A quick & dirty guide to answering the 5 Ws and 1 H of content marketing: #MSHUnderReview

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Content marketing is by no means a new concept in the world of digital marketing. As widespread as this practice is, there’s still much confusion surrounding it, especially for smaller businesses with smaller budgets and resources. It’s not a question of understanding what content marketing is (although there are still some who have no clue what it is), but rather how to execute and implement it.

Well my friends, today you’re in luck because I’ve generated a quick and dirty guide to answering the five Ws and 1 H of content marketing. While this might not cover ALL aspects of content marketing, it’ll give you an idea of what you’re getting yourself into and how to make that first leap.

And you know what they say about the first step… it’s always the hardest.

Without wasting any more time, let’s dive in!

The What

What is content?

In terms of digital marketing, content can be nearly anything including blog posts, videos, images, ebooks, infographics, and SlideShares. Even your website is content. While the goals of each piece of content vary (the nature of content is to provide your audience with information, entertainment, an answer, a question, etc.), the end goal is to entice the customer to invest in your products or services.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

What kind of content should I be creating?

The first thing you need to think about is your audience. What does your audience like? What do they like to do? Are they readers? Do they enjoy watching videos? Do they prefer words or images? Where do they spend their time? Are they on social media, reading blogs, checking emails, on YouTube, etc.?

Just a few questions to get your mind turning, figure out what your audience wants and needs and give it to them!

The Why

Why do I need to invest in content marketing? Why shouldn’t I just beef up my advertising?

As I’ve mentioned before, content marketing is the future. Consumers don’t respond to traditional advertising as they once did. Unlike the disruptive nature of advertising, content marketing seeks to solve problems – not make them.

Investing in content marketing is investing in your future as a business. If you want to have an online presence, content creation and distributions is a necessity. Through content marketing, you have the ability to achieve an endless number of goals like:

  • Giving your brand a unique voice
  • Differentiating your business from your competition
  • Creating brand awareness
  • Attracting new customers
  • Delighting your customers
  • Staying relevant (in the minds of your audience and in your industry)
  • Providing your audience with useful/helpful/thought-provoking/breaking information
  • Entertaining your audience
  • Identifying with your audience

Sure, you can beef up your advertising if you prefer to go that route. However, I advise you to consider the idea that people don’t receive or react to advertising the way they once did. Advertising is expensive, and depending on the size of your business and budget, traditional advertising might not be able to provide you with the ROI content marketing could.

For me, the real kicker is the whole relevancy thing. People want to see and hear about things that are relevant to them, and content marketing is based on relevancy.

The Who

Who’s going to write, produce, shoot, etc. all this content?

Depending on your skill level and budget, YOU can create the content. For example, if your business is product based, take your camera and get to work capturing your products in their natural element, or create product demos. Or, get to work writing some blog posts your audience would find useful.

Whether you choose to do the work yourself, hire some in-house content marketing specialists or outsource the work to a marketing agency, you’ll want to have a strategy in place. Your content marketing strategy should outline your goals, and every piece of content should align and work towards achieving that goal in some way.

Who’s going to read, watch, and listen to this content?

Your audience! All of the content you create and distribute should be directed at your audience. I’ll get into this later, but where you distribute your content plays a significant role in who consumes your content.

The When

When is the best time to do content marketing?

Consistency is key in content marketing. You can’t create one piece of content and expect it to have an overwhelming effect. Although this is possible, it’s more of an exception than a rule.

Make a plan for your content and stick to it. Whether you’re going to publish blog posts weekly, monthly or more frequently, keep it consistent; same goes for videos and other types of content. If you are on a tight budget or schedule, repurpose your content so you can use it multiple times.

When sharing your content use tools like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Buffer and HubSpot to schedule various posts on several networks.

When will I see an ROI from my content marketing?

It might take some time, but you will see ROI from content marketing if you’re consistently providing your audience with the content they want and need. Again, consistency is key. If you’re inconsistent with your content marketing, your audience won’t be looking for or looking forward to your content efforts. One of the most efficient ways to stay on track is by creating an editorial calendar to schedule when you’ll publish different types of content. In addition to planning your content, brainstorm and plan different ways you can repurpose various pieces, maximizing its reach and impact.

The Where

Where will I distribute my content?

There’s a saying in the world of digital marketing and it goes like this: content is king. Where content is extremely important, the distribution might be even more important. If people can’t find or aren’t seeing your content efforts, it’s not going to do you much good.

As far as distributing your content, here are some places to begin:

  • Your blog – make sure you have a place where readers can subscribe to your blog and emails
  • Social media – you don’t have to be on every one; pick the networks your audience is on and share and engage with your content
  • Email newsletters – share your content with your email list (just pay attention to CASL guidelines if you have Canadian customers)
  • Your website – have a section on your website (in addition to your blog) drawing attention to your latest content

For more advanced content marketers, here’s a great article outlining 17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content from the KISSmetrics blog. Although a bit more involved than sharing on social media and in emails, these methods are great ways to get the word out about your content.

Where will people find my content?

In addition to finding your content on social media, on your blog and through email as outlined above, here are a few other ways people will find your content:

  • Through the search engines – it’s important to optimize your content so people can find it through relevant keywords, phrases and questions.
  • Through your audiences’ friends on social media – one of the greatest things about social media is that people share all different kinds of content. If someone shares your content with their audience/followers, you’ll have an even greater reach. And according to Digital Insights, “28% of Retweets on Twitter are due to inclusion of “please RT!”” So ask people to share, Retweet, comment, and engage with your posts.
  •    Through other blog posts – when you publish high quality, valuable content you have a greater chance of others referencing you (and your content) in their own content; just like the links I referred to above.

Where will I get ideas for my content?

When looking for content ideas, think about your audience. What do they like and how can you merge this with your brand? You don’t want your content to be sales-y (there is a time and place), but rather informational, useful and even entertaining.

Develop content based on:

  • FAQs
  • Customer Pain Points
  • Your Products and services (how-tos, demonstrations, interesting facts, etc.)
  • Industry-related news
  • Industry blogs
  • Social media posts

And here’s 50 Content Marketing Ideas For Your Website Or Blog from Forbes that’ll help stir your creative juices!

The How

How can I measure the success of my content marketing?

Measure the success of your content by evaluating:

  • The number of social likes and shares
  • The amount of traffic to the piece of content
  • The number of downloads/forms completed
  • The number of sales closed based on your content

How can I increase sales through content marketing?

Despite the goals of each individual piece of content, your end goal for content marketing should be to increase sales and revenue. While I fully believe in the impact content marketing can have on sales, many business owners continue to be skeptics. However, I urge you to consider the following ways that content and content marketing can increase sales:

  • Content educates and keeps your sales reps up-to-speed and prepared to talk to prospects and leads.
  • Content can and should be used as a selling tool. Use it to send more information to a lead, moving them down the sales funnel. Use it to provide your prospects/leads with more information. Use it to give examples and reference during sales conversations/presentations. Lastly, use it to follow up a sales call.

 

Did I miss any important aspects or questions concerning content marketing for beginners? Let me know in the comments below.

About The Author:Courtney Christman
Courtney Christman is a content marketing specialist at Mainstreethost, a Buffalo, NY digital marketing agency. Connect with Courtney: Twitter | Google+