Updated: Aug 28
Content marketing is a strategic approach to sharing information with people that they find valuable. The goal of content marketing is to create credibility with your audience, so they view your brand as a trusted source of information and are more likely to purchase from you in the future. In contrast, traditional marketing focuses solely on promoting a brand’s product or service.
The type of information that audiences would consider useful is often that which answers questions that are on their minds or help them come to a decision about a problem, as long as it’s in line with their interests and values.
Examples of content marketing include blog posts, infographics, videos, ebooks, podcasts, and social media posts.
From the perspective of your brand, the information that you share as content marketing can be:
Note: If you’d like to learn our content strategy and apply it to your business, we teach everything we do and give personalized feedback in our content marketing course and community. If you’d like us to do content marketing for you, then feel free to fill out the form on the bottom of our contact us page.
Take a digital approach to content marketing
Technology has changed the way we share information. Our screens have replaced paper and the internet has replaced mailmen. Not entirely, but for the most part, when it comes to information (we’re excluding your Deliveroo orders from this).
And so, when communicating with your audience, leverage digital tools and platforms to create, share, and spread stories. This means that you can leverage a variety of digital media such as text, images, video, audio, and interactive elements to create a story that can be shared on digital platforms such as websites, social media, and mobile devices.
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How can you ensure what you have to say actually reaches people?
Step 1: Find out what question keeps your customers awake at night
If you share information containing answers to questions that people are already seeking, you’re off to a good start. This is in contrast to sharing information that you think people care about, but that they really don’t. By doing this, you are giving them a hook to draw them closer to your brand.
This is the same with the concept of product-market fit in business — companies that create products or services that are solutions to people’s problems are the ones that win. The more people that face this problem, the larger the business impact and the most scalable the production/ solution is. The more pressing the problem is, the more sticky the demand for your business will be.
The same applies to content marketing — the more relevant the information that your content contains is to people, the more likely it is that you’ll capture their short attention spans in their email inboxes or on their phones.
Now, you can go about making assumptions about the types of questions that keep your audience up at night to give you a starting point. Next, you’d have to test your assumptions — and you’d do this in two ways:
Survey your audience. Have preliminary conversations with people who you consider to be your ideal customer personas, or even send a survey to a group of them, to better understand their pain points.
Test your content. When you put out your initial batch of content, review their performance to see how well your audience responded to them (or not).
Keep in mind that your audience and their online habits will change over time, so it's important to continually monitor and adapt your digital platforms strategy accordingly.
Step 2: Find out where your customers' eyes and ears are
When you distribute this information, consider the channels your customers actually browse through for content. Will will encourage them to organically come across your content as opposed to it being shoved in their faces (i.e. through ads).
By doing this, you will come across as a friendly neighbor who’s just offering some helpful advice as opposed to an annoying salesman who’s shoving something they don’t really want down their throat.
Some platforms are easy to pinpoint, as you’re likely using them yourself — say, Spotify for podcasts or YouTube for short videos. However, other platforms may be more niche — take local media publications, for example.
A good route to evaluate your distribution strategy is to reach out to the publications on which you want to share your content and ask them to share with you their media kit. That is where they’ll often share with you their audience numbers and demographic breakdown.
Step 3: Find out how your customers like to learn
The process of packaging this content in a way that is easy to digest and accessible is the key to your target audience actually consuming it. Therefore, the format(s) in which you create this content and the channel through which you distribute it matters.
In figuring out how your audience wants to hear from you, you’d need to consider the ideal format of content they prefer to consume in addition to their preferred communication channel(s).
For example, some people prefer consuming information by listening, whereas others before to see it visualized. Meanwhile, others, prefer a combination of the two. Here is where you need to evaluate if your content will more likely be consumed if you deliver it sonically (e.g. through a podcast) or visually (e.g. through a video), or some combination of both (e.g. a video podcast). Sometimes, you can even package the same information but in different formats, to suit the variety of consumption habits that your audience may have.
Step 4: Outline the story you want to tell
Now that you know how to reach your audience, you’ll have to figure out what to say. However, you’ll have to make this compelling enough to influence your audience. The most effective way to do this is to trigger an emotion. Here is where you go beyond information utility, and we suggest you use proven storytelling techniques to achieve this.
This story that you tell needs to fit between your brand’s goals and your audience’s interests — somewhere in between is a sweet spot for creating engaging stories (i.e. content). This spot is what we call your brand experience, and it will help you create content that connects with your audience on a deeper level.
Step 5: Get to creating
The next step is adding soul to your content — energy, enthusiasm, brand identity — you know, the “marketing” part of “content marketing.”
You’ll need to get a little introspective into your brand — what does your brand’s soul look and feel like? You may have a company brand guideline document already put together to guide your visual design, but these guidelines often don’t delve into what your brand sounds like on paper or on screen.