A funny thing happened recently when I was attending one of my son’s baseball games. My husband was out-of-town due to work, so I decided to text him real-time updates on our son – messages like “he’s up at bat,” “first base” or “he struck out.”
I’d neglected to bring my reading glasses to the ballpark with me, so imagine my surprise when I received the following text back: “I think you’ve got the wrong number. But I like using the ‘three Hs’ – hips, hands, head. If all three go toward the ball, you’ll make contact.”
In my nearsighted texting frenzy, I’d obviously managed to text someone else! Still, I appreciated the unintended recipient’s good humor, as well as the sage advice. In fact, it strikes me that such simple wisdom can be applied to other areas of our lives, including what I think about a lot of the time: marketing. With the end of the year just around the corner, many of us are already beginning to think about developing our content marketing strategy for 2015. And I believe we can benefit by following a similar “three H” rule, too. The only difference is that the prize we should be aiming to make contact with isn’t a ball but the customer.
In planning your 2015 content marketing strategy, keeping the focus on customers is key. There’s really nothing more important. Know them well enough to understand their challenges and what they really want, and plan your content around fulfilling their needs. Prospects will run away from another sales-oriented Tweet or blog post, but they’ll readily engage with content that informs.
Here are a few other tips for developing a customer-centric content marketing strategy:
Choose Quality Over Quantity. Any content you put out there must have a clear intent. If you can’t easily identify one, then it’s much more likely to be ignored or worse, viewed as spam. Customers appreciate knowing you’re not wasting their time with another “buy me” message – that if you’re reaching out to them, it’s because you have something relevant and valuable to share. Plan for content that positions your company as a thought leader and purveyor of expert insights.
Vary Your Content. It used to be that content was basically an article or downloadable white paper, but there are so many more options now. Variety is the spice of life and customers pay attention to content delivered in new and compelling forms. Infographics, podcasts and video are exciting ways to engage with customers, and have become much more affordable to produce. Also, look at older content you already have in the form of those bylined articles or white papers. There’s nothing wrong with repurposing them into more engaging forms.
Let Your Customers Tell Your Story. People want to know how others in their industry resolved a common business problem. Use case studies and endorsements from your most satisfied customers so that your prospects will understand how you can help them, too. Content like this builds credibility and offers a testimony to your good work.
Create an Editorial Calendar. Keeping in mind that quality – not quantity – is key, plan out an editorial calendar with customer-focused content so that it’s pushed out at an even pace. Too often, companies get excited in the early part of the year and publish content frequently – often too frequently – then become laggard later on. You want to strive for that regular push of valuable content, as well as content timed around key events like major tradeshows or product launches. You know, those times when you’ll want to drive prospects to your site the most.
Developing a content marketing strategy can at times seem overwhelming. But if you already have a good understanding of who your customers are, the primary challenges they face as well as their biggest needs, you’re on your way to strategizing the best content to engage them.
Do you plan to create a formal content marketing strategy in 2015? Will you do anything differently next year than you did in 2014? Tell us below.