For years, marketers have been living by the phrase, “content is king.” This is more important than ever nowadays, as new channels for creating, curating, sharing and interacting with content continue to emerge.
Although social media has become the primary content marketing method for many businesses, branded blogging is still a powerful tool to reach your target audience – if you do it right. Today’s consumers will no longer respond to a post that’s trying to sell them something outright, and marketers need to adjust accordingly.
Below, Forbes Agency Council members share 15 smart strategies that will take your company’s blog out of the “sales pitch” realm and into the sphere of useful, relevant content.
1. Concentrate On Audience-Value Above Brand Value
Blogs should be relevant to the target audience, above all. Many marketers understand that writing about their products or services can help educate audiences, as well as add value from a search marketing perspective. However, content that provides true value to an audience need (even seemingly at the expense of brand goals) wins with audiences and search algorithms alike. – Michael Stratta, Arcalea
2. Limit Mentions Of Your Business
Do your blog posts include multiple mentions of your company, your product(s), your research, your proprietary methods, your people…or, worse yet, multiple links to these things? Even if this is done in the natural context of the content, you are most likely coming across as overly promotional. Focus on information of value unrelated to your organization and it will appear more authentic. – J.G. Wolfe, Reuben Rink Marketing & Advertising
3. Share Your Knowledge Generously
Good content is useful content. Share real insights, tips and tricks that can help your clients and prospects. And don’t be afraid to share your “secret sauce.” If a Michelin star chef gives you his recipe, that won’t make you a great cook. Sharing generously shows confidence and industry leadership. – Jean-Luc Vanhulst, Write2market, Inc.
4. Step Outside Your Own Box
Corporate bloggers often write about what they know best: themselves. Sorry, but you are boring. Identify an issue in the marketplace on which you have unique insight. Give some helpful tips or tricks to other people dealing with that issue. It sounds simple, but it can be tough to step outside your own box. The reward is worth the risk, and your content is more likely to be read and shared. – Starr Million Baker, INK
5. Help Your Audience Reach Their Goals
Business owners who understand connecting with their audience will ensure their content provides real value. By solving the readers’ problems, educating and helping the audience members reach their goals, business owners will connect and resonate with their audience in a true, authentic way. – Ryan Pezzotti, Knowzo.com
6. Tell A Story
7. Keep It Conversational
If you read your content out loud, does it sound like something you’d actually say? Would you let your sales team use it in conversation word-for-word? If not, edit. Keep reading it until you’d be proud to actually say it. – Debbie Williams, SPROUT Content
8. Make Your Content Product-Adjacent
Don’t even mention your product. Simply provide answers and information that is relevant to someone who would use your product. If you sell refrigerators, you can blog about kitchen remodel design trends or healthy eating tips. – Ryan Short, MODassic Marketing
9. Appeal To Audience Lifestyle
With proper persona research, the lifestyles of your audience should become clear. Focus on creating educational and enlightening content that would fit, support and enhance your audience’s lifestyle. You can present products and services via tutorials, walkthroughs, news, expert opinion, advice, FAQs and creative story lines. Educate and guide the customer journey to your brand without being pushy. – Aaron Henry, FOUNDRY512
10. Make Use Of Search Data
By analyzing the most popular search queries in your industry, you’ll naturally and easily be able to create insightful articles that are relevant to your audience. If there’s a topic that is trending, jump on it and ride that wave of interest. The more your audience has an interest in your topic, the less “salesy” it will feel. – Bill McCabe, Eicoff
11. Focus On What Excites Your Audience
Customers are self-interested; consider utilizing branded content techniques. If you focus on what excites them and let your brand take a back seat as you have an engaging conversation with your audience, you’ll likely earn the loyalty of a more engaged customer base. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
12. Give Away Information
Don’t talk about your product or solutions in your content. Think of your marketing content as a pro bono conversation. Provide your audience with information that is useful for them to solve or address a problem they are having in their business. Give it away. Once they see you as a thought leader they will eventually reward you with their more complex business needs. – Jon Simpson, Criterion.B
13. Build Brand Trust
Consider what your clients need from you, not what you want them to need. As long as you are entertaining, helpful and can provide them with a resolution, they will trust your brand and will be more likely to work with you. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions
14. Answer Questions
Do your research and identify the top questions your customers and prospects are asking. Then, focus on answering those questions. Your customers’ questions will tell you what they want to read about. Identify the need and write content that meets and fulfills that need. – Dan Golden, Be Found Online
15. Be Helpful
Step away from the “salesy” content and focus on tips, direct answers to frequently asked questions and “how to” blogs. When you are willing to share expertise for free with no ulterior motives blogs are more likely to feel genuine and resonate readers. Your expertise is valuable and helps empower readers. This type of non-salesy content is ironically a powerful sales tool. – Katie Harris, Spot On Solutions