According to a survey from the Content Council, 72 percent of marketers find content marketing offers a better ROI than magazine ads, while 69 percent believe this tactic to be more effective than direct mail or press releases. Impressive stats, especially when it’s estimated that 91 percent of all business-to-business (B2B) professionals use content marketing as part of their overall strategy. Here’s how it’s done…
Know Your Audience
Successful content marketing hinges entirely on understanding your audience. The subject is only interesting and thought-provoking to those it affects, meaning, blogging about bath salts and body oils will do nothing when targeting the monster truck crowd. Before typing a single letter, really think about who you’re trying to reach. Who is experiencing a challenge your product or service can fix? What type of person would benefit from what you’re offering? Once you’ve determined your audience, it’s time to drill down on what makes them unique. Create a fictional persona of your ideal client or customer and research their qualities and habits, the following are just a few examples:
- What are their challenges that you are trying to solve?
- What job do they currently have?
- Are they a decision maker or do they have to “sell” someone else on the solution?
- How and where do they find information?
- Do they live in a certain geographic area?
- What’s their gender and marital status?
- How much do they make a year?
- What hobbies do they have?
Determining who your audience is and what they think they need is a great beginning, the next step is figuring out how your product or service connects to their feelings about their current situation. Start by comprehending as much as possible about their challenges – history, trends, predictions – and be able to confidently converse about their pain points. Network, research, curate content to share; become infinitely knowledgeable about what you do and who you serve. Engage with others in a genuine way and your content is sure to stand out.
Create Your Voice
Individuals bond over shared experiences. When you’re at a party full of strangers and learn one of them attended your alma mater, you feel instantly connected, it’s human nature. This “us against them” mentality is what makes product reviews so popular, people trust others who think, act, and shop the same way. Speak to your target audience as one of them - living a similar lifestyle, with similar interests -who overcame a similar problem using the method you’re outlining. Don’t present generic examples or overly-complicated technical scenarios, share exactly how this product changed your life, revived your relationship, saved your business, or repaired your problem. Make an emotional connection with the root of the issue, instead of offering a superficial solution for the symptoms.
Once you’ve established an honest, entertaining, and trustworthy voice validated by your personal insights and antidotes, people will return time and again for your perspective on a variety of industry-specific issues. Your comforting and knowledgeable voice elevates the value of your advice, solutions, and observations. By weaving your product or service into poignant and personal content, you become a trusted expert in your field.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like any skill, writing takes consistent practice to improve. To truly develop your voice and writing style, it’s imperative you set aside time to simply sit down and write. Figure out the best time of day to clear your mind and focus on nothing but putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys). Pick a subject you enjoy and pour out the prose! It doesn’t have to be a novel, or even relate to your product or service, instead work on getting your point across in a straight-forward, emotional, and entertaining piece. Once you think you’ve found your voice, transition into writing about the challenge you want to tackle.
If you get stuck, stop writing and think about all the questions your potential customer might have. Write the answers to those questions. This is a great way to get started.
Measure Your Content’s Reach
Once you’ve begun marketing your content, don’t forget to track its success! While the goal is to rack up leads and sales, recording what works – and what doesn’t – is key to streamlining the process. Measuring engagement across social media, your website, search engines, and landing page submissions is a surefire way to find which content resonates.
In the end, a good content writer is only limited by what they don’t know. There are thousands of story ideas just waiting for you to write them. Be curious, be creative, and don’t be afraid to push the limits. Consumers are bombarded by a constant influx of information, it’s up to you to make the magic that breaks through the mess.