening and creating or indeed curating content in whatever form that may take (blog article, graphic, video, presentation, slide deck) that answers the challenges to your particular audience.
Something where perhaps your brand can differentiate, reinvent and create a new opportunity in a crowded market place. In fact content marketing continues to gather pace and a recent article by the CMI suggested that
“Content Marketing will continue its epic rise as one of the most preferred options for both B2C and B2B marketers in engaging with their audience and prospects. In fact, a recent study by CMI suggested that 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 yet only 37% of B2B marketers have documented strategy in place”. This is a shock, considering the below recent survey from Econsultancy/Adobe suggests that Content Marketing is the key priority for B2B companies in 2017:
So the challenge of a successful content led approach requires organisations to adapt and more importantly, articulate how content marketing will be providing a measurable outcome to the business.
The reason this is so critical to address is that content marketing has been hammered as a “tactic” by many that is simply does not work. And that’s because content marketing can’t be considered a campaign or tactic, it goes far deeper than that, it should be opportunity, no matter your role or position in the organisation that acts as the enabler to bring your brand to life, connecting your business, your purpose, you very reason for existing.
Easier said than done right?
Here is a great example from River Pools and Spa, a US based swimming pool business who were struggling to drive sales during the market crash in 2008-09. Rather than waiting for potential customers to visit his premises, Owner Marcus Sheridan decided to go to the customer by literally answering the questions and concerns of his audience.
Case Study: River Pools and Spa
River Pools used libraries of customer research, questions asked and brainstormed the major challenges and requests from customers to visit River Pools showrooms and engage via social media and the phone. Armed with this long list of intelligence, Sheridan set about turning this into content, content via a company blog that answered the most common questions people had about swimming pools
By putting the customer at the centre of their strategy, the organisation transformed and became a “knowledge centre” for anything to do with helpful advice on anyone considering a swimming pool
So taking inspiration from River Pools and Spas, here are a few easy wins to consider in order to get your content marketing mission on the right path, making sure what you’re going to be creating stems from a challenge your audience has..but more importantly at this early stage of your journey, you need to be building a business case and you need to be demonstrating some good examples to your wider organisation of the value of content marketing.
But how do you find these quick win opportunities?
It’s all around you! I’ve pulled together a handy list of information you could use to re-purpose into content. The important thing to take away from this exercise is you are slowly moving the customer to the centre of your strategy. In other words the content you will be creating is going to be helping, not hyping your brand and the opportunity you have to delight your audience:
Company Slide Shares – Most companies have a library of slides and power points in shared files. The opportunity here is that the content on the slides has firstly been approved and secondly is going to be topical (at least it should be if it was used for a recent presentation). With some re-purposing into relevant blog copy you have the makings of 4 or 5 topical posts that would appeal to your audience
Customer Service – Go and speak with your customer service team. What are the common themes and questions they are having to deal with from customers? This tactic can provide you with plenty of subject matter to create some suitable content around
Internal Search – Always a great indicator as to what users search for when they arrive on your desktop/mobile site. Not only should this be a KPI for UX teams but this again can provide you with some interesting topics and ideas to create content around in answering the most popular internal search queries
FAQ Pages – Ah the somewhat dull FAQ page – The origins of such a page are a mystery but it’s a fantastic example of a simple example of content marketing in that it has been pulled together with a remit to answer questions and uncertainties of previous customers. Take a look at some of the questions listed on your pages and look to add some polish by elevating them into new content for your audience
Competitor Sites – Researching your competitors can also provide you with some fresh ideas for content themes as well as it providing you with key content areas your competitors are focusing on to address the same audience as you.
For example, it could be content that enhances their products or services or seasonal/topic content themes.
To get a better steering on what your competitors have focused on sites, here are a few suggestions on 3rd party tools you could use to better understand what content is serving your competitors well:
Keyword Research – SEMrush can provide a wealth of insights into the type of content through search terms they are attracting – here is a hand article on where to find these insights by signing up to SEMrush: https://www.semrush.com/blog/organic-keyword-research-tool-how-to-find-competitors-keywords/
Emails – Spend some time with your customer service team and listen in to calls they’re taking from customers as well as common themes and trends that surface from customer communication with your business? What can you begin to theme and categorise into subjects that would create helpful articles to assist your audience?
Working for a previous company in sports retail, we used to receive calls and emails from customers eager to find out about the release of their football teams new replica shirt. So to help answer our customer’s questions in advance (and reduce the volume of calls and emails to our customer service team), we began segmented our customer email database by football team supported and then sent a targeted email with the release dates of the new replica shirt for the upcoming season
Corporate Events – Find out the upcoming events calendar for your business and where they plan to be running or exhibiting at any trade shows. If there is an opportunity to be included and use this as an opportunity to ask questions in the field. It’s an opportunity to survey and ask questions as well as listen to the concerns of potential customers at these specific events
Interviews – Internal and Industry – No doubt your organisation has a wealth of experience in the industry and there must be a few senior managers who have their own network of contacts as well as be able to provide their personal views and insights – these can be the makings of great content for interviews, videos and explainers that can be used to drive awareness into your industry and help position your brand as helping the audience
Coffee Shops- Possibly the cheapest and most effective form of user research. Take your customers out for a coffee and ask them to explain their concerns and challenges and where/how your organisation is set up to meet their challenges
These are just a few examples that can help you begin to define and justify to your organisation how to position the brand – as helping their audience with the type of content your audience wants and needs.
By putting the customer at the centre of the strategy is a cultural shift but these examples of where you can begin to identify pulling together helpful content will begin to put your content marketing strategy onto first base