Recently, a prominent business leader called a former client of mine to compliment him on the book he’d recently published. This leader, who ran two of America’s largest corporations, said he had read the short self-published book “cover to cover” and wanted to share some insights and ideas for the author’s framework. We created the simple framework for the book and the author uses it with every client.

The client’s book was the most effective way for this entrepreneur to put his thought leadership into the hands of a well-gated individual. It’s also his cornerstone for building business and raising awareness of his expertise.

As we enter 2016, how will you cut through the content marketing noise to build your brand and generate new business? For starters, check off these five principles for doing content marketing right.

1. Start with a Persona

All content should stem from an understanding of your target audience including their challenges and goals. Build a worksheet that orients your marketing towards a specific targeted person and brainstorm his or her:

  • Activities
  • Shopping haunts and habits
  • Device usage
  • Must-haves
  • Wants/goals
  • Obstacles/challenges

2. Create Your Big Asset

Create 2-4 large assets based on your biggest marketing themes (developed from a study of your targeted personas, I hope). For an individual leader, you might focus one asset and larger businesses may have many big assets worthy of lead generation (ebook, white paper, webinar). This year, consider going all in and creating a book that gives you a tangible asset for the hardest to reach customers such as senior executives.

3. Favor Content Quality Over Quantity

In 2015, content marketing pundits lamented the dearth of quality content and lack of results for brand’s content marketing programs. Notably, 40% of businesses fail in their content marketing efforts. As research from the Content Marketing Institute has shown, marketers with a content marketing strategy achieve more success. Your strategy should specify ongoing campaigns targeted to persona interests and needs and not creating and pushing content for content’s sake. As Martin Kihn, Research Director with Gartner for Marketing Leaders, said: “People are so tired of content-free content.”

4. Commit to a Distinct Voice

How can you move your audience if you sound like everyone else? Take the plunge this year by telling your story in your unique voice. Use first person. Be vulnerable. Get specific. Remember the truth of this irony:

The more specific you are, the more people will be able to relate to your story

5. Tell Stories

In all your content, story comes first. People relate to stories about their wants, needs and challenges. Start with a story and use it as the hook to frame your big idea. This is the most engaging approach to ease your readers to the finale: how your solution solves their problem.




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