As a nascent content marketer in financial services, an industry not typically renowned for its creative marketing practices, I sometimes felt a bit like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. Frazzled, unshaven, and increasingly turning to my office football for companionship.
Yes, carrying the content marketing banner in an organization can be a lonely position if you don’t take some key steps along the way. So today, on national Marooned without a Compass Day, I would like to share with you 6 tips I’ve learned along my journey that will help you survive, and even thrive, on Content Marketing Island.
Tip 1: Find a Friend
Unlike Tom Hanks, you should probably avoid developing an unhealthy kinship with your sports equipment. Finding your tribe is important, however, and one of the most important steps you must take on your journey to becoming a successful content marketer is to garner support from senior management. Particularly if you work in an industry that isn’t typically at the forefront of creative marketing, you’ll need buy-in from your executive team in order to get your strategy off the ground.
Believe it or not, “content marketing” is an unfamiliar term to most folks outside the marketing realm. The concept of developing content that tells (CTT), versus content that sells (CTS), is entirely foreign to most people. To survive on this island you’ll need friends in high places, and the best way to do that is to…
Tip 2: Build a Shelter
A thoughtful and focused strategy will be your shelter on Content Marketing Island. A shelter serves as a base camp and a refuge when the weather turns for the worse. Similarly, you need a content strategy in place to inform your daily, weekly, and monthly content marketing activities, and to keep you from getting off-course as a result of external events in your industry.
So how do you get your senior management team to take up residence in your camp, and hoist the content marketing banner? Like most everything else in business, you’ve got to tie the strategy back to meaningful results. In most businesses, that means sales.
Here is a simple three-step process you can follow to develop a content marketing strategy that will get the senior management team in your camp:
1. Identify business challenges. What sales challenges have been causing difficulty for your firm? Poor SEO ranking? Negative business reviews? Prospects that keep getting hung up on the same objections? Identify the pain points within your organization related to revenue generation.
2. Know thyself, know thy customer. Great content marketing lives at the intersection of your company’s value proposition and the pain points of your customers. Know what it is that your company does better than anyone else, and how you are uniquely positioned to address the daily needs and concerns of your customers. How do you find out what those pain points are? In today’s world, there is a plethora of third-party research that you can probably find. If not, look internally, and speak to your salespeople who are on the front lines every day.
3. Tie it all together. Once you’ve identified your business challenges, your unique value proposition, and the pain points of your clientele, close the loop. Discuss how your content marketing strategy will address the business challenges of your firm, and then identify the metrics you’ll use to identify its effectiveness in doing so. Develop SMART goals – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.
It takes time and effort to develop a thoughtful content marketing strategy, but you’ll be glad you did. It’s the best way to get senior management in your camp.
Tip 3: Salvage All You Can
I remember learning an adage as a boy that has stuck with me in my marketing career: reduce, reuse, recycle. Sometimes the best sources of copy for your new content marketing strategy are actually collateral you already have on the shelf.
That old thought leadership piece your CEO penned that generated a ton of inbound calls? Use abstracts as the cornerstone for expanded blog posts. The presentation that was such a hit at your last industry conference? Recycle it into a SlideShare that can be accessed on-demand. By reusing and recycling content that you already know is effective, you will reduce the amount of time and effort you and your team have to put forth toward generating new content. Increasing your content efficiency will help you survive as a content marketer in a world of limited time and resources.
Tip 4: Follow the Rule of Three
Speaking of efficiency, when you absolutely must create content from scratch, make sure you’re getting the most bang for your content marketing buck. In nature, you can survive three days without water and three weeks without food. On Content Marketing Island, you need to make sure you deploy new content across at least three different channels. In other words, if you develop a sparkling new whitepaper, you should make sure you also feature it in blog posts, on social media, via a targeted email campaign, etc. This is another step that will make your efforts as efficient as possible.
Tip 5: Find a Source of Water
Much like water is the driving force for all life on earth, ideas are the life force for your content marketing efforts. Besides looking internally, there are a ton of web resources that you can use to keep your idea pipeline full, and many are free. Here is a list of just a few:
Feedly: A free RSS reader you can use to aggregate content from the blogs, news sites, and publications you follow. Rather than subscribing to lists and receiving multiple emails each day, you can funnel all related content into folders for quick review. You can even add Google Alerts for the keywords you’re tracking (particularly important for SEO and/or reputation management).
Hootsuite: There is arguably no better source of content ideas than your customers and competition. If you’re following them on social media, why visit several different sites to see what they are sharing? With Hootsuite, you bring all your social accounts onto one platform for management. Their free account allows you to add up to three social profiles before you hit the paywall.
Storify: Actually a hybrid discovery/creation tool. It’s a single platform from which to discover, curate, and deploy content. Storify is particularly useful if you often quote from outside sources. If you are all about maximizing efficiency, this tool can also be integrated with Hootsuite.
Tip 6: Build a Fire
Water is the source of life, but fire is what gave humankind mastery over the world. In terms of content marketing, the tools you utilize will be important factors in determining how hot your content flames burn. The best way to ensure a steady flame is to put a process in place that is aided by content development and collaboration tools, such as:
Google Docs: If your company isn’t already utilizing the Google Apps for Work suite, it’s high time you got in touch with your IT department. The platform has really developed since inception, and for my money it’s the best document collaboration platform out there.
Evernote: At some point you – believe it or not – will actually have more content ideas than you know what to do with. Evernote is a great way to organize, tag, and archive your notes, reference articles, and posts for future development. If you’re using the Chrome web browser, make sure to install the Evernote Web Clipper for easy archiving.
Smartsheet: This tool is essentially a spreadsheet on steroids, but one of the best uses for it is project/process management. At my current firm, we use it to streamline the content review, revision, and compliance approval workflow, as well as to calendarize our content deployments. If you work in a highly regulated industry like financial services or healthcare, this is definitely a resource you’ll want to check out.
Content Marketing Island can be a scary place. But by employing these six tips, you stand a much better chance of survival. Heck, maybe you’ll even find a tribe of diminutive bloggers who’ll make you their king.
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