If you’ve read any of our previous blogs, or follow marketing news, you’ll already know that content marketing is flavour of the month.
There’s a good reason for its success – it’s been proven to work.
With new research showing that 84% of B2B buying decisions now come from a referral, it’s more important than ever to show that you’re giving your contacts real value – not just a stream of sales-led spiel.
By providing your clients, customers and prospects with informative, relevant material, you keep in their sights for all the right reasons.
And with financial services firms increasingly realising that compliance requirements don’t have to be a barrier to this approach, it’s growing in popularity among regulated marketers.
Decide where to start
Whatever you write, it needs to be engaging. You need to identify and talk about the topics your audience is interested in. Rigorous research is your friend here.
- Work out your objectives. This is a stage all too many businesses miss – because they’re keen to get started and because this approach ‘feels’ like the right thing to do. Make sure this is the best strategy for your firm. If so, set some objectives. Make them tangible and easy to measure.
- Identify your target audience – by job title, company type, business size – whatever the relevant criteria are for your market.
- Find out where they live (in a virtual sense, of course). Which bloggers do they follow; which newsfeeds do they subscribe to; which Twitter accounts do they interact with. You need to be where they are.
- See what they’re talking about. Research the topics covered by the sites and channels they follow.
Then build your plan
This is where the ‘methodology’ really comes in. Throwing unplanned material out there won’t bring you the rewards you’re hoping for.
You need to create a balance of topics and of media. Mix it up and you’ll have a more engaging strategy. Achieve this by:
- Doing an audit of your current materials. Chances are, even without ‘doing content marketing’ – you have content and you’re using it to market. See what you already have and, using your research, identify gaps you need to fill.
- Building a plan. Make a list of broad topics to cover, then break those down into bite-size (blog-size) chunks. Less can be more – focus on a specific topic rather than trying to cover too much in a single blog or whitepaper.
- Creating a content calendar. Having a structure means you don’t forget to post regularly on important topics. And when newsy ideas come along, of course you can slot them in – there has to be some room for spontaneity.
- Covering all topics enough – and none too much. Three blogs on social media in a month, followed by none for six, is bad planning. Spread out your key topics throughout the year – this is where your calendar will really help.
- Mixing it up. Different length blogs; whitepapers; tip sheets and e-books – use a combination of all of these to keep your readers interested.
- Remembering your keywords, which should include terms your audience uses, as identified from your research. Use them in moderation but effectively.
- Publishing regularly and predictably. If you promise a weekly blog, that’s what people will expect. Make sure you can deliver on your plans. Better to post regularly and less often than start with a flurry of activity and realise you can’t maintain it.
- Getting your distribution right – focus on the channels and websites you’ve identified above.
For more advice on creating compelling material to share, read our tips on how to maximise engagement with your content marketing.
Don't forget compliance
For regulated businesses, things are even more complex. You need to meet the Financial Conduct Authority’s rules – as well as writing material that’s relevant, engaging and all the things we’ve talked about.
Whoever’s doing your writing – the Marketing team, your Sales colleagues or other members of the business – it needs Compliance approval before it can be shared.
This can slow down the process and delay you getting timely material to market. Writing ‘compliance-ready’ copy that gets approval first-time can dramatically speed things up. Read our tips on how to write content that Compliance can approve for more.
Hopefully this has given you a good grounding on content marketing methodology. Some solid research, a structured plan, a calendar of topics and some measurable targets – plus a compliant approach – will put you on the right path.
If you plan to share your content via social media, you will want to read our ‘10 best practices for compliant social media’, which includes insights into the FCA’s stance on risk warnings, hashtags, retweeting and more. It’s free, and you can download a copy here.