For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie Legally Blonde, Elle Woods is a sorority sister who we meet at the peak of her picture-perfect college career. Her world is suddenly rocked when her long-term boyfriend breaks it off at a dinner date she anticipates is the start of their next adventure together. When Elle faces this devastating break-up she is quick to assume that exterior matters, much like the trap marketers fall into when employing traditional marketing techniques.
Gone are the days where a business can advertise without content and depth behind the surface. In Legally Blonde, Elle realizes that appearances aren’t everything and moves toward bettering other, more lasting parts that make up who she is. Many businesses continue to rely on traditional methods of marketing and the fact of the matter is, this will ultimately set them behind. Thankfully Elle has the insight to realize that there is more to a person than the outer appearance and applies to Harvard Law.
While Elle is attempting to gain the intellectual content to back up her pretty face, businesses should be focusing on the same. The content behind the face of a business should be built simultaneously. The power of the consumer is growing and without audience optimization, leads could fall off before becoming conversions. What do I mean by audience optimization? Well, customers will typically go through a process of gaining trust toward a business that can be facilitated by the business itself via content that they publish. Before leads become conversions, the first, and arguably the most important step is to define your audience. Many CM businesses refer to this as determining your buyer personas. Think of them as the characters that you wish to capture and eventually establish as your audience. In Legally Blonde, Elle wishes to win back her ex who is now interested in the moody, law student who spends too much time in the library. Without sacrificing herself, she attempts to reach him by adjusting her efforts towards the new character qualities (or buyer persona) of this type of person.
A very important note that Elle teaches us is that you should not lose yourself. Never make huge sacrifices just to make customers happy because ultimately we want to reach trust (which works best if you’re being true to you). The allure of content marketing is the ability to create trust derived from compelling content by building an owned media asset.
What does that mean?
It is very possible to create a positive sales experience for customers without having them feel as if they are being sold to. It should be a process that aims to educate. Instead of pitching, let’s focus on building. But what should be built? In their article The Business Case for Agile Content Marketing, Copyblogger does an excellent job at laying out how CM should work. It’s no surprise a content marketing company produces great content themselves and had me onboard, believing and eating up every word they said.
After establishing your buyer personas the number one thing they stress is keeping content, social media and search optimization together. Breaking them up keeps your business from integration and could work to your detriment. Content should be valuable information that educates the customer, keeping in mind the buyer persona is especially important when inserting jargon and slang… duh. Use social as a way to expose your carefully crafted and enticing content that keeps them coming back to see what you, the business, has to say. And finally, SEO, or search engine optimization, is the “icing on the cake” because if properly executed content and social media efforts are reached, Google will pick you up and increase your organic search- now that is integration.
Now that we know what our content and efforts should include, let’s take a moment to talk about what your process should look like.
Copyblogger takes a “ready, fire, aim” approach, that is backed by research. It’s impossible to see what works until you start messing around with your content and begin to figure it out for you. There is no magic guidebook that outlines the steps for every business, everywhere. It’s wise to begin with research, especially in regards to the buyer persona. Where do these people hangout on the web? What does their day look like? What are they interesting in finding and more importantly how are they interested in finding that information? After research comes release! Let that content see the daylight, it’s doing no good sitting in your draft folder collecting technological dust. Wipe away those cobwebs and optimize your page like I talked about in my last post. Connect your optimized, content rich page with the world because now it’s ready! This is an ongoing process so of course we end with repeat. Hate to break it to you, but one blog post is not the way to cultivate loyal customers.
Pique their interest, stimulate curiosity and keep ongoing participation with your business.
You may find yourself asking what it takes to break through to customers and be competitive with other businesses as far as content goes. In the article 5 Pillars of Successful CM by Steven MacDonald, he talks about the importance of sales cycle as well as understanding your audience and creating and promoting good content. What content to publish when shouldn’t be a guessing game. We know that some content is better than others in different phases of the sales cycle. For example, blogs, ad promotions and white papers are very helpful to those just gaining awareness about your business and wanting to know more. When they move to considering your product among alternatives, videos, peer reviews and tech guides help to evaluate choices. Finally, free trials and live demonstrations are key to influencing decisions. This answers the “what to publish when question” but we are digital, content marketers constantly searching for more…
Those who have fallen behind know it’s important to stay on top of marketing trends, and Kane Jamison at Content Harmony has a few ideas that could help. Among them, I found the following the most insightful: Keep content changing. Failing to embrace change is something marketers can’t afford. Social campaigns are not cookie-cutter and need to be relevant. If your buyer persona doesn’t frequent Twitter, you probably shouldn’t focus your efforts there. Seems obvious, but you would be surprised by how many businesses post on every social platform because they think it’s a good idea to be more “hip” or “digital”. Clearly missing the entire point… Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Remember content marketing is all about earning the trust and respect of your customers and always aim to get people excited and ultimately anticipating your next move.
After all of this explanation, the skeptical among you may still be asking, “Why should you spend time and money creating compelling content?”
Well… It just makes sense.
And if you haven’t checked out Legally Blonde, you probably should.