I don't read Forbes regularly, but occasionally one of their articles catches my eye—especially if it's on a topic near and dear to my monkeyz heart. One such article I scoped out recently was 3 Content Marketing Trends That Will Rule 2018.
The gist of this article is that there's a glut of content out there as virtually every individual or organization on the planet with an Internet connection and a pulse is pumping out articles and commentary and videos, etc. Of course, it's not all marketing content. In addition to everything produced to sell, promote, or talk about certain products, services, and/or brands, there’s tons out there in the form of entertainment, sports, news, commentary from pundits, and good old-fashioned education and how-to. The key takeaway is there's so much content that consumers are being overwhelmed by it—and it's a trend the experts see continuing (including yours truly).
Related to the content glut, the article raises a red flag in terms of how consumer engagement on a particular topic seems to decline as the amount of content increases (say it ain’t so!). The author cites a recent article from businessgrow.com that suggests that engagement drops as a result of content oversaturation (too much of a good thing) together with a decline in overall quality (too little of a good thing) as more and more so-called thought leaders begin churning out material that's of questionable quality.
All that said, let’s not be throwing the content baby out with the bathwater. Content is still king, and it will remain that way for the foreseeable future. What’s changing (and I tend to view this not as a change but as a reemphasis) is that to be seen and heard your content—more than ever—needs to stand out. In my book, that’s always been the case and will always be so.
So how can you, as the marketing leader for your organization, make that happen?
- Make Your Content Unique
Does your content grab the attention of your target audience? Can consumers get the same kind of content elsewhere?
When it comes to content creation, it’s getting tough to produce content that’s exceptional. After all, how do you produce content for the connoisseur who's read or consumed just about everything there is to consume on a particular topic?
Your brand represents a unique story that only you can tell. Just as there is only one “you” in the world, with a unique back story and circumstances, so too is your brand one-of-a-kind. What is the promise you make to customers? What is the solution your brand provides? Who are the unique people and personalities behind your brand? How can you highlight the work they do in support of your brand and your customers? Likewise, how have your customers incorporated your product or service into their lives? What are their experiences?
If you do a deep dive into what makes you and your brand unique, there’s sure to be a treasure trove of ideas just below the surface. And don’t discount the effectiveness of championing a different take on a traditional topic. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or to be a little provocative . . . as long as you remain consistent with your brand.
- Give People What They Want
Your content can’t be all just words, words, words. Words are important—just ask the search engine gurus—but numerous readership studies demonstrate that images, video, and photos are key to driving content engagement in the form of readership, likes, and sharing.
For example, any images or video you produce of your product or your people in action can’t be gotten elsewhere. That’s not only unique content (see #1 above), but it’s also engaging content. The same goes for statistics, memes, timelines, and other data points unique to your brand, product, or industry. Consumers have a voracious appetite for those kinds of things—and if you can package them up neatly in an infographic or video, you’ll truly be giving people what they want.
If the old saying is “a picture is worth a thousand words,” consider what a video (a moving picture) or a snazzy infographic plus a thousand words is worth in the digital age.
- Make Your Content Valuable and Relevant
There are two really big don’ts for brands when it comes to content marketing:
- DON’T produce content that’s little more than thinly-veiled advertising.
- DON’T produce content that’s not all that interesting or appealing to your target audience.
This is easier said than done, of course, but in the absence of being able to produce frequent and high quality, relevant content “less is more when it comes to content production,” says Contentmarketinginstitute.com. I agree.
- Is the content you are producing something your target audience anticipates? Is it something they want to hear from you about?
- Are you focused on just the top of the marketing/sales funnel (acquisition), or do you try to appeal to potential customers at all stages (from being a lead to becoming a customer)?
- Does the content offer some sort of solution that’s related to your brand and the reasons your audience has for using your product or service?
- If the consumer of your content were never to buy a thing from you, would he or she still tend to value your brand and recommend you to others?
- Do you make obvious calls-to-action in your content? If so, consider separating them from your main content, either as a pop-up that appears on page load or after a certain amount of time or as you attempt to mouse-away, or as a sidebar item.
- Know Your Audience
Even in the digital age, the old school rules of marketing still apply. Just because the tools of today allow you to reach out with relative ease and frequency to just about everybody, doesn't mean you should. Narrow your focus and, to the extent possible, look for ways to customize or personalize content so that recipients feel as though you are talking directly to them, or you at least know what makes them tick.
- Define your target audience.
- Get to know that audience well.
- Make sure your content shows up where your target audience goes for information.
5. Make it Manageable
Don’t spread your brand or your content too thin over too many channels. Content creation and distribution requires commitment, frequency, and acceptance that success is a long-term proposition as you build your community of brand fans—some who are and some who are not (and may never be) your customers.
When you know your audience and where they go for information and how they make decisions, you’ll be able to narrow your focus for maximum effectiveness and optimal use of resources such as your time, staff time, money, and gas in your tank.
- Be Transparent
If you can’t be honest with your content, it’s better not to say it. Trust from consumers in your brand to say and do the right thing and to have their backs at all times is perhaps the greatest asset you have. But trust is a double-edged sword. Build trust and people will talk up your brand, share your great content, and even generate some of their own to share. Break that that trust, though, and the wrath of social media will be upon you.
- Set Goals
I’m of the opinion that you can’t get anywhere if you don’t set a goal. Heading out for a drive? Chances are you have a destination in mind. Otherwise, you just end up going around in circles. Twenty-five years ago, Stephen Covey professed that effective people should all “Begin with the End in Mind.” It was sage advice then. It remains so to this day. In other words, to plan for content marketing success, you have to have an idea of what success looks like.
- What do you want to accomplish as a result of your content marketing?
- How will you know you’re successful?
- Set content creation goals (how much, how frequently)
- Set subscriber/follower goals.
- Determine your call(s) to action (what you want consumers of your content to do).
TAKE THE NEXT STEP
Let Barrel O’ Monkeyz provide a free assessment of your current content marketing and social media strategies to help you answer the question, “Is my content contributing to my success?”
You can also check out Barrel O’Monkeyz white papers on a range of topics, from social media and inbound marketing and website development, to digital marketing, brand development, and design. Each white paper is full of ideas and steps you need to take to turn your ideas into reality.
LET’S GET CREATIVEBarrel O’Monkeyz is a San Diego-based strategic marketing agency specializing in Sports and Active Lifestyle markets. We serve as a seasoned, outsourced marketing team for companies looking to ramp up sales and launch new products. Our barrel is full of talent and creative arms ready to prove we don’t just monkey around! Contact Barrel O’Monkeyz Today