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How to Do Content Marketing Right

Content marketing that produces consistent revenue-generating results for your business requires more than just writing, editing, and publishing. So, whether you’re about to embark on a new content marketing program or would like to get better results from existing content marketing efforts, here are a few broad strategic areas to examine.

Define Your Goals

It’s easy to say, “We want more business,” but that’s not nearly as productive as saying, “We want more B2B small businesses to sign up for our $625 per month website/content strategy package.”

The more completely you can define the goals for your content — for every single piece of content — the more productive each of those content elements will be, and the more productive your content marketing will be overall.

It’s important to decide how many different goals you can juggle simultaneously. Be sure to look at this issue both from an internal resources perspective (How much content can we produce and promote?), as well as from an audience perspective. You typically don’t want to overwhelm an audience segment with competing messages. It’s hard enough to get their attention. One message at a time for each audience segment is usually more
productive.

Define Your Audience — And Their Pain Points

If your content focuses on you, your services, and the features of what you offer, you are on a fast road to irrelevance. Prospects care about three things:
• What you can do for them
• What you can do for them
• What you can do for them

They don’t care about you or your capabilities, at least not at first. They care about whether what you do can help them solve the problem that is costing them money or holding back their business in some way.

Once you’ve established that you can help them solve their problem, their interest will turn to secondary concerns — does your firm seem reputable and reliable, etc.

All of which means that your content marketing’s primary goal has to be to address your prospects’ pain points directly. You don’t have to solve their problem with your content, but you do have to give them insights into possible solutions. (While offering some sense of your ability to help them, of course.)

Identify Your Niche — And Know Your Competitors

While I’m all in favor of content marketing’s growth and acceptance over the past decade, there is a downside to popularity. Since all the other kids are doing it, the playground’s gotten pretty crowded. Standing out from your competition means carving out a niche that you can own and that helps to differentiate you.

Take some time to research the firms you are frequently competing against and the content they produce. Is it ranking highly? Whose content is ranking well for the keyword phrases you’d like to compete on? What kinds of projects do they seem to win relative to your target market.

Your goal in researching the competitive landscape is to identify topics and areas of expertise that the competition isn’t addressing — or isn’t paying as much attention to. But don’t get too excited without a bit more research: be sure that the reason your competition isn’t addressing an area isn’t because there’s no interest from the target audience. (This is where some keyword research help can come in handy. It’s not difficult to learn, but can take some time to master. A seasoned SEO professional will get you there faster.)

Ultimately, the most important thing in content marketing is creating engaging content that addresses the questions your prospects have. SEO and competitive concerns aren’t trivial, but high-quality content is the key to content marketing success, and it should be your top priority.

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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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