Recently, we wrote a blog post on why content is still king, despite it being 25 years since Bill Gates first penned the essay that inspired the saying. Sure, marketing is a fast moving industry powered by one technological advance after another. But the fundamentals that make content such a valuable tool in any marketer’s arsenal remain the same.
What has changed, as we discussed, is the competition. According to Hubspot, 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing, with 24% planning on increasing their spend in this area. Visit the Worldometers website and check out how many blog posts have been published today alone.
So as a marketer or business owner, how can you create content that stands out today, in 2022 and beyond?
Be genuinely valuable
This is the cornerstone of content marketing and what makes it different from advertising or any other type of marketing. It’s about giving your audience something they want or need, whether that be a thought provoking insight, a way to solve a problem, or help choosing between two similar products.
Yes, content needs to ultimately deliver a return for your business but you can’t have that in your mind when you conceive it. You have to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What do they need? What are they trying to achieve? What are they struggling with? What will reassure them?
What is it that you can say to your audience that is different to what your competitor might say? How can you weigh into the debate and add your voice, your experience, your knowledge, your expertise?
There is a place for foundational content that covers the basics. But even this needs to bring something unique, even if it’s just the voice or personality you bring to the content that makes it distinctive to your brand.
Don’t just write about stuff you think is interesting. As we’ve already said, your starting point needs to be what your audience thinks is interesting. But you need to go beyond even that, first understanding where they are in their awareness or buyer journey.
Are they literally in the process of making a choice between you and a competitor, or are they still not even really sure of what their problem is? You need to understand this so you can serve their most pressing need, and also decide what you want them to do next and then give them instructions in a well crafted CTA.
Be joined up
Producing content in and of itself is not especially helpful. You need to set it within a broader content strategy that considers a) where your audience is coming from and b) where they’re going next.
Have you thought about SEO or your social sharing strategy? Will you be delivering content via an email list or as part of an outreach programme? Do you have the next piece of content ready to feed your audience once they’ve consumed the first piece? Remember, this is a journey, a trail of breadcrumbs rather than a single transaction.
If you think you can pop out the occasional blog post or video and then sit back and let the leads roll in, you’re going to be very disappointed. Content isn’t a quick fix, it’s a strategic channel that needs you to stick with it long enough for you to see the results.
It takes at least 6-9 months for content marketing to start delivering significant results, according to SEO and digital marketer Neil Patel, while Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says it’s more like 12 to 18 months.
If you can get all of these factors right, you will be well on your way to creating content that your audience genuinely loves. And if they love it, you will pretty much inevitably see that love translate onto your bottom line.
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Journalist turned copywriter Rin Hamburgh (formerly Rin Simpson) is the founder of RH&Co, a Bristol-based strategic brand copywriting agency working with expert-led businesses across the South West, UK and Europe.