Even if you’re new to the world of online marketing, you’ve probably heard of content marketing. If you have an idea what it entails, you’re probably pretty overwhelmed and not entirely sure where to start. The good news is a content marketing strategy is flexible, so you can align your tactics with what works for your business and what resonates with your audience. And if you’re working with a shoestring budget, content marketing is a perfect fit with the Lean Startup mentality. Here are a few important steps for developing your content strategy.
Define your target audience
First things first: Who are you talking to? Content marketing is about starting conversations, so you need a clearly defined idea of who your target customer is, where their interests lie, and where they spend their time online. Some of this is discovered through experimentation. But if you know your audience’s primary demographic data, you can figure out what social networks they use – and market your content there.
Define your objective
Before you create a piece of content, you need to clearly define your objective. What’s the desired outcome of your content efforts? Do you want readers to sign up for a newsletter, make a purchase, or simply learn more about your business? Your objective might be to solve a common problem, which helps to position you or your company as an expert in your field. Your intent plays a role in determining what format to use, as well as the tone and style of your content.
Decide on a format
Once you’ve defined your audience and your objective, you can determine the content format that works best to meet your purposes. Content comes in a slew of variations, such as:
- Blog posts
- Static web content
- White papers
- Case studies
- Landing pages
Many of these formats apply to different purposes. A sales objective lends itself better to landing page-style content, while an informative, how-to intent is well-suited for a blog post or a FAQ-style page on your website. There are so many ways to present information on the web that your opportunities are really only limited by your imagination.
Find your voice
Content marketing is an important part of branding yourself online. That’s why you need to develop a voice that’s specific to your business and stick with it consistently throughout your marketing efforts. Modern startups jive well with an informative, yet fun and friendly tone. Other companies are better suited for more formal writing styles. Find a voice that fits your brand and yourself, and producing quality content will come easily to you.
Develop your story
In addition to content marketing, you’ve probably heard the term “brand storytelling” thrown around a time or two. This refers to the concept of delivering brand messages via a compelling story, related to the shift away from more traditional advertising language. It’s important because people on the web aren’t looking for advertisements – they’re looking for information and entertainment. So if you can package your content marketing efforts into a captivating, engaging story, half your work is done.
Don’t stop with writing
The above-described steps will help you formulate a solid approach to each piece of content you create. But it doesn’t stop with writing the content, in fact, it’s just beginning. That’s why they call it content marketing – you have to market it, too. Put it out there by soliciting guest blogging opportunities, sharing it across social media and making it easy for readers to do the same, using sound SEO practices and tying content into your other marketing initiatives.
Content marketing is a highly effective tool for enhancing brand recognition and generating leads. Following a step-by-step process to develop carefully-crafted messages that resonate with your audience is the best way to maximize your efforts.