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Content Marketing: content strategy beyond marketing and sales support

As we’ve said many times before, likes, follows, and shares are all very nice, but they don’t pay the rent – and they aren’t likely to impress most C-level executives. Their interest is much more bottom-line oriented, which means you’re not going to last long if you’re not bottom-line oriented as well. That doesn’t mean, though, that the only success metric for content marketing is its contribution to successful and profitable sales.

Despite the overwhelming focus on sales support, content marketing can contribute to the bottom line without being focused on the top line. Here are a few areas to consider beyond the sales funnel.

Market Research / Product Pipeline
A solid content strategy can help you get to know your customers well enough to deliver what they need even before they’ve asked for it.

The data you gather on how your audience reacts to your content doesn’t just tell you what kind of content you should be producing for effective marketing. It tells you what your clients are interested in. Add a little structured debriefing with your sales team and you’ll quickly have a roadmap that can guide new product development and brand extensions.

Branding and Customer Experience
Get them the information they want as quickly as possible. No need to waste time making calls, tracking down the right person, etc. Make the information and materials your clients need available to them 24/7 and that convenience becomes a part of your brand. It also contributes to great customer experience.

Content strategy as part of the customer experience gives you the opportunity to align each and every touchpoint in the client experience with your brand. That’s how organizations like Zappos and Nordstrom and Apple and Tiffany & Co. create such strong customer experience and branding.

Sales & Marketing Optimization
As noted above, the content you gather on how your audience reacts to your content can guide more than your content creation choices. It can also provide focus for your broader marketing initiatives. This is closely related to the guidance you get for product development, though the focus here is on creating marketing that resonates with warm prospects and that highlights the strengths of your existing products.

Operations Optimization
Every dollar in expenses you don’t have to spend is a dollar in revenue that goes right to your bottom line. It’s not as sexy as closing the big deal, but it still gets the attention of the C-suite crowd. Can great content and a great relationship with your customers help you save money by deploying staff differently? Can self-serve information and materials eliminate the need for customer service teams to handle low-level issues and focus more on more complex customer care questions? Does that increased engagement improve morale and performance? (And customer experience?)

Yes, yes, and yes. In fact, it’s possible for these non-sales content areas to cover your content costs entirely on their own, before you’ve even seen one dollar in improved sales.

Still, for most organizations, content marketing’s contribution to sales is going to be KPI #1. But operations, sales and marketing overall, and getting to know your customer are all areas worth baking into your content marketing plans.

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Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on Biznology.com, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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