In last week’s post, I defined ‘content marketing’ and wrote about the many benefits of including it in your marketing strategy.
This week, I want to get into the nitty-gritty, starting with a review of 10 different ways to provide quality content to your target audience.
- Blog: Your blog should be the cornerstone of your content – the place you go to most often to provide your readers with good information, insight and observations. Most importantly, you must be consistent with your blog posts… create a schedule and do whatever it takes to stick to it. And make sure it’s easy to find your blog from your website.
- Articles: Think of these as really long blog posts… only they’re not posted on your blog. With articles, you can dig a little deeper into a particular subject. Get a little broader. These longer articles should be posted in a Resources section on your website. Better yet, partner with an industry publication and have it printed in their magazine and on their website… their involvement gives you an implied endorsement.
- White papers: These are “clinical’ examinations of a particular topic… very fact-based and not at all salesy. A white paper might have a title like “How Online Bulletin Boards can Save Money and Time vs. Traditional Focus Groups” and within the article are fact-based charts and graphs that prove how and why the claim is true.
- Case studies: These are reviews of specific projects for specific clients showing, in the end, how working with your firm benefited them. The four parts to a Case Study are:
- The Client (describe them, don’t name them)
- The Situation (or problem the client was facing)
- Your Recommendations (what you proposed and implemented to solve the problem)
- The Result (how you solved the problem and saved time, saved money or provided higher quality results)
- eBooks: A broader and deeper exploration of a particular topic, eBooks are anywhere from 8 to 50 pages, attractively-designed and looked at as a legitimate resource for your clients and prospects. For an example, Click Here. Along with Survey Results (see #10), eBooks represent an opportunity to collect contact data from those who are interested in downloading it (by filling out an online form)… helping you to build a database of prospective clients.
- Webinars/Presentations: Stand in front of a room to deliver a presentation and the assumption is that you are the expert. Leverage that assumption, deliver a presentation that genuinely helps to educate (not sell to) the attendees and the result is a level of credibility and trust (not to mention the effect it has on your position in the marketplace) that money just can’t buy. Presentations will generally happen as a result of being invited to speak at a conference or workshop for an industry association or trade group. Like writing for an industry publication, speaking there comes with an implied endorsement. Webinars can be done in conjunction with an industry group or on your own.
- Podcasts: As the number of smart phones continues to increase (and dramatically so), offering podcasts provides yet another way for your clients and prospects to take your message with them and listen to it when and where they want. Tip: invest a few dollars in basic recording equipment so the audio quality is very good.
- Videos: We are a video society… so take advantage of our culture and present your content in the way that most people like to process it. And with outlets like YouTube.com, it’s easy to put your video on the internet for all to see. You can even create your own ‘channel’ if you’ll be posting videos regularly. Like podcasts, spend a few dollars on equipment – it doesn’t have to be theater-quality, but it does need to be sharp and professional. And consider some teleprompter software to help with reading all that content. For an example from our industry, Click Here.
- Engage in social media: Having a social media presence (LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) is one thing… but to disseminate content, you really need to participate in others’ sites. For example, post comments on top industry blogs, initiate or participate in discussions within popular LinkedIn groups, get involved in Twitter Chats, etc.
- Conduct a study and present the results: As a research firm, you are uniquely positioned to be able to conduct a significant survey about a particular topic and then report on the results (the results are your ‘content’). As an example, imagine you serve the automotive industry… and you conduct a nationwide survey of motorists about changes in driving habits. You then make the results available. That kind of content can help to position your firm as experts in the automotive industry. And if you conduct the study every year, you can report on changing trends, etc.
Once you’ve taken the time and effort to develop your content, it’s of no real value until it gets read… so promoting your content must be part of the process. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Blog: while your blog is the #1 place to post content, it’s also a vehicle for promoting your non-blog content. Use it to promote (and link to) your recently posted articles, ebooks, etc.
- Email: content is at the core of ‘lead nurturing’ initiatives and regular emails put access to your content in the palm of your leads’ hands.
- Social media: when you come out with a new piece of content, promote it on and link to it from LinkedIn (using the email feature, on your profile and in the groups you belong to), FaceBook, Twitter, etc.
- Banner ads: if you have developed a really important piece of content (an in-depth ebook, a white paper on a popular topic or the results of a large-scale survey), it might be worth taking out small banner ads on key industry websites or embedded in vendor e-newsletters as a way to spread the word.
- PR: while it’s a bit old school, make sure to send out press releases about your significant content pieces to industry magazines, associations and blogs.
- Internal communications: Don’t forget to mention your latest content pieces in your email signature, across the bottom of invoices and statement and even on small POP signs at your office.
Content creation and dissemination should be at the center of your on-going marketing strategy. In addition to helping to position your firm in the marketplace, those that do it right give themselves a solid competitive advantage.