Happy New Year! Are you already sick and tired of the avalanche of advice on reevaluating the state of your business and things you should be doing to succeed in 2014? The barrage of ideas can be overwhelming and confusing.
I'm offering only one suggestion. Clear out the clutter and keep it simple.
A project I did with one of my technology clients a few months ago illustrates the point. The process we went through was basic but effective. The result is three simple questions that you should ask before starting every content project in 2014.
1. Who are your prospects/customers?
My client was producing a ton of good content as part of the company's marketing program. That put them in the majority since according to the 2014 benchmarking report from the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, nine out of 10 B2B marketers use content marketing to help drive their business. But my client wasn't satisfied with the download traffic or lead generation activity generated by her content. So the first question we asked was: "Who is the target for all this content?"
After some discussion, we determined that the hands-on IT staff would be the ones most likely to research the problems my client's product solved. They would be the ones googling for additional material, visiting relevant sites, and downloading content that would address their problems. These operators would be the ones generating traffic and leads for my client.
In reviewing the existing content we realized that it was aimed primarily at the more strategic IT operations people - folks at the higher levels of management. My client's company was not going to show up in searches aimed at detailed problem analysis and solutions with that type of information.
I suggested we shift the content focus to the IT folks in the trenches.
2. What's important to them?
Once we identified our target, the next step was to create appropriate content. What was relevant to them? What challenges did they face and what possible solutions existed to overcome them? What kind of information did they need to help them do their jobs better?
Looking at the current content we discovered that much of it centered on the business benefits of the products. That was obviously important to the more senior level IT managers who were concerned with ROI and strategic edge.
However we realized that while the IT staff running the data centers surely appreciated the financial benefits of the product, they were more focused on the functionality and productivity improvements it could bring.What products would solve their problems? How could they free up resources that could be used to allow staff to tend to other urgent daily tasks? What would help get the business owners the information they needed in a more timely fashion? Those were the issues IT staff faced every day and the ones for which they needed answers.
3. How do you reach them?
Once we nailed down the target audience and what was relevant to them, we needed to determine the best way to get to them - to attract them to our site and our content. My client had been producing blogs and eBooks which provided a higher level, strategic view of their product. We realized that the folks we were trying to reach would not likely be downloading those pieces of content. We needed something that would appeal more directly to their needs.
We ultimately determined that our tactical audience was more likely looking for in depth information that addressed their issues and discussed possible solutions. I ended up expanding on some of their existing content, developing several detailed white papers and case studies. These pieces effectively framed the challenges IT staff faced and outlined potential solutions available in the marketplace. This new content also outlined how my client's product was a particularly effective solution and one they should consider. I followed that up with a series of blog posts that linked back to the various white papers. The result was a dramatic uptick in traffic, downloads, and overall lead generation activity.
This exercise shows that your content marketing plan doesn't have to be overly complicated. Outline your goal, determine your target audience, find out what's important to them, and use a content vehicle that will best reach them. Use this simple process as you begin work on any piece of content and your chances of success will increase significantly.
How do you determine what content you're going to produce and the best way to reach your prospects?