Content marketing is king in today’s world of online communications. But what is it, exactly? While the term is ubiquitous across all of modern marketing, it is still rather mysterious, even to those in the business. In the spirit of the holiday season, let’s lay it out like a wish list—all that we want in successful content marketing, and how to get it
- Audience relationships – Notice it’s not audience purchases. That’s intentional, and it’s huge. Making relationships, not sales, is the essence of content marketing and the reason we do it.
- Engaging content – This is the principal component of developing and maintaining relationships with prospects and customers. Without it, there is no hope of a lasting relationship, or even a first hello. Engaging means interesting, informative, problem solving, thought-provoking, entertaining, delighting…and doing each of these things very well individually and sometimes all at once.
- Knowledge of audience – This one’s as old as the hills, right? Yet, with all the countless messages on the Internet, yours must not only capture attention, but keep it and bring it back time and again. It’s imperative to know whom you’re talking to. Data analytics, buyer personas, content audits and other targeting tools are invaluable to a successful content marketing strategy.
- Audience trust – We are not selling…we are not selling…we are not selling. This should be the mantra of every content marketer. Trust is built by providing content that is engaging, not sales-focused. (Hint: this trust then turns into sales.)
- Audience loyalty – This is the natural consequence of gaining audiences’ trust. Consumers will want to come back to those who engage them meaningfully and will share not only your media, but also their experiences with your brand. Word of mouth is still the most effective marketing strategy of all.
- Transparency – Consumers are anything but ignorant or gullible. They are smart, savvy, and they know what they want and how to get it. They are “prosumers,” and they can smell a sales ploy and false or exaggerated information from a mile away. Without transparency, there is no audience trust.
- Credibility – A close cousin of audience trust is credibility, demonstrating to consumers that you are uniquely qualified in your space and buttressing your expertise with links and references to other respected sources. Any awards, certifications and accreditations you have should also be conveyed.
- Multiple online media – Social media platforms, blogs, e-newsletters, post boosters, landing pages, interactive forms, visual media, press releases…the list goes on. Your brand needs original and curated content across multiple media to be truly effective in building meaningful customer relationships.
- SEO expertise – Fresh, regularly updated content not only engages your audiences, it influences the way search engines rank your site. Knowing how to employ SEO (search engine optimization) is key in driving traffic to your site and implementing a successful content marketing strategy.
- Responsive design – Audiences have more ways to engage with your brand than ever—desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, and the soon-to-come Internet of Things. Your content marketing must fit people where they are, not only metaphorically, but literally too—conforming to screen size, platform, orientation, and other electronic factors.
All any business or organization really wants is great content marketing. This holiday season and beyond, let our team of experts earn you the best gift of all: lasting consumer relationships.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.
Few things threaten a relationship like dishonesty. The same can be said about relationships between clients and their marketing agencies. In fact, a 2016 Association of National Advertisers poll revealed that advertisers voted for “transparency” as the word of the year.
How can you know if an agency is going to be truly honest with you and fully dedicated to your success? It’s not as if their own marketing material is going to announce weak commitment and shady practices.
Transparency must go beyond upfront contracts into meaningful connections with you that include asking questions, listening to your goals and needs, having conversations, and demonstrating genuine concern for more than getting paid. An atmosphere of trust and support is how long-term faith and loyalty is built in any partnership, including the one with your marketing agency.
Let’s look at the anatomy of a great agency-client relationship, guts and all:
What’s in a Contract?
While a good agency should serve you in intangible ways, above and beyond the concrete terms of a contract, the importance of a clear, air-tight marketing contract cannot be underrated. While your contract should serve and protect both parties, and your agency has a duty to protect itself as well, let’s re-emphasize the role of transparency.
In answer to the question above – what’s in a contract? – everything your agency really can do, and nothing it really can’t. After that, besides terms and fees, your contract should include a view of the current marketing landscape (and advertising and PR, if your agency is capable), the current landscape of your particular industry, key elements to a successful campaign, content strategies, and agency deliverables.
There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Questions
Your agency should be so excited to have you as their new client, they can hardly contain themselves. But, because they’re professionals, they may not literally be jumping for joy before your eyes. In fact, they may even be a little hesitant to delve into too many questions for you. But they shouldn’t. They should ask every possible thing they can to serve you best and help you realize your dreams. In fact, content marketing expert and author Jami Oetting suggests 90 (yes, 90) revealing questions agencies should ask their new clients.
Did We Mention Guts?
A great marketing agency is a team of creative, passionate, endlessly curious people who aren’t afraid of hard work and trying new strategies. They should realize when it’s time to move away from “same-old, same-old” tactics into uncharted territory. Oetting refers to this fearlessness as “keeping your hands dirty” by staying abreast of marketing trends and client industries. “[Agencies] get into the trenches with team members to understand how they’re working and where their challenges are,” she notes.
What’s in a Team?
In addition to passion and guts, you should find in your marketing professionals a relentless dedication to your business, goals and personnel – and theirs, too. Regardless of size, your marketing team should also clearly see and understand the broad picture of all the players in the business-agency relationship: the client, client’s customers/prospects, management team/owners, and their own agency constituents. We like Oetting’s comment here, too: “Think of clients, senior management, and team members as legs of a stool. If any single leg is getting short shrift, the entire enterprise is thrown off balance.”
The “L” word, and we’re only ten paragraphs in! But it’s not overzealous to apply that word to the client-agency relationship, because your agency really should love you and treat you like a precious member of the family. That involves going overboard, showing up because they care, staying in frequent “live” touch – in person or on the phone – breaking bread together, respectfully telling the truth (even if it hurts, like “this strategy isn’t working, and we need to change course”), being genuinely joyful when you’re successful…and genuinely upset – and immediately responsive – when you’re not.
The right marketing team should treat you like a treasured partner in a healthy relationship. Nothing less will do.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.