We exist for the success of our clients. Part of helping our clients find success involves education, training, and connecting with other business leaders in Jacksonville. To help move the needle in those areas, we held our first Marketing Mixer on June 11 with hors d’oeuvres, networking, and a workshop about content marketing. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

I covered a lot of ground in the content marketing workshop, but the overarching goal was to help our clients decide if content marketing is a viable option for growing their business. I’ve summarized the workshop presentation below and included our self-evaluation worksheet that attendees used to decide whether content marketing is right for them.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. It can be as simple as maintaining a social media presence, but may also be extended to include blog posts, podcasts, videos, or white papers.

What is the purpose of content marketing?

In short, content marketing puts you on the fast-track to “thought leader” status. It hinges on the idea that today’s customers are more likely to search online for answers to their questions before they call a professional. If you create high-quality content that is easy to find, helpful, and well-crafted, then your potential customers will see you as a thought leader in your industry. Thus, your company’s name will be top-of-mind when those customers are ready to buy.

Why aren’t more organizations including content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy?

Before you dive head-first into content marketing, there are a few challenges that you should consider:

  • Increased competition online is creating a higher threshold for content quality. You have to make better content to compete.
  • Decreased attention availability of online audiences, due to increased content volume across the board, is making it harder to be heard above the noise. In a room full of different voices, you either have to be the loudest or the most authoritative to stand out. The same is true for digital content.
  • Great design matters more than ever, and great design is hard without the right team behind you. If you don’t have strong design skills, you’ll need to enlist the help of a professional.

How can you know if your content is good enough to engage the right customers?

  • Your content needs to be one-of-a-kind. That means you should be creating content that can’t be found elsewhere online.
  • As always, your content needs to be relevant to the needs and interests of your audience.
  • If your content isn’t helpful, why would anyone engage with it? Make sure your content helps your audience in some unique way.
  • Your content should be valuable to customers. It has to be helpful, relevant, and/or timely.
  • The user experience (UX) of your content should be of paramount concern. If your blog post is tough to read, the quality of the writing doesn’t matter. Similarly, if your video production quality is low, you may turn off potential customers rather than attracting them.

Is content marketing right for you?

Let’s do an exercise to find out. We supplied a handy worksheet at the mixer. Before we go on, download the Content Marketing Self-Evaluation Worksheet. Use this worksheet as you read through the next few paragraphs.

Take three minutes (time yourself) to write down as many content topics as you can. You should be able to create at least one piece of content (blog, video, podcast episode, white paper, case study, etc.) that meets the above criteria for great content. The more topics you can think of, the better.

You have three minutes, go!

Now, let’s take a quick look at your industry competition, or the number of your direct competitors who are producing content on a regular basis. On a scale of 1-10, how competitive is your industry when it comes to content marketing? (1 is MORE competition. 10 is LESS competition). Write down this number.

Once you have an idea of what you want to write about, it’s time to check that idea against what kind of content is actually working in your industry. There are two great tools I recommend for gathering that information:

  • Google.com is a great tool for doing competitive research. Research the topics for the content you’re planning to create to see if other companies are already sufficiently covering the topic.
  • Buzzsumo.com is a newer tool in the content marketer’s kit, but it’s incredibly powerful. There are too many features to list here, but you’ll find that it will make you a competitive research ninja with little effort.

It should be clear by now that content marketing can be a lot of work for one person. That’s why we always encourage clients to use a team approach in their content marketing efforts.

Let’s do another exercise. Write down two numbers:

  • First, write down the number of people you can recruit to your “Content Team” that can spend time either on a weekly or monthly basis to create great content.
  • Second, add up the total weekly hours your team can put toward creating great content and write that down as well. Don’t forget to add time for research, writing, editing, design, and posting the final format of your content to your website, social media accounts, newsletter, and other distribution channels.

It’s time to take a look at your self-evaluation. Add up the totals for the questions on your self-evaluation worksheet.

If your total is below 15, content marketing is probably not the best fit for your organization. You should explore other options to engage customers. Take a look at our services and let us know how we can help. (link to our services page).

If your total is between 16 and 25, you should take a serious look at content marketing as a tool to help you engage your audience. We’d love to work with you to plan a content strategy that fits your time and budget.

If your total is above 26, you should definitely pursue content marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy. All the pieces are in place for you to hit a home run with digital content. Give us a call and we’ll work with you to put together a rock-solid plan that includes content planning, website design and development, copywriting, online reputation management, social media, resource creation, mixed-media development, etc.