Tackling Your Content Marketing Strategy
Whether you’re getting ready to celebrate your association’s 100th anniversary or simply looking to elevate your brand, your content marketing strategy is essential to your integrated marketing and sales campaigns.
Often times, content marketing is overlooked or misunderstood. But knowing how to use it to your advantage can pay high dividends. Better yet, it can help you connect in more meaningful ways with your members and customers.
What is content marketing?
The opposite of selling.
The whole focus of content marketing is to build relationships with your customers by giving them something of value—not selling to them directly. It sounds silly, but it’s the fundamental premise of the entire thing. And it works.
Take Steve, for example.
Steve is my realtor. He helped my family buy our house. Even though it’s been years since we bought from him, he stays in touch in a few helpful ways. Steve sends letters each month with helpful tips based on the season. Yesterday his letter was about tax preparation and how to file online securely. Thanks Steve—I’m planning to e-file my taxes this weekend.
Steve also swings by every couple months to drop off helpful surprises. Sometimes it’s snacks or toys for the kid. Other times it’s batteries for the smoke detector. Thanks Steve—I never remember to pick up 9-volts at the store.
He never does anything major. Steve’s just a really consistent, good dude. And he knows what we need—little things that make our busy days a little easier or more enjoyable. He also never sells.
And you know what? Steve’s gonna help us buy our next home. Because he is always delivering value to my family and me. Whenever we decide to move, we won’t think twice. We’re already sold on Steve.
That’s great content marketing in action. It’s sales without the selling.
How do you create good content marketing?
Think like your customer.
What do your members want? What do your customers care about? How could you make their lives better on a regular basis? Find those answers. Then, determine how your organization can fulfill their needs. If you can do that, you are on your way to creating a sound content marketing campaign.
Action Item for You: Identify the needs of your audience. Then, list the ways your organization can consistently help deliver value to your audience in those areas.
Where do you get ideas for content?
Once you learn to recognize good content marketing, you’ll see it everywhere. Like my example of Steve. Or check out my post from a few years back that highlights Lloyd’s of London, MailChimp, Dollar Shave Club, Airbnb and Bethany Mota. They all do it well.
Look at the email and direct mail you receive each day. Look at the blogs you read. Which marketing pieces are you holding onto or saving for the future? Those are probably good examples of content marketing.
Action Item for You: Create a swipe file where you can save good content marketing ideas that you can use as inspiration in the future.
How do I get started?
Get your team onboard.
You couldn’t just walk into Wimbledon, pick up a racket, play reigning champion Garbine Muguruza, and expect to win. Set aside the fact that security would tackle you well before you even came close to her—you’d first have to understand the game, know how to play it, and train for years before you could get to that level. You’d also need a team of people supporting you, coaching you and making sure you trained the right way.
The same can be said for content marketing.
First, you must understand what it is, why it’s important, and how to approach it. Then, and most importantly, you need your team to see the light as well.
Action Item for You: Bring up content marketing in your next team meeting. Get the discussion going and start thinking of ways your organization could begin to implement this new approach.
What if they say no?
If your internal team does not have the desire, bandwidth or expertise to do content marketing, it may require spending money or reallocating resources. That is probably not what your boss wants to hear. And when you tell her that the goal of content marketing is not to sell, she will probably look at you like you have three heads.
If you’re going to make a solid case for how content marketing can deliver a return on investment, Digital Marketing Institute has some good resources to help you calculate it.
Action Item for You: Collect data on ROI to back up your argument. Then, outline the following for discussion with your boss:
- Who: Identify your target audience and their motivations
- What: Establish the content you are looking to create or improve. Ensure that everyone on your team understands what content areas you are going to focus on.
- Where: Where will you launch this strategy and where is your target market? Are you honing in on the digital media market or a physical area that is relative to your association?
- When: Create a six-month content calendar and timeline. Have a plan for when you will check in on progress. Make sure you show that you are thinking ahead.
- Why: Share why a content strategy marketing plan is necessary. Convince your team that the end result is worth the investment.
- How: Address how you will approach your strategy. What outside sources will you need? How will you handle unexpected issues? How will you determine which areas need the most attention? How much will it cost?
If you still can’t get approval to go all-in on content marketing, maybe you could negotiate a small, pilot program to start. Do what you can to get those small victories and build momentum. It’s worth it.
Here’s a test
Are you wondering if your organization is already doing content marketing well? There’s an easy way to find out.
After you finish reading this blog post, I want you to visit your organization’s most effective social media channel. Look at your organization’s feed. Are you giving your followers valuable content that they can’t get anywhere else? Are they engaging with you because you’re tapping into their motivations? Or are you promoting your own interests and selling more often than not?
The answer should be pretty clear one way or the other.
One last thing
Did you notice that this blog post is an example of content marketing? No selling here. Just giving you something I hope you find valuable.