5 ways to improve your content marketing strategy

July 26, 2011

This post was written by Sara Nugent, Executive Editor of Social Media

Content is king, but it’s also killer. It can be difficult to create, and time consuming to do well. But there are ways to transform information, data, and goings-on within any organization into authentic news and content, the kind that connects with digital and media audiences.

These approaches are increasingly important today as content drives more of our marketing initiatives. A recent study by the Custom Content Council found 35 percent of CMOs believe that custom content marketing is the future of marketing. This is compared to 19 percent in 2006.

This study also found 73 percent of consumers prefer to receive information as articles rather than blatant advertisements. What’s more, 61 percent of consumers said they feel better about companies when they deliver content and are more likely to buy from them.

Virtually any company can publish content and see value for it. Here are five ways to creatively create and capture content that integrate with blogging, media relations, and corporate communications.

Be the media. Lansinoh Laboratories, a long-time Gregory FCA client, understands well the power of transforming everyday business events into news. When the company recently sponsored a red carpet event, The Concert for a Healthy Birth, it sent its own blogger to interview Ricki Lake about her newly released documentary, “The Business of Being Born.” Flattered by the interest, Ricki gave a ringing endorsement of the Lansinoh products she’s used in the past. The video interview transformed the event into news, gave Lansinoh authentic content for its blog, and secured a major celebrity endorsement by thinking content, rather than marketing hype.

UPDATE 7/29/11: This week Ricki favorited a tweet from Gregory FCA’s Robyn Ungar, in which she included a link to this video. The favorite re-shared the video with Ricki’s Twitterverse, again illustrating Ricki’s support, as well as the long shelf life of digital content.

Transform one-and-done events into long-tail marketing opportunities.

Events create gold mines of content that can be documented and repurposed across multiple channels. An example comes from Gregory FCA client ProtonMedia, which sponsored its own sold-out life sciences seminar. To get more from its investment, the company videoed, photographed, and live tweeted the entire event; posted the coverage in a series on its external blog; and integrated it into its sales efforts. The after-burn helped lead ProtonMedia to securing several new clients.

Forget the hype and write like a journalist. Hype pales in comparison to storytelling, a simple fact journalists understand well. So the ability to write with the same seeming objectiveness as the media is key to winning audience. That’s what led one of the world’s largest enterprise software vendors to take a more journalistic approach to one of its external newsletters. Gregory FCA worked with the company to interview experts and analysts, asking hard questions about the struggles facing small businesses. The rework doubled the company’s click-thru rate, simply by complying with journalists’ storytelling standards.

Don’t write the stories that write themselves. There are also stories all around waiting to just be captured, rather than created. This is an efficient and authentic way to generate valuable content. Case in point is our client, Peirce College. Every year in the run up to commencement, Peirce holds its “Peirce Idol” competition to give a graduating student the honor of singing the national anthem. Last year, the school captured the try-outs on video and transformed the competition into an online event with digital voting. Not only did it generate content for its blog, but Peirce also won media coverage when The Philadelphia Inquirer caught wind of it and thought enough to report on it.

Conduct original research. The media loves fresh, original research. So apply the same standards to your own publishing. To build awareness in the energy industry, for instance, Gregory FCA conducted its own study into the public opinion of Marcellus Shale development, a controversial new natural gas production technique. We released the conclusions as a report, press release, and series on this blog. The study triggered dozens of media interviews and appearances in places diverse as the energy trades and The Huffington Post. We’re now working with two leading players in the industry as a result of our efforts.

All organizations have stories to tell. Facts to deliver. Value to provide. It’s a matter of identifying the opportunities and using them in creative, cost-effective ways to connect to and thoughtfully engage audiences.

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