From a very early age, I’ve been entrenched in music.  As a young child, my parents took me to watch dress rehearsals of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  By preschool, I could name every instrument in an orchestra.  In elementary school, I began learning three instruments.  By college, I was a music major and playing in a symphony.  So where am I today?  Why, I’m a content marketer.  Makes perfect sense, eh?  Actually, yes, it does.  You see, musicians are natural story tellers.  We play beyond the written note to communicate the passion of the composer and the story behind the work—and to move an audience emotionally.  A truly great performance is memorable for the audience and hugely rewarding for the creators.  Likewise, a great content marketing campaign can be very profitable for all involved.  Here are three key themes to ensuring your content marketing generates customers who sing your praises.

Content marketing is more than a note on a page

As “conductor” of Energy Central’s content marketing, I am often asked by our customers what constitutes “content marketing,” and how much of it do I need?  These questions are asked in the context of the old media “pay-to-play” model; perhaps you’re familiar with it: Spend xx dollars in advertising and the editor will write about you for free.

Is this content marketing?

Technically, yes, an article is a component of content marketing, but there’s far more to it than that.  I’m sure you know from other articles written on the subject that content marketing is a journey; it takes time to establish your thought leadership and develop customer relationships.   While receiving editorial coverage can heighten your brand awareness and industry positioning through a perceived endorsement (although I think your audience is smarter than that and can see through insincere content), if all you are doing is getting an article sporadically written about you, your content marketing strategy falls short and the long-term benefits of content marketing will not be achieved.

Let me give you an analogy:

a single piece of content is like an eighth note- it goes away quickSuppose you are asked to create music.  You write a note, a single note. But, you hire the best musician to perform it, and it’s played beautifully.  Is that music?  Technically, yes, I suppose you could say that it is.  And people might talk about your note for a brief period, but when the sound dissipates, your note does also.

Then, someone else comes along and creates a string of notes.  They compose a brilliant mix of notes (content types) to create rhythm and phrasing (topic/theme joining the content types).

effective content marketing is like a musical phrase

effective content marketing establishes a memorable theme

In short- they’ve created a melody, a theme that is remembered by their target audience.  And, over the course of time, their target audience begins to sing their praises.

Which of these two bits of “music” better achieved their objectives?

Effective content marketing is well orchestrated

To deliver a truly great content marketing performance, you must be purposeful in your preparations: Topics are thought out and in tune with your audience.  Content releases are planned and scheduled.  Resources to produce and place content are secured.  Frequency is consistent.  Metrics are monitored and adjustments are made along the way.  Great content marketing doesn’t just happen by chance.   If you are disciplined in your preparations, you are more apt to have a rewarding result.

Create variations on a theme

There are many content types you may choose to incorporate into your content marketing strategy.  Assets such as articles or blogs are relatively easy and inexpensive to do.  Then, there are more complex content types, like a conference, webinar or case study, which require considerably more time and expense to put together.  Look for opportunities to create “variations on a theme”—to transform your subject matter into a new content asset that can be distributed through different channels to maximize your content and audience reach.  For example, a webinar recording can be transcribed and turned into a white paper, and a case study or key findings from a research paper can be turned into a webinar. Some articles naturally lend themselves to infographics.  Think expansion.  Think past that single note. And, over time, when your customers need answers about your topic, they’ll think of you as a thought leader on the subject.

You can be a content marketing rock star.  Your keys to success: Be in tune with your audience, be consistent, and be purposeful.  Then it’s only a matter of time before others begin singing your brand’s praises.

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