Think like a publisher:
Content marketing is an elusive beast.
It’s all very now, very hip but there’s not even an agreed word for this stuff. Men with impressive beards and hand-made boots slope around Shoreditch waffling confidently about ‘content strategy’, ‘branded journalism’, ‘inbound marketing’ and ‘custom publishing’. And that’s just for starters.
But even though the industry can’t agree on a name, we do agree on one thing: it works.
‘Content’ is something your customers will love, value and engage with. It could be articles, videos, images, guides or tools - anything you can think of.
This dynamic content is designed to attract - and keep - a specific audience to your brand or business.
Unwittingly or not, you’ll have come across content marketing. Have you ever heard of The Guinness Book of Records, The Be-Ro Cookbook, The Michelin Guide, AA hotel ratings, soap operas or The Lego Movie? All content marketing.
You know that blog section on your website that you hate updating? It’s crying out for a bit of content strategy love. Business blogs shouldn’t be a place to crow about your office Children in Need cake sale, laudable as that is. Nor is it a place to show off about awards, whinge about your industry or publish something the intern wrote because you couldn’t think of anything else for her to do.
It’s genuine business opportunity. A chance to inform, delight and engage your customers, leading them neatly and directly along the path to purchase.
At Plump, we prefer to call it branded journalism. Because we use fully-trained and experienced journalists to write brilliant articles for your customers.
We’ll examine how we go about crafting a killer strategy elsewhere but for now, buckle up for a whistle-stop tour of why your business needs a fuel injection of branded journalism.
Your customer’s first ports of call when researching a new purchase are Google, social media and peer review sites. Google is a smart but slippery snake and today its algorithm devalues keyword-stuffed pages and favours original, frequently-updated content - articles, images, video, social media, links etc.
This means high quality content will instantly push you up the search engines.
Customers are turning towards new ways of doing business. The success stories of the past few years include Toms, whose ‘one for one’ scheme puts shoes on the feet of a child in need for every pair you buy. Or Dove, whose Real Beauty campaign has struck a chord with millions of women.
Content tells your brand story and establishes a relationship with customers.
Guest blogs, outreach, PR and social media are all important elements in a marketing campaign. But you’re at the mercy of other people. Will they use your content? Will they use it in the right place and the right way?
Thinking like a publisher puts you back in control when talking to your ideal client.
Plus, a content strategy means every post published goes towards building you a valuable asset that you own and control. No more ‘digital share-cropping’ - in fact, you may well find that businesses start approaching you, offering to pay to be included.
A content strategy makes your social media campaign sing. It gives you things to talk about and provides customers with numerous touchpoints with your brand.
If you create something truly shareable, it gives customers the chance to do your marketing for you. They’ll move from being customers to being brand ambassadors and that’s invaluable.
Content - via offers, competitions and membership/subscriber schemes - can mine valuable customer data and email addresses. Email marketing is still an extremely effective tool, producing high open and click-through rates. Content will reap the addresses you need and give them emails they’ll love to read.
If you’ve already scoped out a marketing strategy, content can be designed to underpin those goals, strengthening and adding layers of interest.
Advertising is far from dead - it’s still an £20 billion industry in the UK alone. But time-poor, digital-savvy customers can swipe left, click to skip, turn off, turn over, scroll down, ignore the page and opt out all day long.
And anyway, smart, forward-thinking businesses are looking for more than just lots of eyeballs on their logo. They want to talk to their own particular niche and for that niche to actively welcome their marketing, to devote precious time to enjoying it, to tell their friends about it and to share it online.
Content marketing is where you show potential customers why your products may not be the cheapest - but they’re the best. It’s how you prove you understand your clients’ needs and that you’re willing to go out of your way to help them. It’s how you give your brand personality. It’s how you give life to your values - and reach customers who share those values. It’s where you build fun, loyalty and trust.