The disruption of print media led many journalists (including Amanda Milligan) to port their storytelling skills over to other industries, including marketing. As content marketing became a trend and, ultimately, the standard for marketing communication in B2B and B2C, journalists helped their companies achieve marketing objectives by engaging audiences and writing to drive specific actions.
Amanda began her content marketing career as a writer, but as she took on greater responsibility she gained experience in campaign planning and management, ultimately becoming well versed in planning content for clients based on their specific needs and goals. Amanda is now branded content manager at creative digital agency Fractl, where she hosts the podcast Ask Amanda (About Marketing).
I invited Amanda to Marketing Smarts to share what she's learned in the course of her career about engaging audiences through content, and how she's used content strategy to help B2B and B2C companies achieve greater brand awareness, and why content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
You can't create a content strategy without setting clear goals (and breaking those goals down into smaller goals). (06:30): "Not everybody has the same goal—even if the goals overlap. So for B2B and B2C, there are subsets of what your goals can be. [As an agency] we tried to set up our website around that messaging.
"Sometimes people want more brand awareness, for example. That's not going to look the same on our end as somebody who's just trying to build their backlink portfolio. In terms of B2B or B2C, depending on which of those goals they go for, that's important. And then there's another layer of 'OK, well, are you just trying to get those really high-tier links, because then we're going to approach the content and the publicity in one way, or are you going for content that's more niche in your industry.' You can break down some of these goals even further."
For a B2B rebrand, focus on reaching the people who already know who you are. (09:10): "I worked with a client called Alexa (you've probably heard of them because of Alexa Rank). They're a legacy brand who came to us because they didn't want to only be known by Alexa Rank anymore, even though it was really popular and a lot of people knew what it was. They started offering SEO/competitive analysis tools, and they wanted to be known for that. They wanted to position themselves that way, so that's a very particular kind of goal that we had in mind when we set out.
"We had a four-campaign engagement with them...and from the very beginning, there's a lot that goes into this kind of strategy. We knew that, because they wanted to rebrand themselves, it was going to make the most sense to do that within their space, because those are the people who know who they are to begin with. The people who cared about Alexa Rank and the people who want to use these tools are marketers, and we needed to explain in an organic way that this is what Alexa offers now....
"So we were thinking about what kind of content was going to make the most sense for them, we...first wanted to make sure we were offering very new or fresh data.... Because they have these tools, we were able to use their tools to come up with this fresh data and, by doing that, you're positioning yourself as an authority in a really natural way."
"Companies should think about whether they have internal data that is going to be valuable to potential customers or clients, and how they can utilize that."
Content strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. (12:40): [Content marketing] is definitely a long-term strategy. What changes over time is how you approach it, depending on your needs. For this type of work, the best thing to be doing is having multiple initiatives going. You're probably going to have on-site content that's going to help build your organic traffic. That's a whole separate thing where you're developing content on a regular basis that's going to add value for your customers. But there's also benefits to off-site work where you're pitching your content to increase the scope of your audience.
"All of these things play into each other. If you're getting coverage on another site, you're not just getting the link, which is helping to build the authority of your site, which is going to help your on-site content, you're also getting more traffic from the people who are seeing it. And as you continue to develop your onsite, this will make it more likely that publishers will be interested in your content because you look like more of an expert.
"All of this stuff works together and it definitely compounds over time. To think that you can just do a one-off campaign and be done with it isn't necessarily going to be the case, unless your goal is specifically 'right now we just need to get this many links or we just need to get this brand awareness,' but all of that is still in the context of a greater strategy: You still have long-term goals...and you really need to invest in content overall."
Amanda and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
This episode brought to you by CrowdCompass by Cvent:
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.