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This article originally appeared on B2B Marketing Insider and will be my first post on the new SCN. Since it talks about how to create great content, I thought it would be relevant here. I hope you find some useful tips...

Does your content bore your audience to death? You may be surprised  if you asked them, or tracked the amount of engagement your content receives or looked at how often your audience shares your content with their friends and followers

Common mistakes include talking too much about your products, promoting your company before you’ve allowed them to get to know you at all, or even “creative storytelling” that is an obvious or insidious attempt at getting the reader to enter into a sales conversation before they are ready.

Good content educates, entertains or even amazes your audience because it starts with a focus on them, not you. And while Content Marketing may be the latest buzzword in marketing, it has been around “since cave paintings.” This is according to Content Marketing Institute founder and author Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe).

In Joe’s presentation “Good To Great Content Marketing” delivered at the Online Marketing Summit earlier this year, he presented 6 ideas to help you deliver content that educates, entertains or even amazes your target audience.

Although I was unable to attend OMS, I will provide an overview of the presentation so that we can all benefit from the wisdom and advice…

Marketers as Publishers - The Case for Content Marketing

You’ve heard this argument before: marketers are flooding the airwaves with more promotional messages than buyers can consume. As they increasingly tune out, outbound marketing is becoming increasingly ineffective.

In order to get new customers, marketers need to deliver relevant and valuable content to our audiences. We need a content strategy to understand what content our audiences want, at each stage of the buying cycle, and in all the places where they look for it.

Or to put it more simply, marketers need to become like publishers.

In his book Get Content, Get Customers, Joe talks about how effective content marketing can help you turn prospects into buyers. He points out that the barriers to entry are low and so the smallest companies (or individual “employee-brands”) can deliver valuable content to buyers on an almost level playing field with big brands or traditional media.

Some of the trends supporting this movement include the democratization of information as we now use social media and our connections to filter our news. This along with the journalistic talent now available as traditional media sees ad revenues decline and the low cost of setting up a website, adding an RSS feed and delivering valuable content – all make it easy for any one person or any business to deliver news.

The Content Marketing Challenge

According to research from CMI and @MarketingProfs, 90% of companies use content marketing. Or as I said in this recent article on the CMI website, B2B Marketers “have always done content marketing.” The problem is that most of it ranges from not very good to downright awful, for the following key reasons:

  • The biggest mistake in content marketing is that we create content that is all about us and is not focused on the audience
  • A focus on completion of the activity (such as “get a whitepaper”) instead of content that produces results (in the form of views, shares, comments, conversions)
  • We distribute content only where we think customers go searching instead of using research to tell us where they go
  • We label our audience incorrectly using old notions of “targets” that look like an email list purchase filter instead of using research to identify new buyer personas

Focus on Dynamic ContentAccording to the research, Joe identified the top content marketing types (in order) as:

  • Articles
  • Social media (other than blogs)
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters
  • Case Studies
  • Events
  • Videos
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars

And yet, if you look at the budget spent on the activities above, most of your marketing spend is likely on the least popular types of content. How many businesses have a news room? Or have hired editors, journalists or a “chief-blogger”?

For the majority of us, our spend is upside-down. We focus the majority of our budget on those activities that educate, entertain or amaze the fewest number of our potential customers. (Yes maybe they convert at higher rates, but you can quickly hit the point of diminishing return.) There simply aren’t enough prospects ready to buy right now to support our growing businesses.

The trend in effective content marketing is towards smaller, more dynamic, more mobile-friendly content that focuses on the audience. And according to Joe, we simply don’t have enough of the right kind of content. And we haven’t allocated enough budget to producing it.

6 Steps to Effective Content Marketing

Joe outlined 6 things that differentiate the good from the truly great content:

  1. Having a focused content mission and platform or destination
  2. Opening up new content and media channels
  3. Having a chief: chief storyteller, chief blogger, editor-in-chief or chief content officer
  4. Leveraging employees
  5. Removing the Brand from the story
  6. Focuses on building a community

The presentation is available below including lots of great examples of the 6 steps above…