We’ve all heard the expression, “Content is king.” Bill Gates’ essay with the same title came out nearly 20 years ago, but the sentiment still holds true today. Businesses have an insatiable need for more content, whether in the form of blog posts, white papers, eBooks, infographics, videos, webinars, social media, or something else. It looks like there’s little chance of this need for quality content abating anytime soon. Just check out some of these findings:
- Seventy percent of B2B marketers are producing more content this year than last.
- Curata’s 2015 survey found that 76% of marketers planned to increase their content budgets.
- The Content Marketing Institute found that 45% of B2C marketers had a dedicated content marketing group in their organization.
- B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t blog.
If you want to compete, you better have a well-thought-out content strategy in place. Embedded in the challenge of how to create great content is the question: How do you figure out what content your customers actually want?
Know your target audience.
First, it’s essential that you know who your target audience is. Who do you want your content to appeal to? It’s important to remember that it’s all about your customer—not you. You need to figure out the type of content your ideal customer will relate to. To do so, discover their interests and what they care about. Demographics are a good place to start. Although they are superficial and can’t tell you everything about your customer, you‘ll get an idea of what sort of content interests them. Ask yourself questions like:
- What age is your ideal customer?
- Where does your ideal customer live?
- What is their household income?
- What’s their gender?
These questions will give you an idea of what kind of content your customer would like to see and a starting point for your content creation. Say, for example, you’re selling vitamins, and your ideal customer is a male in his mid-to-late fifties. If you’d like to use social media to push your sales, cursory research will let you know that only 11% of this group uses Instagram, but 63% uses Facebook. Obviously, there are many other variables, but no matter how popular Instagram may be, it probably won’t be worth it to focus your efforts there. Another thing to analyze is the behaviors of your customers. Take into account their attention spans. Do you think your customer would prefer to see a video of your product or read a detailed blog post? What kind of device are they using to access your content? If they’re using mobile devices, you’ll want to ensure your content is easily digestible and looks good on smartphones.
Answer your customers’ questions.
Content marketing is not a hard-sell approach. Rather, you are providing content to educate or help your potential customer with a problem. You want to be customer-centric and put yourself in their shoes. In the early stages it’s all about building relationships. Think of some questions your ideal customer may have. A lot of this may depend on where they are in the buying cycle. For example, if someone is just starting to research a product or service your company sells, blogs and social media are a great way to get the word out about your product and build credibility. At this point you’re not talking about your particular product, but rather offering potential solutions to your customer’s problem. Once you’ve developed more of a relationship with your customer, your content may be in the form of targeted landing pages or even email messages—at which point you can talk about the specifics of your product.
Re-purpose content to meet your customers’ needs.
The demand for content and targeting different customers can feel overwhelming, but there are some shortcuts you can take to make the most of your content, without sacrificing quality. Often the most time-consuming part of developing content is coming up with an initial idea and doing the research. You can package your ideas and research in different ways to get the most bang for your buck. Let’s say you’ve spent hours crafting a blog post that’s chock full of interesting facts. Posting your blog shouldn’t be the end of your efforts, but only the beginning. You can pull out some tantalizing tidbits to tweet on Twitter or make an infographic to visually display all of your hard-won research. Re-packaging your content will save you time and, more importantly, extend your reach and visibility. By breaking down or expanding your original blog post, you can attract potential customers who may not have seen your initial post. Not all of your potential customers will consume content in the same way. Some will prefer webinars, some may enjoy watching videos, and others may like to get information through social media. The key is to tweak your content so that it fits into different marketing mediums. You can also make a bigger resource for your potential customer by combining several blog posts into a longer eBook. If the posts are of a similar theme, you could easily convert each post into a chapter of your book. Just make sure it follows a logical flow. Another way to come up with content is through curation. There is an unbelievable amount of content out there these days. Sometimes the valuable pieces get lost in the shuffle. By culling content from reputable sources and packaging it in a helpful manner, you can get the best pieces in front of your potential customers. They will begin to think of you as a go-to resource for the latest information.
Content is still king.
The type of content people crave may have changed in recent years, but quality content is undeniably necessary if you want to grow your customer base. Content is a way to provide a benefit to your potential customer, while at the same time expanding your brand and reputation. They should see you as an authority and a resource, so they’ll keep coming back. You won’t be able to appeal to all of your customers using a single channel but should focus on providing content in a variety of ways.