When you’re facing into the business end of a content-driven marketing campaign, it can be easy to lose heart. The opportunities on offer are huge but the choices involved in making the most of them can be overwhelming.
You’ll be looking to find pieces of content that can truly engage your readers and encourage them to take some sort of future action that makes a meaningful difference to your revenue. How do you know where to even begin? What types of content will truly drive results?
Here’s the good news: you already know more than you think about how to do this – much more.
A depressingly large percentage of marketers waste an enormous amount of time either hiring external consultants to dream up new content initiatives or desperately trying to blue-sky something entirely original of their own into existence.
Rather than start from scratch each time around, your first port of call should always be what you already know; both in terms of your personal experience and the background of your company.
What does this mean in practice? The more hard-headed amongst you may appreciate an analogy from the world of sales. Task any experienced sales person with quickly reinvigorating revenue and there is one simple step they will reliably perform first to get the ball rolling: reaching out to existing customers or prospects.
It’s always easier beginning with what you already have. The exact same principle applies to content-driven marketing. Information that you already possess, and existing internal resources, can be turned into high-performing content far quicker than anything else.
Let’s look at five areas you can exploit to make the most of your existing knowledge for driving leads, shares and enquiries and take your content marketing to the next level.
- What’s working?
I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret that lies at the heart of an enormous amount of people’s day-to-day working existence: very few folks really know what they’re doing the majority of the time. Most people are simply making it up as they go along.
Don’t believe me? Type “imposter syndrome” into Google and follow the links. You’ll be amazed at what kind of negative self-talk is going through the minds of even the most seemingly successful people.
The positive side-effect of this global lack of certainty and knowledge is that there is an enormous hunger out there for detail-driven success stories. People desperately want tips and tricks for tackling even the basics of their daily work.
Use this fact to your advantage and you unlock a treasure chest of high-value, enormously sharable content opportunities that will get readers on your side and willing to take action.
Let’s drill down a bit further and look at two specific questions you can ask to leverage your existing knowledge:
- a) Are there specific tools you currently use to drive results?
Online tools of all persuasions have never been more powerful but most people struggle enormously with how to use them effectively. Any insight you can give into how best to use a particular tool will be of potentially huge interest to both newbies and experienced users alike.
Many of these tools are in use across a wide range of industries. What works for you could just as easily work for those users you are trying to reach.
Do you have a particular Infusionsoft workflow that’s shaved ten hours off your weekly workflow for example? Or a set of default Trello boards you’re using to coordinate complicated campaign launches across different departments?
Maybe there’s a particular set of Excel macros you’ve put together that makes monthly reporting a snap. Or a set of social tools like Buffer that you’ve discovered which have turned your Facebook and Twitter accounts into a profit centre rather than a timesink.
Write down the details and share them with your readers! Give people a peek into your process and you do two things:
- You boost your expert credentials.
- You offer real value to your readers that they can start using instantly.
Combine the two and you’re looking at a big head start in building a long-term relationship.
- b) What’s currently driving bottom-line growth in your firm?
Naturally there will be some internal financial details that you won’t be able to broadcast to the world but everybody loves reading real-life case studies with actual numbers attached.
You’ve only got to look at the current popularity of online income reports across a variety of niches to see how attractive this type of content is for readers.
If you can isolate sharable details of what’s driving your profits – and put it into narrative form with real numbers attached – you’re looking at near certain success in terms of content marketing. Again, you’re boosting perceived expertise and providing valuable insight free of charge upfront.
- Sharing your learning
Learning is a lifelong process and most people dramatically underestimate the value of what they’ve taken on board to date. Assuming you already have a modicum of experience in your role and/or industry, you are sitting on a potentially very valuable resource that can be shared with others.
This applies as much to your own particular role as to that of your company. By openly sharing details of instances where you’ve learned something, you’re once again delivering massive value to your audience and potentially saving them an awful lot of time.
There are any number of ways you can ease into this: case studies, interviews, project post-mortems, personal growth insights, the choice is yours.
Start by writing down a list of the things you’ve learned in your role in the last 18 months. Now consider if any of them could be spun into a valuable piece of content by turning them over in your mind from the point of view of a potential lead.
Virtually every business on earth faces the same set of core challenges: sales, marketing, logistics, dealing with financial issues, management concerns and so on. Anything concrete that you’ve learned along the way in any of those departments could make for very interesting – and shareable! – reading for your potential customers.
- Making mistakes so others don’t have to.
Our third point follows naturally on from the previous suggestion about sharing your learning. In this world, it’s a rare individual indeed who has learnt only from a string of uninterrupted successes.
The most valuable learning tool on earth is failure. We learn most when we have lost the most.
By sharing mistakes you have made – and the associated learnings – you potentially help others avoid the same problems. Again, you’re leveraging your own experience to bring direct value to your potential customers and demonstrating a level of openness and transparency that is all too seldom found online. It can be a wonderful trust builder.
Not everyone will be comfortable about showing this level of vulnerability online but it’s a very, very powerful method of content creation when done correctly.
- Mine your own data.
Any well-run company will naturally spend an awful lot of combing through their own business intelligence to try and identify future growth opportunities. And with the increased sophistication of modern business analytics software, there is a sea of data to swim through in even the smallest of firms.
For smart marketers, this ocean of information represents a potentially huge opportunity. Given the right set of conditions, you may well be able to extract internal data that has a high value for potential clients or customers.
Perhaps the most famous example of this approach is online dating portal OK Cupid’s savvy approach to data-driven marketing over the years.
By mining the details of their own users’ interactions and presenting their findings on the blog, they managed to attract a huge amount of inbound links, social shares and wider PR in the mainstream media.
Consider whether there is a similar content opportunity hiding in your own firm’s internal analytics.
- Share your own advice
This is one particularly for those in the client service industries but it can be applied across the board with a little creative thinking.
There is a simply enormous amount of actionable business wisdom trapped within the confines of email and personal communication, just waiting to be unleashed in a wider marketing sense.
Let’s take the example of a high-end real estate broker. On any given deal, the broker will almost certainly be providing a constant stream of high-value advice to their client, much of it in the form of one-on-one conversations.
How much of that advice could be generalised? Or documented in some sort of lead magnet or blog posting that could have enormous value for thousands of people instead of just one?
Taking the time to extract some of these nuggets in the form of reusable content is a great way of establishing trust and engagement while solving very real problems for potential customers in a scalable way.