If you’ve ever produced a client newsletter, prospecting direct mail piece or website, you’ve likely faced the question asked by millions of business owners and marketing professionals every day: What the heck do I fill this thing with?
Once upon a time, we might have called it news or information. Today the buzzword is content and the tactic is content marketing. The guiding principle of this tactic is providing your target market (including prospective and existing clients) information that will help them solve a problem or further their buying decision without talking about how you specifically can fulfill that need.
Content marketing evolved as consumers became savvier. Even today’s elementary school children can smell a sales pitch a mile away. Take the sales smell off the bait, and you stand a better chance of getting your prospect to come closer, to look around, to sample what you have to offer.
At the core of content marketing is, well, content, and in today’s multimedia world that can take any number of forms: articles, video, audio, graphics and infinite combinations thereof. The point is to provide the prospect information that educates, entertains or otherwise engages your prospect. Your ability to deliver that content builds your credibility with the prospect, connects them to your message and leads them to select you as their advisor.
Before you launch a content marketing effort, create a plan that addresses your goals and your methods.
- How often will you publish (we use that term loosely to mean ‘put out to the universe’) content?
- How will you publish content (printed newsletter, email newsletter, videos, podcasts, etc.)?
- How will you generate content?
- What topics do you want to cover?
- How will you measure success?
So let’s take the basic example of a prospect newsletter (some would argue you can reach prospects and clients with the same newsletter; others would debate that these two audiences have similar but different needs. Discuss.)
1) To begin, decide if you will publish weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. You want to publish often enough to keep your name top of mind but not so often as to annoy your prospects. You’ve got other touch points in your prospecting and client communications processes, so let’s say you decide publishing monthly will work for now.
2) How will you publish your newsletter? You’ll need to weigh the benefits for different methods against the time and cost involved. Print newsletters, for example, have physical presence, lobby coffee table appeal and a certain longevity with some readers. On the other hand, creating a nice-looking printed newsletter takes time and money for printing and postage. Outsourcing to a third party reduces your time but increases your costs. Email newsletters can be less expensive, but they can be easily deleted. If you have difficulty deciding on a method, ask your ideal clients how they prefer to receive information.
3) That brings us to content generation. You can generate content in three general ways: 1) purchase content from a service; 2) hire someone to create custom content for you; or 3) write it yourself.