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Content Marketing 101Whether you’ve attended a webinar, downloadedan eBook or shared a graphic on Facebook, you’veprobably participated in content marketing withouteven knowing it. While it might be an ambiguousterm, content marketing is one of the most effectiveand popular marketing tools in today’s clutteredworld – and one your ministry or nonprofit shouldbe using.THE A GROUP 2

What is content marketing?According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Contentmarketing is a marketing technique of creating anddistributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire,and engage a clearly defined and understood targetaudience – with the objective of driving profitable customeraction.”In other words, where advertisers rent media, contentmarketers own it – creating and distributing articles, art,blogs, videos, graphics and other pieces to reach andconnect with new and existing supporters and customers.Content marketing is highly effective for discovery, leadgeneration and reputation building. It is highly shareableand can cause a connection with audiences, regardless ofknowledge of your brand.THE A GROUP 3

Examples of content marketingWhite papers, articlesand PDF resourcesWebinarsBlog postsSocial media sharegraphicsVideo tutorialsInterviews with leadersCase studiesCustomer quotesTestimonial videosStory videosShort filmsPhotographyeBooksTHE A GROUP 4

It’s nothing new.While “content marketing” is currently all the rage in theindustry, the concept of using non-marketing-focusedcontent to build relationships with your audience is nothingnew. Custom publishers have been creating corporatemagazines, full of interviews, stories and resources relatedto a brand, for years. In fact, John Deere’s magazine, TheFurrow, launched in 1985, is often credited as being the firstexample content marketing piece.The difference today is that advances in media andtechnology create new ways to share content, givingit a viral quality and making it a tool for lead generationand discovery, not just a connection point with existingaudiences.It’s not just for business.While content marketing is heavily used in business-tobusiness communications, it is an important – and oftenoverlooked – marketing tool for ministries. After all, contentmarketing is nothing more than storytelling, and nonprofitsoften have the best stories to tell. Sharing tales of impact,tips for ministry, or examples of content (if you are a contentfocused organization like a church or publisher) can be agreat way to build trust with supporters and show instead ofjust tell the importance of your work.THE A GROUP 5

For example, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, FriendsLife, a development program for adults with disabilities,asked its participants to share their dreams, which they thenshared across their social media platforms. This contentput names with faces and demonstrated how people withdevelopmental disabilities still fight for equality – and howFriends Life helps them do so.Why content marketing?From targeted ads on every website and the billboardsof Times Square to the TVs at the gas pump and thesponsorship at every event, we live in a society saturatedwith marketing messages. In fact, Yankelovich, a marketresearch firm, estimated that a person living in a city 30 yearsago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared withup to 5,000 in 2007 (and it’s only increasing). This sensoryoverload had led to consumers becoming more immuneto traditional sales-focused methods. Content marketing ishighly a response to this marketing burnout, cutting throughthe clutter by offering something of value.Not only are today’s consumers more overwhelmed, theyare also more informed – making them more skeptical andsavvy. With our highly social culture, word-of-mouth orTHE A GROUP 6

recommendations from friends hold higher value than an adclaim, and finding the truth about a product or organization isjust a Google search away. Rather than telling someone whyyou’re the best, when you provide a resource, you show whyyou’re the best, positioning yourself as an expert and buildtrust and a reputation over time.The benefits of content marketing Builds trust. Positions you as an expert. Lets your audience get to know you– not just what you’re selling. Non-invasive. Provides a resource instead of a sell. Highly shareable.At the end of the day, people don’t want to be marketedto; they want to be part of something. Instead of trying toinfluence decision, content marketing gives consumers theeducation they need to make informed decisions – an actionthat will be rewarded with financial support.THE A GROUP 7

“People want to be a part of something bigger thanthemselves because everyone wants to be biggerthan they are. So when you have a conversationabout how you fit into their lives instead of theother way around, you reframe the conversationand give them a chance to own it.” – Brains on FireBuilding a successful content strategy.Think like an editor.Just like a newspaper editor takes time determining whatstories are most important and where they should be placed,the same is true for content marketing. While the ultimategoal of content marketing is conversion, it is implementedmost effectively when you take off your marketer’s hat andthink like a journalist, paying attention to what is newsworthy,what is relevant to your audience, and when and what formatmakes the most sense.Think about every piece you release in context. Ask if it’s relevant to your audience and how it builds on itself. Create aneditorial calendar so you can see the big picture of how eachpiece fits together. Remember that at the point of contentcreation, your job is not to sell but to resource, creating anopportunity to follow up with the ask later.THE A GROUP 8

Streamline your strategy.Most organizations, especially small ministries, nonprofits andchurches, rarely have staff devoted entirely to content creation, which can make content marketing seem inaccessibleor impossible. While content marketing certainly requires atime investment, it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as itseems. Rather than constantly chasing after content ideas,finding ways to streamline and repurpose content will not onlysave your organization time but also make your strategy moreconsistent and comprehensive. Anchor your content.o Like a popular big box store in a new shoppingcenter, choose one area of expertise to anchor yourcontent strategy and then build around it. Identify onetopic that is relevant to your audience and ministry andcreate a month – or even year’s – worth of contentaround it, using multiple forms of media (blogs,infographics, share graphics, PDFs, video series etc.) togive each element a life of its own.For example, Student Leadership University, anexperience-based leadership training program for youth,surveyed students about the most pressing topics andchallenges facing their generation. The results of thissurvey became the anchor of an integrated contentTHE A GROUP 9

marketing strategy, ranging from webinars and blogposts addressing the topics to a PDF resource releasingthe survey findings. Know its lifespan.o While it can be tempting to overfill an editorialcalendar, many marketers underestimate the shelf lifeof a truly valuable content piece. For example, ChristianCopyright Solutions was surprised to see how thearticle, 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Churchat Risk, it created in partnership with The A Group wasactively being downloaded weeks after it was released.Rather than move on to the next piece, CCS decidedto make the most of the momentum it was still seeing,taking the article and breaking it into six individual blogposts and offering its staff up as guest bloggers to coverthe topic. You never want your content to stagnate, butyou also want to max out the full life of a piece.THE A GROUP 10

Curate your content.Once you’ve created content, the true marketing begins withcontent distribution. Where traditional print media such asnewspapers, magazines, and direct mail used to be the mainavenue for distributing content, new technology makes iteasy for anyone to be a publisher – and for content to havea much more viral and wider reach. Promote content directlythrough your channels as well as seed it through othernetworks for increased visibility. S end an email blast to your lists releasing thecontent. D esign, print, and mail hard copies of large piecessuch as whitepapers to key contacts. P romote it on your blog and social media accounts– Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest andInstagram. R each out to prominent bloggers who you thinkwould be interested in your content and ask them tohelp share it. R un a series of pay-per-click and online adspromoting large content pieces. F ind outlets that aggregate content, such asSlideshare for presentations, where you can seedyour content, getting it in front of larger audiences.THE A GROUP 11

Close the deal.While providing relevant content resources simply to equipcustomers and supporters is a noble cause, conversionis still the ultimate goal of content marketing. The contentserves as an introduction, letting someone get to knowyour brand and what you have to offer, and a way to collectinformation for follow up. Your content should be branded,allow you to collect contact information whenever possible,and leave them wanting more. Make the ask match the offer.o Personal information is an unspoken currency inthe digital age. Most are willing to give it up, but onlyfor something of equal value in return. Understand theweight that different pieces of content hold and makethe gateway to accessing that content appropriate forthe offer. For example, most are used to registering fora webinar or providing an email to download an indepth whitepaper, where collecting contact informationto read a blog or check out an info graphic will likelyturn away more than it will grab. Call when you say you will.o Most people understand that they will be contactedif they give you their email address. Don’t miss anopportunity to reach out to these new contacts, butTHE A GROUP 12

also don’t fall into the trap of simply adding them to anewsletter list or sales database. Follow up shortly afterthey interact with you and make the contact personal,recognizing the content they downloaded and offeringthem related content. An audience member is mostengaged immediately after they’ve interacted with yourbrand, so follow the three days rule and contact themquickly after the introduction. Don’t come on too strong.o At the same time, just like you wouldn’t (or at leastshouldn’t!) propose on a first date, don’t go straight forthe sales pitch or donation ask. Remember it was yourcontent, not necessarily your organization, that drewthem in, and you want to let them get to know you ata comfortable pace. Engage them with more relevantcontent and always include calls-to-action to learnmore about what you do. Keep track of how manytimes you’ve contacted someone and slowly increasethe ask as you build a relationship.THE A GROUP 13

Content marketing doesn’t haveto be confusing. By creating aneditorial calendar, streamlining yourideas, and effectively distributingand following up on your content,you can quickly build relationships– and fans – through storytellingand relevant resources.THE A GROUP 14

ABOUT THE A GROUPThe A Group is a full-servicemarketing and technology firmhelping ministries, churches,and nonprofits tell their storiesand build influence.We are a strategic solutions company. Our vision is tooffer our clients creative and effective solutions to theirbranding, technology and communications needs.We work hard to understand their challenges andopportunities and navigate the marketplace, which hasbeen radically transformed by new technologies.THE A GROUP 15

CONTACT US320 Seven Springs WaySuite 100Brentwood, TN 37027Toll Free: 866.258.4800615.373.6990Fax: 615.373.6991info@agroup.comwww.agroup.comFIND US: 2013 The A GroupTHE A GROUP 16

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” In other word

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