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Guy Little

Written by:

Guy Little

Oct 10, 2017

How to save your content marketing strategy from self-destruction


Brands are jumping on content marketing as a cash cow — but the yield will be poor unless you can stand out from the herd. Don’t kill your content marketing with mediocrity. Here’s how to differentiate and kill the competition.

Guess what? Content marketing has gone from organic farm to industrial ranch.

The once roomy and pleasant meadows have been invaded by a whole herd of companies trying to milk this clever form of marketing for all it’s worth. But don’t follow the herd! Differentiate your content marketing with quality content...

Stuck in a crowded field of mediocre, middle-of-the-road content competing for customer eyeballs, clicks and leads, how do you avoid getting lost in the shuffle?

You could either:

  • Keep doing what you’re doing till the cows come home.
  • Take the bull by the horns and shake things up.

In this new competitive content marketing landscape, only the cream rises to the top. Less is more and quality content is the new content.

With the constant flow of content being pumped out by your competitors, it’s no longer enough to just be putting content out there.

You need to be sure that you’re putting out great quality content in your marketing strategy that’s compelling enough to grip and engage the people you need to reach.

Know your audience

All content should start with a clear conception of who the ideal audience is. You should have a strong and complete picture of your target persona, down to their interests, frustrations, behaviours and preferences. The better you understand your personas, the better you can create content that really speaks to them.

Write compelling headlines

Grab your ideal reader/viewer/listener with unmissable, thumb-stopping headlines that stand out in the endless social feeds and search results pages of the internet. With attention spans shorter, character limits strict and competition stiff, the journalistic skill of great headline writing is absolutely essential.

Be original

Don’t rework and rehash the same old themes, formats and titles. Take a fresh look at your industry and explore new ways of bringing alive the topics you want to discuss. Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to show it. Embrace trends in your industry, the news, find a new angle...

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CHOOSE THE RIGHT CHANNELS

Just like you have to know your audience, you also have to know the best places to find and reach them. Otherwise all your efforts in creating great content will go to waste.

And it’s not only a case of finding the right channels to push your content through; the channels will also influence the form and format of your content. For example, LinkedIn is a good place to share long-form thought leadership pieces, while Facebook is more suited to visual content like video.

RESPOND TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

Take input and listen to your customers via whatever means you have access to. For example, you can talk to customer service teams and client managers to get first-hand an anecdotal reports of customer content needs.

Then you have metrics from search and social media, indicating what people respond well to and what they’re searching for online. You can even conduct customer surveys, questionnaires and focus groups to get detailed insights on the kind of content your audience needs and wants. The more data you can collect, the more you can fine tune and optimise your content.

Even small companies without large resources can greatly improve their content output by listening to the users. Great insights can come by talking to just a few customer in depth. Remember that all this content creation is ultimately about relationship building:

“Content marketing will build a relationship with someone who will remember you. It’s about building brand equity. You’re providing value beyond a product or service, making their overall experience with your brand even richer, more memorable, and long-term.”

- Courtney Colwell, director of content marketing at American Express OPEN Forum.

Use Big Rock content to build brand equity

The Big Rock content model is built around one highly useful, thorough, long-form asset from which many different assets can be derived.

So, for example, a 100-page eGuide or report that provides a real grounding in the ins and outs of your industry. This can then be broken down into different nuggets of content in a variety of formats; for example short blogs, slideshares, animations, infographics and more, which you can share over time on different platforms and channels.

“Big rock is a substantial piece of content based on the idea of becoming the definitive guide to a conversation that you want to own… This type of content can serve many purposes such as SEO, fuel for social and lead generation, sales enablement, and event collateral to name a few.”

- Giuseppe Catalbiano, Head of Content Marketing Advisory Services, NewsCred.

BE THE CREAM OF THE CROP

To take your rightful place in the field of champions, you’ll need to bulldoze the competition and emerge as the leader of the pack, not just one of the herd.

Quality content marketing that responds to your customer’s specific needs is the way forward; not generic content marketing fodder.

Invest time and effort into creating engaging, useful big rock content that covers your key topics well and yields a reliable stream of bitesize content for your audience to graze on.

Do all that, and you’ll hit the content marketing bullseye!

Takeaways:

  • Content marketing is at near-universal adoption, but many companies are churning out low quality, unengaging work that fails to attract and retain customers.
  • The sheer volume of content online makes it even harder for brands to cut-through and be noticed.
  • It’s no longer enough to simply ‘do’ content marketing; the name of the game is quality content that’s original and attention-grabbing.
  • Customer insights are a secret weapon that will allow clever companies to engage audiences by responding directly to their content needs.
  • The Big Rock content approach involves building a large, detailed asset and using this to spin off smaller content nuggets in different forms, for all your channels.

Ready to take the bull by the horns and steer your content marketing strategy to pastures new? By 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Don’t get left behind. Assess your CX now with our audit and get actionable takeaways to improve customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty.

Topics: Content Marketing Differentiation

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