Over the previous months, we’ve reviewed the importance of creating a marketing strategy to guide your campaign and researching your audience in order to build personas. Now that you know what you are trying to achieve and who you are talking to, it’s time to think about content–what you want to say, how you want to say it, and what channels will help you best connect to the personas you worked so hard to identify.
Putting Personas to Use
Creating personas provides insight into your target audience and allows you to develop a content strategy to guide your marketing approach. You may come out of the discovery process with a few in mind, providing various avenues for either starting the conversation with your customers or continuing it with greater understanding. Consider the information gathered– demographics, pain points, interests, and behaviors–and how your messaging can address them. The idea is to be engaging. Talk about what matters most.
For example, I’m back at the gym these days, and looking around, I see a number of different people. Some enjoy the community of working out at a gym–they join classes or form small groups that egg each other on during workouts. Others are solitary and very focused on building the best body possible. (I’m looking at you Mr. Bodybuilder who’s currently bench pressing all the weights on the rack at once.) The water aerobics class is enormous and caters to folks trying to lose weight or recover from injuries. All of these groups are at the same gym and all want to be healthy, but they fall into very different personas. The marketing messaging served to each group should look quite different because of their needs and behaviors, but the goal is to have each member of your audience be swept into the version of the story that speaks to how your products or services can help them.
Building Your Brand Voice
It’s really simple: A great brand has a personality that its customers relate to. The objectives set out in your marketing strategy should also inform the choices you make when creating content. Are you trying to generate leads or build brand awareness and credibility? They feed into each other, but the presentation is going to look different for each goal. Building your brand “voice” establishes authority in your industry and influences the connections you make with your audience. Your starting point is your brand’s personality. Professional? Funny or playful? Aspirational? How do you want to be perceived and will it resonate with your target audience? Once this is decided, fold it into wording, images, blog posts, and more, to make it consistent with your brand and tailor it to the personas you have identified.
The gym from earlier might choose to be aspirational, so ads would use emotional, some-day-that-will-be-me language and images, but specific to the differences in personas–not being in it alone, having a place to safely and effectively recover, or looking your best in your favorite outfit.
The success of your campaign will depend on the quality of your content. What you put out needs to be engaging, informative, and add value for your audience. They need a reason to follow you, and this is where they find it.
Whether you are aiming to purely entertain or you want to develop a reputation as a knowledgeable content creator, grabbing attention and communicating your message is your goal. What the medium looks like will depend on your industry and audience, as well as the brand voice you have decided to present. A number of options are available to choose from, and mixing and matching according to what your personas are likely to respond to is a good plan.
Blog and social media posts are good ways to put content out that people can relate to. Blog posts are longer and give you a chance to build your brand as a thought leader by offering your take on relevant news, insights, and tips. Social media posts are shorter and tend to be more visual, incorporating images or videos as well as text. And sometimes, a social media post is a great “quick hit” to get people interested in the content and committed to reading the longer blog post.
Videos are hugely popular, with 72% of people preferring video content over other formats, according to Cielo24, and give companies the opportunity to demonstrate their products and services or share customer testimonials. They can be shared along with blogs, in social posts, and via email, making them versatile and multi-purpose. Currently, short videos are in demand, which means you need to get your message across in a creative, succinct way.
Infographics, ebooks, case studies, and white papers are all ways to get data into customer hands detailing how your company can add value. Infographics are short and sweet, simplifying complex topics in a visual way. Ebooks are long-form, providing comprehensive information on a specific topic. Case studies lay out distinct ways in which your company’s products or services have led to success, while white papers are more detailed reports providing in-depth analysis of an issue.
Webinars are typically live online events where a product expert leads interested parties through an industry-relevant topic while answering questions in real-time. We work with B2B clients a lot, and this is very popular among brands in that space. Webinars are often recorded and posted on websites and social media, or sent via email so that people who couldn’t join in the original webcast can still have access to the knowledge shared.
Whether you are looking to create a “watercooler” moment or deeply inform your audience of the nuance of a subject, the content approach(es) you decide on will be influenced by your message and personas.
Distribution Channels and Content Calendar
Okay, so now that we know what we are trying to achieve, who we’re talking to, and what we’re going to say, we need to think about the best place to deliver the message. For example, in the gym I mentioned earlier, nobody would walk up to Mr. Bodybuilder to chat while he has 400 lbs. trembling above his chest on the bench press. However, when he’s over by the watercooler casually chatting with other members, he may be open to conversation. Just like sections of the gym, distribution channels are places to present your content. These channels can be physical, like billboards and mailings, but because digital is easier to track, that will be our focus.
The most obvious mode of distribution is your website. It is branded to your company and, hopefully, under your control, which makes posting content of all kinds easy. This is also a prime place to optimize for SEO–keywords, metadata, links, etc. We will talk more in-depth about this in the coming months, for those of you thinking “What’s SEO?” or those of you thinking, “How are you not talking about SEO!!!”
Email is another channel. Brands can send newsletters, promotions, and other timely content to their email lists. Plus, if you have a marketing automation system, it is fairly hands-off.
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are good ways to disseminate content and interact with current and prospective customers. On a related note, partnering with influencers and having them share your products or services can introduce your brand to new eyes.
There are a number of ways to determine where your audience is. We can learn about users as they move around the web, so social media or website analytics, like Google Analytics, can give you an idea of the websites they visit, which pages they visit, and what content they gravitate towards.
As with every step in the process, keeping an eye on data is incredibly important. Throughout your campaign, monitor engagement and adjust based on what you see. Things may go smoothly, but more often than not, you will need to modify here and there by tweaking your format or the tone of your content.
Sometimes larger changes will need to be made and you’ll have to target a different audience or switch platforms to get the results you want. Conversation is more engaging when you take what you learn about someone and work it into the topics you discuss with them. Your marketing content should be no different. You may not relate to Mr. Bodybuilder’s gym habits, but if it turns out that he has an adored teacup poodle named Fifi, your grooming company might have made a match.
Contact WiredViews for help creating attention-grabbing content and getting your message out to your audience.