Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing

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class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-21758″ src=”http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Building-Influence-with-Content.jpg&#8221; alt=”” width=”600″ height=”350″ srcset=”http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Building-Influence-with-Content.jpg 600w, http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Building-Influence-with-Content-300×175.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px” />

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Stories like Indiana Jones, The Goonies and Sherlock Holmes have all taught us a very important (and sometimes frustrating) life lesson: If you want to find the artifact/treasure/bad guy, you have to crack the code!

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Even with all of the information available to us as marketers today, there is still so much mystery surrounding the “perfect” combination for content marketing success. Additionally, thousands of variables and quickly evolving customer habits add complexity to content planning and execution.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I can help you crack the code to building influence with content marketing! How? There are three essential steps to building influence with content and this post contains a “map” of each element. While the exact code might be slightly different from one company to the next, these steps can help you identify the key elements you need to deploy a successful and impactful content program.

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style=”font-weight: 400;”>Identify Audience Needs

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>The sheer number of options available today have enabled consumers to become much more selective about which brands they interact with online. There is another cause and effect to this influx of options: consumers are overwhelmed.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>To truly capture and keep the attention of current or potential customers, brands must identify who their customers are, what they care about and who influences them. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to attract and engage different members of your audience. Preferences will vary on everything from content types to topics and goals.

Who Are Your Best Customers?

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>To better reach these different audience members, focus on identifying key traits of your current ideal customers. Once you’ve uncovered that information, you can develop customer profiles or personas which can serve as a guide for your content strategy.

3 Ways to Uncover What Customers Care About

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Access to your customers will vary greatly based on your industry and offerings. Three simple ways to uncover customer needs include:

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Asking Customers Directly:<span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”> surveys, social polls, customer calls

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Review Analytics: <span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>content types, key phrases

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Keyword Research:<span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”> uncover top questions customers are asking online

Circle of Influence

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>The last piece to identifying audience needs is developing an understanding of who influences them. For example, if your target profile is a Director of Marketing, you will want to research the different types of people that influence their decisions. Below is an example of how this might look:

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class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-21757″ src=”http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Circle-of-Influence.png&#8221; alt=”” width=”500″ height=”180″ srcset=”http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Circle-of-Influence.png 500w, http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Circle-of-Influence-300×108.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px” />

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Including influencers in your content provides a great opportunity to maximize exposure and build credibility. The information that you uncover about who influences your audience can be used to determine which influencers will have the most impact on your audience.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Develop Content Based on Identified Needs

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Once you’ve developed customer profiles, you can begin planning the details of your content creation. For each profile, it’s important to create content that meets the needs of every stage in the buying cycle. By following an attract, engage, convert model, you can ensure that you have content for that customer at every stage.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>When building a model to optimize across the sales cycle be sure to include:

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>The channel that the content will publish on.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>What keywords/phrases will be incorporated into the content.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Which devices the content should be optimized for.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Content topics that map to the different stages.

Test Different Content Types

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Different segments of your audience will have specific preferences on the types of content that they want to engage with. Even with little resources and budget, it’s important to test different content types to appeal to your audience.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>TopRank Marketing has published a list of <a

href=”http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/06/content-marketing-definition-tactics/”><span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>30 different content marketing tactics<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”> that includes definitions, pros/cons as well as some great examples from other brands to get you started.

Create A Content Brief

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Every larger piece of content (eBooks, white papers, research reports) should include a project brief. A detailed brief will serve as a guide for the project and help ensure that your team stays aligned with the objective of the content.<br

/>

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”><br

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<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Your brief should include things like:

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Identifying who the content is for.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Detailing the problem that this content solves for the reader.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>A clear directive of what the reader should do next.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Goals and details of how success will be measured.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Maximize Content Impact

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>At the end of the day, we need to be intensely focused on developing, publishing and promoting content that has a maximum impact on our audience and on our marketing goals. The difference between good and great content can be summarized by a few different characteristics.

Incorporate Storytelling Into Content

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Stories help create a connection between the content and the reader. While it may take some extra effort, adding a storytelling element to your content has many benefits including:

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Creating a shared experience.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Helping readers develop an emotional connection to the message.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Differentiating you from your competitors.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Assigning meaning to the content.

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Visual content & creative storytelling create an emotional connection with buyers. @leeodden<br

/><a

href=’https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Visual%20content%20%26%20creative%20storytelling%20create%20an%20emotional%20connection%20with%20buyers.%20%40leeodden&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21754&#8242; target=’_blank’ class=’bctt-ctt-btn’>Click To Tweet<br

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<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Additionally, a great story is very sharable which can help increase the exposure of your content. Sometimes the simple addition of a widely recognized metaphor can be just the extra boost that your content needs to make it more interesting and enticing for your audience.

<img

class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-21756″ src=”http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Content-Marketing-Rescue.png&#8221; alt=”” width=”500″ height=”271″ srcset=”http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Content-Marketing-Rescue.png 500w, http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Content-Marketing-Rescue-300×163.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px” />

Content Should Be Visual

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Compelling visuals alongside great storytelling makes for a killer content combination! Because of the amount of information available, consumers eyes can quickly begin to glaze over when they’re faced with a wall of endless content.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”><br

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<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Be sure to include creative visuals that compliment different types of content. Below is an example of a blog post that included “horror stories” from top content experts. Based on the experiences that they shared, our team was able to develop a series of horror movie “posters” to compliment the content.

<img

class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-21755″ src=”http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Content-Marketing-Horror-Stories-Blog.png&#8221; alt=”” width=”500″ height=”262″ srcset=”http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Content-Marketing-Horror-Stories-Blog.png 500w, http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Content-Marketing-Horror-Stories-Blog-300×157.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px” />

Content Amplification

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Every piece of content should have an amplification plan to maximize impact. Some best practices for content amplification include:

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Develop compelling visuals to encourage social share.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Create unique messaging for each social platform.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>Encourage employees to amplify your content.

    <li

    style=”font-weight: 400;”><span

    style=”font-weight: 400;”>If you worked with influencers, develop messages for them to share.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Take These Steps to Build Influence with Content

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>Truly cracking the code takes time, testing and iterations of your approach. However, you can use the three steps above to build a solid foundation that will speak to the needs of your audience, solve their pain points and maximize content efforts.

<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>If you’re interested in learning more about how TopRank Marketing can help you build influence with your audience through content marketing, <a

href=”http://www.toprankmarketing.com/contact/”><span

style=”font-weight: 400;”>contact us today<span

style=”font-weight: 400;”> for a consultation!

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