Do you want to know a secret? Those blogs you love to read, and maybe envy a little, don’t come easy.

Effective content marketing is hard work. You can try a spray-and-pray approach to content outreach, but good luck deriving significant ROI for your efforts. In order to offer effective content marketing to your audience, you must be prepared to do the work necessary and develop a multi-pronged approach for maximum return on investment. Integrate the following seven truths into your content marketing strategy and you’ll be well on your way towards developing better relationships with your target audience.

  1. Be clear on your value proposition before creating any type of content marketing. If you don’t understand your biggest selling factor, how do you expect to benefit from content outreach? It is only when you understand the power of your product/service that you can communicate your value to others.
  2. Regardless of the type of content your business creates (blog posts, social media snippets, video, etc.), your top priority needs to be in delivering content of value to your audience. Content focusing on the preferences of your audience will always deliver a higher ROI than content created with sales initiatives in mind.
  3. Uniqueness works in content marketing. If you are doing the same thing as every other competitor in your sector, how do you plan to stand out? If your competition is blogging about all the same topics, what can you do to stand out? Try direct-to-consumer videos instead (talk directly to the camera). If your competitor is building a presence on Snapchat, see if there is a gap in the market on Instagram instead. The key is to stand out from the pack and offer intriguing content of value to your target audience by looking at opportunities your competition is likely missing.
  4. Too many content marketers develop a content calendar without first defining their content goals. Once you are clear on what you want to accomplish, you can then determine how you plan to accomplish those goals. Goal setting is an awesome way to clarify your content marketing strategy. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can develop a content plan once you know where you’re heading.
  5. Don’t listen to thought leaders when deciding on content for your audience. Listen to your audience instead. This is easily done via platform analytics. Use social media analytics to understand the ROI of your social media outreach. Dig into the analytics on your business’ blog. The numbers don’t lie. Understand what is and isn’t working thanks to your analytics data and use that information to fuel your outreach efforts.
  6. Think about your tone when creating content for your audience. Consumers don’t like to be talked down to or made to feel inferior. You may be an expert in your sector, but you don’t have to share your knowledge in a condescending manner.
  7. Test new ideas. Often times there is no clear answer to a question you may have about your content marketing. Your audience is unique, so when you find yourself wondering “will using a picture that is completely unrelated to my post topic have any impact on my users’ experience”, you just have to test it to find out.
  8. Everything your business does online can be considered a form of content marketing. From the words you use on your website’s page headers to how you explain your business on your LinkedIn page, every part of your online image can be tweaked for maximum impact. Can you use copy that is more engaging on your website? Would an updated LinkedIn bio attract more consumers to your business? Test every aspect of your online presence and measure your results; it is the only way to discover what is and isn’t working.

Content marketing is a long-term initiative. Consider multiple factors when developing your content strategy. By developing a multi-pronged approach to audience outreach, you will be able to offer content of value to your audience that helps you achieve your content marketing goals. What do you think? Will you be updating your content outreach strategy this year?