Content marketing has become the clear choice of companies wanting to build awareness, enhance engagement and increase conversions online. And while every company has a different story to tell, the basic tenets of content marketing remain the same.
Some of these ideas may seem elementary right up until the time you fail to integrate them into your marketing and public relations strategy. Taken together they can become a real starting point for a plan that accomplishes your goals.
1. Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience goes beyond just realizing who your audience is — you have to get inside their heads and find out what their interests are and what they want to learn more about. Ask yourself — and better yet ask your audience: What are their concerns and pain points? What are these people talking about on a day-to-day basis and how are they talking about it?
Get to know your audience by listening, and then give them more of what they want to hear and continue listening. Give the brand a personality, and stick to it. The point is to get your audience talking with you, so be sure to talk back and share what they think too.
2. Be Honest and Keep It Simple
In a world full of fluff and filler, make sure your content gets straight to the point and offers valuable and new information. Don’t regurgitate news that your readers already know about, but provide viewpoints that they’ve never heard before. Answer common questions with advice and your industry expertise. Keep it simple, and make it your own.
We’re involved in the Future of Retail Alliance, an online forum that not only shares original content provided by its audience but posts other industry news and insights. The content has one focus: the role of technology in retailing. This focus provides a steady platform from which to grow an online following and become a go-to source for retail technology news.
3. Limit Self-promotion
No one wants a hard sales pitch, so don’t waste your time giving one. The marketplace is too cluttered with sales speak, and the last thing you want is for your content to be classified as spam.
Talk about what’s important in your industry and the knowledge you have that others may not. Once you get your audience interested in what you have to say, they’ll automatically look to see who’s saying it. And when they really like what you have to say, they’ll share it.
The Future of Retail Alliance, for example, is able to share content of its own, but it does so without a hard sell, and that’s key. Mix that with news and comments from your contributors, and your audience becomes an integral part of the brand and the conversation.
Personalize your content – again, not with a sales pitch – but with the in-depth knowledge that only your brand has through personal experiences and your company’s experiences in its industry. By adding in your expertise, the content you share automatically becomes your own. This personal touch is what will distinguish your content from that of others.
There are plenty of places online to read about retailing, but just a few focus on the role of technology as it relates to the future of retail. The FORA site has insights and expertise that aren’t easily found elsewhere.
5. Create a Community
Our digital age gives companies the opportunity to create an online community through social media and blogging. From Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Google+, brands now have a growing number of platforms to share their information and engage their audiences. Companies can quickly interact with employees, current customers, potential customers, friends, family and industry peers in a way they never could before.
The retail forum’s Facebook group is alive with discussions, comments, questions and the sharing of industry articles. Anyone who comes to the page can see daily activity, and they will probably learn something new from the more than 200 active group members. But you can’t wait for your audience to come to you. Find the right online platforms to share your expertise and start engaging with those communities.
With these five tenets, some good advice, and a measure of focused energy, almost any company can take advantage of the huge opportunities that exist today in content marketing.