You’re not ready for content marketing

We can all agree that it would be a pretty poor strategy for someone to jump into the deep end of a pool without having mastered the doggie paddle. Just because you have a swim suit, you are not necessarily ready for the 1000-meter freestyle.

Likewise, just because you have content, you are not necessarily ready for content marketing. Much like other areas of your business, you need to master the basic skills before you get started. But where to start?

“Brands need to think and act like publishers,” said Michael Brenner, vp of marketing and content strategy at SAP. “That means creating content their audience wants. But also finding a way to drive conversions and business outcomes.”

Publishers understand four pillars of content creation that brands still wrestle with: They know what interests their audience, the power of images, how to operate a newsroom, and how to move quickly.

Here are four ways brands can stop acting like advertisers and start creating compelling content.

Click here to download NewsCred’s White Paper: The Content Marketing Playbook: 9 Actionable Strategies to Get You Started

Link business objectives to customer interests

Offering content that is of interest to your consumers yields strong results. Pepsi, for example, wanted to revamp its website from a product-focused site to something more palatable for its consumers. After nine months of research, Pepsi found its customers liked pop music. A lot. So it remade its corporate website into Pepsi Pulse, a digital dashboard for pop culture enthusiasts. In the first month of launch, the new content-focused site saw 87 percent more uniques and a 2,700 percent increase in social referrals, per NewsCred’s whitepaper.

Act like a newsroom

The key here is process. Having an editorial calendar of topics to cover or curate is important. This lets you align the content you create with the broader message you’re trying to impart to your customers. For example, GE’s popular Tumblr “Txchnologist” produces and promotes content around topics of interest to its readers: renewable energy, computing, science and transportation.

Use strong visuals

We live in a visual era. Pictures are clicked on and shared at prodigious rates. Brands with a glut of images — from photoshoots to still images from commercials — can use these pictures as a strong marketing tool. J.Crew, for example, populates its online presence — Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. — with bold and beautiful images of its clothing line. By following a style guide, the company has transformed how it uses images to interact with its customers.

Be prepared

Oreos’ “Dunk in the Dark” play during the 2013 Super Bowl lit a fire for real-time content creation that is still burning strong. The real lesson from Oreos about real-time marketing: have a plan. Get your teams lined up — marketing, PR, legal, agency partners — and when an opportunity arises, strike with the right content. The brand took advantage of a freak moment during a major cultural event because it was ready and had a content strategy lined up.

To read more about these and other strategies to get your content marketing up and running , click below.

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Image via Shutterstock