How do you get started with content marketing?
For companies unfamiliar with content marketing, this isn’t easy to do. Thankfully, there are tried-and-true ways to take the plunge and get started.
Ready? Start by following this advice:
1. Commit to try it for a few months
A content marketing campaign will not return results overnight. It won’t return results within a month. In order to run a successful content marketing campaign, you need to:
- Establish credibility and authority, so that you can
- Create a sense of trust with readers
You can’t go from invisible to credible overnight. It takes time and effort. The early stages of your content marketing campaign will return nothing. Only those who are patient will prevail.
Think of content marketing as a process rather than a project. Treat it like a project and you’ll never see it through to the end. Treat it like a process, and you start thinking about it differently. You start thinking about what’s starting to work. You can make adjustments on the fly.
SEE ALSO: 5 Reasons No One Shares Your Content
Most importantly, don’t judge anything based on the first few months. That’s the time when you’re priming the pump. Without that period of establishment, you’ll never see any content marketing success.
Make it part of your plan.
2. Find the right people
Content marketing campaigns are challenging enough even with great writers and marketers. Put the wrong people on the job and you can forget about results.
When companies tell me that content marketing hasn’t worked for them, I always ask what people they put on the job. Did they shift existing marketing employees? If they hired externally, what did they look for in candidates?
Shifting existing staff rarely works. You hired these people for certain jobs. Moving them to a completely different job, which requites a specific skill set, will make a challenging task nearly impossible. Many people can learn content marketing, but they need certain skills already in place. Are you confident that your current staffers posses these skills?
You can’t hire just anyone. How do you find content marketers? Try going straight to the authorities, the Copyblogger Certified Content Marketers. There are other options, though, if you’re not prepared to pay top dollar for a content strategy and marketing campaign. But that doesn’t mean you should just hire an English major straight out of college. Experience matters.
If you aren’t going to hire a top copywriter, look for someone like a virtual assistant. That might sound odd. A virtual assistant to do content marketing? The new breed of business-class virtual assistants can do much more than simple admin tasks. There are some advantages to hiring this way.
- You have an agency behind the VA, so there is some accountability.
- You can hire on an as-needed basis, rather than hiring a full-time employee for what might not be a full-time job at first.
Once you get the ball rolling, you have options. You can then use what you’ve learned from the VA to go out and hire the right person for a full-time job. Or, if you like what you see, you can just ramp up the workload for the VA. Either way, you’re far better off taking this path than you are hiring an inexperienced writer just because he’s cheap.
3. Focus on problem solving
People have problems. Businesses that succeed solve those problems. But it might not always be immediately evident how a business’s offer solves someone’s problems. The prospect might not feel any urgency to solve the problem. The solution might seem so far off, so impossible, that the prospect isn’t putting much thought into it.
This is what makes content marketing so effective. It gives companies a chance to show people, not just tell them, how their offer can make a difference.
The most effecitve way to accomplish this: make problem solving the focus of your content marketing campaign.
How can you start solving problems for potential customers?
- Show them the problem. Believe it or not, some potential customers might not even understand that they have a problem. Show them, and they’ll realize that hey, something’s not right. They can be doing something better.
- Identify pain points. Every problem involves multiple pain points — obstacles to a solution. Home in on them. Show empathy with potential customers. If you share their pain, you’re creating a connection.
- Provide quick and dirty tips. Your product or service offers the solution. But there are probably steps to take before the ultimate solution. Give users tips on what they can do, right now. It will move them closer to a sale.
If you solve problems for customers with your content, they will trust you to solve other, larger problems for them. That’s where your offer comes in. Prove your worth, and they’ll be more likely to buy.
4. Understand your buying cycle
Marketers love the acronym AIDA: attention, interest, desire, action. It represents the actions needed to move prospects along the buying cycle.
What is your company’s buying cycle? How do people usually find out about your product? What actions do they take before buying? Answering these questions will help inform your content marketing strategy. Once you understand your company’s buying cycle, you can identify how to:
- Attract attention
- Pique interest
- Fuel desire
- Incite action
So what’s your company’s typical buying cycle? How can you use content to move people from attention to action?
5. Outreach, outreach, outreach
If you write content and no one reads it, did you really write content at all? Sure, you wrote it, but if it had no effect then you might as well not have. When I talk to companies about failed content marketing campaigns, they always talk about the content. Rarely, if ever, do they talk about the other word. Too many companies forget about the marketing part.
Yes, the content acts as marketing. But you have to promote the marketing. It sounds strange, but this isn’t TV. You’re not buying ad space. You’re creating compelling content that people will want to read. Once they know it exists, that is.
People love to call content “inbound marketing“, but that’s a misnomer. In order to get people to read your content, you have to promote it. You have to conduct outreach — outbound, in other words. This can include:
- Emailing influential bloggers in your space. Do not underestimate this tactic. If you build relationships with bloggers and create good content, those bloggers will share that content.
- Connect on social media. You can’t just blast your content on social media. But again, if you reach out to people and don’t act in a purely self-promotional manner, they will be receptive.
- Look for external contribution opportunities. Guest blogging for SEO might be dead, but it’s still a quality promotional measure. Find sites that have audiences that align with your offer. Then pitch them on a guest post.
What many companies don’t understand is that the outreach stage is as important as, if not more important than, the content creation. It’s about the marketing. So go market!