You want to invest in content marketing? Know these 5 things first / by Ian Paynton

So it turns out content is no longer just a buzzword. It's a thing! A real thing that needs to be done yesterday.

But how much do you need to invest? Where do you even start if you're new to to the content game?  Here's five questions you should ask first if you're looking to get your content on:

1. What exactly do you want to achieve? 

Increased revenues will most likely be a goal. You’re a business, after all.

But it should be clear to stakeholders that content ROI won't necessarily arrive straight away in the shape of money bags. You’re about to invest in something for the long-term. 

Content will more likely raise visibility of your business in search engines and on social media first, while lightly shaping your identity and core values as a brand. It’s also great for web traffic acquisition or database growth. Once you draw people to your channels and then win their permission to talk to them regularly, you can start nurturing a relationship through content.

Tip:

If you can make conversions off the back of your content immediately, then great - and some businesses can. But be conservative when forecasting financial return at this stage. The goal should be to produce content that helps your audience first. It can help you make money later. 

2. Who is your audience now?

You may have a database already, and some followers across social. Ask how much you know about them and how engaged they are with your brand.

If you know lots about them and are happy with the demographics, this is the audience base to grow. First look around the market to see where the content opportunities are. Then use your audience intel and brand know-how to conceive content types that will a) really push your audience’s buttons and b) inspire them to share your content among their friends or colleagues.

Tip:

You might know nothing about your existing audience. That's OK. Try experimenting with lighter content executions to see who they are and what they do/do not engage with. You can then evolve and invest more as you go - based on intelligence and analytics.  

3. What does your content strategy look like?

Based on your output in discussion points 1 and 2, you’re now ready to start looking at what stories you might tell. Think about which platforms you’ll fill, and what types of content you'll do: is it copy that lives on your website or a micro-video series on social? It could be both. Or it could be a podcast, or something clever using comics, animation, animated GIFs and infographics. Do you have owned web platforms already, or do you need to build them? This will change how much you need to invest.  

Tip: 

Spend time and lots of creativity when brainstorming what types of stories you'll tell. It's the idea behind the story that will count most, not whether it’s delivered with a Facebook video, website article, or Google Cardboard VR experience. 

 

“Always rein it back to the first two discussion points: why are we doing this and who exactly are we speaking to? ”

 

4. Who will be responsible for gluing it all together?

Content doesn’t create itself (yet!) and it’s really easy to underestimate the workforce needed. Employ someone who can work with all areas of the business to project manage between stakeholders and a content delivery team - a person who's both creative and commercially minded, ideally. 

Tip:

Don’t assume one content person can do everything - they'll probably have the rest of their day-job to do, too. A content production team must be factored in at this stage, and it may be worth hiring a brand journo early.

5. How will content be distributed and measured?

There’s a lot of noise on the internet: 1.3 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook every minute. No-one really has time to care about your brand or business - not unless you give them reason to with strong content at the right time. Think about distribution channels like search, social media, paid amplification and email, as well as decent link-backs via an outreach strategy. These are all things to factor into the budget, too.

Tip:

Based on discussion points 1-5, set some KPIs for the teams involved that link to stakeholder objectives. They might be things like increased audience growth, better engagement levels, diversified revenue streams, higher search rankings, more newsletter sign ups, or sold out tickets to an offline event.

You can craft content strategies to tackle almost any business challenge. But it certainly takes a lot of thought upfront to get a realistic idea of how much you need to invest. 

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