In theory, content marketing is the perfect form of promotion. It’s affordable, effective, entertaining, and educational. There’s just one problem.
It takes a lot of effort.
Content marketing, as John Buscall once said, is a commitment, not a campaign. Joe Pulizzi, a seasoned content evangelist with the Content Marketing Institute, said a similar thing last week during his address at mesh13. According to Pulizzi, content marketing never stops — the minute you stop telling your story is the minute your customers stop listening.
With that being said, content marketers and brands struggle when it comes to creating engaging content for their customers and followers. Back in the day, brands and marketers could get away with publishing empty articles and uninspired blogs; all that mattered was pushing something, anything into the Google engine. But that was then. Search engines have gotten smarter and so have the people that use them.
Now, in order to succeed with content marketing, you need to get serious about the type of content that you’re producing. Or as Joe would say, you need to start creating content that follows a content mission statement.
How Joe Pulizzi creates a content mission statement
Creating a content mission statement will help you to not only stay focused and motivated when it comes to your marketing plan, but it will also help you clearly define your content why — the reason that you’re producing the content in the first place. A solid mission will make it easier for you to produce content that does its job: generate leads, engage readers, builds brand sentiment, and convert customers.
So, what’s your why?
According to Joe, you can’t answer the why until you can recognize the who. The who, of course, is your target audience. In order to create content that will resonant with your customers, you need to know who they are and what their pain points consist of before you can create and deliver content that is truly useful to them.
Take your time understanding your who. If your company markets to multiple demographics and target audiences, make note of each one. Content that appeals to one group won’t necessarily attract the interests of another, so don’t make generalizations. This research period may result in the discovery of multiple whys and multiple content missions, which is perfectly acceptable. The better you understand your who the easier it will be to create content that speaks to them.
Once you’ve established your who it’s time to established your what. In other words, what do you want these target customers to do once they’ve consumed your content? If you don’t have an end goal established, you’ll never be able to track whether or not your content has been successful.
An important note: Generating shares, likes, and retweets should not be considered primary goals. While these user indicators help to build your brand’s reputation and can help generator sales, their value is hard to discern. This is why Joe recommends building your goal around the number of converted leads and the total cost per lead — this is where your true value lies. Secondary indicators should include things like blog subscribers, email list subscribers, and lead quality.
Building out your mission statement
Now that you’re armed with your who and what, you can clearly establish your why in a succinct mission statement. Joe provided this great example from Inc.com:
“Welcome to Inc.com, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses.”
This statement clearly tells you:
- Who the target audience is: entrepreneurs and business owners
- What is being delivered and how it will benefit them: useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their business
Inc.com’s content mission statement is tight and concise, and that’s precisely why the magazine has such a dedicated online readership. This is a company that knows what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and who they’re doing it for.