Though it would be fantastic if there was a foolproof guide to using content for marketing purposes, this isn’t the case. There are many great resources available that can give you ideas, but depending on what you do, who your customers or clients are and where you are located, the approach you will need to use will vary. Before launching a new business, product line or promotion, its essential to make sure you know how to present what you are doing in a way that will attract attention for all the right reasons. Some campaigns use shock tactics to create a buzz whereas others take a less direct approach and attempt to be entertaining or informative. This is our guide on how to choose an approach to content-driven marketing that will work for you.
Research and reflect.
The starting point for any great marketing campaign can be different, depending on the industry you work in, but research is generally a good place to begin. Take a look around at what your competitors are doing so you can see what works for them. Pay close attention to the language they use and their approach to design. Simplicity and quirky minimalism might be a fantastic motif for a yoga studio but may be totally inappropriate for something like a children’s daycare centre. The key is to stand out, but not so much that you look unprofessional or inexperienced, so take notice of any recurring themes in terms of website design, the frequency of billboard or other offline marketing campaigns and things like logos or colour schemes. Copying something directly will obviously cause huge problems for you, but incorporating one or two elements from different sources will generally help the creative process along. Essentially, try to look at the other businesses in your industry from the perspective of a customer, a marketing expert and an owner. If this kind of thing doesn’t come naturally to you, a professional agency will be able to help.
Try to understand your audience
All of the most memorable and subsequently, effective marketing campaigns connect with people emotionally. That doesn’t mean you need to start writing poetry or creating sentimental videos to tug at the heartstrings, though both of those things may work very well in the right circumstances, it just means that you need to make sure the people who see your content respond to it on a level that motivates them in to action. To do this, you need to understand who your existing and potential customers are and more importantly, what makes them feel engaged and interested. Ask for feedback at every opportunity, but don’t pressure people into giving you more information than they want to. People will often shut down and stop responding all together if they feel what you are doing is too overtly sales driven or even just a bit too intense. Comments sections, social media pages and forums are fantastic places to gather information from, so make the most of all of your channels at all times. Most importantly, listen to the negative comments as well as the positive.
Identify the platforms and technology that works for you, then use them.
With embedded streaming video, live polls and augmented reality technology becoming commonplace on some of the most successful websites across the world, you would be forgiven for thinking that adopting all the newest and most advanced platforms is the only way forward. Nothing could be further from the truth. Think about your industry, your customers, what has worked in the past and what is likely to work in the future. A firewood delivery service would almost certainly benefit from a website and perhaps even a blog, but things like live video streaming may be a bit much. Essentially, if it’s costing you money and you aren’t seeing any difference in actual conversions, it would make sense to change your approach. Depending on how you engage with your customers, the right platform for you will vary. If the majority of your interactions are face to face or over the phone, offline marketing such as business cards, posters and leaflets can still be very effective. If you do most of your business online, you will definitely need multiple, well managed social media accounts at the very least.
Where, when and how?
Deciding where your content is going to be seen is the first step. Whether its social media groups, subreddits, twitter or the large billboard outside the office, the location of your content is key. Targetting the right websites or areas means you can get your message out to people who want to see it. Timing is key, too, especially online. Scheduling content to be posted just before or at the point when your website is its busiest will maximise engagement, the same could be said for social media. Automated updates now allow you to post at any time of the day, so even if your peak times are in the middle of the night, you can still reach the people who matter. How you present your message is probably the most important of all. Whether you’re using video, text, images, graphics or a combination of all four, the medium matters. A quick 1-minute video about your new range of products will no doubt be very effective at generating attention, but a more detailed blog post or a link to a longer video in the description will often help to move people into making a purchase. Linking content like this is a great way to keep people engaged but it does require organisation and planning. Creating or sourcing content well before you need it is usually a good plan, though it’s also important to be mindful of overdoing the preparation and allowing time-sensitive or non-evergreen content to go stale. Like most things in life, balance is the key to effective content marketing strategies.