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Become a Resource for Your Customers with Content Marketing

by Shane Liebler

(9/26/14 - Central New York Business Journal) There is a reason we write so much about social media. It’s a key driver, if not the driver of content marketing.

Content has graduated from buzzword to basic form of marketing.

And just what is content marketing? It’s becoming a resource for your customers. It’s about connecting with clients on a deeper level.

To grow what marketers call the “long tail,” you need to give valuable information away. You may need to reveal a few trade secrets. You definitely need to be patient.

Statistics show companies are investing more and more in content marketing and seeing results as well.

How do you make it happen for your brand?

1) Generate content

Content marketing does not start without, well, content. You have to tap into your expertise and understand your target customer base to deliver something of value to prospects and existing customers.

Remember, you’re not selling anything here, but rather building up an affinity and eventual loyalty to your brand and product.

You do that with words, visuals, and perhaps audio/video. You need ideas, talent, and skill to generate content.

The more you put out there and the more avenues you use, the larger your influence and reputation in your industry grows. And the better a resource you become to your customers.

No one knows your business or your ideal customer better than you. Bring the two together via blogs, webinars,presentations, guest articles in publications, ebooks, e-blasts, or whatever fits your audience best.

Create a resource center on your website and stuff it full of useful information current and potential customers may use. Share that information through your social channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Then, share it again on Facebook and Twitter. Share it again on any platform, really.
Your content should be more or less timeless, and your efficiently invested time should elevate your return on investment.

In general, it should all focus on your expertise, the talents of your people, and what your audience needs: how-totips, white papers, and sharing and/or providing commentary on third-party content.

2) Strategize

There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of ways to get your content out there. It may start with a blog and then trickle into social channels for distribution. Then maybe those entries become an ebook someday or inspire a related video or podcast.

Think about these kinds of avenues when you generate ideas. A how-to of some kind might transfer well to multiple platforms.

Those ideas — and the means to communicate them — belong on a content calendar. Make it as simple or specific as you want, but plan out your marketing year by identifying dates that areimportant to your industry, topics that are important to your business, andeven holidays relevant to your product.

A good content strategy needs to be as detailed as possible: topics, delivery, quantity, and quality. It all factors in.

3) Consider your options

So now that you have all these great ideas for content and a strategy for creating and distributing the material — how do you get it done?

First, look in-house. Utilize the existing talents of your staff.

Have a particularly good writer on the payroll? Have the individual contribute to or handle an e-newsletter or blog. Have a tech-savvy staffer familiar with various social-media platforms? Have him/her help execute the content calendar.

Don’t have any of that? Professional-development opportunities are everywhere. Pony up to send yourself or a team member to a seminar, webinar, or conference and get some content-generation training.

For a little polish or added professionalism, consider hiring a third party to help with any aspect of content generation — writing, video, photography, social media. There are freelancers and agencies available should your budget allow.

Becoming a resource can take some work, but in today’s competitive marketplace, it must be done in some form. Consider your expertise, how you’d like to communicate it, and how you can get it done.

Start growing that long tail to attract new customers and keep them and current clients coming back to you.

Shane M. Liebler is a content developer at ABC Creative Group. Contact him at shane@abcideabased.com