HomeBlogSales FunnelsHow You Can Profit From Content Marketing

How You Can Profit From Content Marketing

The latest buzz words in the marketing universe are ‘content marketing’. It seems that everyone with a stake in Internet marketing wants to get in the ‘content marketing’ game.

The effect of this wild scramble is that the corporate communications executive or marcomms professional is being bombarded by numerous messages from a lot of very excitable people with an ax to grind about their particular brand of content.

Each of these people has a vested interest in explaining how their particular flavor of content is the most fabulous way of getting the corporate message across and driving potential customers towards engagement – which is the first step in feeding that sales funnel.

You have public relations professionals touting their wares, SEO practitioners loudly proclaiming that the demise (again) of SEO is exaggerated, advertising agencies positioning a new wave of ‘native advertising’ and then you have the staunch proponents of traditional above the line campaigns.

The most logical way of dealing with a feeding frenzy is simply to get out of the water onto dry land. By stepping back from the incessant calls to action around the promise of content marketing it is possible to come to some simple conclusions, amongst these being:

1) What goes around comes around – The call for quality content is nothing new. Good content has always been valuable. Ever since Ugg started marketing that new fangled ‘wheel’ thing, communications people have always known that delivering the right messages to the right audiences is a core requirement of any marketing outreach.

2) Stick to the tried and proven – New channels do not always mean that you need to reinvent your marketing messages, you may simply have to rethink how you present them (video, images, infographics and copy all working together to provide a rich, unique and engaging experience). The social media holds great promise of engaging with potential clients and keeping existing ones happy. By leveraging quality content an organization can reach the correct audience when, where and how they want to be addressed.

3) The world is shrinking, and you need bigger ideas – The rise of smaller and smaller mobile devices does not mean that there should be an attendant shrinking of content, in fact it means that content may simply have to tailored to take into account how mobile devices are used. People can scroll, but you need to provide them with a reason to interface with your content.

4) Taking it day-by-day – Content needs to be provided according to a calendar that supports the business strategy and the timeline for the rollout of new initiatives. Your organization needs to be posting to your social media platforms according to your business model and some platform specific guidelines.

5) Great content comes from great ideas – Thinking about what the target audience values as far as content is concerned is a good first step. Studies have shown that savvy audiences share many of the same likes and dislikes. Strangely it doesn’t matter if you’re selling vacuum cleaners or heart valves the general rules are the same.

A) Content may be King, but the royal partner is added value – Give your target audience some inside information or your opinion on something that matters to them. This can be how to streamline their operations or an analysis of business trends. If it can add immediate value to their business that’s great.

If it makes them think or is a good topic for business dinner conversation and positions them as an expert, you’re definitely on the right track with your content. If they share it with people in a similar demographic then you’re in the ballpark (in fact you could be lining up a home run as far as feeding that sales funnel is concerned).

B) Mix it up a little – The idea of posting varied content has been accepted wisdom for so long it’s got grey hair in its virtual beard, but the principle remains sound. Put some thought into how your target audience is going to be using your content and the platform where you are posting the content. Any provider of content needs to think strategically, this is important.

Always choose content that will resonate with your target audience and is platform appropriate. So no LOLcats for chartered accounts or financial institutions. Infographics are great, so is video, images are fine as well, but do not ignore creative and engaging copy.

The impact of the visual elements of your content will be enhanced through the addition of good copy. Be aware that great copy needs to also be appropriate to the channel. It’s no good writing a 400 word comment on Facebook, your reader will not venture past the fold unless you give them a very good reason.

This is why headlines are so important. Aside from SEO concerns a good headline draws in the reader and reinforces visual content. If in doubt consult a social media savvy content provider / copywriter. They will be able to track trends, analyze reader interest areas and make firm recommendations on how your brand can extend its influence.

6) A space to call your own – It seems like everyone has a blog these days, a place where they can let their hair down and talk about those deeply important issues that affect their everyday lives. That’s just fabulous; everyone should have an outlet for their creative urges.

When it comes to businesses that are building an online presence, a blog is not a ‘nice to have’ component, it’s a core requirement.

There are some ways to make sure that your content is both interesting and informative, and perhaps most importantly provides your target audience with the information that will keep them coming back to your blog again and again.

A) Keep checking on trends. Sites like technorati.com are great places to keep an eye on what’s trending in the social media. Find out what people are talking about and you’ll be able to ride the crest of that wave with new content for your blog. Best learn how to think laterally.

B) Follow the leader – keep an eye out for influencers in your industry. Do a search for industry blogs and have a look at what they’re saying. Chances are they’re either opinion makers or breakers. Either that or they’re looking to ride the same trend wave that you are. Either way those blogs are a good place to start looking or content that will get the mental gears turning.

Where else can you find these leaders and mine their opinions for great content?

Aside from blogs, the other social media platforms are great sources of new information. Use Facebook graph search, or use Google+ to search out others in your niche and see what they’re talking about. BTW if your business is not on Google+ I’d get over there pronto.

Google is the Gorilla in the sandpit as far as search is concerned and your business simply has to have a presence. People who say that it’s not as popular as Facebook or LinkedIn (for business owners, more about this great social media asset later) are simply not very good at spotting trends. Google is linking up almost every part of the online experience and it’s all going to orbit around Google+. Want another good reason to be on Google+, local search and reviews. Just by improving your local business profile you are increasing your chances of attracting business dramatically.

C) Got a sales team – get their opinion on the sorts of questions that your clients and potential clients are asking. If you can answer these in your blog then you’ve got a handle on some excellent content.

7) Leverage appropriate social media space – Know your target demographic. If you’re a B2B business then use LinkedIn. LinkedIn gives you access to huge amounts of information. LinkedIn Groups are a fantastic source of connection, possible business partnerships and even clients, join up and join in to plumb the depths of industry opinion and get a sense of the sorts of questions that are being asked. Base your blog articles on these areas of interest.

All of the above are great starting points to establish your business in the social media ecosystem and get ideas to get the creative juices flowing. However, there’s a fly in the ointment. Maintaining a blog is hard work and it’s going to eat up your time. That’s if you don’t have a dedicated content provision and social media resource.

Very few small to medium-sized businesses can afford to have someone monitoring the social media full-time, unless the decision is made to task a junior member of staff with social media duties. This rarely, if ever ends well.

It takes an in-depth knowledge of a business strategy and target market to get the most out of the social media and one misstep can do some serious harm to the reputation of an organization. Senior management is not going to be able to shoulder the burden as someone needs to be manning the helm and ensuring that the revenue machine keeps turning over.

Like or loath it the solution is extremely simple. If you want to leverage the possibilities for feeding the sales funnel then you’re going to have to outsource the management of your social media presence. In this way you will not fall prey to negative opportunity costs. In essence an opportunity cost is the cost of losing out on a potential benefit due to the fact that another (often more strategic / urgent / profitable) choice has to be made.

These are choices that have to be made by busy small and medium-sized business owners across the globe. If you’re the man or woman at the top are you more concerned with actual revenue generation? Is your sales team out there pounding the pavement or with a Smartphone attached to their ear holes? In these highly competitive times they should be.

So who’s looking after the social media real estate? – Don’t make it the responsibility of the lowest person on your business ladder. Chances are that they’re not completely in tune with your business strategy and the granularity of your targeting, so they’re not going to be maximizing your social media opportunities. Make mistakes on the social media and it’s likely your competition is going to take advantage.

So have a look around for a trusted adviser. Many of them are expert copywriters and even SEO specialists, they’re content marketing specialists. Some have great creative marketing and social media skills. Others may be up to date on managing a variety of different channels and supplying metrics and measurement data.

Heck, if you’re lucky you’ll a group of people who can do it all. The best news is it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

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