By Arnie Kuenn
President, Vertical Measures
If your business has been stalling right along with the economy, you might get a much-needed boost from content marketing.
Content marketing is the creation, sharing, and distribution of information that’s relevant to customers you want to attract, engage and retain. Content can be informational, educational, promotional, or entertaining, and if presented properly, it can help you spread your message, enable dialogue between you and your customers, and increase business revenue.
Customers no longer just want standard products and services; they want more engaged vendors. They want to know that the companies they buy from will go the extra mile to provide advice and information. This has led to an explosion in content marketing.
However, the process of content marketing can be confusing. Businesses know they need to do it, but they don’t necessarily know where to start. Answering six basic questions will give you the insight you need to get your plan off the ground.
What are you presenting?
The type of content you create depends on what your customers want to hear. You can provide details about your products or services, but you also need to present content that isn’t necessarily about you, but help your customer make an informed decision.
Your content can include industry trends, advice, or an overview of the benefits of buying a particular product or service. You can also be more direct and talk about your particular products and services, and include a call to action to buy or call for more information.
Why are you presenting it?
The content you publish will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to position your business as knowledgeable? Helpful tips look like free advice for customers, which makes them come back for more. Talking about trends in your industry makes you appear in touch with a changing market.
Are you trying to generate leads or sales? A how-to guide about installing a specific product with a link or contact number gives readers an immediate way to respond, and it gives you an opportunity to see who’s interested in your offers, whether they become customers or not.
Match your content to your business goals and you’ll get the results you want.
Who are you presenting to?
Your target markets will affect the way you present content. If you’re talking to customers, you can talk about new products they might like, or new service delivery methods that make life easier. If you’re talking to prospects, take a less familiar approach, touting the benefits of your products and inviting them to learn more.
Your audience will also impact the tone you take. Consumer content can be presented in an informal or even humorous style, but some business content needs to be more professional and objective. Consumers will respond to more emotional benefits, but businesses need more rational facts to see the benefits to their bottom line. Both audiences will respond equally to calls of action, but make sure there’s enough information to keep them reading.
Where will you present it?
Ideally businesses will present their content on their own sites, to reduce the number of extra steps for people to get there. The question is where to go to find these new readers. You can advertise online or you can post content to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to link people to your site. However the very best approach is to optimize your content to give you the best chance to rank at the top of a search engine results page. That’s the vast majority of people will discover your content.
When will you present it?
A website should never be idle for long, and the last entry on a blog shouldn’t be too old. Otherwise, you end up looking inactive, which will drive away people who are looking for up-to-the-minute information. Search engines love fresh, new content too. That’s why you need to keep your content as fresh as possible.
There’s no set rule for how often you need to post, but the general rule is between once a day and once a week. However often you decide to publish, the content needs to be relevant to your readers.
How will you present it?
The answer depends on what kind of information you’re providing. Blogs tend to be the most popular form of content, because they can be short or lengthy, and the topics can be pretty open. But there are other formats that can drive business as well.
White papers and e-books are great for presenting detailed information, and as downloads, they make great take-aways. Product sheets and press releases are great for sharing news about your business in a quick, concise format. Video is a booming, highly consumed type of content and is easier to produce than most people think.
Content is the new marketing, especially in the online world, so put together a plan to consistently produce engaging content to keep your business alive and thriving. To do this, create an editorial calendar. Set modest goals like writing two blog posts per week, sprucing up 5 product pages per week and creating one video per week. Then get started and stick to it!
About the Author
Arnie Kuenn is the president of Vertical Measures, a search, social & content marketing company helping their clients get more traffic, more leads, and more business. Arnie has held executive positions in the world of new technologies and marketing for more than 20 years. He is a frequent speaker and author of Accelerate! Moving Your Business Forward Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing available on Amazon.
See Arnie Live!
Arnie will be presenting a session on “9 Powerful, Low Cost Content Ideas to Grow Your Business in 6 Months or Less” at Conversion Conference West 2012 in San Francisco, California. See the full agenda and read more about this session.