A content marketing strategy is more than just blogging. When taken seriously and deployed as part of a cohesive marketing campaign, content can help businesses attract new prospects, build loyalty and drive customer engagement for the long haul.
Just take a lesson from Blue Corona, an online marketing and SEO company that specializes in generating leads and sales. The company has been able to grow its business by 3,000 percent in the last six years through content.
"As an extreme example, a single piece of content, an in-depth case study, promoted via multiple mediums including direct mail, Web, email, and social, took us from zero clients and no revenue to more than 20 clients and over $400,000 in revenue," says Ben Landers, president at Blue Corona.
Balance Impact With Cost
Taking content seriously means developing a high impact program. To develop your strategy, start with the metrics that matter most to your business's growth, and work backward from there.
"The smaller the business, where running out of cash is a serious and ever-present threat, the more emphasis needs to be placed on the metrics at the bottom of the funnel, which are typically conversion events like leads and sales," Landers explains.
Business owners need to be realistic about the costs involved. Good content producers are tough to find and are unlikely to work for free.
"For a small business, someone that's profitable and doing somewhere in the neighborhood of a million a year or more in revenue, I think it's reasonable to allocate $3,000 to $5,000 to create a trophy piece of content and an additional $1,000 to $2,000 per month building a content distribution system and promoting the content on an ongoing basis," Landers says.
Larger companies allocate considerably more, spending upwards of $20,000 to create a single piece of content.
"Generally speaking, the answer to what you should budget for content marketing is the same as how much money you need to start a business: more," Landers says. "Do you really think that a blogging service for a few hundred dollars per month is going to represent your business the way you want it represented and generate the growth possible from a well-thought out blogging strategy? Of course not!"
Keep Leadership Internal
It's common for companies to farm production to interns or inexpensive content production companies.
"This is a mistake," says Kiki Schirr, marketing strategist at Fittr, a company that helps consumers develop personalized workout plans. "Neither adequately knows your corporate culture, and neither are as engaged as a full-time employee."
Small businesses need dedicated internal resources for overseeing strategy and growth. "It's my recommendation that you have at least one content and social media manager whose only job is generation and oversight," Schirr says. "If you're a larger company, this should be a team."
There is value, however, in hiring external consultants and writers with an established track record. Look for partners that are in high demand with strong distribution channels, media presences and track records.
Focus On Customers First
Anyone can launch a blog and start writing. For brands, content production requires careful planning as part of an overarching strategy.
"Anyone can call themselves a 'content marketer,' but ... the best journalists have spent years perfecting their craft," explains Justin Belmont, CEO at content production agency Prose Media. "A strong command over language, a love for reading, experience doing research, and a passion for telling the truth are all important."
A powerful content strategy starts with what your customers want. Work backward to design the solution.
"The key is providing value," Belmont says. "It’s no longer about interrupting people’s days with annoying TV ads or online pop-ups. Content marketing is about engaging, educating and entertaining your customers by sharing relevant and helpful information about topics important to your industry."
Ritika specializes in business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and tech. She writes for Forbes, Investopedia, Business Insider, CMO and the SAP Innovation Blog.
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