Whether you’re a 100-year-old utility, a startup commercializing a new power generation or storage technology, or an established player in the energy/renewables industry, you’ve likely been doing content marketing.
Content marketing has generally been established as a critical element of an overall marketing program. Most marketers, regardless of industry, have been running content marketing programs for at least a few years, ever since it became cliché that “content is the new advertising.” Back then, it was new, exciting and fun, and unlike direct-paid advertising tactics, it seemed more cost effective.
The problem is that this situation led to rapid expansion of content marketing efforts, where volume and speed have been the focus, rather than relevance and efficacy. This means that there has been a dramatic increase in “random acts of content”.
The real cost of stray content marketing is certainly difficult to measure. There are direct costs, opportunity costs, and the most difficult: long-term costs to both revenue and your brand by doing it randomly. Suffice it to say, the costs can be significant when content is churned out without a strategy.
But content is functionally king, and can be a fully ingrained way to reach, engage, develop and delight your customers. And therein lies the stress for marketers.
So here are two realities:
- You should have a content marketing program.
- You should pause for long enough to make sure it’s effective.
What to do?
Before you make and deploy one more piece of content, be sure to:
- Review and document your business-level goals, macro-strategies to reach them, and how content marketing fits into that plan.
- Know your audiences and segments. Re-research and document your personas, noting significant differences in demographics, preferences, lifestyle factors, motivators, and behaviors. These have very likely changed since the last time you did this exercise.
- Map every potential communications journey. Understand how and where your audiences hang out, how they consider content from your industry, and how they go about buying.
- Build a real content calendar. Strategically consider the key needs of your customers and map-out the content they would want or need, what delivery channels work best, and when. Then plan content that enhances the prospect or customer experience at each touch.
- Consider visuals. Content isn’t always copy. Broader topics — such as energy and sustainability — can benefit from a graphical treatment where loads of data (carbon emissions, dollars saved from energy efficiency, performance improvements, and more) can be represented easily through charts, diagrams and icons.
- Build in targets, tracking and reporting elements from the beginning. Proof of performance enables ongoing optimizations and shows the impact of your good content strategy.
- Beware of evergreen content. We all love the idea of content that can be used again — those pieces that touch upon a topic that’s not tied directly to a hot trend or specific idea. But that doesn’t mean we should plug those pieces into the mix whenever we come up short. Even evergreen content needs a bit of attention. Reread these pieces to see what needs to be updated in light of current events, changing laws, and social trends. The key is to recycle the content while keeping it relevant.
Here’s a tip: don’t cheat on 1–4. The negative impacts are cumulative. Each shortcut before deployment adds more and more to the randomness factor of your content.
One of the things that we like about (re)building a strong content marketing program is that the process forces just-plain-right marketing practices which have impacts far beyond the content plan. Content done right helps to knit together key customer-centric elements that cross into other channels and tactics, such as SEO, influencer marketing and paid media.
For more specific information on how to build an effective content marketing plan, download our Content Marketing e-book below.