I recently had the opportunity to attend the NewsCred #ThinkContent Summit 2016 in New York. This year’s theme, “Convergence: The New Marketing Imperative,” put content at the center of that convergence, supporting NewsCred’s assertion that it’s through content that you’ll find a reliable way of reaching and attracting attention to your brand, products and messages. We heartily agree.
What follows are takeaways and insights from #ThinkContent and how they currently find expression in Blue Flame Thinking’s approach to developing content strategy for clients.
It Still Starts With the Business Objective
Content marketing is often confused with publishing.
It isn’t about publishing.
Its objective is to generate leads and convert them into sales. If content isn’t driving sales, it’s just adding to the noise that distracts buyers or, in the worst case, drives them away.
Therefore, the goal of any content, regardless of its format, is to deliver material of value to the individual who sees it, preferably at the precise moment they are dealing with the issues your company can solve for them. Ultimately, the objective is to turn that realization of need into a sale.
But, how that conversion occurs has changed. It’s not about pushing out messages through content but using content to pull in your prospects and keep it centered on your firm.
Arguably, the biggest threat to any campaign today is being perceived as irrelevant to the needs of those who would benefit from your services.
To satisfy business objectives, content needs to be about how you will deliver messaging that is personalized enough to hit its mark.
Achieving that level of relevancy means content has to speak to the needs of the right audience, not all audiences. This requires marketers to be all ears and continuously look for opportunities to close the gap between their audiences’ needs and the perceptions regarding the value of what you offer them. That requires knowing those audiences and their needs very well.
Personas Matter Now More Than Ever
Creating personas is hardly revolutionary. And, even though these building blocks are essential to success, many firms still skip this step. Ironically, this is happening at a time when it has gotten so much easier to gather personal and professional information on people through modern analytics and social channels.
With the precision of programmatic advertising enabling us to target very specific audiences, crafting personas based on generalizations about demographics is not enough. Content needs to be personalized to the life stage, location and cultural interests of each target if it’s to resonate as authentically relevant. The more data you can gather regarding the commonalities and concerns of your potential clients, the more you can refine the content to speak to them in a way that lets them feel as if your firm really gets them.
It also helps us improve our understanding of the motivations that lead a prospect to take action…and the potential blocks to doing so. By understanding what triggers the shift from inaction to action, we can fine-tune content that not only aspires to spark action but then confirms that action is the right one.
Content Is Needed at Every Entry and Exit Point
With potential targets able to come in and out of the purchasing funnel at will—and at every possible point—the funnel concept really needs to be regarded as a sieve. And with control of the buyer’s journey resting with the buyer, fighting for control of their pathway may not be your best strategy.
Instead, be there at the on- and off-ramps with content relevant to the problem they seek to understand and solve. Greeting prospects with something of interest or making sure they leave with something that will bring them back—especially in exchange for some identifying information—helps build better-informed and more qualified sales leads.
70% of purchasing decisions are made before sales gets involved2
Content Leads to Trust
The leading reason people share content is identity—what they share defines them, their views and even their brand loyalty. Since what you share is what you stand for in this world, it becomes imperative that when companies share, they are both very considerate and deliberate about what they are sharing.
Therefore, the content you create needs to be of value to your persona, as well as reflect your values. Whether it leaves readers with a greater understanding of something complex, helps them organize their world better or leads to a better them, it places your firm in the recipient’s corner and builds trust.
When they are ready or able to buy what you are selling, they will be predisposed to you when it comes time to do so. In the meantime, they are more likely to share your content. After all, everyone wants to be an expert in their field. Providing your persona with the content they need to position themselves as one will not only build their trust in you as a source, it will also improve your credibility among their followers.
As the marketing landscape continues to change, we’ll take every opportunity to fine-tune our strategies and participate in industry events such as #ThinkContent…and we’ll update you on our findings in the process.
To learn more about our approach to content strategy, contact Steve Schmieder at 312.327.5120 or email@example.com. And to experience the NewsCred sessions for yourself and develop your own takeaways, visit www.NewsCred or access #ThinkContent on Twitter.
 NewsCred, “The Personalization Game: How to Use Content to Drive Marketing ROI”