Content Marketing 101
Content marketing is one of those things business people KNOW they should do, but few do. A statistic I recently read claims that 94% of buyers WANT to consume some form of content – blog post, podcast, video, infographic, webinar – BEFORE they buy.
And yet, the same source claims that only 32% of B2C, and 34% of B2B businesses bother with content marketing at all.
Which begs the question WHY? Why on earth, if your customers want it, and it would improve your sales, aren’t you actively using content to market?
My only reasonable explanation is that you don’t know how. You don’t know how to create content that is appealing, fresh, inviting, and effective. You don’t know how to create content that attracts, builds relationships, and sets you up as an authority.
And so, I’ve set out to create a series of blog posts, of which this is the first, to remedy that situation.
Will you learn everything I do? Probably not, as I’ve got years of content marketing under my belt, not to mention a certification or two.
However, I can promise you that you will know ENOUGH to begin creating the content your customers are clamoring for. That your business desperately needs. So let’s begin with some content marketing basics, shall we? I like to call them the 5 Es.
Every piece of content you create should serve a purpose for both you AND the reader. In fact, you should never create content without a purpose in mind. (And no, “to sell stuff” and/or “to make money” ARE not good enough reasons to create a piece of content. EVER.)
To make things easier on myself, I’ve given each of the 5 types of content, and the 5 goals behind content marketing, a word that begins with the letter E. The 5 Es, and the goals they help reach, are:
EDUCATE: This is the most common kind of content out there on the Interwebz. The how-tos, the step-by-steps, the FAQs, and posts like this one, that are meant to teach something to the reader.
The goal that this eventually produces is that the readers see the producer of the content as an expert, an authority, a know-it-all source of information on their given topic.
ENTERTAIN/ENCOURAGE: This type of content does NOT have to be humorous or consist of a silly cat video. It can be inspirational, enlightening, simply a background or origin story, or even just a day-in-the-life type piece.
The objective of this type of content is to be seen by your readers as a thought leader, someone they go to when they want to have their mindset altered or encouraged to continue slogging on. And yes, if you ARE humorous enough, they’ll come to you to be entertained. And if you can make them go “hmmmmm” in the process, even better.
ENGAGE: Content produced to be engaging encourages the reader to react through interaction of some sort. Perhaps it asks them to share their experiences, or share their accomplishments. You can request that they join your social community on Facebook, or follow you on Pinterest. It creates conversations, or at least opportunities for conversations to begin, between both you and the reader, and the between the readers themselves.
The obvious purpose of this type of content is to set yourself up as a community leader. You become the tribal chief, the leader of the pack, the most popular girl in the glass.
EMPATHIZE: Empathetic content is best described by what it does – it creates the image of you, the producer, as just one of the crowd. You aren’t any better or worse than your readers. You are in the trenches with them, going through the same “stuff” they are.
You are no expert, no leader, just another face in the crowd. BUT, you want to share your experiences, and perhaps in the process, help someone else through the same “stuff”. You become, in essence, their online BFF. You let them behind the scenes. You give them opportunities to interact. You share whatever pearls of wisdom you have, while acknowledging their contributions, as well.
ENTICE: This is where most amateur content marketers go wrong with their content marketing. It’s all “sell, sell, sell” with no “tell”. EVERY blog post, every video, every podcast, contains some sort of sales pitch. Yes, the purpose is to sell. And there is that pesky word “marketing” in content marketing. But selling should be the LAST thing you do with your content.
Your readers will buy from you, hire you, donate to your worthy cause. They will. But only AFTER coming to know, like, and trust you. When all they get is “buy my crap”, they have little to no way of knowing, liking, or trusting you. Trust me. I’ve seen it time and again with clients engaged in the enticement business.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD
The way to cure the “sell” overkill in your content is to choose one or two content marketing goals. Each type of content above has a goal or objective that it fulfills. Want to be seen as an expert? Create mostly educational content. Want to be a thought leader like Gary V? Create entertaining, encouraging content. Want a whopping huge community following like the latest Instagram star? Create content that is engaging, inviting interactions and followings.
Another tactic you can use is to create content that serves your goal, and then tack a call-to-action on the end. Tie it in to the topic in some way. You can use the same piece of content to serve two goals that way.
Write a great educational piece, then add a CTA inviting them to join a discussion or Q&A on the topic in your Facebook group. Create an entertaining piece that then offers a product or service that answers that “hmmmm” you’ve created in their minds.
CONTENT MARKETING AND YOU
Now that you know what types of goals your content can achieve, and the types of content that will help you achieve them, do you feel more confident about your content marketing efforts? Drop a line in the comments. Tell me what you think. Questions? Ask away! And if you really feel you need help, there’s always my consulting services.
(See what I did there?)