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4 Content Marketing Strategies That Add Clarity and Alleviate Anxiety

Theoretically, saying “no” should be super easy. Two measly letters, one syllable, point made.

Psychologically, saying no can be super difficult. Most of us would rather take a stab at saying “Otorhinolaryngologist.” We might come out of it feeling embarrassed, but hey, we didn’t offend anyone or close the door on possibilities.

What does this have to do with content marketing strategies?

Well, marketers are no different from the general population in that we feel compelled to say “yes.”

“Should we up our blogging cadence?”

I don’t see what it could it hurt.

“What about this whole Twitch thing? Should we be experimenting with that?”

You bet — seems to be the next big thing.

“I’m thinking we should revive the white paper, too.”

Why not? They’ll zig. We’ll zig.

“Should we keep targeting the C-Suite but also try to build a groundswell of support at the user level?”

I believe you’ve just doubled our chances of success!

“And how about video?”

The stats do say people love video. Spot on, colleague! Let’s shoot.

Any of the above suggestions could realistically work wonders with the proper content planning, execution and promotion. Experimentation shouldn’t be discouraged — it’s the driving force behind so many breakthrough campaigns. But the point is, every time we say yes to a new tactic, content format, channel, audience, etc., without eliminating something else (preferably something that’s not working so hot), we reduce our odds of doing any one or two things exceptionally well.

When we try to be everything to everyone, everywhere, we inevitably circle back to the same question, time and again: How can we get those special someones to know us, like us, remember us and do business with us?

By simplifying.

Before I dive into simplified content marketing strategies, allow me to clarify a few things. No matter which route you ultimately take, the same general tenets of content marketing strategy apply. That is, you’ll want:

  • A content marketing mission statement
  • A documented strategy that remains front-and-center for all to see it
  • Audience understanding and persona development
  • Defined roles and responsibilities
  • Brand messaging guidelines
  • Proven, repeatable workflows
  • Goals, KPIs and a plan for measuring and optimizing results

These are the strategic staples, no matter how simple or complex your content marketing strategy may be.

Next, I’m not suggesting that an “integrated digital marketing mix” is bad. For pretty much all of us, it’s necessary. I’m merely suggesting that delivering a satisfying experience is far more likely if your digital marketing mix doesn’t include everything under the sun.

Think of it as putting together a 100-piece puzzle versus a 1000-piece puzzle. You achieve your goal way faster and the result is just as beautiful. And pieces are less likely to go missing. And you’re less apt to say “to hell with this,” fling the box into the air, and storm out, bawling. Or so I’m told.

Disclaimers out of the way, here are four simplified content marketing strategies that can aid your team’s focus, alleviating the stress and anxiety that comes with trying to do too much.

The Outbound-Assisted Content Marketing Strategy

Why not start with inbound? Isn’t that the most popular approach of them all? Because inbound, and the never-ending possibilities associated with it, is what got many content marketers into this mess (plus the ensuing strategies represent ways to tame your inbound marketing monster).

As you read this, hordes of inbound marketers are shifting their gaze to outbound because they don’t have a choice in the matter. Leads need to be generated. Sales need to be made. And with everyone publishing content to the web, the odds of being discovered by potential customers via search and social just aren’t what they once were. Inbound-only success is still entirely possible. It’s just harder. Particularly if you’re just getting started with content marketing.

An outbound-assisted content marketing strategy can provide relief in the form of doing away with self-imposed content creation demands.

Rather than needing to produce new blog posts day-in and day-out because you’ve committed to a publishing cadence, you can create content assets and landing pages as needed and then pay to deliver those assets to the exact people who need to see them. You still might create a boatload of content, but only when there’s a logical case for it, not because there’s nothing scheduled for Tuesday. And the inbound component isn’t totally out the window — you can still optimize many of these assets and landing pages to be found via organic search and social.

Let’s be clear, an outbound-only strategy is extremely rare, and in most cases, not recommended. But when coupled with a pared-down, more focused inbound strategy, outbound can work like a charm.

Example of an Outbound-Assisted Content Marketing Strategy

A client called upon marketing agency Clever Zebo to connect with Chief Learning Officers and top HR execs at Fortune 500 companies. The approach? An inbound tactic (webinars) assisted by an outbound tactic (social media advertising). Rather than rely solely on organic promotion and figuring out complex search algorithms to meet lead gen objectives,Clever Zebo went out and found its ideal audience for these webinars, creating personalized ads that resulted in an impressive 15% conversion rate and a bounty of qualified leads.

The “Own a Content Format” Strategy

Webinars, podcasts, email, ebooks, blog posts, interactive, video… The list of tactics at your disposal is long and getting longer. They can all work, so why not hedge your bets and try a bunch? After all, some of your audience members prefer video while others prefer to read, right?

Well, let’s say you want to add interactive and video to an already healthy mix. To do these formats well, you’re now tasked with securing a top-notch web developer and videographer, along with senior editors who can properly administer proven workflows and feedback to assure a high level of quality, every time.

If you’ve got a growing team and a budget to match, go for it. But too often these new initiatives come at the expense of quality and cohesion with the team’s existing content marketing initiatives, which still require the same attention.

Example of Owning a Content Format

With a mission of “simplifying the complex finance industry,” financial planning platform Finimize has simple in its DNA. So it’s no surprise that its strategy focuses mostly on a singular tactic: the email newsletter. With this content format, the company has amassed more than 100,000 (mostly millennial) subscribers in just over a year, many of whom now rely on Finimize to break down the day’s biggest financial news into a quick read that’s easy to understand.

Yes, Finimize still maintains a blog and performs other tactics, but the publishing cadence is weekly and the blog’s purpose is mostly for showcasing company culture and platform updates. The daily newsletter is where Finimize’s bread gets buttered.

The “Own a Channel” Strategy

You could make the same argument for channels as you would content formats. Your audience hangs out on several channels. Why not hedge your bets by focusing on all relevant channels? And the same concern comes to the forefront: If you’re active in every channel, trying to accomplish the same goals in each, are you diminishing your chances of taking full advantage of that one channel where you’re best positioned to do big things?

In which channel are you most likely to reach the lion’s share of your audience in a context they’re comfortable with? In which channel have you already established a solid presence? Which channel does your team understand and use? Which channel provides the tools and insights you need to get the job done? Ask these questions to guide your prioritization efforts.

Again, this isn’t to say that you need to (or should) ditch your other channels. For example, you might continue to maintain a Twitter presence, but your new channel goal might be to get Twitter users to visit and subscribe to your YouTube channel because that’s where your most effective content lives.

Example of Owning a Channel

Global financial services provider HSBC uses several social channels to reach its audience, but LinkedIn is the clear leader in the clubhouse. With nearly 1.3 million followers on the platform, HSBC leans hardest on LinkedIn when it comes to engaging its key business audiences with thought leadership content.

The match makes sense considering HSBC’s target audience consists almost entirely of global finance professionals. It’s also worth noting that HSBC has run paid campaigns designed to grow its followership on the platform.

The “Own an Audience Segment” Strategy

Recall the fictitious strategy suggestion at the top of the post: “Should we keep targeting the C-Suite but also try to build a groundswell of support at the user level?”

Suppose you go forward with this strategy. Could it work? Certainly. But if you’re already having trouble digging in and understanding how to motivate your various C-suite stakeholders, what’s to say that adding another target audience to the mix will help?

That means more research to create additional audience personae. Research completed, now each new persona will need its own tailored content and probably a dedicated nurture stream. That’s more one-off content to create, more content to maintain and more funnels to track and optimize. In the video below, buyer persona expert Adele Revella explains marketers’ natural tendency to target too many audiences, concluding that most companies need half the personae they think they do.

By narrowing our audience and prioritizing a specific buyer persona, we are more likely to intimately understand, reach, speak the language of, and inspire that audience segment to act.

Examples of Owning an Audience Segment

I’m including two examples here because this can be quite different for B2B and B2C brands. For many B2C brands, the audience segment defines itself based on the product. Toy manufacturers target children. Reverse mortgage providers target the elderly. You get the gist. Yet some B2C brands dive headlong into an audience segment and flat-out own it.

DivvyHQ client Red Bull has built a content empire, with formats ranging from big events to blog posts and everything in between. Sounds complex, but where it gets simple is that it’s all catered to the same audience segment: the youthful thrill seeker. Red Bull knows this audience better than anyone. That knowledge has led millions of adventure-thirsty people to associate their iconic slim can with a fascinating lifestyle.

Owning an audience segment is a bit trickier for B2B companies because the typical B2B purchasing decision involves nearly seven stakeholders. Since they all hold sway, it’s only natural to want to reach and influence every stakeholder. Some companies consistently reach several stakeholders (many through account-based marketing) but it’s a tall order.

A simplified approach involves singling out a specific, pivotal stakeholder and knocking their socks off. This doesn’t mean you give up on reaching the other stakeholders. Quite the opposite. The goal is still to reach the buying committee — it’s just that now you’re creating a sponsor who is motivated to share your story. Because you intimately know your sponsor’s role and all that comes with it, you are better equipped to show this person how to advance your agenda within their organization, within the construct of their role.

For example, it’s common for multiple stakeholders to get involved with funding. But for venture capital firm First Round Capital, the content focus is entirely on startup founders. Content-wise, no one speaks to this audience more clearly. The success of their blog and newsletter, The Review, is a reflection of that focus on a singular audience segment.

Are any of these simplified content marketing strategies right for you? Well, if you and your team feel like you’ve been trying to do too much, and you’re driving yourself bananas without gaining traction, it might be high time to simplify.

As for simplifying your content planning and workflow, that’s our focus. Say “yes” to simplification. Take DivvyHQ for a spin and see for yourself why it’s the easiest-to-use content marketing calendar for busy content marketing teams.

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