Last week, I read one of the savviest pieces of content marketing I have seen in ages, on this very website.

It had a clever headline that immediately captured my interest: “ ‘Likes’ after death: handling the deceased’s social media.” The yarn, by Anna Hacker, cleverly combined death, always an attention grabber, with an issue that people are becoming increasingly aware of: what happens to your social media footprint once you’re gone. It was impossible to ignore, so straightaway it got a big tick from me.

My business partner passed away 16 months ago, and his LinkedIn profile sits dormant, apart from the occasional request from a stranger to connect. Chris Walker was larger than life, but even he won’t be accepting LinkedIn invitations from beyond the grave. After reading Hacker’s piece, I now know that LinkedIn doesn’t have a memorialisation option, but it is possible to ask for Chris’s account to be removed.

Prior to reading Hacker’s blog, I’d always associated her firm, Australian Unity, with scholarship bonds. The article triggered me to visit the business’s website. And now I realise that Australian Unity does more than helping parents meet tuition fees.

The impact of Hacker’s article got me thinking about what you need to do to create truly effective content marketing:

  1. Get the media to spread your message.

Before blogs and social media, the only way to get the media to cover you was through public relations. There are many more ways to skin a cat these days, but whether you write a blog that is posted on Professional Planner or send a media release to journalists doesn’t matter: it’s the value of your content that will get journalists (and other bloggers) spreading your message to a wider audience. The Australian Unity piece is a good example of this, because it got me writing about it for this column.

A mark of good content is when editors and journalists give it the light of day. Good content also works across multiple channels, whether it’s a LinkedIn post, a blog, or content a journalist uses in an article, radio talkback segment or news report.

  1. Be strategic.

When you launch a content marketing strategy, it’s crucial to work out beforehand why you’re doing it. Just like in the rest of your marketing or sales activities, there must be a point to your content strategy. Set some clear goals at the start and you’ll save yourself much wasted time later.

  1. Offer value

No matter what the main goal of your strategy is, your content always needs to offer value to the client. This is another way the Australian Unity piece makes for highly successful content marketing.

  1. Position yourself as a thought leader

Content is best served as part of a robust thought-leadership program. It has to stack up and be seen by readers as a credible opinion.

  1. Choose the right horse for the right course.

There’s a time and place for good content that helps sell your offering more directly than a thought leadership piece might. For example, you might create a client case study, showing how you delivered an outcome for a specific client.

Both thought leadership and more sales-focused content marketing have their place. The most important consideration is choosing where and when to engage your client with each type of content. For example, a client that is simply interested in financial planning but is not yet ready to engage you is a perfect target for thought-leadership content. A client further down the buying cycle, who might be ready to make a decision on which planner to use, would be more interested in content that helps showcase your specific ability.

  1. Get your audience to take action.

Great content influences how your clients and potential clients interact with your services. For instance, Australian Unity is now on my radar for estate planning, both as a consumer and in my capacity as a personal finance journalist.

  1. Make it engaging.

There’s nothing worse than uninspiring content that bores the pants off people. Spend time creating stories that you know will grab the interest of your target audience, speak directly to them – and make them want to share your content on social media.

  1. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

You can’t keep pumping out the same type of content. Think about how your audience wants to view, read or listen to stories, then create multiple types of content that appeals to them – it could be blogs, articles, videos, podcasts or infographics. There’s no one perfect way to deliver great content – every medium has its place as part of an effective strategy.

  1. Avoid making it all about you.

As with all marketing strategies, the key is to put your client at the heart of your thinking. If you make it all about you, chances are no one will be listening.

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