Be honest with yourself…why should customers and prospects care anything about what you have to say? Everywhere your customers look they are being bombarded with sales messaging. Only a few, select messages get through and make any meaningful impact on them.
So that means instead of creating all that product and service information that customers don’t need or care about, you need to be truly helpful. You need to think and act like a publisher. Be the “go-to” informational resource for your customers. It’s this thinking (and quality storytelling) that is the steroids behind quality search rankings and social media that spreads and is shared.
Great…there’s an answer, but getting there isn’t easy. Very few SME businesses have the skills and training to create a content marketing program and consistently deliver on that content promise. So, how do you create content that moves your customers and/or prospects to take action? You need to positively affect them, engage them and do whatever we must to help stay involved in their lives and their conversations. Here are the six principles that need to be core to your content marketing strategy to make sure your content is treasured, not discarded, by your customers.
1. Fills a Need: Your content should answer some unmet need or question for your customer. It needs to be useful in some way to the customer, over and above what you can offer as a product or service. In some cases, it may fill an emotional need (like Coca-Cola’s content tries to do, or even Red Bull’s storytelling).
2. Consistent: The great hallmark of a successful publisher is consistency. Whether you subscribe to a monthly magazine or daily email newsletter, the content is always delivered on time and as expected. This is where so many companies fall down. Whatever you commit to in your content marketing, you must consistently deliver.
3. Be Human (find your voice): The benefits of not being a journalistic entity is that you have nothing to hold you back from being…well…you. Find what you voice is, and share it. If your company’s story is all about humor, share that. If it’s a bit sarcastic, that’s okay too.
4. Has a point of view: This is not encyclopedia content. You’re not giving a history report. Don’t be afraid to take sides on matters that can position you and your company as an expert. Don’t be afraid to take a stance.
5. Far removed from sales speak: The more you talk about yourself, the less people will share and spread your story. It’s that simple. Try to post more an educational pieces rather than just endless content about your own products or service.
6. Best of breed: Although you might not be able to reach this goal at the very beginning, the ultimate goal for your content is that it needs to be best of breed. This means that, for your content niche, what you are distributing is the very best of what is available. I know this may sound overly simplified, but if you expect your customers to spend time with your content, you must deliver them amazing value.
Take some time and look at your content marketing strategy. How many of these six principles are you hitting? As a business, your goal is to become part of the content fabric for your customers. If you do, selling to them becomes relatively easy. Start with setting a strategy that follows the six principles above, and before long, you will be the “go to” resource for your customers as well.
Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute and a content marketing maestro. He’ll be headlining Content Marketing World Sydney on March 31 – April 2.