Content Marketing: Time to Hone in.

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Last week, we had the pleasure of attending CMI’s Content Marketing Master Class, taught by industry vets, Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose.
 
The session was loaded with great examples of effective content strategies, many of which validated our own approach to content marketing. It was reassuring to see that many brands who viewed their efforts as being “successful” also reported that they had a specific area of concentration with their content.
 
The one statement that resonated the most from Pulizzi and Rose was: “It’s just as important to stop doing things as it is to start doing things.” That to us is the key to honing in – by eliminating distracting efforts you create room to focus on what you do best.
 
If there’s one mantra to live by going into 2017 it’s to focus your strategy. Just because you CAN do lots of things, doesn’t mean you should. As the saying goes: You can’t be everything to everyone. Nor should you try to be.
 
So why are we still trying to do so much?
 
Knowing that marketers will continue to increase content creation and publishing (77% of B2C marketers planned on producing more content in 2016), what are the measures we can take to work smarter and not harder?
 
Here are the most logical areas where we can look to maximize results while minimizing the effort we put in: Audience, Subject Matter, and Distribution.
 

Audience

There are quite possibly several audiences you could try to appeal to, but who are you most trying to resonate with?
 
The tendency is to want to appeal to as many people as possible. Reach – the amount of people that see our marketing – is after all a driving factor behind evaluating what marketing tactics are worth doing. The more people we reach, the more likely we are to report that the marketing was successful. However, with a content marketing approach it’s just as important to truly connect with the people we hope will join our audience, which involves getting deeper into the specific interests they have rather than trying to cover a broader set of interests.
 
Key Takeaway – Focus on one target audience, OR, find the single commonality between your audience segments.
 
 

Subject Matter

 
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Even with a focused audience, there could be several areas of interest to talk about. If you could limit yourself to just talking about one thing, what would it be?
 
We’re all familiar with the figure of speech, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. In content, that gets translated to – the more subjects we try to talk about, the less likely we are to build ourselves as an expert voice for any single one of those subjects. Therefore, we need to start with the one thing that we can do different (and better) than everybody else. This goes for both the subject matter we choose as well as the way we package it up for our audience. Robert Rose shared a great perspective with his Tales vs Stories comparison. Tales go into less depth and are less specific. The same Tales get shared by a lot of different people, so it’s challenging for an audience to credit one source as telling the best version of that Tale. Stories go deeper and are very specific. They may take more effort to discover, package up and share, but there will be no mistaking who and where they came from.
 
Key Takeaway – Come up with one really great thing you can provide to an audience. Go all in on that and then determine how you can logically build out from there.
 
Here are 3 niche content marketing examples to look at:
 

  • Johnson & Johnson has a variety of products ranging from pharmaceuticals to biotech, but with Baby Center they concentrate on delivering value to new and expecting moms.
  • John Deere makes a range of equipment to cover residential and business needs, but with The Furrow they specifically target farmers.
  • Samuels & Associates’ business goal is to rent both business and residential properties, but with The Fenway they’ve built a community around what to do for entertainment in the neighborhood.

 
 

Distribution Channels

There is certainly no shortage of options for where content can be published. But, if you could be in just one place and dominate what you do there, where would that be?
 
With so many possible channels for distribution, the inclination is to be in as many places as possible. This often leads to being spread thin, both in terms of providing fresh content appropriate to each platform and the bandwidth required to nurture the various audiences that exist.
 
Key Takeaways – Choose the best single distribution channel based on the most relevant alignment with your target audience and focused subject matter. Weigh the pros and cons of building on owned or rented land.
 
 

Conclusion

So in short, first focus on the single audience, subject matter, and distribution channel that allow you to truly provide a differentiated and ownable content niche. Make a long-term commitment to owning that niche, and once you start to experience success, see what you can add from there that best complements the area you’ve focused on.
 
 

So with that in mind, what are the things that you can stop doing right now?

 
 
 
Luke Garro is the EVP, Content Director at GYK Antler and Creative Director at Noble & Cooley, makers of the world’s best drums. Follow @lukegarro on Twitter, and see him pound drums for Piebald.