Content Marketing: Four Essential Elements

Jeremy Victor

By Jeremy Victor

Number 4GettyImages-154932750

There are four things every B2B marketer needs to know and understand to become a successful content marketer. Learn and master these first, and then you'll be ready for measurement, integration, and more.

1. Mindset

First things first, when it comes to content marketing, the proper frame of mind is of utmost importance, the predominant theme: becoming a publisher. The challenge extends beyond adopting this mindset yourself to also understanding how to lead the change within your organization.

The notions that take the most time for everyone to adjust to are:

  • Like a publisher, the core outcome you seek is to build a community by consistently delivering relevant, useful, high-quality information. Your content’s purpose is to attract, retain, educate, and engage the people in your area of focus as they enter and move through your buying process.
  • A publisher’s standard of quality is beyond reproach. Publishers strive for perfection in everything they do and obsess about meeting the needs of their audience. Publishers are constantly asking, “How can we create a better, more meaningful experience for our stakeholders?”
  • Content marketing is a journey without an end (as a publisher’s job is never done). This is not a set it and forget it proposition. There is always something to do and 9 times out of 10, it is on a deadline.

2. Customer Focus

Never before in B2B marketing has it been more important to have a customer-centered approach to everything you do, content marketing is no exception. It’s time to take the guesswork out of the equation and make the commitment to customer focus. If it’s an intimate, lasting relationship that you seek with your customers, the knowledge required for getting their attention and starting one involves a level of understanding that goes beyond anything that you now know.

The creation of buyer personas is just one of the ways customer focus makes its way into content marketing. I’ve shared with you before how to create them and the vital role they play in content marketing. With a customer focus, your content suddenly becomes for *someone* versus *everyone*. And that makes all the difference when using content to build and sustain relationships with your customers.

3. Story / Experience

What’s the point of all this content? Why write or publish even a single word? We all the know the answer to those questions, right? To get, keep, and grow customers.

If that’s the answer, then you need to create a story and customer experience that is going to consistently do that for you. With each piece of content, no matter the size, no matter its form, no matter the place it is found – it must have some connection to the overall journey/experience you are creating for your customers.

Consider the basic elements of any story to help you get started:

  • Theme – What’s the overall message?
  • Plot – What does each persona go through? when does it thicken?
  • Structure – What happens at the beginning (of the buying process)? the end?
  • Characters – Who are each of your personas and why are they involved?
  • Style / Tone – What is right for your brand?

If you don’t have a path (solidified with your story) for your customer take, succeeding in content marketing is not going to be possible.

4. Keywords

If there is one area of content marketing that may not receive the attention it deserves, it has to be keywords. They play such an important role in the effectiveness of your content attracting the correct buyers that you must make defining your keywords and keyword phrases a top priority. In a recent article, Effective Use Of Keywords In Content Marketing, Lee Odden wrote,

Effective content marketing informs prospective buyers of what they need to know in order to help them arrive at a logical conclusion to buy and recommend. Relevant and engaging content facilitates that outcome.

Understanding the information needs of the customers you’re trying to reach is the first step in creating a great editorial plan. The role of keywords in a content marketing program come into play as a manifestation of knowing what customers are interested in and what their pain points are. What are they searching for? What are they talking about on the social web?

As Lee so clearly points out, keywords are born out of understanding your customers. We know B2B buyers turn to search engines to find the information they need to solve their problems and support their decisions. In order for you to get your content in front of them, you need to understand the terms and phrases to optimize your content for.

Is that it?

Of course not. There’s editorial, social, resources, measurement, integration and many other important aspects as well. But you're getting ahead of yourself unless you first learn these four essential elements. Learn and master these first.