Content marketing is changing how companies communicate with customers
There’s a revolution going on. Many of you may have experienced it. It comes in the form of a tweet, a Facebook post or a custom magazine targeting you as part of a niche audience.
It’s the content marketing revolution. In its simplest terms, content marketing is meeting your customers where they are and providing them not with what you want to tell them, but with what they want to know.
While its forces have been slowly advancing for years, the content marketing tide has finally turned. Virtually every company says it is doing some form of it, and its share of marketing budgets has steadily increased, hitting 28 percent this year, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Here are five steps that you need to take to embrace the revolution and transform your marketing.
- Know your audience. This sounds obvious enough, but most companies do not start with this very basic step. We are used to telling people what we want them to know. But the world has changed, and buyers are now empowered to seek out the answers to their questions. You need to understand what information they are looking for, where they are looking for it and how they want to consume it.
- Know yourself. It’s not just about what you sell, but where you sell it, how you sell it and how you work with your customers to solve their problems. You need to understand what niches you own, what differentiates you in the market and what really works (and what doesn’t) in your sales process. In short, understand what value proposition you offer to your customers and prospects.
- Create your story. With a solid understanding of who your audience is and who you are, you are ready to demonstrate your expertise and value to the market. The best way to do that is good storytelling. We have been telling stories for millennia. Why? Stories are what we remember. For your business, your storytelling needs to put your product or expertise in a context that is relevant and engaging to your audience.
- Share your story. Technological innovations have given companies powerful tools and abundant opportunities to engage with customers like never before. In the process, they have been transformed into publishers and broadcasters. But like anything else in business, you need a plan. A content calendar will clearly lay out what story you will tell, when you will tell it and what channel you will use to tell it.
- Know your metrics. Your storytelling efforts ultimately must align with your business goals to drive the results you are seeking. The only way to know if you are succeeding is to measure what you are doing. This will tell you where your efforts are working — so you can do more — and where they are not — so you can move on and not waste any more effort on it.
In the content marketing age, every company is a media company. Following these five steps will help you embrace this new role and guide you in using these new communications channels to build and strengthen relationships with customers and prospects.