The world is filled with ‘content’.
News, articles, podcasts, videos, movies, meme, GIFFs, all kinds of ‘content’!
We see, read and hear it all on TV, radio, Google, in our Facebook streams, LinkedIn streams, Twitter feeds, and billboards.
Most of it is, well some of it, actually a tiny amount, no really 1% of 1% is Pulitzer prize winning stuff.
The rest is … not.
Let me ask you, who is the intended reader for this content? Who consumes it? How many people actually pay attention?
Do you need to ‘create content’?
So many questions.
So wouldn’t it be nice to have all your Content Marketing questions answered in one location?
Content Marketing is the New Table Stakes of Business
Introducing: The Content Marketing FAQ
The top level goal of content and marketing is to sell more stuff.
The one big question people ask is Content Marketing another tactic in the marketing tool box to master and forget? Do we really need another spin on marketing? Another tactic to waste time on?
(short) History Lesson: Public Relations, Marketing, and Sales
The function of PR is to build brand awareness; function of marketing is to capture leads or bring people to the ‘store’; function of sales is to converts those leads into revenue.
Simple? Yep and all of it get complicated in terms of online and digital marketing.
PR, Marketing and sales, all, differently, move people through funnel from the brand unaware to most aware (see this Eugene Schwartz 5 stages of customer journey ).
Content is divided into the three media buckets – Paid, Owned, and Earned. Content marketing cuts across all business functions and binds PR, Marketing, and Sales into one harmonious trust building and relationship forming machine.
Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business. – Peter Drucker
Role of Content Marketing and the ZMOT
Content marketing is becoming fundamental to business success at every level – JAY BEAR
Fundamental at every level because the journey people follow from unaware to most aware states happens in moments:
The ZMOT begins with a person getting a stimuli; an idea, seeing an ad, hearing a word, watching a movie or TV show.
People Google, look, and dig deeper (research). If your ‘content’ satisfies their curiosity and answers their questions you may then influence and may control the narrative and become their ZMOT.
Absent any ‘content’ you are 100% out of the loop and have zero chance to influence the purchase decisions.
Naturally, and worse, for you, people will get answers, often from your competitors.
Influencing and controlling the narrative, and therefore the ‘ZMOT’ is the top level goal of content.
Four Definitions of Content Marketing
1) The Formal Content Marketing Definition:
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the aim of driving profitable customer action.
2) The Less Formal Content Marketing Definition:
Content Marketing is owning, as opposed to renting media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content to change or enhance a consumer behavior.
3) The ‘Twitter’ Content Marketing definition:
“Traditional Marketing tells the world. Content Marketing Shows the world you’re a rock star.”
4) The Content Marketing Definition for the (Executive) C-Suite:
Your customers don’t care about you, your products or your services…they care about themselves, their problems and needs. Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you.
Not enough definitions: here are 21 more definitions of content marketing for your enjoyment.
3 Examples of Content Marketing
Content marketing is not new. Oh no.
The practice is over 100 years old! Although it was not called content marketing.
Jell-O salespeople walked door to door giving away a desert receipt book showing how to use Jell-O to make delicious deserts. Jell-O grew sales in two years to over $1 million – 1906 dollars!
Ándre and Édouard Michelin started the Michelin Guide in 1906 as a hotel and restaurant rating guide for France.
They gave out guides to hotels, mechanics, and gasoline vendors throughout France. At the time, there were only 2200 cars in France.
The Furrow magazine from the Deere and Mansure co. later to become John Deer. The magzine had a circulation of 2 milllion in 1912! The magazine featured advertising, reprinted articles and agricultural tips for the farming community – which in 1912 was massive.
I see this as an indirect marketing tactic to get sales. Michelin brothers risked people would buy other tyres. All three companies gave value and with the belief in the future someone would buy their products.
Content Marketing Frequently Asked Questions
Traditional marketing tells the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one. – ROBERT ROSE
Who consumes all this Content?
Simply, your ideal and target audience, potential customers, stakeholders and your competitors.
The premise underlining content marketing is to answer all the questions your prospects are asking – before they ask!
1) Which Industries (should) use Content Marketing?
Any industry where the sales cycle is longer than 2 minutes and people have questions! And then even crisps and coke must market with content…
The traditional marketing tactics ( of advertisements, cold calling, direct mail, trade shows) are expensive; not as effective as previously; and worse people are immune the interruption caused by ads. Worse, people do not trust advertisements.
Earning trust is integral steps in the relationship building process.
Traditional advertisements do not build trust nor relationships.
We use search engines, Google/Bing/Yahoo, to research answers to our problems.
Because of this shift from contacting a salesperson (the gate keeper of information) to learn about a product. People now research them selves.
Therefore, a jumbo opportunity exists to get your articles and videos in the correct places so people can find, consume and trust you and build relationships.
Key is to position your answer with the angle of ‘I’m helping you’ (and not selling). This position will accelerate and foster the all important know, like and trust you people must have before they buy.
2) How does Content Marketing Work?
The goal of content marketing is build familiarity, likability, and trust – Rand Fishkin
Think in terms of the macro economics of supply and demand.
People have problems in their life and business.
A baby not sleeping, a flat tyre, no sales from social, self limiting beliefs, are questions on the demand side. Your answers are the supply side of the equation.
The ‘content marketing manifesto’ states we must give the correct content, that answer the correct questions, in the correct channels, at the correct time, in the correct formats, which answers the questions our prospects are asking.
That is a big ask of any business.
Rand Fishins’s ‘content marketing manifesto’ says (and is actually a pledge):
“I (insert name) pledge to create something remarkable. Something people will love. Something people will share. Something I can be proud of. And if it fails to achieve my marketing goals. I won’t give up. I will try again. My failures will be the practice I need. To earn future success. And future customers.
So instead of forcing messages AT your people, content marketing builds relationships with people. Relationship building creates a deeper, and more loyal connection which last into post sales, loyalty, up selling and evangelist stage of your relationship.
3) How Much Content Do You Need?
Make these your first 5 content pieces.
Take, for example one ideal client avatar, or Marketing Personas. Limit to 1 product, 4 steps in the funnel and 3-5 questions per stage. That is 12 – 20 pieces of content per product.
The number of questions people ask depends directly on how complicated the product. A $10 million SAAS product requires more answers than a 100 euro piece of software.
Think about every question that has every been asked by your customer.
Every email you sent explaining how your product works, what it costs, its benefits, its value, and every sales and marketing related questions you’ve answered.
Turn each and every one of those question into a piece of content.
So my earlier number of 45 or 75 pieces of content per product, per ideal client is not a magic number.
The ‘correct amount’ of content you need to create is that amount which satisfies your business goals.
4) Why Invest in Content Marketing?
To make more and save more money!
One of the base levels of content marketing is building relationships with people. Relationships to enlist responses to get business results.
Content marketing provides compelling, and purposeful knowledge audiences are seeking. Content compared to advertisements allows a more personal approach to business, and helps build trust.
5) What is so Great with Content Marketing?
Content a has multiple benefits:
- You own it and content is an annuity that can’t be replicated elsewhere
- Content increase brand trust and credibility
- One piece of content can generate leads for your business for years.
- The cost of acquiring leads with content are lower compared to traditional outbound methods
- Content builds thought leadership
- Content attract links from other websites (which improves the ranking of those pages)
- Each piece of content is a new entry point into your website, another front door
- Each piece of content is another conversation opportunity with people.
- Content builds relationships and foster trust with prospects
- Content marketing works across the entire funnel, from awareness to evangelism
- Content Marketing is a competitive advantage
- Build links and domain authority
- Convert the right customer
6) What is the difference between Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing and Content Strategy?
There is overlap between the three disciplines and each has its own mandate in the Marketing process.
Content Strategy is the first step and focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content.
Content Marketing is the process of creating the content for your organization based on the content strategy. Including inbound marketing; the conversion into a sale process; customer service, customer retention, and the up sell process.
Inbound Marketing is the process of attracting and nurturing prospects with content. Attract by having content that answer the correct questions, in the correct channels, at the correct time and in the correct formats when prospect are looking for it. Inbound marketing begins with PR/brand awareness, helps capturing those leads with a compelling offer, and nurtures those leads to the point of the sale.
7) What is an Editorial Calendar?
It’s a calendar detailing the order and date/time of publishing content and the calendar delineate the who, where, and the type of content to publish.
The most effective and complete calendars map content to buyer personas, to engagement cycle, (content based on phase in the buying process), and marketing channels.
8) What Are the Goals of Content Marketing?
The goals of content marketing relate to your business goals. Aligning content goals with your overall business aims/goals is required.
The hierarchy and order of goals:
Business Objectives > Marketing Goals / Objectives > Marketing Strategy > Content Goals / Objectives > Content Strategy > Content Tactics (Content Marketing) > Content Metrics.
Content can meet multiple goals. Here are a few examples:
- Lead generation
- Lead conversion and nurturing
- Customer service & customer loyalty
- Up selling
- Education, email sign ups, social shares,
- Replace sales people,
9) What is Ideal Client / Marketing Persona?
Your ideal customer is a fictitious person which you product is perfectly suited for. A marketing persona is then created based upon this ideal client.
A persona represents a subset of your target market. You give them name, a profile, demographic info, job title, pain points, aspirations and the channels they use and most importantly, especially for Facebook Adverts, is phychographic details.
With these in hand you focus all your content creation efforts with this persona/ideal client in mind.
10) Key Performance Indicators: How Do I measure Content Marketing Success?
Key performance indicators check if what you are measuring is reaching its goals. Content metrics note the success of your content marketing efforts compared to your overall business goals — not the goals of your contents.
The goal of content marketing is to move the revenue and profit needle.
Examples of content marketing KPI’s are conversions into sales, email sign ups, social shares and time on your website site.
- Unique visits
- Mobile readership
- Bounce rate / time spent
- Page views
- Click patterns
- Social shares
11) How does Content Marketing fit into the Marketing Mix?
Content Marketing is one important element of your marketing strategy.
The marketing mix is that receipt mixed together, with the right ingredients, at the right time, served hot, which will get attention of our ideal customer, attract them with compelling content, and convert a prospect from a state of low purchase intent to a purchase decision.
Each stage in the buying cycle has a sweat spot mix of channels and content types.
12) What is so Broken with Advertisements that we need Content Marketing?
Paid media is entrenched in the corporate culture and is part of the marketing mix of business. With billions to spend you can easily put a message in front of massive audiences.
A number of things are broken with ads.
Traditional ads are not as effective as they once were. Eyeballs have shifting from TV to online to Snapchat, Instagram, Musically and other apps.
Advertisements is a one way conversation and a brand recall and sales is the only measure of ‘success’.
13) If Traditional Advertising Pushes Messages on people, what does Content Marketing Rely Upon?
Content marketing relies on discovery via social, search and SEO allowing people to find content.
14) Is there a Difference in the Cost per lead with Outbound versus Inbound Marketing using content?
Yep. The average cost per lead with traditional outbound marketing methods was $346 and for inbound leads using content marketing the average is $135. (source: Hubspot The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing)
15) How long does Content last?
Facebook Ads have a half-life of zero (0). Stop paying and your views and sales dry up.
An evergreen piece of content has a shelf life of years and will live indefinitely on your blog or until your remove it.
16) Is there a Competitive Advantage with Content Marketing?
Your content helps people know you, like you and trust you. The three vital steps, before the sale happens.
Having the correct content in place helps build affinity and top of mind recall. Content enables your company to build intimate relationships with customers before your competitors even have a change to contact them.
17) What areas of a Business does Content Touch?
The short answer is all customer facing areas. Content feeds all your channels: search, social, email, PR, PPC etc.
- Social Media Marketing — content comes before social. Content is the fire, social is the gasoline. You need content to start the conversation and build a relationship.
- PPC — The foundation of every successful pay-per-click campaign is effective content.
- PR— All successful PR address the issues the readers care about, not what the business cares about. Content speaks to and answers those issues/pain points.
- SEO —Search engines reward businesses that publish relevant, high quality, in context content, see the Google’s recent Hummingbird algorithm update.
- Inbound Marketing — Content is what attracts people/prospects to your business.
- Loyalty/ Advocacy
18) If I answer all the question people will solve their problems without me!
This is real concern of people beginning their content marketing journey.
Remembers, some people in your audience and tribe will choose to DIY no matter what actions you take or do not take, but, most will not. Ignore the DIY crowd as potential clients, however, they can be enticed to social share your content.
Content Builds Relationships, Relationships Build Trust, and Trust Allows Sales
For example, the brake pads on a car or fixing a broken electric shower in a house. There are hundreds of YouTube videos showing step by step how to fix brake pads and how to fix electric showers. But, because I watched a few videos does that mean I can perform those tasks as easily, professionally, and successfully as the expert does? Nope.
I love cooking find food. Savory and sweat main courses, deserts and bread and serving all to family and friends. Wife and I own about 50 cook books, including books from 2 and 3 star Micheline chefs. These books contain the exact receipts the chefs used to earn those Micheline stars. If I following the receipts, does that imply I will get a Micheline star for my kitchen? No!
The same analogy applies to ‘giving away’ all your business secrets in the form of content. I have the receipt, but, not the expertise and experience to make a fine dining dish.
Your content, your receipt, demonstrates your knowledge of the subject which builds credibility and trust.
Ready to build trust?
Let me know your experiences in the comments below.