It seems that within the last year, the number of companies that are starting content marketing programs has exploded. Many of these initiates are going to fail because, they don’t internally have the proper buy-in needed for a true content marketing initiative. As I mentioned a little while ago in “How Often Do You Need to Blog?”, it takes time and a true commitment to blogging and content marketing to see results.
The other thing is, I’ve seen a lot of bad content being produced. Some people are taking short cuts and using offshore labor with sub-par quality, and no personality, in their writing. It reads like the Encyclopedia Britannica that I read as a kid. It puts me to sleep then, as it does now, please put an end to this practice.
There are also some basic rules that you should follow when working on a content marketing program. Here are 8 rules that you shouldn’t forget:
- Don’t Forget the “Marketing” in Content Marketing – It’s easy to write content that’s fun and entertaining to your customers, but remember not to forget your main objective. You are using content to market your product or service, this is your one and only goal.
- Tell a Story – Your content needs to draw people in and engage them. They aren’t going to share your content with their friends if it’s one big sales pitch. It’s ok if you use soft sales pitches from time to time within your content, but remember to hook them in and encourage them to share your content with their friends.
- Target the Audience You’re Selling – You can’t be all things to all people. Know the audience that’s buying your product, and try to write exclusively for them. Find out their other likes and interests. Go ahead and survey your customers to figure out what makes them tick. Once you’ve identified your audience, always keep them in mind when you’re writing.
- Educate Though the Sales Cycle – Depending on the level of complexity of your product, make sure you are educating your potential customers all along the sales cycle. Talk to your sales team and echo the key points they discuss with the potential customers on their initial phone call. Find out what they talk about first in an in-person meeting. What are the most common questions asked right before the signing of a contract? Try and create content that addresses these issues and educates a customer. Remember, these days, many customers want to use the Internet to answer their own questions even before they talk to anyone.
- Perform Keyword Research – Now, I’ll say this first to get it out of the way, don’t put SEO before your users. EVER! Google is getting smarter every day about figuring out the ways people try to play with the system. These are some of the smartest people in the world, and unless you’re involved with Mensa and have a genius IQ, you’ll probably lose this battle. Having said that, it’s still smart to do a little keyword research for picking undeserved, and less competitive, article topics, as well as working your keywords into it, makes sense.
- Spend More Time on Your Headlines – your headline is the most important part of your article when posting to social media. It’s what people read quickly to decide if they want to read the article. Try and spend at least 20% of your time working on your headline. You can make all the difference in the world with the amount of visitors you receive. It also helps getting clicks within the search engines. Make sure your headline is enticing and irresistible to the user.
- Develop a Voice – Either your brand or the author needs to develop a unique voice. Something that is engaging and has a personality. Avoid being a corporate drone! Remember the last time you were at a party telling a story, and everybody was leaning forward to listen? That’s the voice you need to use!
- Get Senior Management Buy-in – Content marketing initiatives take a long time to develop, execute, and to begin to see results. You need senior management to truly be committed to any new initiative and be willing to invent for the long-term. If they expect to see an ROI within a month or two, this might not be a good strategy for your company.
Content marketing is a powerful technique that is a long term and ongoing project. Never expect to see quick results from it. It takes time to build your content assets, but, once built, you’ll have a long term competitive advantage and a steady stream of leads for many years to come.