Content Marketing. What does it mean to you? How can your organization create a successful content marketing program?

To a certain extent, most marketers have been actively practicing content marketing, maybe without even being aware of it. Content is the foundation for strong marketing programs – both organic and paid – but to really benefit from its power, marketers must optimize content marketing efforts and establish a true strategy in order to connect with their audiences on a powerful level, creating a deep and meaningful connection.

ClickZ Sign

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend ClickZ Live Chicago, a global digital marketing conference, and content marketing was a hot topic. While there, I was able to sit in on 4 presentations from leaders in the content marketing space including Jeff Greenler from Monster, Rob Begg from Hootsuite, Author Brian Eisenberg, and Lauri Baker from Huffington Post. Each presenter provided a unique perspective, sharing best practices, building blocks, or pillars of a successful content program along with real-life experiences from past content marketing efforts.

The first thing that resonated with me was a quote from Doug Kessler that was shared during Rob’s session:

“Traditional marketing talks at people, content marketing talks with them.”

Content marketing provides an opportunity for marketers to engage in a two-way conversation with their audiences. It connects a story to a consumer experience that strengthens the connection between you and your audience.

Robb Begg ClickZ      Jeff Greenler ClickZ

Rob Begg, VP Enterprise Strategy, Hootsuite (left) & Jeff Greenler, VP, Global Brand & Advertising, Monster (right)

In the end, it was clear that no content marketing program should be cookie-cutter — each organization must establish its own way to engage with its clients and prospects that best fits its needs. There is no single set of “best practices” or “building blocks” that can be applied to every organization to create a successful content marketing program. Every marketer must look through their own company’s lens in order to create the optimal content marketing strategy to drive desired results.

That being said, while each strategy may be different, a few key overarching themes arose from these sessions that can help you to mold your own content marketing strategy:

1. Humanize Your Brand: Be approachable and create 1:1 experiences and interactions.

Campaigns such as “Pennies for Life” by Microloan and Chipotle’s “Scarecrow” show that positioning your brand in an approachable manner, understanding of human truths resonates with audiences and can allow for a powerful relationship.

2. Establish a Story: Connect the story to customer experiences.

Per Brian Eisenberg, marketers must “connect stories to customer experiences, otherwise it is a fairytale”. Establishing a story that links to the consumer path-to-purchase will make your organization more relatable and your partnership more tangible.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment: Trying new things can pay off.

Experimentation is always key in determining the ideal mix of marketing interactions that generate the highest return. New formats, platforms, and channels are constantly injected into the consumer journey and marketers should leverage these opportunities as ways to boost their programs.

By understanding these key themes and determining what content outputs make the most sense for your organization, you’ll be setting your content marketing strategy up for success. With a solid content foundation in place, you can extend these principles across your program to build a winning marketing strategy.

For more highlights from ClickZ Live Chicago visit www.ClickZLive.com/Chicago.