Traditional marketers are in a frenzy over “content marketing.” Or, at least you’d think so, judging by the sheer volume of discussion on social media. There are entire publishing businesses built around articles on this topic. Luckily, as a WWW member, you’re already familiar with the basic principles.
Content marketing is a way to use educational, informative, and sometimes fun content to interest prospects and build a relationship leading to a sale.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for us as copywriters.
- Businesses need more content than ever before in the form of white papers, landing pages, video scripts, etc.
- It’s an unparalleled opportunity for you to show your skills as a writer and draw clients to you and simplify your marketing.
Content marketing is common in the B2B world where high-dollar sales take a lot of education and have a long sales cycle. No marketing manager wakes up one day and decides to buy a $100,000 software package for her company. Instead, it takes months of education. White papers, demos, videos, and meetings are all part of the process.
Nowadays, some of that material is shared via social media platforms to have a broader reach.
Plus, B2C companies are getting in on the content marketing action with fun videos and blogging.
MarketingSherpa.com, a marketing-industry blog, says a good content marketing strategy can lead to a 2,000% increase in blog traffic and a 40% increase in revenue.
Great content marketing builds links, promotes visibility, and positions you as the expert to draw prospects to you so you spend less time searching for clients.
As a freelancer, you have the opportunity to create blog posts, special reports, autoresponders, and any number of other content pieces to showcase your expertise.
Yet, creating content can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out. Where do you begin?
In this article, we’re going to look at how you can set up your content marketing strategy to ensure you’re crafting effective marketing pieces for your audience.
What’s Your Goal?
If you’re like most freelancers, you want a steady stream of clients coming to you to reduce gaps in your schedule and to give you a pick of projects.
If you’re just getting started, would you be happy with 2-3 prospects a month coming to you through your content marketing? Probably … after all, these people find you because of your demonstrated expertise, so you’re more likely to get the project at a fee that makes you happy.
How many leads you’re likely to generate is relative to the amount of content you produce and how long it’s online. Similar to interest in the bank, your efforts will compound (faster than interest in the bank, of course!)
Step One: Create a Plan
Who is your audience?
What are their key pain points?
Once you’ve answered these questions, then you have a guide to creating your content.
What do they want to know? Brainstorm the questions they have in relation to the services you offer. If you’re selling SEO copywriting services then you could develop a series of blog posts or a special report on successful SEO strategies.
If you’re selling Digital Rights Management Consulting, a white paper on this topic would be useful to CEOs and IT Directors concerned about sensitive information getting leaked.
If you don’t know the key questions, then do some market research.
Step Two: Conduct Research Over Social Media
Use the social media search engine Topsy.com to find articles and comments around your topic. Listen in on Tweet Chats. Check out related LinkedIn groups and read relevant blog posts and comments. Look at the questions and answers section on LinkedIn.
You’ll pick up a lot of ideas.
You can also do keyword research around specific terms. Not only will it generate ideas, if you’re blogging or writing web pages, keyword research is essential to your SEO.
You can learn more about keyword research in this article, SEO Quick Start Guide.
Step Three: Determine How You Can Help?
By now, you should have a good read on your audience. You probably have pages of scribbled notes. Ideas are taking shape. Figure out how your content can be a solution to their problem.
For example, if you’re targeting Marketing Directors looking to streamline their social media and you’re a social media strategist, you could create a special report on How to Get the Most ROI Out of Your Social Media Plan.
Or, you could write a series of blog posts illustrating the top ways to use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to connect with prospects. Then, share a link with the Marketing Directors when you reach out.
Step Four: What Type of Content?
Will you blog? Make videos? Write a white paper? Write an autoresponder series? Mix it up? Decide the method(s) you’re comfortable using. Ask yourself which methods are most common in the industry you’re targeting.
For example, an event planner might watch a video or read a special report. She may or may not read blog posts. Find out by looking at what your competition is doing and what other industry sources are out there. Ask in LinkedIn groups or through other social media channels if you don’t know.
Step Five: Map it Out
Use a piece of paper or a brainstorming tool like Mindjet to map out your ideas.
Then, figure out how you plan to use the content you create.
- Are you going to put it on your website and hope people find it?
- Are you going to offer it as an incentive to signing up for your email list?
- Will you send it to your contacts as an email attachment with a note like, “Hey Joe, Just put together this special report on … Thought you’d be interested.”
- Where else will you share it? LinkedIn groups? Tweet Chats? Your blog?
Make a plan for yourself so each piece works for you.
Bonus Tip: Break it out
If you’ve written 8 to 15 pages around a topic, why not take 3-4 sections to repurpose as blog posts or videos? Your call-to-action can be to get the rest of the report.
If you tweet about your post, put it in LinkedIn groups, or on Facebook, make sure the link goes directly to your post and not your home page. It’s better for your SEO and your audience.
There are many ways to use your content.
Once you start creating it, market it, and track the results. Then, create more. Mix your content up with bigger projects like a special report and shorter pieces like blog posts. Link them to one another as appropriate. Within a few months, you’ll be surprised and delighted at how much content you’ve created.