From the earliest days of the Internet, when I was busy building newspaper websites armed only with a 14k modem and a well-thumbed copy of HTML for Dummies, I’ve heard the phrase “Content is king” being bandied around as if it was the solution to all known online marketing problems.
I’m a great believer in the power of content marketing. Great content should be the foundation of any online marketing strategy. Without relevant, engaging and timely content, your email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, PR and even paid search campaigns are destined to fail. But I believe placing your content high up on a throne is the wrong approach.
Content is perhaps the most important investment any marketer can make in promoting his or her brand and driving sales. But you need to make your content work a little harder than the stereotypical monarch, shouting out orders and appearing regal. Your content will not work if it is aloof, impartial or positioned as an edict from above.
Instead, you should think of your content as a foot soldier. It should be powerful and persuasive and have the common touch, but also be disciplined, polished and ready to deploy rapidly.
Just as soldiers are deployed in regiments, your content should be distributed with a specialized focus across the various channels you hope to engage your customers and prospects with.
Eight Content Marketing Foot Soldiers
- The Corporate Blog: I cannot stress this enough: If your business doesn’t have a blog, you don’t have a content marketing strategy. Your blog will provide a hub to hang all your other content marketing strategies from (including but not limited to SEO, PR, video, email marketing, and social media marketing). You should look to deploy a blog before you attempt to fire any other weapon in your marketing arsenal.
- Email Marketing: The ultimate marketing resource for winning hearts and minds and attracting repeat business. Email marketing works best when it is highly targeted and can be acted on quickly and efficiently. Keep your email marketing campaigns clean and focused and adopt an agile approach to delivery, and you will be rewarded with the highest engagement and ROI of any online marketing technique.
- Social Media Marketing: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. have the power to take your brand to the people. Primarily, social media marketing is an engagement tool putting your brand at the heart of your followers’ conversations, but it is also a valuable customer service (peacekeeping) tool and will help you position your brand and drive traffic to your blog, email marketing, and other content-led collateral.
- News Releases: An online news release has the potential to reach new customers far beyond the reach of your email marketing lists and social media following. An essential tool for SEO, online news releases works best when delivered as part of an ongoing campaign (planned in a similar fashion to your email marketing).
- Reviews/Comments/Forums: You don’t have to pen every word yourself to see a positive return from content marketing. Customer reviews, blog comments and forum posts provide a wide range of user-generated content that will help you build a community around your brand and enhance your SEO efforts.
- Video: For many people, it is much easier to watch a video than to read a page full of text. Video can be embedded on your blog or distributed via your social media activity and more widely via sites like YouTube. Online videos can be shot very quickly with inexpensive equipment. Keep your videos short and to the point and give a degree of thought to your script, location and camera angles before you start shooting.
- White Papers: The ultimate lead-generating/thought leadership marketing platform. White papers will help you build your email marketing lists and provide great (abridged) content for your social media activity, online news releases and blogged content.
- eBooks: Separating the boys from the men. If you have the discipline to write a book and successfully publish it, you have the potential to really position yourself as an expert in your own particular niche. eBooks can be distributed free of charge and positioned as a lead-generating tool (in much the same way as a white paper). Alternatively, they can be distributed via paid channels such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc., potentially returning a lucrative income on any sales.