Effective content marketing connects with its audience and delivers smart, relevant messaging. This was one of many lessons delivered at Content Marketing World in Cleveland where more than 3,500 content marketers and producers -- donning various shades of orange -- gathered to learn from the industry's best. Here are nine takeaways from the event, including how to develop content that cuts through the noise, tips for building buyer personas and why you need to take a marathon-like approach to content marketing.
Be the exception. It's never been easier to be average, said Jay Acunzo during his keynote. There is more repetitive and derivative content out there than ever before. Rise above the crowd by finding your own pathway and thinking for yourself. Following your own intuition will unleash your creativity.
Know thyself. Organizations that know who they are -- and who they are not -- have achieved the most success in this arena by demonstrating masterful and authentic storytelling. They experiment and expand their horizons, of course, but they always retain a core unapologetic sense of who they are and what their purpose is. Take time with your team to carve out your mission statement. This will help you maintain your authenticity as you move forward.
Know your audience. Invest time crafting buyer personas for your target audience. Who are the decision makers? What do they care about? What are their priorities? What issues keep them up at night? What are the barriers that keep them from solving problems? Get a human context. Talk to your buyers, explore these issues with them, then work with your team to craft personas for the key decision makers. These personas will help keep your messaging relevant and on track.
Address the issues. Speaking to buyers’ pain points is key to content marketing. Work with your sales team to narrow down your audience and mine that audience for true insights. Those insights will define your goals and measures of success. As you rally around your audience -- and really get to know their needs -- you will foster trust and build lasting relationships.
Build audience trust. We can't say this enough: Buyers choose products and people that they trust. When you're having those difficult internal conversations to justify the time and resources you need to create rich, authentic content, remind your stakeholders that trust sits at the crux of strong relationships.
Commit yourself to the long run. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, said Frank Thomas of adidas. Don't rush the process. Take time to plan your strategy, develop your team and do the leg work. Get sales and marketing together to discuss buyer personas. Build your roster of content resources. Sit down with leadership and make sure they understand the vision, process and timeline. A patient, diligent approach will help you channel efforts properly and build a strong foundation for the long term.
Repurpose and distribute -- everywhere. When you take the time to create great content, make sure you get the most from it. Take your white paper and turn it into a webinar. During the webinar, take a poll -- or two! -- and collect the feedback. Turn the feedback into an infographic. Break your long form white paper into a series of blog posts. Drop the poll results into your ad copy and link the copy back to the original paper. It is not about creating many pieces of content; it is about creating a few pieces of strong content that you can repurpose through multiple channels.
Keep the lions fed. As you are funneling content to your leads, always know what resource you will deliver to them next. Cast a wide net. Figure out which pieces of content your prospects are engaging with then send them more content to keep them flowing through the funnel. And make sure they know what to do when they are finished with the content. Add a "Click here to learn more" or "Register for our next event" or a similar invitation. A strong call-to-action keeps your leads in your pipeline.
Above all, have fun with it. Storytelling is fun, said Linda Boff, Jay Acunzo and Casey Neistat. Find your passion and give yourself time to be creative in a way that showcases the authenticity of your work and your company. When you do that, your richest narrative will emerge and your audience will respond in kind.
Learn more: How content influences the purchase process
How do business leaders use content when they're making purchase decisions? See what types of content they want, what information they need to see and what sources they trust in this report from SmartBrief and Content Marketing Institute. Download now!
Kanoe Namahoe is the content-marketing editor for the Education and Workforce divisions of SmartBrief.