How can content marketing help find the voice of your business

  • August 24, 2017
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   training-development
Some 150 people attended a Studer Community Institute workshop on understanding content marketing. The keynote speaker was Debbie Williams, co-founder of Sprout Content. Credit: Shannon Nickinson

Studer Community Institute continued its series of leadership and skill development for the community with a session on content marketing on Aug. 24 featuring Debbie Williams at Pensacola Little Theatre.

Williams, co-founder of Sprout Content, led a session on how a strategic content marketing plan can grow your business. Nearly 150 people attended Williams' session. Attendees rated the value of the session at 9.9 out of 10 and gave the session a net promoter score of 95 percent.

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“Every business today is a media company,” Williams says. “Every single one of you has the opportunity to be your own media company. Your website can be a living, breathing thing that can be a hub of its own.”

Debbie Williams, Sprout Content.
Debbie Williams, Sprout Content.

By way of definition, Williams shared, content marketing is creating content that is valuable, relevant and consistent to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. To harness that power, companies, nonprofits and other groups must not just provide content for content’s sake.

“Content without context means nothing,” Williams says.

What people want is information that helps them answer a question.

Williams cited research that found that people read 10.4 pieces of information online before making a purchasing decision — be it personal or professional.

Indeed, Williams notes, most people get 60 percent through the buying process before they ever speak to a human being.

She said she often asks clients, "if you gave your website to your sales team to use in presentations, how would you feel about that? Would your website be the number 1 salesperson you have? If it’s not, it should be.”

It also means developing a content marketing strategy tailored to your business that reflects what you know about your customers and what they want and need. What makes that successful?

— Companywide buy-in. It is not a person or department, it is a companywide mentality.

— Aligning marketing and sales. They are the gatekeeper to the customer. Tap their knowledge and use it.

— Documented content strategy aligned to goals.

— Content resources and accountability. Consistency is key.

To begin the journey,

— Set goals and outline benchmarks. What do you want to achieve, what metrics will you use and how will you track them? This takes time, Williams says.

“You can’t make changes if you don't know what is working and what’s not.” Williams says.

Using buyer personas fictional representation of your customers that are based on what you know about your real customers. To develop that, you need to talk to actual customers, using a Q and A that you use to find out what are questions, needs and challenges they need help filling.

 It means knowing who is doing the research about buying decisions in a company. That’s not always the person with the biggest job title.

“The researcher is the most overlooked persona,” Williams says. “All of the content you are creating is not necessarily for (the CEO or top level company officer).”

Knowing how to reach those people — what messaging attracts them and turns them into converts to your business — is a piece of the heart of content marketing.

“Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. A year from now, you will see the results,” Williams says.