Words of Wisdom from Bristol Content Marketers: Part 1
Bristol and the surrounding area is home to some of the most innovative businesses in the UK, dubbed ‘Silicon Gorge’ in complimentary comparison to California’s Silicon Valley. Naturally, then, these cutting-edge companies require outstanding marketing to support their brand, which is why Bristol has become a mecca for talented content marketers.
Content Marketing Tips from Bristol’s Finest
A quick Google search for “content marketing agency Bristol” returns dozens of results, so we thought it might be nice to reach out to 10 of our contemporaries and collate best practice advice from some of the industry leaders.
We posed the question, “What’s your number one tip for successful content marketing?”, and here’s what the best of Bristol content marketers had to say…
Jon Payne, Technical Director
Noisy Little Monkey
Top Tip: Understand user intent
Developing a content marketing strategy? First, you must understand intent.
Typically, a content marketing strategy will focus on getting the attention of your prospective customer and attracting them to your website.
With the rise of conversational interfaces (think Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant), Google’s ever improving search results pages, and a continuous cascade of ‘curated’ messaging via social media, it’s becoming ever more difficult to attract that attention.
When people use search or social media to research a product or service they know little about, there’s a fairly basic three step process. Create a content marketing strategy that delivers outstanding, helpful content at each step and you’re well on the way to getting noticed.
In the first instance when people search online, they’re often just trying to give their problem a name, to understand if anyone else has a similar problem and how it might be solved. Once you understand this intent, you can create a content marketing strategy that delivers masses of content on your website which helps people name the problems that you can solve.
Now your prospect has isolated their problem thanks to your website, the intent behind their next bit of online research is to begin looking for solutions. Maybe asking for recommendations on social media, maybe using a search engine. Maybe, they’ll see if your website can help them too – since you’ve been so useful so far.
Finally, when your prospect has decided which solution is right for their situation, their intent is to find a trusted provider of that solution. If you’ve helped them in steps one and two, you’re probably in a pretty decent position to be on the shortlist.
Your content marketing strategy needs to support your prospect on that journey. Understand their intent ISN’T to purchase until after step three. Up until that point, the intent of your prospect is to educate themselves. Help your prospects educate themselves and you’ll not only get a lot more website traffic, you’ll win a lot more business.
At Noisy Little Monkey, we know how hard it can be to understand the intent of your prospective customers, so we created a guide to help you understand them better. It’s free and only takes a moment to download: https://hubs.ly/H08tl890
James Ainsworth, Head of Content
Top Tip: Consider the actions and responses you want
Any content strategy – which typically incorporates more than one asset and more than one channel – must always start with the end user in mind. The assets (blog posts, videos, social media updates, etc.) that are the substance of your one-off campaign or your ‘always on’ editorial strategy will ultimately be designed with an action for the end user in mind. How you get to that action – that response you are looking to elicit across the range of awareness, a purchase or advocacy – that is what will determine your design of the content experience.
Having an objective for each piece of content is a great starting point. When you combine this with a clear understanding of who you’re writing for and why, it’s easy to produce content that converts. Better still, starting with a tangible insight, a salient truth as to what informs your objective will keep your content strategy on brief, and give purpose to your assets when an end user truth or need is being addressed.
In a sea of content, don’t just create more, create to cut through and disrupt attention and ensure the content experience delivers value for them first, then you.
Ross Wilkinson, Deputy CEO
Top Tip: Know your audience, and get to grips with data
Providing your audience with the right content when it matters to them, not you, is crucial. You must know them inside out – from their pain points to your own potential solutions – so take the time to do your research and build a brilliant picture of the people you want to reach.
This should shape everything you produce. Knowing where your audience gets their content will shape your strategy for creating centralised assets once and then repurposing them for different media channels. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every piece – think about how topics and assets can be reworked and enhanced for use on social media, blogs, resource centres etc.
Then comes the measurement… yes, data drives the marketing world right now, but make sure you’re measuring material for the right reasons. If it’s clicks for a quote you’re after, dwell time on a page might not matter. Similarly, an impactful video case study may be all about raising awareness, so don’t hang an unreasonable amount of sales targets upon its head!
Sharon Tanton, Creative Director
Top Tip: Get into the right mindset
My top tip for content marketing success would be to approach creating your content strategy with the right mindset.
Our mantra at Valuable Content is “Help, don’t sell. Show don’t tell. Talk, don’t yell.” If you make helping your ideal customer the goal of your content marketing efforts, rather than selling to them, you’re far more likely to succeed.
My first tip for working on your strategy is to get clear on your goals. What is the difference that you want this focus on content to make to your business? Don’t skip this step. The clearer your focus, the more targeted your content marketing efforts will be.
And my tip for setting the strategy out on the right footing would be to invest in customer research upfront. Listen to your customers. Understand their world and their challenges. A content strategy that’s made up entirely in a boardroom is unlikely to lead to the kind of content that connects with its audience. Knowing your customers means you’ll be able to uncover your content sweet spot – the unique content you can create that will be irresistible to your audience AND useful for your business.
And a final tip would be to make sure you document your strategy. Writing it down is important. It will change as your business develops, but documenting it properly will help keep you on track. You can download our Content Strategy Workbook here.
Stuart Roberts, Head of Content
Top Tip: Get to know your customers inside and out
Choosing the most important part of a content strategy is like choosing a favourite child – really easy. It’s knowing your customers. Having detailed customer personas is absolutely essential when it comes to creating, publishing and distributing content in the most effective way. If you’ve been working with your clients for a while, it’s easy to make assumptions about them, their key drivers, their pain points and their personalities. Trust me, there is no substitute for speaking to them.
Search out your best customers, interview 15 or more of them (or as many as possible.) Don’t just look for demographic information, find out as much detail as possible about their lives, their days at work, the kind of people they have to deal with on a day to day basis, how they became customers of yours, the hoops they had to jump through to get the business to use your service or product. Get them talking.
When you work face to face with your business on a daily basis, you lose sight of how the outside world views you. In-depth customer research will tell you how customers perceive you, how they talk about you and the value you bring…in their words. Once you know that, then you can start producing content of real value to attract more of them.
Clearly, a common theme that emerges time and again is learning about your customers in order to create an effective content marketing strategy. “Understand their intent,” as Jon says. “Deliver value for them first, then you” adds James.
“Help, don’t sell. Show don’t tell. Talk, don’t yell,” reiterates Sharon. “Build a brilliant picture of the people you want to reach,” advises Ross, and talk to your customers to learn “how they talk about you and the value you bring…in their words” concludes Stuart.
Wise words all round. Thanks to each of the contributors for their expert insights. For five more tips from Bristol’s finest marketers, read part two of our words of wisdom series. In the meantime, if you’d like to contribute to a future article, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.