I recently asked a close friend, who also happens to be one of my business coaching clients, “What do you think about content marketing?” “What’s that” he said. Which surprised me, but then, not too much. Because I believe that if I asked 100 small business owners associated with the construction industry the same question, I would get the same response from 95 of them.
But content marketing is important! Why?
Because in our modern, fast moving, ever changing construction and business environment we need to have our voices heard, otherwise we will all get lost in all the noise chaos that is marketing. But what is content marketing and why do we need to embrace it?
Well, first, we need to identify several the problems and misconceptions generally held about it.
So, if I asked myself, what the biggest mistakes I see companies making regarding content marketing, I would say:
- Companies do not define their audience(s) in enough detail, because:
- They need to understand why prospective clients are considering them.
- What they are looking for.
- What prospective clients want to learn about their products and services.
- How sellers can answer questions in the fastest, concise and accurate way.
- Maybe nobody is in charge or accountable for content marketing as a function and therefore no one is responsible to someone for its delivery and results. This produces inconsistent and duplicated content which confuses prospective clients and makes them wary, which in turn produces a lack of trust.
- Companies need to immerse themselves in their audience’s wants and needs in order to find out what is concerning them and what is important to them; this is the best way to get to know and understand their challenges and pains and what content should be created.
- There is no written and agreed content marketing strategy; so, companies need to look at what their business objectives are before they can produce any form of plan or editorial calendar.
A simple marketing truth is that sadly nobody really cares about you, your product, your brand and your standing in the marketplace or anything else associated with you, until they know that you care about them and you want to help them to reduce their pain or optimise an opportunity.
So, in your content, don’t talk about your brand; instead talk about your clients’ concerns and what you or your product can do for them.
Whenever, I am trying to help businesses to get a handle on their content marketing, I recommend that they ask themselves the following questions:
- Who is your audience?
- What is your brand, how strong is it and what does it stand for?
- How do you want to talk to your audience?
- How do you want to sound?
- Where and when do you want to say it?
When businesses get the answers to these questions, they are then able to set their content goals, objectives and what messages they want to produce and deliver.
So, for example if I’m working with a project management firm, I will want to talk to all their client facing people e.g. team leaders, project managers, bid team members, help desk (if they have one); I also want to look at their website, look at their ‘Frequently asked Questions’ and look at what visitors are doing and saying. I need to do all this before I can make a recommendation.
It’s about grabbing the high-level stuff and merging it with the low-level stuff and then trying to find a way to marry them together that makes sense for the firm and its audience.
Sometimes I must challenge what businesses are saying in their content because it either doesn’t make sense or doesn’t align with their product or service offering. I often find myself asking clients: “How do you know that?” And “Why do you think that is true?” I know they find these questions difficult to answer but it does help them to really focus on what is important.
So what’s the key take away here?
Content marketing is all about what your opinion is in terms of what’s going on in your market, how you can be of most help to the people in your audience, who you are trying to solve problems for, and to share useful information with them so that so they can make an educated decision about whether or not we are the right people for them to work with.