Publishing anything, from a book to a news release, is getting easier and easier. You no longer have to go through a long process mandated by experts to get your ideas heard.
If you're a writer, or a business trying to establish yourself as the go-to company in your industry, that's good news. But what does it mean for consumers?
If everyone's a publisher, then the gatekeeper that ensures quality is gone, and consumers have to do more work to make sure their time and money investments are worth it. Aside from technology that helps filter out the bad stuff, readers themselves have developed sophisticated internal filters.
If your goal is to market through content, your first priority is to make sure your content gets read
If your content's not getting read, then your marketing goal will not be accomplished. Lately I've seen more than one blog post lamenting that content marketing will stop working as well as it has been over the past few years, because there's so much content out there, much of it horrible.
I think that idea should be qualified a bit. Trying to use a content marketing strategy with sub-par content will almost certainly mean failure. The key to success will be quality.
1. Know your reader. Content – website, news releases, white papers, newsletters, case studies, blog posts, and so on – needs to be relevant to your customers. It has to solve their problems and meet their needs, and ignore everyone else.
2. Produce Good Stuff. Focus On Quality Not Quantity If you have the resources in house, use them. If not, hire someone who demonstrates knowledge of your industry and a good understanding of the techniques necessary to produce good content. One excellent piece that gets read (and shared) is better than five mediocre ones that don't.
3. Make it easy to share. Distribute links to content with whichever social media tools make sense for your business and make good use of widgets that make it easy for your readers to distribute your content to others.
4. Be sure there's a point to it all. You're not producing information products for their own sake. You're trying to market your company's products and services, so that means creating a path for your readers to follow. Know what you want them to do after they've consumed something you've produced, and ask them to do it. This is otherwise known as the call to action.
5. Make sure every call to action is appropriate to the purpose of the content. The key is to ask for the right thing at the right stage in the process. Don't interrupt the familiarity and trust building phase of your relationship with heavy-handed sales requests. But when a reader demonstrates strong interest in something your company sells, don't let him go without letting him know there's another step he can take, either to find out more or to become a buyer.