Businesses fail at it every day.

They post “company updates” on their blogs, filled with news that nobody cares about (except maybe their own employees).

They send irrelevant “newsletters” that add zero value to their prospects and customers.

They craft poorly written, boring content that packs less punch than a pillow fight.

They hard-sell, when they should educate.

What are they failing at?

Content marketing.

In a world where traditional marketing is less effective, and people’s attention spans are shorter than ever, smart marketers understand that content marketing is crucial for generating new leads and gaining customers.

But what exactly is content marketing anyway?

Here’s how the Content Marketing Institute defines it:

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

The keyword here? Valuable.

That’s where many businesses go wrong. They either don’t have a content marketing strategy, or, if they do, it’s seriously lacking value.

You might be one of those businesses—but that’s okay. After you read this article, you’ll have the tools and knowledge you need to craft and execute a lead-generating content marketing strategy.

Before we go any further, let’s list out some of the most common types of content marketing:

  • Blogs
  • eBooks and regular Books
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Infographics

There’s a good chance you’ve consumed all of these types of content. And if the content was good, you gained respect and trust in the source of the content.

Which leads us to the even more important question: WHY is content marketing important for your business?

It helps you speak to your audience at different stages of the buying cycle, take their hand, and lead them further down the buying cycle until an eventual purchase.

The four stages of the buying cycle are 1) awareness, 2) research, 3) consideration, and 4) buy.

Content marketing taps into the first two stages by raising awareness (letting customers know that there is a solution to their problem), and educating customers about a product or service they’ve never considered before.

Here’s the bottom line: it’s time to do content marketing right—and stop letting leads slip through your fingers.

Here are 4 secrets to a lead-generating content marketing strategy:

1. Add Value

I’ve mentioned it before. It’s the biggest reason why businesses fail with content marketing. They don’t understand how to add value.

How can you add value? Figure out your customer’s problems, and help solve them.

Every piece of content you create should have a clear and direct benefit to your customer.

Let’s get really meta for a second. This post is part of ARCH’s content marketing strategy. Our audience (you) is interested in growing their businesses through social media and content marketing. And that’s the service we provide.

Through blog posts like this one, we help you solve a nagging problem, while also exhibiting our expertise in the area. It’s a win-win for everybody.

Here’s another example: Let’s say you have a software product that helps businesses with their email marketing. You can create content around that value proposition. Some good content ideas would be: “How to generate revenue from your email marketing;” “5 dirty little secrets to rapidly grow your email list;” etc.

There’s a little trick to this that can put your content marketing on steroids. We’ll get to that in a minute though.

2. Define Your Purpose

Stop creating content for the sake of creating content. Every single word you write should be purposeful.

And that purpose? Well, for 99% of companies, it should be to get the reader’s email address.

An email campaign is essential for your business. It allows you to connect and build a relationship with your audience. Most website visitors won’t be ready to buy the first time they go to your site. But you can nurture and transform them into buyers with an effective set of emails.

There should be an email opt-in on every page. Your content should entice readers to enter their email address and sign up for your list.

3. Reframe Your Product or Service in Your Reader’s Mind

Remember that little content marketing trick we mentioned before? Here it is.

The best content adds value and reframes your product or service in your reader’s mind. It makes your readers stop thinking of your product or service as a “cost,” and start thinking about it as an investment.

How do you do this?

First, identify the benefits that your customer gets when they successfully use your product or service.

Let’s go back to the email-marketing example. Here, the main benefit is a profitable email list (i.e. make more money).

Then, create content around what they can do to gain that benefit (i.e. “How to Generate More Revenue from Your Email List”).

Finally, highlight your product or service as the solution, AKA the “how” that will make it easiest to get that benefit.

So, you could include a call to action like, “Are you ready to create a profitable email list? Sign up below to start your free trial of [software name].”

Side note: you don’t necessarily need to explicitly highlight your product or service in every piece of content. Your value proposition should be fairly obvious, so that when your reader thinks, “Wow, I do want to create a profitable email list [i.e. solve a problem or experience a benefit],” your website itself presents it as an obvious solution.

4. Be Consistent

Consistency is the glue that holds your content marketing strategy together. If you blog once in a while, send out an email every few weeks, or podcast randomly, you’ll completely drain the content of it’s potential.

You want to be the go-to resource for your audience. In order to do that, you NEED to be consistent. Post a blog on the same day every week, send out timely emails, always add value.

Your audience should expect that they can come to your for awesome content, expertise, and to help blast through their pain points.

Conclusion

You have two choices. You can be an average business, and publish mediocre content that bores your readers and does nothing but sit there, purposelessly on your website.

OR

You can use these secrets to craft and execute an awesome content marketing strategy that transforms your business into a lead-generating machine.

Either way, the writing is on the wall. Businesses that take content marketing seriously are the ones who will thrive…and those that don’t will ultimately fail.

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