Content Marketing Sustains the Conversation - CREATING CONTENT: TALKING AND LISTENING - The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web (2014)

The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web (2014)



Thus far, you have learned how important content is as a business asset, as well as how to structure your content so it can float everywhere. You now understand your target audiences clearly and can frame and distribute content that drives your sales cycle. By clearly defining your content strategy, you are now ready to produce content—great conversations that will affect your bottom line.

Content Marketing Attracts, Nurtures, and Converts Customers

In Chapter 9, we are going to discover content marketing. Content marketing fuels the conversation by consistently engaging your audiences with your content. Your customers communicate and keep in touch through various content vehicles, such as email newsletters, blogs, and traditional print forms of media.

After you learn about content marketing, you will learn how to structure your internal teams to create great content that works for your business in Chapter 10.

Then, you will learn Rule #6, so you can execute your content programs effectively. After Chapter 11, we will explore our final Rule #7.

Ready to Transform?

Transforming the way you think, produce, and manage content will change your organization internally, as well as move you with the propulsion of a rocket toward your achievement thresholds.

Now to content marketing. Let’s understand what it is, why it’s so important in today’s marketplace, and how you can introduce and sell the concept within your organization.

Chapter 9. Content Marketing Sustains the Conversation


Marketing your content means sharing your brand via a conversation with the audience. In today’s marketplace, your audience expects honesty and transparency; you will benefit from sharing your content, even if you might feel that you are “giving away your secrets.” The content needs to fit in with your identity pillars and strategy and meet the goals that you and your team have identified. In addition to selling your company to your audience, you need to sell the idea of content marketing to your company, especially to the C-suite, proving to them with facts and figures that sharing content well and often is worth the investment.


brand attributes; brand loyalty; content marketing; C-suite; gated content; identity pillars; return on investment; ungated content

Now that you have the tools and theory behind content, we are ready to talk about the power of content marketing. Content marketing centers on the idea of having a conversation, the natural give and take that happens when people communicate. It is the difference between saying “Buy a Toyota,” and “Hey, it looks like you are interested in buying a new mid-sized car—this particular model of Corolla might be perfect for you, but I’d like to hear more about your car needs.” The first is forceful, the latter is more about give and take, which gives the customer a chance to make up his mind based on the information you provide.

Let’s talk about the concept of content marketing in regard to party planning (because who doesn’t love a party). I use a small business to illustrate how every organization can use the access the Internet provides to nurture and convert customers.

Daphne and her sister run an event design business called À La Mode. They specialize in distinctive parties with handcrafted pastries and desserts and unique presentations. When you look at pictures of their events, their creativity comes alive in amazing detail. Their parties are truly one-of-a-kind masterpieces (Figures 9.1 and 9.2).


FIGURE 9.1 À La Mode table presentation.


FIGURE 9.2 À La Mode sweets presentation.

Recently Daphne asked me, “Where can I place a good ad to get more customers?” I looked at her and without missing a beat said, “Nowhere.” Is advertising dead? No, but it’s only one method of the many that marketers use to attract and retain audiences. In today’s age of social media and social sharing, it may not be the most effective way to attract and nurture customers.

Promoting a Business in Today’s Marketplace

I started to explain to Daphne that she needed to start a blog, share recipes, and publish pictures from her parties at least twice a month. She also needed to capture email addresses of former clients and possible leads and send them an email newsletter to continue nurturing those leads. Her response? “Well, first, who has time for that? Second, we would do that, but we’ve started to notice that other event designers are copying our work. So if we publish too many of our pictures, we’re worried that people will continue to copy us, and our designs won’t seem unique anymore.”

Daphne hit on the two major objections people have to content marketing:

1. How do you truly measure the return on investment? (Who has time for all that work?)

2. Why should we give stuff away for free? (People will copy our pictures or our ideas and we will lose our competitive advantage.)

The responses to both objections are that when you freely share information that solves people’s problems, you engage with them in a very nonthreatening way—a conversation; the opposite of an obvious sales pitch. Remember, people are, for the most part, suspicious of the hard sell.

Prospective customers are looking for a company or service to trust. You want them to come to regard you as an expert on a subject and then as a trusted expert. If you’re strategic, eventually they will also regard you as a friend. By sharing stories and solutions, people will look to your brand as the answer to their problem and engage with you.

Once they regard you as a friend, you have created a member of a brand community who will advocate for you and spread positive comments about you all around the web. Content marketing exists to pull people into your customer loop (lead funnel) by providing practical, useful information that leads to continued engagement and interest.

Findable, shareable, trustworthy—they are the hallmarks of great content marketing. Let’s explore more.

What Is Content Marketing?

We defined content marketing earlier, back in Chapter 1. So, let’s revisit the concept.

Joe Pulizzi explains, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action” (Pulizzi, 2012a).

Debbie Williams, from Sprout Content, explains it from the perspective of the customer, “Content marketing is about timeliness, connection, response, and results. It allows businesses to connect with and grow their audience by providing compelling, helpful, and purposeful information that their audience is looking for. Content creation and marketing offers a more personal approach to business, and helps build trust, which ultimately creates longer and more meaningful consumer/brand relationships. Brands can also promote their expertise in an industry and become a valuable resource to people that consumers look to for guidance, advice, and trusted information on a topic. Unlike traditional advertising that is largely one-sided and disruptive, content marketing creates conversation and empowers both sides with a voice” (Williams, 2010).

Content Marketing Goals

By combining both Joe and Debbie’s definitions, we see that content marketing has very specific goals when it comes to developing a rapport with a clearly defined target audience (which is why you must create personas, as we talked about in Chapter 6). Here is a list of those goals:

1. Attract: Create content that will draw prospects like bees to a blossoming flower

2. Acquire: Give them the content in exchange for an email address or some other form of potential ongoing contact

3. Engage or connect: Continue to engage by creating and sending relevant content about your product, service, or knowledge base

4. Drive profitable action: Clearly align your content creation and distribution efforts with your business goals

5. Build trust: Provide useful information focused on your audience and on solving their problems. Provide solutions instead of telling them about how great you are; that is how you build trust and friendship.

6. Listen: Listen to their reactions to your content. That is how you determine if you are communicating the right pieces of information.

7. Create conversations: Do this once you have them interested in you. Then communicate carefully based on their needs and interests, and continue to listen.

Once again, the powerful concept of conversation takes its rightful place as the foundation for creating great content experiences. Creating content is inserting information you want to share, and finding the right format and distribution channel for it; content marketing is about creating and sustaining conversations. By sharing content with your customers, you nurture your relationships with them and, in turn, can measure and respond to their reactions.

Content marketing is about creating and sustaining relationships with your customers by sharing content with them, and then measuring and responding to their reactions.

In the case of Daphne and her sister, producing content about their parties, sharing recipes, and creating videos that showcase their creative process would enhance how relatable they are to their target audiences. It also increases their appearance on search engines, because the more robust and engaging content you have online, the more your social networks will share your content. The popularity of your content helps your rankings on search engines, which in turn leads more people to your content.

Sales are when you call them and marketing is when they call you. Content marketing is when they call you a trusted friend—a very powerful concept.

Content Marketing Tools

Creating content requires understanding the different formats available to you, which is what we talked about in Chapter 3. Some of the tools content marketers use to attract and sustain customers are:

• Email newsletters

• Websites

• Blogs

• Webinars

• Ebooks

• Whitepapers

• Infographics

• Podcasts

• Slide presentations

• Videos

Any developed content you use to grab a potential customer and move them into your customer loop serves as content marketing.

Content Marketing Solves Certain Problems

Before we talk about how to institute content marketing within your organization, let’s explore some of the problems content marketing solves. We will examine some of the current frustrations marketers are experiencing and how content marketing can help.

Ads Don’t Have the Same Power

The Internet has weakened some of the most common advertising channels of the past, making a multi-pronged approach even more necessary. Certainly print media has suffered most publicly, and, digital advertising is not always effective (McCambley, 2013). People skip over ads using their DVRs (Digital Recording Devices), their eyes roll right over them on websites and they close them out as soon as they pop up. So, Question #1: Without effective advertising, how do you create brand awareness and reinforcement?

Reduced Attention

People are busy, busy, busy. When’s the last time you talked to someone on the subway or had a conversation with someone that didn’t take place via Facebook or Twitter? We are all so busy looking down at our phones, that we miss a tremendous amount of the world as it streams by us. This means people ignore billboard ads, don’t listen to radio commercials, don’t retain information about your product and service, and couldn’t, honestly, care less. Question #2: In a world where no one is paying attention, how do we capture the attention of our target audience?

Lack of Brand Loyalty

There was a time that people only bought one brand of car, shopped at one department store, or bought one brand of home appliances. Those days are gone.

People want deals, they want the best product and they want someone to confirm that they are getting that. Why do you think online customer reviews are so powerful and plentiful? People with bad experiences want to rant in public so that the company that betrayed them suffers. People who had good experiences want to rave about the brand that treated them as though they really mattered. Question #3: How do we create brand loyalty in a world in which allegiance to brands doesn’t really seem to exist anymore?

Social Sharing

Remember the flattened white picket fence we talked about in Chapter 1? People share a tremendous amount of information over the web now. Often, brands are not even aware of the conversations that take place—both negative and positive. More than ever, people look to their networks to make recommendations about everything from gel manicures to guitar teachers to mortgage brokers.

Once they ask their friends, they do not search the yellow pages or look at ads. In fact, they may not even care about your brand at all—they are simply interested in your service. All they care about is solving THEIR problem. You only become relevant to them when you provide proof that you have the solution. So, Question #4: How do we inform our audiences through a trusted community?

Content Marketing to the Rescue

Let’s answer those four questions, but first let’s address something important about content marketing. It isn’t really new. Communications professionals have been practicing some form of it for years, been doing it for years, using different parts of it, but never calling it content marketing (some people call it custom publishing, corporate journalism, brand journalism, branded media, brand content, and inbound marketing).

By wrapping a name around it, recognizing it as another type of marketing approach (McDermott, 2013), and associating it with certain tactics, we’ve tapped into a powerful method that is incredibly useful for attracting, engaging, and cultivating today’s consumer.

How Kraft Does Content Marketing

The Kraft brand is ubiquitous—think what it means to you. Gourmet? Perhaps not. Good, comforting, easy to make food? Probably. How do they do it? In an interview with Joe Pulizzi in 2012, Julie Fleischer, Director of CRM at Kraft Foods, revealed how Kraft mines data and monitors trends to create engaging content.

Kraft studies its consumers carefully: “We mine our data, and look carefully at search trends to understand which recipes people are making at any given day of the year, and then we serve those recipes up to our consumers in the manner, and at the moment, they’re most interested in.”

Understanding their audience is of prime importance to them, “We spend a lot of time understanding who our consumer is, how she cooks, what kinds of food she wants to cook. Even more, we understand on any given day the kinds of recipes our customers want to make.”

Here is a statement that encapsulates perfectly how well Kraft understands its audience, “We use pantry items to know what’s already in the house because we don’t want you to have to go out and get extra ingredients to make something. We know what produce our customers are more likely to have in their refrigerator, as well as those they’re unlikely to ever purchase.”

After creating the content, the Kraft team monitors how it is used. “We monitor everything that we put out to see how many clicks and what type of engagement we get. Are customers printing a recipe? Saving it to their recipe box? Adding it to the shopping list? ‘Liking’ it, emailing it, and pinning it on Pinterest? When we see something hit a spark of high interest, we pull it into our weekly email (which in turn ignites it on Facebook and Pinterest—it’s a virtuous cycle).”

Knowing their audience means knowing what turns them on, and what doesn’t. She compares Kraft to the more gourmet-ish sites like Bon Appétit and Martha Stewart Living. The Kraft consumer, she posits, would look at the nice photos on those sites and think that the food is beautiful, but would never consider making it for dinner that night. “At Kraft, we publish in order to sell products, so we want to create recipes our customers really want to make and share.”

This is an example of content marketing at its best: The company produces relevant, valuable information to its consumers in service to the company’s business goal: Selling more of their products. It’s a win–win for everyone

(Pulizzi, 2012b).

How Content Marketing Captures Today’s Consumer

Let’s look back at that list of challenges that face the modern marketing or content professional and demonstrate how content marketing can help:

Question #1: Without Effective Advertising, How Do You Create Brand Awareness and Reinforcement?

You create consistent brand reinforcement when you share stories about your brand and distribute the message in a way that encourages sharing among your target audiences.

Great content marketing is helpful information; it gives the consumer enough information to do the research they want to do before they buy. By providing information, you will engage with your customers on a consistent basis (like an email newsletter) forever capturing them in your customer loop (lead funnel) and leading to continued engagement over time.

Question #2: In a World Where No One Is Paying Attention, How Do We Capture the Attention of Our Target Audience?

If you create relevant, interesting, informative, educational content, it will be shared. It may not be shared the same day you publish it, it may only be shared by a very niche market, but, it will make its rounds to the people that matter.

By making yourself into a trusted resource that the consumer can always count on, they will instinctively search you and your services out when they need you. By producing content that can remain evergreen (it’s always relevant), you increase the findability of your content. Then when a customer is searching for someone who provides your product or service, you come up first.

“Your key to ignited sales,” say Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman, “is to create online content and optimize it so that it appears on the first page of search results when your customers search for you or the products or services you sell. Done right, the content you create will position your company, not as just a seller of stuff, but as a reliable source of information” (Handley and Chapman, 2011).

Question #3: How Do We Create Brand Loyalty in a World Where Allegiance to Brands Does Not Really Seem to Exist Anymore?

This is challenging because part of brand loyalty comes from a product and service that is consistent and positive all the time. As a marketing, communications, or content professional, you may not have any control over this. Brand loyalty is not what it used to be. In a world where, in a matter of minutes, in the comfort of your own home, you can compare prices, read reviews by peers, and see what experts think, your audience relies more on their research when they buy a product or service, than on the comfort of a famous brand name.

Therefore, now more than ever, capturing your audience’s attention and trust is about the content you provide. If you produce content that solves people’s problems—it explains a product or service so it makes it easier to use—you will gain brand loyalty. Because you come across as being helpful, positive, and willing to provide clear solutions, people will want to engage with your brand more often because they know they will get a certain level of customer service.

Question #4: How Do We Inform Our Audiences Through a Trusted Community?

Creating trust takes time. As Kim Phillips, an information marketing expert, points out, “One of the great marketing lies is that great marketing should be able to turn a prospect into a customer quickly. Marketing should not be looked at as transactional. Instead, marketing’s goal should be to build relationships over time with prospects so when it comes time to make the sale, the prospect trusts you and is ready to say, ‘yes.’ ” (Phillips, 2013).

In other words, you build a trusting community by being someone worthy of trust over time. Just as we all typically date for a while before we get married, do not expect your customers to sign on the dotted line before they are repeatedly exposed to your brand. Even more important is the consistency with which you communicate with them—in terms of both time and voice and tone.

Now that we understand content marketing fully, let’s talk about how to:

• Get buy-in for content marketing in your organization

• Establish a content marketing program

• Measure and publicize your results

Get Buy-In for Content Marketing in Your Organization

As we discussed previously, content strategy is an online publishing strategy. It lays out a clear strategy and set of tactics for how your organization takes information and turns it into content that you can publish and distribute. Convincing your internal design, web, and marketing teams to follow a content strategy will require having people change the way they think about publishing content. So, let’s talk about how to convince them to give content marketing a whirl.

Content marketing will probably be accepted much more easily as a new way of thinking. That is because everyone has read about blogs and social media. What they may require is for you to explain and demonstrate the financial return on investment of producing content that speaks to your thought leadership—in other words, giving away your best secrets. What is important to demonstrate is that content marketing is not about giving away your best secrets—it is about positioning yourself as someone who is willing to share.

What is important to demonstrate is that content marketing is not about giving away your best secrets—it is about positioning yourself as someone who is willing to share.

Think about Paige Holden back in our case study on XONEX at the end of Part 1. Much of the information she and her content team share with their target audiences is information they have spent years accumulating—knowledge that is valuable within their industry. Previously, companies did not want to share that information because they wanted to attract customers by convincing them that they were the experts. Only by using their services would the audience have access to that hard-won information. The marketplace has changed significantly. It is crowded. There are many experts—and your audience knows it. So how do you distinguish yourself in the crowd?

First, you have to understand the pain points of your customers, and create content that solves problems. If you generously give people useful information, they come to trust you. Rather than trying to make a go of it themselves, more often they will approach you to help them solve their problems. Why? Because you have demonstrated, in a very transparent way, that you truly know what you are talking about and are willing to share that wisdom.

When you’re selling content marketing in your own organization, remind them, “More than anything, marketers want to engage with customers. One of the disadvantages of traditional advertising was the one-way aspect of the conversation: Sales was one of your only measurements to see if engagement was happening. With content marketing, you can have a two-way conversation with your customers and use varied tools to measure engagement. Watching your customers interact with your brand makes social media and content marketing dynamic and enjoyable. And, if you see that you’re not getting the results you want, you can quickly change your tactics without a major investment of printing, ad space, and production costs” (Leibtag, 2011).

Two other approaches suggested by content marketing consultant Sarah Mitchell are “When you’re talking to any level of management about a content marketing strategy, you have to focus on the benefit of word-of-mouth referrals. Managers, especially C-level decision makers, usually aren’t interested in theories or philosophies. Everyone loves customer testimonials and success stories and knows exactly how powerful they can be. Pitch content marketing as the vehicle for maximizing word-of-mouth referrals. The other important point to make is content marketing puts the organization in complete control of their message, especially when using social media. Most managers are attracted to the idea of autonomy” (Mitchell, 2010).

Content marketing gives you the ability to track your customers’ interests and change course if you need to, without the massive investment of printed brochures or ads, which in any case do not always let you track return on investment accurately. Content marketing can also provide the most powerful type of sales material there is—the word-of-mouth customer testimonial. And it can help you stay in control of your message, because you are constantly monitoring the communications—and conversations—with your customers.

Establish a Content Marketing Program

As we have said previously, any type of program you start in your organization should probably be a small one—a pilot program. Identify a business initiative that needs a little extra love and attention, so you can prove content marketing is making a difference.

Starting small usually means a blog; but do not start one unless you can truly commit to blogging once a week. Infrequent and inconsistent blogging is not going to give you much content to work with, and it is also going to lose the interest of your audience. Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot has this to say, “Companies that blog 15 or more times per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all. And if you’re a small business, increasing your blogging frequency can move the needle even more. [In addition] small businesses (1–10 employees) tend to see the biggest gains in traffic when they publish more articles” (Vaughan, 2012).

You might also try even smaller—an eBook, for example. I suggested to Daphne and her sister (the event designers) that they consider publishing an eBook—How to Design an Elegant Garden Party. They should write a short, six-page book with pictures, ideas for decorations, several ideas for desserts, and one recipe. Then, they could choose to share the eBook in one of two ways:

1. Gated: This means that in order to download the eBook, you must give your email address and some contact information. This is also called a Request for Information Form (RFI). Once the prospect gives her contact information, she becomes a lead, as we discussed in Chapter 2. Daphne can continue to send that person email newsletters or updates about the event design business in order to continue nurturing the lead within the customer loop.

2. Ungated: This means that the eBook is freely downloadable and no exchange of any information takes place. Experts bandy about whether to gate or ungate these types of content marketing materials. It depends on the type of business you run, where you are in your content marketing program, and what your goals are for this particular piece of content.

To Gate or Ungate?

Tim Moran, editor-in-chief of, summarizes the debate about offering ungated, or free form, content as follows:

• Pros—enables content evangelism; offers better SEO; creates more inbound links; generates more site traffic.

• Cons—provides lower quality leads; serves up inconsistent lead volume; fewer conversion events mean poorer lead intelligence; offers less control over lead nurturing (Moran, 2012).

The 1-7-30-4-2-1 Approach

How often should you publish your content? Russell Sparkman, a content marketer, uses a numeric approach in the context of a content marketing program:

• 1: On a daily basis—Tweet, retweet, and share content relevant to others.

7: On a weekly basis—blog at least once a week. You can also consider sending out an email newsletter once a week.

• 30: On a monthly basis—you should be sending out different pieces of content like: Videos, podcasts, presentations (share on Slideshare), guest posts on another blog, a webinar.

• 4: On a quarterly basis—try some heavy lifting content marketing, like an eBook or whitepaper.

• 2: Twice a year—you should produce bigger events, like a conference or smaller in-person event.

• 1: Once a year—think about doing something that’s “a celebration, an event, an announcement” (Handley and Chapman, 2011).

Match Your Content Marketing Efforts to Your Identity Pillars and Messaging Architecture

Now that you have done the work in Chapter 7, you should plan your content marketing efforts around your identity pillars and messaging architecture. You are applying your understanding of the business case of why you are producing content to actually producing content.

Remember our American faucet maker, Fawcet, from Chapter 7? They are struggling with increasing competition from European competitors who are designing sleeker, more modern looking faucets that are in fashion now in American kitchens.

Their business objectives were:

Show people that Fawcet’s faucets are just as beautiful as European designs

Remind people that Fawcet is a strong American brand and makes excellent products

Demonstrate that Fawcet will last a long time

Increase awareness of Fawcet in Europe to compete there

Current Brand Attributes (What people think of us now?)

What We Want Brand Attributes to Become (What we want people to think of us)

Identity Pillars (How we will communicate our brand promise—both internally and externally)

Nice, but boring

A style to fit any taste (after all, there are people who don’t like the modern look)

With so many choices, we’ll find the right Fawcet for you

Not as attractive as European competitors

Beautiful to look at

Look at how beautiful our Fawcets are

Will break

Well-made and lasts forever

Competes in terms of longevity with any other type of faucet

The identity pillars are:

Personalized: We’ll find the right brand Fawcet for you

Beautiful: Our Fawcets are beautiful

High-quality: Our Fawcets are well-made and stand up to heavy use

The content marketers at Fawcet created the following editorial calendar that aligns content creation with identity pillars and a schedule (Figure 9.3).


FIGURE 9.3 Editorial calendar for Fawcet.

By aligning content creation to business goals, the content marketers at Fawcet can better track the results of their efforts.

Let’s look at the calendar a bit more in depth:

• Each identity pillar has its own column

• Each identity pillar has a clearly defined time period when content is created and distributed to reinforce that pillar

• By choosing the content formats that the marketers feel will best reinforce those messages, they are able to plan in advance what content they need to produce: Video, photographs, eBooks, and so on.

Measure and Publicize Your Results

As with any pilot project, it is important to show your success, even if it is minimal. Let’s say Daphne’s eBook was downloaded by 18 people. This would be a very modest success, depending on how many different social media channels were used to distribute the eBook. However, those 18 downloads, assuming they are 18 different people, do not result in 18 separate leads that Daphne will pursue. Instead, they are moved into an email newsletter database.

Each of those 18 leads receives an email newsletter twice a month from À La Mode about their parties—filled with crafty tips to make your next dinner party a success, a fun centerpiece idea for a holiday party, or a recipe that looks elegant and difficult to make, but is actually easy. After about six months, one of those 18 leads becomes a customer: After six emails filled with interesting content, the prospect decides À La Mode should be the one to design her husband’s 40th birthday party. From one six-page eBook, À La Mode books one party, where six people are so impressed, they book individual consultations.

Let’s look at the customer loop (Figure 9.4) again and how this strategy works for À La Mode:

Customer Loop Action

À La Mode Action

Start a Relationship

Prospect downloads the gated eBook (the person trades their email address for the content)

Answer Questions

The eBook provides relevant and unique content about how to make an elegant garden party

Establish Trust

Because of the eBook and the emails that À La Mode uses to connect and nurture the lead, the person comes to see them as a trusted source for how to produce an unusual party

Sales Engages the Prospect

Daphne or her sister notices that someone has opened the emails six times since downloading the eBook. They reach out to ask about possible party requirements

Prospect Makes a Purchase

The prospect says she is indeed interested in producing a party for her husband’s 40th birthday and engages À La Mode

Nurture Your Customers

À La Mode continues to send out emails about their parties, recipes, and ideas for centerpieces. People share the content with others, which prompts more people to sign up for the email newsletters, and perhaps download a new eBook on how to produce an elegant and unusual Thanksgiving dinner party


FIGURE 9.4 The customer loop, which reminds us that we always want to be nurturing our relationship with customers, even after they have bought a product or service.

In a larger organization, a success like booking one party and seven consultations needs to reach the C-suite. But, first, you need to do a few things:

1. Set expectations: Content marketing programs typically take at least six to nine months to show any success—even modest ones. So set C-suite expectations that there needs to be a commitment of time and patience.

2. Carefully consider business objectives and resources: What types of professionals do you need in order to create all of this content? Writers, videographers and photographers? Customers who can give testimonials? Make sure you have the budget and resources in place to execute your plans.

3. Keep track of engagement: The number of people who sign up for the eBook, or later open the email newsletter, point to your content marketing program working. While it may take time to lead to direct sales, it won’t hurt to publicize the engagement statistics. A monthly report to the executives who approved the project is probably enough.

At the end of the day, your business model and the needs of your audience will determine the content formats you create and produce. What is most important is that you know whom you are talking to, you know what you are trying to say, and you continue to say it in a respectful way that engages your audience and builds trust. As Marcus Sheridan says, “Become the best teacher in the world at what you do” (Murray 2013).


In today’s world, it is all about the conversations we have with our audience. The old-fashioned idea of brand loyalty has undergone a major re-design: Our audience trusts us when we show that we can be trusted, which is when we have proven ourselves. In a world of online customer reviews and social media, proving ourselves means providing content that marketing professionals forty years ago would have considered unimaginable.

Transparency and honesty in content marketing are keys to developing a reliable, trustworthy brand that the audience will revisit. Sell this idea internally within your company and demonstrate to the C-suite that there will be a return on investment.

Now that you know why you need to produce all the content, and how to frame it, let’s talk about the people responsible for doing so in Chapter 10.


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