With the New Year well and truly under way you may well have budget in place for future content marketing initiatives. But have you finalised your plans on exactly how to maximise the opportunity?
Driven by positive press reports and the desire for differentiation, B2B firms upped their content marketing efforts during 2015. There was a huge excess of content, often of variable quality. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in lower than expected levels of engagement with the audiences it was created for. More of the same during 2016 will be a waste of firms’ time and money and, potentially worse, could tarnish the reputation of the individuals responsible.
Marketing directors would do well to follow these four steps to elevate themselves above the competition.
Your firm has the potential to generate significant new business opportunities if you can demonstrate a deep understanding of your clients’ issues and subtly communicate how you can help. To unlock this potential you need to marry your business objectives with the needs of your specific target audience: What keeps them awake at night? Where do they go for the answers? Who are the key influencers?
This client-centric view should be married with a broader review of market trends, what your competitors have done and a deeper dive into exactly what makes you different. Finding this ‘sweet spot’ will elevate your ideas from the deluge of ‘me-too’ content marketing.
Armed with this initial understanding you should challenge, validate and refine these ideas if they are to be perceived as compelling thought leadership. The best ideas, poorly executed, simply will not cut it.
Creative, like any other discipline, requires the right people and the right process. Editorial expertise, creative inspiration and subject specialist journalists married with a proven process that keeps you in control will help to capture the rich IP of your firm: resulting in original, insightful, authoritative content that differentiates your firm and helps your clients.
Quality content is time-consuming to produce, so it should be made to work as hard as possible to maximise your return on investment. Clients are now more demanding than ever, seeking answers to their problems on their own terms: when, where and how they want.
Taking a digital-first approach to unbundle, repurpose and amplify each piece of content created will make sure your content is fully optimised to drive engagement. Utilising your owned media channels such as websites, e-newsletters and social media platforms will often be your primary focus, as these will be the most cost-effective, manageable and controlled.
Although you’ll want to maximise the opportunity available online, print is not to be forgotten or underestimated. 50% of our clients’ clients still want print, so don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
We all know that creating quality content is one of the most effective means of demonstrating the value your firm can bring. But you need the tools and techniques to provide proof points for the firm and to free up resource from those activities that do not provide a return.
Content marketing begins and ends with purpose. By clearly establishing the goals and objectives of every piece of content at the outset, you can measure success, learn from your experience and make continuous improvements.
Following these four steps will help you achieve your purpose in 2016.
Andrew Rogerson, co-founder of Grist, will be holding a session with PM Forum about Best Practice Content Marketing for professional services marketers on 23 Feb 2016.