Zen and the art of your content marketing strategy
"The person who chases two rabbits catches neither."
These were the words of a client as we were talking branding and content marketing strategy recently, and 3 thoughts crossed my mind. Firstly, I was charmed that we have amazing clients who both build tech solutions and quote Chinese proverbs in meetings. Then, I was briefly distracted by the amusing vision of someone trying to catch a warren full of rabbits.
But ultimately, I just loved how this really vivid metaphor shows so well the power of pure, unswerving focus, and what happens when this is divided; no (rabbit) soup for you.
And while it seems like this leaves you with nothing but tough decisions, take comfort in the fact that through accepting the things they could not change or make fit, many of the strongest brands in the world have found real focus and success.
"It's only by saying 'no' that you can concentrate on the things that are really important." - Steve Jobs
If you try to please everyone with your brand, you will please no one.
Your brand is a tough place to start because it means honestly interrogating what it is that your business does and why it does it. But by identifying and committing to your brand positioning, the job of defining your content marketing strategy is already half done.
Think of a strong brand like it was Steve Job’s black turtleneck or Mark Zukerberg’s closet full of grey hoodies – a no brainer decision about how you present yourself which speeds decisions about content creation and makes you instantly recognisable.
You must choose either the sea or the mountain.
Of course, it’s human nature to want to hedge our bets. It’s been key to our survival as a species, and not only that, it’s a very sound investment strategy. But while the dream of achieving Microsoft-like ‘computer on every desk, in every home’ success is intoxicating, niche marketing can pay off particularly when it comes to your content marketing strategy.
By focusing solely on a couple of key verticals, user types or industries, you can develop a deep understanding of your target’s needs, problems and goals along their journey.
This means you can be more proactive about what you say and do and the language you use to say it, which immediately feels more personalised.
And with so many different channels available to promote your content, narrowing your focus makes paid placement decisions easier too. With a content marketing strategy based around your ideal customer, you can be sure that your marketing budget is being well spent talking to just the right person.
The trustworthy content marketer will get a rich reward.
When you're brainstorming your content marketing strategy, make sure you spend the time considering whether your brand can credibly solve the customer problem you’ve identified. If the answer is no, it’s a waste of marketing effort.
This is partially because your activity won’t be effective, but also because you are missing out on the opportunity to produce something that would resonate better.
The risk is also that by talking to your audience with only a half understanding of the problem - or by missing the mark altogether and talking to them about something irrelevant - you may show that you don't actually understand your customer’s journey, which can be detrimental to building trust.
So consider whether what you're offering is a genuinely helpful piece of content, and whether it is reasonable that your brand is the one providing it.
With perserverence everything reaches its target (market).
Aaaannd back to those rabbits. We know that compared to marketing to consumers, B2B businesses don’t always have the easiest path in making a sale.
Yet life isn't simple for your customers either, because in many companies the final decision making is not done by those most feeling the problem. Or, even if you've been able to win their trust there may be stack of other hurdles you have to jump over, bunny-like in the form of a leadership team, a board of directors, Procurement, IT, Legal - all of whom have their own WIIFM (What's In It For Me), or disincentive to change the status quo. Oh no.
Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget you won't be able to reach each of these groups often enough to be effective. You simply won’t have enough content to capture their attention if you talk to the management team one week, and their procurement team the next.
Instead, be single-minded and dedicate enough time to properly connect with each segment, focusing on the most valuable or influential first. We're fans of Hubspot's 12 week inbound marketing campaign strategy, which helps you stay constantly in market and on message. Softly softly catchee monkee (or rabbit - after all, we're hunting wabbits).
A well begun content marketing strategy is half done.
The wonderful thing about content marketing is that it can help you find your champion, by letting them find you, right when they need you.
But once they've found you, your job is twofold; explaining how you can solve their problem, and giving them the right ammunition to sell you in internally. You'll commonly see a content marketing strategy that focuses strongly on one aspect (a great lead generating ebook or webinar) but stops before the job is fully done.
Lead nurturing workflows (emails you send them once they've downloaded your long-form content) are a great place to provide this information; consider not only your lead’s objections, but what objections they may be facing internally. Checklists, evaluation templates and draft business cases can all be valued tools at this point to help them sell you in internally.
And ignore your business website at your peril; internal champions need you to be looking your best if they stand a chance of getting internal buy-in.
Don’t focus on a thousand keywords, when only a few will be valuable.
Many a content marketing strategy expert will tell you that the title is where you should spend your time and effort; we think it begins much earlier, in plucking one lucky keyword from a grab bag of others that offers just the right mix of opportunity, relevancy and ease of writing. You might come up with a title to rival some of the greatest literature in the world, but if a tree falls in the forest and no-one’s around to see it, will it come up in Google? I think not.
That’s not to say you should cram keywords into your copy like they’re going out of style. One, beautiful shiny keyword per blog post or web page – and write to new one each time. Think of it like you’re playing roulette – a prudent player doesn’t don’t risk their chips on lucky number 7 but by spreads them around so they can appear on the first page of 50 searches, rather than dominating the results for a single search.
And the final, most common error is trying to chase the great white whale keywords. You know them – those ones with massive search volumes that you have a hope in hell of ranking for and are likely not actually relevant. Example: if someone searches for ‘content’ can you tell whether they looking for insurance or words on a page? Thought not. Focus on those smaller fish with longer tails (and fewer fishermen) and you’ll eat for life.
We love inbound marketing, but only when it's done well. So to save you the pain of pressing 'publish' only to hear the sound of no hands clicking, download our checklist to running a successful inbound marketing campaign now.