Find YOURSELF with Content Marketing

The goal of content marketing (inbound marketing) is to raise visibility by increasing the chance to be found on search engines, then keep interested users engaged with deeper content over time. It also happens to be a virtuous paradox that the process of planning and implementing content marketing helps people and organizations find themselves.

This is a reflection on the spirit of content marketing and the experience organizations have as they engage the content development process and subsequent audience interaction. It is a story of seeking, finding substance, depth and self-development — all in the pursuit of customers.

Okay, I won’t get on my high horse about authentic marketing. As genuine as we want to be, marketing shouldn't be about the speaker. It's about the audience.

Content marketing is an alternative to sales and advertising practices, and their dubious reputations. Let's be honest, advertisers and salespeople are frequently regarded as untrustable — they have their interest in mind far more often than that of their customers. And different formats of marketing have different levels of trust worthiness as well. The Advertising Trust Factor survey compares some.

So how does the self discovery happen during the marketing process? To start, content marketing is built on 3 pillars: audience tribes, positioning and message, which we explore and develop during our marketing planning process.

In our marketing workshops the integrity pours out when people talk about what matters to them most. (This in contrast to product-driven planning, where everybody is pushing their products with the sole intent of closing sales.) Afterwards, people have been known to say: “I feel like I just go off the psychologist’s couch!”

We push hard in 2 directions: 1) we ask our clients to dig deep into the reasons why they started and built their businesses, and: 2) we also push hard for them reflect on who their customer is, and all the users of their brand, to find the deep, often unspoken reasons why people talk about and choose their product.

In the process we uncover meaning. But more importantly, we tap a wellspring of inspiration that flows from numerous people and departments within the organization. The following are planning steps we use to put to use those ideas and excitement to work, to drive the content marketing program:

  • Segmentation: understand the tribes and personas of all users
  • Search strategy: determine the keywords and phrases—the language used by people looking for answers in the space where the organization provides solutions.
  • Blogging and publishing: tapping the subject expertise and idea springs that can be turned into useful content, across many media.

Our most frequently recurring recommendations include content that is; educational; provides insights; idea-starters; tips; tools and practices that clients can use as they chip away at their challenges and building their own solutions. Published media formats and topics also include:

  • Video
  • eBooks
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • eNewsletters
  • Guest Blog posts
  • Keynote presentations and seminars

But that's not the whole recipe. The other end of the creative content process—the soulmate and partner of great content—is the audience response and interaction, which is an ongoing flow and involves at timeline and calendar, throughout which events occur. Key marketing mix and planning principles include:

  • Opting in: attract, and draw in the users. Successful practitioners have patience, and resist the urge to pitch, push or purchase lists
  • Nurture marketing: using CRM and e-mail automation tools, publish the newsletters on a recurring basis, remaining reliable, constant and present for when the customer need arises
  • Call to action: another  area fraught with legacy ideas about moving quickly to a conversion. Rather than attempting to “close prospects” (i.e., schedule a sales call) ease in, use the call to action as an invitation, a request, a question or a free offer. Inspired by the above sense of purpose, creative ideas surface quickly.
  • Analytics and feedback: the goal of content marketing (if I haven’t been clear) is to get people talking — to each other as well as to you – about what interests them and what they are doing, which can provide clues to build and expand the program in a virtuous cycle.
  • Listening: both in the thoughtful sense, by paying attention and asking careful questions, as well as social media listening. Keyword analysis is a form of ‘listening,‘ staying attuned to the words and phrases people are using to find what they need.

So in the end, the journey to find and draw in your customer leads to finding yourself. And in so doing, business and marketing managers are able to deepen and clarify their business purpose and value creation.