How To Approach Content Marketing?
If you listen to the advice of any of the content marketing institutes or guru’s, you’ll know the importance of content marketing and how it’s crucial to know your content marketing strategy.
But before we dive in and start regaling you with the virtues and merits of content marketing, let's take a look at an example of its importance...
Firstly let's remember that content marketing is simply a means of communicating with your audience.
It's all in the approach...
If you run a business and see your content as a chore, we promise you that this will be reflected in what you are producing. All of your best intentions for your marketing efforts - they will be totally useless.
Let's use an example…
It's a gorgeously sunny day, transport yourself back to your teens...
You are a happy guy playing football with your friends when a group of girls arrive, including someone you’re crushing on big time. You've wanted to say hello for quite a while but the opportunity never presented itself.
You're in a great mood enjoying your friends and your day, just happy and chilled - far more carefree than usual and you’re in such a good place that it’s almost contagious.
She is clearly having a great day with her friends too - all chilling, chatting and laughing and she’s smiled at you a few times giving you the signals that she is friendly and approachable and is interested in you.
After a little while, she wanders over to you and your friend…
Here it is - the chance you've been waiting for…
She smiles as she approaches, you smile back…
She says ‘hi’ and asks how your day is going…
And then you start babbling back in a very muffled tone that she can barely hear, all about the latest political campaign which is currently in the news which neither of you are remotely interested in.
She is polite, makes a tiny bit more small talk, then wanders off shaking her head and very puzzled as she realises she's got you all wrong.
What's a misfire!
She's gone away having absolutely no idea who you are and has instantly assumed from the tiny amount of communication you’ve exchanged that you guys could never be a fit in a million years - simply from you getting your message wrong.
We both know that life is rarely just that one shot - there’s virtually always ways of rectifying our misfires.
In this instance, you could walk after her and joke that it went wrong and ask if you can start again…
Maybe you ask her a few questions about herself so that you know what she’d actually like to talk about.
If you really like her, then maybe even an incentive like an ice-cream or a drink could win enough of her time to let her see that you guys could actually be the perfect union.
But none of this has a chance if you ‘hate talking so much that you rarely do it and when you do, you just talk for 5 minutes because the latest stats say that the perfect ‘chat’ is around 4.3 minutes’
Your content is exactly the same. Going through the motions shows itself every time.
In the same way you’d look at your smiley lady and think up ways to create a genuine connection, your content needs to hit home big time too.
You really are wooing your prospects here and sadly, it takes less than a second on a digital platform for them to decide whether you’re worthy of their time.
That can feel overwhelming and you’re wondering how the heck you can do that with one post right??
Wrong! One post is never going to get you there so you can relax a little. It’s your overall approach, aesthetics, style, language, subject matter etc etc etc which introduce you properly to people.
Your branding is the clothes you were wearing when you said hello to Miss Smiley. It needs to appeal to her - if you’re a total scruff who hasn’t washed for weeks, you’ll stand out for the entirely wrong reasons.
Your style and approach are your non-verbal behaviour as she approaches - if you’re spitting and swearing as she wanders over, she’s going to walk right past.
Your language and subject matter need to appeal just as much too - you need to be on the same page.
Luckily, you’re clean and fresh so she walks a little closer…
You’re laughing and appear friendly so she’s still walking towards you…
You pick up on something on her clothing that you have in common and start chatting about it - she’s sticking around…
If you think like this with your content, half of your battle is won.
Let’s just add something else right now too which SO many people get wrong with their content.
Allow us to continue with our little story to embellish our point…
So, after the great verbal mishap, you run over to her, make a joke about being possessed by the mother of all brain demons, and say you’re going to get a drink and would she like one too.
‘Sure’ she shrugs with a smile and starts walking over to the shop with you...
She’s smiley, she’s choosing to listen to you - all good signs right?
You’re all excited that you’ve got her this time with - it really is an awesome day…
And THEN you spend the entire journey over to the shop, the duration of the drink, and the walk back talking about YOU.
You tell her your interests, how you got to where you are now, who you’re influenced by and which shows you watch, what music you like - all based on what you THINK she likes.
But you’ve been so busy selling yourself, you’ve barely asked her what she actually likes.
She’s still polite of course, but by the time you’re back to your friends again, YOU think you’ve both had a great time connecting, but she thinks you’re a great guy who isn’t into the same things that she is.
The misfire continues…
Just a few questions asking her what she enjoys would have set that path onto an entirely different trajectory.
If you only learn one thing from this post, we want it to be this…
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Ever...
Write that down and have it where you can see it when you’re writing your content.
Have a clear branding message by all means,
Know EXACTLY what you do and what your offer is.
Be super clear about who you help and what you do.
All of this should be covered in your literature so that when your content has attracted someone, they have something to refer to and find out more about you,
But with your content… it’s ALL about them.
Every single time.
For one thing, you are definitely going to get bored stupid if all you ever write about is you and what you do.
Your job with any of your online marketing campaigns or posts is to get into the heads of your audience.
You’ll possibly have heard of the avatar exercise - you create a ‘mock-up’ of your ideal customer - who they are, what they do, what are their pain points etc.
And then all of your content is aimed at this one person. You ‘talk’ to them specifically and the idea is that your language, your message will resonate with them, they’ll think ‘that’s me!’ and keep reading.
Some people struggle with the made up avatar though so maybe try this exercise instead...
Let’s be clear here though - whilst this is about getting into your customers' heads, we’re assuming that you've already got your ducks lined up on your own business.
If you’re at the point that you’re content writing, it’s a given that you already have your branding in place and a very clear message on what you offer.
If not, don’t start writing yet! Go back and make sure that WHEN your new captive audience want to connect with you, you’re actually ready.
They always want to make a decision quickly so you want them to be able to check you out, find your services and buy easily.
So… assuming that’s all done, we can forget about you and get back to who you’re about to help…
The exercise… this doesn’t have to be a real person, that’s just if you’re struggling to make one up but go with what works best for you...
- Pick a person who you know or know of who is the perfect fit for your product or service. Let’s say this person is Jeff.
- Close your eyes and step into his life - pretend that you are Jeff and build up a mental picture of how his life looks on the inside.
- In his shoes - what are Jeff’s biggest frustrations? What is keeping him awake at night - what does he need?
- What would help him? What does he wish he could have? What would he be ranting or worrying about? Who’s life would he love to live? Really get under his skin as you would with your own problems, and work out potential solutions to relieve some of his pain
Then every time you sit down to write your content, write only to Jeff. Any of your marketing is now only to Jeff. Even if you have more than one offering, let Jeff be your priority.
There’s nothing worse than online marketing that’s all over the place. People zone out. Jeff will help you hit your target every time.
There’s a phrase that says ‘aim for everything and you’ll hit nothing’.
You only have your sights on Jeff for at least 90% of the time.
The clarity that will come through before long will attract all of the Jeff’s. Positioning yourself online in a way that you’re a solution to Jeff’s pain points in a super clear way leaves no doubt about what you do and how you do it.
Your prospects don’t want guesswork.
They want the path of least resistance to solving their problem.
They have a problem just like Jeff’s, you spoke about it and offered potential solutions to it, they see you might be a solution so they jump onto your lovely branded website and hey - there’s an easy to buy solution which they read all about before buying.
That’s a very different picture to all the ‘Jeff’s’ scrolling straight past your posts telling them that you got the latest award again and here’s a picture of your dinner too as that’s apparently a popular thing to do.
The harsh truth is that they don't care about you.
It’s not personal - it’s just that they want their own ‘ease’ and problems fixing. You’re just another blog if you haven’t connected with who they are. Think about how you interact online. You like things that appeal to you, that are relatable
The good news to add to this though is that most of us don’t want to be talking about ourselves anyway!
It’s far more interesting looking at Jeff’s life and how you can help him. And when the ‘Jeff’s’ start buying, this creates momentum, more opportunity for content.
Okay so now that message has hopefully hit home, let’s look at some structure.
When writing your content, don't forget this...
The Purpose Of Content Or Copy Writing Is simply To Get Your Reader
To Want To Read The Next Line
That really is it.
Perfect blog lengths, latest news, current affairs - forget all of that and write each line purely for Jeff to want to keep reading. And keep doing that.
Which brings us on to how often...
Frequency Isn’t The Be All And End All
There’s a difference in opinion on this one, but we’d always say it’s about quality, not quantity. You’ll need to be consistent in your approach of course otherwise you just look flakey, but choose a frequency you can manage and stick to it.
If you only post once a fortnight, this is totally fine if you take the longer term view
When you’re writing every single day for the hell of it, you get into a jaded mindset. You throw something together knowing that tomorrow’s post will be better if you didn’t have time to get into the zone today.
But tomorrow doesn’t give you the time either but hey it’s okay - there’s always tomorrow…. again.
We’d suggest another way - look at every piece of content as a promotion in its own right.
Look at what you are writing about, then look at how you can maximise its reach.
- If it’s an area of expertise, send it to other companies sharing the same interests and ask them to share it. Guest blog posts, experts on social media sites - they want content as much as you so they love to share well-written articles.
- Send it to businesses who’s readers would benefit from it. They want to be seen to be helping.
- Ask your own readers to do the same and share it with their own fitting connections. Everyone loves to help people - utilise this.
- Get into the place of ‘people need this’ and ‘who can I help?’
If you spend a little more time on one great post, knowing that you don’t have to do that again until next week for instance, then you’ll relax a little more feeling less pressurised to rush it.
Well-positioned, high-quality content is the only way you’ll build up resonance and engagement with your now highly targeted audience who will build up a very clear picture of how your products and services can help them not just that you sell ‘stuff’.
It also helps to create your content using the four different mediums to appeal to all learning styles - you don’t need to do all of them, all of the time but mixing it up will really increase engagement.
Look at how you can include:
- video content,
- audio content,
- visual aids
- written copy
It doesn’t mean you need to produce all of these types yourself though - for instance if you never make video content, make a point of sharing other people’s videos so you still have the array of mediums in your content.
Storytelling is one of the best ways of painting a picture for your potential customers too. A great example of how to build an audience in this way is John Deere. They’ve been doing it for years with their own marketing so take a look at how they talk to their audience.
You obviously can’t ignore what The Big G will do with your post too. If you’re creating hundreds of posts, you’re going to take a quick look at your optimisation and chuck a few pertinent words in here and there purely to show up in the search results.
If you are really writing to your audience, Google or any of the other search engines are going to be happy anyway. Their job is simply to get you in front of the people that are looking for you.
With such clearly aligned content, there’ll be no doubt that you’re a fit for the searches you’re showing up in so your ranking will be great by default.
Admittedly you may not be getting a million views for your posts, but a well-positioned piece of content hitting your prime audience with people ready to buy is going to convert far more than more random eyes on your page.