Content: What Is It? Where Does It Come From?
The virtues of content are well documented. Yet, if Content is King, then how come more companies aren’t using it effectively as part of their marketing strategy? Many companies I meet with are content rich — they just don’t know it. Why is that? Where is all this content? How do you find content for your content marketing?
Today we’re going to discuss what makes good content, how to find and extract the content you already have, and how to use it effectively in your marketing.
In the “old days” of marketing, the seller of products and services had all the power. Traditional ”advertising” was disruptive; radio and television ads bombarded consumers. Viewers (and listeners) had little choice but to accept these messages.
That was a world of limited choice (four network television broadcasters and a handful of radio stations within earshot). Today there are thousands of channels of distribution (cable television, satellite radio, streaming services, online and social media, Internet, etc.) and combined with modern technology (DVRs, caller ID, ad blockers, etc.) the power and control has shifted to consumers.
This is both good news and a challenge for today’s marketers. On one hand the market is splintered. On the other, the ability to reach a specific type of consumer has never been better — if you’re targeting fishermen, you don’t need to buy a Super Bowl ad, you can advertise on the Fishing Channel.
Content marketing is important because consumer behavior and buying habits have changed.
According to the Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Depending on which studies you read, anywhere from 60% to 90% of all purchases today are researched on the Internet prior to approaching you as a vendor and making a buying decision. This “research” is primarily conducted through Internet “search”.
So understanding what your prospects search for — the search terms they use — is important information for marketers. These keywords (and long-tail keywords) are the core of search engine marketing. You can use them to be “found” or ranked in search results.
Today, consumers are also highly influenced by online reviews and recommendations from their peers. This makes your online presence and reputation a critical component for anyone researching your company as a potential business to buy from.
Your online presence is something you can control. If you take a proactive role by providing useful content you’ll build trust and develop online authority. You’ll put yourself in a better position to influence the behavior of searchers and prospects.
This can be accomplished through high-quality content. High-quality content can educate or it can entertain. Most content is evaluated based on its ability to convert or move the reader to action.
What is High Quality Content?
High quality content:
Is Customer focused
It solves a problem
It’s Timely, Relevant and Maningful to your prospect
Has a singular focus
Can help overcome an objection
Provides value to the consumer
Where Does Great Content Come From?
Most companies are content rich. If you have a well-written product brochure, product sales sheet, getting-started guide or a list of Frequently Asked Questions, you have the beginnings of quality content. Have you ever conducted a webinar or given a live presentation? Have you been interviewed? All of these are origins of content that can be used to help your prospects.
If you don’t have any of the above, there’s still hope. Creating new, high-quality content is only a matter of asking.
Surveying existing customers is a great way to find out what customers did before they had your product, how they use it now, what they like best about it, and what kind of difference it has made for them. Ask customers what they’d like to improve, or change, or add. Ask what they are in need of. In addition to content you may also walk away with potential new offerings.
Ask your frontline employees — salespeople, customer service representatives, implementation team or installers, or the person who answers your phone — what types of questions people are asking most frequently. It’s another way to find out what’s important to users of your products and services.
Content comes from the things you do and talk about every day — like answering questions, providing advice and talking about what you know. Keep a record of these discussions. Use these notes as the starting point for your content and design your content with “repurpose” in mind. Eventually you may want to reuse the same content in a different format.
What Is the Best Format?
Content comes in many forms. Here are some you may be familiar with:
- Press release
- How to guides
- Product comparisons
- Case studies
- Online reviews
- Numbered lists
- Executive summaries
The best format for you is based on your prospects and the format that most resonates with them at the time they are ready to consume each particular piece of content.
The Best Distribution Channel for Your Content
You don’t have to become an expert in every new social media program, but don’t ignore them either. The best distribution channel for your audience is based on your prospects and where they are most likely to come in contact with it. Here is a sample of popular distribution choices:
- Social media
- Product inserts
- Direct mail
- Print ads
- Snail mail
- Apps you haven’t heard of
- Apps not yet invented
One of the keys to great content marketing is making the right piece of information available to the right person at the right time in their journey to becoming your customer.
Teaching a prospect about industry standards is usually best at the beginning, when someone is starting to conduct their search for information. It’s a great way to highlight your subject matter expertise.
Pricing may come later in the process along with “How to Choose” guides so prospects can discern the differences in product and service offerings.
Testimonials and on-boarding guides may be best served toward the end of the journey when prospects are closer to making a buying decision.
Be the Change
Technology has changed traditional marketing. The change has created opportunities to more effectively communicate and market your opinions, expertise, products and services and direct your messaging to a specific audience.
Every day you answer questions and solve problems. All of these experiences can become the genesis for new content. Document your outcomes. Leverage technology to share your content with potential customers in a more genuine, intimate way than traditional advertising ever could.
Once you have developed your content the next step is to design messaging that will attract people to it, and create a campaign that will promote it. A compelling offer includes a call-to-action and the ability to convert and measure who’s interested in receiving it. We’ll cover these steps in a separate post.
Make Educational Content Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Like so many aspects of marketing, there are a million little things to consider when creating educational content. If you’d like help extracting content that builds your online credibility and authority online or creating an effective campaign that supports your marketing goals, contact Crest for a free 30-minute, no obligation, risk-free, consultation today.
How do you create content at your company? Let us know in the Comments section below. A real person reads and responds to all comments.
At Crest, we help companies:
Create content that separates them from their competition
Become subject matter experts in their field
Measure the effectiveness of their marketing $$
Generate a consistent pipeline of high-quality leads for less
Turn clients into evangelists
Topics: content creation, Content Marketing Strategy