A Simple Content Marketing Strategy to Generate Leads

In this post we’ll show you how you can create a practical and effective content marketing strategy to generate leads, improve your brand’s perception in the eyes of clients, and raise overall brand awareness.

We’ll address the biggest hurdles to content marketing and discuss how to put in place a humming engine that delivers solid results.

Let’s start with a story first

Sarah (specifics changed for confidentiality) was the marketing manager at a firm that provided expert digital and analytics services to clients. 

What she did…

After analyzing their digital presence, she, her CEO, and the Head of Sales agreed that the company’s website needed to be more modern and reflect better all that the company was doing.

So Sarah started the work to deliver a modern and relevant web presence. She made sure all the right services, solutions, and success stories were on there. The design looked great and was very pleasing. She used WordPress as a CMS so that they’ll be able to edit and post new content easily.

Everyone including the CEO and the head of sales loved the website. 

But she ran into a challenge…

As weeks passed by, Sarah noticed that the web traffic from her target audience (her prospective and current clients) was almost next to nothing. The experts in her company were not able to maintain a regular blogging schedule so the website didn’t have new and useful content regularly. And when they did publish blogs once in a while, the content and topics seemed random and not very aligned with the sales motions.

Moreover while her social media (LinkedIn and Twitter) posts were regular and looked great, she found that she had nothing really useful to link the audience back to. As a result, most of the likes, shares, and comments were from the company employees.

They did rank for some long tail SEO keywords, but the organic volume was negligible and the bounce rate was very high. 

The pressure was mounting…

It had been a few months, and the CEO was getting impatient. While Sarah was keeping busy with activities like creating pages for events that sales was attending, new pages for new services, and posting company announcements, the overall metrics of lead generation, brand awareness, and brand perception were just not working out.

Marketing just seemed like a necessary evil with no clear contribution to brand or revenue.

So then…

Sarah knew she had to take action. 

The next quarter, Sarah adopted a new approach. The new plan started by brainstorming with the sales team on what were the top client needs / topics where sales was finding traction. Then she met with the service and solution leads to understand what they were pitching to clients in response, and what the company’s differentiators were.

For example, one of the hot topics with clients was about generating useful and timely insights from data.

With his information in hand, she created a simple model of “what good looks like” in the this area, and what are some of activities that that clients should ideally be doing.

She created a content calendar around it and started to publish a nugget of insight every week. (researched and wrote a draft, and then got it reviewed by the experts in the company) 

As she posted on social media, the head of sales shared the posts with clients and prospects. 

And so…

While, the clients were still not submitting lead gen forms on the website, sales reported that they had started getting interest from clients. It was easier to reach out too. The website traffic was also slowly ticking up and social media became fun again. Friends and colleagues in other companies took notice of the new expert content too.   

The CEO was happy with new “brand” momentum and committed additional funds to keep the momentum going. The sales pipeline was showing promise. And there was still lots more to be done with more services, partners, and so on, 

It looked like marketing, sales, and the product/service experts were all better aligned! 

If you can identify with this problem and the desired state outlined above, then read on.

In this post we will outline how to put in practice the strategy that Sarah adopted.    

What is Content Marketing?

“Content marketing is publishing and sharing relevant content that is useful to clients so you can attract and engage them into a conversation.”

That’s it. It’s as simple as that.

However most of us find content marketing extremely challenging. We start well but then our efforts stall within a few weeks. That’s because under the hood, we try to think of and do a lot of things at once (e.g. SEO, email automation, social, top of funnel, bottom of funnel, paid promotions, etc.).

And while they are all important in their own right, they are less important than first nailing down the core purpose of content marketing – “showing how to solve a problem your target audience faces”.

The sales engine needs to be constantly fueled. And if content marketing is aligned with that, it’ll thrive.

An Actionable Plan for Content Marketing

There are just 2 steps to ensuring that you will successfully execute your content marketing plan and also drive sales results.

  1. Identify the problem you are solving & create a simple model that gives the answer to “how can we measure how well our clients are doing?”  
  2. Write about each of the items in the model or questionnaire

As you execute step 2, you can also add more bells and whistles to your posts. These could be optimizing for SEO, creating different formats such as an infographic or a checklist etc. 

Don’t stop doing step 2 until you have addressed all aspects of step 1

Now let’s explore these topics one by one so you have more clarity.

Step 1: Identify the problem & Create a Maturity Model

This should come naturally to most of you. The trick is in taking your knowledge & expertise and translating it into a questionnaire or a checklist.

Here are some examples to better understand this:

  1. A life coach may use a Wheel of Life that measures satisfaction with various dimensions such as family, friends, career etc. Then they would help their clients address the issues.
  2. A digital marketing consultant may create a questionnaire measuring how well their clients are at social media marketing. Then they would go about systematically addressing the issues faced by their clients. 
  3. A cloud computing company may create a questionnaire that measures various dimensions of cloud adoption

As an expert helping your clients, you are in the best position to create this questionnaire.

Remember to keep it simple – no more than 10 questions, or 3-5 dimensions with 3-4 questions each. The questions should be easy to answer.

Don’t try to cover everything but just the most important items.

As you get engaged with your clients, then you can create more sophisticated questionnaires or needs assessments that will also help sales move the conversations forward. 

Step 2: Write about each of the items in your maturity model

If you’ve ever had writer’s block, you know how it’s like to look at a blank screen. However, with the approach outlined in this post, you will say goodbye to writer’s block.

Remember that the singular purpose of you writing anything is “showing how to solve a problem your target audience faces”.

You have already broken the problem down into smaller parts and addressed it in your questionnaire. Now all that is left is to take each part and tell your clients how to address it. 

You can follow this standard format for your posts:

  1. Why is this specific topic important (hint: it’s part of your overall questionnaire or model). Provide some statistics if you have them.
  2. Cite a story of someone who successfully overcame this specific issue, or didn’t. This story can be fictional so long as you state that it is fictional.
  3. Explain briefly how one can go about addressing this topic. You can give examples and best practices. Bullet points are ok. Focus on quality, not quantity. Think about it like this: If you were explaining this to someone, how would you do it.  
  4. Don’t be very prescriptive. Instead offer a discovery session to provide more details.

Next Steps

That’s all there is to it – creating a framework, and then explaining the framework in a way that is helpful to your clients as they try to solve a problem.

Once you have this part under control, you can feel free to focus on other things such as SEO, other formats such as downloadable checklists and infographics etc. 

This kind of approach also has a psychological aspect to it. It builds trust and positions you as an anchor in your customers’ minds. So they keep coming back to you as they make a decision to buy.   

If you want a dynamic online model that can =be used for lead generation and which generates insights every time it’s taken, then get started with a 2 weeks trial with Evalinator