A central part of building a successful brand is rolling out a content marketing approach that first reaches and then resonates with your target audience. But to do this you need a well-conceived strategy that it joined-up and tweaked in order to have maximum impact. And it’s not all about sales, although they, of course, form your bottom line, which is integral to any business. Instead, content marketing is as much, if not more, about selling your brand to your audience. Establishing a strong brand with that audience is a vital step in securing future sales.
So, what are the essential components of a content marketing strategy, and how do they help you reach the audience that you have identified as core to your business prospects? Here’s how:
A content marketing strategy helps you identify your audience in the first place
Do you know your audience? That is the first question that is asked in marketing circles around the globe, and you would be surprised by how many answers are not as confident and firm as you would expect.
“If you do not know, with great detail, who your audience is, then how can you hope to effectively role out a marketing and sales process that fits their needs? Without knowing your audience, you don’t even know what those needs are, and you are therefore selling blind. Although you might have some random successes with this approach, it won’t last long. You need to be fully prepared and aligned with the audience you are intending to sell to. Otherwise, you are really just stumbling around in the dark,” warns Mark Mackintosh, a marketer at BritStudent and WritemyX.
So, what can you do? Gather data, and as much of it as possible, to ascertain, without doubt, who your audience is, what they like, and what motivates them to buy. From there you can better understand needs, and tailor your marketing and sales approach to fit. And as for your content specifically, now you can start to roll out content that truly resonates with the audience you have identified. So that means the form of the content and the voice and tone that you use. Your content must be shaped to suit the audience that you have, never the other way around.
A content marketing strategy helps you fulfil your objectives
What is it that you want to achieve? You could answer ‘make a lot of money’, but not only is that incredibly vague but also smells of having the wrong focus. Of course, making money is the reward for running a successful business, but your objectives should be based on fulfilling a need that your target audience has.
When you have ascertained that need, you develop a product or service that plugs it. But that is only the first step. Now you have to reach out to your audience and remind them that they have this need, and then place your brand as the solution to that very need.
“This is not about cold, hard-selling, it’s about building a relationship with your audience through finely tuned and intelligently delivered content that connects with them, resonates with them, builds trust, and ultimately stimulates sales. But not just one-off sales – steady, repeat business is what you are aiming for,” says Zadie Kiwona, a tech writer at Australia2write and Nextcoursework.
Now customer service has a huge part to play in that particular business objective, but the journey begins and is facilitated, by a smart and thorough content marketing strategy that keeps your brand at the front and centre of your target audiences’ mind.
A content marketing strategy helps you learn from your competitors
Competitor analysis is an essential component to any effective marketing approach, and that is no different with content marketing. What type of content do your competitors release? How often do they do it? What marketing channels do they use? What is the tone and voice of this content? And ultimately, how effective are these content strategies? When you have detailed answers to all of these questions, you can tailor your own effective marketing approach, designed, of course, specifically to fit your audience.
A content marketing strategy helps you shape relevant content
Now, what content is relevant to your audience, and what content is relevant to your objectives? These are the two most important considerations, and shaping your strategy must involve solving these two problems as effectively as you can. If it is all about brand awareness, then your content must be designed to promote the brand through telling a story and doing so with a strong, unique voice that connects with the audience you have identified. And of course, that audience, as you now know, responds to certain content, be that video, blog articles, social media posts, or most likely a combination of all of the above. But shaping that content is where your strategy comes to the fore.
A content marketing strategy helps you identify the right channels
We have already alluded to this, but your audience, whoever that is, will respond to certain channels that you should have identified. So, it’s not just about rolling out the right kind of content at the right time to fit your objectives, it’s about rolling it out in exactly the right place too, otherwise, everything you do will fall flat on its face.
This all goes back to identifying your target audience, as the fact is that different demographics respond to different channels for marketing purposes, so whether that is a specific social media platform (Facebook is now a tool for a slightly more mature audience as Instagram has cornered the teen market, for example), or choosing a non-digital approach to your marketing. Once again, it all depends on who that audience is, and of course what you have ascertained from your competitor analysis.
In short, it is your content marketing strategy that defines the success and failure of your ability to connect with your audience. And it is your ability to successfully connect with your audience that will ultimately define your success as a business.
Marketing strategist Micahel Dehoyos is usually found assisting organizations in their content business approaches. He is an editor at PHDKingdom and AcademicBrits, and a regular contributor to Originwritings.