6 steps to ‘epic content marketing’

Setting an objective and crafting a strategy to achieve it form a solid foundation. Then the fun begins.

Nearly 12 decades after John Deere fathered content marketing with the magazine The Furrow, the digital revolution has enabled every business to deliver valuable content to customers.

This accessibility is a blessing and a challenge for marketers, the challenge being to cut through the noise.

Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi says the solution is “epic content marketing.”

His term means content so valuable, compelling, and different that your target audience can’t resist you.

Here are the six steps to epic content marketing success Pulizzi shared in the Vocus webinar Go Epic:

1. Identify your why

Ninety-three percent of B2Bs engage in content marketing, but only 49 percent have a content strategy. Absence of a strategy kills the potential for success, Pulizzi says.

Start a strategy by focusing on your audience’s pain points and what keeps them up at night.

GoodMenProject.com, for example, provides advice on parenting, relationships, and other topics.

Over time, you might have to find a new why, but you shouldn’t ever stop producing valuable, crave-worthy content, Pulizzi says.

2. Create your content marketing mission

Your content marketing mission statement should satisfy the “why” you found in the previous step.

To develop a mission statement, identify your target audience, create a blueprint for content that solves their pain points, and determine how it will benefit your audience long term.

For example, Inc. magazine developed an editorial mission statement: to become the place where entrepreneurs and business owners could find valuable information, insights, resources, and inspiration for growing a business.

[RELATED: Get advanced brand journalism tips from Mark Ragan and Jim Ylisela. Choose from 5 cities.]

3. Start answering customer questions

In 2007, Marcus Sheridan, the owner of a Virginia-based in-ground pool company, faced sales problems with the onset of the Great Recession.

His solution? Blogging. He tracked every question his customers asked and wrote a post for each one.

By 2011, he had sold more fiberglass swimming pools than any other retailer in North America, going from fifth in his marketplace to first in the United States. Sheridan calculates that a single post about the cost of a fiberglass pool has delivered more than $1 million.

“If there’s a low-hanging fruit for content marketing, this is it,” Pulizzi says.

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4. Get your company under one content umbrella

Too often, businesses do not communicate between silos, leading to duplicate content and a jumbled strategy.

The average enterprise company uses 17 different channels, Pulizzi says. That’s too many.

Determine whether each content platform is necessary by finding the “why” for each. If Facebook, for example, doesn’t benefit your business, ditch it.

5. Build repurposing into your content creation

Reimagining content works well but requires planning. Though it creates upfront work, it will save time and will result in higher-quality content.

For example, the staffing agency Kelly Services repurposes its e-book “Talent Mobility” into dozens of pieces of content for each of its three targeted personae.

“If you plan for this up front as opposed to after the fact, you will see return on investment immediately,” Pulizzi says.

6. Build audience with a 4-1-1 ratio

For every six tweets, one should be about sales, one should promote content, and the remaining four should come from influencers, Pulizzi says. Developing relationships with influencers helps you find and reach new audiences.

To identify your industry’s influencers, find the sites your customers frequent. Look for hashtags on Twitter, news sites, industry blogs, and even competitors.

Having an influencer list makes it easier to share content that matches your content marketing mission statement. When sharing, be sure to mention the influencers.

Sharing their content puts you on their radar and increases the likelihood that they will share content of yours, especially if you cite their work.

A version of this article first appeared on the Vocus blog.

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