No matter what your marketing program initiative – a social media campaign, blogging, direct email, a new web site – you need the right message to appeal to your target audience. That means going back to basics if you want to create killer content. You need to talk to your clients in a language that resonates with them, sharing content that is interesting and appealing. Remember that content marketing is all about engaging in an online exchange, and good conversation is driven by good content.
As we have said in the past, good content is like good storytelling – your objective is to tell your story in a way that engages your audience; that resonates with them so they learn to trust you, trust what you have to say, and they follow you. Building online trust as a credible source is what keeps your audience coming back for more. And if they trust you they will do business with you.
So how do you create awesome content that speaks to your clients? There are three essential steps:
1. Listen. Too often, organizations launch into an online marketing program without testing the waters first. They start posting without thinking, flooding their online channels with messages that basically say, “He, we’re here! Isn’t it cool being online! Want to buy our stuff?” Boring and obnoxious! No one will engage with you to hear a sales pitch. When creating content, your goal is to provide information that is both valuable and promotes your brand. You want to be seen as an expert with something interesting to share. To do that, you have to understand what your audience wants to hear. Listen before you leap.
- Who are the influences in your market? Those are the people to follow. See what they are saying on their blog, on Twitter, and on their Facebook page. They probably have interesting subjects that you can talk about.
- What are you peers talking about? What topics are hot in the Web in your market? You can use keywords and key phrases to uncover similar conversations? Search the webs, the news feeds, the blog feeds, and elsewhere to see what others are saying about those topics.
- Where does your target audience hang out? If you want to reach consumers, are they on Facebook or Twitter? If they are professionals do they have their own blog, their own online forum, or are they on LinkedIn? Find relevant conversations and follow the thread. And remember to use those same online locations to share your own content.
2. Empathize. Every good writer has to make an emotional connection with his or her audience. Your content has to show empathy for your reader. Think like a reader; project yourself into his or her shoes and see what fits. What information do they want from you? What makes their lives easier? What obstacles prevent them from engaging with you?
Your value proposition, or if you prefer your brand promise, needs to align with your target market. To do that effectively, you have to understand what your clients want and how you can fulfill their needs and desires. That kind of empathy needs to be reflected in your content.
A proven marketing tool to help you understand your audience is creating a profile or “persona.” Create a portrait of your ideal client and use that persona or character to test assumptions about your product or service – what would your customer do? And don’t’ be shy about asking your customers and online followers what they think and what they want to hear from you.
3. Engage. Once you understand what makes them tick you are ready to engage. Be an information resource. Offer advice and answer questions about topics of interest and that are relevant to your brand. Be sure to approach your topics with confidence, as an expert, so your followers understand why you should be a trusted resource.
Remember that content is the tool you need to build an online rapport. Once your followers become comfortable with you and look to you for advice on your areas of expertise, they will seek you out when they need your help. That’s how you use content to build your business.