By Heidi Cohen published August 31, 2011

7 Sure-fire Ways to Use Content to Connect With Your Audience

Help! I need content marketing and I don’t know where to start.

Have you ever felt this way? If so, help is on the way. Content marketing can seem intimidating at first especially if you’re new to this marketing approach or if vacation season’s left you short handed.

Your goal is to develop content that lures prospects in and engages them by:

  • Answering their questions
  • Showing them how to use your products
  • Entertaining them without knocking them over the head with promotional messages.

To this end, here are seven sure-fire ideas for creating content that grabs your target audience and connects with them.

Shoot a photo

Photographs are worth more than a 1,000 words. They’re great for attracting attention and drawing readers in. Whether you use your own, your firm’s, or other people’s photos, check intellectual property (IP) rights to ensure you have permission to use them and make sure to acknowledge the photographer. Photos can also draw focus on a blog post, beef up your blog posts, or be collected on Flickr.

For example, the pictures on The Satorialist blog are eye candy for anyone in the fashion industry.

Create your own television channel

Video works well as content because viewers have been trained by years of watching television for information and for entertainment. While talking heads make for easy video content and are useful for conveying information, they’re visually boring. Don’t forget to spice up their talk track with presentations and other related content.

Videos can also convey real-time interactions. With today’s technology, all you have to do is sit at your computer and talk. Many top bloggers do this to mix up their content offerings.

Here’s an example from Christopher S. Penn’s Awaken Your Inner Superhero.

Invite experts to be your guests

Ask experienced bloggers to write for your blog and/or share their stories through other content formats such as eBooks. When working with outside experts, make sure you follow the guest hospitality rules so that they feel comfortable and confident.

Some blogs use guests regularly such as Copyblogger and the Content Marketing Institute, and others use guest posts to fill in during vacations and other long absences like a staffer’s maternity leave.

Gather quotes for a group of people

Reference what someone else has said better than you have. The quote can be a few sentences or a short paragraph with a link to the original site. When you gather intelligence from your colleagues, remember to check permissions and provide a link to their website or blog.

This can be done by collecting other people’s input on a topic of interest such as these 31 definitions of social media, or by using quotes as a starting point for your conversation such as this article that uses 12 Harry Potter quotes to discuss social media.

Interview interesting people in your niche

Use email or video to capture feedback. Incorporate a photograph or avatar of the interviewee. Also, link to their websites, blogs, and other social media profiles.

Here’s an example that integrates an interview of Mike Stelzner with information on the publication of his new book.

Show me what you mean

Use graphics, and the more specialized version known as infographics, to illustrate your points. At heart, we’re all kids and like to look at pictures. You can use cartoons or combine diverse data into an easy-to-consume format like a chart. In any case, make them colorful and attractive.

Here’s an example that helps clarify the field of content marketing.

Share your reading

Gather links from a variety of articles in your area and add your comments on why your readers should take the time to check these articles out.

For example, Who’s Blogging What and SmartBrief do a great job of combing the web for relevant news. Don’t overlook the potential for curating content on a regular basis via an application like Paper.li .

Regardless of which options you choose, it’s critical to make sure the content is in line with your brand image and provides a variety of content options. To this end, integrate these content offerings into your editorial calendar and link them to appropriate pages of your website to drive sales.

Are there any other easy-peasey content options that you use and would add to this list?

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Other posts by Heidi Cohen

  • http://mrtunes.ca/blog Mr. Tunes

    i love to use screenr for when i pick up a new tip to share with my viewers. but the key is to keep them short. sometimes it takes a few tries to condense the information down. 
    http://www.screenr.com/user/mrtunes

  • http://twitter.com/CultureHappens Ron VanPeursem

    Thanks, Heidi; great post!

  • http://twitter.com/brencournoyer Brendan Cournoyer

    These are great tips, tho it’s funny how the list goes from “Shoot a photo” (fairly simple) to “Create your own TV station” (whoa!) ha. Personally, I’m partial to guest posts as a primary strategy, especially for young company that don’t have a ton of resources to devote to content. Guest content can not only take some of the pressure off your team as far as creation, but also raise your profile and give your site added credibility.

  • http://humanwebsite.com.my Kent

    I believe conduct an interview expert will draw a lot of traffic and links as well. I done it before and very good result.

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