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Content Marketing: What It Is and How To Do It Right

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“Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left.” —Seth Godin

You can no longer rely solely on paid ads and word-of-mouth referrals to attract potential clients. Instead, you need to create and share content that draws in and engages potential clients with content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Let’s break this down to fully understand how content marketing works.

Create Valuable, Relevant, and Consistent Content

Content marketing is about creating content that truly matters to your audience. The words you write must resonate with your preferred client, so write about items that matter to your audience. Your articles must provide value that your readers can continuously come back to, share, and act on.

You also need to have a consistent publishing schedule with pieces that are consistent with your brand voice. This consistency will make it easy for your audience to come back to you time and again to see what new information and insight you have to share.

Distribute Your Content

Once you have determined the type of content that is relevant and valuable to your audience, you need to distribute it. There are many platforms on which you can publish your content:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • YouTube
  • Slideshare
  • Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms

In addition to these platforms, you can also choose from various content formats:

  • Articles
  • E-books
  • Webinars
  • Press releases
  • Social media updates

Content marketing encompasses more than words. It also includes visual content such as images and videos. In fact, these forms of content may gain more traction than mere words:

Target Your Content to a Defined Audience

“When you write, you are writing for your audience—not yourself.”

If you remember only one thing from this article, make it this: When you write, you are writing for your audience—not for yourself. If you do not yet know who your audience is, take some time to figure it out. The tone you use and the formats and platforms you choose will depend greatly on the demographics of your audience.

Once you know who you are writing for, spend some time learning about what matters to your audience. Listen closely to the questions and concerns they raise in your presence and online. Craft content that addresses those concerns and questions.1

Get Your Audience to Take Action

Identify your goals and then incorporate them into your content marketing efforts. Those goals could include:

  • Getting more traffic to your website or blog
  • Increasing the number of potential-client contacts from your website
  • Building stronger relationships for ongoing referral purposes
  • Broadening your reach through social shares

Whatever your goal is, never leave your audience guessing as to what the next step is once they reach your content. Tell your audience what to do next. Include calls to action (CTAs) in your content, whether it is a simple “pick up the phone and call,” “retweet this,” or “fill out this short contact form.”

4 Steps to Successful Content Marketing

This plan will provide you with the framework you need for the ongoing creation, delivery and maintenance of your content.

1. Create a Content Marketing Plan

It should outline your strategy, identify your audience, and define your goals. From there, it should also answer these questions:

  • Who will create the content?
  • What will they create?
  • Where will you publish?
  • When will you publish?
  • How often will you publish?
  • Why is the content important to your readers and your firm?

2. See the Plan Through

Time and again I have seen lawyers fail at content marketing. Some have chosen to start a blog, but then slowly stopped posting on schedule … and then stopped posting altogether. Others have created social media profiles just to have them sit stagnant. And yet others have failed to see that content is a living, breathing thing that requires continual updating, which leads to outdated website content and old bios.

When you undertake content marketing, you are also undertaking the responsibility to keep your marketing fresh and vibrant. If you cannot handle this on your own, task someone else with helping you. Your spouse, your partner, an associate, an office manager, a marketing specialist. And whomever you task to help you, make sure you have specific activities and goals in mind.

3. Engage with Your Audience

This is important regardless where you publish your content. Publishing often enough to show prospective clients that you stay current with their industry is just the first step in the content-marketing process. Whether through blog comments, Facebook posts, or other social platforms, you must also engage in a dialogue with your audience. This provides a personal connection to you and also helps build community and brand awareness.

4. Measure Your Efforts 

This one is tricky for even the most seasoned marketers, and here’s why: most measurements focus on numbers, not on effect. While you can measure retweets, likes and followers, but do you know how those numbers affect your bottom line?

According to Jay Baer, an industry-leading digital marketing strategist, you must actually measure metrics from these four buckets:

  • Consumption
  • Sharing
  • Leads
  • Sales

Ask yourself if your audience is seeing, sharing, and acting on the content you create. If not, use your measurements to fine-tune your efforts by producing more content your audience prefers and reaching out to them via the platforms where they are most engaged. From there, you can measure whether your improved efforts are increasing your prospects and helping you convert those prospects to actual clients.

Content Marketing Requires Constant Attention

Content marketing is not a one-and-done type of effort. It requires ongoing attention. You must continuously produce, publish and engage on a content level. This does not mean you must be active every day, but it does mean you must be active on a consistent basis.

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Cari O'Brien

Founder & Chief Word Nerd
Cari has been providing content marketing services to businesses for over 15 years. She writes and speaks frequently about brand messaging, SEO copywriting and audience-focused copy. She’s the creator of the Connection Copywriting Method and the online writing course, Write that Site®.

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