Storing up owned content lets you control the conversation surrounding your brand.
Entrepreneurs are constantly battling for industry authority and customer engagement, and many marketers believe they can achieve these goals through content marketing across several channels. They understand that email newsletters, social media, blogs and whitepapers are vital parts of the process; however, Point Visible found that only about 22 percent of B2B marketers think their current content marketing strategies are successful.
Their customers agree. Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands report shows that people wouldn’t care if 74 percent of the brands they use regularly just disappeared. People believe 60 percent of the content that companies publish isn’t relevant to them and, frankly, isn’t very good, either.
Luckily for entrepreneurs, one of their best content marketing assets is their own story. Sharing a company’s story with customers attracts an audience simply due to authenticity. At a time when many businesses aren’t known for their transparency and credibility, an entrepreneur displaying authenticity is refreshing and can yield significant affinity for his or her brand.
Even before the business has launched, entrepreneurs can begin the storytelling process through publishing authentic stories and thought leadership pieces. Getting a head start in content writing allows entrepreneurs to become the de facto experts in their industries and strengthens their authority. And as other industry leaders, publications and trade organizations share entrepreneurs’ content, those entrepreneurs gain exponentially more influence in their fields. Think of this ever-growing collection of owned content as a “content war chest” that an entrepreneur can draw from to control the conversation and reinforce brand identity.
Map the road to content creation.
All brands and entrepreneurs must view themselves as publishers. Good media companies abide by copy standards, calendars and performance metrics to ensure effectiveness — so should entrepreneurs. Develop quarterly road maps that lay out content themes and sourcing and distribution channels for the upcoming months, and start building the habit of consistent content production.
Many firms now require all employees to create some kind of content, and this benefits both the employer and the employee. Employees can build their own digital footprint and industry credibility, and employers can trust the source of that content and use it to strengthen SEO dominance, brand awareness and new business acquisition.
Unfortunately, entrepreneurs can be their own worst enemies when it comes to gaining industry authority through content publishing. Entrepreneurs often strive to move at a frenetic pace. They can be impatient about gaining this authority, even though accountability and patience are nonnegotiable for the entire content supply chain. Content publishing isn’t something an entrepreneur does on the side when he or she has the time. It must be given the same weight as making payroll and driving business profits because it’s just as essential for company survival.
Stocking your content war chest.
When entrepreneurs successfully implement a content publishing strategy, they can gain a larger audience and more brand loyalty. For example, Ardent is shaking things up in the sport fishing industry by publishing content, allowing its customers to lead the conversation and consistently engaging with both novice and expert fishermen. More than 3,000 brand fanatics read and contribute to Ardent’s self-publishing efforts.
Entrepreneurs can’t ignore the need to define their brands in-house and fill their war chests with valuable content. Here are four steps to take when producing content:
1. Assemble a loyal audience.
Point Visible’s earlier infographic posits that 70 percent of customers prefer reading an article about a brand to hearing about it through advertising, so entrepreneurs should draw in customers with their stories. Make audience growth your No. 1 metric for measuring engaged customers. Focus on aggregating and growing social followers, blog readers, newsletter subscribers and customers on other media channels by providing those audiences with relevant and engaging content.
2. Automate with a content marketing platform.
Having a content marketing platform makes it much easier to automate the curation of a brand’s content and its distribution. It’ll be easier to know what content has been generated and where it has been used and can be used. According to Walker Sands Communications, about two-thirds of marketers anticipate growth in their marketing technology budgets in 2017, so keep up with the competition and find a suitable platform.
3. Require employees to contribute content.
Create content for the sake of publishing, not for the sake of marketing. The majority of both B2B (73 percent) and B2C (76 percent) marketers, according to Point Visible, view content marketing as more than just a campaign. It’s a continuous business process, so have the content creation team get in the habit of developing story ideas, finding distribution channels and tracking key metrics on a weekly basis.
Also, make it a requirement that employees regularly contribute to this content creation, and reward those whose work gets published in national press or industry trade publications. Then, add teasers on social media using portions of this content; Point Visible found 85 percent of B2C marketers believe social media content is the most vital to the success of a content marketing strategy.
4. Rise above blogs with heavy-hitting content.
Successful entrepreneurs use a two-tier content distribution approach. The first tier is a steady stream of relevant content shared on the company’s blog and social channels. These daily pieces need to be useful and provide quick information to customers. The second tier is geared toward monthly or quarterly substantive content, such as whitepapers, infographics and ebooks. These are higher in quality and well-researched, and they should establish the entrepreneur as the industry expert.
An entrepreneur’s story is a valuable commodity, just as valuable as his or her tenacity, innovation and persistence. This unique narrative can make a brand seem more authentic, and if entrepreneurs consistently pump out substantive content that’s vital, they can become industry experts. Even before the launch of a business, entrepreneurs can fill their war chests with valuable content that supports their brands’ identity and builds their influence exponentially.
by DAN CURRAN