The traditional way of how business is done is to build a product and then go find customers. If you look at successful companies now, they are doing it the other way around. It’s done through content. Putting out relevant content in a certain area that the business model can be based around. We have developed a content marketing strategy that is constantly being tested and optimized. Sometimes it feels like playing a game of chess. Which steps to take for the best possible outcome. In this article, we will give you a framework we have used to build our own content marketing strategy.
The entrepreneur needs to find a content area that the business model will be based around. As a founder, there was a reason that you started a business. You have a certain mission, particular knowledge or a set of skills that prompted you to start a business. Ideally, you would combine this with a passion area. Think of passion area as something that is of great value to you or to society at large. That combination is the intersection you want to look for. Our mission is to build intuitive digital products that make a positive impact on the end user. We share the passion to help other entrepreneurs grow their business. So our intersection is combining our knowledge and skill to build digital products with the passion to help other entrepreneurs grow their business.
Once the intersection is identified, the entrepreneur needs to determine how he or she can differentiate, to find an area of little to no competition. This can be a small differentiating factor that has a tremendous impact. You can differentiate by choosing a channel that nobody is using for that type of content. Or look at other industries. What are they doing well that is not done in your industry. Take other countries as an example, especially in the US since most trends in Europe originated there. What we see is a lot of content being shared in the US by entrepreneurs. Sharing their knowledge and inspiring people to start businesses. While the Dutch have their saying: just act normal, that’s already crazy enough! We believe that is a waste of knowledge and inspiration so we gave entrepreneurs in the Netherlands a platform to share their stories and lessons about productivity, business, and other things through an interview with us. The interview is transformed into an article and shared on our social profiles, newsletter, and blog. You can read some of them here. Another example is filming yourself on the streets. That’s right, we’re talking about vlogging. If it is not your thing it is not your thing. But we have seen people build very successful businesses with sharing content via video (vlog style) making people part of the journey. Three guesses what Story of AMS is working on.
Once you have defined the intersection and a differentiating factor, a platform is chosen and a content base is created. It’s like building a house. Before we get into the paint, the floor, fixtures and carpet color, we have to plan and install the foundation. It is simple but it isn’t easy. It requires generating valuable content through one key channel on a consistent base. Be it a blog, podcast, YouTube, Instagram, Linkedin etc. Keep your focus on one channel. Set it up well before you diversify to other channels. It’s very tempting to go all in on several channels but most of the time you’ll end up doing each of them mediocre at best.
When the platform is chosen and the foundation is built, the opportunity arises to increase the audience and convert people from prospects to leads to customers. Be aware that this is a long-term, inbound marketing strategy. Do not expect to have people flock to your business in 3 months. But once set up and followed through on a consistent basis you will reap the rewards. While there are many metrics to analyze the success of your content marketing strategy, the number one metric is the subscriber. It’s very ambitious to monetize and grow your audience without first getting the consumer of your content to take action and actually ‘subscribe’ to your content. There is great power in content marketing, especially with the tools available that allow you to track a potential customer through the whole funnel. In combination with the right outbound tactics, businesses nowadays have the ability to grow faster than ever before. We will cover outbound tactics and website automation in another blog.
Once the previous steps have resulted in a strong, loyal, and growing audience, it’s time to diversify from the main content stream. The framework is designed kind of being like an octopus, with each content channel being one of the arms. Through how many of those arms can we provide enough value to keep our viewers close to us and coming back for more.
ESPN originally started as a sports-only cable television station in 1979, began with a $9,000 investment by Bill and Scott Rasmussen. Now, almost 40 years later, ESPN is the world’s most profitable media brand with operating earnings of more than $4 billion according to Forbes.com.
For 13 years, ESPN directed its attention on only one channel for 100 percent of its audience-building focus — cable television. Then, starting in 1992, the floodgates opened on diversification, first with the launch of ESPN radio. Then ESPN.com launched in 1995, followed three years later by ESPN The Magazine. Today, ESPN has a property in almost every channel available on the planet, from Twitter to podcasts to documentaries. ESPN didn’t diversify until the core platform was successful.
The core channel provides data and insights on your audience. Look for other channels where your audience is active. Experiment with different kinds of content on that channel and scale up what works. We’ve heard many people worry about the time involved to execute a content marketing strategy. Then Mark Zuckerberg decides to change the Facebook algorithm or Linkedin deciding to decrease the engagement with long-form posts. The reality is that those things will happen. And then you might have to change strategy.
“We’ve always done it this way” is not applicable anymore. We live in a fast-paced world with a lot of moving parts. Some points to focus on instead:
The last point might sound contradictory towards focusing on one channel. Make no mistake, diversification is vital for growth. But in order to diversify, you need to laser focus on one channel first, before jumping onto the next. It is a waste of resources to generate content on several channels without having an audience on either of them.
Not until success is found in that core channel you diversify to other channels.
To recap on how to build a content marketing strategy, we discussed these 5 steps:
Next week we’ll be discussing tactics on how to monetize an audience. The last step in the content marketing playbook.