Are you having trouble getting your defense firm's marketing messages in the orbit of the right audience? With content marketing, the force will be with you.
Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.
One of the best books on the topic is Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute.
Joe was recently interviewed on the “Amtower Off Center” show on Federal News Radio 1500 in Washington DC. The show’s host is Mark Amtower, “Godfather of Government Marketing” and author of “Selling to the Government: What It Takes to Compete and Win in the World’s Largest Market”
Content Marketing Takes Time
Content marketing programs fail because companies lose patience and stop doing them, not because the content is not good enough. It takes a long time to build a relationship with an audience, sometimes 12 to 24 months, which is important for government contractors with long sales cycles. Content marketing takes grit!
Content Marketing Is Over 100 Years Old
- In 1895, John Deere launched a magazine called The Furrow to provide information to farmers on how to become more profitable.
- The Michelin Guide was developed in 1904 to offer drivers information on auto care, accommodations and other travel tips.
- In 1904 Jell-O distributed free cookbooks, some of which included Jell-O as an ingredient. Sales of Jell-O took off.
Content Marketing Is Not For Every Kind Of Company
But if you need to attract an audience it can work very effectively. The catch: you need to create valuable, compelling and relevant information on a consistent basis to have your audience do some type of profitable behavior.
Doing Content Marketing Right for Government Sales
In targeting government buyers, there might be 6 to 8 very different types of people involved in the procurement process. The problem: many companies then try to target all of those audiences with one piece of content and as a result, the content is not good for anybody.
Instead you need to focus on who the decision maker, the real buyer is - what are their pain points, what’s keeping them up at night? If all you’re saying is “I’ve got a product and a service,” you’re not going to build a relationship with an audience.
Then determine how they like to get their information and you have an opportunity to break through the thousands of other marketing messages they get each day and have an impact.
Your Audience Doesn’t Care About You. At First.
The cardinal rule of content marketing is that prospective customers don’t care about you, your product or your services. You’ve got to first demonstrate that you care about them by showing concern for the problems and challenges.
To be successful at content marketing you’ve got to be just as consistent as a publisher. Even mediocre content can rise to the top if it is delivered consistently over time.
Have A Point Of View
You’re not reporting news – you’re trying to solve a problem for your customers. Most content is extremely sales driven, which makes audience engagement plummet and never return.
About 80%-90% of your content should be educational or helpful. But a lot of that content does not need to be original. If you’re curating content, you’re still providing helpful content that audiences will like, share and return to. It’s the same thing publishers do.
The Difference Between Social Media And Content
Think of social media as a magazine that can be mailed to subscribers. But the magazine is completely blank – it has no text, no pictures, nothing. It is completely devoid of content. And meaning. Social media is a delivery mechanism like a blank magazine.
Content is what you put in the magazine. It’s what you have to say. This is why social media fails without a content strategy.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts
For every social media channel your company is on you need to answer the question “why?” A surprising number of companies don’t have a business answer to that question.
Don’t build a house on rented land. Make sure every piece of content you produce is on your own site with a URL that you own. Then use social media to lure people back to your site and capture their email addresses.
Social media platforms are constantly changing the rules of the "visibility" game and you can’t control what your fans/followers will see now or in the future. For instance, Facebook now only shows about 5% of your company page fans what you post there. Facebook now wants you to pay for the fan base (that you built) to see your content. Facebook won’t be the last social media platform to do this.
Three Pillars Of A Content Marketing Program
- Have an industry-leading blog (or other digital platform) for your prospects and customers. Publish consistently and capture email addresses so that you can communicate directly with your audience.
- Have an in-person component to your content marketing such as public speaking or events.
- Have a print component. The postal service still makes deliveries. And with the decline of printed material, if you can offer your audience something that is relevant you will break through, build loyalty and grow your audience.
You Probably Already Have A Lot of Content
Most companies are overwhelmed at the idea of creating lots of new content to get started. But, if they go through their company, they will most likely find lots of content parts that can be polished up and reused. Examples include speeches, presentations, and any kind of educational content you’ve offered. All these types of things can be turned into blogs, ebooks, videos, podcasts, etc.
How To Measure Content Marketing
It’s nice to have loads of metrics that go up and to the right, but there are really only three ways to measure content marketing:
1. Sales – Increasing?
2. Savings – Are you saving money?
3. Sunshine – Are you making customers happier, more loyal?
Subscriber metrics are also extremely important because studies show that the people who subscribe to your content are much more likely to buy more and be more loyal.
To listen to the 45-minute radio interview click here.
20th Century Fox