The content marketing “cat” is out of the bag thanks to Corporate Executive Board (CEB)’s Marketing and Communications managing director, Patrick Spenner. The big revelation? Using content to gain attention, trust, and affinity takes a lot of commitment, and a lot of content.
Here’s what the content marketing and marketing automation gurus tell you. It goes something like this:
- You need 4 personas — these are your target audiences.
- You also must identify their needs. Maybe their top 3 needs, let’s say.
- Then, you’ve got to have content for all the channels that matter. Wherever the customer, you need to be there. Let’s say, conservatively, that’s 5 channels.
- Then, you have to be out there with fresh content. Let’s say at least monthly. That’s 12 times a year. Again, conservative.
That’s 4 x 3 x 5 x 12 = 720 pieces of original or versioned content.
That is a lot of content.
Spenner points out that in the rush to create and supply all this content quality can suffer. When it does:
[Y]ou look up one day across all of the content your marketing machine has created and realize you’ve created a mass of mediocre content. It has become part of the noise for your customers.
The “dirty secret” is that you’ve sacrificed content quality to get quantity and coverage.
In a followup post, Spenner offers a solution. It is simple, but difficult: change a customer’s direction. That’s because most potential customers and clients have already done their homework.
In Spenner’s words again, “Empowered customers self-direct their own learning. They engage suppliers late in the process (CEB research finds when the purchase is nearly 60 percent complete).” Therefore, most people have already researched their options and reviews independently of the content you may or may not supply.
Spenner identifies two points at which changing customer behavior becomes statistically significant: “Teaching the Customer Something New About Their Own Business Needs or Challenges” and “Providing the Customer with Compelling Reasons Why It Is Necessary to Take Action.”
The latter — teaching something new — is the core of our Newsblogging service. Providing a relevant, niche news source is increasingly at the core of marketing a product or service, too. Oh, and: It solves that content creation crisis. News can supply a river of new content.
But what about the clutter? Will your news content simply become “noise”?
Not if you’re regularly extending your audience’s knowledge of a subject, keeping them informed of breaking news and emerging trends, and if the content is consistently providing your audience with a competitive edge. Remember: It isn’t the “dirty secret” of “How can I produce all this content?” but the more difficult challenge of providing content that matters.
Katie McCaskey is SixEstate’s content director. She tests real-world application of content marketing techniques using the cafe she co-owns as a laboratory. She was Tech Editor of Chief Content Officer, 2010-2011, and contributes to the Content Marketing Institute. Connect with her on Google+ or @KatieMcCaskey.