How to use content marketing to your advantage: Know your audience

As we shift towards a new paradigm in the marketing world — using content that works in your favor to drive sales — it’s important that writers understand several factors in order to create relevant content for their audience. Over the next few months, we’ll dive into a few features of your content marketing campaign that will set you up for success. First up: why knowing your audience is the key to brainstorming topic lists and planning your content.

1. Know their struggles

Pain, struggles, problems — every business has something they are hoping to solve. Whether it’s getting in front of their key audience or demographic where that group consumes content, selling a new product or overcoming an obstacle, it’s important for sales and marketing pros to understand these struggles so that we can show how our efforts can complement theirs. Knowing their struggles opens up a limitless cache of topics that you can use to show off your thought leadership chops, offer novel solutions and set up your team as the one that has the answers.

2. Learn their joys

Another source of content fodder are your customer’s celebrations. Whether it’s coming up with a game-changing or innovative product, learning something new that applies to what they do or gaining new team members, these joys can also lend topics to your ever-growing content marketing list.

If you are struggling to find out what your customers’ pains and celebrations are, chat with your sales team or consider surveying your audience. You could do a series of polls on social media or an email marketing campaign to drive survey results. Another option is to add a question or two to the sales process to ascertain these details.

3. Define your voice

As a team, sit down and discuss what you want your overall content marketing voice to be. Do you prefer to keep it formal? Or would you rather write like you’re talking to a friend? Ensuring that all of your messaging lines up is important for the cohesion of the campaign. We’ll also talk about this more in next month’s blog post.

4. Make a plan

Just like with any other marketing campaign, planning is one of the most crucial steps in ensuring success. Plan as far in advance as possible, allowing some flexibility in case of major market changes. Figure out who your key team members are, what any visuals will look like, choose hashtags and schedule initiatives before you even get started. As with any plan, make sure the workload fits into the existing general marketing campaigns so that you won’t need to stop prematurely due to a time crunch. Define the amount of time for a trial, if you plan to do one, and be sure to give it a solid amount of time since content marketing is a long-haul strategy rather than something used for short-term campaigns in many cases.

5. Keep it evergreen

“Evergreen” content doesn’t lose relevance, just like evergreen trees stay green and retain their needles year-round. Stick to topics that either are an issue every year or all year. If you write about news, your content will only work for you for a short period of time. In other words, leave the news to publications that focus on news, and instead write about struggles that don’t go away and celebrate victories that will be important for years to come. Within this framework, there is space to also include some non-evergreen content, as long as it’s in the minority.

Next up: Tone is everything! Check back next month to learn more about the various styles and tones that content marketers prefer.

About the author

Jess Schmidt brings a creative writing degree and over a decade of professional writing experience to the team. As a career marketer with a background in the design world, she works with clients to make their brand stories stand out. Her specialties are thought leadership, compelling descriptive language, technical details and marketing strategy. She writes content for all of the publications under the Great American Media Services umbrella and manages advertiser-driven projects. She’s also the in-house SEO and SEM guru. Learn more about our team here: smartsolutions.media/contact-us.

Tell a story: why content must be part of your marketing strategy

Part of creating a comprehensive advertising and marketing strategy includes reaching people in ways that traditionally were not considered “marketing.” Print and digital ads, billboards and commercials play a specific role in brand recognition that you can’t necessarily mimic in another way, but part of marketing in the 21st century is about building trust and authority in your brand.

Simply displaying an ad is a great reminder that your brand is ready and waiting for customers to reach as well as the necessary brand-recognition piece, but if your strategy doesn’t include content, you’re potentially missing out on a huge piece of the pie.

Content marketing involves sharing interesting and thought-provoking pieces that doesn’t necessarily tell people about your products or services. It goes beyond your value props and may not even mention any of them. It’s a strategy devoid of the hard sale and hinges on talking about the issues your industry faces instead.

A blog is a way to show your customers that you understand their needs and what they need to learn. It’s a vehicle that helps your brand become the trusted advisor that future customers will then lean on when they are ready to buy.

Storytelling is the ultimate way to get the conversation going. It can also be a daunting task to get your feet wet in the content marketing world. How and who are the most common questions: who on your team can create the content and how will you share it with your potential customers? On top of that is the problem of getting the buy-in to invest in starting a content marketing campaign.

We’re here to tell you that given the benefits of these programs, it’s an exciting time to begin marketing your brand by telling stories.

Build your reputation as an expert

The worst thing that can happen when someone reaches out as a potential customer is to accidentally alienate them by showing you don’t understand their business. A content marketing campaign can bypass that whole initial conversation by letting your content, well, speak for you. 

Choosing topics that are relevant to your customers and future customers will set you up as an expert in your field. Find out what their points of pain and curiosities about the industry are, and create content that will help them improve their own results. By nurturing content over a period of time, you will start to have more inbound inquiries than ever before simply because everyone wants to work with the best. They want to know you understand them.

This is so important that Google evaluates this practice to measure where you fall in search engine results pages, as a part of a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy under the concept of E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Tick all these boxes and it won’t just improve your reputation, but will also help improve where your site is ranked on search results. And when your content keeps showing up to answer their big questions, your E-A-T also gets established with your future customers before you even reach out to them.

Consistently direct the narrative about your own brand

Rather than letting your online reputation get away from you via the uncontrollable such as customer reviews and social media conversations, start the conversation by introducing content that showcases what you know about your future customers. When you can easily point to the answers you know they’ll have, it helps to control the narrative rather than letting it control your sales.

It isn’t just about creating one piece of content and then stopping. A content marketing strategy, like any marketing strategy, needs to be consistent to properly work. After all, you need to address more than just one problem your customers might have, and you do more than one thing. This helps you stand out in a super-saturated marketplace in which consumers could see thousands of ads every single day.

An inexpensive addition

Content marketing can have the lowest cost threshold of implementation. In many industries, a trade show or event could easily cost more than the right hire who would handle your content. And if you can’t sell a full-time employee, it’s very cost-effective to outsource content marketing to an agency or a content team in a print or virtual publication where you already advertise.

Get more leads at a lower cost 

At the end of the day and when you’re evaluating your results each quarter and year, the number of leads that initiatives generated is an important KPI in every marketing department. According to the Content Marketing Institute in this post:

  • Content marketing garners about 3x the leads per dollar as paid search (SEM) does.
  • It generates leads at a rate of over 3x that of outbound marketing and costs a whopping 62% less.

Start a conversation without having to do cold calling

Combined with a robust social media strategy, content marketing actually helps replace some of your cold calling efforts, translating to saved time that can be devoted to nurturing repeat business and inbound new business. When you have buzzworthy content, the return is faster than anything requiring a waiting period, such as trade shows or non-digital media advertising, which need to be planned months in advance due to event constraints, printing, and other logistics required to get those efforts implemented.

In the meantime, a robust content marketing strategy can start conversations in days or weeks instead of months or years. For details on how this type of strategy can be used or advertised on social media, check out this post from our sister company, SmartSolutions.

How to get started

Not sure what type of content works best and what platforms you should use? In our next few blog posts, we’ll discuss how you can use content marketing to your advantage. If you’d like to be notified when that post is available, sign up for email notifications here. Read the next part, “Know your audience,” here.

Not sure how to get started with a content marketing strategy? Our teams can help with that, too. Let the experts — us — tell your story to your target audience: our readership. Reach out to your integrated marketing consultant to explore the many content marketing options we can help you implement to start this process now rather than next year.

About the author

Jess Schmidt brings a creative writing degree and over a decade of professional writing experience to the team. As a career marketer with a background in the design world, she works with clients to make their brand stories stand out. Her specialties are thought leadership, compelling descriptive language, technical details and marketing strategy. She writes content for all of the publications under the Great American Media Services umbrella and manages advertiser-driven projects. She’s also the in-house SEO and SEM guru. Learn more about our team here: smartsolutions.media/contact-us.