If you’re a marketer in 2018, you’re familiar with the buzzwords saturating the online marketing industry.
Everyone is trumpeting the wonders of content. And everyone has a formula for creating that elusive “secret sauce” — the one thing that, if done correctly, will launch your content to the top of the marketing heap.
Stop. Just stop.
It seems that in the race to the top, the real nuggets of gold in the content marketing industry have gotten buried in an avalanche of over-eager sales techniques.
So, let me clear it up for you:
To be truly effective in marketing your content, you have to go back to your roots.
Back to the reason you even have a product or service — your customers.
Go back to your roots and succeed in your content marketing with @JuliaEMcCoy's advice on producing meaningful, relevant content, featuring key findings from @cmicontent's new 2019 B2B #contentmarketing report Click To Tweet
My State of the (Content Marketing) Nation Address
Before I tell you how to do it right, let’s explore the current state of content marketing. Think of this as a “State of the (Content Marketing) Nation Address.”
Are you being meaningful and relevant enough with your buyers/audience? @JuliaEMcCoy's State of the (Content Marketing) Nation Address Click To Tweet
Currently, brands and businesses are content marketing at a feverish pace, hoping to capture a greater slice of the audience pie with provocative intel and thought leadership content pieces.
Sadly, most of this content falls far short of their goal, leaving both audiences and marketers disappointed.
In fact, a recent article in The Drum underscores just how bad it is. Take a look at the infographic below.
Half of the buyers are disappointed by the marketing content out there. But look at that other number — only 30% of marketers think their organizations are doing a good job of content marketing.
Thirty percent. That’s a low vote of confidence, people.
Part of this stems from the fact that businesses find it hard to move off of what has motivated customers in the past. And each decade or so, customers evolve and move on — marketers need to follow.
This screenshot from Harvard Business Review illustrates what I’m talking about:
To move slowly in this market is to be quickly outpaced by those who get what people want. And what people really want in their content in 2018 is — are you ready?
Authenticity and relevance.
That’s it, in a nutshell — the real secret sauce for the content marketing win.
#contentmarketing's vote of confidence is disappointingly low. Learn how to turn that around with @JuliaEMcCoy's advice on authenticity and relevance Click To Tweet
How Authenticity and Relevance Drive Content Success
Interestingly, one of our writers compiled a white paper for a client just this week that underscored the value of these two elements. The paper addressed brand marketing for Millennial moms.
In case you don’t know, Millennials make up the largest demographic in the U.S. these days. And do you know what’s most important to them when making decisions based on advice? Authenticity.
A survey by Social Media Today shows that even among other generations, authenticity is a primary want.
Brand authenticity is even more important than innovation or even utility in marketing, with two-thirds of consumers choosing authentic over non-authentic brands.
Millennials make up the largest demographic in the U.S. these days. And do you know what’s most important to them when making decisions based on advice? @JuliaEMcCoy explains why authenticity matters Click To Tweet
And relevance? It’s right up there. If you don’t check the relevance box, you lose money. Big money.
Research shows that U.S. companies alone are missing out on $1 trillion in revenue annually because they aren’t relevant.
That relevance is not just predicated on your atypical marketing “personas” any longer. Businesses need to understand that there is no archetypal client to whom you can market — customer needs vary according to context and time.
This Confirms the Importance of Authentic, Relevant Content
So, what’s a content marketer to do?
The only way to get to know what your customers find relevant is to get out and talk to them. Interact with them. Get to know them on a real and personal level. Develop your authenticity muscles.
And it works — I promise. Here’s how I know:
CMI Media recently released a report detailing the state of B2B Marketing for the upcoming year. Their survey found that 90% of the top-performing B2B content marketers had one thing in common.
Read @JuliaEMcCoy's thoughts on the state of #contentmarketing today, featuring key findings from the new 2019 State of B2B Marketing Report from @cmicontent Click To Tweet
That one thing was that they put their audience’s informational needs ahead of their company’s sales message. Here’s a screenshot of that info, hot off the presses:
But that’s not my only reason for believing that relevance is where it’s at in the world of content. I can prove it to you based on my own experience.
At Express Writers, we literally sell ourselves through our writing! Nearly 100% of our leads come in through our content.
Just a few days ago, my strategist was telling me (on Slack, our “remote office”) about a scheduled sales call.
Apparently, the call was with a huge company that came across us when they were surfing Google for “content marketing and sales,” and decided to hit us up for content.
The call went extremely well. Why? Because they already loved us because of this blog post, which focused on adding value and exposing a hot topic that could be considered controversial:
Because of that (relevant) blog post, they’re about to put down their entire marketing budget with us!
This kind of thing— that most buyers interact with content before even thinking about contacting a sales rep — is becoming the norm.
That’s why it’s critical — imperative even — that your content is authentic and relevant.
Is your content authentic and relevant? Find out how important these are with @JuliaEMcCoy's State of the (Content Marketing) Nation Address, featuring key findings from @cmicontent's new 2019 B2B #contentmarketing report Click To Tweet
And let’s face it — today’s customers can smell a sales pitch from a mile away and they’re not interested in sleazy, in-your-face marketing any longer, even when it’s cleverly hidden in a piece of content.
So, your content needs to provide relevant, to-the-point content that speaks to their needs and wants, not just be a thinly disguised sales pitch.
The Best Ways to Produce Relevant, Authentic, Meaningful Content
But how do you get started creating content that goes the extra mile and gets the extra results?
Glad you asked.
Coming up are my favorite tips for providing relevance and authenticity in content.
Tip #1: Start with Relevant Content Through Personal Interaction
According to the CMI study, well-researched personas can help teams create successful content. However, too few content marketers are actually talking with customers to understand their needs.
The more you interact with your customers, the more you’ll understand where they’re coming from. From this interaction, you’ll be able to develop some general topics that are important to your audience.
Identifying general topics can help you capture a market niche so you can produce laser-focused content — the kind that gets real results.
Using information based on your niche, you can dig deeper by asking more pertinent and targeted questions, just like we did at Express Writers when we wrote the sales-funnel blog post.
Get to know how to produce relevant, authentic, and meaningful content with @JuliaEMcCoy's advice Click To Tweet
We knew this post would appeal to businesses looking to get targeted content for their audience without sleazy sales language because we take the time to really understand our clients, their pain points, and their needs.
At Express Writers, we go beyond a simple persona of an archetypal client to get real results.
Tip 2#: Mix in a Dollop of Authenticity
According to CMI, B2B content marketers primarily use email (87%) and provide educational content (77%) to nurture their audience and may be missing out on other opportunities.
For example, only 23% are using community building/audience participation to bring more/new voices to the table.
Because audience participation and community building help brands be more authentic, they should be a part of your persona-building exercise.
Not to be a broken record, but the results speak for themselves:
There you have it — the best performing content marketers have real insight into how their audience behaves. They are able to improve their customers’ experiences through improved interaction with the audience.
Nothing will help you engage your audience faster than providing directed, powerful content that comes from a place of understanding.
Customers don’t want celebrity endorsements — they want content from people who understand where they’re coming from.
Tip #3: Enjoy the Secret Sauce
If you follow our actionable tips, you’ll be on your way to creating the kind of content that builds strong relationships with clients that will foster not just business — but repeat business — as your brand begins to earn the kind of reputation for authority and authenticity that drives results.
Staying on Your Toes — The Final Key to Staying Relevant in the Content World
In our rapidly changing digital world, customers are constantly re-evaluating their purchases, seeking the brands that are most relevant to them with increasing frequency.
Brands who succeed must be ever at the ready to pivot as audience needs and wants change, but the rewards are great.
Customers are willing to pay a premium for brands that really “get” them. And content that drives results is directed at the overlap between what your audience wants and what your brand can provide.
To create content that hits the marketing “sweet spot” for 2018 and beyond, know your customer and give them what they want — the rest (read: profits) will follow.