Define your REACH strategy

It has been said that while traditional marketing talks at people, content marketing talks with them. Here, Newton PR principal Ken Newton explains the consultancy’s REACH strategy that helps focus content marketing actions on achieving business goals.

REACH for it: 5 steps for success
REACH for it: 5 steps for success

This is the era in which content – or engagement – marketing has truly come of age for generating growth in business-to-business as well as consumer facing sectors. For many, the business blog is becoming the engine room for driving engagement with customers and stakeholders, and ultimately leveraging sales.

Content marketing is defined as ‘the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with objective of driving profitable customer action.’¹

Create a REACH strategy

The key takeout from a recent major B2B content marketing survey² was, ‘B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy get better results.’ Newton Public Relations helps businesses to do just that by using five steps, summarised by the word REACH.

1 Radical mission – Envision where you want your business to be in the next one, two or three years. It’s time to think beyond the current turmoil and lingering survivalist thinking of the recession. Define not only the numbers, but your compelling offer to customers, and picture who you ideally want to be doing business with and how you want to be doing it.

2 Engagement plan – Create a plan of engagement with customers and stakeholders that will build your profile as an expert in your field. Decide where your content ‘home base’ will be. This is increasingly the business blog, as it allows you to interact with customers in a more personable way than before. Develop an engagement grid, with target timing for blog posts and other content.

3 Action – This may seem obvious, but if you want to succeed in reaching your goals, you need to take action. Don’t wait to craft the perfect plan or the ultimate measurement system: put the plan into effect and count the results. Let’s get beyond the ploughing season and sow some seeds – the online content pieces – that will bear fruit.

4 Capture – Decide on your metrics and where you will record what you measure, whether it’s using a CRM system or simple spreadsheets and reports. Email apps, blog platforms and social media have built-in metrics which can help you identify which content outputs are working best, while Google Analytics can help track the effectiveness of each marketing activity.

5 Hone – Adjust your strategy and tactics, particularly in the light of what you learn at the capture stage. Effective content marketing requires a sustained, deliberate approach over time, with fine-tuning along the way, as the key to reaping the benefits.

For more news and advice on content marketing and PR, download our new Reach newsletter.

Those that embark on – or continue – the B2B content marketing journey now have an opportunity to gain a strong competitive edge.

Why content marketing needs elephants and canaries

In content marketing, communication pieces carry different levels of weight and impact. To be effective in the online ecosystem, marketing campaigns need a good blend of both heavy and light communications – what I call ‘elephants and canaries’.

Elephants and canaries: content marketing singing in harmony
Elephants and canaries: content marketing singing in harmony
Image © shutterstock.com | mattasbestos

See an elephant fly

Elephants are higher value content pieces which have a relatively long shelf life and potentially have a high degree of influence on buying or advocacy. Like their real-world counterparts, they are associated with long-term memory and longevity. That is, they stick in the mind and are made to last.

These executions include e-books, infographics, videos, animations, white papers, webinars and in-depth blog posts.

Recent research by the Marketing Leadership Council and Google among B2B companies found that purchasers are already 57% through their decision making process before they make contact with their potential suppliers’ sales people.

The report states:

“Potential customers are readily turning to their personal networks and publicly available information – increasingly through digital and social media channels – to self-diagnose problems and form opinions about solutions.”

Elephants help educate customers and stakeholders, and influence decisions both before and after would-be buyers get to the 57% stage. Elephants play a part in gaining you access into potential customers’ ‘purchasing funnels’ well before those same prospects make it into your sales funnel.

Canaries fly further

Canaries are lighter, more numerous and fast-turnaround pieces of content – the email and social media ‘spokes’ in the hub-and-spoke platform.

These feathered friends are the regular e-news issues, tweets, retweets and other social media updates, not to mention quick-fire blog posts.

They work interdependently with the elephants, often promoting the elephants and drawing customers and influencers towards them. The canaries effectively encourage interaction with the company, its brand and its media assets. The elephants meanwhile give the canaries something to sing about.

While the elephants often ‘live’ on the company’s website alone, the canaries help to spread their influence by flying further afield and attracting conversation and back links.

Baby elephant walk

Elephants beget baby elephants, derived sub-assets which can add leverage to the initial effort that went into creating a single, expensive media asset.

I recently copy-edited a 5-minute animation on wound care for a client targeting international healthcare markets. This primary ‘elephant’ asset contains enough material to give birth to ‘babies’ such as spin-off infographics, blog posts, a medical poster and a viral video, not to mention a whole aviary of canaries.

As the New Year approaches now is a good time to be devising the elephants which, allied to your brand objectives, will best contribute to your online narrative in the first three to six months of 2014. You’ll find they will deliver offspring in the form of smaller content pieces and provide a flight deck for your – and your network’s – e-news and social updating ‘canaries’.