Content Marketing 101: Crafting Your Strategy
Blogs (like this one!). Podcasts. Whitepapers. Ebooks. Videos. Social media channels. It seems like every company is putting more effort into telling their story in creative ways—and it’s not just the Apples and Googles of the world. As companies battle to connect with customers beyond the physical product and service, they need to strategize for both engaging content creation and successful content delivery amongst thick media saturation.
According to March’s own Content Strategist Manny Veiga, any company not doing content marketing is faced with an uphill battle. I recently sat down with Manny to find out what content marketing is, how to adjust for different types of clients, and the connection between content and revenue. Whether your company doesn’t have a specific content plan, or you’re a communications advisor unsure how to best recommend content marketing to clients, here’s what you need to know.
Q: Let’s start by talking about what content marketing is.
A: The principles of content marketing are all about using different forms of content (obviously) to promote the company, but also establish its thought leadership and voice. If I had to summarize it: speak to its audience and deliver what that audience needs.
A company will use things like blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc., for various marketing goals. This proliferation of content within marketing can be on social media, owned platforms or earned platforms. There are all sorts of marketing objectives such as increasing awareness or establishing a thought leader, but really the main goal is to drive the business.
Q: How does content marketing differentiate from typical product or service marketing?
A: There are a lot of ways to answer that. For starters, a lot of content is not meant to be directly promotional, it’s meant to be helpful. Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer brand. Their content strategy might not be blogging, it might focus on Instagram. When they’re publishing posts, they’re not necessarily publishing the latest on their particular product. Instead, they might be giving tips that match the product: If they’re a health and wellness brand, it could be tips about eating better.
It’s all about developing a brand affinity, where the customer is more inclined to purchase from them because the brand is a trusted source of information. Content marketing is less directly promotional than other forms of marketing, but anything that you’re doing—whether it’s event marketing, PR or direct sales—can be complemented with content.
Q: How do you decide which medium is fitting for a client depending on their specific goals?
A: The decision is both goal and audience driven. You want to publish where the audience is. If you’re not sure where they are, test it. If you’re wrong, go somewhere else. Next for consideration is the goal of the content – what action are you trying to drive?
With action-driven campaigns for B2B brands we often suggest LinkedIn, because we can craft a sponsored post tailored to exactly the audience we want. Consumer brands might look at trends on social media, specifically Instagram, if their product is visually interesting.
Q: Which other voices do you bring in to support the message?
A: Bringing anyone in—whether it’s a Q&A or they’re a guest on a podcast—establishes credibility. The person needs to have a degree of authority. For example, research and case studies are the most trusted form of content because the consumer is hearing from someone who isn’t trying to sell products.
Q: Every company has multiple audiences. How do you make sure you’re connecting to each one?
A: Even if a company has one type of customer, other audiences might be employees, investors or the media. You want everyone to speak about the company in the same way, but you have to connect to each audience differently.
This is where planning comes in. Sometimes it’s a part of content strategy that’s overlooked—but you can’t skip it. Planning is where you figure out, “What do we say to each of these groups?”
Planning is not a one-time thing. It evolves as your company grows. Documenting content strategy along the way creates a roadmap for planning throughout the company’s evolution.
Want to learn more? Stay tuned for Content Marketing 102, where we’ll ask Manny about assuring content reaches its intended audience, sparking creativity and measuring success.