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Marketers agree that long-form content should not be too promotional.
The goal is to assist the prospect or reader. Prospects will eventually see the company as an expert in solving their problems and will sign up for a demo, or contact us for a discovery phone call. This is how long-form content helps businesses grow.
Non-promotional content is not the only thing that marketing content needs to be. So, the question is: How promotional should each marketing asset be? How can companies determine the right level of promotion for their content marketing mix?
Consider these three principles when deciding how promotional marketing content should look.
- The channel
- The stage in which the asset speaks to customers
- The total mix of content in your company.
1. Adjust the level of promotion for the marketing content to the channel in which it is displayed
The Most editors will reject thought leadership bylines for the following reasons: They are too promotional. These cases are where companies or their marketing agencies create the byline. This is supposed to be an industry-neutral opinion piece that advances ideas within an industry. The editor rejects it rightly.
Why? Why? Promotory byline writers are jumping the gun.
For marketing content, the first principle is to adjust your content’s promotion level to a particular channel or to choose a channel based on its level.
- Leadership guest bylines shouldn’t be overly promotional.
- Blog posts can be promoted as much as you wish.
- You should mix self-promotion and helpfulness in your social media content.
2. With the customer journey in your mind, create marketing content
Startup founders and other newcomers to marketing often ask the following question: “Why shouldn’t all our content be focused on us? Our solutions, the exact problems that we solve and why they are so good at solving them?” Why shouldn’t marketing content be about our customers?
Fair questions. These questions don’t account for all stages of the customer journey.
If you have readers at the bottom of the funnel who know that they have a problem and are familiar with the solutions, it is appropriate to explain why you are the best choice to solve the problem. Blog posts from the bottom-of-funnel that demonstrate your effectiveness, compare your company with others, and explain your approach or features are appropriate ways to reach the “BoFu”.
What if the prospect has never heard about you? But what if you are a contextual advertising agency and the prospect doesn’t know what contextual advertising is? is? Are you looking to share your expertise in contextual advertising with someone? Or do you want first to teach them about contextual advertising and the best practices.
Once prospects are interested in your solutions, and they are fully informed, you can inform them about the differences between yours and others.
This is what it means to write with customer journey in mind.
3. Take into account your context overall
You might be thinking “OK. You may be thinking, “OK. How do I determine how much content should be sales-y and how much thought leadership that is vendor-neutral? What number of blog posts, LinkedIn posts and bylines do I need?
A mix of top-offunnel and middle-offunnel content is desirable. The first type refers to the problems that you solve. The second describes the solutions you offer and how they differ from each other. Finally, the third describes the specific (and superior!) results you have achieved in solving those problems.
Start with the bottom-of-the-funnel content if you are just starting a content programme. This is the lowest-hanging fruit, and a great opportunity to provide your sales team with content that closes and advances deals. You can then work your way up the sales funnel, ensuring that you are not only closing deals but also generating leads by introducing prospects to you who don’t know you exist and who have a problem similar to yours.
The resources you have available will determine the content mix and channels in which it is distributed. For example, blog writers that describe your solution will require less industry-specific knowledge and journalistic expertise than those who write about it. Thought leadership Writers who will create consensus-shifting arguments that are worthy of the top trade publications in your industry.
An SEO expert is necessary to maximize the blog’s value. A media relations professional is needed to make bylines work. The talent and content that you have available will determine the content you choose to prioritize.
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You can determine how promotional a content asset is by writing for specific channels and tailoring it to customers at particular stages of the customer journey.
However, no matter how marketing-oriented your message is, if readers focus on their jobs better, they will be more likely to pay attention.