We’ve all been there – you pick up a new client, but you quickly find that they have no idea what your business is doing – let alone what they really expect from working with you. It’s the customer who pisses your employees off, takes all of your time, and makes you go to Tony Soprano to pay the bills.
Unsurprisingly, this same client is often dissatisfied with the results, complaining about missed goals unrelated to your company’s expertise.
To call this experience frustrating would be an understatement.
Content marketers feel your pain. In light of its recent trendy status, business leaders know they want a piece of the content pie. Unfortunately, that is all too often all they know.
Don’t just make noise
Without the well-defined goals and strategy that come with a decent understanding of content marketing, your content is just noise – noise that neither you nor your customers will be happy with.
Whether you are preparing a blog post or compiling a masterpiece for the Wall Street Journal, you should know the purpose of this article. What should people do after reading your post? The answer to this question can range from finding information about your business to applying for a job.
Five business goals that will turn noise into music
Business content marketing goals will vary widely; However, here are five solid goals that businesses of all types can plan for:
1. Brand awareness: This is one of the most common goals of a content marketing strategy. In fact, MarketingProfs and Junta42 found that brand awareness was the Goal n ° 1 for B2B marketers in North America. This is because high quality, targeted content can showcase your business’ expertise, leaving readers to wonder, “Who wrote this? “
2. Brand loyalty: When readers find themselves constantly reading a brand’s content, they begin to see that brand in a new light, not only in terms of credibility but likability as well.
The Buffer social media tool is a prime example. A few years ago, Buffer invested in a industry blog which featured smart articles like “The History of To-Do Lists” and “Common Mistakes Our Brain Makes and How to Fix Them”. With entertaining and informative content that truly brings value outside of its product offering, Buffer has developed a huge following in addition to a loyal following. It says a lot when everyone – and their grandmothers – are busy developing “revolutionary” social media tools.
Start by writing down the questions your sales team hears from customers. I guarantee that these questions will stimulate article ideas that would be useful to your audience. They can even convince a few hesitant customers.
4. Customer engagement: Posting an article and then responding to comments or questions with current or potential clients is an opportunity to connect. This type of engagement humanizes your business logo by giving it opinion, expertise and (most importantly) personality. Customers want to buy from people, not from a brand.
5. Talent recruitment: Use content to present your company’s vision and culture through meaningful content and without BS. Do you really want the people who love a good piece of plush to work for you? You want employees who value thoughtful, honest content. We wrote on our team members contributing to a douchebag pot when they said bullshit to each other. Great talent saw this article and identified themselves as the perfect fit for our team.
Why traffic is missing from the mix
You may have noticed that two important things – increased web traffic and clicks – are missing from the list above. There is a good reason for this.
If a content marketing strategy results in increased traffic as a by-product of its great content, that’s wonderful. But a content marketing strategy that designed to lead directly to increased traffic is shameless self-promotion.
Let me assure you: Promotional links and other small information that a business claims will directly lead to increased traffic will be considered spam, lower the quality of content, and seriously damage credibility. Readers are smart, so creating an article for the purpose of generating traffic will only stop your audience from drinking the Kool-Aid you are serving.
Content marketing is intended to educate, entertain, and provoke questions. It’s the next level of advertising, but what’s different is that readers actually want and appreciate this type of marketing – if it’s done right.
If you understand and align your content with the right goals, it can breathe new life into your marketing efforts and create real connections with your customers.
John hall is the CEO of Influences & Cie., a company that helps individuals and brands increase their influence through thought leadership and content marketing programs. Influence & Co., a leading provider of high-quality expert content for the world’s best publications, is the creator of Weekly Contributor. Connect with John on Twitter Where Google+.