I often get asked what I do (especially by my family), and find it tricky to explain. Making broad typing gestures sometimes works, but if questions are asked, I move to recipes. I say content marketing is a little like brand publishing with a dash of online marketing, a pinch of SEO, all served up with a good helping of old fashioned journalism. That, too, rarely clears things up.
So here’s a shot at a listicle. By no means do I claim to define what ALL content marketing consultants do, but this does begin to describe how we at Forge & Spark approach the challenge of helping brands connect with their people.
What makes what you do unique and important? What difference did you hope to make in the world when you hung out your shingle? Getting to the beating heart of what you do is, without question, the single most important thing you can do to begin to create content that matters to your audience. It’s what’ll make you stand out from the pack—because it will ring absolutely true.
Most of us are too close to our own story to really be able to hear it objectively. By working with someone who gets story, who breathes content, and who asks question after question to move past the sometimes stale narratives that have served us (or not!) in the past, you’ll discover new threads and truths that you’re proud to share.
Most content marketing consultants come from storytelling backgrounds, whether journalism, communications, marketing, advertising, or publishing. We storytelling folk love to ask questions, talk, write, drink whisky (ok that’s me) and share. And we love helping others to express what’s true and real, and to bring a bit of beauty to the world. We get excited when we can take a rough, raw idea and transform it into something with a beginning, middle and end that lights up an audience and makes them want to reach out and truly connect.
Today there are endless options online and off for conveying your message. This is wonderful, but often overwhelming. You can’t do it all—and really, probably, shouldn’t. But where to start? What tools to use? What messages or content to communicate—and how—on the multitude of channels and platforms out there?
Most content marketing consultants understand both how to diversify the social media platforms you’re using, how to promote conversations, and how to tailor your content to each platform.
Along with having a thing for storytelling, most content marketing pros are digital media natives. Slightly nerdy about the endless ways to tell a story online and off, we can help you not only choose the avenues for telling it, but also to create the most powerful types of content to connect with your audience, ranging from blogs, ebooks, webinars and online courses to compelling video, photos and infographics.
The first order of business for most content marketers is to identify your target audience. The second order of business is to get inside their heads and hearts to understand what they want, and what they need.
I’m personally a huge fan of crafting buyer personas, which are highly detailed profiles of current and desired customers, using a combination of demographic and psychographic, or behavioural, information. They clearly illustrate your buyers, their pain points and problems, what they care about, what they hate, and how they make their way through your buying process. For most of us, getting your personas right is the most critical step you can take in imagining and crafting content that will connect and resonate with your audience.
Content marketing isn’t about publishing just for customer enjoyment; it’s about ultimately driving profitable customer action. It This said, we know, today, that discerning customers are more likely to engage with, and ultimately purchase from, brands that offer valuable and helpful information, and that they feel truly understand and serve their needs. People also buy from brands that they like. Through sharing quality content that demonstrates your expertise, or that simply helps your customers, we can help you create not only interested potential customers, but an engaged community.
There’s a reason SEO became a buzzword: it’s important. So, too, today is paid media. And the attention you earn on your own sites and channels. In a time when most people turn online to research, and hardly anyone goes past the first page on Google, it becomes paramount to make sure your brand gets discovered online. We know how to help.
Content marketers and content strategists tends to love cultivating innovative strategies and plans for creating, sharing and promoting content. But we know a plan is just the beginning. Some people use the term ‘agile content marketing’ to describe an approach that tries, tests, measures and improves—but for most of us, that’s simply a fundamental part of content marketing. We support your organization in fully understanding your content strategy, and we can help to train or mentor your teams to ensure that you have the operational capabilities to execute the plan. A confident, well-educated team tends to be a happy team, and one that will sing the praises of your brand even off the clock, so we want to give them all the tools they need to help you collectively be successful.
What do you think? Is my grandmother going to understand me now? Seriously. Let me know if this helps.