Over the next few weeks, RWC will be publishing our guide to content marketing for market researchers. We plan to outline the way in which content marketing should be approached, while communicating the benefit of investing – both time and budget – in it.
Let’s start with the basics. When we talk about content on the internet we mean information, that can come in the form of words/editorial, or images, charts and infographics. Basically the ‘stuff’ of the world of the internet. So, content marketing means creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience. The aim will be to drive profitable actions on the part of the customer. Content marketing focuses on creating content owned by a company, material that is published on its own platforms (website, blogs etc) rather than being bought (ad space) or being published in another media (PR).
So, why do content marketing in the first place? Is this just a current fad or is it worth investing time and energy in it?
While it is true to say that content marketing has taken off in the last few years, there is no doubt that it is here to stay. It taps into the revolution that has been created by the open and generous nature of the internet – share and share alike. If you don’t share, you don’t get to join in the conversation and you don’t gain the benefits.
So, here’s our guide to sharing. In this article we will focus on how researchers can plan and develop a content marketing strategy, in later articles we will look at different approaches and how to evaluate your campaign.
Defining your objectives and audience
First of all, you need to think about what you want to achieve and who you want to attract. It is important to come plan your strategy before you begin your content marketing journey. The reasons for this are many; it helps you to get the rest of your organisation behind your efforts, it allows you to shape your content with conviction, it means that you can measure and evaluate the efficiency of your approach, and it keeps you on track so that you can ensure you actually produce consistent coverage rather than leaving your plans to gather dust in the crevices of your mind.
By defining your objectives and developing a strategy, you can prioritise exactly what content marketing can do for your business – which is important because it can do a lot of things (and I really mean this). These include, but are not restricted to: building awareness, educating your audience, nurturing leads, engaging influencers, serving existing customers, generating new leads and establishing expertise (told you I meant it). Prioritising a few of these narrows down the focus of your efforts, gives you a starting block to generate ideas for content and, alongside your objectives, provides a goal against which to measure your approach.
The next thing to consider is the audience of your content marketing. If your goal is to build awareness, who exactly do you want to build awareness with? Build a persona for each segment you’re trying to reach – you could consider in terms of the organisation size, job function and seniority level of the people in the organisation – think about what they’re already experts in and what information would be valuable to them.
Speak with your own voice
Social media is all about authenticity. It is vital to speak with your own voice – from a company point of view this must be rooted in what is special and different about what you do.
In order to offer valuable content to readers, you need to communicate value that is distinct from another company, your niche. This is the area where you have the most knowledge and where no one else has a better claim to authority than you. It should be the core or fundament of your business, and if you have not given it any thought, we would urge you to do so as it will be the way your clients think of you – your elevator pitch if you like. This must be articulated clearly and definitely before you start – and it must be articulated with your own tone of voice and company personality. Are you going to be direct, honest and challenging? Are you going to be amusing? Think through how this will reflect on your brand. Mix your unique voice with your potential customer persona’s pain points – that’s where you’ll find the most valuable stories.
Search Engine Optimisation
After all, it’s what Google says about you that counts.
Your keywords, which should be built around your business’ key offer and built into your website, should be used when creating content. Make sure that when you’re writing and planning content, you chose at least one keyword to appear in the title of your content. This will boost your rankings on social media and further allow you to ‘own’ your distinct positioning – which is a real value of content marketing as it will drive traffic to your website.
Delivering great content
If you have a strategy, and a vision for your content marketing, then it will be more straightforward to enable a member or members of your team to implement it. Of course, this day and age large organisations have teams of people looking after their content marketing, but this is not realistic for many research organisations. Our advice is to either appoint a bright junior who really understands your niche, who can write well, and who is interested, to own this area. Or, share out the delivery of content across the team. Use experts within your company – potentially those who have written and submitted research papers in the past – to contribute their knowledge on the topics you plan to cover.
Themes should be built around the area of research you want to own. Within the MR industry, some generic themes would be: industry trends, what’s new and why it matters, best practice guides, self-funded research. When you have those themes, think about articles that you can create around them – considering buyer personas, their pain points and what you want your content marketing to achieve. Check out what your competitors are doing or browse a news site – are there any current issues or news stories on which you could offer an insightful view? Could you commission a piece of research about a particular trend that might interest your customers?
However you decide to handle it, be aware that content marketing is not an easy win and does require time each day to ensure your content stays up to date and reflects well on your organisation. The content you plan should not only be designed for consumption, but should also provoke thoughts with clients which create an opportunity for you to work together. The service you’re offering can be summarised in a call to action which should appear at the end of the content – to encourage potential customers directly to do what you want them to.
Of which more in our next piece…
Look out for Keen as Mustard’s next piece, on content formats and platforms.
Emily Slee is PR Account Executive at Keen as Mustard