Content marketing is about more than just squeezing in some SEO keywords, or making your new company's website look more legit and trustworthy by maintaining a blog that gets updated regularly.
You need to make a real connection with your customers and potential customers.
And that's a lot easier said than done.
In a world where we're all bombarded with information overload from all directions, a lot of the content we encounter every day goes in one ear and out the other, so to speak.
To make content marketing work for your business, you need to make the audience feel like your brand really understands them.
There needs to be a real connection there.
And dry, boring content just doesn't cut it. So how do you forge this essential connection?
Start with an “audience first” mindset.
Get inside their heads before you even start writing, filming, or designing.
What are their pain points? How do they conceptualize the products or services you sell?
How do they think? What are they looking for?
In a recent blog post from The Content Marketing Institute, content marketing strategist Carlijn Postma offers some actionable tips for helping consumers feel like your brand “gets” them.
Step 1: Describe their ordinary world
Translate your brand’s description of your audience into the ordinary world of your audience.
Delve into the mindset of your audience as it is relevant to your brand and vice versa.
It helps to write from the perspective of your audience using “I” statements.
With that understanding, you then can identify what kind of content will help your audience in their journey and fit your brand story.
Note: This is the hardest and usually most expensive step to get your audience moving. At this point, they don’t need you yet (or aren’t aware they need you) so you have to work hard to convince them.
Audience thinking – I have a busy family life. I want to create tasty and nutritious meals easily and quickly.
Brand response – Create content that focuses on how to prepare healthy meals in a short time.
Step 2: Know the trigger
Gain insights into what causes your audience to look for information (i.e., content).
A trigger could be an intrinsic motivation such as, “There’s a sports practice after the meal so we have to get the food on the table fast.”
It also could be externally driven, often stimulated through advertising or media such as a news item highlighting research that says children aren’t eating healthy enough.
Audience thinking – I saw the news report about how children’s success in school is tied to their eating habits. I must find the time to make sure my kids are eating better.
Brand response – Create an interactive meal planner for the audience to use to plan meals a week ahead.
TIP: You don’t have to recreate the content wheel for every trigger. Establish a content template, a format where the structure is always the same (and most promising given your audience’s triggers), and continually change the content.
Step 3: Know the resistance
Another way to gain insights into your audience is to identify resistance shown by your audience.
What’s stopping people from taking the action you want them to take?
Why don’t people continue fulfilling their information needs with your content?
You also can ask your audience in person or through an online survey.
Once you’ve identified the points of resistance, focus your content and its formats that prevent or mitigate the obstacles your audience encounters.
Audience thinking – I don’t think packaged meal helpers can be healthy.
Brand response – Work with an influential expert in the space, perhaps a chef seen on TV, to cook with the packaged meal helpers and explain the benefits of our low-salt and low-sugar products.
You can get the full scoop on cultivating an audience-first mindset for content marketing over at The Content Marketing Institute.