Below is series of actual questions I have received from customers. I’ve tried to respond in a way that will be relevant to as broad a spectrum of viewers as possible but every business is different. If you have a question that isn’t here or you would like me to expand on an answer, please send us your request. If it’s a new question I will add it to the list along with my answer. If it’s a request to expand on, or clarify one of the answers below, I will respond directly to your email.
Q: Why should I use Content Marketing?
A: The simple answer is, you should be using Content Marketing if you want to increase awareness of your brand, create interest in your product or service, increase sales or build a loyal customer base. For a more detailed explanation of all of the ways Content Marketing can help build you business check out our blog on The Benefits of Content Marketing.
Q: Is Content Marketing Hard to do?
A: No, but it does take a bit of effort to do it correctly. The most effort will be spent on creating content so it’s critical to get this right. I can’t emphasize this enough. Whether you’re going to write a weekly blog or record an interview for your podcast or produce a video tutorial series, if you aren’t creating content on topics that your target audience finds valuable you can waste a lot of time and money. Our mantra at AMC is “measure twice, cut once.” In other words, take the time to really understand your target audience and what their informational needs are before you jump in and start creating. Develop an evidence-based content strategy and you’ll be able to use it to drive ideas for content for years to come.
Q: How do I know if my Content Marketing is working?
A: I love this question! In fact, I like it so much that I won’t begin working with a new client until they ask it because any good content strategy has to be built to achieve clearly defined and measurable goals. So you have to know what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to measure it, before you begin figuring out how you’re going to do it. Sounds obvious but so many marketers just want to jump right into creating content. Maybe because analytics isn’t fun or sexy but you know what it is? It’s profitable. Setting up your measurement methodology, so you can track which pieces of content, published on which platforms, drove the leads that converted at the highest rate, lets you know where to spend your marketing dollars to get the greatest impact.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: I don’t know, how much does dinner cost? Sorry, that’s a pretty flippant response, but it’s also kinda true. That answer is, of course, it depends. How many people are coming to dinner? Who are they? Do you want to serve a seven course meal or use leftovers? The one consistency we’ve seen is that client’s are almost always surprised by how much they already have that can be used. Not every company has detailed and documented buyer personas and customer journey maps for each audience segment, but they have a ton of knowledge and insight into who their customers are and what’s important to them that can be used to complete persona and journey templates. Few client’s come to us with library of well-researched white papers or six months worth of topical podcast material, but they have press releases, product descriptions, photos and web content, all of which can be repurposed into different formats and published across several different platforms.
For reference, here is an article on how much companies are spending on the Content Marketing activities. It’s a bit outdated (2017) but should give you some context. If I find updated data I will post it here.
Q: How do I get started?
A: The first thing you are going to want to do is ask yourself, “What do I know about my target customer?” A great Content Marketing program begins with knowing who your audience is and what information are they looking for at each and every stage of the buying cycle. If you don’t have this documented, usually in the form of buyer personas and customer journey maps, you still probably have a pretty good idea of who your customers are and what they are interested in. Get inside their heads and try to imagine all the different questions they need to get answers to before they decide if they need a solution, how they’ll put together a list of options, and what criteria they will ultimately use to decide. Then, think about if and how you can provide the content that will help them answer all their questions. Think about where they might go to find the answers to their questions and if those answers are best provided in a newsletter, or through social media or on your website, or all three.
Q: Can I do it myself?
A: Yes. Unquestionably, but you’ll probably need some help getting started and once you’re up and running you’ll have to decide if you want to take on the responsibility of producing all your content in house or work with a partner. It’s a hard question to answer until you have an idea of how much content you’ll need to produce and in what formats. I usually recommend to clients that they begin with the assumption that they will produce their own content. It’s more cost effective and nobody knows your industry as well as you do. But committing the time and resources to content production is not always an easy decision, especially when the returns on Content Marketing require patience. There are plenty of companies out there that just do content production and we’re happy to make introductions if and when the time is right.
Q: Does Content Marketing actually drive sales?
A: Absolutely. Content Marketing is very effective at every stage of the buying cycle when done correctly but one of its greatest advantages is the increase in the quality of leads you’ll generate. If you catch prospects early on in their journey and establish yourself as a trusted source of reliable content, by the time they are ready to engage with your sales team they’ve already self-identified as a qualified lead. Content Marketing is also a powerful driver of customer loyalty, so employing a post-purchase content strategy will generate significant repeat purchases and referrals.