Content marketing doesn’t have to stink. Far too many companies and brands think that in order to create content marketing, all you have to do is take a sell sheet about your product and turn it into a feature story, video, listicle or infographic. Then the harsh reality sets in – an advertisement by any other name is just that… an ad that will go unread and unloved.
And, worse, your target audience will be unmoved. They will be unmoved to buy your product, interact with your brand or develop any affinity toward your wares.
But content marketing doesn’t have to be this way. It can provide actual value to the reader and, in turn, for your brand’s marketing efforts. The not-so-secret secret is simply to treat your content marketing the way a media outlet approaches its content – with the respect and attention your audience deserves.
This concept is pretty simple. The execution is a bit more complex.
News You Can Use
For starters, before settling on a focus or theme for your piece of content marketing, ask yourself: Is this something your typical audience member needs and would want to learn more about in his or her daily life?
One great approach is to think of your content as “service journalism” – which is just a fancy term for “news you can use.” It’s all about providing useful information – tips, advice, how-tos, or even just valuable information – that your audience can turn into tangible action in their own lives.
Once you’ve settled on the basic theme of what you will be writing about, step back and ask another question of your brand: Are we truly experts in this area? Meaning, can we offer valuable insights about this topic and provide information that brings value to the table?
Don’t force this. Authenticity matters. Your audience will know if you are really an expert offering meaningful information, or a pretender trying to latch on to a popular subject or issue of the day.
And even if you are a bonafide expert, you still need to do your research – or your reporting – when creating your piece of content. Find meaningful statistics or additional details and data that can add color to your piece and flesh it out for your audience.
It’s all about putting the “content” in your content marketing.
Have a Deft Touch
With this firmly in mind, go about drafting your content. But be sure not to overdo it when extolling the virtues of your product. Use your products and brand as examples, where they make sense editorially. And do so with a light hand.
Remember: nobody wants to read an article or watch a video that’s all about you, unless you truly are the story and have invented a product that’s so earth shattering that it is the crux of the matter. It’s easy to tell when this is the case: If the mass media or the trade media in your industry are covering your product or brand in a big way, then it’s obvious that you’re a big deal and your audience will want to hear more about these things straight from the horse’s mouth. Don’t lie to yourself when performing this exercise, as you will only be hurting yourself.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be a shrinking violet and only speak about your product or brand sparingly. Do so judiciously and you will be rewarded with content that your audience will actually want to read and share with friends, colleagues and family.
Show and Tell: Content Not Clickbait
Make sure to show and not just tell. What this means is that you shouldn’t write a story that brings up an important issue or presents a challenge that your audience is facing, without providing useful content. You shouldn’t just tell your readers that you have great information to offer, but then require them to do something to access this info. Meaning, don’t say “we’ve got great tips and useful information but you have to click here, or visit a web page or download something.”
You need to give your audience some actionable information within the piece of content marketing itself, or you will get the reputation of being a bait-and-switch artist. Your goal should be to create content, not clickbait. You need to provide enough information that people can use, while simultaneously highlighting your brand’s offerings in this endeavor. Yes, you can provide more information elsewhere, but you have to give some of it up in your piece of content marketing.
A great example is the blog post you currently are reading. We haven’t spent the preceding paragraphs telling you that StatePoint Media is great at content marketing. Even though we are. Even though we probably offer something you need – content marketing creation and distribution services, influencer marketing services and more to help your brand spread its word. Click around our website to learn just how we can help shine a brighter light on your brand, or drop us a line to get started!
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