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4 Steps to Making Great Content Happen
Excerpt from Get Content. Get Customers. by Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett

Many businesses, especially small businesses, may not have the financial resources to create a glossy custom magazine program, but all companies can initiate an effective content marketing program that works.

Creating great content that truly affects your customers and prospects is not easy, but it's a mandatory element of today's successful business strategies. As a communication expert, it is your responsibility to position your content packaging as more a product, worthy of investment, testing and feedback controls, than just another communication tactic. In order to accomplish this, four distinct steps are necessary.

1. Determine which organizational goals will be affected by the content program.
To be successful, an effective content marketing program must directly tie to your organization's overall objectives. Don't get into creating content because it's in style. Do it because it truly helps your customers and, in turn, your business.

Most of the key problems with a content program result from a clear misunderstanding of organizational goals. So, let's start there. Organizational goals must be two things: specific and customer-focused. Here are a few examples of organizational goals:

• Increase our number of domestic widget-line software customers by 20%
• Generate an average of 10% revenue growth with our top 20% of customers in Latin America
• Sell consulting packages to 10 new customers in 2008

These may seem simple, but it's amazing how many marketing organizations don't bring these types of goals to the table when creating a content program. So, before you launch your content program, be sure to list your key organizational goals.

2. Determine the informational needs of the buyer.
Most people want to move directly into creating the tactics for the content program. Makes sense for it to be that way, right? Now that you understand the organizational goals, and have chosen the ones that will be affected by the content program, you can come up with some clear and measurable content marketing tactics. Right? Wrong.

Successful businesses already have a pretty good understanding of their core buyers. In order to create an effective content program, you need to take it a step further. Businesses with content marketing programs create content that is supposed to do very specific things. Just think how pointless this would be if you didn't know what information customers need to make better buying decisions–buying decisions that ultimately lead back to the organization's overall goals.

Understand your customers by doing comprehensive research. Comprehensive research does not necessarily mean expensive. Think of your research as including the following:

• Phone calls and in-person meetings with customers—include people that you think should be customers (what we call "shutouts")
• Zoomerang or SurveyMonkey e-mail surveys to customers and prospects
• Discussions with your customer service and sales personnel

By doing the above, you'll be able to create a buyer persona (a vision of who your target customer really is), and a true understanding of what information they need, which will effectively get you to your goals.

3. Determine what you want your customer to do and why this helps the business.
Have you ever asked someone who owns a company what their website is for? Most answers are scary and revolve around the ultimate response, which is "because you can't do business without one." Even companies that believe their websites drive revenue can rarely define exactly how.

Content marketing programs are no different. Organizations create custom magazines, newsletters, microsites, podcast series, etc., for all kinds of reasons. Many know exactly what they do and are supposed to do. Unfortunately, many others do not.

Before you initiate and create the content for your content marketing plan, make sure:

• The content plan specifically drives your organization's goals
• The action(s) you want the customer to take are in some way measurable
• The content is based on your research about the buyers' informational needs

If you have each of these components, you can create very specific goals for your content program. Some of these goals will be easy to link to your overall goals (e.g., achieving a business transaction). Others will just be pieces of the overall pie that keep you going in the right direction.

4. Determine the product and content mix.
There are a number of content products to choose from; and this list is growing longer every day. By mixing your knowledge of the customer, your organizational objectives, and, frankly, your budget, you should be able to determine an appropriate content mix of products. Remember, even though there are leading content products (for example, a custom magazine may take the primary role), your content marketing program should be well-integrated with your website, microsites, ancillary content initiatives, and other collateral. Make sure all touch points speak to each another.

These are four easy steps that are often overlooked by most organizations. Businesses want to get into the execution of content because that's, frankly, more interesting. Take some time and make sure you have a clear understanding of your needs and your customers' needs. It will save you time, money, and will ensure a successful content program.
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This article is from Get Content. Get Customers. It is the new book by marketing experts Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett that shows how to use content marketing to deliver relevant, valuable, and compelling information that turns prospects into buyers. Get Content. Get Customers. is available at Amazon.com, or learn more at www.getcontentgetcustomers.com.

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