How to Build Smart, Strategic Content

Content Marketing

“Content that understands its audience will be good content. Content that doesn’t, can’t be.” This gem-of-a-quote from Doug Kessler is really the heart of my recent Firestarter (ICYMI, we started a discussion series, and you should come next time). The concept isn’t terribly complicated; a business relationship — like any relationship — will succeed if there’s mutual respect and desire to grow alongside each other.

For marketers, this means you need to understand your audience’s lives outside your brand. If you’re not looking for context, you might as well be talking to a wall. For us, this is a one-two punch from our editorial and strategy departments. Editorial covers the creative copywriting side, while strategy meticulously researches and reports to ensure we’re on track with any content marketing KPIs. It’s mutualism at its finest, and it ensures we’re constantly creating optimized content with the audience in mind.

This one-two means we catch your target audience’s eye and delight them to the extent that they forget your competitors ever existed. We do this in different ways at different stages of the marketing funnel, but we always do this with both departments involved.

Capture customer attention

We’re big fans of personas at Bonfire; they allow us to put a face to our listeners, to envision who we’re speaking to at all times. The golden rule of content development is simply to make it about your audience, not your brand. So if you’ve made genuine attempts to discover and understand your listeners, you should be able to recite their likes and dislikes, their desires and the things that drive them forward. Whether you aim to educate, empower, or entertain, it should all be in relation to your audience. This sort of mentality allows us to know what your audience is searching for and why, which is where consistent SEO and paid social content come into play. The key is to be in the right place at the right time for the right reasons.

Engage customer interests and desires

After we’ve captured their attention, we keep them engaged by telling a good story. What’s in a story? A story happens in a particular moment in time. There is a beginning, middle, and end. There is emotion, not just information. There are characters to care about and something at stake. Most importantly, a story is part of a larger story arc. Good content acknowledges context, and concentrates on world building.

If you can’t figure out your business’s story, try making a list of differentiators, objections, pain points, and problems your brand solves. Map these out in relation to your audience and see where you fit. Then hone in on content that will tell your story. This could mean anything from specialized landing pages to drip campaigns, but make sure you’re maintaining a cohesive brand presence, regardless of channel.

Retain them as loyal customers

Building brand loyalty comes down to abandoning short-term tactics and embracing long-term strategic thinking. Brands often focus on price and product, when really, all they need to be thinking about is the customer journey. Your customer’s experience with your brand is the ultimate differentiator. While anybody can copy your products or prices, no one can replicate the unique experience you provide your audience. Why is this the ultimate differentiator? Experience creates familiarity; it prioritizes the personal over the professional, and it doesn’t have to be all things to all people. That familiarity eventually gives way to love, and at this point, your customer is your greatest evangelist.

There’s a lot of terrible content out there. A lot of stuff that prioritizes the brand above the audience, most of which is read by few and loved by none. If you take one thing away from this blog, let it be this: Don’t make your product your protagonist. Your audience should always the hero of your story, and your story should be founded on thorough research and metrics.

Firestarter will return in 2017, so keep an eye out on Bonfire’s Twitter for more news. And get in touch if you have thoughts on this blog!

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407 NE 12th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232

Phone: 503-334-2071