Before you produce any content, you first need to ask yourself one important question, ‘What do I hope to gain from this?’ In most cases, it’s usually that you want to attract more prospects, which in turn leads to more sales.
Disclaimer time: my background is working in SEO and the primary goal of my content marketing campaigns always was links, links, links; big media placements that encouraged long term ranking in Google, and it didn’t really matter who the primary audience was.
We now live in a world where this type of ‘link building’ is far less effective and has a limited shelf life due to the changes in the Google algorithm. Campaigns need to possess significant marketing value that stretches beyond just the links themselves.
Content marketing needs to shepherd potential customers toward the client’s brand, and start them on a journey through the sales funnel, as shown in the diagram below from Kuno Creative.Content marketing should start potential customers on a journey through your sales funnel.Click To Tweet
The beauty of the funnel above is that once you gain a thorough understanding of your target audience, this type of content is actually easier to create and obtain continuous media exposure for.
The big problem with audience identification
You can go down a path of just talking about your product and company; however, it will be impossible to get people to share your content without combining this with a significant and expensive advertising campaign. [What you want to say]
You can also make the common mistake of just giving content to your audience that has no value to your company, much like we did in the old days of SEO in the hope of going viral. [What they’re interested in]
The good news is that both problems can easily be solved with a process that can be repeated for any company or market.The content marketing challenge is producing business relevant content that has an audience.Click To Tweet
Problem 1: Niche product targeting or “What you want to say”
If you sell motorcycle valve trains, then you might think that you only want to create content for fans of “motorcycle valve trains” as these are your perfect customers.
Sadly, whilst a very small number of products might have large active communities (think iPhone), most products don’t and it’s far more effective to achieve success with content aimed at a group that is active and regularly sharing content.
To solve this problem, we need to find an audience that is still relevant to our product but also has an active community. This way, we can be confident that they will share our content if it provides value to them.
Problem 2: “What they’re interested in”
There are two main issues with this approach:
Targeting everyone means your content has to compete with every other piece of general content from behemoth publishers with enormous budgets who have been doing this for far longer than you.
Even with great content, you can fail if it’s not in the top 1% – something that is always hard even for the most notable publishers on Earth.
2. Brand Perception
The second issue with creating general content is what it does for your brand perception. Whilst most companies would like the odd viral hit – if you achieved that every week, what would your average customer think you’re an expert in? Is it funny memes, cats, the Rugby World Cup or the latest HR rules that your software provides a solution for?
While it’s good to appear relevant to numerous industries, your targeted customers want to see targeted content.
You don’t want to be a jack of all trades, master of none.
In any business, making your audience aware of your market knowledge is key to long term success. Trust is a major factor in any consumer’s decision to buy; does your company know what it’s doing? If you are not helping to support this goal, then you might be getting publicity, but it won’t be helping you in the long term to meet your initial aim of gaining more customers/sales.
Why not use your resources wisely and get substantial coverage in the places that matter to your customers (and help to build trust with your target market) with every content marketing campaign?Your targeted customers want targeted content; don't create general content hoping for a viral hit.Click To Tweet
To solve this problem, we need to find a product relevant audience that still has an active community.
How to use chunking to generate content ideas
Chunking: group together (connected items or words) so that they can be stored or processed as single concepts.
It’s likely that you will have a good understanding of your core customer audience when you ask simple questions like:
- Who are my customers? (are they accountants? HR Managers? travellers?)
- What products do I sell?
With this information, you can then apply a concept called “chunking”, which is designed to identify lots of different topics and communities related to your business that you would not have thought of before.
This process can radically change your content strategy overnight, as you start to see your product from a completely different angle.
This technique is used in NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) and coaching. It is a very useful method of ideation/content creation and I first saw it applied to digital marketing by Paul May of Buzzstream back in 2013.
You can use chunking to alleviate both problems, making sure you’re not being too general nor too niche.
The basics of “chunking up” (or how to move away from niche product targeting)
Some specific products have a community like the iPhone with its array of forums and blogs from fanboys/girls but most products just don’t.
If we use the same example as above – it would be great if we could target the community of “motorcycle valve train fans” but even a quick search on Google will show us that this niche community does not exist.
In this situation, we have to look at chunking up the chain. In this particular case, you could target those interested in motorcycle engines or specific types/brands of motorcycles.
The key thing is that these topics attract people who are actively sharing content. Without an active community, you can create the most amazing content, but there will be no one to share it or more importantly, check it out. If no one sees the content, you are essentially burning through your marketing budget.
By chunking up you will be targeting an audience who is relevant to your product that is big enough to be worth your time and money.
But there is more! We are looking for an intersection where “what we want to say” connects to “what they are interested in.”
The basics of “chunking down” (or how to move away from general targeting)
The solution to being too general is to “chunk down” closer to your target audience.
Let’s assume that you sell motorcycle valve trains. Whilst creating a piece of content about the iPhone is relevant to some extent in that the iPhone exists and so does a motorcycle valve train, it’s pretty irrelevant to most people.
Creating content around a general topic such as “existence” is unlikely to provide any meaningful business benefit — remember, our primary goal is to sell more motorcycle valve trains.
Here’s where we need to chunk down the chain and look at topics closer to your core product, such as types of transport or even motorcycles.
These subjects now make sense to your business, thus appearing more relevant in the eyes of the influencers of these communities. Also, being a thought leader in the motorcycle community will connect you directly to selling more motorcycle valve trains.
The secondary benefit is that the community you are targeting will be far smaller and you will have to beat less competition to achieve media features compared to a general topic.
Creating your own chunk diagram
We love chunking so much at NeoMam, that we have actually created a simple online tool that can help you do the basic chunking yourself – check it out here: http://neomam.com/interactive/chunking/
Make sure to input as much data you can obtain in order to form a chunk diagram similar to the one below, where your product or service is most likely to be sitting within the more specific topics you could create content around.
Once you’ve completed the chunking diagram for your audience, you’ll have a number of community options that you can test to see how active they are online; in turn, this helps to determine whether it’s worth creating content for them.
If you want to learn more about the process of Chunking for idea generation, then be sure to access my walk-through video here where I go through the process of chunking up and chunking down using the interactive tool above.