By Roger Bottum, VP Marketing, SpringCM
What is content marketing? Content marketing is the art and science of engaging your potential buyers in a conversation long before they say “hello,” so they’re more likely to buy from you.
Content marketing is not new, but the way buyers evaluate their needs, understand the possibilities and select with whom to do business is radically different. The combination of the web, mobile and social means buyers look for information from up to 11 sources before they ever formally “talk” to you. Just to make things more complicated, the kinds of information buyers seek change as they progress through the buying cycle.
One of the big challenges in this model is that content marketing requires… content. And because there’s so much of it now, we realize that content marketing means content managing.
Creating, maintaining, and managing all of that content is hard work. So how do you organize your marketing organization — and tools — to get the best results and not get swamped? What content do you create? How do you create content that matters? How do you manage all this content without duplicate effort and lost documents?
Here are 6 essential steps to doing the hard work of content marketing.
1. Start With Your Audience
While it’s the first rule in sales and marketing, we all know how easy it is to start “talking” before we understand who we’re speaking to, and what they care about.
Think of the individuals you’re trying to reach not as leads or potential customers, but as an audience and readership. Find out what they’re interested in. The Internet, search analysis and social media make this easier than ever, but don’t forget to just ask them, too.
2. Create A Plan
To make sure you are getting the right content to the right buyers, have a plan. Think of it like an editorial calendar for a publication so you have clear expectations on the “who, what and when” of the content to feed your marketing machine.
Start by creating a grid of possible content, and cataloging existing pieces. Then, based on marketing objectives, identify core content pieces to create a foundation for your content marketing initiatives.
3. Work To The Plan
Make the content. This is when a little inspiration turns into magic with a lot of perspiration. Be sure to make time, such as setting aside bi-weekly (or whatever frequency makes sense for you) time slots to work on content.
Create a workspace for the team so you have a central, easily accessible library of in-process materials. Make sure everyone involved, including your agencies, can access the appropriate materials. You can also organize your works-in-progress using the information in your schedule like type of content, status, due date and owner.
If you can automate your content review process, you’ll spend less time chasing content, and more time creating compelling content. This will also make it easier to have a dashboard of what’s in process, what’s due to kick-off soon, what’s overdue, who is a roadblock, and what’s been completed!
4. Don’t Forget The Sales Team
Your sales team will want to use all this great content, too. The key here is to make it easy. The easier it is for them to find the right content, the easier it is for them to use it.
Create a self-service sales library, a single place where the sales team knows where to go, and where the most current content is always available. Give the sales team easy ways to search for, browse and use the most powerful content for the segment and stage. Also, you have great analytics for online marketing, don’t forget to monitor which content the sales team uses most and uses least.
5. Reuse, Re-Imagine
One of the best ways to create content is to start from something you already have. White papers can be leveraged into web copy, blog posts, guest articles and more, so you can get great leverage from your investment in useful and relevant content.
Between your marketing platform, web analytics and sales/marketing library, you can quickly see which content is engaging your audience, so you can double down on the content that is already working for you. One simple test for thought leadership programs is what content causes your audience to come back for more.
6. Keep it Fresh
With markets, best practices, your product or service and even branding elements changing all the time, your content will probably need regular reviews. Make sure your core content has a “best consumed by” tag with a reminder to review it or with an expiration date.
Creating engaging content does not happen by accident. It takes a good understanding of your audience, good ideas and good writing. But it also requires content management. Being able to quickly and easily find stuff, update stuff, ensure you’re working with most current content, sharing it in review cycles and then organizing it in one place. And you thought it was just all about being creative!
With a little bit of process, some easy metrics and some easy-to-use technology, you can increase your chance of success, spend more time on the story than the administration and put your marketing team in a position to be great content marketers and content managers.
Roger Bottum is Vice President of Marketing for SpringCM, a provider of cloud content management. For more information contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow on twitter @rogbot, visit www.springcm.com or call (877) 362-7273.