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Will Content Marketing Earn You Business?

Will Content Marketing earn you business?To this, I say it depends.

To this, I say it depends.

Let me give you some background to frame this post. I participate in a variety of Twitter chats. Not only do I enjoy the engagement, but I can learn and disseminate information, and give my creativity a workout. In fact, these chats have inspired some of my posts. I enjoy the chats run by Content Marketing Institute. Content Marketing and Content Strategy are two of my specialties so I always tend to learn something new either in CMI’s chats or through reading the amazing content they deliver.

Today, was no different. We were chatting about how to justify the need for content marketing with our guest, Michael Brenner, a great B2B marketing mind.

I wrote a little bit about how to justify content marketing in a recent guest post I wrote for OpenView Labs.

In that article, I noted two important selling points to get the C-Suite to get the benefits of content marketing:

1. It costs about 62% less to acquire a customer through content marketing efforts than other acquisition efforts. In fact, I would guess that content marketing’s cost per acquisition (CPA) is one of the lowest lead generation methods out there today.

2. By the time a prospect contacts sales, they are typically more than 57% through their decision-making process. I actually think it is closer to 75%. Why? Because your prospect is doing the research on their own and if your content isn’t making its way to the social channels your prospect is viewing, blogs your prospect is reading or the search pages where your prospect is researching, you have lost before you have begun.

A third selling point is to provide case studies or research you conducted showing results a company in your industry/vertical/competitive space obtained through using content marketing.

Effective content marketing requires that your entire organization embrace it and that requires your C-Suite to champion the effort.

So, let’s get back to the question above. Will Content Marketing Earn You Business? It can.

Let’s say the C-Suite is championing the effort and we are a “go” for content marketing.

What now?

Let me say right now that content marketing is not a magic pill, a golden ticket, or any other free pass to a new or retained customer. There is no fast track, sprint, or marathon, for that matter. There are no short cuts in life and this is no exception. Content Marketing is a never-ending journey. And, yes, your content will evolve as time goes on.

It takes a lot of hard work and several misses until you find the right content that will resonate with your audience. But, even then, your eye has to always be on the content ball – you must deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

Putting this into practice is an art.

The items I have outlined below are a great start to moving effectively along the content marketing track.

Research your target market. That is going to require a lot of listening on your part on social channels and online communities. Understand your prospects’ pains and hot buttons, and know how to help them.

Engage with your prospects on social channels. What do they like/dislike? What keeps them up at night? Is there some way you can bond with them in a non-business way, such as talking about sports, food, music, films, etc.? Genuinely be interested in them so a one-to-one connection and a relationship can start to be built.

Engage with Sales and Product Management about your products and target market. These two groups are your best source of market data. They can help you create your buyer persona(s) and laser-focus your content.

Work with Sales and Product Management to develop a content strategy. This will lead to identifying appropriate content at each phase of the buyer journey. Create an editorial calendar and then start posting content in your blog, on social media channels, in other blogs and at other places your prospects frequent. Your content must be relevant at all times. Your voice should be genuine, conversational, and speak to one person. Continue to test your content even after it resonates with your audience. When your content starts resonating with your prospects, they will start trusting you. Once they trust you, they may consider buying from you.

Help your prospect on their buyer’s journey by providing the content they want when they want it. You must always ensure your audience has a great experience when they read your content. Again, this is going to require a lot of testing, reviewing analytics, revising content and even possibly throwing a piece of content away and restarting.

Be on brand at all times. Being on brand means having a consistent and clear voice and message. This is where having a content style guide is important.

Engage in a curated/created content mix in your social channels and blog. Use an appropriate mix of curated and created content. When you curate content, give appropriate credit to the original content creator and give your take on this content and ask thought-provoking questions about it. You want to engage your audience as well as provide them with resources to help them do their job. Encourage audience feedback via enabling comments on blog posts, surveys and other ways so their voices are heard. Remember to listen to the comments and respond accordingly.

Putting these items into practice may or may not get you business, but I guarantee you will be top of mind and possibly gain a new brand advocate.

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