Whether your business is a startup, a consultancy, or a corporation, a comprehensive but flexible content marketing strategy is key to staying competitive. Not only does quality content communicate brand values and perspective, but it also serves as a timely pull that supports customers making potentially costly purchases. However, many companies treat content marketing as a final touch once the product is complete, rather than a core component of the product itself. As such, they miss opportunities to build a memorable, unified voice and trust amongst their target demographic.
At minimum, keeping an active pipeline of fresh content relevant to your industry can help elevate brand recognition and encourage backlinking, which in the long-term improves your company’s SEO and visibility. On the other side of the spectrum, using content to build legitimacy and loyalty can allow for higher price points and more lucrative partnerships. So what are a few low-hanging fruits that any company can pick to kickstart their 2017?
If Your Company is a Pre-Seed Startup
Your company’s relative lack of social DNA makes it easy to experiment with a variety of channels, mediums, and delivery methods to discover which resonates most deeply with the audience you’re aiming to convert. Give yourself strict deadlines and metrics to measure in order to evaluate each assets’ efficacy, and cycle through content types so you don’t inadvertently abandon nascent followers. A common problem with blog series and newsletters, for example, is the promise of “part 3” or “daily updates” – without follow-through, these tools can do more harm than good.
If you’re still building your product, document your development cycle rigorously. You don’t have to publish a press release for every commit, but these notes can give power users insight into your product’s future and can be easily expanded into user guides, manuals, and blog posts. If your company is enterprise-focused, identify which features are most important to the decision-maker and create case studies, white papers, and testimonials in which that feature is shown to make a quantifiable improvement in ROI, productivity, or conversion. If your product is more consumer-facing, highlight your users and reward those who’ve created great content with your technology.
If Your Company is a Freelance Consultancy
When your brand is.. well, you, it can be tricky to separate your personal and professional lives, particularly if you yourself are in the marketing field. Here, it’s particularly useful to build content that highlights your process, passions, and examples of work. If you notice that your clients ask similar questions or that you find yourself providing the same resources over and over again, consider making gated content that you can drip either manually or in emails. Not only does this give your existing clients additional value, but it also allows you to scale your business when you’re ready.
Social media can also be a helpful tool for freelancers, though the extent to which you rely on it is defined by your outreach strategy. If you work primarily through referrals, you can use social media to show legitimacy and perspective, but should be careful about potentially alienating a sector that you might later need to expand into. If you’re more of a niche consultant, optimize your behavior for your intended audience and engage actively with them. For example, if you’re a web developer with a passion for interactive journalism, create an animation-rich article about an important topic and Tweet at related organizations in order to grab their attention – and drive them to your call-to-action – with relevant, thoughtful collateral.
If Your Company is a Legacy Corporation
The larger and more established your company is, the more likely it is that there will be stringent branding rules regarding the proper tone, structure, and topic range. While this can be a tremendous benefit for companies whose branding guidelines are classic, enduring, and appropriate, corporations with dated material and an overreliance on traditional marketing tactics need to be particularly cognizant of how their brand might be perceived by new audiences. Of course, companies that have built their name through decades, even centuries, of craftsman-level production have other means of communicating their brand’s strengths, but in this globalized world, it’s never enough to assume that your reputation precedes you. Yahoo and Hotmail, for example, saw enormous success in developing markets, until Google localized their services and began producing siloed content that presented email as just one feature in an ever-expanding toolkit.
Focus not on reinventing the wheel – particularly if your content team is small – but rather on building content for uninitiated personas or industries. Developing skunkworks projects or leading new marketing initiatives is an excellent way to revitalize stagnant messaging. Keep track of how competitors are using their content engine, and find the angle that best presents your unique storyline while highlighting your company’s years of experience. Your company’s success came from somewhere – find that spark, define the audience that made that happen, and research what types of content and positioning best appeal to them.
Kickstart Your Content Calendar in 2017
The beginning of the year is a perfect time to take stock of your existing tools, assets, and processes. What has worked from the past year, and where have you been hitting a wall? Take note of emerging trends and discuss them in reference to your business – i.e. how does your company plan to incorporate open-sourced machine-learning or provide customers an enhanced VR experience? Reach out to contributors both within your company and in the broader industry to provide a diverse perspective about your product and space, but most importantly, build content that values quality over quantity.
2017 is just starting – don’t stall at the gate! With consistent, relevant, and ethical content, you can elevate your brand’s profile, build thought-leadership, create additional hooks for buyers, and connect with users on a variety of platforms.
If this was useful for you and/or you have specific questions regarding content marketing, please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful 2017!