When you hear the phrase, “content marketing,” there may be the tendency to be overwhelmed. I mean, what exactly is “content?” The word sounds so vague and as a result, can give the impression that “content” is a complex concept.
Then you find out “content marketing” can mean a blog post, white paper, videos, eBooks, infographics and more (for a great collection of examples, check out Content Marketing Institute’s free ebook, “100 Content Marketing Examples”).
Content marketing is simply sharing information with your target audience that will be helpful.
Notice the key word: information.
Not a sales pitch.
The now commonly held belief by marketers is that if you share information that is helpful with your target audience, they’ll be much more likely to think of you when they need your solution.
I’ve been creating content now for over twelve years. I have closely studied the trends as well as proven copywriting principles. What I have found is that the techniques that worked in 1923 still work well today.
What was printed in 1923? The copywriting classic, Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins. In Chapter 3: Offer Service, he says this (emphasis mine):
Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and a costly mistake in advertising. Ads say in effect, “Buy my brand. Give me the trade you give to others. Let me have the money.” That is not a popular appeal.
The best ads ask no one to buy. That is useless. Often they do not quote a price. They do not say that dealers handle the product. The ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted information.
To discover what your audience wants takes time. It also takes experimenting with different topics and careful examination of metrics. That said, here are a few of my “insider secrets”:
Write for one person
I learned this during my early days of copywriting. You don’t want to create content that speaks to “everyone.”
You want to speak to one person. And you want that “one person” to be your prospective buyer.
Selling home services such as carpet cleaning? Who usually calls you, a woman homeowner or a man? Whoever it is, create a picture of this one person: age, educational background, married or single, job, lifestyle, etc.
Then when you write your content, write it with that one person in mind. Customize your information to reach that one person’s needs.
By doing this, you create interesting content delivers value. It will be specific and strategic. Even if someone reads it that doesn’t fit your buyer profile, they’ll likely be interested because your copy won’t be generic.
Keep up with pop culture
Many of my clients and prospective buyers have particular interests, like a TV show or a popular song.
Whether it’s Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad, use cultural references to get attention with your content. I’ve used the character Tony Soprano (from “The Sopranos”) in one blog post, the infamous Cleveland Job Bank owner (Kelly Blazek) in another, and referenced a new (at the time) documentary about The Viking Sword.
Using pop culture references will let people know you’re paying attention. And if you’re paying attention there, it is assumed you’re likely on top of your industry trends, too.
Don’t be afraid to be real
This can be a delicate area but if it’s done right, will set you apart from your competition.
Most of the blog articles I read on B2B websites lack personality. It’s as though the author tried so hard to deliver valuable content that he or she left out any original thought.
Don’t be afraid to take a stand. Some of the most popular content I’ve written took a strong stand either for or against something. There are many developments in your industry. Put your own spin on them.
Consumers are looking for authenticity. Honest assessments come across as a refreshing change from being a part of the “me too” crowd. If you can be contrary, go for it. Your audience will appreciate a different viewpoint. It makes people think and it shows that you’re not a robot who automatically agrees with everyone else.
Be bold! And be unique. Your prospective buyer will recognize originality when he sees it and he’ll be more apt to investigate you than your copy-cat competition.