I just returned from Content Marketing World – the gathering of content marketing professionals each year. It’s four intense days of keynotes, presentations and informal conversations, and each year there seem to be recurring themes that run through the various sessions and discussions. I try to assess how these themes may be relevant to senior marketers targeting SMBs and pass them on, as they represent the consensus view of the industry’s best minds about the most important trends and best practices in the field.
Several years ago, Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute which produces Content Marketing World, said that when it comes to content, “good is not good enough.” This is now table stakes. But what does this mean in practice? How is great content defined, and how do you get it in front of your audience in a way that breaks through the clutter? Here are 7 insights, based on what I heard and saw at CMW, to help answer these questions.
- Be more human
People may think rationally, but they react emotionally. Stories make your content relatable, humor makes consuming it enjoyable. Tapping into emotions can make your content resonate with your SMB audience in ways logical argument cannot. The content that most brands produce for SMBs is often dry and sterile. Bringing your content to life will help you break out from the pack.
- Get “out of the box”
The phrase is cliché, but I would go as far as saying that giving your team (internal and external) the freedom and the mindset to try fresh approaches is crucial. The creativity in your content can’t exceed the parameters that you set.
“The creativity in your content can’t exceed the parameters that you set.”
- Get out of the way
When I spoke at the CEB Marketing to Small Business conference earlier this year (Link to videos), several attendees commented, “Rob, we would love to do the stuff you are talking about but our senior exec would never go for it”. What a tragedy! At CMW, I heard from senior marketers from companies like GE and Coca Cola who agreed. They encourage their teams to experiment, while understanding that some ideas they try will fall flat. They make sure their teams know that is ok, and in return for the occasional strikeout, they often get home runs.
- Act like a media company
That’s one of our mantras for our clients at RSL. A media company focuses on its audience and produces different content for different segments of that audience. Research shows that only 3-10% of your site visitors are ready to buy today. Focusing exclusively on closing the sale with that small segment of your audience is a mistake. Build and nurture your entire universe of prospects with content that speaks to them wherever they are in the sales funnel. Your content will accelerate their buying process, and you will be their provider of choice when the time comes.
- Build your own content platform
This is also table stakes today. Whether it is your company’s primary website (recommended) or a separate site, all of your content efforts should end up on a site that you own. Facebook and other social platforms are “rented” and best used to drive their audiences to your platform. Only on your own platform are you fully in control of the content and user experience (including calls-to-action steps).
- Make sure they see your content
Everything you do on social and/or other media should be focused on driving audiences to your content platform. Of paramount importance is building your email list and nurturing subscribers with newsletters that are compelling, mobile-optimized, and segmented for different types of prospects and customers. Remember that email is the one way to push out content that you fully control.
- Distribute and amplify your content
Don’t stop with email and un-promoted social posts. You can’t depend on the latter as they are not guaranteed to show up in follower’s feeds. There is a terrific opportunity right now to use advertising, paid social (even SEM), etc. to promote your content and get the reader to opt-in for more. Allocate a part of your advertising budget to promote your content instead of your product and/or offers. Mark my words – do these things now. It will only get harder and less effective when everyone else starts doing them too. Make sure you are focusing on 100% of your potential customer base (not just those who are ready to buy today).
And one more thing…make sure your content focuses on what your customer wants and needs. By the way…it isn’t your product.