By Chris Deardorff
The other day I was grabbing coffee with an entrepreneur and he asked me, ‘what makes great marketing?’ I won’t lie, as a marketer, that’s a pretty big question and not an easy one to answer. When I took a moment to think about it though, I realized one simple answer: content. Content is truly what can make or break your marketing because it’s what your customers read, watch, and listen to so they can better understand your product. When I told this entrepreneur this, I could see the light bulb go off in his head. He said, ‘Wow, I thought marketing was just about generating awareness or creating buzz about something.’ Oh contraire, good fellow.
Content is how your customers interact with your product before actually buying it, aside from demoing it, of course. So with this in mind, it is absolutely imperative that you put out content that creates a truly incredible experience for your prospective customers. As you’re probably aware, I’m not sharing anything earth shattering here. Pretty much every business out there has content whether it be on a website, a blog, a brochure, or in commercial. That’s obvious.
Yet, so very few businesses have high impact content. Why, you might ask? Well, this could be for a variety of reasons – some businesses think they need to simply put a bunch information about their business out there. Others think they just need to be perceived as edgy, cool, or hip. And then there are businesses that think they just need their content to be funny.
Now, I’m not saying the above are bad reasons for creating content – in fact, sometimes they can be very effective. But if you think the purpose of content is to simply ‘put information out there’ or to be perceived as trendy or hip, then you might be missing the big picture. The reason I say this is that you should be creating content not just to exist, but moreover to grow your business. Keeping this in mind, there needs to be some intentionality and some strategy behind your content creation efforts. I know some of you might hate the idea of process (believe me I have my moments) but I have a process to offer that will not only empower you to develop high impact content but to do it quickly and efficiently every time.
Keep reading below to for my tips for creating amazing, high-impact content.
Define the objective
Believe it or not, I’ve seen this very simple concept overlooked so often in content creation efforts. Marketers might see a cool ad in a magazine or watch a stylized video on YouTube and instantly think “we should do that!” The problem with these scenarios is that marketers are not stopping to then ask themselves “but why should we do this?” Don’t get me wrong, I love a great commercial or a thought-provoking ad or an interesting blog as much the next guy but none of these types of content are guaranteed to increase your bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to define the objective for your content up front.
Now you may be asking, “What objectives do I set for my content creation efforts?” This is a great question that can have a variety of answers. To keep things simple here, I’m going to tell you the 3 objectives that I use on a regular basis. I’m not saying these are the only objectives for your content but they can be seen as the most important for many businesses, particularly startups.
Objective 1: Increase revenue
Objective 2: Grow leads
Objective 3: Improve your brand perception
Again, these 3 objectives are not the end-all, be-all for content marketing but they do represent 3 core objectives that all content you create should tie back to in some manner.
Know your audience
Once you’ve defined what your objective is for your content, the next step is to figure out who is your audience. As I’ve mentioned previously, when defining your target audience, it’s important to be as specific as possible as this will help you better determine what content to create. When you have specifically defined your target audience, you then need to define where your audience goes for content and information.
So for example, if you target audience includes tech-savvy millennials or young professionals in urban locales, then they will typically go online for content – very often blogs or blog-like publications, particularly on mobile devices. If your target audience is baby boomers living in the suburbs, they may still get a vast majority of their content from newspapers and print publications, though some are relying on the web more and more.
I think you get the point here – you wouldn’t necessarily want to run an ad in the local newspaper if you’re trying to reach the 18-34 demographic. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to write a blog post for retirees in their 60-70s. Please note, I’m speaking mostly in generalities here and there are certainly exceptions. I just want to make the point for why it’s important to know where your target audience gets their content.
Aim to Educate and Entertain
Where there has been a recent shift in both sales and in marketing is when it comes down to traditional sales practices. Gone are the days where companies (successful ones, at least) simply try to sell customers on the features and benefits of a product. Today, companies aim to educate their customers in hopes of influencing them to make a purchase. So with that in mind, your content should strive to educate consumers. Now this doesn’t always mean that you don’t offer product details including features and benefits – in fact, this content is very helpful in making purchasing decisions. I just wouldn’t build your entire content around a product’s features and benefits.
Along with trying to educate your target customers, you should also try to entertain them. This idea can be tricky but it doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult. If you’re not a creative type, that’s ok. There are others that can help with creative development from writing to videos to graphic design – my company, Market Compass, included. With that in mind, it can be very helpful when your content has some degree of entertainment to it – whether how it reads, sounds, or looks.
Think Short and Simple
In the “Information Age,’ there is more content and information available than ever before. From blogs, to ebooks, to YouTube videos, there is an incredible amount of content for people to consume. With this in mind, it’s important that your content stand out in the crowd and one of the best ways to do this is to keep your content short and simple. Why? Because it will be more likely to be consumed by your target market and more likely to be remembered and more likely to lead to some sort of action.
Remember, your customers don’t owe you their time or their eyeballs – you have to earn that, so it’s important that you do so by being respectful of their time and their mental capacity. That being said, there is absolutely a place for long-form content – this could be in the shape of a long blog post or a 15-45 minute video or whatever it may be; however, if the ideas that you want to get across aren’t simple and easy to comprehend, then what’s the point?
Use Multiple Mediums
With this step, I’m assuming you’ve followed the above steps and you’ve selected at least one medium to distribute your content. This medium could be a print advertisement, an online video, a blog, a web advertisement, or maybe even a radio spot. At this point, it’s very important you don’t limit your content to only one medium. The reason I say this is you want to increase the chances that your target audience comes into contact with your content. If you focus on only one medium, than that likelihood is smaller than if you had two, three, or four more types of mediums for your content.
You might be thinking, “Great, now I have to create content for multiple mediums!” Yes, technically you do but you can leverage and repurpose your content across mediums. So for example, if you write a blog post, you can use the content from this point for a web advertisement or a script for an online video. Do not create new content for new mediums. This is a waste of time and resources. Also, it leaves your content across mediums open to the risk of not being consistent. So always repurpose your content across mediums to capture efficiencies and keep your content consistent.
The last thing I’ll say on this is to be sure that all the mediums you select are aligned with your objective(s) and target market. It doesn’t make any sense to devote time, money, and energy to a content marketing plan that isn’t congruent with your business needs and how your target market consumes content.
Measure Your Content
Hopefully by now, you know that measuring whatever you do in marketing is a must. This isn’t always easy and sometimes you might have to come up with some creative ways to this (more on this in a later post) but you should be always tracking the effectiveness of the content you put out. When you do this, not only will you know how effective your content is but you know what content is most effective with you audience and ultimately most beneficial for your business.
If you’ve made it this far, you now know my secrets to creating high impact marketing content. By following the steps outlined above, I guarantee you’ll see immediate improvements in your marketing efforts – whether that be increased revenue, more leads coming into your business, or an improved brand perception with your target market. And in the best-case scenarios, you achieve all three. So here’s to making your content something truly special that transforms your marketing and your business!