GUIDE CONTENT MARKETING 101. How to make it work for your business from strategy to execution. Firstbase

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1 GUIDE CONTENT MARKETING 101 How to make it work for your business from strategy to execution Firstbase

2 1. WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? INTRODUCTION To understand the enormous potential of content marketing for your business, just consider how customers have changed. Modern buyers have become experts at filtering out the constant racket of sales promotions and advertising, making it harder than ever to achieve cut through with your messages. Today, bombarding audiences with marketing is more likely to cause aversion and apathy than demand generation. HARD TO SWALLOW Your customers and prospects have never been more resistant to traditional marketing, or fussier about the content they ll consume: 44% of direct mail is never opened 86% of viewers skip TV adverts Meanwhile, the traditional sales funnel 200 million numbers on Do Not Call Lists isn t really a funnel anymore; the buying process is no longer linear. Your customers Statistics from HubSpot. now proactively search out the information they need through channels they choose. They incorporate insights from a variety of sources before making a purchase - and are extremely selective about the content they ll consume. To solve these challenges, content marketing turns traditional marketing on its head. Instead of trying to break into audience conversations with sales messages, we join their conversation - empowering prospects and customers with information that helps solve their current challenges. CONTENT MARKETING: AN ANCIENT ART? Today s explosion of content marketing into a 1 billion UK industry can be traced all the way back to the 19th Century: 1895: John Deere publishes The Furrow a guide to successful farming that also promoted the brand s agricultural machinery. Where advertising bombards its audience with sales messages, content marketing mixes audience needs with supplier solutions to create valuable information that draws customers to your brand. The advantages of an audience that s actively engaging with you, rather than passively listening to your messages, are enormous creating a stronger pipeline of better quality, better qualified leads. 1900: Michelin exploited the link between tyres and travel to create an annual guide to the best hotels and restaurants that s now synonymous with quality. 1930s: Procter & Gamble sponsored radio plays that targeted their core audience of house wives giving rise to the term soap opera.

3 2. UNDERSTAND YOUR BUYERS Content marketing doesn t mean simply churning out more branded content. It s a process and a strategy, beginning with understanding your audience, developing a catalogue of content that s relevant to them, delivering it in a form that it is appropriate and easy to digest, and then making it easy to find. Implementing an effective content strategy always begins with mapping the buyer journey. Buyers will engage with different types and formats of content at different stages. By understanding this journey, you can tailor content accordingly to help prospects progress towards a purchase delivering relevant, high-value content at precisely the right moment to deepen engagement and generate stronger leads. Typically this journey begins with loosening the status quo helping the prospect to identify a business need, problem or potential improvement that must be addressed.

4 3. DO CONTENT THE RIGHT WAY When developing content, it s essential to start from a journalistic perspective and ask: What s the story? Why should my audience care? How can I communicate it in the most engaging way? This simple, journalistic mind-set can have a huge impact; making content far more fresh, relevant and interesting - driving your prospects and customers to take immediate action. At the outset, you need to create content that understands who prospects are, what they need, their position in the buyer journey and how they found your business to begin with. We recommend developing buyer personas based on varying customer challenges, behaviours and influences to truly understand the people you re SAY WHAT? targeting. With such a strong audience focus, you ll find it a lot more difficult Just because you want to say it, doesn t mean to overload prospects with worthless your audience wants to hear it: information. Next, think about the format that will be most accessible and appropriate. Are you targeting busy CEOs that prefer bite-size videos and blogs, or single-remit employees that need a detailed whitepaper on one challenge? Avoid bombarding prospects with sales messages. Base content on your prospect s needs, not yours. Tell your audience something they don t already know. Don t crush your prospects under a landslide of automated engagement. And remember: even the best content is worthless if no one finds it content If there s market resistance to your brand, must be delivered in the most effective consider loosening the status quo with way. An infographic shared via social unbranded content. media might be perfect to loosen the status quo, but an in-depth report for download on your website would better help customers explore possible solutions in detail. Once you have a high-quality content pipeline flowing, timing is everything. Combine your content with marketing automation to ensure relevant messages are put under a prospect s nose at just the right moment. But beware, marketing automation should support a personalised and strategic approach, not just spam more content to more people, more often. From the ability to automatically trigger s or social posts, to tailoring content on your website for a specific viewer, these tools must be used with care.

5 4. ACQUIRE PROSPECTS With a steady stream of high-quality content, your business will benefit from inbound marketing that regularly adds fresh, self-selected contacts to your nurture database. But when should you ask prospects to reveal their identity? It s essential to capture prospect information at the right moment. For instance, forcing visitors to register on their first trip to your website will simply cause many people to steer clear. Similarly, there s little point gating content that won t entice prospects to enter their details: a new, detailed research report may be worth 30 seconds of their time, but is a short blog or infographic? Your specific acquisition strategy should align to your business goals, the prospects you re targeting and the content on offer. Many organisations will want to take customers on a journey to capture strong sales leads, but prospect acquisition can be as quick as one click. For instance, if your business is focused on tightly defined targets that will be seeking specific content, a high-value honeypot of gated content may be the best approach. If content is custom-made for a specific segment, either they want it or they don t.

6 5. FOLLOW BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES When it comes to executing on your content marketing strategy the right way, there are some simple steps to follow: Get buy-in: With many different stakeholders in your organisation influencing marketing decisions, it s essential to ensure that you all start on the same page. A co-ordinated, long-term vision and good internal communications are crucial to building and maintaining a successful content marketing strategy. Put the customer at the centre of your strategy: Develop personas and map out the buyer journey to understand the needs of your prospects and how they want to consume content. By understanding your buyers, you can MAXIMISE RESULTS: provide relevant, high-value content which further deepens engagement A smart approach to content can let you achieve and generates better qualified leads. Make content relevant: Align content to your audience and their stage in the buyer journey. Engage customers on their own terms with valuable information that can solve their current challenges, and make it accessible across the right formats and devices. more with a minimal investment of time or budget: Switch formats or channels Refocus content for a new audience Combine existing pieces to create something entirely new Make content easy to discover and share: Optimise your content for search engines and social media to make sure your brand is front and centre when customers go looking for information. Ideally, content should be so engaging that people want to share it with others, so make it easy to do so. Make the most of what you have: Reusing or repurposing existing content for new audiences, or different moments in the buyer journey, can be a fantastic way to stretch your budget and give your results a boost at a minimal cost. Measure results and refine your strategy: Set clear, measureable KPIs at every stage and ensure you are ready to track click-throughs and other crucial metrics as buyers engage with your content. Your strategy should never be set in stone: be ready to adapt your approach as you see what works and what doesn t.

7 6. LEARN MORE There s an old saying that if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. It s time to stop bludgeoning prospects with the hammer of traditional marketing and pick up the brand new toolset of content marketing. It s time to show customers that you can see the world through their eyes, understand the challenges they face and have the solution to their problems. With the right content, planned and delivered using the right strategy and methods, you ll be able to generate better quality, self-selected leads and send sales conversions skyrocketing. If you re ready to learn more about how to implement a successful content marketing strategy, visit the First Base website or drop us a line at

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