At this point in 2022, you’re probably pretty familiar with the standard elements of digital content marketing and how they can help your business. You create a persona, research to identify the best topics and keywords, and then start producing and distributing content. Marketers in almost every sector have used content marketing successfully for years, including some of the biggest names in the business like Microsoft and Procter & Gamble.
This article isn’t going to go over the basic building blocks of content marketing since there are plenty of resources on the web that do a great job of that already.
Instead, we want to talk about some of the more strategic, almost philosophical components of content marketing. But unlike the way we learn philosophy today, the points included here will also have actionable steps behind them so that you can implement them into your content marketing plans immediately.
Before Content Marketing
It may seem a bit strange that the first section of a blog post on content marketing is about what to do before you actually start content marketing. But that’s because your reason for producing content is actually one of the most critical parts of your campaign. A strong purpose acts like a rising tide that lifts all aspects of your content to make them resonate better with your team.
In what’s now one of the most famous TED talks ever, Simon Sinek breaks down the popularity of Apple and its products by showing how they don’t just talk about their great phones and computers – they start with their “why,” as he explains. In Apple’s case, people don’t just want to buy well-designed computers. They also want to know why they are selling those products.
Nailing down this idea for your business is important as well. Ask yourself this question: “Of all the different ways to earn income, why did I choose this particular way?” It could be something in your family background, or an outstanding negative or positive experience you’ve had at some point in your life.
Continuing the above example: Apple’s “why” as defined by Sinek is to “challenge the status quo” and “think differently,” the latter of which was adapted from a famous Apple ad campaign in the ‘90s. You can probably think of all the ways Apple let this idea drive both its products and marketing, from its famous monochromatic iPod television commercials to its brightly-colored iMac computers of the late ‘90s.
Take some time connecting with your why and distilling it into an idea that’s relevant to your market. This is also a great way to develop your company’s mission statement.When you take a personal “why” and translate it into an approach to selling a product or service, it forms a nice foundation for your mission statement. Click To Tweet
The final point I’ll make here: this can’t be a one-time process where you spend a few hours brainstorming, get a nice mission statement written up, slap it on your website, then never think about it again. You have to actually practice what you preach and make sure that these ideas come through in every part of your business operations.
Embracing your company’s content mission
But how exactly does your philosophy come through in the business? And what does all of this have to do with content?
The first idea you have to unlearn is thinking that content marketing = blog posts. Too many companies have their content marketing siloed within the sales and marketing departments, believing that it’s merely a cost on the balance sheet.
Robert Rose, the Chief Strategy Officer at the Content Marketing Institute, has an excellent metaphor for this concept. He compares a siloed, segmented approach to a “content vending machine.” It’s an apt description for the way so many content marketers operate today: insert some money, punch in your order with a limited number of preset buttons, and wait for the machine to spit out the neatly packaged content you ordered. And just like siloed content departments, the entire process is concealed within the machine.
Instead, a better approach is to draw from every department to create content that’s relevant and helpful to your audience. Think about areas like:
- Customer service. Almost every customer service department is filled with stories about how users have overcome obstacles, fulfilled business objectives, or in some other way prospered as a result of your company’s services. It simply takes a good eye for a narrative to unearth them from account data and members of your team.
- Sales. There’s an obvious connection between sales and content marketing when it comes to discussions about the product or service, but think about ways you can focus specifically on the interaction between a future customer and your sales team. This often makes for a valuable case study or even a testimonial, depending on the ultimate result of the client
- Internal operations. Even the way your teams are managed and run together can be influenced by your content strategy. For example, if your offering is a software service that helps healthcare companies streamline their appointment-making process, you’d be wise to employ the same principles when scheduling appointments internally. This helps your team get steeped in the concepts the company is offering, which in turn allows them to better serve as advocates of your mission.
Even the way you interview and onboard new candidates should share characteristics with your content marketing strategy. With all that said, it’s important not to be too forceful when encouraging your team to adhere to a company’s philosophy. There is a fine line between promoting a specific type of culture and creating an unhealthy situation that rejects diversity. Ideally, you want to hire people who are accepting of what you stand for as a business – or at least those who would be, if they had a better understanding.
It’s a noble pursuit to create a successful content marketing strategy. All the conventional elements you hear about related to this approach are necessary: coming up with thorough, detailed buyer personas, creating topics that are relevant to your desired audience, and promoting your content in the right places.
Unfortunately, too many of the SaaS businesses we come across stop their efforts after checking the conventional content marketing boxes. This frequently leads to a frustrated content team that feels like they are churning out commoditized pieces, a disappointing marketing department that doesn’t get the results they expected, and clients who don’t learn anything of value from prospective vendors.
To rectify this situation, we recommend taking a step back and thinking about your strategy more broadly. In fact, during this process, you’ll likely need to reassess your entire reason for being in business – both on a personal and organizational level. And while the all-encompassing nature of SaaS means we can’t go into specifics of what your business’ overarching purpose should be – some want to make life easier for healthcare workers, others want to empower local small businesses – if you take some time to really think about it, make it into a mission that guides your company, and let that idea permeate through all of your content, you’ll be well on the way to success in today’s competitive world of content marketing.