2014 has pretty much been “the year of content marketing” for many. According to a study from Marketing Profs, organizations have spent 28% of their marketing budget on average doing content marketing this year.
During his session “Focus B2B: Leveraging Kick Ass Content to Drive Profits” at ClickZ Live Chicago, Rob Begg, VP of Enterprise Strategy at Hootsuite, reminded marketers that when it comes to content marketing, the competition is not only against other marketers in your niche, but everything that draws your audience’s attention.
How can you come up with a plan that can cut through all the noises and enable your content to stand out?
Adhere to the following three fundamental pillars Rob suggested to help you out:
Audience: Know who they are and engage with them
Thinking about who you are talking with is crucial before you start talking. Taking one step further on this, Rob recommended brands to think more specifically when segmenting their target audience. Firstly, make sure what actions you want the audience to take. The communication strategies should be different when you are talking to a customer or an industry influencer. Before moving on to the next step, make a decision about if you want to generate leads, encourage social shares, build thought leadership, or something else.
Moreover, you should know what level your audience are at and how professional they are. For instance, you may want to keep the content short and easy to understand if it’s targeted on decision makers since they don’t have as much time as the practitioners do.
An inspiring quote from Doug Kessler says that, “Traditional marketing talks at people, content marketing talks with them.” Compared to simply pushing content to the audience, conversations, engagement, and interactions can benefit to your brand more. A study from Nielson shows that 92% of people trust recommendations from “people they know.” The message becomes much more persuasive when people start spreading the word about your brand. To achieve this, marketers need to focus more on audience’s needs, not products.
Execution: Get story ideas from your team
The execution process of content marketing starts with the creative part. A lot of marketers are craving for inspiration to create something attractive and engaging. Other than getting ideas from social channels, media trends, and industry news, Rob reminded marketers to pay attention to their internal resources. Set up a “story time” once a week with your team members and invite your colleagues not only from your editorial and marketing departments, but also from sales and support teams. They are very likely to be the people who spent the most time with your target audience, and they are able to help you create useful content that really solves your audience’s problem or ignites a spark of interest.
Putting your content into the right format allows it to go much further. With the help of technologies, we have so many choices of content formats we can use: blogs, videos, webinars, presentations, infographics, case studies, white papers, etc. It depends on the content material whether you should choose only one or multiple formats at a time. Rob suggested that high volume and drum beat content such as a trending blog or webinar should stand alone, while larger pieces such as an industry research should be repurposed and extended.
Distribution: Encourage employee advocacy
“Good content marketing should be everywhere in your business.” According to Rob, marketers should use all owned, earned, and paid channels for content distribution.
As for earned media, Rob emphasized how powerful employee advocacy can be for increasing social reach. Maybe most of your employees don’t have a massive following on social media and it seems meaningless if one of them tweets about your content. However, if you take into consideration the number of employees your company has, the possible reach might be larger than your brand’s official account has. Besides, back to the study mentioned above, people are more likely to trust in “word of mouth.” A recommendation from your employee may persuade one of his friends to actually purchase your product.
To end his session, Rob shared a case study to demonstrate what great content marketing is. The video “A Game of Social Thrones” from HootSuite got more than 1 million views and 100k media mentions.
Where is content marketing going to end up in 2015? A recent article published on ClickZ that resonated with me predicts that content marketing will still be an integral part of brand’s marketing plan, but it will not stay in the forefront without adaptations and a more tactical execution. What’s more, content marketing may open the doors for something else such as new types of reporting and distribution.
So, stay tuned and be agile marketers.
Thanks for reading,