By Sue Brady
Owned, Earned and Paid.
All three of these media types may play an important part in your marketing strategy. ‘Owned’ media refers to channels that you control such as your company Facebook page or blog. ‘Earned’ media is in essence word of mouth. When someone shares your content, that’s earned. ‘Bought’ is media you purchase, such as an ad or event sponsorship.
The focus of this article is content marketing for your Owned media.
What is content marketing? Content marketing refers to published information designed to acquire, educate or engage prospects and customers. Content published in this way needs to be valuable to the reader and should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Content marketing is not a way to sell…at least not directly. Rather, it’s a way to provide information that your prospects and customers will find useful.
How can you get started? First, clearly define your goals. It’s not enough to just publish articles and blog posts. You need to understand what you hope to accomplish with your content. Is your goal to show that you are the thought leader in your field and therefore the place to go for specific types of information? Is your goal to educate your prospects about the capabilities of your products? Is it to dive into topics of interest to your target audience? Whatever you decide will drive how you go about choosing topics, writing about them, and ultimately publishing.
Your content marketing really breaks down into these main steps:
- Decide on a strategy to best meet your established goals (see above). To figure out your strategy, think about some basic things: What am I trying to solve for my customers? What type of content do they like to see? What’s my end game (what do I want to achieve)? Additionally, you should think about how you want to use your content. Are there multiple channels where you can use versions of the same content? This step should also include identifying where you want to post.
- Identify your audience. You need to know who you are writing for so that you can choose topics of interest.
- Decide how frequently you are going to post. This may not sound important, but if you want people to keep coming back, you need to keep your content fresh.
- Create an editorial calendar. This will help you to keep your content organized. There are templates available for no cost on the web. I use a simple spreadsheet with the dates down the sides and the following column headings: Article Title, published/not published, category, and keywords/tags. I try to schedule topics for myself as far out as possible so that I have a working list to guide my efforts.
- Start writing. This sounds easy but of course is not. There are a number of steps involved with the actual writing
- Generate topic ideas (here are 6 Goldmines for finding relevant topics). In addition to those 6 goldmines, make sure to take a peak at what your competition is writing about to see if their topics make sense for you too.
- Consider SEO in your writing.
- SEO (search engine optimization) is important for search engines like Google to be able to find you in their searches. Do some research to figure out what terms your prospective customers are searching on and make sure you include those words in your article. You don’t want to overdo it, but you want to make sure your content is found.
- Note that Google+ is also important for SEO. While Google+ is unproven as a means to gain customers, Google itself considers Google+ presence when ranking content. So open up a Google+ account and post your content there. It’s free and can only help with your rankings.
- Once you’ve created your account, make sure Google knows who you are. You do this through Google Authorship and it’s how Google knows to start looking for you when someone searches on relevant terms. You can do that here. Doing this also means that when you do show up in a search, your name will be visible in the listing.
- Create an outline for the article. To be honest, I don’t always put this to paper, but I always have an idea, at least in my head, of how I want a post to flow.
- After you write your post, go back over it carefully to delete redundancies, fix grammatical errors, and in general tighten it up.
- Respond to comments. Once you’ve published an article, check your post for reader comments and respond to them. It’s a great way to engage with your readers and help them to feel a personal connection.
Don’t be afraid to publish that first article. The first time is always the hardest.