The Last Content Marketing Guide You'll Ever Need

Posted by Brooke Hazelgrove

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If your focus when providing useful, engaging content is on the buyer, then you're going to come across as a business who is genuine and worthwhile. And that's a great thing.The year was 2008. I was studying classical literature and getting mad at the drama in Wuthering Heights (seriously, Heathcliff is a jerk.) And then someone handed me a different book to change topics for the afternoon. It was called The Adventures Of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Needby Daniel H. Pink, and it's one of the arguably most useful books I've read in a long time. In it, six points were made about pursuing a career, that actually adapt pretty well to content marketing.

With this in mind, I'd like to present 'The Last Content Marketing Guide You'll Ever Need', which uses the same points made in Last Career Guide to outline some basic principals that should influence your content marketing down to its roots.

1 - There Is No Plan

Your business has many intricacies and quirks that make it what it is. Your customers likewise are going to have a stack of their own needs and ways in which those needs should be met. This means that in order for your content to resonate with your customers in a way that demands action, you need to have a targeted and tailored strategy. Content marketing doesn't work using a one-size-fits-all approach. Content marketing becomes successful when it is tailored to the needs of your ideal buyers.

When designing your content marketing strategy, look to understand what your ideal customers are like - how they search for solutions, the kind of language they use, and the way they enjoy consuming information - and then create something that will naturally appeal to these folks. Which brings us to point two...

2 - Think Strengths, Not Weaknesses

You can't please everybody. It's just a fact of life. This goes double for your content marketing - you're going to see far more of a return if you focus on writing content that only attracts your ideal customers instead of trying to pander to the interests of everyone.

Work out what content you write that is successful in bringing in leads, and what content you write that distinguishes your business from the competition, and get to producing more of it. This may involve focusing your content type (e.g. image, article, infographic, video, or other), subject type (e.g. reviews, list-based articles, how-to's and tutorials, critiques...), or commonly-voiced concerns of your buyers. There's a whole range of content types and topics to cover - experiment a little, find what brings in the right kind of return, and hone it to a fine art. 

3 - It's Not About You

Content and inbound marketing are mould-breakers because they take the focus away from the business and give it to the customer. Since customers have all the decision-making power in finalising a purchase, it's relatively easy for them to find another vendor if the first one doesn't offer what they need. The focus of the content marketer then needs to be on providing the customer with the value they seek, rather than upchucking a list of product or service features and expecting that that will be enough to close a sale.

This is evident in even the basic difference between inbound and outbound marketing. In the outbound marketing model, the business would chase the customer up, invasively reaching into the customer's life through TV ads, print media, and telemarketing. With the inbound marketing model, we've realised that customers are far more likely to search for what they need online, and so have focused on making our businesses easy to find for the prospective customer, rather than chasing after them. It's a focal shift that is for the better, as customers feel that we're more interested in solving their problems than making a sale.

4 - Persistence Trumps Talent

We've mentioned on a few separate occasions that a regularly maintained content blog is the gift that keeps on giving to your business. A blog that is updated 16 or more times per month can actually see 3.5x more traffic and leads per month than a blog that updates only 4 times per month. It is of greater benefit to your content marketing to keep a regularly updated blog with smaller posts than one that is updated sporadically.

Not only will you be engaging more potential customers, and better leads for longer, but by regularly adding to your content library, you'll be building resources that can continue to convert leads and convince customers for months and years after the initial publication date.

5 - Make Excellent Mistakes

This one initially felt hard to adapt, until it was afforded a little more thought. In order for your content marketing to succeed, and continue succeeding, you're going to need to experiment a little. This doesn't nullify point 2 - you should definitely play to your strengths. But if you're going to keep growing as a business, there will be times when you'll need to go out on a limb and try something new.

So what should you do if the new thing you've just tried falls flat?

Two things: One - you should record your ventures. If something succeeds, you're able to see how. If it tanks, however, you'll be able to see where and adapt your strategies to work around the roadblock - whether that was reaching out with the wrong social media platform, covering a content topic that didn't pull in ideal customers, or forgetting something crucial in your latest update. Which is where point Two comes in - it's okay to admit fault in a mistake.

It sounds like a strange thing, especially since we kind of feel the need to present a crisp, flawless, professional look to the rest of the world (and especially our clients). Something of interest here is a thing called 'The Pratfall Effect'. In essence, it describes how owning your mistakes can make you more likeable as an entity. (There's a pretty good case study on it here.) It's one of those strange effects that sounds counterintuitive at first, but once you think about it, it's not too bad. Admitting to our mistakes and claiming responsibility for them reminds us and those we're in contact with that we're not perfect and shows that we care more about reassuring the customer than about our own crisp image.

Ideally, your content marketing should include a series of well-recorded, smaller experiments, that will help you test the waters and find out what content works and what doesn't resonate with your audience

Of course, it's better if we don't make the mistake in the first place. But if or when you do, it's better to have a contingency plan that's going to improve things in the long run.

6 - Leave An Imprint

If your focus when providing useful, engaging content is on the buyer, then you're going to come across as a business who is genuine and worthwhile. And that's a great thing.

A delighted customer is one that is going to speak highly of you when talking to their peers. They'll come back to you when they need assistance in the same area, and they'll recommend you freely to others. This is actually the ideal situation, because you'll end up with leads who have already been primed, to a degree, on what you offer and can achieve for them.

So how do you leave a positive imprint on your ideal customers? Writing responsive content and providing exemplary customer service are two tried-and-tested methods that see equal returns. Providing targeted and tailored content to your leads and customers using segmented email marketing is also fairly effective, since using this technique ensures that only the information that is specifically useful for the individual will be shown to them. If you can make your leads and customers feel like you are looking after their individual needs and are interested in their own concerns, then you're well on the way to a great relationship with them.


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Topics: Content Marketing

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