Content marketing is a great way to get in front of and bring value to consumers without going overboard on your sales pitch. However, it can be tough to strike a balance. Your content shouldn’t completely ignore your offerings, but you want to make sure it adds value for your customer first.
That’s why developing a strategy focused on your target customer is the key to executing successful content marketing initiatives. To help you achieve this, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council gave their best advice on how brands can develop effective, customer-centric content.
1. Create Outcome-Based Content
People today are focused on issues, personal and social outcomes and ways that products and product providers can positively affect their lives and the lives of others. Content should be visual, interactive, emotive and outcome-based. Pick the right channel. TikTok is delivering huge numbers. – Peter Prodromou, Boston Digital
2. Implement Persona Identifiers On Your Website
Implement persona identifiers (via “tags”) into the data layer of your website. Push those identifiers into audiences within your analytics tool. This will enable you to understand which audiences are interacting with existing content, selectively build out additional content based on audience priority and run “lookalike” campaigns to promote the new content to only that audience type. – Justin Cook, 9thCO Inc.
3. Engage In Non-Commerce Dialogue With Customers
We find that most marketing plans emphasize methods for pushing content to consumers while giving little thought to methods for customers to engage in “non-commerce dialogue.” Companies that have effective customer-centric marketing have built these methods, not just “product reviews,” for engaging in these conversations. Focusing on those channels is essential to crafting better outbound content. – James Cioban, Cierant Corporation
4. Focus On Benefits Over Features
Focus on product benefits over features. Use “you” over “we.” And most importantly, do key phrase research and understand the searcher intent behind your phrases. Truly customer-centric content ties the searcher’s intent to the product on the page. It doesn’t rely on brand terms. Instead, it includes non-branded terms that speak to the product’s universe. – Brian Rutledge, GPO
5. Answer Consumer Questions
Create content that provides high-value information, answers consumer questions and guides them toward making the best purchase decision. Within your content, showcase the benefits, uses and value of your products and services as examples and case studies. This tactic will build trust with the consumer and drive them to come to you when they are ready to purchase. – Laura Cole, Vivial
6. Interview Your Customers
Start with interviewing your customers. Find a small number that best represents each audience persona you intend to target. During a brief interview, listen closely to the words each customer uses to describe why they choose your company’s solutions and how it has impacted their business and professional success. – Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing
7. Tap Into Their Existing Motivations
For content that is truly customer-centric, campaigns should tap into the customer’s existing motivations. The reason being, you can’t motivate someone to action, but you can align your content with what that customer already is motivated to do. Once that is done, the content can prompt them to take action. – Roger Hurni, Off Madison Ave
8. Talk About Things They Love
A company’s story is nice, but if you want to engage someone, talk about things they care about or love. Take a page from the big boys: Know what you sell and why people are buying. It is always about the consumer. Apple does not sell computers; it sells a set of beliefs or a way of thinking. Starbucks does not sell coffee; its sells status quo. Even Toms Shoes sold the concept of giving back. – Patrick Nycz, NewPoint Marketing
9. Practice Inbound Marketing
Develop customer personas that identify the needs, concerns, dreams and opportunities of your ideal audiences. Find intersection points and create content that speaks to your personas at every point of the buyer journey. Then, make every communication, from award wins to case studies to blog posts, speak to them about their needs rather than your capabilities. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
10. Ask Customers For Video Content
Customer-generated videos where customers record themselves with the brand and showcase its benefits offer an authentic way to show true excitement and endorsement of the brand from the customer’s individual perspective, which will appeal to others too. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC
11. Make It Easy To Find Relevant Content
Make it easy for web visitors to find content suitable for their stage in the buying process. Think of your blog as a hub for insights that educate about your industry. Place evergreen content in static pages to inform about you and your capabilities. Find organic links between the two so that when prospects are ready to work themselves down the funnel, they can do so without friction. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP
12. Emphasize The Problem You Solve
There’s that old saying that nobody will care about your solution before they recognize there’s a massive problem—and it applies to them. So think about your customers’ context, situation and problems, and pick them up where they are by emphasizing that they all have a common problem that you figured out how to solve! – Lars Voedisch, PRecious Communications
13. Frame Your Message Around Their Needs
Customers largely see interactions with companies as transactional, while companies yearn for so much more. Content can help you build closer connections with customers, but only if it conveys your deep understanding of them. Always start with the emotional, social and functional outcomes they value as human beings. Then, frame your messages around the needs your offerings can deliver on. – Camille Nicita, Gongos, Inc.
14. Align Your Brand Ethos With Their Values
Newer generations care less about products’ USPs and more about how the brand’s ethos aligns with their values. To create a customer-centric content strategy, you have to understand what values are important for your audience and authentically align not only your brand message, but also your actions with those values. Brands that can create content around that will see the benefits of a customer-centric approach. – Emilie Tabor, IMA – Influencer Marketing Agency
15. Showcase Your Solution Through Testimonials
True customer-centric content needs to answer the questions your audience is asking. Rather than touting how great your products or services are, you need to provide a solution to their problems. Some of the best customer-centric content actually includes customer testimonials. This is especially helpful as video content: Let your customers speak to how you helped them solve a problem. – Jason Wulfsohn, AUDIENCEX