What really makes for great content marketing?

As Google continues to play with its algorithm, so must the spin masters, voodoo marketers and link farmers go fishing in other ponds.  One of the chosen areas on which many choose to jump seems to be the content marketing bandwagon.  As with all these digital marketing opportunities, starting back to the era of banners, passing through blogging, SEM and social media, there can be a rush toward the vacuum — the space with the least noise — that quickly becomes entangled with gamers, spammers, agencies and, of course, legitimate players.

What makes for great content marketing?

As brand marketers grapple with creating legitimate content marketing strategies, I think that the vast majority will likely fail.  First, if the primary objective of the content marketing is to drive sales, the tone and tenure will likely fail, or even worse, backfire.  What makes the content truly great starts with knowing to whom you are speaking and truly addressing their needs.  This requires a certain degree of empathy and a detachment from the ROI obsession.  Not that the return on investment will not feature, but it cannot be the way you start.  Just like many an entrepreneur, if you asked if they knew ahead of time how much effort it would actually take them to succeed, they probably would never have started.  So, in content marketing, you must think of this as part of a longer-term, embedded strategy.

The pillars of great content

Sandwich, The Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

Creative Commons from Flickr

As far as I am concerned there are no fast and hard rules about making great content.  It depends on your brand, your customer base and, above all, your internal culture.  Moreover, great content does not need to remain solely digital.  After having figured out what is your objective and how it is related back to your overall brand and business strategy, here are the five pillars of great content marketing.

  1. Value.  Does the content bear a true value in the eyes of the reader?
  2. Unique.  Is the content unique, or reasonably different from other content that is out there?
  3. Credible.  Is your brand credible in the identified area?  Can you authentically occupy that space?
  4. Relevant.  Is it relevant to today’s context?  What is the underlying story that the content feeds?  Is there a timely notion to it?
  5. Shareable and Reusable.  Does the content generate a desire to be shared?  In other words, is the content written in such a way that the reader will want to broadcast it to her/his community?  It is worthwhile considering how the material may be repurposed within the organization as well, in order to optimize the work.

“Technical” content marketing

I wrote recently about what actually needs to be contained in the content itself, neatly summarized with 3E’s: education, emotion and entertainment.  Aside from the “content” of the content, there are several other key points that make content marketing durably successful.

  • Calendar.  The best content marketing strategies are thought out with a calendar of material and activities.  Better consider your strategy as part of a long-term plan.
  • Digital Assets.  If videos and images are content in themselves, they need to be seriously tagged to be findable.  Many organizations have not catalogued or prepared their digital assets in such a way to create fluid content.
  • Funnel.  What is the purpose of the content?  What is the desired action for someone who has landed on the content?   This should lead to measurable and valuable metrics; for example, signing up for a newsletter, downloading further content, sharing to their community…
  • Tagging.  Is the content optimized to be found easily?  For eample, this entails making sure that the Tweet button prompts a pre-hashtagged tweet.
Now, as you go into the boardroom to persuade the boss, I hope that he/she will have read this post about what every CEO needs to know about digital marketing!
Please do share your thoughts!