Marketing gurus always talk about the importance of creating content to grow your brand and attract your target audience, but what kind of content will actually help you do that?
The simple (and complicated) answer is that it depends.
It depends on your business goals, your budget, and whether you’ve built any kind of content library to date.
Businesses CAN drive more traffic to their website, create a buzz about their product or service, and improve their conversions with great content.
However, a lot of businesses churn out boring or disconnected content because they feel like they should be creating content, not because they have a clear strategy behind it. All that does is create a glut of unread blogs, social media posts, and videos that don’t actually help your customers and waste your marketing budget.
Instead of creating blogs and videos “just because,” we’ll show you how to build a foundation of content that meets your customer’s most pressing needs and also provides an endless fountain of ideas for other advanced, engaging forms of content.
The power of content marketing is that it provides information that engages your target customer and meets their needs 24/7. Great content is at work even when you aren’t.
The two most foundational types of content are blog posts and case studies. Not only are they great lead generators in their own right, but they’re also a fountain of ideas from which you can later create other types of content. In our opinion, they’re worth investing in upfront and getting right.
Blogs should be the foundation of your content strategy because they:
- Are flexible and can provide a wide range of valuable information for your website visitors
- Pre-answer questions about your product or service to speed up your sales process
- Build relationships with your customers so they’re already familiar with your offering when you reach out by email or use ad retargeting
- Combat misconceptions and provide counterarguments for any objections customers may have about using your product or service
- Provide an endless bank of ideas for other types of content
Great blogs delight and engage your audience and create a sense of camaraderie with your brand. They can make your target audience feel understood and valued.
The issue with how many companies approach blogs is that they don’t invest much time or money into them because they don’t understand the true value and power of great content.
If you create boring, generic blogs that don’t provide a unique viewpoint or information specific to how you solve your customer’s challenges, then no one will read them. Many businesses have invested in blogs half-heartedly with no strategy, then concluded that blogs were a waste of their budget.
Make no mistake — they certainly can be. But done right, blogs are one of the most effective places to spend your marketing budget.
So where do you start?
Think about the most common questions you get from customers about your company, product, service, philosophy, etc. Anything you get asked repeatedly makes a great topic for a blog post.
Your sales team is a great source to tap for blog topics because they usually spend the most time talking to customers and answering their questions.
With just a little bit of brainstorming, you can probably think of at least 10 – 15 common questions, so start there. Make those 10 – 15 blogs detailed and in-depth, and they’ll be WAY more effective than 100 generic blogs that are identical to what’s on your competitor’s website.
You can add more content to your blog over time as you have other ideas for how to engage your audience and provide value, but 10 – 15 provides a solid foundation to start with.
Case studies are super powerful because they let you show prospects exactly what it’s like to work with you AND they tell the story in your customer’s own words.
Effective case studies will:
- Answer questions a prospect may have about your company
- Break down your processes so prospects know what to expect when working with you
- Show how you and your team solve client issues as they arise
- Include glowing customer quotes
- Highlight your expertise and skill
- Provide social proof that others have used your product and service to great benefit
- Share concrete examples of how you fulfill the promises you make in your ads or on sales calls
The best case studies begin with a client interview so you can get real quotes and deeply understand how your customers experience your partnership.
The added benefit is that they provide great data points to help your company understand what you’re already doing great, AND help you identify any areas where you can improve your customer service and/or product.
Advanced Content That Builds On Your Foundation
Once you have a firm foundation of content, you can start taking that same information and repackaging it into new, bite-sized chunks that are perfect for sharing in emails, on social media, in traditional print formats, as videos, audio, and a nearly endless array of other formats.
Afraid that sharing the same information in new formats will get redundant? Don’t be!
Today’s consumer is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads every day. You need to repeat your message loud and clear many times before it sticks in the minds of your target customers.
The more consistent you are with your message, the better, so don’t be afraid to go back to your foundational content, again and again, to transform it into new formats.
Infographics are a visual, engaging form of content that your online fans can easily share with others. They break down complex information and processes into a few steps so viewers can absorb the information quickly. Below is an example.
Types of information that work great for infographics are statistics, processes, timelines, comparisons, lists, specialized information, overviews of in-depth topics, etc. If you have any of that type of content in your foundation (and we bet you will!), then you have the start of a powerful, shareable infographic.
Because the visual element of an infographic is so central to getting the content right, we recommend using a professional graphic designer to help you create them. If you don’t have one in-house, you can hire a freelance designer for a modest price.
Infographics are perfect to share on your social media channel as organic posts or ads, and they also work great inside marketing emails. You can even add them to related blog posts to make them more visually appealing to your website visitors.
Some companies even print their infographics to use as handouts for customers as part of the onboarding or relationship-building process to help them understand the experience they’re about to have as a customer of the company.
Podcasts & Audio Interviews
Like blogs, podcasts can take a wide variety of forms and discuss a range of topics. A landscaping business, for example, may use podcast episodes to discuss common lawn care challenges, solutions, products, and processes.
There’s no right way to create a podcast, and the form offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to script and structure. Businesses have found success with long-format interviews, short episodes about industry news, and discussions between team members. So long as you have the right audio equipment, just about any format, episode length, or topic can work.
If you’re not sure where to start with podcasting topics, go back to your foundational content. You can begin by creating episodes that answer common customer questions and interview a few satisfied customers.
Keep in mind that the topics need to be relevant and engaging to your target customer, not just tangentially related to your industry or overly salesy. All the better if you have a unique perspective or approach compared to your competitors.
If you want to make your audio sound particularly professional, you’ll need to invest in audio mixing and mastering. This is especially true if you want your podcast to be widely distributed. Mastering helps ensure your podcast sounds great, regardless of the streaming platform.
Some simple DIY tools for producing your podcast are Riverside, Zencaster, and Descript. You don’t have to be an audio guru to get started, you just have to have the courage to put your voice out into the world.
If you’re not quite ready to dive into producing your own podcast, you can appear as a guest on existing industry podcasts. They can give you a taste of the experience and expose your brand to hungry audiences.
Like infographics, video content is highly sharable. With the average adult spending about 78 minutes per day watching video content on their digital devices, it’s a great place to put some of your marketing budget.
Many businesses have cracked the code of creating affordable, effective videos by using stock video footage rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on custom video shooting and production. Our article about optimizing your Facebook video ads has all of the information you need to start turning your foundational content into high-end, engaging videos without breaking the bank.
Many companies benefit from pieces of content that are longer than a traditional blog and provide a deep dive into company or industry topics.
For example, you could compile the most important information from a related series of blogs plus some extra graphics, statistics, and commentary into an informative ebook that you use to generate leads. You may want to gate the ebook by requiring an email address from visitors to download it.
Gated, high-quality content can be a great strategy for building your email list and also providing outstanding value to your website visitors.
Other types of long-form content you may want to consider are white papers and articles for industry-specific magazines or publications. Both of these options position your firm as an expert and expose you to new audiences that you may not encounter in your current marketing strategy.
Creating the Right Content for Your Business
Content can be effective in a variety of formats. What matters most is that it is unique, valuable, and thoughtfully created. High-quality content is still an extremely powerful tool for attracting new visitors and generating warm leads.
If you’re ready to start creating powerful content but aren’t sure where to begin or don’t feel that you have the time and expertise to do it right, get in touch with our team. We’ve helped many businesses like yours create and execute a cohesive content strategy that grows their bottom line.