Developing a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business

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Six steps to developing a winning content marketing strategy and jump-starting your overall marketing plans. Presentation given at the 2013 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (#WPC13) in Houston, …

Six steps to developing a winning content marketing strategy and jump-starting your overall marketing plans. Presentation given at the 2013 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (#WPC13) in Houston, Texas by Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet), evangelist for Axceler (www.axceler.com).

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  • 1. Developing a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference July 2013 – Houston, Texas Social 101 Sessions Christian Buckley Director, Product Evangelism (@buckleyplanet)
  • 2. • Buying ad space in magazines is out. Paying for banner ads on leading websites, or even paid search results, are showing decreasing returns. • Email marketing suffers from "trust issues" with end users. Whether its due to consumer fatigue (we've worn people down), or audience maturity (they've gotten smarter), traditional marketing just doesn't work the way it used to. • Which is not to say that there is not value in these old marketing methods -- just that you need to reset your expectations about what you can achieve, and develop some new strategies to generate leads and build trust with your prospective customers.
  • 3. • Content marketing has replaced traditional marketing. Companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than non-blogging firms. (Social Media B2B) • What is content marketing, exactly? Providing relevant, timely, and authentic content to consumers, allowing you to build trust and spread good will. Traditional marketing provides limited results, but content marketing can be your key to establishing yourself or your company as “the” subject matter experts in your space, and help you to get your key messaging out to your target customers. In fact, 61% of consumer say they feel better about a company that provides custom content, and are more likely to buy from that company (Custom Content Council).
  • 4. • Just to be clear, creating marketing copy is not the same as developing authentic, valued content. In the former, you're writing text to fit your marketing message. In the latter, you're developing content with the goal of helping your prospective customers -- without strong (read: obvious) marketing messaging. • It has more to do with providing education, and demonstrating your knowledge and expertise. As your reputation (and social influence) grows, you can then leverage your leadership position to open doors, engage with the community, and talk about your products and services. • It's definitely a long-game strategy.
  • 5. • The community needs to hear your unique perspective, learn from your successes (and failures), and understand your industry best practices. • Sure, creating content can be a fabulous way to build up your personal brand and build out your portfolio, but it also adds to the digital library of your company, and helps others to leverage what you've learned.
  • 6. 1. Identify your core messaging. This may be easier for some organizations than others, but every organization has at least started this process. We all have products or services which we sell, each with a core message or theme or story. Your core messaging is not the name of a product, or a description of a service -- its more of a narrative, a story of what it is that you do. It is the problem space you are trying to solve, and the why, what, and how of your solutions.
  • 7. 2. Identify your target customer personas. Every company has a target customer or customer. Give them names. Define their job titles, their unique problem statement, and understand why this ideal customer is in need of your solution. If you understand who you are trying to sell to, you'll have a better idea of the types of content this person needs to 1) understand the problem space (or to help them recognize that there is even a problem), 2) understand what is needed to solve the problem, and 3) understand how your company can solve the problem.
  • 8. 3. Outline each and every message you would like to convey to each persona. This can be a difficult step, but once you get the ball rolling, it'll get easier. Start by compiling a list of every possible topic you would like your customer to understand: key product use cases, the visible gaps in the out-of-the-box platform, industry best practices. As you think about the products and services you believe this person needs, get granular about how you would define this need, and your solution. If you are a SharePoint ISV delivering analytics tools, you might include topics like: • Building no-code dashboards in SharePoint • Out-of-the-box SharePoint reporting options • Best practices for automating reporting • Leading 3rd party analytics solutions for SharePoint • Real-world examples of building KPIs into SharePoint reporting • Changes in OOTB analytics from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 As you begin to outline the topics that will become the base of your content strategy, continue to break them down into simple topics. Your goal should not be long, complex white papers, but short, insightful blog posts and feature articles. Look to your initial posts for feedback from customers and partners, and use that data to further expand your list. And its also important to watch for trends within your industry -- and from your competitors -- and identify the keywords and themes that seem to be resonating with customers, adding them into your own content strategy.
  • 9. 4. Refine your outline, and start to organize by distribution method. Not surprisingly, the refining of your outline is an ongoing effort. Almost daily I am fine tuning my own strategy, watching how customers respond to content I've published, and watching industry news for new products and services that need to become part of my own story. As you begin fleshing out your topics, the next step is to organize them by distribution method. Which topics are appropriate for your company blog, or which ones should be polished and submitted to industry journals? My best practice is to keep things organized in One Note by publishing source, shuffling each article idea under the tab which I think best matches the tone of the story, allowing me to flag new content ideas up front, and tailor each post for the audience of that site or magazine. For example, I might write a strongly-opinionated post about social collaboration that is appropriate for my company blog, but write a similar, expanded article for CMSWire that includes a more neutral standpoint and other industry perspectives. I might then create a much more personal view, sharing specific stories from a recent event and a conversation with a business partner, on my personal blog. Three posts on a similar topic for three different sources, but all demonstrating my thought leadership on the topic.
  • 10. 5. Incorporate corporate, SME, and personal voices. I believe it is important to vary your voice in your content marketing strategy. Sometimes your content should be more formal, coming from a "corporate" perspective. This might be content that talks about a specific position, or that mentions your products and services -- albeit in as neutral fashion as possible. The tone tends to be factual and straight-forward. But I'm also a big believer in injecting your own personality into your writing, personalizing your stories with actual interactions and humor to let your readers know that you are a real person, and not just a marketing content machine. Most of your content, however, should utilize your 'subject matter expert' or SME voice, focusing on education and a more granular view of your topic. People want perspectives and opinion, and they want personality, but most of all they want to know that you have mastery of your subject.
  • 11. 6. Keep it topical. Part of my daily routine is to read through the latest industry journals and scan various online news sources for anything relevant to my content marketing strategy, and to quickly amend my day's plans to include whatever story is going to interest my readers. It's a bit like being a journalist, I suppose: you want to both educate and entertain. The more you can keep your topics relevant to the news of the day, the better you will position yourself and your content in the eyes of your prospective customers.
  • 12. • At the end of the day, the best way to guarantee marketing success is to provide the best products and services, and then be open and honest with the community and prospective customers about what you can and cannot do for them. • My advice: be authentic in your marketing and in your content. Share what you know -- but don't be afraid to use your content development as an opportunity to learn more yourself, exploring new topics and strengthening your own understanding of your subject matter. • Prospective customers (and you better believe your competition) can see right through inauthenticity. Ultimately, content marketing is not about the quick win (although that will occasionally happen) but about the long-game, so be consistent and focus on providing value.
  • 13. Christian Buckley cbuck@axceler.com @buckleyplanet www.Axceler.com presentations blog book governance4hybrid