A recent report produced by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored by Brightcove, found that 81 percent of b2b manufacturers in the United States use content marketing. The same report found that the majority of manufacturers do not believe their organization is effective at content marketing.
What are organizations who are not effective missing out on? A lot.
An effective content marketing strategy can:
- Build brand awareness
- Position your company as a thought leader within the industry
- Increase engagement with customers, partners, and stakeholders
- Educate and inform customers, partners, and stakeholders
- Build trust
- Allow you to manage your reputation
- Generate leads
How can your organization realize these benefits?
The first step is documenting your strategy. The report found that organizations with a documented strategy in place were 3x more likely to report that their content marketing strategy was effective than organizations without a documented strategy.
Define your goals
Why does your company want to create content? Do you want to shorten your sales cycle? Increase leads? Build brand awareness? You don’t want your content to be just stuff. You don’t want content to be ineffective. Therefore it is important to define what it is you want your content to do for your company.
Define your audience
Who is your target audience? What are their needs? What are their goals? What are their pain points? What do they value most? Where do they go for information? Take your time. Be honest. If you identify and define your audience correctly you will be more likely to reach your target audience and engage them than if you get this step wrong.
Define your metrics
Determine how you are going to track and measure success. Define the metrics that you will track on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
Identify the right distribution channels
When it comes to content, distribution is essential – your content will not reach your target audience and will not be read unless it is distributed. Take the time to identify the distribution channels that are right fit for your company, your content, and your goals.
Create a publishing calendar
A publishing or editorial calendar provides you with a framework to create and distribute content. It helps you create content that is consistent, that is quality, and is tailored to your company’s goals. It is also helpful in terms of managing workflows, meeting deadlines, and managing writer’s block.
Valuable and relevant content is not a sales pitch. It is not content that pushes your products and services. Rather, it is content that communicates valuable information to customers and prospects so that they have the knowledge to make better informed decisions. Moreover, it is content that establishes your business as a reliable source of knowledge – as the thought-leader within the industry. Be thoughtful when you create content.
Content will help you grow your business; by creating and distributing valuable and relevant content in a strategic and consistent manner you can drive profitable customer action. But, it’s not all about you. It’s not all about the content you and/or your business creates. Here’s why content curation is an essential component of a successful content strategy. The internet is a fire hose stream of content. Being able to navigate the deluge of content and identify the content that is valuable to your customers and to your business is essential. The process of identifying and sharing this content is content curation. By consistently being able to identify, make sense of, and share content that is important and relevant to your customers and to your industry you will establish your business as a thought leader and a trusted resource.
Distribute your content via your target distribution channels. Distribute the content consistently over time and at the right time.
Engage with customers and prospects
Once your content has been distributed, engage with your audience. Respond to comments, respond to questions, and provide clarification. Make your content more than words – make it a relationship.
Track and analyze metrics
Track and analyze your metrics on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Take a look at what is working and what is not. By tracking and analyzing your metrics you can see, for example, what type of content is most effective and which distribution channels are helping you achieve your goals.
Make adjustments as needed
Your strategy should not be set in stone. Your strategy should be flexible. Look at your metrics, look at the feedback you are getting through your engagement with customers and prospects – make adjustments to your strategy as needed. Remember that when it comes to content it is important to think marathon not sprint. An effective content strategy requires patience and determination. Many companies make the mistake of giving up on a content strategy too early; make a long-term commitment to your strategy.