In the last blog we learned what content marketing is and why it’s important. Now we’re going to look at knowing what your customers really want (which is a tough nut to crack) and how to develop a content plan.
What successful content marketers have learnt, is that you can’t tell them what you want them to hear any more. They will go out and find the truth elsewhere.
Nowadays, you need to tell them what they want to know, and tell them often. If readers, viewers, listeners or website visitors feel that they’re just getting a strong sales pitch, they’ll soon switch off.
Habit #1: Tell them what THEY want to know.
One of the people I greatly admire in the Content Marketing world is Marcus Sheridan, who has a podcast, Mad Marketing and blog: The Sales Lion. He’s super smart and his content is always really worth reading, watching or listening to.
Marcus has a well-know story of how he got into content creation in the first place: he was running a swimming pool business in the USA. At the height of the last recession was failing, and about to hit the skids. Aware that something dramatic was needed to turn the business around, Marcus got into blogging.
He didn’t know anything about it, but he is a born salesman, so he knew at first hand the questions customers are always asking and what they most want to know. He’d spent hours talking to them and had an intimate knowledge of their needs, objections and aspirations.
His mantra is simple: they ask, you answer.
His new book, They Ask, You Answer is packed full of sound advice.
He started writing articles which he shared on his website, answering people’s questions:
- what type of pool liner is best?
- what size and depth should the pool be?
- is it right for the climate where I live?
- how do I keep my pool clean?
- and other maintenance queries.
Over time, he got into the detail of these questions and published a lot of blogs.
Marcus also started experimenting with keywords and search engine optimisation.
He found that even when he was doing comparison posts – comparing his products with others or his business with a competitor’s – his website came top of Google search. Marcus has now gone on to create a consulting business, as well as a career in public speaking and masterclasses (which are superb).
His pool business continues to flourish today.
Bear in mind that with content, it’s not just what you’re publishing and pushing out into the wider world, or publishing on a third-party platform, it’s also what’s on your own website.
How do you currently address the common questions you get from your customers?
If you’re not already doing this, it’s a great starting point for developing your content plan, deciding what to publish on your website and share in social media.
Habit #2: Develop your Content Plan.
Most marketers love to plan.
Whether its a spreadsheet, a tick list, key actions or setting things out on paper, you need to consider what your year looks like. Not just your business calendar, but also your content calendar: what stories and messages need to be shared at key times?
Start to plan this content in advance, then you’ll know you’ve got the right content at the right time of year, including all the ingredients you need to create them.
Planning is important because it allows you to work out what resources you need and when, both now and in the future.
These ‘ingredients‘ could be:
- product or service information
- customer insight from colleagues
- product or service feedback from customers
- photos from a trade show
- audio from a brainstorming session
- client video testimonials.
Good quality content can take a while to create, but anything original that’s produced (audio or PDF download) is worth having.
So where to start?
First, think about who you’re writing for and the mindset of your customer:
- how do they feel now and how do you want them to feel?
- what are their expectations?
Your target customer is always the starting point of any marketing:
- what are they looking to buy and how well do you ‘fit the bill’?
- what do they care about?
Carry out some research.
Try using social listening tools, Twitter advanced search and Google search will both help you find out what people search for on your topics and how they talk about them.
What are your customers and your online community discussing – this may become topical. Use keyword research around these themes.
Consider the words your customer uses – how do they describe you?
What do they think you do?
This research will inform not only the topics you write about, but also the language you use.
Think about the stories that will connect you – beyond your business year, key industry or sector events or what’s going on in the wider world.
Try not to go too far “off the reservation” and express strong personal views; but, we are living in interesting times, and these things will be relevant to your customers.
Acknowledging their concerns is important, because it shows you are human too.
What are the “Seven Habits of Successful Content Marketers”?
Tips and real examples from people who’ve inspired me over the last five years. They demonstrate, by using Content Marketing, how it has worked for the businesses they run.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 7 Habits of Successful Content Marketers. Why not check out the other blogs in the series:
- Tell them what they want to know – often
- Follow the plan and pick the right tools
- Be efficient – reduce, re-use, recycle
- Master social media, especially TWITTER
- The 80:20 rule: 80% theirs: 20% yours
- Earn Active Passive Income with RITE content
- Find you niche… the smaller, the better
- Measure your content marketing, often
If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.
Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.
Photo by Mira Bozhko on Unsplash