ONE of the big trends I have been hearing and reading about from marketing and online people lately is that 2014 is the year of content.

This means that sharing more about what you do, how you do it, and making it reader-friendly is increasingly important for marketing success.

This might sound like old news but, really, it’s time to rethink how you approach this and make content work harder for you.

Blogging is something that a number of people struggle with only because it feels like making a big commitment to write regularly.

Often, the biggest challenge is to not get bored with writing about parts of your business that don’t sound interesting to you any more.

So why not tell stories about your business?

This is where you can make your content interesting and personal while you are sharing a part of what makes your company, products or services interesting and personal to your market.

For example, if your business is involved in retail, then give examples of how a sale on any day solves a real person’s problem.

You might go so far as to say something like: “By the time Mr Smith had investigated five different types of car to buy, he was confused about which features he really wanted to have. Our managers started by offering to hear what he wanted, in a relaxed room, where he could sit down and really talk to us.

“Once we found out that his three teenage children spent a lot of time with him travelling and they also had sports equipment to take everywhere each week, the size of the vehicle became much more important, so we dealt with that first.”     

Blogging and writing articles can be a powerful tool in your marketing plan, and sharing the stories of your everyday business is an easy way to be personal and never run out of things to write about.

Here are three very quick tips to get you moving towards mastering content marketing if you are just starting out:

1. Think about the FAQs (frequently asked questions)

This includes the stories you might share at a dinner party that most engage the people who hear them.

An example of this is as simple as how a mechanical or technical breakdown might have impacted a client.

Did it make him late to catch a flight? How badly did that affect him? Write about this!

This is the kind of story that people might want to know more about how you helped, came to the rescue and sorted the problem. Then you can recommend how to prevent such a thing from happening.

2. Have a content plan

Decide how often you will create and send a newsletter or write and post a blog, and when/how you will share on social media.

Just as you would (or should) have a plan for when to run your newspaper, radio, promotional schedules and so on, an online content plan is a very important part of successful marketing.

3. Review your current platforms for sending and posting

Are they aligned with your brand? Do they look easy to post on and will people come to your website?

Look at how you can ensure that when they do, they stay there, navigate their way to other pages, and explore your products or services there.

Reel people in

Content marketing is about baiting the hook to fish with. You have to cast it out into the sea where your market is, and lure people in with good information.

Once you have them on a hook, keep feeding them inspiration about how you can help them. Engage them with interesting facts, stories, ideas and suggestions.

Give them a reason to keep engaging with you. Make it easy for them to take action and either call, sign up, or e-mail for an appointment or more information.

Marketing keeps changing. The need for you to be a content director (or have one if your business requires this kind of help) who can think like a journalist, not just a marketer, should be your primary focus in 2014 as you plan your marketing strategy.

Remember, it’s the stories that engage people.

Article by Maria Carlton, an international speaker with Training Edge International. She is a business transformation specialist trainer who helps companies to improve their business performance through improved communication strategies. For details, e-mail maria.carlton@trainingedgeasia.com or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com