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Content Marketing: First Consistency, Then Balance - April 19, 2018
By: Elizabeth Hockerman

Consistent customer communication is one of the most under-rated and under-utilized B2B sales and marketing tactics. Monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly messages, be them email or video, long or short, are ideal opportunities to connect with customers, provide important news, and reinforce why your expertise is of value to them.  

There are three parts to effective communication: value to the audience (not self-promotion), timeliness, and consistency in delivery. Most companies are not engaged in regular customer communication because they don’t have an up to date customer email database and because they cannot commit to a consistent schedule. Both are valid hurdles. You can’t send an email without having a database. And subject matter experts can be hard to track down, revisions can go round and round, or timelines get paused until new initiatives roll out.  

Content marketing and thought leadership should be viewed from the same mindset of a magazine publisher – you are there to serve the readership by guiding them through the topics they value your opinion on. It’s about them, not about your company news. The faster you can get a content program up and running, the sooner you can shape it to how your readers will value it most, and to start generating leads.  

When launching a content program, first focus on getting the consistent value and distribution down. Then shortly after launch, take time to consider the balance of content. Think of this communication as a real publication – with a publisher, editors, departments, and featured experts. Together, the team’s number one priority is keeping subscribers engaged.  

The following are some tips to get you started.  

Consistency
First, set a strategy for consistency in content. Just like your favorite magazine does, set an editorial mission, create a content calendar with regular topics you plan to cover, and build a systematic production schedule that can be consistent in start date, turnaround times, and distribution date.  

Commit to a frequency that is easy for your organization to be consistent with. If you are planning longer articles that may require graphic design or client consent, a monthly distribution cycle may be too short and destined to fail. Every-other-month may be better for this type of content, or, take on these larger pieces on a quarterly basis with shorter bite-sized blogs every month in between.  

Define the value the content will consistently provide your audience. This should reflect the value customers receive when working with you. Is your company good at saving businesses money? Breaking down complex topics? Holding quality to the highest standard? Demonstrate your inherent value by giving it away in content bits and pieces, then review email data to see which topics or styles are most popular.    
 
Balance
We are often asked how much original content is needed in a communication piece. Companies should have at least one piece of original content to demonstrate their expertise and link readers back to the company website. The content should appeal to one of the following online audiences:
  1. Early Suspects - Those not familiar with your company but are finding your content in search engine results.        
  2. Considering Prospects - Qualified prospects who are conducting due diligence on your company to gauge credibility, costs, and to gain a better understanding of products and services.  
  3. Existing Customers - Loyal fans who are looking for new resources, providing a referral, or are considering another purchase.  
The rest of the communication should focus on providing curated content, or third-party articles and resources. These articles should align with the value that customers receive when working with you, and give readers insights they would not normally see in their industry news cycles. For instance, if you offer business automation software to health care facilities, your audience will be more interested in your insight into software and operations than your take on health care news.  

Just like a publication, you also should balance the types of content you provide. This can happen in a number of ways, from original content that varies in length and depth, to rotating categories, appealing to different audience segments, and more. The best way to appeal to a broad audience is to have at least one piece of content that each audience segment will enjoy.  

Once you launch, remember to execute, analyze, and improve until you have a smooth running content marketing machine, a captive audience, and a business brand that stays top of mind.

 

 

 

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