The 3 C's of a successful content marketing strategy
June 20th 2017
I wrote this article after attending a CIM event in Belfast featuring Gavin Walker, Editor of Business First magazine and Chris Fielding Martin of hotel brand, Malmaison.
I was going back through the blog archives from a few years ago and came across this article that I wrote after attending a CIM event in Malmaison Belfast.
As I read it I thought it was worth sharing again...
We’re all producing new content on a daily basis which we hope will be eagerly consumed by customers. This involves the distribution of this content to our target media – both online and offline so what is it that will get our content selected for publishing?
The Chartered Institute of Marketing in Ireland (CIM) held an event in Malmaison Belfast today which sought to address this very issue and one of the contributors was Gavin Walker. Editor of the Business First publication. As the gatekeeper who is in ultimate control of whether our content gets the airtime we desire when Gavin (or others holding editorial positions) speaks it’s worth listening.
What I took away from Gavin’s presentation were the 3 c’s to a successful content marketing strategy:
The first point in relation to context refers not to the subject matter of your material but instead focuses on the infrastructure and resources available to the majority of publications that we target.
Gone are the days when editorial teams are staffed with an army of willing copywriters and journalists who will have either the time or the inclination to redraft your content to make it suitable for publication.
Therefore, in order to maximise the opportunity for your content to get published you need to think about how it will be formatted.
The copy that you send to your target media will have a much greater chance of success if it can be lifted and placed with minimal additional editing.
This requires you to make sure that your copy does not make unsubstantiated claims about how good your product, service or company is.
A simple way to overcome this is to first write about yourself in the third person. Construct your copy as if it is being put together by an impartial journalist – this ensures a focus on the facts and the key messages you want to get across and avoids it reading like a paid for advertorial (which won’t get published – unless you’re paying for it).
Another key element of context is an understanding of where the content will be published.
Is it for a magazine or newspaper or is it for an online publication?
It’s increasingly likely that it’s for both as most print publications will have a website as well.
If the content you’re sending is specifically for print or online then specify this within the release.
A technical article or detailed project case study is probably best suited to a print publication where people will most likely give your content some more time.
A release about the event you’re hosting, a new product launch, new appointments may be best suited to the online publication as a result of the immediacy it offers.
Gavin made some very interesting points about the formatting of releases destined for online publication:
Headlines – keep these to 65 characters or less to ensure search engine optimisation and make sure they include relevant keywords
Description – include a meta description of 160 characters or less which is keyword focused and can then be used by the online publication to describe your content.
Images – name your images with relevant keywords and include the caption to accompany the image as separate text within your release.
Links – if you would like your content to link to a specific landing page on your website rather than the home page then include the details within your release.
Social links – include details of the links to all your relevant social media channels so that if (and when) the publication decides to share your new content they are able to include you in the post.
Now we’ve got the structure sorted it’s time to focus on the content itself.
Gavin observed that too much content is focused on what the MD wants to talk about rather than what our customers will actually find interesting.
With editorial departments being swamped by over sterilised corporate releases a little bit of extra thought and consideration for your copy can greatly improve not only the potential for it to be published but for it to have real impact.
This links nicely with the other contributor to today’s CIM event, Chris Fielding-Martin, from UK hotel chain Malmaison.
Every piece of content Malmaison Belfast produce has an edge to it. From their new approach to ‘do not disturb’ signs to how they encourage breakfast room service orders to the signage they use to brand construction works at new or existing hotels.
They are able to do this successfully because they understand what their value proposition is, they understand their target audience and they understand the importance of consistency in all their communications.
As Chris pointed out during his presentation, as they’re in the hotel game what goes on behind the bedroom door is very much their business.
Of course we can’t all be as edgy as Malmaison but we can learn from their approach.
Understand what the objective of the content we’re publishing is. What are we trying to achieve? What do we want the customer to do once they have consumed our content?
Does the content we’re producing make it clear what our value proposition is in relation to the product or service that we’re promoting? Does it answer the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question.
Is the content we’re producing consistent? This is fairly easy to achieve if you have one person producing all of your content but if this is not the case you need to take steps to ensure this consistency.
This will require that you have clear brand guidelines which include a ‘tone of voice’ element.
What sort of language will you use – will it be formal or informal?
How do you describe what it is that your company offers?
What words or phrases do you use to describe the value that you are adding for your customers?
While it can all seem a little daunting it is essential that you take all of these steps to maximise the return from all the content development activity that you are involved with.
With the volume of content being produced across so many channels on a daily basis it’s essential that you take the time to carefully consider your content strategy as this will ensure you stand out from the crowd.
Maximising the success of your content marketing strategy is an ongoing process that continues well beyond the placement of your material in your target publications or on your own blog, website, social channels.
As a marketer I believe that the biggest potential benefit of the rise of social media is the ability for us to speak directly to our customers.
If our content marketing strategy is successful the result will be an increase in the volume of conversations about our product, service or company online. These conversations will happen whether we are involved or not so it is incumbent on all of us to make sure we are aware of all the conversations that are going on.
It’s important to stress here that this doesn’t necessarily mean we should get involved in every conversation – there are some conversations that we should take a step back from if they have the potential to damage our brand. There may also be cases, as highlighted by Chris from Malmaison today where getting involved may just be adding fuel to the fire.
While we should be a aware of these conversations sometimes it’s best to say nothing.
Negative feedback is probably impossible to eradicate so we need to know how to deal with it. This has to be considered on a case by case basis – some issues may be quickly sorted out in public on social media but in other instances it may be best to show an initial response in public but encourage the individual concerned to take the communication offline where it can be dealt with better.
Thanks to the CIM in Ireland for organising another great event today. I found it a very useful session and hope that this post gives those that didn’t attend an opportunity to be benefit from the presentations given by Chris Fielding-Martin of Malmaison and Gavin Walker of Business First.