The 3 Essential Ingredients of Good Content Marketing

olive-oil-basil-tomatoes-1412361_1280Content Marketing is an unfortunate term because people have expectations of what marketing is supposed to do, how it gets done, and the time frame it takes to get a return on your investment.

Unfortunately content marketing does not meet those expectations. It’s more nuanced, focuses on helping people by sharing information, proposing solutions, and demonstrating authority, and takes longer to generate revenue.

Think of content marketing as an online compilation of your company’s information and knowledge that helps position your company as an authoritative and valuable resource for answers and information.

That includes your business philosophy, mission, purpose, thought leadership, as well as the products and services you offer.

After finding your site, people return to it because they

  • Value and trust what you give them,
  • Appreciate how you give it to them, and
  • Feel good about the company/people giving it to them.

One of the ideas behind content marketing has to do with reciprocity, a psychological response to someone doing something nice for you. When someone does that, you’re more predisposed to do something nice for them.

Another reason is that when they value what you give them for free, they’ll buy the products and services you have to offer because they’ll value those as well.

Though there’s no overt selling, that’s not to say that you can’t tell people what you have for sale. It just needs to be done in a judicious fashion that doesn’t make people feel like they’re being sold to.

The Three Ingredients

1. Establishing your company as an authority,
2. Connecting with your audience in ways they appreciate, use and share, and
3. Helping them understand what’s currently going on in their arena and how it impacts them with Thought Leadership.

Demonstrating authority through education

  • This begins with content providing fundamental education. Sharing basic information and terminology that helps people get up to speed with what they need to know.
  • This is content the remains evergreen on your site. It’s also known as cornerstone content because it provides the foundation on which your blogging and thought leadership content is based.
  • Identifying and creating the foundations of your authority keeps your content marketing on track.

Connecting with your audience means understanding what they want and what they need. The greater your understanding of those things, and your ability to deliver the information in ways they find useful will keep them coming back for more.

  • When Bill Gates wrote about content back in 1996, he took a very broad view of what the term encompassed: written content, videos, audios (podcasts), applications and more.
  • The more you know about your audience the better you’ll be able to serve them with either a blog or a combination of blog, podcasts or on-demand webinars.
  • When doing a podcast or webinar, keep in mind that many people still prefer print over broadcasts so be sure you always provide show notes and/or a transcript.

With Thought Leadership, you’re connecting with your audience on a different level. This is where you and your talented and experienced employees can shine by addressing the issues and stories taking place in your arena.

  • Select the subjects and stories you tackle carefully because you can take a leadership position on it, or are adding something of substance to the conversation.
    • What are your thoughts on the issues facing your industry?
    • How do you think they should be handled?
    • What is your unique opinion, thoughts, approaches?
  • Utilize difference of opinions within your own organization. Think round-up type of articles or podcast discussions, or even a larger type of document such as an ebook that explores the subject more thoroughly.
  • Thought leadership content needs to follow the rules of writing for an audience. That means: good headlines, a structured format, on-point content, good readability, and an appropriate close or call to action.

Though these are the three necessary ingredients, how you develop and implement your content marketing strategy and program will be based on your business needs and resources.

There are just a couple of more things you need to know.

Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1539-1540

“Content Is King” Bill Gates, 1996

These days content is more kingly than ever.

That’s thanks to Google’s determination to find and present to people the absolute best answers to their queries that it can.

Google does not like skinny content.

That means supplying a content marketing program with richly relevant material on a regular basis.

Like Henry VIII, content marketing has a kingly appetite.

Providing it with endless material can be time consuming and resource intensive.

But unlike trying to house, feed and entertain Henry (plus his huge entourage complete with support personnel), your content marketing program can start small and grow.

The key to a good content marketing program is not just good planning, but planning that brings to the table people in a variety of job functions.

When you’re getting ready to take on a kingly endeavor, you need all the help you can get.

That includes your marketing area, sales people, customer service, technical support, and someone who can show you how to keep your program on track through the use of correctly placed controls.

Creating a good content marketing program is not something to take lightly as it is an ongoing marketing effort that takes a while to give you a good return on your investment.

Commit to doing it for the long term and it will pay the types of dividends that make all your efforts and work worthwhile.

To make sure your content marketing strategy is ticking all the right boxes, check out my article The 7-Step Content Marketing Strategy that Safeguards Your ROI