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Bringing Sexy Back: The Eight Steps to Content Marketing Bliss

A few days ago, I discussed the growing importance of corporate content and the opportunities available to organizations that place content at the center of their marketing strategy.

This post focuses on the tangible, proactive steps you as a marketing leader need to take to make value-based content marketing a reality in your organization.

Content marketing is all about an organization’s understanding of the customer. If you know your customer, great things can happen. If you don’t, good luck! Knowing your customers’ deep-rooted wants and needs gives you the opportunity to create not only a sexy content marketing campaign, but one that actually changes behavior.

And before we dig into the eight steps, here is a refresher definition of content marketing. Content marketing is relevant and valuable information delivered by a company to a targeted audience with the purpose of changing or fostering a behavior. It’s the relevant and valuable that is so important to making content work. It’s what tells your customer that you understand their needs and want to have a relationship with them.

(Note: You can interchange content marketing with custom publishing or custom media, if you are more familiar with those terms.)

To make this happen, there are eight important things you can do now:

  1. Dedicate editorial resources. Dedicate one person or group to the editorial content you create. Whether this is an internal communications specialist or a contracted team of experts, your organization must have a focus on creating great content for customers and prospects. Many organizations find someone here and there, without that person having a deep understanding of the customer. You need a person on your team who knows their role…great content at all costs.
  2. Make internal a priority. Almost all content marketing articles and discussions revolve around externally based content programs. Yes, talking to our customers and prospects in a way that values them is of utmost importance, but often we forget about the stakeholders that can have the greatest overall affect on our brand – employees. Be sure you set up long-term, consistent internal communications programs. Samples would be internal newsletters, forums, blogs, and other employee communities.
  3. Invest in design. Nothing can discourage a customer more from reading your material than bad packaging. Be sure to use designers who have a solid understanding of user behaviors, likes, and dislikes. Remember, after bad content, nothing hurts the readership of a magazine more than a poorly designed cover.
  4. Go microsite crazy! Don’t feel obligated to have all of your great content on your main domain. Feel free to experiment on new domains and vertical portals. Not only do internet users freely tolerate online experimentation, but you’ll be able to make greater impact on a microsite by wrapping it with only relevant and useful information on the topic.
  5. Allow feedback at all costs. First, make sure you always have feedback channels. Second, once you decide, don’t hold back. Even if there is negative feedback, use it to listen to your customers and improve your product. A great example of this is Microsoft Vista allowing users to outwardly badger their product on one of their own forums. By allowing this to happen, Microsoft learned more about their product deficiencies than they would in any focus group. Microsoft began to make the upgrades, with cheers from those who previously criticized the operating system.

And three more to chew on:

  1. In any strategic marketing conversation, keep your customer content at the center. In other words, your sales information should become secondary to the content that builds relationships.
  2. Start out with niche content and build from there. If your organization hasn’t been great at content, don’t try to do all things at once. Concentrate on an area where you can truly focus and deliver targeted, valuable content to a segment of your customers. Once you’re successful there, move on.
  3. Experiment. Don’t get stuck in the same old delivery channels. Your customers are experimenting with all kinds of devices. Go where your customers are and try some different outlets. As long as it’s great content, your customers will never hold it against you.