At the heart of every successful marketer’s campaign, content plays a central role. It’s the message that connects you with your audience.
Great content helps you stand out from the crowd, and if you are not standing out from the crowd, your message is doomed to obscurity, becoming nothing more than clutter and cyberspace noise.
When done right, brand content becomes a valuable tool to your customer as it provides useful information, tips and insight into your product or service. And in this content-saturated world, this can mean the difference between a new customer doing business with you, or with your competitor.
Great #content helps you stand out from the crowd, and if you are not standing out from the crowd, your message is doomed to obscurity, becoming nothing more than clutter and cyberspace noise.Tweet
Author and public speaker Jay Acunzo may have said it best. “Marketing is about participation, not promotion. If you’re not part of the community, how do you expect to serve them?”
Yet few businesses devote very little time or money into developing a content marketing plan to serve their community. The quality and quantity of content that consumers demand to make a purchase decision are greater than ever before, and you need to part of the conversation.
But let’s face it, not everyone can afford a skilled team of content strategists, copywriters, journalists or an external third-party agency to craft and curate the kind of content that is required.
But, there are plenty of creative ways to produce content in-house, without the hefty price tag. Here are some options.
No one knows your business, or your products and services, better than your employees or co-workers. Your work colleagues can be your greatest asset and knowledge bank to draw information from – including the good, the bad and the ugly!
As they live and breathe the product or service every day, don’t be afraid to ask your team for help. They can tell you the areas that need improvement, and what should be included when producing relevant content.
Need #content but have no budget? Ask your colleagues. No one knows your customer better and how to solve their pain points.Tweet
Not only does it include employees in the conversation, but it improves the quality of content going out to the consumer as employees, especially the customer service teams, know what the pain points are.
Start by setting up a simple Google questionnaire form or a shared spreadsheet in an accessible folder. Then ask select people around the office to participate. And don’t be shy about asking tough questions, as it all provides valuable insight into your customer’s pain points.
Almost every aspect of a business can impact the customer experience, so talk with workers not just from the frontline, but those who work in finance, IT Department, helpdesk, sales reps, product managers and marketing.
Make the questionnaire anonymous if required, and don’t be surprised if you discover that several departments have the same pain points.
TIP: Don’t be shy who you ask for information. To really understand what a customer’s pain points are with your product and service, chat to everyone you think can offer valuable insight, from the CEO, down. Use this information to form the basis of your content strategy to answer your users questions.
SPEAK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
Who else has more experience with your product or service than your current customers – your biggest asset of all. Invite them in for a focus group and ask them directly what they think. No one will be more honest or direct with you.
When selecting consumers for the focus group, be sure to invite a cross-section of people, from dedicated fans of your product or service to customers who’ve also made genuine complaints. This way you can get all sides of a story and use the feedback constructively to improve your business.
Remember, a focus group is not a vanity project to hear how good you are, it’s a reality check on your product to improve and lure new prospects away from your competitors. To do this, you need to hear, and most important listen, to what real people who use your product or service have to say.
Need product feedback – ask your customers. No one will be more brutally honest and tell you how it is, like a boss – because they are.Tweet
While there are many companies that can host a focus group for you, it can be done in-house. Be sure to do your focus group research first, however. Read-up online and have clear objectives and outcomes for the session. And always provide a participation incentive such as a discount, free product or service, or even pizza on the night.
A faster and convenient way to speak with your customers is to send them an online survey. There are free services available such as Survey Monkey with an easy-to-use interface to design and send a survey.
Or simply pick up the phone and have an old-fashioned conversation with them. I guarantee they will be chuffed you contacted them and cared enough about them as a loyal customer to want to hear their feedback.
Tip: When asking customers about your product or service, remember it is about them and their pain points, and not about you. Let them give open and honest feedback and acknowledge the success and failures. Like any business, it’s always about your customer.
Syndicated content is content that has already been published, but available to be used by third parties. Through syndication, engaging and useful content for your audience can be easily sourced, at a price far less than hiring a team, or commissioning writers to produce unique copy.
According to this article on Curata, it’s recommended that up to 10% of your content be from syndicated sources.
Looking to save money on #content costs? #SyndicatedContent is one of the lowest cost bases to reach a new audience.Tweet
Not only can syndicated content be cost-effective, but it’s flexible and available when you need it, requires no in-house resource, its simplicity means you you can publish right away, and you have a flow of content to keep your audience engaged.
Reach out to other people in the field and ask them if they would like to contribute to your site as a guest contributor. This allows for a third-party endorsement of your brand which can carry a higher weight of credibility.
Guest contributors are also more likely to share the post from your website which will help you reach a new audience, at little or no extra effort from you.
And don’t forget your current audience by asking your customers for a review. Invite your best customers to write a review of your product or to give an endorsement, which you can collate into an interview or story online, publish in a newsletter, brochure and so forth.
A white paper is an in-depth report or presentation used to persuade and to demonstrate authority and expertise.
In short, a white paper is designed to answer three primary questions by using real data and information from a real-life scenario:
- the issue,
- how the issue was solved, and
- the outcome.T
A white paper can showcase your brand’s expertise while providing confidence in your product or service and most importantly, answer your customer’s most common questions, even before they know what to ask.
GREMLIN YOUR CONTENT
There are many forms of content that a business can use. Blog posts are among the most popular, but content comes in many other forms from white papers to digital publications, videos, SlideShare, LinkedIn posts, e-books, social media, podcast, testimonials and more.
Gremlin your #content – think how you can turn one piece of awesome content into many for more eyeballs.Tweet
When you have a great piece of content, consider other ways you can make use of that content through other media forms. Can you make it into a SlideShare also? Can it be shared on LinkedIn or used as a base for a podcast?
When you ‘gremlin’ your content (EG multiply it), it will attract further eyeballs to your brand and help to position you as the brand authority on the subject.
CONTENT WITHOUT AGENDA
In this Adobe survey, 40% of consumers want brands to be less promotional, and more informative. After all, content should be about the customer, and not solely about you.
Customers want you to talk with them, and not to them.
With every business, it’s all about the customer and their wants and needs. This is why you have a business. People want to know about your product and service, but they don’t want to see self-serving content that does nothing to help them answer their questions.
When creating your content, no matter what the content form might be, ask yourself these two questions:
1) does the content focus on the customer, and
2) does the content answer their questions?
Good content should anticipate the needs of your customers, so think of questions the customer might have, before they know what to ask.
FEED THE CONTENT BEAST – BE REWARDED WITH LOYALTY
As brands, we need to continually evolve and adapt and find new ways to remove the pain points for customers. Most importantly, we need to answer their questions, before they even know what to ask.
The content beast is always hungry, and it’s one that needs constant feeding to survive. By delivering consistent, useful and relevant content for your audience, you can ensure your brand will always remain relevant in their eyes.