Ahead of the curve, strategies for success: How to create a must-see content marketing campaign

5 minute read

In a world
of skyrocketing competition and shrinking visibility, marketing is a key
cornerstone when it comes to achieving success. Instead of struggling to track
ROI on hard-to-measure print campaigns, random radio spots, and fleeting posts
on social networks, a pinpointed content marketing campaign may give you the
most bang for your buck. With the rules of creating arresting and engaging
content having significantly changed as the Internet has matured, content
creators now face new challenges, however. So besides crafting eye-catching
articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics, and SEO-optimized material,
what else should you do to succeed? The following expert hints and tips can
help you increase traction, takeaway, and traffic in no time flat.

1. Understand your audience.  Knowing who your target audience is and where
they congregate online will tell you how best to reach them: Specifically
gearing your posts to them is key. For example, if you are an accounting firm
looking to court small business owners, writing posts about highly-specialized
and esoteric tax rules won’t do you much good unless you’re talking about how
they impact entrepreneurs’ bottom lines in plain English. Whatever business
topic you choose to focus on, make sure it clearly relates to the intended
audience and helps meet their needs. Make sure that the information is not too
muddled, and make it the kind that search engines say your prospects are
searching for—Google’s free keyword research tools can come in very handy here.

2. Allocate sufficient resources to content
strategy.
Sometimes having a great content strategy involves bringing in an
expert who knows how to create powerful content and craft campaigns to which
audiences will strongly and positively react. Managing such programs can be a
sometimes overwhelming task, especially if you are trying to run your own
business, meaning that hiring the right freelancer or even a full-time
community manager can be worth the money if you make the correct hiring
decision. However, that’s not to say you should be spending flagrantly on
outside assistance, or even require it: Many times you don’t need to go out of
house to find subject matter experts (SME)—any given product or management team
may be composed of specialized SME, especially if they keep their ears to the
ground and know what type of material their audience is buzzing about or
seeking. Taking a little time out of their day may be sufficient to help you
plan and execute a compelling editorial calendar. In either case, just make
sure campaigns are adequately staffed, managed and budgeted.

3. Don’t cut corners. All posts should be
of universally high-quality, and utilize proper grammar and punctuation: First
impressions apply online, just as they do in real-life. Which isn’t to say that
you need to blow your budget polishing everything to a glimmering sheen—just
that everything produced be of respectable professional quality. To this
extent, videos should be nicely packaged and presented, podcasts cleanly
recorded, and graphics appear as if they were created by a professional
designer, not sketched on a napkin. Just as your business wouldn’t use
cheap-quality materials to present itself in real-life, so too should online
marketing efforts and supporting assets be of similarly high-grade
construction.

4. Don’t rely solely on readers. Yes, word
of mouth means everything when it comes to the networking-driven world of
business. That doesn’t mean you should completely rely on it, however. As Entrepreneur magazine points out, you must
be proactive about building your own presence on social media channels, and
incentivizing pass-along. Managing social media, when utilized correctly and
proactively, can be a full-time job unto itself. Commit time, either by hiring
a new person or pursuing the task on your own, to the networks that mean the
most to you, and steadily produce and release content on a regular schedule. Be
up-to-date on the latest and greatest outlets, and make a point of being
present and stoking the flames of engagement. Simply posting new content won’t
be enough to activate audiences also. You must engage with your followers,
create conversation, and (gasp!) be social. Once you’ve created your campaign
and tried out your strategy for a few weeks, take a look at the analytics, and
be sure to reassess what is working and what’s not. Adjust where needed.

5. Be consistent. As you well know, not
every marketing campaign resonates. However, being consistent with your brand
and message is extremely important, as is routinely bringing new content to
market. Fans, followers and customers need to be able to trust who you are and
what you are promoting, and have a sense of how often to check back and where
to turn for more information. By consistently and frequently posting high-quality
content that resonates, you create relationships and bonds that are difficult
to break.

6. Keep it short, sweet and tantalizing. David
Armano, managing director of Edelman Digital Chicago tells PRDaily.com that,
“the people we want to reach move effortlessly across a media landscape about
which they rarely make distinctions. Increasingly, they spend time on mobile
devices, skimming content in ‘streams or feeds.’ The average consumer of media
has the attention span of a squirrel on Ritalin. Getting them to pause to read
anything more than a paragraph is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Attention
spans may be getting shorter, but not all difficulties here can be blamed on
distracted thinking. While this quote certainly describes a symptom of consumer
behavior, the problem marketers encounter here often lies in the way that
content is formatted and delivered. Content marketing should be designed to
catch audiences’ attention at a glance, and be quickly clicked, consumed and
shared—it’s through this pattern that trust, awareness and ultimately revenue
are raised.

7. Create incentive to share. Every piece of content you publish should clearly tell the reader
why the information that they’re watching, reading, or hearing is relevant.
Effectively and rapidly establishing reasons that your audience should pay
attention to and consume your content is a crucial determinant in whether or
not it will be read, watched, played, clicked on, or shared. Brief your users
and introduce your content with something that cuts to heart of the main
idea—i.e. capture their interest in seconds, convey key messages at a glance,
and deliver your unique sales points up front. Two great examples would be to
describe a common problem and solution, or briefly tease a video series with a
quick overview of key highlights, i.e. the unique insights and revelations it
contains.

8. Use graphical elements to tell your story.
If a picture is truly worth a thousand words,
just imagine how you many you can cram into a short video clip. Likewise, the
online world is currently experiencing a boom in interest in
infographics—a.k.a. simple visual representations of complex data. In either
case, cut to the chase and catch your audience’s eye quickly. Remember: Less is
more here, though don’t pare back too
much
—key messages and data points should be simple, and simply conveyed.

9. Maintain consistency with messaging. Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, advises in a recent article for Mashable that the content you share
should be interwoven with your core branding. He states, “casino sites that
make fascinating infographics about animal rights aren’t going to last long.”
Therefore, it’s advisable to stick to what you know when it comes to creating
marketable content—in other words, keep your story straight and consistent with
both brand image and overall campaign messaging whatever vehicle or medium you
use to promote it.

Award-winning professional speaker Scott Steinberg is a bestselling expert on leadership and innovation,
and the author of
Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to
Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty.
Among today’s leading providers of
keynote speeches, workshops and seminars for Fortune 500 firms, his website is www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.