Developing an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
Client Situation Client wanted to boost revenues while simultaneously scaling back its spending on advertising and other marketing efforts in favor of more impactful endeavors. Internally they had discussed implementing a content marketing program but were unclear how to launch or even begin. Hiring dedicated professionals to create marketing content was ruled as too expensive and experience had shown that 3rd party outsiders content providers didn’t match the firm’s expertise in the subject areas the firm covered. Client possessed significant internal resources that could be leveraged to institute an effective program but client engagements, publication deadlines, service deliverables and other day to day tasks often took priorities over firm marketing efforts. Steps Taken: The first action we took was to conduct a formal inventory of the firm’s content from products including syndicated reports, services and client engagement works. We then looked at news releases, blogs, graphics and PowerPoints. Lastly, we took inventory of the staff and assessed their strengths and potential areas for development. This gave us the starting point. We then applied a tiering system and classified the content offerings into categories and assigned them values on a matrix. Were the items intended to be widely distributed? Were they to be used for sales information? Lead generation? Samples? Media? How much analytical did the items contain? Was the client having to devote additional labor into their creation or were they simply taking items that were previously issued? And what were the skills and abilities of the staff in order to make the most of this? Open Access: (Graphics, marketing copy, blogging) Level 1: Intended for widespread distribution, focus on promoting products, open access, focus on graphics, looks and displaying the brand. These are the data sheets, product descriptions and marketing copy. Level 2: Again, intended for widespread distribution but requires content quality and hence resources. These are the news releases, infographics, blogs etc. that should be open access given the desire for the target audience to see and interact with. Registration Wall: (Slides, articles, white papers, excerpts, events) Level 3: While distribution is always a desired outcome this level is a more costly endeavor for firms. A blog or news release can take someone 30 minutes to craft. This level involves deeper intellectual investment and content preparation and should require registration from the target audience. These are the white papers or more lengthy articles that involve graphics and analysis. Can take the form of PowerPoint decks too. Format isn’t the key determinant; the labor and content quality were what we stressed. Level 4: The marketing events such as webinars or other online activities where content is prepared and presented. Qualification Level: (Product-Reports, Research Notes, Analyst Access) Level Five: This level was reserved for those who represented the target audience the firm was looking to serve and were considered qualified prospects. A note on social media. A firm could view these as a channel for their content or as a unique entity. Twitter threading has gained in popularity and can be an effective means of communicating talking points in ways that are superior to blogging. Video blogging and streaming are also highly effective. The issue is time available for the firm. For some companies what they can reasonably do is create items and send through channels, for others they can devote resources to create via these mediums. After establishing the content tiering system, we then considered the content resources the firm had to work with and what they would need to add via 3rd party. Every analyst within the firm found that they did have time to create content, they either didn’t focus on it or allowed content generation to become a bigger task then it needed to be. How long does it take to tweet an article and add a comment? How long does it take to share an article on LinkedIn? How many words can a person type per minute? Multiply that minute by 15 and there was the draft of a blog. Another 15 minutes of editing and there was a content piece. A well-researched report can easily result in a quality executive summary. In turn that item could be refined down to a 2,000-word document with a few graphics. This was a high value item. Any analyst should be able to turn this around in 2-3 hours. Opening the reports themselves showed there to be a number or charts that could be extracted and had bullet point text added to it if context was lacking. Assigning each analyst to spend one extra day on their reports produced an average of one white paper, four written blogs, two recorded interviews and a handful of video blogs per report. With the high quality of supply of content, the firm did not have to use a third party to generate items. The firm also had built its website with a user-friendly CMS (WordPress) which make uploading and broadcasting a rather simple task. Lead capture via sign up forms and landing pages were also reasonably simple. The benefits of WordPress are many, two of the most important are the amount of plug ins for functionality and the number of support people available for firms when they need assistance. One key element that was discovered, content is cultural. It must be a business practice that people within an organization take ownership of. In this instance the firm’s management hadn’t made it a priority, the people it hired had a mixed opinion on it and there were differences within the experience levels of the firm of those who did social media and content and those who didn’t. The shift takes time to implement and there were set backs along the way which required some pushing our end as well as more direct engagement with the senior people.