Seven steps to content marketing success

Sonja Jefferson

Content Marketing: the creation and distribution of valuable content in a mix of formats to attract and engage customers.

How do you transform a business that has only ever promoted itself a traditional way to one that markets itself effectively with valuable content? There’s a lot to think about and a great variety of tools at your disposal but where do you start? In this article I want to give you a simple roadmap to help you plan and implement a successful content marketing strategy for your business.

1. Set goals.

As with any change the first step is to know what you are trying to achieve and why. What is the difference you are looking to make through marketing with valuable content?  Greater awareness? More leads from the web? More referrals? More sales? Define the ‘from‘ and ‘to‘ – where are you now and where do you want your business to get to? Write these down.

2. Be clear what you will talk about.

If you are going to create content you’ve got to have something to say. That something has to be relevant to your business and most importantly it must be meaningful to your customers too. Understanding who your customers are is the key. Exactly who are you talking to, and what information will they value? What questions do they have? Do your research and make yourself useful. Create focused content to meet those needs. Read our post on How to find stuff to write about.

3. Pick the right mix of tools.

There is a variety of content tools and types at your disposal but you don’t have to use them all. Begin by finding a way to create all this content. A blog is our favoured starting point because it’s so flexible and dynamic. Whatever creation platform you select remember: content doesn’t distribute itself. You’ll also need to find a way to get your content in front of the people who need it. Search engines can help you; social media is a fantastic distribution channel, and a regular newsletter will keep you front of mind. Don’t forget to go direct too – by all means pass it on to your contacts and prospects if it is relevant. Give it to your sales team to generate leads, like this company.

4. Make sure your website is up to the job.

All this great content has to sit somewhere. You can share articles, videos, e-books and Tweet to your heart’s delight but if the website these pull people back to doesn’t convert interest into action – to return, to sign up to your newsletter, to contact you, to refer, to buy – then your investment will be wasted. Will your current website do your new marketing strategy justice? Make your website into a valuable, lead generating machine.

5. Plan your content like a publishing pro.

Work out the themes you will talk about throughout the year and plan what type of content you will create and share when. Here’s an example activity plan to show you what we mean.

6. Build your content team.

A commitment to Valuable Content Marketing means new skills for many firms. Customer research, design, SEO, social media, email marketing, design, web development and mainly writing. There’s a lot to learn and do. Up-skilling your team and doing as much as you can in-house makes sound economic sense but many companies struggle to find the time, skills and resources. Outsourcing some activities to trusted partners can lighten the load.

Remember: success with valuable content takes top team commitment and company-wide involvement, for it’s the business’ knowledge that needs to be brought to the surface and turned into content. You can outsource parts of the process but we will need your buy in and involvement.

7. Go! Measure, refine, learn and continue.

You are ready to go. Create and share valuable content and measure the results along the way. There are some fantastic free measurement tools at your disposal. Google Analytics is probably the best place to start. Be prepared to learn and change to adapt to your audience’s needs. Measure your success and adjust for even more of it.

And continue. If you focus your marketing communications on sharing high quality information that your customers or clients really value you’ll reap the rewards in increased awareness, interest and sales. Follow these seven steps and make marketing with valuable content a habit – valuable for life.

This article is taken from our Valuable Content Marketing book, published by Kogan Page

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[The ‘From‘ and ‘To‘ concept mentioned in step 1 is taken from Jane Northcote’s book – Making Change Happen. Thanks to Sam at Spike Design and his iPhone for snapping the book cover and Claire for drawing up the content calendar].

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