Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
Content marketing is being treated like something of a panacea as of late. It’s cheap, it offers exposure, it allows you to really cement your brand and can convert more customers. However, writing up any old content isn’t going to do it. It takes time, effort and a real process to ensure that your audience is getting what they want and coming back for more.
Create your pipeline
If you’re creating a blog, an email newsletter, or another kind of content marketing system that relies on regular uploads, you have to be able to actually produce content regularly. For that reason, creating a pipeline that looks at content currently being worked on, researched, and considered can help you ensure you don’t run out of things to talk about. While you’re writing one piece, make sure you have another piece ready to write. While you’re putting together the abstract of other pieces, have other pieces you’re researching. Look for new ideas by getting inspiration from other content in your field or ask your customers directly what they want feedback or information on.
Have a process
You should manage the production and perfecting of content separately, too. Making sure that content fits internal standards and follows a stylebook (such as AP Style) to make sure everything maintains a layer of brand consistency. Content management software acts as more than storage for content in the works. It lets you apply elements like branding and images much more easily. If you can’t afford a copyeditor or proofreader, at least use some of the grammar and readability-checking tools. You don’t want your content being made inaccessible by highly preventable errors.
Test it for value
Before you hit publish, even before you start writing the main body of a text, you need to ask yourself one question. What is the value for the reader? Is it informative, educational, or helpful? Is it insightful or new? Sometimes, fun is enough to lend content some value. You simply have to make sure that readers have a reason to click links leading to your content, and that they feel like they come away with it having learners or experienced something new and worthwhile. Content without value is only more likely to sabotage your business. If customers believe that you’re engaging in time-wasting practices, it doesn’t look very good for your brand.
It doesn’t end with publishing
Marketing your content is a practice that requires some time, too, of course. Using social tracking software, you can see how many people are engaging with content and keep up with any conversations that spawned from the original post. You can also track conversations elsewhere in the industry to better learn what kind of content work and what doesn’t. Content can provide ongoing value for your business, you just need to keep following up on it. That’s how you really establish your reputation as a thought leader, not just another content producer.
Content marketing isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up on it. It really is one of the most effective marketing tools of the online world at the moment, competing evenly with paid advertisements.