(404) 314-7416 [email protected]

I usually hesitate to throw around terms like “revolutionary” and “game-changing.” But I think it’s fair to use terms like this when discussing content marketing. In just a few short years, content marketing has catapulted to the top of many marketers’ priority lists.

I’ve written extensively in previous articles about what content marketing is and how to do it successfully. And to be honest, I hesitated to write another article about content marketing for fear of beating this drum too loudly. But then I had lunch last month with a content marketing expert — and after an hour or so of hearing his ideas, I got re-energized about content marketing all over again!

Paul McKeon is the president of the Content Factor, a content marketing agency here in Atlanta. Last month I reached out to Paul after I listened to a podcast where he talked about how to build a writing agency. “Good content can be a game-changer,” was one of the first things Paul said during our lunch meeting.

Taking a Strategic Approach

What impressed me the most about Paul and his agency was the strategic approach they take to content marketing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they have content marketing down to a science. And one of the key components of this science is mapping your content to your customer’s buying cycle. An example from Paul explains what I’m talking about:

“If you’re selling clothing, your broad target market is everybody who wears clothes. That’s a pretty big market, so content targeted to a broad market should just be designed to get people thinking. You could narrow this market down to people who think they need to buy some more clothes — or in other words, those who are in the early stages of the shopping process. Your content targeted to them should try to influence them.

“But that’s still a large market. So next, narrow this down to people who want to buy clothes now. That’s a much smaller market, and your goal here is to use good content to close the sale.”

Paul put the kibosh on some of the most commonly used content marketing strategies today. These include bombarding prospects with emails, “fire-hosing” them with white papers, and even sending out lots of product offers and special deals.

“Instead, you need to try to understand what’s in it for your customers,” Paul said. “Gain the trust of your customers by engaging them and teaching them something new. Your goal should be to use good content to get customers to view you as a valued partner, not just another company trying to sell them something.”

Keep It REAL

Paul and his team use the acronym REAL to describe what they view as an effective content marketing program:

Relevant — Keep fresh content flowing and plan ahead with an editorial calendar.

Engaging — Use content to inform, inspire and educate, not just to tell people things.

Actionable — Your content should lay the foundation for an ongoing conversation and lead prospects to the next step.

Likeable — Delight your readers with quality content that they want to share with others.

This last item leads to one of the other key components of effective content: It has to be shareable. Here, Paul adapts the KISS acronym: Keep is SHAREABLE, Stupid!

“Your content should be shareable both qualitatively and quantitatively,” he says. “In other words, it should be interesting, funny, insightful and emotional, and it should be filled with facts, data, information and quotes. It also has to be shareable from a format standpoint; for example, use HTML5 instead of Flash, and make sure it’s tweetable, bloggable, etc.”

Make It Snackable

Another component of an effective content marketing program is incorporating “snackable” content. Paul defines snackable content as smaller, bite-size content like cartoons, memes, infographics and short videos or blogs. “Screens are getting smaller and attention spans are getting shorter,” he said. “Snackable content is more easily consumed when using mobile devices, and it’s more appealing to people who don’t want to spend a lot of time reading a 15-page white paper.”

Snackable content can be original content, or it can be the result of another strategy The Content Factor uses: repurposing. Let’s say you create a white paper on a hot topic that’s of interest to your customers and prospects. You’ve now got some extremely valuable content that you probably paid good money for, so why not leverage it to get the most bang you can from your content bucks?

“Create an infographic,” Paul said. “Break it up into a series of blogs. Post it on SlideShare. Turn it into a video. Use it as part of your lead nurturing program. Edit it into an article you can pitch to the media and post on Ezinearticles.com and other article marketing sites.

“The possibilities are almost unlimited.”