Aileen Barron: Are you utilising your sales team in your content marketing plan?

By Aileen Barron, Green Acre Marketing

The ability to push out optimised, well put together, good content for online posting is a ‘must have’ for any agri-business.

However, having the skill to create consistent, relevant and interesting content is the challenge. The greatest challenge being a commitment to constantly produce topics that are relevant and of value to the market you are trying to appeal to.

So, what exactly is content marketing?

The official line direct from the Content Marketing Institute states that 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.

Put in other words, by us at Green Acre Marketing, it is the content you create that tells the story of your product, service or brand in a way that is useful to existing or potential customers and further embeds your brand and image in their mind.

There are many types of content that is relevant to farmers and agri-businesses. For example: how-to guides; testimonials; case studies; FAQ’s; resources; advice; technical articles; product guidelines; company news, etc.

However, a challenge we see for most marketing professionals responsible for content creation, is that very often the power is in the hands of the technical sales people.

They know their customers, know what they are interested in and are at the cold face of dealing with product and service queries. Wouldn’t it be useful if they fed back the top five most asked questions of the past month along with the solution, and ‘hey presto’ there is the foundation for your content calendar.

Tools available to make content creation easier

A content calendar is a very useful tool and this can be simply generated in Excel outlining: topic; deadline date for submission; contributors; and date for posting.

Set out this plan with the people you need to help you generate the content; ensuring you involve your salespeople, and if you have the luxury; involve your SEO (search engine optimisation) person. This will ensure the content is of value, composed and posted to have maximum impact.

Of course, there are lots of tools that make content creation a little less challenging, but it is worth spending the time researching the ones that fit best with your business and people.

We are advocates of being true to your brand and your message, so try to use the resources you already have access to, that you know have the knowledge to supply you with something that will be of value to your market.

Publishing your content

Many businesses struggle with having good content but don’t know how or where to publish it. All companies go through the struggle of getting traditional media to pick up on stories that they would love to tell others.

The issue being, in most cases, those stories are not juicy enough to sell newspapers. This is where digital marketing and social media come into their own.

Once you have any of the following platforms set up: FacebookTwitter; Instagram; a website; YouTube; you can publish your content there. For example, post a news item on your website and push out a number of Facebook posts to promote it.

The best part about content marketing and using your social media platforms to publish it, is that you can measure what people like and don’t like, simply by the rate of engagement and other analytical tools available with each platform to find out how many people liked your content, reacted to your content, bounced straight off it, etc.

What to watch out for

Be realistic in how often you can create content. It sounds easy to write a 400-word piece twice a week but, from my experience, unless that is your sole purpose in life, it won’t happen.

Set realistic expectations of perhaps two articles a month and once you can keep up with that routine then think about doing one per week. Whatever you can manage, be regimental, as your audience does not want to be bombarded with material one week and then not hear from you for another six months.

If you are having a good week creating content, store your drafts and schedule for another week. For example, WordPress and other posting tools allows you to schedule draft posts for publication.

The power of content marketing

I am a real believer in the power of content marketing and have experienced it first-hand. So, to the skeptics who ask ‘can content marketing really drive sales?’ I would say, absolutely.

For assistance with your content marketing strategy or for help with putting a plan together for your agri-business, email Green Acre Marketing at: [email protected].