More than ever, talented wordsmiths are using their skills to spread far and wide across industries. A journalist’s gig used to be to report, a researcher’s to comb through data and a marketer’s to attract — but now they’re all combined under the umbrella of content marketing.
This quickly growing field is presenting a landslide of opportunities for savvy writers who are willing to expand their skillset and tackle new projects. As more companies tap into the value of this expertise, the demand grows alongside the competition. Even so, writers must take on yet another hat by becoming a salesperson by nailing a pitch.
All too often, brands believe content can be a one-time assignment or short-term contract, when in reality, it’s a long-term investment that’s ever-evolving.
As Kelly Chase, the director of content marketing at Fracture explains, content marketing involves the creation and posting of online content, from blog posts and videos to social media and search engine optimization deep dives — and more.
“When done well and strategically, content marketing allows a brand to connect to people along every phase and touchpoint of the customer journey allowing marketers to create a more tailored and personal experience.”
For Chase, setting aside a budget for content marketing every quarter is essential. How come? She says unlike traditional, direct-response oriented marketing, content marketing has more of a focus on raising brand awareness, building relationships with potential and existing customers, and telling stories around a brand in order to increase brand affinity.
So how can you convince potential anchor clients your three-month (or six-month) minimum is worth it? Just forward this story that outlines why it’s better to go for the long-haul.
Here’s how to show potential anchor clients that content marketing has long-term value.
Content marketing isn’t a box to check.
No matter the company size, every leader has a list of deliverables on their goal mapping. When these deadlines are met, success can happen. While it’s positive to think strategically and plan ahead, marketing pro and CEO of Social Gaines, Taylor Gaines, says all too often executives see content marketing as a box to check, rather than approaching it more holistically.
What many brands don’t take time to understand is the why behind their content marketing strategy, and how it is a long-term play.
One way to think differently, according to Gaines, is to make a near-future goal and one for further down the line:
The short term solution would be to start repurposing content — team quotes, sales sheets and so on — to increase the number of posts about the brand which allows for the brand to enter the conversation and be visible, ultimately resulting in standard lead generation tactics. The longer-term goal of increasing customer lifetime value would require a content strategy fueled by data.
This requires understanding the customer to figure out what drives them, what will keep them around and what type of language and content they respond to over many months of engagement.
It’s more than just starting a blog.
How many times have you hopped on a call with a potential client and you ask them about their goals, only to hear: “I don’t know, I think we want to start a blog?” When you try to understand their goals, they draw a blank. Chase says while many brands believe it’s enough to put something on the internet and hope for the best, it’s never that easy.
By hiring a long-term content strategist, Chase says you set yourself up for continued improvement in your brand’s purpose, your voice and your goals:
It takes a high level of experience and acumen to execute effectively. It involves a deep level of understanding of what the customer journey looks like across multiple channels and for multiple demographics and the ability to create content that effectively speaks to each of those in the right way and at the right time.
It’s continuously evolving.
Fifteen years ago, content marketing wasn’t exactly a sector of business anyone gave much thought to. In fact, they probably had a copywriter they hired here and there, or asked someone from ‘marketing’ to write something. It still happens today — but it’s changing and requires more professional knowledge.
Gaines says because it’s always evolving, companies benefit from having a freelancer as part of their team who can share knowledge, be a thought partner, and most importantly, create content on the fly.
“Consumers want quick, interactive and intuitive content, which creates a much more complex production environment,” she adds.
It doesn’t just stop with pure words either, since Gaines says smart televisions are now advancing to allow interactive content (think: Netflix’s Bandersnatch, Google Home or Amazon’s Echo). Now, voice commands may contribute to SEO, and social media has a play, too.
“As marketers, we are presented with an ever-increasing chessboard of content puzzle pieces to address — and more often than not, having to address this while operating within lean budgets,” she explains. But having someone on your team who can roll with it? They’re not a one-month chuck, they’re a wild ride Sally.
Ultimately, it works together with other avenues of marketing.
“No man is an island, and no great piece of content should be either. The hallmark of a great content strategy is that no piece of content is created in a vacuum or expected to perform entirely on its own,” Chase explains.
When a client opts in to a year-long content strategy, they should expect to see a moving, nimble plan that reacts to SEO rankings, traffic and other aspects, but also works cohesively with all other branches of marketing. In an ideal state, these will work in tandem with one another, creating the ideal playground for success.
Just consider this example from Chase: “A blog post might be keyword optimized to bring in highly targeted organic traffic, written around a topic that has consistently generated high rates of engagement on your social channels, be optimized with a valuable and relevant email-gated discount — with a targeted email welcome series primed to convert subscribers to customers — and have paid ads set up to retarget visitors with relevant products.”
If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is — and that’s the point! Having someone as part of your army who can work their magic and help everyone meet their milestones is worth the long-term chance.
After all, this professional will optimize and change with the brand as it grows. “Once you’ve built out your content marketing strategy you still need to test and optimize. No matter how well your content is working, there is always room for improvement,” Chase continues. “It takes a while to spool everything up and for the data to roll in, but once it does that’s when the real work begins.”
So are you ready? Pitch yourself as a key player — not just someone to ‘write something.’ You’re more than that: you’re a content marketer.