A webinar hosted by Marketing Experiments last week on the subject of effective content marketing included a lot of nuts-and-bolts perspective on content strategies that deliver measurable results, in terms of moving audience toward the publisher’s intended outcomes. More than a few of the approaches suggested make as much sense for public relations as they do for content marketing.
The webinar was hosted by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, managing director of Marketing Experiments, and PR Newswire’s CEO, Ninan Chacko, who brings a strong marketing background to his work at PRN.
Ttitled “5 Steps to Effective Content Marketing,” the webinar kicked off with a discussion of why content marketing works so well. Dr. Flint framed today’s marketing challenges in the context of the relationships brands build with customers, noting that business relationships have three levels of commitment: relational, transactional, and contractual. Content marketing – like so much of PR – is generally concentrated in the ‘relational’ phase, in which audience attention is garnered – and kept.
“We’re moving from getting attention through interruption to a useful conversation,” noted Ninan, as the two discussed some of the aspects that make content marketing particularly effective.
However, as Dr. Flint noted, many organizations make the mistake of moving their audiences horizontally – within the relational phase, never taking the steps to encourage customers on to the next phase – the transaction.
Herein he offered some good advice for anyone developing content for a brand, whether they’re a content marketer or a PR professional. Here’s an outline of the five steps organizations can take to increase the effectiveness (as measured in business outcomes) of the content they publish.
- Map content across the marketing funnel. As you do so, be thinking about the outcomes different content drives, and where those outcomes reside in your organization’s selling process.
- Craft a biographical sketch of your customers. Also called developing personas, this step is crucial, giving insight into the customers’ perspective. From that POV you can better understand what problems customers have and how the content you create can serve them.
- Identify the distribution channels in which you have the most influence. Deploying content where there is little interest or where your audience doesn’t gather is an exercise in futility.
- Connect content to decisions. As Dr. Flint said, “Marketing exists where choice exists…Any marketing effort that does not influence choice is a waste.”
- Optimize your messages. Testing will reveal which work best in terms of delivering business outcomes most efficiently.
Dr. Flint and Ninan kept up a steady stream of discussion as Dr. Flint enumerated his five steps, focusing in particular on the nature – and effect – of high-value content.
“High value content establishes your credentials and creates a foundation of trust,” noted Ninan, who when on to say that as a rule, brands shouldn’t gate content. Dr. Flint readily agreed.
“Don’t serve ads,” he said, emphasizing the unique role of content in attracting attention, and building the customer relationship. “Serve the marketplace with useful content, and then invite incremental commitment.”
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.
For another take on the evolution of PR (and to get some great ideas and examples for your own PR plans) read our free white paper, Modern PR, the Art & Science of Media Influence.