Many articles argued the effectiveness or non-effectiveness of content marketing. It’s not one of these articles. Instead, I’ll share the foundation you need to do content marketing right.
Great content marketing raises the people’s desire to do more often an activity that potentially requires your products. It’s not about your products, their benefits, nor their features. It’s about a lifestyle, an habit, an aspiration, or achieving a specific goal.
Before you consider content marketing, you should know that is a marathon; it’s not a sprint. It’s not a quick fix that would turn people into buyers the minute after they consumed your content. In fact, great content marketers never or rarely mention their product or solution. Instead, great content marketers talk about something that relates to their product, they talk about an activity that potentially includes the range of products they sell. Content marketing is about giving people the taste to do that activity more often. If you do it right and long enough, it will eventually turn into sales.
After analyzing many brands that get it, there is no doubt in my mind that content marketing works the best when you produce and distribute content that:
- helps people,
- teaches people new skills,
- proposes ways to overcome challenges in their life,
- inspires a lifestyle, a worldview,
- shares tips and finds to make their life easy, and
- empowers them with steps to adopt a more desirable habit.
When you do that, you will become a brand that people follow for their advices and inspirations. You will become someone they trust and talk about to their friends. This is how content marketing will generate demand for your products and help you build your loyal customer base. How to manage and do these last parts require other techniques that are beyond the scope of today’s food for thought. For now, let’s concentrate on figuring out what should be your story line, what should be the big story that you will tell using content marketing.
A Clear Pursuit
Now that we have established that the right way to do content marketing is through compelling, educating and empowering content designed for the audience you want to reach. What next?
It’s simpler to explain what you need to determine through a brand that clearly states its pursuit and why people care about them. I’m a huge fan of Jamie Oliver since he started to share his love for food back in 2000. I always loved his laid-back approach. Frankly, I never imagined that he would become so popular and stand the test of time. His brand has evolved over time. Most importantly, he understands how to maintain people’s attention. Notice that I said maintain— instead of grab —people’s attention. Maintaining people’s attention is a key element for success when you do content marketing. As I said earlier, content marketing is a marathon.
Jamie Oliver doesn’t teach people how to cook, he inspires people to cook. Watching him is contagious; it triggers people to act. My husband Jerome rarely cooks. After he saw Jamie explained on TV how to make a risotto, my husband wanted to give it try. Jerome now makes the best risotto.
This enthusiasm doesn’t stop at Jamie. The entire team at Jamie Oliver works together to inspire families to eat healthier, home cooked meals every day. They show us that, despite our busy life, we can cook our meals with fresh ingredients. They even teach their followers how to grow their own food. That’s their purpose!
Notice that I said maintain instead of grab people’s attention. Maintaining people’s attention is a key element for success when you do content marketing.
What’s in it for you is that before you can devise a solid content marketing strategy, you need to have a clear understanding of who you are, what you represent for your audience and what is the path to turn them into loyal customers. You need to figure out how you make people life better, how you will educate them, inspire them with a worldview, and empower them into action. You need to have a higher purpose, a purpose bigger than sales and profits. You need to provide something that people will believe in. Then, you can turn that purpose into compelling content.
Your Food for Thought Exercise
Naturally, there are many steps before you can start your own revolution. So, we’ll step back. For now, I want you to make a list than goes beyond where, when and how people use products similar to yours. Collect a list of activities, life events or habits surrounding the use of your products. Write down your customers’ pain points, worldviews and aspirations. Do they belong to a community? Do they have join a movement? Who leverages any of these in a proper way? Gather as much information as you can about the people you want to serve. It’s then and only then that you can start to brainstorm about your higher purpose. Once you found your higher purpose, you can start to craft a content marketing strategy that can yield great results.
As you can see, they are many elements that need a definite answer before you can start thinking of which platforms, which medium and what types of content are right for your business. Too many brands skipped the discovery phase. Skipping the discovery phase strongly reduces the success rate of their content marketing. Don’t be one of them!