“If you build it, he will come.”
We’ve heard this line many times in the fantastic movie Field of Dreams. Unfortunately, many companies use a “build it and they will come” approach to marketing.
Don’t think that just because you produce content that you’re doing content marketing. Content marketing is much more than that.
Let’s imagine that Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella has built his field of dreams. Baseball players from the past (as in dead and gone) return to his ballfield to play baseball. Ray built this field so his dad would come. The question now is:
How does he get paying customers to come?
As a marketer, what would you suggest?
I’m sure we could brainstorm a list of items to create:
- Videos of the players warming up, the games, and interviews with each player. A video of the construction of the field and the whole story behind it.
- Infographics comparing stats of current players with the Field of Dreams players; showing what these old-time players’ stats would look like if they never stopped playing. Possibilities are fun and almost endless.
- Webinars featuring instruction from different players on hitting, pitching and fielding.
- An e-commerce website that sells tickets and baseball merchandise and also houses all the details about the Field of Dreams.
The list of possible content to create goes on and on. But still, we haven’t really begun to talk about content marketing yet.
What is content marketing?
True content marketing requires strategy—like any effective marketing. Sure, we’ve got a bunch of ghost superstars playing, but if we want our marketing plan to be a success, we have to answer a bunch of questions first, including:
- Who is our target audience?
- What segments can we break our audience into?
- What content appeals to each segment?
- Where is our audience hanging out?
- Where are they most likely to be receptive to our messages and content?
- When is the best time to reach them on the channels we identify?
- What content is most appropriate for each audience segment and each channel?
- Why would this audience want to share the content we create?
- Where are they most likely to share it?
- What content can we take and repurpose for different channels, different objectives and different audiences?
As you can see after only 10 questions, content marketing is about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.
You want to deliver the content your audience wants in all the places they are searching for it. And you want the content to be so relevant that your audience will share it with others, giving you referral traffic back to your website.
These 10 questions are just the beginning. You should come up with many more to create a solid content marketing plan.
Go the distance
Ray Kinsella would have never built his field if he hadn’t heard that voice: If you build it, he will come. There’s an important lesson there—take time to listen.
If Ray is smart, he will take time to talk with fans who come to his ballpark. He’ll ask questions and keep listening to find out why people come to his park and what would get them to keep coming back. He’ll get his best ideas by building trust and relationships with his customers and he may be able to share their stories, too.
When you know your customers very well—and take time to listen to what they say, what they want—you will never run out of ideas.
But you might run out of resources. So, don’t forget, after answering all the questions involved in creating your content marketing plan, you then must build your strategy based on the resources you have available.
Keep the tasks you can’t yet do on your wish list and focus first on the priorities of your audience and the channels it makes most sense to be on. If you do things right, they will come, they will buy, and they will share with others.