They say that hindsight is always 20/20. That when we look back at where we came from we can see things we wish we would have known or done better. This couldn't be more accurate when I look back over the years at my content marketing efforts.
But you're in luck! I've outlined seven of the most important ideas I wish I would have known when I was first starting out in content marketing years ago. I hope they help you get ahead of the game.
1. Tailor to your personas
A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal client. You can create different personas by bucketing ideal clients based on common characteristics, needs or problems. Developing your personas is not only a fundamental piece of your marketing strategy, but also of every function within your organization.
They are key because you can tailor your content strategy, conversion offers, social posts, etc. around each persona's specific goals, needs and point of pain.
Tailoring your content around your personas will help ensure the right people are finding it, help increase engagement, and help build a loyal audience of the exact types of people you're trying to target for lead conversion. Without clearly defined personas, you will simply be shooting in the dark with your efforts.
2. Look at it as an investment
Content marketing (just like most things in business) is a marathon, not a sprint. It will not be an overnight success, but instead builds up momentum over time, like a snowball rolling down a hill. This can be quite scary for those who come from a paid media background with instant gratification in results.
In order to stay focused and dedicated in the beginning, continuously remind yourself that each blog post and each content offer is an investment in your marketing "assets" and in the business. Although it's usually estimated to take six to nine months to really start picking up steam, this is a relatively short investment for the long-term success of your marketing program.
3. Make it an organizational initiative
One key to success in content marketing is to get the entire organization, from the top down, to buy into a "culture of content." This means that everyone in the organization will not only get excited about your marketing team's efforts, but will also actually get involved in the production and promotion of content.
This is probably one of the biggest challenges marketing teams in larger organizations face, but it is critical. My advice is to start at the top and get all your C-level execs to back creating a culture of content. From there, you can follow this advice to promote the content culture throughout the organization.
4. Content doesn't have to be written
Many times when we think of "content marketing" we right away think of written text. However, it's important to keep in mind that that is only one media format. If writing is not your strong suit, think about incorporating video or audio content into your strategy.
Ultimately you want to pick the media format that works best for your team to produce and is best received by your audience. This also can include a combination of multiple-media formats. Once you find the right balance, you will be able to create content easier with bigger impact on your audience.
5. Quality over quantity
There has been this long-asked question: Which is better, writing a ton of basic articles or a few amazing articles? The bottom line is every piece of content should provide the reader value and leave them happy they had read it. Yet, it's important that you are consistently and frequently posting. So there needs to be a balance, which is slightly different for every organization based on resources, industry and your audience.
Typically I recommend posting a minimum of three good-quality, 700-word blog posts per week. Although when first starting out this may seem like a lot, this is a great formula to build traction in your content marketing fairly quickly (typically four to six months). If you can do more than three blog posts a week, that's awesome, but at a minimum work to post three.
6. Writing is only half the battle
As time-consuming writing your content may be, it is only half of the battle. The other half is promoting the content to drive people to read it. This is many times often overlooked by marketers simply because they are so glad to have the content finished.
Make sure you create a plan of action for promoting your blog content and dedicate 25% to 33% of the time it took to write the blog to promoting every new blog. This is critical for getting the most out of your content marketing strategy.
One of the greatest skills expert content marketers possess is knowing how to repurpose content in many different ways. Their brain can see opportunities to use existing content in many different ways to maximize the value of that content.
For example: Let's suppose you or someone in your organization is creating a presentation for a trade show. This is a great piece of content that can be easily repositioned into many different forms, providing huge content value.
After the event, reuse the content as an on-demand webinar conversion offer. Then have the webinar transcribed into text and divide up each of the main ideas into individual blog posts. Then take the most popular blogs and expand on them to create an e-book (and so on).
Although each content marketing strategy is going to be a bit different depending on the organization, the ideas in this article will be applicable to any scenario. For those of you just starting out with a content marketing strategy, I hope that you can keep these in mind and that they help accelerate your success.