This post originally appeared on Right On Interactive.
“People read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad.” Marketing pioneer Howard Gossage died in 1969, but his message is the fundamental to understanding what content marketing is, and sometimes even more importantly, what it is not.
This basic distinction between traditional, interruption-based advertising, and the audience-centric content marketing solution is key to understanding how you can create content to convert new business.
Good content marketing isn’t an interruption; it’s offering the audience something they want to read, watch, listen to or in all other ways absorb. Content marketing is predicated on the idea that people encounter content at every step of the online experience, and that good content is the only way to keep the audience engaged with you as they move through the buying cycle.
So what are the steps to creating content to win new business?
Establish Business Goals
Your content marketing strategy isn’t separate from your overall marketing strategy. They should be interconnected and build off each other. Having a written marketing plan and establishing a lifecycle path for every new customer engagement is critical to not wasting your content marketing dollars with what are commonly referred to as “random acts of marketing.”
Who are your audience members? What do they want to learn or experience? How can you deliver it? Answer these questions before you ever create a single piece of content.
Understand Types of Content, But Focus on Message
There are many different types of content: educational, instructional, humorous, long, short, top of funnel, bottom of funnel, testimonials, case studies, videos, etc. Some are good for introducing; some are good for converting. It’s all about the message.
A video can be a great top-funnel introduction to a company and services, with a call to action asking them to learn more or follow you on social media. A video can also be a closer – a final step to conversion with information on who’s who in the company, who they’ll be working or interacting with and why your company is special.
Don’t decide on the type of content you want to create. Decide what message you want to get out there and then choose the right medium for delivery.
Have a Point
Did you ever see the scene in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” where Steve Martin unleashes all the things that John Candy does to irritate him? He says “Here’s a good idea – have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!”
We all know people who are terrible storytellers; don’t be that person online.
See Big Picture
More to that point about having a point: This goes for every piece of content as well as the overall store. Everything you put out should tell a single story or accomplish a specific task. But then, everything you publish should also fit into the larger context of your marketing goals.
Create a roadmap where every piece of content has a purpose that ultimately leads to the next step and finally to conversion.
This is not easily done; it takes a lot of planning up front and content creation along the way. But if the strategy and the content are good, and the publishing/delivery system works, you’re creating content that ultimately wins new business.