You’ve probably heard this Hollywood horror story: A highly anticipated film has a promising plot, stunning special effects and a big-name director. But it bombs at the box office because the lead actor wasn’t a believable fit.
A solid content marketing strategy can suffer a similar fate. Perhaps the wrong thought leader was tapped to write about a subject they’re not a true expert on, or the content’s voice wasn’t in line with the brand. Or maybe the author and the topic were a good choice, but the content didn’t tell a story that audiences connected with.
A smart director isn’t going to cast an untested actor as the lead in next summer’s blockbuster. As the director of your company’s marketing, why would you select weak content as the cornerstone of your next campaign?
“Like a great actor, effective content captivates audiences with the story being told,” writes Ken Wincko (@KenWincko), Senior Vice President of Marketing at PR Newswire, in Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing, the latest ebook from TopRank Online Marketing and Content Marketing Institute.
To cast content that’s worthy of an Oscar, Ken recommends it follow the three Cs. It must be:
Credible. With method acting, performers fully commit to their roles, immersing themselves in the thoughts, feelings, and situations their characters find themselves in. Audiences often respond well to these performances because the end result is an authentic, true-to-life experience.
Similarly, says Ken, content with an “authoritative point of view that is based on facts, research, and social validation” is always effective at building trust with your audiences.
“The most successful marketers can best represent the point of view of buyers in a credible, transparent way.”
Compelling. Unfortunately we’ve all seen films where the lead actor was just there to cash a paycheck. They clearly had the talent, but put in minimal effort.
It’s easy to see through content that’s been slapped together without a lot of thought. Content must demonstrate an understanding of your buyers’ needs and behaviors to give your audience a reason to engage.
It’s critical to consider the form factor – or format your story is presented in – says Ken. For instance, although Millennials are more likely to watch a video than read a white paper, executive-level audiences are looking for text they can quickly scan. Similarly, early stages of the buying cycle require shorter content, while prospective customers who are further along are willing to invest time in more substantial pieces.
Ken recommends asking yourself: “Who are the personas I’m going after and what form will resonate at different stages of the buying cycle?” Then continually test, measure and optimize your content against your audience’s actions.
Consistent. “If you want to be compelling, you also need to be consistent,” Ken cautions. “56% of customer interaction occur in a multi-event, multi-channel journey according to McKinsey.”
However, Forrester reports that 62% of senior marketers admit to producing content on a campaign by campaign basis, which fails to address how buyers want to experience content.
Just as an actor’s previous roles can make or break audience’s expectations for future films, your brand’s story is much more than a single blog post, white paper or press release.
Your overall content marketing strategy isn’t going to survive if you’re a one-hit wonder.
Instead, you need to create continuous and consistent interactions with your audience, reinforcing your message with multiple pieces of content and a multi-channel promotion plan.
Think of a powerful film like Lord of the Rings. There’s momentum as the story builds from its setup to the climax with multiple points of intrigue along the way. Likewise, says Ken, “your content needs to be sequenced in a way that presents a cohesive story along the buyer’s journey.”
Read more tips from Ken and other content thought leaders in TopRank’s Making Content Marketing the Star of Marketing, the second installment in the 2015 Content Marketing World ebook series.
Amanda Hicken is PR Newswire’s senior manager of strategic content. Follow her on Twitter @ADHicken for tweets about the media, marketing, Cleveland, and comic books.
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