As you’re planning your next sporting event and searching for ways to attract new participants and attendees, consider content marketing. Content marketing is a great way to generate interest with your audience through sharing insider advice, storytelling or providing other useful information. This helps separate you from “the other guys” as a knowledgeable, helpful resource.
Not a Passing Fad
Content marketing has been around for over 100 years, but with the rise of the digital realm, the types of content and distribution channels available to you have exploded, resulting in a glut of opportunity for promotion. The growth and success has been so significant that 88% of B2B marketers in North America are using it (MarketingProfs), 77% of marketers are in- creasing their content production over the next 12 months (LinkedIn TMC), 42.5% of companies are hiring larger content marketing staffs (Curata) and by 2017, 51% of companies will have an executive directly responsible for a con- tent marketing plan (Curata). Companies are in- vesting and using content marketing for a very simple reason – it works, and it can work for you as well.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing VALUABLE, RELEVANT and CONSISTENT content to attract and retain a CLEARLY-DEFINED AUDIENCE – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
To put it another way, content marketing requires you to take off your traditional marketer’s hat and create content with which your audience will engage, while not pitching them directly on your event. It is not marketing-speak, blatant advertorial or standard promotional messaging.
Creating Your Editorial Mission Statement
The first step in creating an effective content marketing plan is laying out an editorial mission statement. This is different from your organization’s mission statement, as this is only about the content you plan to produce, not about the goals of your event. This answers the basic question – Why do you exist? This step is not to be taken lightly; your editorial mission statement is the cornerstone of your content marketing efforts, as it will tell you not only what content is okay to produce, but also which is not.
According to Content Marketing Institute, four questions to ask yourself when creating an editorial statement are:
- Who are we as an organization/event?
- Who are we trying to reach?
- How are we going to reach them?
What do we want to accomplish when we do? Once you have answered those questions, you can set about writing your statement. Be sure to include: your core target audience (who you are trying to reach); the deliverables to the audience (what will you provide through your content); and the desired outcome for the audience (what’s in it for them). Here’s a sample for your review: “Welcome to Inc.com, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspirations for running and growing their business.”
8 Critical Pieces to Your Content Marketing Plan
Now that you have your statement, it’s time to start building your plan. This requires that you take a step back and create a documented strategic plan. We recommend following the suggestions of MarketingProfs and focus on:
- Research your competitors, target audiences and overall marketplace
- Create a unique story
- Create the art/produce the creative
- Promote and distribute your content through diversified channels, from your own blog to industry websites, email newsletters and of course social media
- Create a conversation on social media where possible
- Measure your performance
- Reflect on key learnings
- Set a review date
This last one can be critical as we are all so busy that is it easy to fall into the trap of holding on to a written plan as if it were carved in stone, never to be altered. This can lead to us following a plan, not because it is working, but simply because “it is the plan.” Therefore, as part of your content marketing strategy, within the document itself, you set a date for everyone to get back together and review what is working, what isn’t, what new opportunities have arisen and modify your strategy accordingly.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Content
We have all run across bad content marketing at some point and likely have all done the same thing, stopped reading. Even worse, there are times when one poorly written piece of content can turn us off on the brand/source as a whole so that we are much less likely to try them again in the future.
If you have taken the time and have a documented content marketing plan and written out your editorial mission statement, then you know both who you are trying to reach and the path you want to travel to reach them. However, when it comes time to put fingers to keyboard, here are some tips from Content Marketing Magazine to make sure that your content isn’t, well, just embarrassing:
- Bloated Content – Your content should never be longer than it needs to be. If you need 2,000 words to make your point, fine, but make sure you maintain a high volume of concentrated value. If you find yourself adding filler, just stop.
- Pedantic Content – While it’s important to convey expertise, don’t use over-the-top or self-congratulatory language. It makes you look like you are trying to hide a lack of research under flowery, esoteric phrasing.
- Keyword Stuffing – Crafting your content for SEO is important, but not at the expense of the reader experience. If you write something like, “Planners planning a trip to Austin find that they can plan a better trip to Austin, if they have the right trip planning information about Austin.,” just stop.
- Deceptive Content – Nothing is more disappointing than reading an exciting article title that fails to deliver. If your title claims to have eight tips but only delivers five, or if you are promising cutting-edge research but then use four-year-old statistics, you are creating distrust with your reader and they are much less likely to return.
- Regurgitating Common Sense – In the deluge of content being poured into the internet, by far the most common issue is “cut rate” content that was obviously not written by an expert or even someone with first-hand knowledge of the topic. If the reader can easily find the information you are writing about other places, try put- ting a unique spin on it or adding value in a way only you can. If you can’t do that, then don’t write it.
- Abusing Links or Hashtags – Linking to quality internal and external sources in your content is great for SEO and the user experience, but don’t turn your articles into link farms; it just looks bad and actually hurts your SEO after a certain point.
- Unrelatable Content – Target your content to your audience and create a connection with them immediately upon arrival. Your reader is thinking, “What’s in it for me?” and if you can’t answer that question quickly and clearly, they will bail.
- Failing to be Single Solution-Oriented – Each one of your articles should have a clear and well defined point. If you aren’t providing a solution to a problem that your reader has, or are trying to provide too many solutions in a single article, rework the content to make it useful and more directed.
- Not Aligning with Your Content Strategy – You have done the research, so before hitting publish ask, “Does this align with our event, fit our brand values and resonate with our audience?” If the answer is no, rework the content.
- Not Providing Examples – Give readers support for the claims you’re making. Don’t just assume that your readers should trust you implicitly. Provide links to sources and examples; give them a reason to believe you.
I Have My Content, Now What?
I’d like to briefly expand on the point above regarding promotion and distribution channels for your content, as this can be a sticking point for many who are just starting out. What you do with each piece of content depends greatly on both your goal for that piece and also the type of content that it is. However, you can usually repurpose one piece of content.
Repurpose your content to fit the channel. You may have written an amazing 2,000-word article that performs great on your website blog or as a guest post on another site, but it isn’t going to get you anywhere on YouTube. Usually it is quite straightforward to repurpose your content in many different forms (video, presentations, whitepapers, and email series) so that you can reach new audiences.
Use but don’t abuse social media. A common misconception is that you need to be everywhere on social media, but that is not the case. Find out where your audience lives in the social space and focus your efforts there, but remember to become part of the community, not just some outsider pushing some offer or event signup.
Seek out influencers. Take some time to find those who are creating, curating and sharing content similar to what you have and try to enlist their assistance. This could be a prominent social media figure or an organization within your industry that has a highly trafficked website.
My last piece of advice is, get more advice! What I’ve been able to touch on here will get you started, but don’t let this be the end of your process. There are many sources of information out there to help you succeed at content marketing and, of course, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions
By Lance Harrell – Chief Development Officer – Premier Travel Media