In the Marketing Kingdom, Content is King. It’s easy to disregard everything and just focus on what the king says and does — after all, he’s pretty much unimpeachable, but doing so is a grand folly, and might even lead to the downfall of the realm. The same is true with content marketing. It’s not just about the storyline anymore. A successful content marketing campaign involves having a good strategy, knowing what loopholes to avoid, and finding out how to get the audience engaged.
In this episode, The Savvy Marketer picked the brains of Matt Heinz on everything content marketing. Here’s what he has to say.
The Savvy Marketer: Why is it important to have a concrete content marketing strategy? Is it possible to do content marketing without a clearly laid out plan?
Matt Heinz: I don’t think random acts of marketing work very well. I’m completely OK having an agile mentality around execution, but that must be centered under a solid sense for your objectives and success metrics. And good content strategy is based on a deep understanding of your target personas as well as the stages of their buying journey. For complex sales, you layer that on top of an understanding for how the buying committee works together internally.
So yes, strategy is critical. But once you have it in place, once you have guiderails, you can get creative and agile and have fun on your way towards achieving those goals.
TSM: What are the things to consider when making a content marketing strategy or plan?
MH: Answer these questions and you’re on your way:
- What are my business objectives?
- How can I measure content’s contribution towards those objectives?
- Who are my buyers – who are each of the key personas I need to influence and mobilize?
- What are the distinct buying stages they go through – from challenging the status quo to justifying a decision?
- How do the members of the internal buying committee work together to build consensus and make a decision?
- What topics, formats and channels can effectively mobilize target buyers based on answers to the questions above?
TSM: What are the characteristics of an effective, lead-generating content?
MH: Great content is engaging, often emotive. It draws you in by making you smarter, making you better, or sometimes simply entertaining you. It makes you want to get, hear or learn more, and that’s the key. Great content earns attention and also earns more credibility. And if the value provided is high enough, you can earn engagement within the buying journey and your sales process.
TSM: A solid, convincing storyline is a must in content marketing, but it’s not a guarantee your content marketing effort will pay off. What could possibly be the culprit if it fails?
MH: Too many great stories have no next step, no call to action. What should the reader do next? What should the viewer learn next? What’s the natural next step that the original content compels, influences and earns to learn more?
It’s that lack of a compelling next step that kills the effectiveness of otherwise good, or at least promising, content.
TSM: Some people hate to go through content (especially if it demands time to read), no matter how well-crafted it is. How do you get people to give it a chance?
MH: Well, if your content isn’t good enough or targeted enough, it’s not worth an extra second of your reader’s time. And sometimes you want to consider the right format & length/duration of content based on the role of your target, the context in which it’s engaged, etc.
In other words, great content earns attention. Content in the wrong place, the wrong format, or the wrong context doesn’t have a chance.
TSM: In your vast experience, what’s the secret sauce in content marketing that has always worked for you?
MH: Focus on your audience. Intensely, repeatedly. Create content for them, not you. Prioritize their objectives, not yours. That’s it. Difficult to put in practice sometimes, but it’s what differentiates the great content creators from the high volume of garbage out there!
Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing, with 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a repeat winner of Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management and Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers.
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