The Total Content Approach

Everybody knows you need content to make your 21st Century digital marketing strategy work. But the term ‘content’ has been used and abused. Most business owners and marketers roll their eyes when a marketing consultant tells them they have to use ‘valuable’ and ‘compelling’ content for their marketing strategy.

Content marketing has become the new social media. Overused and devoid of meaning.

But don’t go dusting off your old telemarketing or TV advertising playbooks just yet. Despite the fact that ‘content’ has been overplayed like a top 40 song, content is more important now then ever.

It’s not a question of ‘if’ you’ll ever implement a content-oriented approach into your marketing strategy. It’s a question of ‘when’ and ‘how committed’ are you to making content as ingrained into your company’s marketing fabric as cotton, wool and nylon.

Why content is so powerful

As Simon Salt said, it’s a myth that consumers have recently become savvy. They’ve always been savvy, but they didn’t always have the almost infinite variety of choices they have now.

But give consumers something they really want to know and learn about, something that excites them and speaks directly to their secret problems, needs and desires, and they can become yours.

Sonia Simone calls this “cookie content.”

Cookie Content, according to Simone, makes life better for readers, can be used right away, and tastes good.

It leverages powerful psychological persuasion techniques, such as reciprocity and authority, enabling you to make your consumers become willing participants in a conversation with you, and eventually customers.

What I advocate is a total content approach.

The 10 steps to the Total Content Approach

The total content approach consists of ten steps.

1. Content for one person

Produce all your marketing content: blog posts, articles, web copy, white papers, videos, as if you’re writing to one person. Brian Clark, Sonia Simone, Sean D’Souza, all accomplished content marketers, talk about that one person you should write for. How do you do this? First, choose an ideal target market. Then select one person who is representative of that market. Create a detailed profile of her, and write to her personally as if you’re writing to an old friend.

2. Content that speaks to their unique worldview

What is your one person’s worldview? What are the collection of beliefs that color the way she looks at the world? As Seth Godin said in his book “All Marketers are Liars,” it’s almost impossible to change somebody’s worldview. You can’t convert a vegan into an Atkins dieter, and you can’t convince a Yankees fan to become a Braves fan. So don’t. Instead, embrace and honor their world.

3. Content that expresses your unique approach

What is your passion, your purpose, your personality and your position? John Jantsch talks about the new 4ps of marketing as the modern way of expressing your uniqueness. It’s harder to convince your customers that your manufactured difference is authentic, so don’t even try. Embrace the authentic you, and your content will stand out and make your ideal customer crave more.

4. Content that attracts prospects

We’ve just covered marketing strategy. Now we’re getting into marketing tactics. The foundation to your ‘awareness’ marketing tactics should be content that attracts. When we think about our one person we’ve profiled, their problems, challenges, and goals, and their unique worldview, what content can we give them that they really want to read (or see or hear)? What will make their day when they find you? Produce articles, blog content, reports, eBooks, videos and podcasts that express a set of beliefs, or provides advice, tips, tutorials, resources, and how-tos that fulfill your prospects’ deepest desires.

5. Content that turns strangers into friends, and friends into buyers

Once they find you and feast on your attraction content, what can you provide them that will get them to know, like and trust you?

As Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, said:

Content marketing is the practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism.

But how do you do this? You must gradually convert your prospects from strangers to friends. Seth Godin recently said marketing to strangers is becoming harder and harder to do. And what better way to turn strangers into friends than with content? Can you provide a free course you can deliver over time via email? Can you offer a webinar? Can you produce case studies, white papers, and testimonial videos? Can you organize in-person seminars?

6. Content-oriented SEO

Google’s recent Panda and Caffeine updates have made fresh, relevant content even more important than before. This was a direct blow to content farms, with their crappy content on topics the writers hardly know anything about. Now its time for you to step up to the plate and create timely, high quality content.

7. Content-oriented social media

For all the talk of social media allowing you to build relationships online via ‘one-to-one engagement,’ the best approach for an effective social media marketing strategy is the content-oriented approach. As Brian Massey said, a content-oriented social media strategy allows you to educate people before they buy, and allows for much better measurement. Sharing links to content on social media is much easier to measure than ‘one-to-one’ marketing.

8. Content-oriented advertising

Most savvy marketers agree that direct response advertising is more effective and measurable than image advertising. But most direct response advertising asks prospects to “call for a free quote,” “download a free trial,” or “contact us for a complimentary consultation.” What if instead you provided a free report, or a video, or any other type of free content? Robert Rose cites two examples of clients who increased the quality of the leads they converted by offering content as the call-to-action for their PPC campaigns, instead of traditional offers.

9. Content that deepens the customer relationship

Don’t forget about content marketing after you’ve made the sale. Keep in contact with your customers by sharing valuable tips, tutorials or how-tos on how to use your product, or different ways they can take advantage of your service. Send an email newsletter, or maybe even a print newsletter. Keep your name in front of them so they can become repeat customers, and start to refer you to their friends.

10. Content to reach internationals markets

The Internet makes it possible to reach a global audience, and content is the way to create that soft landing before you commit resources to opening international offices. I obtained half a dozen international clients by taking a pure content marketing approach: I wrote a blog in Spanish, and published a 44-page eBook in Spanish. As a result I have a never-ending supply of leads who want more of what I have to offer. These are companies from Argentina, Costa Rica and Mexico. What international markets would you like to penetrate?

Conclusion

Embrace content marketing. Dedicate yourself to it wholeheartedly. Fall into it, with the confidence you have when falling backwards off a table into the arms of your friends who are waiting to support you and let you know they’re there for you.

Are you ready to embrace a Total Content Approach? When will you adopt the Total Content Approach? Will you adopt it now, when you can still get an edge over your competitors and dominate your niche? Or will you wait until you’re the only one left in your industry who hasn’t done it yet?

Hopefully it’s the former.

Original article published here.

About the author: Fernando Labastida, the current blog editor for the Austin AMA, has been involved in sales and marketing for almost 20 years. He has carried a bag as an account executive for start-up and established software companies, and he has led marketing efforts in the U.S. and Latin America. He specializes in content marketing and copywriting, is a marketing evangelist for the firm Leading Results.

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2 Responses to The Total Content Approach

  1. Brian Massey November 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Taking these all together, it becomes clear that a business or a brand is fully realized only through its content. We can no longer rely on slogans and manipulation. A brand now has hopes, fears and dreams. Businesses must express opportunity as well as possibility. Don’t worry. Our customers are there to help us understand ourselves.

  2. Fernando Labastida November 21, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    Great point Brian….at the end of the day, just like Soylent Green, businesses are people. That comes through in our content, and our customers see that.

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