Content Marketing: Is Your Focus in the Right Place?

I recently reached out to the government about automating the payment of my estimated taxes. You’d think, given the government funding woes of late, they would make it easy to send money their way. I know…what was I thinking? Instead of simply filling out a form with bank account information and sending in a copy of a voided check (as one would normally expect), they also required that I bring the form to my financial institution to confirm and notarize the information. A mild hassle if your bank is right around the corner. A big headache if your banking institution doesn’t have a brick & mortar establishment nearby or is primarily online.

In creating this seemingly simple one-page form, did no one think of raising this question?

Sometimes it’s the simple, obvious questions that can trip us up as marketers. We like to be conscientious about producing results that prove our value; not make us seem like a resource drain. In the B2B space, we focus on content as a tangible item that can help us speak to the customers’ needs and move them toward a specific action. We’re anxious to get more aggressive with content marketing efforts. However, it can be easy to lose sight of the most basic and critical question in the rush to produce and market content: how are you making it easy and enticing for customers to do business with you?

The process for developing and sharing content can quickly become scattered and un-strategic, especially as more people are thrown into the mix and additional layers of approvals become necessary. There are times when you take great pains to produce something thoughtful, but then it seems to just sit there and go nowhere.

Before you develop a piece of content, it’s important to spend an equal – if not greater – amount of time thinking through the strategy and process that supports it to ensure you stay focused on the end goals:

  • How is the piece helping customers/prospects in a new/different way? How is it adding value for them? This should be the objective for the piece that is returned to repeatedly throughout the process. Consider adapting some of these pointers from Lisa Gerber to establish a content mission statement.
  • Who are the people critical to providing input on the piece of content?  Keep the group as small as possible, involve people close to the customer, and appoint one lead person to have ultimate ownership/approval power on the piece.
  • For big thought pieces in particular, are there impartial, external sources you can use for feedback to improve the piece along the way? How are customer/prospect inputs factored into the process?
  • How will it be shared? How can you maximize marketing the piece to its intended audience? Is there a way to engage people more internally to increase the impact?
  • Does the content point readers toward a source to answer subsequent questions?
  • Is it easy for customers/prospects to find the content online? If some or all of the information is available via download, how are you balancing the need to gather lead information with the ease of giving people access to information they find interesting?
  • How will you track its impact? There are numerous ways to measure impact, so be specific. This eBook from Jay Baer and the Content Marketing Institute offers a helpful guide to four types of content marketing metrics.

Before you invest significant dollars in more aggressively developing content, take stock of where you are at and make sure you have a smart plan for how new content will bring you closer to the customer.

What other questions would you add to this list?

Photo courtesy of Eric Wustenhagen on Flickr

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Twitter: @kshe
Kellie Sheehan