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How do I get started with content marketing?

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Hey Brandi,
I'd like to get started with content marketing, but I'm not sure how. Any suggestions?

Content marketing is one of the most popular terms right now. Before I give tips on how to get started, let's make sure we're on the same page about what content marketing is.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is:

Content marketing is the practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism.

Well, that's big and broad, now isn't it?

To break it down into the simplest terms, content marketing is using content (blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, white papers, webinars, the list goes on…) to help move prospects through the buying cycle.

To get started with content marketing, here are the first three steps:

(1) Identify your ideal client
(2) Define their pain points – whether they recognize them or not
(3) Create content that aligns with each stage of the buying cycle

After you've created the content that aligns with each stage of the buying cycle, you need to get it into the hands of your customers. For content that aligns with the first stage of the buying cycle (awareness), this means more traditional demand generation activities, including paid advertising, networking, and search engine optimization.

For most of us who are leveraging content marketing from an inbound marketing perspective, this means that we'll ask our prospects to trade with us: their contact information for a piece of high-value content.

Content that correlates to later stages of the buying cycle (consideration and decision) is often delivered to clients as they arrive at that stage; either through an automated process or manually by a sales rep.

Does my blog count as content marketing?

Your blog is definitely a component of content marketing, but (in most cases), it's not a full content strategy by itself. In order to make the best use of your blog, you should have clear calls to action that help your reader move into the sales cycle (or at least get on your radar by joining a newsletter list).

What kind of content should I create?

Oh dear reader, if I could answer this definitively for you with a blanket suggestion, I would. (I would also probably have winning lotto numbers and be writing this from a beachfront cabana!) There is no one-size-fits-all approach to what content you need to create. As much as the trend is toward video right now, it depends on who is in your target audience and what's most efficient to get them the information they need to progress to the next stage.

Plus, it needs to be content that you're comfortable creating. If you hate writing, then focusing on eBooks may not be right for you (at least in the beginning). The same goes for video when you're self-conscious about being on camera.

If you're not sure where to start, look at what a few complimentary product sites offer. If you're focusing on fitness for new moms, you could look at what other fitness sites are offering, as well as other sites that are targeting new moms.

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