On one day every year, you can be sure to hear me ranting about the same thing: Super Bowl commercials.
You’ll hear me complaining about how many brands seem to completely sacrifice any semblance of relevance between their ad and what they actually do as a company in favor of being memorable, or worse, shocking (aka the GoDaddy Super Bowl philosophy).
This issue is not specific to this one sacred day of marketing a year, however.
In fact, this problem is pervasive in the world of digital marketing.
It seems like companies approach content wondering how they can get more eyes on what they have created.
When they should consider how it could actually help their business.
They are too focused on asking, “Will this get social shares and traffic?” instead of, “Will this get valuable social shares and traffic?”
If you want your content marketing efforts to actually make a difference, you need to take the same concepts and principles that guide your PR efforts and apply them to how you create content.
Otherwise, you’re really no better than the Super Bowl commercials that are memorable only for the wrong reasons.
Your Content, the Funnel, and SEO
To understand where this disconnect happens, it’s important to look at some of the key principles that drive content marketing: The marketing funnel, and search engine optimization.
The primary principle that should always drive your content is knowing where it lives on the marketing funnel.
Using this model allows you a great deal of freedom in how you conceive of, create, and target your content.
At the same time you’ll be on target with your brand goals and message.
This does not mean that anything goes, or that it does not matter if your content has zero actual relevance to your brand.
Just like the Super Bowl commercials that people talk about the next day, but nobody remembers what they were actually selling, is not the same as your content bringing awareness to your brand.
Another principle you need to understand is one that still possesses a bit of a negative connotation for some, even though, when done right, this should no longer be the case.
This is, of course, the SEO aspect of content marketing.
Far too many people do not have a solid enough understanding of how Google actually works.
To be most effective, your content marketing needs to have a healthy balance of both relevance and ability to grab attention.
When it comes to grabbing attention, it can be tempting to pander to a broad audience at the expense of conveying the message you actually want your brand connected to.
However, this approach is not very helpful in the long run.
Instead of trying to get the most eyes on it, and hoping that this will bring more customers, it’s better to selectively pick an audience that is more likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
For this, you need to truly understand who this audience is.
Then, you need to create content that fits both your brand identity and resonates with said audience.
Simply identifying a relevant audience is not enough, though.
Once you’ve done this, you need to do what it takes to actually be seen by this audience.
For this to happen, you need to actively work at it, and learn how to conduct effective link building outreach.
Building quality links to your content makes sure it will be seen by people in search results.
The result: It dramatically improves your inbound marketing efforts.
When content marketing is done without coordination of a brand’s PR and overall message, it hinders on both sides.
Instead of creating content only to get shares, you should approach it specifically with your company’s core values, message, and goals in mind.
This does not mean you should abandon the top of the funnel content.
It means you need to keep in mind what your overall goals are.
Creating content that is obliquely related, at best, to these goals may bring you some SEO value through increased shares and backlinks, but many people will see right through this tactic and choose not to publish your content.
Instead, bring some PR principles into your content marketing.
Learn about who your average customer is.
Find out what they are looking for in your industry, and your competitors don’t have.
See what kinds of questions or problems they have related to your products and services, and craft content that solves this for them.
By taking this approach, you show them that they should place their trust in you.
This fulfills a similar role to PR and more traditional marketing efforts that explain why your brand is worthy of consideration when it comes time for a consumer to make a purchase.
Only after you do that, you can follow up with more brand or product specific content that leads the consumer down the marketing funnel towards conversion.
image credit LEAP