Are you confused by conflicting advice on how to create and implement a content strategy?
You aren’t alone. The challenge is that the phrase content marketing isn’t really defined. Take a look at this definition from the Content Marketing Institute:
“Content Marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” tweet
This definition may make sense to a career marketer but confuses the heck out of most business owners.
Here are a few problems:
The term content marketing isn’t defined.
- The definition tells us the characteristics of content marketing (valuable, relevant, and consistent) but doesn’t describe the substance, the core, of content marketing
- We are told what we should do with content – distribute it. The makes sense but still…what are we distributing exactly?
- The definition explains who gets the content – “a clearly defined audience.” Got it. What are we giving this audience again?
We are even told the objective of content marketing – “driving profitable customer action”, a fancy way to say “ring the cash register.”
But what is content!
Try this definition:
The performance standard for this type of content is high. I’ve borrowed my performance benchmark from Jay Baer’s excellent book – Youtility.
“Marketing so good that your customers would pay for it.”
“Stories that Teach to Sell” is easier to get your head around. Let’s dissect these 5 words:
Stories: Stories are the most popular, efficient, effective, and natural way to communicate information. They capture and hold attention because they are offer information in a way our brains can quickly understand and decipher.
Teach: The best marketers are teachers. Content marketing’s goal is to make sure readers understand the value of a service a product. Businesses will need to become sophisticated teachers to create content that is relevant and useful.
Sell: Sell is the new 4-letter cuss word. Most people avoid the word but it is the most accurate and succinct explanation of what content marketing is supposed to do – Sell!
We’ll use this definition as the basis for our business blog content marketing strategy.
What Should You Teach?
Your content should deliver 5 key types of information to your audience.
The 5 Keys Are:
Know: What your reader needs to know to understand their problem and the best way to find a solution.
Believe: What your reader needs to believe to trust your business.
See: What your reader needs to see to prove that your company is legitimate and credible.
Objections: Straight-forward and simple answers to potential customer’s concerns about using your businesses’ solution
Questions: My friend Marcus Sheridan teaches a simple content tactic “They Ask. You Answer.” Compile a list of questions and write a post explaining the answer. It’s brilliant and simple. Use it.
Content based on the 5 Keys will help readers understand your expertise, your service and convince them to do business with you.
How Should You Teach?
Stories of course! But what stories?
Here are a few ideas:
Employee Stories: Why do they work for you? What are they proud of? What is their contribution to the product.
Founder Stories: Why did your founder start the business? What problem did they try to solve? What are their values?
Customer Stories: How customers use your product? Why do they believe in your product? Unusual uses of your product.
Stories are powerful but other types of content can supplement your stories. You can create demonstration videos, blogs, or podcasts. Comprehensive, long-form, posts like this one is another way to create compelling content. Use the form that works best for you.
Where Should You Teach?
It’s easy to get burned out trying to post and update every social platform. How do you select the platform that works best for you?
I use this simple Social Platform Litmus test:
The platform should:
- Easily communicate your story in a professional way
- Make is easy to create a community around your content
- Be simple enough for your employees or outsourced specialists to manage
For example, I do not publish on Pinterest. My reasons:
- My story isn’t suited for Pinterest’s visual platform.
- I’m not interested enough in the platform to set-aside time to engage with Pinterest’s audience
- Pinterest isn’t part of my everyday workflow.
However, I’ve made a serious investment of time and money in podcasting. Why?
- Speaking about my interest has more impact than writing
- I love the technical and artistic challenge of recording and editing a podcast
- I can record a podcast with a click of a button.
Use the Platform Litmus test for your content strategy. Which platforms will get more of your time?
Content Marketing works. It works harder when you use a simple strategy to maximize the effectiveness of the content your produce and publish.
Can you do this? Will use this content strategy for your business? Let me know in the comments below or ask me a question via voicemail here.