Content Marketing: Why you need it and how to do it

On brand, but not branded. Useful, but not patronising. Relevant, but not contrived. Good content marketing can work wonders for your brand’s reputation, credibility, customer loyalty – and its all-important turnover.

What is content marketing?

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” = Content Marketing Institute.

Simply put, content marketing is creating and sharing valuable information (for free) that your target audience, or demographic will find interesting, useful or entertaining. Ideally all three.

It shouldn’t be about the brand itself, nor should the content be heavily branded, but it should be uniquely relevant to your target audience, helping them with a problem or issue that you have unique authority to comment on.

Good content marketing needs regular content – a constant flow that pulls people to a dedicated content hub. It can’t just be a sporadic one-off campaign.

It shouldn’t look or feel like marketing. It should just be great content that people love to read, view, talk about and share.

Done well it will build your brand’s credibility and positioning as an expert or market leader in its field, boost its SEO and online visibility, and gain a following of warm leads and potential new customers.

Get it right and you’ll convert leads and subscribers into loyal brand advocates and promoters who actively seek and share your content, and buy your products or services. It makes no difference whether your audience  is a consumer or business, B2B, or B2C, the same principles apply.

Content marketing done well

Always, Like a Girl is the King, or should we say Queen of content marketing campaign success. First conceived to solve the feminine hygiene brand’s problem of creating shareable content (who wants to be associated with periods – and who even wants to talk about periods anyway), as well as to reconnect with its young consumer base, the #LikeAGirl campaign proved a runaway hit.

The video at the heart of the campaign struck a chord with girls, mums, sisters, aunts, dads, brothers, boyfriends, husbands and uncles, as it set out to empower and boost girls’ confidence and bring a whole new meaning to the insulting turn of phrase, #LikeAGirl.

All of a sudden, Always became part of mainstream conversation, in the most positive way possible, challenging gender stereotypes and dealing with issues central to girls’ confidence (or lack of), including low self esteem and, more recently, fear of failure.

#LikeAGirl doesn’t sell sanitary pads. It doesn’t even talk about periods. It doesn’t need to. By starting and encouraging conversation about those issues that young girls and women struggle with on a daily basis, the brand is saying, ‘join us, we get it, we’re with you in this’.

From a content point of view, the #LikeAGirl hub on the website features stories and video about strong girls, challenging gender stereotypes, whilst the #LikeAGirl hashtag has taken on a life of its own, being regularly used alongside posts depicting strong women and girls.

For creating shareable content, driving engagement on social media, raising brand awareness, boosting credibility and building emotional connections with its key demographic, the #LikeAGirl campaign is an unmitigated success.

This #LikeAGirl campaign analysis and case study from the original campaign is well worth a read.

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Significantly less emotive, but equally in tune with its own audience, Moo, the branding and printing business curates and creates a host of information aimed at small business owners and freelancers.

As a business that specialises in business cards and flyers, Moo identified the sweet spot of its expertise and the interests of its key demographic, and the Moo Blog is perfectly pitched with business and branding tips and insider guides to help independent businesses get ahead. Of course, the blog is beautifully designed for maximum credibility, whilst ‘read length’ guidance shows how the brand is in tune with the time pressures of busy small business owners.

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Hubspot, the inbound marketing software business should know a thing or two about content marketing, and its regular blogs, newsletters and online resources dedicated to content marketing, SEO and sales and marketing proves that it’s not just ‘do as we say’, but rather, ‘do as we do’ when it comes to creating and implementing a successful content marketing strategy.

The blogs and newsletters pull people in, after which their resources, including eBooks, webinars and case studies reinforce the brand’s expertise and credibility, keeping people interested, engaged and the brand front of mind for content marketing.

You’re probably doing content marketing anyway

There’s no dark arts magic to content marketing. In fact, you’re probably doing content marketing anyway – even if you don’t realise it. Blogs, video, case studies, webinars, infographics, apps, images – if you’re producing content that’s valuable, shareable and being shared then you’re on the right tracks.

Question is, are you doing it effectively? Could you be making more of it and driving better value from it?

Amplification is the answer. After all, there’s no point creating content and not telling people about it. How are you going to share it? Your newsletter or subscriber list? Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or YouTube? Bloggers? Paid for media space? How are you going to build your contact lists? Subscribers (warm leads) will give you a head start by sharing and spreading the word, so the more the merrier.

How does content marketing fit with inbound marketing?

Successful inbound marketing relies on brilliant content marketing. It can be easy to think they’re the same thing, but there’s a subtle difference.

Content marketing is all the brilliant content that your brand produces, ripe and ready for sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other social platform that will inevitably appear in the future.

Inbound marketing is the umbrella term for pulling your customers to your brand. Brilliant content has an important role to play, but for inbound marketing to succesd there’s also the background stuff that happens behind the scenes – technical SEO and clever web building for starters.

Nailing your content marketing strategy

A solid strategy will give you structure and focus to help ensure your content supports broader marketing and PR strategies and priorities, rather than aimlessly churning out material that looks good, but has no specific goal.

The good news is that it’s still possible to be creative within a strategy framework.

  • Know your people

Be clear on who your audience is, what interests and concerns them, what information and answers they’re seeking – and build content with them in mind.

Content which clearly demonstrates your understanding of their needs, wants, and issues will resonate and win you loyalty points, whilst inspiring, educational, entertaining or insightful content will keep people interested and coming back for more.

  • Know your stuff

You know your stuff, so don’t be afraid to show it. What may seem obvious to you will be something new and useful to others. Be clear on what you do, stick to what you know and make sure your content reflects your experience and expertise. Don’t try and be something you’re not.

  • Know your niche

What’s your sweet spot (aka Moos’s blog)? Once you’ve identified the point at which your expertise and your audience’s needs cross you can focus on creating content to fit.

  • Know where to send your people

Make sure your content includes ‘call to action’ links to landing pages, drawing people to the pages and web content you want them to see. Use sign-up forms on landing pages to capture visitor interest, turn them into leads, and, with appropriately targeted email campaigns, turn them into customers.

  • Know when enough’s enough

You’ll need to publish content on a regular basis, but think quality not quantity – don’t turn people off with spammy content. You want people to love and share your content and nobody’s going to pass spam onto their best friend (even their worst enemy – why would they?). Send out spam and risk doing the brand more damage than good.

Invest time and effort creating good quality content. Mix it up using a variety of formats to keep the delivery from growing stale and predictable and watch the share counter roll.

Download a PDF version here: Content marketing – why you need it and how to do it

Rave is a content marketing agency in Birmingham and approved implementation partner for Hubspot, the world’s leading marketing automation platform. For more details, get in touch or call John on 01675 467 462/ 07748 114444 or email jwilford@rave-communications.com.

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