Telling your brand’s story to a world full of potential customers through content marketing is more possible than ever, but knowing where to start, and how to start, can be a daunting challenge.
The growth of the internet has given brands the amazing opportunity to become their own publishers. Rather than writing up a press release and sending it off to the local newspaper or TV station (hoping beyond hope that an editor would pick the story up), these days your company can simply post your own article or video to your website and put it out there for the world to see.
The question is: will people be interested in your content? Great content marketing is engaging enough that people want to consume it and share it with their friends. So how do you go about creating amazing content?
Lauren Quaintance, head of content at Sydney content marketing agency Storyation, is a former journalist who realises that the internet has changed everything.
She says a good way to take on this new challenge of being your own publisher is to take on some of the mindsets of traditional editors or journalists.
Journalists spend their days searching for compelling stories, finding a unique angle and pursuing them while striving for truth and accuracy.
This can be tricky to do, especially since these are not skills that many businesses have placed a lot of focus on in the past.
“When I started my career as a journalist two decades ago, if you’d told me that brands would become publishers I would have laughed (loudly),” Lauren says.
These days, you can type into Google the name of pretty much any brand that comes to mind and usually find a website and a couple of social media channels.
“They can connect directly with customers through content that entertains, inspires or informs – and aligns with their brand values – without the hard sell.”
Lauren advises brands interested in pursuing the power of content marketing to take a small step away from their business objectives.
Figuring out who your audience is and what interests them is the first step to becoming an editor, she explains.
“If it’s not worth your audience’s attention – if it’s not going to make them laugh or cry or share an opinion – it’s not worth doing.”
Being honest and transparent is also super important, Lauren says, and that includes resisting the urge to disguise advertising within your content.
“On the whole mainstream publishers treat the line between advertising and editorial as sacrosanct. That means you’ll rarely see advertorial – which talks directly about a product – passed off as editorial.”
When it comes to the type of content you produce, a sharply focused angle will make sure to grasp your audience’s attention and keep them engaged.
This can work by giving your content definitive structures like ‘fastest’, ‘longest’, ‘best’ or ‘worst’.
Asking yourself,”What question should this story answer?” or “How do I want the reader to think or feel or act?” will also help with focus.
Finally, Lauren notes the importance of taking into account the type of platform and device that people will use to consume your content, and at what time of day.
“Is it short, newsy updates for the morning commute? Entertaining pieces to snack on at lunch? Longer-form video for the evening?”
Lauren’s advice is helpful to keep in mind when creating your content marketing plan – as she says, combining the craft of journalism with the science of marketing is the key to every brand becoming a great publisher.