Content marketing is a powerful part of the marketing mix for many businesses. Blogs, articles, press releases, case studies, guides and social media updates all help attract customers and demonstrate your business’s expertise. They can contribute to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) too.
But, how do you find opportunities to create great content when little of note appears to happen?
What to Look Out For
Writing compelling content for your business can be a tricky task. Recognising opportunities is the first step, as much of the challenge involved in content marketing is in generating or identifying effective ideas.
Almost anything is suitable if there’s a story to tell. People like content they can relate to and which has a start, middle and end – however brief.
When looking for updates a good tip is to report on something which has ‘happened’. This might include new customers, case studies, anniversaries, completed projects, staff achievements or charity involvement.
Alternatively, you could comment upon or share something which has happened in your sector or the wider community.
Even if your update isn’t initially compelling, a little background or context can soon weave almost anything into a story.
Find an Angle
Before you start writing, you need to determine the right angle.
Subconsciously, most people read content – be it an article, blog or social media update – by looking for the point. “So what?” they ask themselves!
Begin by looking at your intended reader. Different audiences may require different approaches. Get to know your audience and the level of understanding they have on your topic. Don’t be afraid to explain the basics as expert readers won’t mind and others will be grateful.
You need to get information across in an engaging, interesting and readable way – even if the subject is dry. You may want to write from a trusted expert perspective or a more light-hearted how-to post.
Whichever you choose – and whether it’s a long blog or short social media post – remember to leave the reader in no doubt of why it’s of value and why it matters.
Hit the Headlines
So, you’ve identified an update – and angle – that’s worthy of becoming a blog, press release or other content marketing article.
The title – or headline – is the first thing people will see and it will dictate whether they read further. A great headline hooks the reader in, gets them thinking and makes them want to read more.
Most journalists will tell you it’s the building block of any great story. Get the headline right and the article falls in behind.
Again, your reading will ultimately be asking themselves “Why is this of interest to me?” – so you need to convince the reader of the story’s relevance.
If your update isn’t initially very exciting, now is your chance to change that. Think of what it’s really about – innovation, collaboration, success, trust – and create a headline which focuses on that. Alliterative headlines work particularly well, as does a play on words. Keep it short and simple and don’t give too much away. You want your audience to read more.
First Person or Third Person?
Typically, social media, blogs and how-to articles tend to be written in the first person – as if you’re speaking directly to the reader.
However, press releases are written in the third person – as if written about your business by an interested party. Often people do not appreciate that the articles we read – particularly in sector specific press – are frequently written by the business themselves.
People expect blogs and social media posts to be salesy and self-congratulatory – but too much and they may switch off.
Effective press releases must be even more balanced. Too salesy or biased and it will unsettle the reader. If you send it to a publication or website, they will be more likely to edit it or ignore it all together.
Instead of lots of hyperbole, consider using a quote from your Managing Director, client or other significant party to get across your sales message. It won’t raise any eyebrows and is much more likely to be absorbed.
By the Numbers
Journalists have a particular way of writing. This includes a way of laying out the story both to be effective and to save them time.
If you’re writing a lengthy piece of content, this can help you too. Think about the building blocks of the piece – and its flow.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them”. This works well for almost any content marketing.
After your impactful headline, quickly explain the crux of the story, article or guide – and the news or value it may provide. Then, go into more depth, remembering to never stray too far from your angle. Finally, bring it all back to the point and the ‘take-away’ value for the reader.
Leverage Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool for many businesses and a great way to get your content out there quickly. No matter your audience it’s vital to post fresh and informative content which people want to read.
Social media posts need to stand out and grab attention. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask “Would I read this update?”
Again, whilst traditional sales messages have their place – and are useful to maintain posting if inspiration runs low – they are less engaging than genuine updates or sharing other news.
Again, draw people in with an intriguing opening line, possibly posed as a question to which the answer is positive. If you want people to click on a link to learn more, hint at the contents but don’t give too much away.
If you issue a press release which is published on a third-party website, you can then share the coverage via your own social media. Include the link to the website which published your press release rather than your own website as this is seen as an endorsement and carries more kudos.
Image is Everything
The right picture is critical to accompany any content. Along with the title or headline, it has the greatest influence on whether it will be read. It’s an effective way of making readers understand exactly what your press release, blog or social media post is all about before even reading a word.
Most of us are visual learners. We digest content much better when we can see it. If you’re tackling a heavy or every-day topic then adding pictures and graphics is a fantastic way to break up content.
When choosing an image, use one which stands out and reinforces the message of the post. Where appropriate, incorporate your branding or use a consistent style which can become identifiable with your business.
Remember, the updates and images you post reflect your business, so ensure they are suitably well taken and represent the qualities you want to communicate (e.g. professional, innovative, modern).
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
An effective content marketing strategy typically has two objectives; to promote your business and to aid in the SEO of your website.
Fresh and unique content is one of the most fundamental ingredients of SEO. Even if not many people read your latest blog, Google will and may ultimately reward you with more impressions in suitable search results.
For the maximum benefits to SEO, it’s important to target subjects which people are likely to search to locate a product or service like yours. However, don’t needlessly stuff the article with keywords, as Google can feel you’re trying to manipulate results.
There’s no such thing as a boring subject – only boring writing.
With the right approach you can turn even the most everyday of updates into content which informs and entertains your readers, invests them in your message and keeps them reading until the very end.
If you need help creating winning content marketing for your business, get in touch today: https://www.fullmixmarketing.co.uk/contact/