When 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and a staggering 4 million blog posts are published every day, it’s clear that content has never been in greater supply. But how can you use it to create new business opportunities?
Should you be even creating content too? Well, there’s a reason why everyone is clamouring to be seen and heard. When it’s done right, it connects you with people who need your products or services and creates opportunities for your business.
Content marketing can be a hugely cost-effective way to generate traffic and leads. What’s more, effective content will continue generating leads without any further input from you. So, how do you stand out in a world completely awash with content?
It’s vital to spend time thinking about creating content before you hit publish. It might sound obvious, but many businesses don’t take the time – and it shows. Yes, it’s important to have a clear idea of why you’re creating content. You need to be focused and relevant. Before you get on with the job of content creation, answering the following questions.
Who am I creating this for?
First, remember this isn’t really about you. It’s about them: your prospects – they’re who you’re creating content for. It seems obvious to say it, but it’s common to find owners, marketers and content creators who don’t know who they’re trying to communicate with.
How old are they? What’s their background? What challenges do they face? What are they obsessing about? What will make them succeed in their job? What threatens their organisation? Where do they look for help?
How many audiences are you creating this content for? Your business may have more than one type of customer so your content strategy should also cater to more than one type of person. Ensure to make profiles on all of them.
How does my business help them?
You need to focus on how your product or service is the solution to one of your audience’s problems. Sometimes, your content can also serve to inform your audience that they have this problem in the first place. An effective content strategy speaks to those who are still working out what the symptoms of the problem mean.
Showing how you can help potential customers is one of the key roles of content. It might be that the prospect isn’t even aware of your company yet. However, good content that provides answers, guidance and help, will engage them and demonstrate how you can help. The immediate objective is to capture their email address – and possibly other details – in exchange for information that promises to help them understand, frame and/or move them along the road to solving their problem(s).
What content couldn’t they resist?
Consider the format your content will take and the topics upon which you will take a position – and then apply this to your knowledge of your prospects and customers. Would a video or a podcast be the right format to discuss the issues they face? Would a checklist or questionnaire help them understand their problem (and its solution) better? Could an infographic or interactive app encapsulate the situation clearly?
Where do they look for information?
There are many different ways to get your content into the world and a raft of channels you can publish to. However, the most important thing is to think about where they will look for information and where do they access content.
There are two main modes when content can reach people: when they’re actively looking for information (when they using web search); and when they are receptive to information, ideas or insights (when they are browsing content or using social media).
Your content needs to accessible in both modes – it needs to get found in search and be distributed through social media. Understanding your prospects will help you identify which ones.
Who will create the content?
You need to have a plan of who’s creating what and where it will be published. Who are the content owners and domain experts in your organisation? Who is going to extract that knowledge and turn it into something that is understandable, digestible and accessible to your prospects. Great knowledge, delivered badly, won’t engage people.
You will also want to determine how engagement is being monitored and measured. Similarly, you will need to think about what happens when someone downloads your content. It’s not enough just to create new business opportunities, we need to make sure we know how you will you follow-up on them. What are the appropriate next steps and who is going to be responsible for following-up when your content?
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9 types of content that can help you create new business opportunities
There are a myriad of formats and types of content that you can create. The key is to stay focused in the face of all the options. Pick the ones that will reach your prospects and bring your message and knowledge to life. If you want some help and advice, let’s talk.
- Blog posts, such as this one, are hosted on a website and should be published regularly (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) in order to attract new visitors and provide value for current ones. Blogs should provide relevant and shareable content for your audience. Experiment with blog length to see what your readers prefer.
- An Ebook is a classic lead-generation tool that can offer great value in exchange for a visitor’s contact information. Longer and more in-depth than blog posts, Ebooks are published less frequently but take the visitor to the next stage of the inbound marketing process, following getting a taste for what you offer via blog posts.
- Case studies offer a valuable opportunity: to share a successful customer interaction with your offering and thus prove its efficacy. These are incredibly persuasive so it pays to gather them from your customers over time. Case studies can include testimonials and take different forms – a blog post or video, for example.
- Checklists, questionnaires, to-do lists give your target customers relevant and useful content that helps them take the first steps in dealing with whatever issue they face (and for which you provide the solution). This offers great value and demonstrates you understand how to tackle their problem(s), giving your business further credibility.
- Depending on the cost/value of what you’re offering, helping your prospects to build a business case can be a great way of engaging, supporting and educating prospects. Help them to see why it’s worth the investment to engage a supplier like you and show them you understand the need to deliver value.
- The cost of videos is higher (sometimes significantly) than written content and requires additional time and resources, but if the material is engaging and shareable it can pay huge dividends.
- Infographics serve to break down information into an easy-to-understand visual format. As such, they can display complex or a large amount of data in a more palatable and compelling way than words alone.
- Templates provide great value to your audience, while generating leads for your business. Saving your prospects time and effort is one of the most valuable things you can do.
- Not everyone has the time to read content every day. Podcasts offer an alternative that can be consumed during the commute or while doing something else. What’s more, it provides a human connection and contributes to the all-important “know, like and trust” factor which leads to loyalty and sales. Provided the content is relevant and engaging of course.
Distribution and discoverability
Finally, you need to ensure the content posted in the appropriate social media and is discoverable via search engines. It’s important to put as much effort into this side of the equation – there’s little point creating content that no-one sees. With the right support, however, it can help you to create new business opportunities and start putting some names in your pipeline.