Content marketing is critical for most brands, but it doesn’t have to be hard.
Content marketing is a key focus on most marketing plans today, but I believe it has an even stronger fit within our agricultural space. We have always been a tight industry that revolves around relationships. We want to know the people we are doing business with, we want to understand them so we can build long-term relationships. Farmers need to trust the brands they choose to play a role on their operation. They need to know that these brands deliver solutions to their challenges and can trust them to do the right thing.
It seems that content marketing is everywhere in our lives, but much of it is awful. And I have a theory as to why. A recent survey of CMOs by The Content Marketing Institute showed that 90 percent of companies are creating and deploying content, but only 46 percent of companies actually have a documented content strategy. So that means that 44 percent of companies are just winging it and are guilty of generating random acts of content. But the solution is actually quite simple, if we allow it to be.
Step 1: Document a content strategy.
I had a mentor that used to remind me that the difference between a wish and an objective is taking the two minutes to write it down. This doesn’t need to be overly complex. Start small and simple, and build as you go forward. Any solid content marketing plan has a few basic pieces of information that will bring clarity and consistency to all that you do. If you can express your content strategy on one page, it has a much higher likelihood of being successful. There is brilliance in brevity.
- Target Audience – Be specific, focus your on ideal audience. Where do they spend time online?
- Objective(s) – One or two objectives, keep them simple and clear. Build a community? Provide customer support? Position your company as a thought-leader in a specific space?
- Metrics – A couple of key metrics that will define success. These should pay off your objectives. Subscribers, web traffic, shares, speaking engagements, etc.
- Specify the Content – How can you deliver value to your target? What do they need from you? What are you good at creating? The content should be original and should strive to be evergreen. It must deliver one of the “Three Es” of content – educate, enlighten or entertain.
- Consistently Publish – Same format, same timing and same delivery channel. Is it video on your YouTube channel each Monday at 10:00 a.m.? Is it an e-newsletter sent out every other Thursday at 1:00 p.m.? Pick your format, timing and delivery and stick to it for at least 12 to 18 months.
- Promote – Develop a promotion schedule across social media platforms – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Promote the content, as well as the ability to “sign up” for future content. Slow and steady will win this race, so don’t expect immediate results.
Step 2: Follow the strategy.
I know, it seems so obvious. But this is right where so many companies fall down because they get impatient or distracted. They jump from one shiny object to another. They may have taken the time to document the content strategy, but the real art is sticking to it. Good content, served consistently over a long period of time, is the goal. Do this well, and your followers will come.
Content marketing can be incredibly complex and labor intensive, but it doesn’t need to start there. Start by building a straightforward content marketing strategy focused on a specific audience and topic. Write it down. Practice it, patiently.
President/Chief Integration Officer. Jeff combines 20 years of client service experience with his deep knowledge and passion for agriculture, which stems from growing up on a corn and soybean farm in northern Illinois. He is a quick study of the brand, the customers and competitors, knows the right questions to ask, and with his oversight on planning and analytics, pushes the team to category-defining strategies and results-driven plans.