Content marketing is all about sharing valuable, interesting and entertaining information with prospects, clients and other creatives. The idea is that by creating and spreading great content, you become a "go-to" source for info within your niche or market, and that givesyou an edge above the competition when it comes to landing design, marketing, branding or advertising projects.
Creating and sharing content on the web also has the added advantage of helping you improve your rankings on google, and that's always a good thing.
Content marketing is one of the biggest marketing forces active today – and if you're a creative working with brands, you'll no doubt have some exposure to their content marketing efforts. But many creatives shy away from content marketing: "it's just writing blog posts … boring!" you say.
But good content marketing is so much more than "boring blog posts" – it's about providing essential information and creating a community around your brand, and that's powerful. No wonder more and more agencies are embracing the world of content marketing. Maybe it's time you gave it a go, too? Here are 5 ideas to help you approach content marketing with your creative side:
1. What Stories Do You Have to Tell?
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Creative agencies know that branding, advertising and marketing is all about telling stories. People want to be able to see and experience a brand's story through their marketing – they want to follow a journey, and see a situation they can relate to. They want real people, real characters, real situations.
Content marketing is all about telling your own story, and the stories of your customers. You don't have to do this through writing – images, video, infographics and other new media solutions provide excellent tools for presenting stories.
In every piece of content you share, strive to bring its core essence back to a story – because it's that story that will hold a prospect's attention.
Here are some blog ideas for creative agencies that tell stories:
- Walk the reader through one of your client projects.
- Tell the story of a project from pitch to brief to final product.
- Show results a client achieved after using your agency for a campaign.
- Write about "How to be a Good Client" and "How to get the most from Your Agency Partner."
- Share your key takeaways some of the presentations you heard at a recent conference.
- Offer advice to young creative on how to land a job and improve their portfolio.
2. Get Your Audience to Do All the Hard Work
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User-generated content is a great solution for creatives who want to combine content creation with customer outreach. It's also an excellent way for a creative company to express their brand ideals – by get your audience to experience your brand through their own creative thinking.
A classic example of this is the stationary company Moleskine. They use their Pinterest page to host competitions where fans send in images of their customised notebooks. These competition entries are shared all over social media as entrants try to drum up votes and other creatives save ideas for their own inspiration. Moleskine gain an increasing reputation as a company that inspires the creative site in people.
What could your agency do to encourage user-generated content?
- Curate a design-centred tumblr where users can add their own images.
- Ask questions from your readers and use their answers as the formation of blog posts.
- Create a blog dedicated to bad typography mistakes – people will hunt out examples to submit.
- Ask readers for their favourite links of the week to add to a weekly roundup.
- Host blog carnivals. A blog carnival is an organised roundup of posts written about a given topic. You choose a topic and ask several bloggers to create a post on that topic, to be published in the same week. You then get every blogger to link to all the other posts in the carnival. It’s a great way to pool resources and generate a wider audience for your blog.
3. Use Multiple Formats
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If you're not a writer, the thought of spending a considerable amount of time churning out blog posts about subjects related to your industry sends shivers down your spine.
But content marketing has gone far beyond blogging – creative companies are finding ways to use other media forms to create communities and attract attention. After all, not everyone responds well to the written word.
Using a variety of different mediums and techniques, you can reach an audience on multiple levels. As a creative, being able to experiment with different forms of content creation will definitely appeal.
Since creative agencies work predominantly with visual formats, many are making use of the more visual types of social media, namely Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. Here are 5 Agencies Using Pinterest in exciting ways.
4. Get on board with influencers
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What is an influencer?
That's the new fancy-pants term for "people who have a huge following and are considered experts in a niche". Influencers are the a-level bloggers, celebrity tweeters and YouTube darlings, and if you want to really succeed with content marketing, you need to get a few of them on your side.
Hunt out the main influencers in your creative niche, and start engaging with them. Share their content, talk to them on social media, invite them to an event, or send them free stuff. The more relationships you can cultivate with influencers, the more your content – and therefore, your brand – will be spread and recognised.
5. Curate instead of Create
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Creativity thrives in an environment of inspiration, so why not create your very own inspiration source that you share online? Curating content means bringing together different ideas, images, videos, text and concepts from all corners of the web and presenting them in a way that gives them content next to one another.
In a creative role, you probably find yourself doing this anyway – hunting down things that inspire you and help you to formulate ideas. With content curation, you take those ideas and share them with your community.
Graphic designer Shauna Haider is an expert at curating content. Her design blog Nubby Twiglet is a perfect symbiosis of typographic, fashion and design inspiration. Her followers enjoy watching her curated style come together and learning about the design process through her inspiration boards.
6. Infiltrate or Create Community
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What are other creatives seeking online? More than anything, they are looking for community – like-minded people who they can share common beliefs and interests.
As a creative, you have a ready-built community of fellow creatives who are hanging out online. They are just the people you're trying to reach with your content marketing.
Find out where they congregate online, and hang out there too. Design agencies hang out on entrepreneur blogs, graphic designers spend time in writing boards, and web development agencies are all over software forums. And if you can't insert yourself into a community, create one of your own!
Content marketing is so much more than just writing blogs and posting them online, it's all about sharing – information, inspiration and innovation – with those who are interested, and finding ways to get your brand's message across in new and appealing ways. As a creative, you have a mind primed to make the most of the content marketing revolution – it's time you put your creative energy toward creating something brilliant to share.
Are you an agency using content marketing effectively? What are your tips for a winning content strategy?