The Ultimate Rookie or Novice Guide to Content Marketing

Luke Skywalker Rookie Mistake

The idea of developing a variety of different pieces of content as a part of your marketing mix can be an overwhelming concept. Where does content come from? Who creates it? What do I write about? How often do I have to do it? How do I find time? The hesitation is understandable.

Content marketing is like a light saber. It’s one of the most powerful tools in the marketing universe yet can be misunderstood by someone who’s unfamiliar with its power.

You can make content marketing work for you. In fact, you probably already know more than you give yourself credit for. The biggest challenge is recognizing the opportunities at hand and what can lead to early and long-term success. The information below should help kick-start your approach to content marketing:

Understanding Content Marketing

The first step is to become familiar with content marketing. Not only is it important for you to be able to answer the question: “What is content marketing?” – It’s important for you to know what type of content you should be building for your target audience. It’s important for you to think about your customers needs, wants and identify how you can create content that they would see value in. Essentially, you’re looking to establish a clear idea and understanding of what your customers would feel is worth downloading, sharing or reading.

There are a variety of brands out there struggling with content marketing. There are also a handful of brands who are completely crushing it and doing an excellent job at using content marketing to achieve their business goals and objectives. One of the biggest challenges for most brands is figuring out what it is they want to say in their content and how they can cut through the noise. It’s a challenge that is found in all types of marketing. Whether we’re talking about social media 101 or a traditional TV spot, the biggest challenge is standing out.

I recommend taking some time to review some great examples of brands doing content marketing right and learning from them to start setting the framework in your mind for what you need to do to find success. Here’s a good start:

Once you have identified what content marketing is all about it’s time to start thinking about the strategy that will work for you. The strategy needs to steam from one thing. This isn’t mind blowing stuff but it’s crucial that you’re paying attention to this. Your strategy needs to steam from objectives. You must clearly identify what it is you’re looking to achieve through content marketing and say it out loud.
Your objective is what you and/or your team will need to think about every time a new piece of content is developed. This ensures that you’re not stuck in a situation a year from now trying to figure out whether or not your efforts were successful. Identifying your goals at this stage will ensure that you can strive for measurable and meaningful results.

Here are a few things to think about when it comes to content marketing ROI:

  • Skillfully executed inbound marketing is 10 times more effective at conversion than traditional outbound methods. (via Gartner)
  • Inbound leads cost 61% less on average than outbound leads. (via HubSpot)
  • 57% of organizations are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis. (via NYAMA)
  • The ROI of content marketing has risen 300% over the previous 3 years. (via Eloqua)

Understanding Content Excellence

One of the leaders in content marketing is Coca Cola. They’ve achieved this position through excellent work, lots of money and a passion for embracing a significant shift in thinking. Coca Cola made a vocal and clear decision to make a marketing shift from creative-excellence to content excellence.

The idea of achieving content excellence is a challenge for many but the video below describes it quite well:

Essentially, content excellence is the development of a story your customers want to hear and your ability to place it in a framework that is easy for them to consume. Meaning, if you’re a startup in the high-end fashion industry, you need to think about what type of content a fashionista would be interested in and ensure that you’re delivering that content through the channel they spend most of their time. Whether that’s creating photos of clothes and sharing it on instagram daily or creating blog posts and sharing them on Facebook; content excellence starts with these two basics.

Once you’ve got the basics it’s time to start thinking about what you can do to ensure your content is top quality. Here are a few articles that will most certainly get you started in developing great content:

Content Sharing

The second most important piece of content marketing is getting your content in front of the right people. If you’ve been in business for some time you have an easy deliver mechanism already existing which consists of your current customers. Whether you’ve captured emails, phone numbers or likes on Facebook; these are the folks you must first put your content marketing efforts in front of. These are the folks who already see value in your product and may see value in your content. Look at them as a test, see how they respond to your new ebook, blog posts and get feedback from them to really understand what it is they want from you as it relates to content.

Once you’ve identified the needs of your customers you can better understand where your content needs to be. The fact that you’re providing value will automatically increase the opportunity for a viral effect but there are additional opportunities that exist for sharing your content. Some of those opportunities that exist include:

  1. Guest Blogging: This is a great way for you o share your ideas and thoughts on relevant topics and share your brands story. The key to guest blogging is recognizing the power of driving users back to your site where they can convert. Whether you end your blog post with a call to action promoting an ebook or a new product; be sure to focus on optimizing your posts for meaningful content marketing results.
  2. Social Media Promotion: For many successful content platforms, the majority of their traffic bounces back and forth between social media channels and Google. If you’re able to ensure that your content is easily shared, Facebook and Twitter will provide you with a huge boost in traffic. These networks will allow you to broaden your reach and tap into an audience beyond your borders.
  3. Content Directories: This is a tactic that is often overlooked but one that can provide you with great success if done well. You can look for content submission directories that are relevant to your target audience and submit your content when appropriate. Examples of a content directory would include websites like Hacker News, StumbledUpon or Reddit.

Here are a few additional pieces that will help with understanding how to promote your content:

Conclusion

Using all of the methods I covered above, even a rookie could start finding success through content marketing.

The one thing to keep in mind is that the most important pieces to remember in this entire post is the part about objectives and value. You must clearly know where you’re trying to go. You must think about who you want this content to reach and what you want the results to look like. Once you’ve identified who you’re talking to, it’s time to provide them with valuable, quality content. It’s not enough to simply send them a list of links to things you thought were cool every week either. You need to become a publisher and create content worth reading and worth sharing.

So what do you think? Did I miss any key ideas that should be included?

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