How To Succeed at Content Marketing in 2021
In 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content Is King.” It began: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” The phrase already existed, but Gates popularized it just as business was beginning to catch on to the Internet. Twenty-five years later, this holds true more than ever and often is expanded to “Content is king and distribution is queen.”
For marketers today, integrating a strong content marketing strategy is a necessity. Many companies don’t understand exactly what this means, how it works… and if it actually does work.
At its core, content marketing is a strategy built on delivering relevant content with the goal of connecting with current customers and attracting new ones. A successful content marketing strategy builds and nurtures a relationship, establishes trust and value, and creates long-term, paying customers. The inclination is to promote your goods and services, but content marketing is a long game that requires patience and testing, consistency and creativity, and most important, a plan. Let’s break it down.
Establish a content calendar
When integrating content into your marketing strategy, it’s vital to have a consistent plan to create and deliver relevant content to your audience and/or to those you want to attract. This takes effort, attention, and a committed schedule. Whether you create monthly or daily themes, be sure to plan ahead. Decide the concept or title of the article, the message of the video, and the corresponding social posts well in advance. This will allow you to slice and dice your content for multiple purposes. For example, shoot a behind-the-scenes video, write an article featuring the video, post it on your blog and YouTube, share a snippet of the video on your social channels, and/or create a graphic with a quote from the video to share on your social channels later. One article or video can be repurposed in many ways, but only if carefully planned out!
Develop great content
Content can be created in a multitude of ways including articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, social media posts, graphics, downloadable content, press releases, email newsletters, and how-to guides. Video continues to be very powerful and should be a part of any content strategy. Not all video must be professionally produced, but consider your brand standards when creating them. At larger brands, every video may have a copywriter, designer, social writer, and videographer behind it. If you can’t afford a full production team, just be sure to have a quality copywriter and designer who truly understand your brand, your core message, brand voice, and how to engage with your audience.
Remember, content must be geared to your customers and what they want or need. It isn’t always about selling. Your goal is to develop and nurture a relationship. So be resourceful, entertaining, and informative — and meet people where they are. Here are some ideas:
- Write articles about the company, processes, products, or services. Use testimonials and quotes from key team members, partners, or customers.
- Contribute articles to reliable media outlets or third-party websites. Engaging with a PR agency that knows your brand and goals will help deliver that third-party media attention.
- Videos are an excellent way to make a brand come to life. Videos don’t have to be long. In fact, shorter is better! Be sure to include the most compelling information at the beginning. Subtitles are also important for people who scroll through their social media with the sound off.
- What about a podcast? Now just might be the time to start! Podcasts help build authority and allow you to be a thought leader in your area or industry. Podcasts involve planning and technology, so be sure to have all the moving parts in place before starting.
- Not quite ready to launch your own podcast? Be a guest on other podcasts! Research programs and hosts relevant to your message and brand. If you find a good fit, you’ll have the recording to share on social media and on your website, and you can highlight the recording in your email newsletter. The podcaster should also promote you on their channels to amplify your online reach.
- Social media is probably the most powerful way to get your content in front of the right audiences. Each platform serves content in a different way, with a different purpose, and with a unique audience. Understanding how each platform works— and its target demographics — will help you craft your message best. How you post on LinkedIn may be different than how you share that same message on Instagram or Facebook. It’s important to understand the differences.
Track what’s working and continuously improve
Content marketing is a massive effort. If it’s not working, it’s a huge waste of time and resources. Pay attention to the data and insights on your website and social media channels. They all have built-in platforms to help you understand what’s working and what’s not. Most important, continue to improve what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Stay ahead of trends as best you can. If something is not working, stop and try something new.
The Internet is constantly evolving, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that people are constantly looking for great content. Content is still King! The opportunity is there to connect and engage, build and nurture, and, ultimately, drive sales and ROI.
Liane Caruso is a franchise marketing professional specializing in digital marketing, social media, sales and marketing alignment, and strategy. She launched helloCMO, a franchise marketing consultancy dedicated to fractional CMO or outsourced CMO engagements for franchise brands and suppliers. Find her on LinkedIn or contact her at 813-786-0206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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