02 Jul Creating and Managing an Effective Content Marketing Program
Festivals and consumer events are a terrific way to introduce new customers to your company. The opportunity to touch and try your product can be just what the maker needs to finalize the decision to buy. But how can you maintain this new relationship when the festival is over?
Of course, you’ll collect email addresses at the event. But in this era of information overload, you and your customers are bombarded with marketing messaging nearly every minute of every day. Much of our time on email, social media, or web browsing is spent filtering, consuming, and discarding marketing messages of one kind or another. How can your business stand out from the crowd? How do you ensure that your messages aren’t drowned out by the noise?
Content marketing focuses on delivering messages customers want to hear to those who want to hear them. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
This differs from traditional marketing techniques. Instead of a barrage of scattershot messages pitching your products or services, you are providing information your prospects and customers find useful and relevant. With effective content marketing, your customers will anticipate and welcome your messages.
How do you create and manage an effective content marketing program? In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the steps involved.
Who is your customer?
An essential element of content marketing is a clearly defined audience. If you don’t have a clear idea of who your customer is, how can you anticipate what content will be considered valuable to them? Spend some time developing a detailed description of your target audience.
Resist the temptation to define your potential customer too broadly. For example: “anyone between the ages of 18 and 65” is too broad a group to address effectively. Consider breaking that down into more specific profiles. “Active mothers under 40 who enjoy crafting with their kids and watching HGTV” is much more useful for visualizing your customer.
Create Compelling Content
Decide what form(s) you want your content to take. Blog posts? Video tutorials? Inspirational images? Free patterns and how-tos?
Whatever form you choose, be sure your content reflects your brand and is optimized for SEO.
Quality counts! Every piece of content may be a potential customer’s first introduction to you and your company. If you feel the need to apologize for the quality of a piece of content (poor photography, questionable taste), don’t use it.
Distribute your Content Through Social Channels
What social media channels are most appropriate for the promotion and distribution of your content? Where is your target audience likely to be found?
Each social media platform requires a different strategy for success. Be sure to maximize your efforts by following best practices for Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Building your Tribe with Newsletters
When consumers opt-in to your email list, they have specifically asked for more of what you offer. What could be better than that? The people on your email list are your richest source of potential sales.
Once customers have joined your list, reward their trust by producing a newsletter worth reading. Consider segmenting your list so you can deliver content specifically targeted to that customer’s interests.
Has enrollment in your list stagnated? Consider using a lead generator to introduce interested consumers to your company.
Continue the conversation beyond regular newsletters. Consider using an autoresponder to generate an email (or series of emails) in response to specific customer behaviors.
Putting the Plan into Action
Your content marketing plan will not be effective if it isn’t implemented consistently over time. That means your plan must include manageable steps and a workable timeline.
Many content marketing efforts start with a bang, then quickly fizzle as the daily demands of running a business push your marketing plan to the side. Don’t let this happen to you! Be realistic about how much time you and your staff can devote to content creation and distribution. Set aside time on your calendar to develop and update content. If you don’t have the skills in-house to create content you’re proud of, outsource this work to a trusted marketing agency or freelancer. Use scheduling tools to automate social media, blog posts, and emails.
Once the initial plan is in place, you can manage a good content marketing program in as little as 30 minutes a day by breaking the execution into specific tasks. Consistency is key: when your calendar says you’re going to spend 30 minutes every Wednesday morning scheduling social media posts for the next week, you’re more likely to get it done.
When resources are limited (and when are they not?), aim for quality content over quantity. Remember, you want your customers to anticipate and welcome your messages. A helpful, informative email newsletter once a week will generate more revenue than daily social media posts with little real content.
How will you know if your content marketing plan is effective? Identify some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help you quantify the impact of your efforts. Is your audience growing (more followers, more views)? Is engagement growing (more likes, shares, comments)? Did content which featured a specific product result in increased sales of that product? What paths are customers taking to your website? Remember to track these numbers over time. On any given day, you’re just seeing a snapshot – long-term trends are a better reflection of what’s working and what’s not.
In addition to overall impact, monitor the performance of specific pieces of content. Which blog posts or videos are viewed most? Which website pages get the most visitors? This will tell you what your audience finds most relevant.
Of course, the best KPI is revenue. All the Facebook likes and Instagram hearts in the world mean little if no one buys your product or service. When followers back up those clicks with actual purchases, you’ll know your content marketing has hit the spot.
Stitchcraft Marketing can help you jump start your content marketing plan. Our 5-module, self-directed online course is designed especially for crafty businesses. Each of the 20 lessons will lead you through a phase of planning and executing your content marketing program. You’ll get exercises and checklists as well as advice on technology tools to help you define your strategy. Our private Facebook group only for participants will provide support from other members as well as consulting and feedback from the Stitchcraft Team. You’ll get sample timelines designed to help busy people keep their plans on track. And all of this material has been developed and proven by successful owners of craft businesses.
The course officially launched June 10, 2018, and registration is closed.
This page was first published July 2, 2018 and last updated on July 13, 2022.