Starting a content marketing strategy is a bit like the first time baking a cake. You like the idea of it, you know the benefits of doing so (it could be self-indulgent, but hopefully it will also be about pleasing others), but you have absolutely no idea where to start!
However, you would never start whipping up a Victoria Sponge, off the cuff, without knowing some of the basics first (do you have the time, the ingredients, the equipment, the know-how?), so why would you just suddenly start crafting content without a basic understanding of what you are trying to achieve?
Like everything in life, if it is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. So, before reaching for your utensils, take some time and ask yourself the following questions:
Why Do You Want to Bake/Blog?
Initially, you wouldn’t think there were that many reasons to bake a cake, but, when you take a little time to reflect, there could be many motivations. To treat yourself, the therapeutic nature of the process, to celebrate, to say ‘sorry’ or even to sell your creations for profit.
The same applies to content marketing, before you start the process you have to understand what you are trying to achieve. For a SME, some of the most common reasons include:
• To increase brand awareness
• To establish themselves as a thought leader in their market place
• To increase online sales
• To encourage readers to make contact e.g. telephone, email, online form
• To get potential customers to sign up to future communications.
What you want to achieve will very much depend on the nature of your business and what you want the reader to do next, once having read the information (i.e. the call -to-action). Understanding this is very important as this may very well inform what sort of content you will need to produce.
Who Wants Cake/Content?
As we have established, understanding your motivation is extremely important. Most people like cake, but not everyone likes the same type of cake, so before you get started you need to understand who you are baking for. This is the same with content marketing, not everyone is going to like the same things, so it needs to be tailored to who it is aimed towards.
This not only applies to the type of content, but also the channels from which it is distributed. There is no point in spending your precious time producing a princess cake and then taking it to the office. Actually, bad example, any sort of cake will probably get demolished at the office!
Your audience will determine your ‘tone of voice’ (humorous, authoritative, caring), the type of content (blogs, white papers infographics, video, podcasts) and your distribution channels (traditional print, e-campaigns, social media channels).
Once, you have established your objectives and your intended audience, it is now time to consider how on earth you are going to create a ‘Show Stopper’* deserved of a ‘Hollywood Handshake’!*
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Can I Bake A Cake/ Write Content?
The thought of baking a cake may seem daunting at first, but once you start looking at recipes and what other people have done before you, the task at hand will hopefully seem a little less intimidating.
This is exactly the same as creating content. There is nothing worse than staring at a blank sheet of paper wondering where on earth you are going to start, but by researching what is already out in the market place (industry publications, industry related online forums, competitor blogs and social media streams) you will soon get your creative juices flowing.
Don’t worry if you have not written before or don’t feel particularly creative. If you are passionate about your business and know you industry inside out, you will be able to produce content which will be engaging to others.
However, don’t just copy others and go through the motions. Anyone can bake a coffee and walnut cake by following the instructions. But like with most things creative, it isn’t until you grow in confidence, put your own spin on things and bake from the heart, that your creations will start to stand out from the crowd.
Once you find your own voice with content marketing, you will start to engage potential customers by making them laugh, educating them and stirring their emotions. Then overtime, if you engage them enough, they will try your products or services.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
The first thing you need to consider is time. How many cakes can you produce within a given period? It is best to be realistic and bake on a regular basis, whether it be 3 times a week, once a week or once a month, so that your audience know when they are likely to receive their sugar fix, rather than surprising them ad-hoc.
A basic blog can be produced with a laptop and can be hosted on your website or an alternative blog hosting platform such as WordPress. But, if you want to add icing or sugar work, then further tools maybe required. For instance, Canva is a free online platform that can be used to produce infographics relatively easily and You Tube or Vimeo can be used to host any videos you might choose to produce.
It is also worth considering the occasion for both baking and blogging. For example, in December both content and cake could have a Christmas related theme to help engage your target audiences.
On Your Marks….
So now that you know what is necessary, on your Marks……Get Set……..Bake!* Or alternatively, get someone who knows how to bake a cake to bake one for you!
*If you don’t get these references, you obviously don’t watch the Great British Bake-Off’!
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