How do you put your company’s name out there when you have no news to share or events to promote? If the first half of 2020 has taught us anything, it is that cleantech companies can’t only rely on project launches and business exhibitions to showcase themselves.
At the same time, interruptive marketing – the traditional model of product promotion – is losing its effectiveness. Consumers are increasingly turning to Google to find answers to their questions and seeking out businesses organically.
This is particularly true in the cleantech industry, where companies investing in cutting-edge technology buy more than just a product or service. They also want to ensure that their chosen supplier knows their industry and can predict future trends.
WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING?
According to Content Marketing Institute; “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach which focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant content to attract and retain a defined audience, and ultimately drive profitable customer action.”
More simply put, it transforms companies into industry thought leaders and ultimately helps drive sales. Thought leadership can transform your brand and company, open doors to new opportunities and help building lasting trust with your key stakeholders.
A content strategy needs to be an integral part of your communications strategy. It’s the one thing that will enable you to keep your company’s name out there even when you do not have any news, while giving you enough flexibility to integrate reactive pieces into the mix.
ESTABLISH YOUR BUYER PERSONAS
Before we discuss how to build your content marketing strategy, we need to talk about buyer personas.
Personas are fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customers. By ideal, we mean the existing people in your industry who would gain value from your product or service. Every company, no matter what size or stage you are at, should have a set of buyer personas.
Personas help you understand the customer you’re trying to attract and relate to them as real people. A persona profile is the basis that enables you to create content and messaging that appeals directly to them. Furthermore, when you combine the persona profile with their buying stage (i.e. how far along they are in your sales cycle), this allows you to map out and create even more targeted content.
When developing buyer personas, it’s important to think about all the relevant stakeholders who would be involved in the decision-making process. These will become your personas. It might help to initially think about your target companies, before moving onto the people within this company who you need to win over.
Once you have this list, start thinking about who they are as people. Develop a profile for each individual which includes their demographics, key personal and business challenges, aspirations, things they are likely to say and possible objections to buying your service.
We recommend developing at least two or three personas, though you might have more or less depending on your service/product offering and specific sales cycle.
BUILDING YOUR STRATEGY
Your buyer persona profiles will form the basis of your content marketing strategy. They will guide content themes, messaging and calls-to-action, plus help you decide where to distribute the content.
The first step in building a strategy is to hold a brainstorming session and think of all the possible things this persona would want to know more about. Really try and get inside their mind. Based on their unique challenges you’ve previously identified, think about the types of things they might search for on the internet, what types of resources would be useful to them and what format they’d like to read content in. There are many different forms of content, such as blog posts, webinars, whitepapers, eBooks, videos, infographics and even emails.
Additionally, every content piece should have a call-to-action. Once they’ve consumed your content, do you want users to read another blog post, download a sales brochure or contact you via your website? Always bear in mind the persona and what they are likely to want and need at this stage.
SETTING GOALS + KPIS
Once you’ve thought about the topics you want to cover and the types of content assets you want to produce, it’s time to attach goals and KPIs to your content strategy. This will allow you to measure ROI and the overall effectiveness of the strategy.
Your goals will be specific to your organisation, so it’s worth spending time identifying exactly what you are trying to achieve through your marketing. While it’s important to be realistic with numbers, also aim high. Remember, it takes time to experience the full benefits of your content marketing efforts, so don’t be alarmed if the web traffic doesn’t roll in right away.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION
By following this process, you will not only produce compelling and useful content tailored to your key buyer personas, but you’ll also make big steps in improving your website’s search engine ranking. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies involve attempting to rank for specific keywords, so that when your personas search for information on the topic they are interested in you will appear high up in the search results. Your keywords are made up of the questions and phrases your persona search for on Google, which you should already know from your earlier persona research.
As a minimum, every content piece you produce should have a basic SEO check carried out to ensure its optimised for search engines to crawl. We recently discussed the importance of SEO for cleantech start-ups on our blog: Why cleantech start-ups need to invest in SEO.
DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR CONTENT DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY
Although distribution plays a decisive role in generating consistent sales leads from the content you produce, it is often the Achilles heel of a company’s content strategy.
Two questions we’re often asked about content distribution are whether companies should pay to distribute their content, and who should author content.
It’s best to begin your content distribution efforts organically, by using your existing channels. If you’ve decided to publish it on your website, then you should also push it organically on the social channels that you own and manage. Encourage your team members to engage with it and share it to their networks at well.
The next step will be to distribute it on channels you don’t own. Try reaching out to influencers and journalists to pitch your content, and distributing it on specific LinkedIn groups. You can also post on different channels, at times of day and using various tones of voice, as long as it’s in line with your messaging and tailored to your audience.
Once you’re accustomed to distributing content organically, you can then test paid distribution on channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Keep in mind that to achieve similar results you will need to adapt your budget depending on the channel.
Since the majority of your content is probably going to be distributed organically, it is worth questioning who it should be coming from. If you want to build the reputation of your team as thought leaders, then we recommend they sign the pieces you produce. This is especially true for opinion pieces which bring a new or untold angle on your industry.
It will take time and several attempts to get your content distribution strategy right and find the formula that works best for your company. That’s why it’s better to start organically before integrating paid distribution if needed.
Ultimately, the essential part of a content distribution strategy is the preparation. Always refer to your KPIs to remember what you are trying to achieve. Make strategic choices, and don’t be afraid to try and adapt your strategies. If there is something that we’ve seen since the beginning of the year, it is that adaptation is always key.
This article was adapted from our latest webinar. You can watch the full webinar below: