The phrase “content marketing” is on every marketer’s tongue. Author and master “Marketeer” Seth Godin stated in 2008 that it’s “all the marketing’s that left.” There’s a terrific post by Joe Pulizzi of CMI (Content Marketing Institute) that covers several important points made by Godin during a teleseminar (beam me up!) he’d just attended back then, which also featured David Meerman Scott and Michael Port. They discussed the concept of content marketing.
Pulizzi’s post is monumentally important. He lists the 10 key takeaways from that 2008 event. It could’ve been written yesterday. It’s just as relevant.
At the heart of “new marketing” lies the core belief that you must listen to your customers and give them information – or content – that they’ll value. It must mean something to them. It’s about your writing down and sharing stuff that your customers and your specific market want to read. It has to be in your voice, and it can’t be dictatorial.
Don’t get tripped up by common misconceptions about content marketing. It’s easier than many companies imagine and not at all limited to just your web site, your marketing collateral, or your prospecting material.
Good content can take so many different forms. Your company can be creating and distributing content in channels and formats like these:
- Case studies
- Conference sessions
- Direct marketing campaigns
- Email campaigns
- Guest blog posts
- Public speaking
- Research reports
- Slide presentations
- Social channels
- Survey results
- Training materials
- Web sites
- Your blog/s
Naturally, if you don’t know your customers, you can’t write things that matter to them.
So the very first task of all marketers when creating their content marketing plan is to find out what your customers, and your ideal market, want to know from you. Ask them. Survey them. Initiate conversations with them. Have your sales and service team members dedicate a portion of every customer contact (in person, phone, email) to asking customers what they need…from your company, from your industry.
Encourage comments on everything you post, including your social shares. Seek out those who work in your target industries and read what they’re sharing online. Try and identify their frustrations, their goals, their everyday work challenges that perhaps your company can address.
Go to events where your customers tend to be, like conferences or networking events. Don’t go to sell, go to listen. Be more aware of what audience members ask of the speakers and what you’re hearing in casual conversations between sessions. Many times, this will reveal extremely meaningful insights that you or someone at your company can address in some form of content marketing down the road.
When you listen to a webinar, pay attention to comments and questions posed by others in attendance. Instead of being focused on asking questions and being heard, devote yourself to hearing what others are saying. Ask yourself how it relates to what you’re offering.
It’s pretty ironic when you stop and consider this: you have to accumulate a body of content through listening to your customers before you create your own to share with them.
Listening to your customers is where content marketing lives.