Create and Control the Narrative with Content Marketing
Believe it or not, content marketing has been around for several hundred years. Back in 1732, Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanack, an annual handbook that featured the weather forecast, poems, proverbs, business tips, puzzles, a news series and more – all written with Franklin’s signature wit and common sense.
Americans of the day loved this information, as it was exactly what they needed and wanted, in a voice and tone that was entertaining to read. But why did Ben Franklin publish such a robust body of work? To promote his printing business, of course. With an average of 10,000 copies sold every year for 25 years, the almanac is an example of successful content marketing by any professional’s standards.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the strategic and consistent creation, publication and promotion of content on your own channels that allows your organization to attract, connect and engage with your critical audiences in ways that are meaningful to them. You create, shape, and control the narrative for which you want your organization to be known. Through this process, owned media channels become go-to resources for all those who you want to hear your message — including prospects, customers, media, community members and others.
Ben Franklin positioned his company as one that reliably printed information that Colonial Americans needed to thrive. The more he provided the content they sought, the more demand he created, and the more prosperous his business became. Through his ownership of messaging, voice, tone and content, Franklin ultimately controlled the narrative.
Setting The Foundation
As with any communications strategy, successful content marketing starts with understanding who you are as a company and the value you offer, so that you can develop your narrative. By digging deep into brand identity, you’re able to distill internal beliefs, external perceptions, market positioning and social trends down to a singular, powerful “why.”
From there, you must do the critical work of understanding your audiences in deep and meaningful ways. What do they care most about? What keeps them up at night? What will help them improve their lives or perform their jobs better, and how can your products or services contribute? What insight, tips or research can you share that will serve their needs, with your brand acting as the trusted guide along their journeys to betterment? This type of helpful, relevant, timely information is what Benjamin Franklin mastered with Poor Richard’s Almanack.
Craft Your Narrative
Once you’ve homed in on your brand identity and audience personas, it’s time to craft your narrative. It’s important to remember that telling your brand story isn’t about literally telling the story of your company (although there is an opportunity for that). Through the lens of content marketing, your narrative is the messaging framework you use to become discovered by your audiences.
It’s how you position your company alongside them as they journey to acquiring what they want and need. It’s the voice with which you write, it’s the material you choose to publish, it’s the feeling you want your audience to take away when they finish consuming your content. Are they inspired to share, or encouraged to act? Have they learned something new, or gained clarity around an issue? What has your audience gained from consuming your content? How did you help?
Measure Against Your Goals
“All this content is nice to have,” you might be thinking, “but how does it align with my business goals?” The goal of full-funnel content marketing is to engage your audience and drive them to action — whether that’s to contact you for more information about your product or service, subscribe to your newsletter, follow you on social media, or schedule a demonstration. Every stage of the digital journey is measurable — so it’s easy to tell when something isn’t working and to fix it in real time.
The more helpful and relevant your content is, the more domain authority Google will give your website, which will help it rank higher in search results. This why strategy and planning are so important on the front end; you want to publish content that attracts and engages your audiences from the beginning, then moves them, step-by-step, to the point of conversion.
Content marketing isn’t easy, but when you think of it as an opportunity to control your narrative in a way that is helpful and engaging to your audience, you’re more likely to create a plan that works. We can’t guarantee that your blog or podcast will have a 25-year run like Poor Richard’s Almanack, but that’s the level of content marketing to which we should all aspire.
For more information on controlling your message with content marketing, connect with a Jackson Spalding team member. We’d love to help.