Content marketing explained and three steps to get started

Marketing spelled out with Scrabble letters
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There are many buzzwords and much hype that surround the term content marketing – but what is it, and how can it support your organisation’s goals?

Content marketing definitions

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute

There are many different opinions on what content marketing is, as this list of definitions from 25 thought leaders shows.

For my part, I believe content marketing aims to connect people with valuable content, based on their goals and needs, that drives them to act.

It also provides customers and organisations with a better understanding of how they can work together to achieve shared goals.

Three steps to start content marketing

1. Get to know your customers

There are many ways you can introduce content marketing approaches at your organisation, however the first step should always be thinking about your customers.

Who are your customers?

Internally a customer could be viewed as staff, volunteers, senior executives, board members or more. Externally you may communicate with clients or service users, their family members or support network, carers, other organisations and referrers, donors, funders, government – the list goes on.

What are their goals and needs?

What are your customers looking for? For example, someone with a back injury may not instantly think “I need a massage” or “I need to see a physio” – their first step may be to research back pain and the causes, to identify the best treatment options.

How can you address these goals or needs with content?

Your organisation’s expertise and experience, shared through content, can be a great way to demonstrate what you’re all about and how you can help. From the example above, a physiotherapist with extensive knowledge of back pain causes and treatments could share their advice through meaningful content. In turn, this content could drive someone to consider making an appointment with a physiotherapist for specialist treatment.

2. Build your news sense

Stories and information gaps are everywhere; you just need to know them when you see them. Developing a knack for news and knowing what offers value to your customers is the best way you can drive regular content over time.

If you’re working within an organisation, building relationships with colleagues is crucial. Meet with leaders, chat to people in the tea room about what they’re working on, review client feedback and keep an eye on mainstream and social media commentary. What are customers feeling excited about? What are they feeling confused about? How can you address these needs through content?

3. Make a plan

Now that you’ve thought about your customers and their content needs, it’s time to put it together into a plan.

  • Identify a common goal – shared by your business and customer
  • Based on your customer reflections, brainstorm some content ideas
  • Consider your content options – from blogs to lists and infographics, there are many ways to present your information
  • Create a publishing schedule – factoring in timelines for drafting and approvals, and responsibilities for each step

There are some great resources available online to support your content journey, here are just a few:

About the author

Over close to 10 years, I’ve worked within non-profit and community organisations to drive communications and marketing campaigns and initiatives. Making sure people have access to valuable, accessible and inclusive information is a true passion of mine; and a passion I’d love to share with your organisation.

Learn more about Pen For Purpose, the copywriting, editing and content marketing services available to you, or simply get in touch to talk about your communications needs.

Why words matter: writing that promotes inclusion

The words you speak become the house you live in
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Everyone has the right to information that meets their needs and treats them with fairness and respect.

Sometimes when describing people, inaccurate or offensive terms can be unintentionally used. Making sure you use the right terms isn’t just about being ‘politically correct’. Using lazy language can make people feel upset, excluded and misunderstood. It can also deepen divisions and create an ‘us versus them’ environment in the wider community.

As an organisation, living up to your values is critical. One of the best ways you can embed respect is to use fair and inclusive language in your communications.

In the words of Iranian poet Hafiz, “The words you speak become the house you live in”.

Let’s build a house on the write foundations.

Inclusive communications resources

Getting it right when it comes to language isn’t always easy. Luckily there are a number of great resources to get you started.

The ‘Guide to Disability Reporting’ by People with Disability Australia is an excellent resource for checking your language when talking about people with disability. As the guide says in its introduction:

“Your use of language when referring to or talking about people with disability has an impact on the way people with disability feel and the way they are perceived by other people in society. It is important that you are aware of the meaning behind the words you use when talking to, referring to or working with people with disability. Some terms and language can be a barrier to full participation in society and also can mean people with disability feel hurt and excluded.”

The Mindframe Media Guidelines are another great tool that can support you to talk about mental illness and suicide with sensitivity and respect. Developed in partnership by mental health professionals and the media, the Mindframe guidelines aim to change attitudes and perceptions of mental illness and suicide.

The GLAAD Media Reference Guide provides advice on language, content and reporting about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. This guide aims to support fair, accurate and respectful LGBTQ stories.

The ABC’s Indigenous Content Guidelines, while intended for ABC content making, is another useful resource for organisations. These guidelines share advice on language, naming and references, as well as other important cultural traditions and considerations.

Additional resources

Do you have any guides or tips you can recommend? Share your advice in the comments section below.

Seeking specialised support?

Over close to 10 years, I’ve worked within non-profit and community organisations to drive communications and marketing campaigns and initiatives. Making sure people have access to information that is accessible and inclusive is a true passion of mine; and a passion I’d love to share with your organisation.

Learn more about Pen For Purpose, the copywriting, editing and content marketing services available to you, or simply get in touch to talk about your inclusive communications needs.