Content That Converts: Advice for Developing a Profitable Content Marketing Strategy
“Because you can’t eat brand equity, and can’t pay a team with it” – Laura Hanly, Digital Marketing Expert and Author, “Content That Converts: How to Create a Profitable and Predictable B2B Content Marketing Strategy”
When done correctly, content marketing can serve as a powerful arm to your overall marketing strategy – it establishes you as an authority and has the potential to increase your revenue and profit. That’s why CMOs at the largest technology companies report that building out content marketing as an organizational competency is the second most important initiative, only behind measuring ROI.
For those still wrapping their head around the concept, according to Forrester:
“Content marketing is a strategy where brands create interest, relevance, and relationships with customers by producing, curating, and sharing content that addresses specific customer needs and delivers visible value.”
The challenge is figuring out how to do it right. As author Laura Hanly explains in her book, “Content That Converts: How to Create a Profitable and Predictable B2B Content Marketing Strategy,” content is not a magic bullet.
Content marketing will not:
- Turn you into an internet celebrity (at least not overnight)
- Make you rich beyond your wildest dreams
And when done poorly, can:
- Harm your brand
- Put off potential customers
- Never pay off (resulting in wasted time and resources)
Hanly stresses the importance of having a consistent strategy for the content that you’re producing, so that your audience is engaged, comes to know and respect you as an authority, and will buy from you when the time is right (because the ultimate goal is sales, isn’t it?) Every single piece of content needs to end with a call to action that can lead to a sale.
Some questions to ask yourself and your team before committing to a content marketing strategy include:
- What is the purpose of our content marketing?
- Who are we trying to reach?
- What types of content should we produce?
- Do we have someone who can produce the content?
- Do we have good ideas about what our content would be focused on?
- Is our market segment interested in consuming that kind of content?
- How will we measure our success?
There are two main types of content you can use: recurring content, which builds a customer base gradually over time, and content assets (such as a whitepaper, a book, a webinar series or a learning workshop) that can be used as near-term client acquisition tools. Before choosing the route that’s best for your business, there are four things to ask yourself (what Hanly calls the Conversion Quadrant):
What’s the intersection between what your customers want and/or need?
Figure out what your customers really care about. What do they look to your company for insight about? How can your expertise intersect with what your customer wants and needs?
What do you want to be known as an industry authority for?
The simplest way to become an authority on something is to say the same things about that topic over and over again. Don’t just chase the latest trend – find the one thing you can focus on becoming known for that will make it easier to develop, market and sell products that your audience will buy again and again.
What is the format in which you produce your best content?
While most people think that its best to tailor your content to audience preferences, Hanly recommends choosing the format that you most enjoy working in – because if you like it, you’ll enjoy creating it, and your audience will like it too.
What’s your quarterly plan?
Mapping out your content helps you to be strategic about your production. This should include:
- A clear statement of your “one thing” your company will be an authority on
- Four themes you want to rotate through
- Three topics per theme, including key points on each
- Headlines for each topic
- Scheduled date of publication for each topic
Whichever path you decide to take with your content, if you don’t have the resources or bandwidth to do it right – if it feels like a chore every time you go to write – STOP. This will only result in an inconsistent content cycle with content that feels forced, uninspiring and unlikely to resonate with your audience.
The powerful thing about content marketing is that your assets increase in value over time. Whether it’s a blog, a book, a podcast or a whitepaper – you can always update later to improve it, modify key messages and share it with new audiences to see greater returns on early investments of your time and resources.
Remember – every piece of content you put out under your brand needs to be the best possible representation of who you are. Most prospects will have their first interaction with your brand through your content and just like in dating, you get one chance to make a good first impression.
By: Colleen Martin