Lately content marketing has been a hot topic at almost any marketing meeting. What is it? What does it do? How to do it?

There are many interpretations but let’s get started with Wikipedia’s definition: “Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing in order to acquire and retain customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, info graphics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos and much more.”

Content Marketing has been defined in many different ways. The meaning of the term depends a lot on the purpose and context. One of the most used definitions is “the technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience in order to drive profitable customer action”.

“Content marketing creates interest in a product through educational, entertaining or informative material. Successful content marketing relies on providing “consistent, high-quality content that solves people’s problems”” – a bit theoretical but certainly a solid definition by Wikipedia.

In my view content marketing is not very new and we marketers have been applying content marketing for decades although with much less channels and definitely less sophisticated techniques. However in a world of information overload it is important that we are well prepared to stand out and that our messages get heard and are relevant to a given audience. That’s what the Business asks from us marketers.

So here are some of my thoughts and learnings on how to make content marketing work for you more efficiently.

  1. First things first. Make sure you secure, develop, and acquire publishing skills. The PR department skills and capacities will not be enough. You need people across the organization who are able to write, edit, post relevant content in real-time
  2. Identify and name a chief story-telling officer. This person is responsible for managing the editorial plan aligned with the CMO and Chief Communication Officers strategic positioning and overall company goals.
  3. Identify people in your organizations who are good storytellers. They are from product design, solution marketing, development and other parts of the organization. These are the folks who create and curate relevant stories to enhance the brand and deliver relevant information for your target audiences.
  4. Define the targets audiences, buyer personas, etc. you want to go after and establish a constant and consistent communication flow. Involve all stakeholders in your company especially management, sales, product development, support and services.
  5. Make sure content is not a one-way street. Content needs to go both ways. From your target audiences back to you and from you back to them. Make sure you have ways to capture that and funnel it back to your content marketers. Content marketers need to listen before they publish.
  6. Content Marketers or some call them Content Ambassadors should in my view not be full time jobs. They need to have a foot in the product, the customer relationship, the product development or wherever they sit in your organization.
  7. Have a process in place where blogs that leave your organization are audited and aligned to your brand strategy and communication policies. This is important especially at the beginning. You don’t want to have the “wild wild west” of everybody in your organization pushing out information, which might hurt your brand or worse put you in legal troubles. Make sure you have an adequate and ongoing training in place for the content ambassadors.
  8. Definition of the channels is key. Whether you publish via email, print, social media even person to person. While you listen to your audiences you will find out quickly which channel are most effective for a target audience. Don’t forget to think about frequency, which is often neglected. The more the better is not working anymore. After all you want to be effective and make your content easy to consume for your audience.
  9. Like it or not, include in your teams people from IT. You want to store, re-use, re-purpose content so IT can help you select the proper system. Whether it’s a Content Management System or for the starters just an excel based tool.
  10. Last but not least make sure you have a process in place, which defines KPIs and some sort of Measurement. Often the cost associated with proper content marketing activities are not measured but can take away crucial time from your daily work and increase costs of your marketing budget significantly. The cost of lost productivity and the need for additional in-house or outsourced talent can get out of control very fast.