"If you learn only methods, you'll be tied to your methods. But if you learn principles, you can devise your own methods."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In articles one and two of this series, we discussed some principles of content marketing, such as setting appropriate content goals for a given piece.
Then, we talked about how to ensure your content goals match a specific audience at a specific place in your sales funnel.
Here are two refresher definitions from the previous posts:
Content goals are what we want to happen as a result of the published work. Ideally, these are the first elements of the content creation process.
Content metrics are the rulers by which we measure the achievement of the content goals. These ought to be determined later on in the process.
Now, we dive into the methods.
How does good content "work"?
Content marketing does it's job through functions such as: entertaining visitors, addressing common problems, and initiating social interactions. In the Precision Pen content creation process, these functions are called "content roles".
Content roles are the actors in your play, working to incite a specific reaction from your audience. What's the "specific reaction"? Your content goal(s)!
"Creating Brand Awareness" is a great top-of-funnel content goal, but unless your content performs roles like entertaining visitors or addressing common problems to support the goal, it will never happen.
There are two basic types of content roles. Primary content roles focus on adding value to the piece for the visitor. Secondary content roles will help the visitor as well, but their aim is to highlight aspects of the brand or product that steer the visitor towards conversion.
Primary content roles: putting the "content" in content marketing.
After choosing content goals for a piece, I recommend setting 1-3 primary content roles to ensure you'll add plenty of value for your visitors.
#1: Entertain Visitors
Providing amusement with a well-placed logo and company name will help familiarize visitors with your brand's existence. This can take the form of a purely entertainment-oriented video at the top of the funnel, or it can play second fiddle as a witty quote in one of your niche how-to guides.
#2: Address Common Problems
This content role helps visitors solve a common ailment that your industry suffers from. It's best used in the top of the funnel to have a broad appeal for folks that may not yet know about your brand.
#3: Provide Thought Leadership
You don't have to be an expert to know that B2B customers are absolutely in love with "innovative" and "disruptive" ideas these days. If you want to establish industry expertise, provide new thoughts that pioneer dark space in your field.
#4: Introduce Product
This role is crucial for letting folks know about your product, but best used at the top of the funnel, where visitors are probably unaware of what you have to offer.
#5: Educate on Relevant Topics
This content role differs from thought leadership in that it focuses on what everyone is already talking about in your industry. While you don't provide as many new thoughts, you do provide better teaching on the timeless or trending topics of the day.
#6: Share Story
Talking about your brand can be very effective in relating to your visitors and establishing rapport, among other things. It has to be done properly, though, with a relatable element that speaks to your visitors as humans. Be sure to weave in facets of your unique value into the story, when appropriate.
#7: Initiate Social Interactions
In today's world of social media, connecting with visitors on the social platforms where they live is absolutely vital.
#8: Challenge Traditionally Held Beliefs
This one is a lot like #3, "Provide Thought Leadership", but with a twist. Instead of pioneering space in your field, you will actually go against what other thought leaders have said about topics in the industry. This is tough to do well, so be sure you have some data, experience, and/or sound logic to support your unique spin. Challenging is best reserved for the middle and bottom portions of the funnel after you have already proven your expertise in the industry.
#9: Display Product Use Cases
This role helps the visitor recognize the variety of applications for your product.
#10: Provide Comparisons
Providing comparisons between your offering and the competition's helps to educate visitors on their options. Of course, when done properly, this content role can also serve to prove your superiority above the competition and establish preference for your brand.
My next post discusses the "how" of effective content marketing and digs into the secondary content roles that serve to promote your brand and drive conversion.