If your idea of content marketing entails dropping the occasional blog post online and hoping it makes a splash, you may need to rethink your strategy. Taking your content-marketing campaign from good to great means always being on your A-game, focusing with laser-like precision on your target audience and constantly refining your methods until you find the perfect combination of strategy and tactics that helps you achieve your goals.
First, pay attention to customer personas in content marketing.
Overall, you absolutely must pay attention to audience profiles, also called customer personas. Sound marketing strategies always begin with customers’ needs, an important element in content-marketing campaigns. Without a well-developed customer persona, your content will settle at "good" when it should be "great."
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So, just what is a customer persona? It’s a comprehensive and detailed portrait of an imaginary target customer. The Content Marketing Institute provides a round-up of resources to help you develop insightful profiles to refine your content-marketing strategy. They’re worth checking out before you proceed with your own content marketing plan.
Once you've got your customer persona squared away, you're ready for those five tips to great original content.
1. Meet weekly with your team.
An interesting tip from the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 study indicates that among the most effective content marketing teams, six out of 10 meet weekly to review, refine and revise their content-marketing programs. Great content marketing is often collaborative content.
Many people think of creativity as something that happens in isolation, but often complementary talents on a team can build something bigger and better than can its individual talents. Meeting weekly enhances creativity, forges connections and improves content marketing for many companies.
2. Build on your brand strategy.
The best content-marketing campaigns build on an existing brand strategy. Know what your brand stands for and what values it represents to your target customer. Any content created for your campaigns should reflect core brand values so deeply that, at first glance, your customers know immediately that the content is yours. Every touch point, every connection should enhance brand value to build loyalty among your customers.
3. Stick to a schedule.
This sounds so basic, but few people do it! Make a schedule . . . and stick to it. Content marketing is more effective when you regularly engage with your audience. Customers begin to look forward to your content, and this anticipation increases engagement, which is the golden rule for great content.
Develop your own content schedule and follow it without fail. Use scheduling tools like HootSuite and others to drip messages into your social media channels. Release new content on predictable basis. The more routine you build into your content marketing campaigns, the better the engagement.
4. Use different mediums.
When you hear “content,” you probably imagine written material such as blog posts, white papers, case studies, free ebooks and so on. Perhaps you've added "video" as an afterthought. But here's another idea to consider: Broaden your content-marketing spectrum by using different mediums.
Different people prefer to receive materials in varying formats. Some auditory learners prefer podcasts, while visual learners may prefer reading about a topic or watching a video. Still others like tip sheets, checklists, and workbooks or learning by doing. Shake up your content marketing by using different mediums to engage different learning styles among your audience.
5. Take risks.
"If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got." This old saying applies as much to content marketing as it does to other things in life.
The great leaders, thinkers and artists of the world are risk-takers. Beethoven took a big risk when he completely changed the form of the symphony from the tried and true Classical period symphony with its scripted movements, orchestrations and expectations. Steve Jobs changed how we view personal computers by focusing on what his company, Apple, did best, and encouraging his teams to think that way, too. Others throughout history have excelled because they decided to take a risk and move in a different direction from the herd.
If your competitors are all blogging, try microblogging or long-form copy to stand out. If others say Instagram is the way to go, choose Twitter. Experiment and monitor your successes. Learn from what works and what doesn’t.
But don’t stay locked in a self-imposed box forever. Break free and try new things to truly set your work apart from the rest.
With these tips and the basics of content marketing under your belt, you'll be well on your way to harnessing this promising marketing method. But, don’t stop there. Continue to educate yourself, try new ideas and keep one foot in front of the other. Good luck!