Marketers and sales teams get caught up in wanting to push content out to prospects and clients because, well, everyone else seems to be doing it. But before investing in building a new whitepaper, creating a video or establishing feeds on six different social media platforms, stop and take a moment to consider how content will help you meet your business objectives.
Following are a few questions you should be asking before developing content:
What role will content play in the overall marketing mix? What are your expectations for what will happen next?
Content marketing should follow fundamental marketing principles—deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, to achieve the desired goal. Content is a powerful tool for achieving many goals, but the key is clearly defining exactly what you are asking the content to accomplish.
Do you want your content to generate leads, raise awareness, provide credibility for your organization within the industry or nurture a lead through the sales process? Or maybe content can help retain current customers for you, by keeping them informed of your latest innovations.
If you’re trying to reach prospects that know very little about your organization, perhaps a whitepaper or short informational video would be the most informative. Alternately, if you’re looking to nurture a lead throughout the sales process and the prospect is already familiar with your organization, a company blog post or contributed article provides a unique perspective that might interest that prospect.
What is your plan for getting the content in front of your target audience?
The old adage, “if you build it, they will come,” unfortunately does not apply to content marketing. Both resources and distribution channels need to be in place to reach target audiences. Do you know where your target audience is consuming content, or which platforms are most likely to reach various audiences? What channels have been successful for your competition, and what differentiates your content from the competition?
In some cases, you may be creating the content and inviting your prospects to come to you. In other cases, it may be more effective to take the content to them, engaging with prospects on the sites, blogs, LinkedIn groups, etc. where they are already actively looking for content.
Remember, even the best content isn’t doing anything for you if your target isn’t consuming it.
What resources do you have available internally to generate content?
Developing effective content takes a significant time investment on behalf of your organization – even if you’re working with an outside agency to actually develop the content. Do you have teams in place to manage the content creation process, and how will you hold them accountable? Do you have subject matter experts in place that can provide authoritative perspectives and insights that solve a true pain point for your customers? And do those thought leaders have time to commit to the content creation process? Identifying a designated content team – a small group spread across marketing and sales, with industry thought leaders included – leaves no confusion as to who is responsible for content creation. Enforce the importance of content development for growth of your organization, and in time, hold teammates accountable by adding it to job descriptions and annual reviews.
How will you prioritize to ensure you’re creating effective content instead of just a lot of content?
Effective content ties back to business goals and objectives, so as you get started, focus on one piece at a time to ensure goals are being met. Throwing too many balls in the air at a single time clouds perspective and can decrease effectiveness of each single piece of content.
A great place to start is with your communications plan. If you’ve clearly outlined goals and timing in the plan, then you can prioritize the content development based on those goals. Invest in the content that is aligned with what you are trying to achieve now. Focus and execute, then move to the next priority tier.
Although content marketing has been making industry buzz for months, if not years, at this point, most companies are still trying to figure out how to do it right. Before you get caught up with building out content, take a step back and consider the “why.” Once you have a solid understanding of who you’re trying to reach, with what messages and on which platforms, and what you are trying to achieve, you’re ready to get started. Being strategic on the front end will give a purpose to your content. It will help you achieve your business goals. And it will give you the answer you need when your boss asks “so, what did that content do for us?”