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Content marketing: Beyond the core

By Stephanie Schwab, principal-Crackerjack Marketing

Most companies these days have some kind of content marketing strategy. We’ve all learned by now that content in its many forms—blogs, video, social media, even podcasts—is highly valued by customers and search engines alike.

But does your content strategy extend far enough to attract the customers you want? It’s not enough to create content solely focused on your niche or core corporate topic.

Your topic—the topic you believe your business is centered on—should be only a small part of the content you put out into your conversation streams. On Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and even in video or podcasts, you must broaden your content to appeal to people beyond your target audience.

Undoubtedly one of your goals in creating content is to grow your audience, and therefore your potential customer base. Broader content will help to attract people who might have never even considered your product or service.

An example: One of my clients is a B2B software provider in a very specific niche market. They wrote a very smart, but not particularly well-read, blog for years about their niche. But they struggled to attract new audiences to their blog and their website.

Over time, we’ve helped them broaden their content strategy to encompass slightly less specific topics, as well as general tech topics including cloud computing and bring-your-own-device policies—and we’ve related all of their content back to their original market niche.

This content strategy encompasses their blog and all of their social media. The result? They’ve doubled the number of blog visits and page views in less than a year, and the amount of traffic they send to their main website from the blog increases every month.

Content marketers, be brave. Sketch a diagram with all of the tangential directions your content could go in. Go big, but don’t miss narrow topics either. Imagine an editorial calendar that includes this new, broader content. Convince the boss that this is worth a test. After all, you’re not spending any more if you are generating the same amount of content. 

Stop writing two blog posts that both reference your company each week. Start writing on topics that you think could help you find new faces. Fill your Twitter stream with interesting links that circle around your main topic, touching it only occasionally. Create videos that answer broad customer problems rather than providing product or service demos.

These changes won’t work magic overnight. Give your new content strategy some time to gain its footing. If you do this well, you’ll see a slow uptick in the number of followers, comments, shares of your content, and maybe—maybe—more sales or leads.

The new follower you generate tomorrow may not be in the market for your product right away. But if you hadn’t attracted them with tangential but valuable content, they wouldn’t even know about you at all.

Stephanie Schwab is principal at Crackerjack Marketing, a digital agency specializing in social media planning and execution. She writes about social media at CrackerjackMarketing.com, sometimes hangs out at Google+, and tweets @stephanies. She will lead an upcoming digital certification course offered by BMA Chicago and Loyola University. For more information on the program, or to register for the October 28 course, visit the BMA Chicago website.

 
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Liz Alexander
Posted Oct 03, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Stephanie: The point you raise -- that it's not enough to create content solely focused on a business niche or corporate topic -- speaks to what I see are missing in so much content marketing these days: ingenuity, inspiration, and impact. Ingenuity, because the outcome we really want isn't more "lurkers" who boost metrics on blog visits and page views, but prospects who want a relationship with us because they're intrigued by the way we think. Inspiration, because when we shift from focusing on what competitors are doing (typically providing solutions to problems a client or prospect already knows they have) to anticipating and addressing unrecognized needs, that's when light bulbs go off. And impact, because when we're differentiating ourselves with truly innovative approaches to our clients' unanticipated needs, they're inspired to want to know more. So instead of content merely informing them, they've got a reason to engage and initiate meaningful conversations. And that's the "C" word that I think is the difference that makes the difference: Conversations, not content. I sometimes think that B2B content marketing has become a diversionary tactic that deflects away from what's really important; we're all looking in the wrong place! It isn't about what you and your organization care about or currently know. It's about enticing clients and prospects with the promise that they can become heroes to THEIR clients and prospects. And YOU are the only ones -- their thought leader -- that can mentor them through that process.

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