For the past year or so, content marketing has largely been viewed as optional; that “thing” you do as a business owner or marketer when you have some downtime. Right. I have to say that I have held this perspective for a while, but realized that I can no longer afford to not engage in content marketing. Yes, it’s another thing on the to-do list. But it’s necessary. One thing is for sure: in 2013 content marketing must be viewed as an integral part of reaching out, connecting with and educating your clients and prospective customers.
I recently read an article in Forbes about a company by the name of Blendtec. The founder of the organization, Tim Dickson, decided to promote the blenders manufactured by his company by filming a video where he donned a lab coat and blended everything from an iPhone to a garden rake. I have to say, I found this intriguing and was really excited to watch an iPhone being puréed (anyone who knows me will get this, as I am staunchly anti-Apple products—long story, don’t ask).
Anyway, because the video produced by Blendtec was so unique and entertaining to watch, it went viral and the company’s sales increased 700 percent overnight.
Not bad for a YouTube video!
Now, it has to be said that the success of this small Utah-based company isn’t something that will happen to every business if they produce a YouTube video about their products or services. However, it can happen if you are ready to be diligent in your content marketing efforts and spice up your strategy with some creativity. If you are contemplating re-launching or revamping your content marketing activities in 2013, follow these tips:
- Dedicate the time: To be successful at content marketing, you must make the time commitment. A survey conducted by RainToday noted that 97 percent of customer purchasing decisions are influenced by a company’s website or online presence. Moreover, a survey by Roper Public Affairs stated that 80 percent of business decision-makers noted they would prefer to get their information via articles and other informative content, not by way of advertisements. This means that, as a content marketer, you must be researching and understanding what your customer wants. You won’t be able to determine that if you don’t put in the time to do this work on a regular basis.
- Creativity is key: There are so many ways to deliver your content; via blogs, videos on YouTube, pictures on Pinterest and Tumblr and then more written content and links on Facebook and Twitter. All of these platforms give your company limitless opportunity to personalize and promote your brand. And, if you put a little thought into your strategy, it is possible to create an effective and concise message across platforms with both written and visual content.
- Engage in a bit of storytelling: Let’s face it, people want to be entertained. Ultimately, consumers today want to feel a connection to a brand and it is important for you to humanize your business. Think about it this way. When I was a kid, I went on a trip with one of my great aunts to Alaska for two weeks. When I came home, I pulled out the pictures to show my mom and she looked at me quizzically. Sure, I had tons of pictures to show exactly where I had been and what I had seen in Alaska. However, my smiling face was only in a handful of them (usually when there was a sled dog around to pose with, when I was bundled up in gear to go whitewater rafting or in a pair of Wellies, knee deep in a river panning for gold). Truth be told, I hadn’t even thought about that aspect when I was taking them (in my defense, I was only 11), but I realize now that those pictures are less personal. Sure they tell a story, but they don’t necessarily connect me to that story and that is exactly what my mom wanted to see. This little anecdote can be tied to your business. If you are working on Pinterest or active on a blog, tie yourself, your employees and what makes your business unique into the content you create. Your audience will appreciate what you do all the more.
- Create a plan and stick to it: It’s true that social media platforms, blogs, YouTube and the rest can all feel a little bit scattered. No wonder so many people suffer from ADD. However, when it comes to your company’s content marketing, do all in your power to push aside the symptoms of attention deficit disorder and focus on what you hope to achieve, what your goals are, what you ultimately want to get out of this for your business. Create an editorial calendar and plot your content marketing course, identifying what topics are important on a week-to-week basis for your company, what trends are occurring in your industry and, finally, what platforms are most effective for handling discussions. Realize that you cannot work on every platform out there and it is going to be confusing and disorganized if you try. Instead pick a few networks and give it your all. For instance, in a company like mine, written content is obviously important; therefore, I consider the platforms that could benefit Grammar Chic the most—a blog and Twitter for instance. I have also tried to think outside-of-the-box. We just created a Pinterest account, and while I don’t manage it, I have some very talented and Pinterest-savvy staff members who assure me that it can be used to inject some humor into our message.
- Listen, listen, listen: A content marketing strategy is no good if you aren’t listening to what your audience wants. Tune in to what your customers and prospects are saying and consider what your competitors are doing. Set up Google alerts, invest in HootSuite and set up streams in Twitter for keywords that affect your business. Or, read the posts of colleagues on LinkedIn and really understand what is happening in the marketplace.
In closing, 90 percent of all businesses now engage in some form of a content marketing strategy. If your company is in the 10 percent that isn’t, you are being left behind. Not to fear! No matter if you are new to content marketing or an old pro who just needs a helping hand, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. for assistance with developing the best and most exciting content for your business. Our team helps businesses of all stripes create a concise and compelling message for use across platforms that consumers and search engines love. Call 803-831-7444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find Grammar Chic, Inc. on Twitter @GrammarChicInc.
Amanda E. Clark founded Grammar Chic in 2008. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and holds degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and English. She launched Grammar Chic after freelancing for several years while simultaneously leading marketing and advertising initiatives for several Fortune 500 companies.