Once only a tactic for startups with cash to burn and the largest of enterprises, content marketing has percolated down to all sizes and kinds of businesses. With PPC costs rising and Google’s growth slowing, content marketing has become the hottest form of marketing. But, it’s also arguably the most difficult kind of marketing to get right. It’s all too easy to waste many marketing dollars on campaigns that go nowhere.
The 3 Secrets of Successful Content Marketers
- Know your Audience
- Absorb the Trends
- Think like a Child
1. Know Your Audience
In order to provide relevant content for your marketing strategy you first need to fully understand your current and prospective customers. Through research, surveys, and in-person interviews, you’ll need to formulate a multidimensional view of your customer. This customer representation is your buyer persona.
If you dig into the description of the buyer persona, you’ll find multiple definitions.
Ardath Albee, a B2B Marketing Strategist and CEO of Marketing Interactions describes the buyer persona as:
“A composite sketch of a segment of your target market [that is] focused on role, needs, priorities, and objectives [of your buyer].”
HubSpot, the inbound marketing software platform, defines the buyer persona as:
“. . . fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.”
Taking these two ideas into consideration, you’ll see that the buyer persona is not simply a one-dimensional view of your prospective customer, but rather, it is combining all of the things that make your buyer tick.
Now for the hard part- putting it all together. In order to be certain that you aren’t just guessing about who your buyers are, there are three things that you will want to do, as per Ardath Albee.
- Internal Interviews: Salespeople, marketers, product development.
- External Interviews: Customers and prospects who didn’t purchase from you.
- Research: Analyst reports, industry-specific reports, LinkedIn profiles and Groups, social channels, industry portals, job descriptions, Payscale.com, and more.
For a more detailed description of putting your buyer persona together, check out this piece by Hubspot. The end result will look something like this:
Now that your buyer persona is complete, your content creation should be much more focused and relevant to your prospective customer. You’ll find that other things such as product development and writing web copy will also become easier because you know your audience like the back of your hand.
2. Absorb the Trends
Next on the list of things to do to as a successful content creator is to absorb the trends. Read, watch, listen and observe the happenings of your industry and overall trends that your audience would want to know about. One of the greatest things about content marketing is being able to produce pieces that are actually beneficial for your reader, so this is something to have some fun with.
Most likely, you’ll find a few industry-specific sources from which you can curate or create content. For some of the more neutral sources, may we recommend the following: MSN, Fox, Yahoo, and CNN. Having a good grasp on industry and worldwide trends will undoubtedly help in the creation of your content to be relevant and valuable, leading to a successful content marketing campaign.
3. Think Like a Child
Reverting back to childish ways when it comes to content marketing is completely acceptable. Thinking like a child means two things: using your imagination and thinking simply.
Using Your Imagination
How do we tap into our imagination on a regular basis? Larry Kim, Founder and CTO at Wordstream tells us to do a few things, including to role play, get moving, and doodle- all things that we can learn from kids.
- Role Play: put yourself in the place of your audience and pretend to understand their pain points, needs, and attitudes. Refer back to your buyer persona to help you with role play.
- Get Moving: like kids who go outside and play, get up, out of your seat, and get the blood flowing back to the brain where great ideas are created.
- Doodle: fire up your neurons with distracted scribbling. Sunni Brown, author of The Doodling Revolution, says that doodling can produce creative insight.
Kids don’t have overly-complicated thoughts. Why? Because they don’t know enough about the world yet- they are still learning. Adults pick things up quickly because we already know a lot about the world, and have experienced the things that children still haven’t. If we want to really experience a breakthrough in our content production, we must try to think in simple terms, like a child.
The podcast by Freakonomics, called “Think Like a Child,” sheds light on how kids think, from the views of the authors, a Magician, and a Professor of Psychology and Philosophy. Amongst many other observations about kids, two of them stuck out to me in terms of simple thinking: asking obvious questions and thinking small.
Asking Obvious Questions
Children ask questions that seem obvious. This is because they are learning and they quite simply do not know the answer. Adults do know the answer, and can provide a response to a child. To have a successful content marketing campaign, we must ask the obvious questions when strategizing. Put yourself in the shoes of a PR firm: what would they ask you about your company and your strategy, if they were to meet you the very first time?
- What does your company do?
- Who is your product or service for?
- Who actually buys your product or service?
- Do people already know about you?
- How, and what do they know?
Go back to the basics and get answers to the seemingly obvious questions. This will refocus your ideas and bring you to the truth of what your strategy should look like moving forward.
Kids don’t have the capacity to think large, because frankly, they only know what they have already learned which isn’t much in terms of a lifetime. This ability to think small is counterintuitive to what we have been taught, so this is a difficult concept to wrap our heads around. In this podcast, the authors talk about thinking small like this:
There’s a temptation to try to be something special and to take on a big problem. But it’s actually getting into the realm of thinking about a tiny little question that maybe once you learn the answer would actually tell you about a lot of other things you might be interested in.”
Don’t try to take your content marketing strategy on all at once- start small and learn from what you just did. Take the entire experience into consideration when starting to think larger. When you start thinking imaginatively and simply like a child, not only will you feel more creative and less stressed, but you will reap the benefits of a successful content marketing campaign.
Bringing It All Together
Stop wasting money on marketing tactics that don’t work or are actively being ignored. Create relevant, valuable content for your company by knowing your audience, absorbing the trends, and thinking like a child.