Corporate content marketing solutions may sound very fancy, but it is nothing more than telling customers your story and giving them the information they need, when they need it. And, hooray! In our digital age, there is no shortage of ways to tell customers your story. From videos to infographics to white papers to skywriting, there are many formats available for narrating your brand story. Regardless of the technology available, corporate content marketing is, at its heart, good storytelling (and it’s been around for a long, long time).

 

The First Content Marketer, Circa 53–54 CE

Though content marketing is a relatively new catchphrase, I’ll argue that you can see evidence of the practice as far back as St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, written somewhere between 53 and 54 of the Common Era. After all, the letters reiterated the words of Jesus, answered the Corinthians’ common questions about immorality, marriage, celibacy, etc., and included strong calls to action. (Paul asked the Corinthians for contributions to assist the poor of Jerusalem.) Inspiration, information, and calls to action. Sounds like content marketing to me.

 

If you think about how those letters became part of the New Testament canon that has been read for thousands of years by billions of people, you can begin to see just how persuasive, pervasive, and amazing content marketing can be.

 

The History of Corporate Content Marketing Solutions

There are thousands of companies that use content marketing to sell their ideas, products, and services. This infographic, from the Content Marketing Institute, shows the surprising history of content marketing.

 

Image source: Content Marketing Institute

 

Content marketing solutions garner pretty impressive results, right? The Michelin Guide was initiated in 1900 by Andre and Edouard Michelin for the 300 motorists that were in France at the time. The guide itself was printed to boost demand for cars and, in turn, their tires.

 

Today, the Michelin star rating system has become the standard by which the best restaurants around the globe are rated. Wouldn’t you like your corporate content marketing solution to gain that kind of notoriety and acclaim?

 

How To Harness The Awesome Power of Corporate Content Marketing Solutions

 

 

Use content marketing to make yourself indispensable to your audience. Use it to snag people who are searching for answers to questions your product or service can answer. Use it to differentiate yourself from your competitors. But, most importantly, and whenever possible, use content marketing to become the industry standard against which all other competitors are compared.


Next month, I will explain the mechanics of content marketing and creating a content marketing strategy.

 

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Looking for a corporate content marketing solution for your organization? Contact us. We are one of the best content marketing companies in the West.

 

Your positioning statement is an internal tool that infuses focus, direction and power into your marketing. Done well, it ensures that you are in the right place, at the right time with the right offer….for the right clients.

Consider your customer’s perspective. Before purchasing, they need to know that your solution is a great fit, solves their problem and has specific advantages over other solutions. However, as a small  business owner, writing a positioning statement can be intimidating. It doesn’t need to be.

Start with a template

There are a number of templates out there to help you get started. I’ve found that this template provides the best fit for most small businesses.

[Point of differentiation] makes [business/product name] the best [point of reference/category] solution for [ideal clients] [with this problem.]

The positioning statement for my business is:

A focus on strategy and measuring results makes Inciting Marketing Solutions the best digital marketing consultancy for Denver area small businesses struggling to develop an effective digital marketing system.

This template may not be right for your business, so consider other options. Greg Head of Infusionsoft does an excellent presentation on positioning statements in a video called The 5 Keys of Small Business Marketing Strategy. Look under the Attract menu in the membership area of this website.

Key components of your positioning statement:

Your positioning statement should contain all of the following elements, but don’t stop there. Once you write the statement, gather and write out the details of each of the following areas.

  1. An ideal client
  2. Your solution
  3. Benefits of your solution
  4. Your competition
  5. Why you are better

Ideal clients

As you write your positioning statement, keep both your best and worst clients in mind. If you understand your best clients, you know where to meet great prospects. They might be out networking or on Facebook, but if you don’t understand them, you won’t be in the right place. A large part of marketing success is making the right offer to the right people. This all starts with understanding your ideal client.

Good marketing creates lots of enticing (for the right people) paths to your door. Great marketing identifies prospects that are a poor fit and pushes them away. It really comes down to ensuring that your initial offers will be a good fit for the right person, but a horrible fit for the people you don’t want to work with.

Your solution

Your solution should be designed as the best possible solution for your ideal clients. As you improve your service or product, you should always focus very carefully on making your service or product a better fit for the right people. Be sure that your positioning statement communicates the benefits of your solution.

Unique benefits

Benefits boil down to solving a problem. People don’t want a plumber, they want faucets that don’t leak at night. Few people want to file their taxes, while many people want to avoid problems with the IRS. You need to understand the problem that your product or service solves. You can take this one step further by exploring the emotions that prospects feel when facing this problem and after having this problem solved. If you want to learn more about benefits and features, click here.

Research your competition 

Understanding your competition is key to your success. Look at their website and social media messaging. Who are they targeting? How is this different than what you are doing? Firepole Marketing has an excellent guide on competitive research. You might start there. Ensure that your strengths and competition’s weaknesses are reflected in your positioning statement.

Why you are better

You don’t have to be the best in the world at everything. You just have to be the best for your slice of the market. An ideal solution for very specific customers makes powerful marketing easy.

Note: Avoid focusing on all of the great features you have built into your products or services. You are excited by the features. Your customers are excited by their problem disappearing.

Now put it all together

Take the time to put the components together right. Soon, you will begin to notice a difference in your marketing efforts. Decisions around marketing spend, efforts and communication will become simple. You will know how to make the right offer to the right person, in the right place, and with some luck, at the right time.

In an ideal world, your content calendar should cover all of 2015. You might want to make adjustments, but get the strategy for the year planned out now.

Your content plan should involve more than just scheduling a blog post once a week for the next year.

When making a content calendar, consider the following:

  • What are your keyword/phrase targets for 2015?
  • Where are the gaps in the resource section of your website?
  • What older content needs to be updated or pruned?
  • Where are the gaps in content for your marketing and sales process?
  • What types of content does your audience consume?
  • How often do you want/need to publish new content?

Let’s start with keyword research.

Break the keywords down according to search intent as follows:

  • Informational – The searcher want to understand something new.
  • Evaluation oriented – The searcher wants more detailed information.
  • Purchase oriented – The searcher wants to make a purchase.

While there is no hard and fast rule, I typically target the information oriented keywords in blog posts and the resource section of my website. I aim for the evaluation oriented keywords and phrases with the contents on my product and services pages. I try to target purchase oriented keywords on sales pages. If you haven’t already set up the site architecture to support your SEO goals, you should do so now.

Create an inventory of your resource content.

This doesn’t need to be that complex. Go through the resource pages of your site. These should contain all of your evergreen content. List all of the content in a spreadsheet including the title of the page, the month and year of publication and the URL of the post.

Go through this list carefully and determine which content is fine as it stands. Make a list of the content that needs to be pruned or updated.

Map out your Customer Decision Journey (CDJ.)

I prefer two systems to map and evaluate the path your customer takes through your business.

I see advantages for both, but I think John Jantsch’s version is better for small businesses for a few reasons. First, the second model assumes that you already know the brand. As a result, there is not a focus on building awareness. Second, we know that purchases are made for emotional reasons. The logic is simply a way that we rationalize the purchase to ourselves. Yet in the second model, emotion is left out until after the purchase. That said, pick the model that best fits how your customers make decisions.

Now, start a new spreadsheet. On the top enter the stages of your preferred model. Below each stage list out two things: Customer Journey Spreadsheet how the content is used/presented and the actual content.

  • Are there gaps in the content?
  • How much of your content is oriented on inbound lead generation as compared to new customer engagement?
  • Do you need more nurturing campaigns?

Make a list of the content that you need over the course of the next year.

What type of content does your audience consume?

Look over your analytics for the past year. What content was the most popular? Now find some of your audience members on social media. What type of content do they link out to? Are they reading blog posts or watching YouTube.

How do you want to track your content?

Some people prefer a Google Calendar, while others use a spreadsheet. There are even software packages to help you with content calendars. I personally prefer a spreadsheet.

You will need to select what you want to track. I prefer the following:

Theme. Is there a longer story arc? Ideally your content should be broken up into longer campaigns or lead up to events. Perhaps you write a series of posts leading up to and building interest in a webinar.

Month. I like to track the content by the month. This allows me to spot and time themes around other things going on in my business.

Release date. You just gotta know.

Type of content. Are you releasing a white paper, blog post or podcast?

Topic and title. Self explanatory.

Who. Is anyone else involved? Will you interview someone? Will someone else write it?

Schedule/draft dates. This is particularly important if you have a number of content creators on staff. Who is responsible for what by when?

Need help planning your content? We’d love to help.

Features and benefits have an enormous impact on both what we buy and what we are willing to pay. Why do some people pay more for organic coffee? It’s not how the beans were grown. As they pay more, people think about living longer. Here’s the problem you face as you write marketing material. When we’re writing about our businesses, we often talk about features. We do this for two reasons. First, we spend a lot of time developing and perfecting features. Second, we’re able to translate the features to benefits in our heads. We leave the step of translating for our potential customers out. If you translate your features into benefits for your customer, you will be able to grow your business faster with less effort.

Let’s start with features.

Features are fantastic, but features just don’t sell products. What are features when it comes to coffee? Think about the caffeine strength, the type of brew, type of bean, how it is brewed & how the beans are grown. Organic is just another feature that coffee might have. Do you find yourself getting interested when you think about stronger coffee? If so – you just translated the benefit of more caffeine to feeling awake and energetic.

Understanding benefits.

Benefits are the why behind your features. They are the reason you develop features in the first place. Again, if you link the purchase to the benefits, you will make more sales more easily.

If you can’t identify the benefits, ask yourself, “What will happen if my customer uses this feature?” Let’s briefly consider the size of a truck’s payload. The benefit of a larger payload might be fewer trips when bringing supplies to a job site. This is a tangible benefit that is exciting to the right people. Let’s return to coffee for our next example. People don’t get excited about how the beans are grown until they translate that to the benefit of a longer life. Consider what SFGate.com has to say about the benefits of organic coffee:

Organic_Food_Healthy_SFGate

How do you feel about drinking regular coffee after reading that ad? Most people would probably feel a bit anxious. So you just need to pay a few more pennies a cup and you reduce your chances of getting cancer.

Let’s look at how this is positioned in modern society today. People are bombarded by negative health messages on a daily basis. Consider what you see on television on a daily basis: prescription drug deaths & lawsuits, stories about a celebrity passing away from cancer & news stories about health problems. If you drink organic coffee, you feel safer for a short while.

In this blog post excerpt, the author minimizes the costs, enhances the sense of risk we already feel and then alleviates the anxiety by highlighting the benefits of drinking organic coffee. Not a bad deal.

Here’s another excerpt of the same blog post:

Environmental_Benefits

Now this is a brilliant marketing message. So, in addition to feeling better (and lower odds of cancer), you get to make the world a better place. If you make the world a better place, you feel better. For the price of a cup of coffee, you help the environment and make life better for farm workers.

Translating features into benefits.

When you are developing marketing messaging, translating the features into benefits is key. If you do this correctly, it will broaden the audience that finds your material appealing.

Take a quick look at this ad:

Plumbing2

I see some potential mistakes in the messaging. For some people, being treated like family may not be a good thing. The author likely wanted to convey a sense of safety; however, some families are not safe. The ad would be a little stronger if the author translated the feature (how the employees will treat you) to the benefit: feeling safe and comfortable with a plumber in your home.

Again, let’s look at how the ad is positioned in the broader world. When people buy plumbing services, it typically involves paying a lot of money for something they would rather avoid thinking about. Plumbing is worse than boring; it’s a little (or very) repulsive. If you want to position yourself as a safe and trustworthy person who can solve these problems, you need to highlight these benefits.

Let’s review the features mentioned in this ad: arrives on time, polite & cleans up. How would you translate these features to benefits? Again, consider the why behind the feature. Here are a few examples based on the plumber scenario:

  • Arrives on time = you don’t sit around waiting.
  • Polite = you feel more comfortable and safe inviting them into your home.
  • Cleans up = less work for you.

Use features to support benefits.

Which is more powerful?

  • Feel safe inviting our plumbers into your home.
  • Feel safe inviting our polite plumbers into your home. (They even take their shoes off!)

Polite plumbers and taking their shoes off are both features, but they provide depth and proof that people can feel safe. As you move forward writing material for your website, consider the benefits and features of your service. Use them both to support your overall marketing message.

How do you define benefits and features? Tell me in the comments!

Do you want to get more leads or sell more, while doing less? Online marketing can help you do just that, but it doesn’t always work. Before you invest time and money in updating your website or automating your marketing, you need to have a strong online marketing plan. You can build a social media presence while you automate your marketing.

Before you do any of this, you have to develop the right messaging around the unique value your business provides. In today’s competitive world, you have to understand:

  1. What you really sell (Hint: it’s deeper than features or benefits.)
  2. Why your customers buy.
  3. How to match what you really sell with why they buy.

What do you really sell?

Marketing often looks at features and benefits. Features tell us about the product or service, while benefits are the results of the product. People buy benefits more than they buy features. For example, a parent will be more interested in an mp3 player that protects their child’s ears, while the teen will be far more interested in the image that the mp3 player projects. If you want to build a successful marketing automation program, you need to go deeper than that.

As an expert in human behavior and communication, I understand why people purchase your products or services. Understanding what you really sell is the first step to connecting with your customers and selling more with less.

Benefits are logical and we like to think that we’re logical creatures, yet research shows that most of our purchases are driven by emotions. The other night, I was at an event that promoted a local soccer team. The promoters talked about the power of soccer in the international arena. They talked about the feeling of connection in an international world. They were not selling me tickets to a soccer game, they were selling me membership in an international tribe. It worked. They sold me a sense of belonging. I woke up this morning and followed the club on Google+ and started watching the news about the World Cup more closely.

If you want to trigger these types of emotional responses in your customers, you need to understand what you really sell. It might be safety, success, a sense of belonging or mastery over their world. Understanding what you really sell will help you communicate with your customers on a deeper level.

Why do your customers buy from you?

Before you start to automate your marketing, you need to understand your ideal customer. If you don’t, your messaging won’t connect. I often start with the customers I want to fire and then compare them to my best customers. Consider your customers in a few areas:

What are the demographic differences? Look for trends in demographics between the two groups. If there are any that stand out, explore this further. Does this tell you something about how to reach your ideal customers OR how to avoid your worst customers?

Why do they purchase your products/services? Compare your worst customers to your best customers. Why did your worst customers purchase your goods or services? Does it have more to do with a need (or perceived need) than a true passion or desire? What motivated your best customers to purchase your goods or services? What about you/your product/your services draws out the best in them?

Do they need or want your products/services? While there are few true needs in the world today, it makes sense that we purchase needs over wants. But we don’t. We go for wants every time. Lots of people need to lose weight and should eat healthier. Burgers win most of the time. Most people dieting are not happy about it.

Why are they really buying? Think of the brain as having three basic parts. There is the older brain, which is focused on survival and procreation. This part of the brain pays attention to the sexy ads on TV and messaging about the world ending. There is the emotional brain, which is focused on how we’re feeling. Then there is the thinking part of your brain, which processes decisions.

We like to think we’re logical and that we reason through purchases, but the other parts of your brain often (if not always) know first. Your messaging needs to focus on each part of the brain and tie it all together.

How is your business unique?

Sales and marketing professionals often talk about a USP or a Unique Selling Proposition. The idea is that you need to differentiate yourself, your services and your company from the market in an advantageous way. Understanding how your company stands out is important and even helpful. Benefits alone are not enough to stand out in today’s competitive market. It’s certainly not enough to develop the systemic organization of messaging required for automated marketing.

Features and benefits are easy to copy. You aren’t. Look at larger companies. Apple, Amazon and Samsung offer similar phones with similar features and similar benefits. When one gets ahead the other companies catch up relatively quickly. Amazon’s phone will offer a better integration with Amazon’s services. Samsung offers an excellent integration to Gmail and other Google products. While Apple has a high performing phone and offers membership into the Apple experience. Each of these companies is positioning their products to be the best fit for their ideal customers.

You (or your staff) offer a unique benefit to your customers. The question is: what is that unique benefit? Remember: benefits are easy to replicate. Who you are and how you do business is much harder to copy. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult to pin down. Consider how you are the perfect solution to your ideal customer’s problems. What is it about your background and personality that makes you ideal? If you get stuck, ask some friends and customers for some honest and direct feedback in this area. If you are stuck, you can always contact me. I’d be happy to help you sort it out.

Successful Approach to Online Marketing

Match what you really sell and your unique personality with what your prospects really want to buy, you have a foundation to begin developing the communication you will use in automating your marketing.  Develop marketing materials that tie your strengths with what they really want. If you can connect these dots, you have a great foundation to get started with marketing automation.