If You’re Not Content Marketing, You’re Not Marketing
Content marketing is being used by some of the greatest marketing organizations in the world, including P&G, Vodafone, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and more. It’s also developed and executed by small businesses and one-person shops around the globe. Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
The IDEA framework process//
Aframework called “IDEA” that CMOs should use to lead, and assess, their thought leadership content publishing activity. To make the IDEA process a company-wide undertaking (and not just a marketing program) the executive team, headed up by the CEO, should endorse and back it. The CMO should lead the initial efforts and then appoint a Thought Leadership “czar” to keep the editorial process going.
1. Authenticity //
This isn’t the trite buzzword served up from your friendly neighborhood social media guru. This is about doing intense research to find the authentic story a market segment wants to hear — but hasn’t yet — and how you’ll tell it over time in a way that results in a sustainable business model.
- Research potential topics based on your expertise or business subject matter
- Identify the people who would be drawn to what your topic covers
- Do keyword research to discover the language the audience uses
- Identify online and offline content resources that reach your intended audience
- Do competitive research on those who are selling to your intended audience
- Position your topic in a useful and unique way that facilitates commerce
- Design your site so that it highlights your content and communicates the useful and unique value you offer
- Identify and plan initial cornerstone content
2. Attention //
You’ve made your initial guesses, and now it’s time to start putting things out there to see what happens. You’re hustling for exposure to get to the next level. The attention phase is the heart of an agile content marketing approach, as you’re discovering in real time what works, what doesn’t, and what to try next.
- Develop and refine your editorial voice
- Test appropriate headlines and hooks (meaning + fascination)
- Develop relationships with other producers to contribute guest content
- Develop relationships with other producers for content promotion
- Focus on converting traffic into subscribers, with an emphasis on email
- Monitor analytics for traffic sources and keyword patterns
- Build up your social media networks with a mix of content and curation
- Constantly refine your approach to all of the above to increase effectiveness
3. Authority //
Here’s where things start to get good. You’ve built a minimum viable audience. That audience is growing thanks to the audience itself, and instead of you making self-serving statements about your expertise, they are proclaiming your authority. Best of all, you’re starting to glean valuable insights into desired products and services.
- Monitor social media sharing of content for feedback
- Build additional cornerstone landing pages on core topics
- Perform open-ended question surveys to identify frustrations and desires
- Create processes for storing and accessing product and service ideas
- Evaluate co-marketing and joint venture product opportunities
- Expand industry influence with webinars, interviews, and presentations
- Create a specialized email list for advanced education and future promotions
- Re-position editorial as necessary for impending product or service launches
- Create a better minimum viable product or service
4. Action //
Although you’re been asking for audience-building action all along, now we’re talking sales and lead generation. It’s time to launch that new product. Or, it’s time to switch to proactive promotion based on your new view of your existing offer based on what the audience has been telling you directly (and indirectly) via feedback.
- Hint repeatedly at upcoming product or service well before launch
- Create pre-launch email list and encourage subscriptions
- Devise a content-based launch strategy that specifically educates to sell
- Craft an ongoing promotional strategy with high-value content to pitch ratio
- Listen to feedback from customers and clients for feature improvements
- Test various copy approaches to increase conversions
- Develop marketing partners and/or affiliate program
5. Acceleration //
Now it’s time to enjoy the “unfair advantage” you’ve earned by building an audience and a media asset first. Opportunities such as joint ventures for new products, affiliate and co-marketing partnerships, additional content from industry experts, better business development, and much more arise.
There isn’t a true checklist for this phase, as your experience will vary by many factors. Some of the things that will come into play are:
- Your growth / ambition / lifestyle goals
- Your tolerance for “entangling alliances” for growth
- Your willingness to accept venture funding for growth
- Your desire to shift from services to products
- Your desire to become a multi-product company
One thing that’s certain during the acceleration phase is editorial iteration. As the site grows, and your business offerings grow with it, your content focus will evolve along with the natural outside forces that affect your industry and audience.