We’ve had the kitchen tea and the buck’s night. We’ve had a beautiful seaside ceremony and a little too much champagne. We’ve said our speeches and farewells and unwrapped the gifts.
The Big Day has come and gone, and now it’s time to settle down into routine and some kind of normal life. Put the garbage out, wash the dishes, and pay your bills.
Just like the analogy, content marketing’s honeymoon is over. The buzz, excitement and Big Day feeling soaked up by marketers and the media some 12 months ago is gone.
And frankly, it’s a very good thing. The Big Day is a lot of fun, and the memories last a lifetime. But now it’s time to get back to business and think about the big picture.
Anyone with a few years of media or marketing under their belt will tell you content marketing isn’t new. Marketers have always looked for new ways to engage with customers on their own terms. It’s the Crock-Pot cookbooks, Michelin Guides, “Save Ferris” t-shirts, and John Deere’s famous magazine, The Furrow.
Unlike traditional marketing’s explicit demand for people to buy a product, content marketing has a different focus. Content marketing speaks directly and openly with the audience, and generally speaking, tries to make people feel good and positive about themselves.
Content marketers empower customers to buy a product or service on their own terms when they’re ready; rather than debilitate them into thinking they need it.
Of course, everyone’s at different points on the content marketing journey. But to extend the analogy, if you’re looking for healthy signs of married life, here are a few signposts.
#1 Know your audience
Your audience is not a single homogenous block. They’re a diverse group of people with ideas and opinions, just like you.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re targeting men who shave, new mothers who keep fit, decision makers in construction, or regular car park users – start by thinking of them as people first and consumers second.
Find out what they say, find ways of joining the conversations they’re already having, and talk with them like real people.
#2 Know your personas
One of the key elements of a successful content marketing strategy is developing a set of customer personas that help you sustain this people-first attitude. Personas are detailed descriptions of your different customers types: George the tradie, Samantha the teacher, or Steve the insurance broker.
There are a number of tricks and techniques storytellers use to keep these personas front of mind. Some put pictures up on the wall around their office to remind them to keep their messages relevant, some write down the life story of a few specific individuals.
Personas should also be documented in a content marketing strategy. Get very specific. What do these people think about? What do they know and what don’t they know? What are they afraid? What do they enjoy? What do they earn, and who do they look after?
#3 Know where people hang out
It’s no secret we’re all using different media platforms. So what media, social channel, or platform resonates with your different personas? It sounds obvious, but devote time to reading, researching and analysing the media landscape. Challenge your assumptions and make sure you spend your precious time and resources on the right channels.
Let us help: How to distribute content: It’s all in the delivery
#4 Know what you want to say
Good storytellers know what they want to say. Before they tap out a single line or press the record button, they think long and hard about what stories will resonate.
This thought process comes naturally to professional storytellers. It’s probably why there are so many ex-journalists, TV producers and media strategists in the content marketing trade.
But even if that’s not your background, it’s simply a question of stopping ask: “what new ideas or questions can I bring to this conversation?
#5 Know that it’s not about you
You can have the right strategy, the right channel, and the right story, but there’s still a temptation to think about yourself too much.
Ask yourself what information or services your customers would really value. It might be time to think outside the square. After all, that’s how content marketing started.
French tyre company Michelin started its guides because it realised people needed information about where to eat when traveling. Farming equipment maker John Deer launched its magazine in the late 1800s when it realised farmers want information about life on the land and tips to help run a business.
About five years ago, online news websites had reported that McDonalds Australia was expanding from fast food to online maths tutorials because its school-age staff needed a bit of extra help with homework. It’s also why the Commonwealth Bank started publishing blogs about psychology after it realised home-loan customers needed to stay positive while looking for their dream home.
Getting back to my honeymoon analogy, life after the honeymoon is all about new beginnings and discovering the joys of real life. And like a marriage, we care about real people, not numbers and impersonal target audiences.