Content Marketing: Why the Audience Always Comes First

Advertising can often be perceived as product promotion from brand to consumer. Content marketing is reframing this narrative by looking to meet the audience’s needs before ever mentioning a product. Seem backwards? It’s not.

Simply put, content marketing is about creating and pushing content out to a targeted audience. In her article, Content Marketing Can Do More Than Survive in the New World, Stephanie Stahl, the General Manager of the Content Marketing Institute, notes that the post-COVID world is the ideal world for content marketing. Paid advertising decreased in 2020, revealing a consumer appetite for diverse forms of content marketing. Whereas many marketing tactics work to elevate a single product, content marketing uses a variety of platforms to create an experience for the audience and increase brand loyalty. It is a holistic approach to brand awareness rather than an exclusive promotion of a singular product.

If you’re looking to change perceptions about your brand as an industry leader, content marketing is an effective option.

Audience first, always. 

GS&F has an audience-first approach in everything we do; this has proven to be our best strategy in content marketing. Before we move forward with content, we first get the pulse of our clients’ audience: What do they know? What don’t they know? What’s valuable to them? Answering these questions by doing industry and audience research provides the framework for our next step: content generation. Based on our deep understanding of our audience, we concept content and determine which channels are best suited to distributing it in order to reach them.

The message and medium matter all the more in the current media and information landscape, in which it is harder than ever to break through and capture audience attention.

A simplified breakdown of our approach to content marketing for LP looked like this:

Who is the audience?
A: Homeowners and Building professionals

What is the audience need?
A: Practical industry content: trends, tips, advice, how-to’s

What type of content makes sense to deliver?
A: Mix of educational and entertaining content: industry resources, industry trends, tips/tricks, influencer features

What is the channel(s) we are activating?
A: Web, specifically, blog

How can the content be distributed across other channels?
A: Promoted on social media, newsletters and other paid digital media tactics

Notice, there is no mention of a singular product in the overall strategy; this is because we are working toward providing building professionals solutions first. We began structuring posts starting with an industry problem and then laying out a solution. Then, within that solution we weave in applicable LP products. Perception changes behavior more than product promotion. By aiming to address an audience need or question first and foremost, we are able to position LP as a key resource in their industry as a whole.

LP Building Solutions came to GS&F because they wanted to be seen as a solutions provider for homeowners and professionals, not just a provider of products.  Content marketing continues to help communicate LP’s value proposition and underscore their commitment to solutions by providing value to their audience.

Our integrated approach

In addition to our audience-first approach, GS&F places high value on content integration. Depending on the brand’s needs, we recommend a variety of ways to approach content marketing, from blogs to infographics to social media content. Even if one channel might be the primary focus of a particular content marketing effort, we concept and produce content that is workable across channels for maximum reach.

For example, we publish blogs weekly for LP Building Solutions. Instead of thinking about each blog post as a singular piece of content that lives only on the blog, we leverage these blogs for earned media outreach as well as inspiration or the basis for significant social media content. Delivering the same messaging across different platforms increases the number of impressions and consistently reinforces key messaging. Ultimately, this helps position LP Building Solutions and its products at the front of the target audience as a trusted partner.

Signs a client’s content marketing strategy needs a refresh 

So how do you know if you may need to formalize or revisit a content marketing strategy?

When marketing directors feel as though they are constantly having to create new tactics and resources, they risk overextending their teams on behalf of content generation. Integrated content-marketing avoids this by building a larger network of resources to pull from. These resources can be used across channels so that directors don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they want to make an audience impression. Creating connected resources ensures your audience hears the same messages from multiple sources. This builds awareness and trust in the mind of the audience.

Engagement metrics that reveal disinterest in the audience are a sign that a brand has strayed from the audience-first mindset. Content marketing provides your audience with what they are looking for, not just what the brand thinks they need.

We also evaluate whether or not our clients’ content is cohesive. If it feels disjointed, slow or if the client is lacking in ideas, it is time to rethink strategy. The audience should be able to understand the content they’re being fed with ease. Consider organizing content around content pillars to ensure a consistent look, feel and tone.

It isn’t fool-proof

Content marketing can be extremely successful when done right. To ensure success for your clients, avoid these major mistakes:

1.  Not promoting your content

2.  Not tailoring the content for each channel or picking the wrong channel

3.  Neglecting the needs of the audience

4.  Creating content on a topic your brand doesn’t have authority to cover

Though it takes many forms, content marketing is an integral aspect to a client’s overall marketing plan. It is a long-term brand-building tactic that creates sustainable brand loyalty and lays the groundwork for success with more direct marketing strategies .

Have you had success with content marketing? We’d love to help you propel your brand forward. Get started here.

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