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Carla Johnson, principal at Type A Communications, specializes in the development of content marketing strategies that build brand engagement. She is a frequent contributor to BMA conversations about best practices and has built a client base that stretches across organizations including Motorola Solutions and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On March 13 she will visit Charlotte, N.C., to speak at an event hosted by BMA Carolinas. She gave Buzz insight into her presentation, “Heroes and Underdogs: How Content Marketing Levels the Playing Field.”
BMA Buzz: As new technology allows marketers to engage directly with customers, how is marketing evolving—and where does a content strategy fit into the marketing mix?
Carla Johnson: It’s harder to develop long-term relationships with customers today. Because of technology, they now have search, publishing and networking abilities though social channels that make them savvier. Customers can easily research, compare prices and have social conversations about any number of competing solutions.
At the center of this shift stands the ability of marketers to create high-quality content that connects on a personal level, influences behavior and makes an impact. Media companies know how to entice subscribers and create lifelong fanatics. Marketers need to learn how to create and tell a story through content marketing that captivates prospects and customers in the same way, regardless of channel or where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Buzz: What are the key things that marketers should consider when developing a content marketing strategy?
Johnson: I recommend five considerations:
1. Determine business objectives: Brand awareness, demand generation, lead nurturing, customer acquisition, thought leadership – what matters most?
2. Identify personas: You have to narrowly define your three or four most important audiences and then understand them very, very well.
3. Develop a unique point of view: What makes you different, insightful and unique? Remember the phase, “I gotta be me,” and apply it to your content story.
4. Map content to the buyer’s journey: You know to whom you’re talking and what you want to say. Now tailor it to every step of the buyer’s journey.
5. Measure and refine: Enough said.
Buzz: How should marketers evaluate the various content delivery channels?
Johnson: Marketers should evaluate channels based on the people they want to reach. On average, b-to-b marketers use 12 different content channels – larger companies use more, smaller less. But content channels are like spandex in your wardrobe - just because it exists, doesn’t mean you should go there. Marketers must intimately understand their audience, what kind of content they want and where they look for it during which parts of the sales and retention cycle.
Buzz: How do you measure success?
Johnson: Content marketing is designed to help achieve business objectives, so your content strategy has to ladder up to that. Retweets, likes and comments don’t apply to business objectives, but leads, sales and revenue do. The point of content marketing is to prompt action. What behavior do you want to prompt based on your business objectives?
How you measure success depends on the objectives that you’ve set and corresponding KPIs. Many marketers report on metrics simply because they can. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Think about what you need to measure so that you can make incremental adjustments. Then report only on what matters. Web traffic doesn’t matter unless it converts into leads and revenue.
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