IN-DEPTH: 7 content marketing principles for the cycling industry

TwoTwoFive Media give us their take on the best ways to approach consumers
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Connecting with your customer – or potential customer – is the name of the game, but how do you get them to listen to you and notice your brand in a crowded marketplace? Mike Gluckman of TwoTwoFive Media provides his insights and a list of points to consider…

Here at TwoTwoFive Media we have led many of our most successful marketing programmes using best in class content so we wanted to share with you, in this, the first of our mini reports, exactly what to look out for when preparing your own content.

We like the fact that producing quality content is still very much a creative process so whilst we give you a sound structure to follow here we welcome you to think with an open mind as you read and explore this report. Consider how you and your brand can ignite some genuine user engagement this year.

The context for Content Marketing
These days consumers don't really listen unless you have something genuinely interesting to say and you offer tangible value during your interaction with them. Genuine tangible value - remember that.

Over the last decade or so we've also seen a significant divergence in cycling media. Reaching your target market is now done not through just one or two publishers but a vast array of analogue and digital platforms, social networks and live audiences. Broadcasting your messages with the right content can help cut through this complexity by controlling how you are portrayed and amplifying you above the clutter.

Here are our key guiding principles to best in class Content Marketing.

1. Aim to satisfy a need or desire.
Strong content has to be useful to your audience so should aim to satisfy an unanswered question or need. This value should be beyond the basic product or service you are offering.

On a simple level you may seek to satisfy an emotional need by offering excitement or adventure, grandiose or extravagance. Others may look to educate in response to a more functional need for advice and direction.

What do your main products or services offer? This may be a clue to the value your content should aim to deliver.

However – be careful not to address some customer needs too head on as they may accidently patronise or alienate. For example a comfortable sportive frame is not marketed at old men with crooked backs.

2. Have an opinion.
Don't be a sheep, or sit on the fence – that's boring and adds no value. Share a point of view. and don't be put off from taking sides on issues that can position you and your company as an expert.

Be brave to put out thoughts that might provoke even if just mildly. Challenge standard practice and be bold in how you convey those opinions.

If you are the leader, even if just subjectively, then shout it out loud for all to hear. If you like something tell your fans you love it!

However – be careful not to alienate important parts of your target audience. Balance is required.

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3. Act natural.
Establish your own tone of voice that feels natural to you. Take advantage of not being a corporate editor or copy writer and find a human angle to your voice.

However - make sure this still works with your wider direction. Consider tones that underpin important parts of your brands character. Use flamboyant words & humour if your brand has a fun side. Be more clinical and sharp if it’s about being fast, direct and bullish. Use corporate language or more scientific complex words if your brand is serious and tech focused.

4. Remain consistent.
Build consistency and your message will become far more coherent and clearly understood by your audience. This may appear obvious but is often forgotten during the chaos of activation.

A well thought out, logical content strategy will help maintain this consistency so take time to align your initiatives around one core set of messages and stick to it.

A year of repeated brand messaging could be stronger in the end than an ever evolving mix of improvements.

Aside from a consistent message, an even, unified delivery schedule can also help compound your voice. It is important to establish a sense of continuity as this builds trust.

However – there is no however here. Revisit this vital point again and again throughout the life time of your campaign – it never loses its relevance.

5. Aim for evergreen
We advise that where possible you produce content that has shelf life. Aim for content that can be appreciated over time. Even if seasonal, an article about winter training tips can be enjoyed year after year. Niche product reviews or trend spots will become redundant quickly so avoid these where possible.

However - News content can be effective if you have the right mouth piece that can deliver quickly before others. Being the first to talk about a fad or fashion can see you gain traction quickly – these are hotspots of opinion after all. Just know your capabilities.

6. Measure and be accountable.
Where is all this content marketing going to lead you and your brand? More sales hopefully but you have to prove it to yourself and your colleagues. And there’s a funnel to that end sale no doubt so understand the KPIs you’ll be aiming to hit as you lead customers towards that last conversion point.

Without this you’ll never really know the impact of your content or how to tweak it as you evolve. Decide on your success metrics before you begin and be consistent with them to allow like for like comparison to future evolutions.

Remember potential politics in your company – what success do you have to / want to demonstrate to others further up? Do others really care about likes on Facebook or would they rather have tangible evidence of site visits? Apply accordingly.

However – don’t make a rod for your own back and end up paralysing yourself by over analysing the situation. Analytics consumes a mountain of time so select a limited few key metrics that can be understood and valued throughout your organisation.

7. Consider SEO
Google remains the single largest traffic driver on the internet. About 30% of all marketing spend on earth goes to Google for a good reason but you don’t have to play the PayPerClick game. If you are not impatient like some then aim for free of charge organic traffic.

That said it’s not easy and very very competitive so you’ll need to be effective. However you can aim to gain traction over time especially if you are a leader in your own niche field. Successful content for SEO relies on many of the same core principles we’ve highlighted here so good quality, interesting content remains the foundation.

However – be honest with your chance of success in garnering useful volumes of SEO traffic. Traction on the SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Pages) requires patience and despite not paying Google up front there is still a sizeable investment in resource and man hours.

Search for some related terms in Google itself and see if you’d likely compete with what you see on the first page (Top 10 positions). If you don’t think you can write something more relevant or useful and the players active are well established giants of the game, then give up now and take on another battle instead.

Final words
OK there it is – some useful pointers to guide you early on. Most of it is simple and obvious and that’s because it shouldn’t really be that complicated. But sticking to these principles is the hard bit so take time to document your plans accurately and in a way that everyone working with you can understand and follow.

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Once documented be careful not to waiver mid-delivery. Revisit your plans regularly and showcase them as loud as possible internally so it becomes a reality for everyone. Commit and stand accountable for your goals. Measure them along the way and evolve and iterate your work in line with genuine measurements of success.

And of course if you want support and inspiration along the way come speak to the good people at TwoTwoFive Media – we have consistent opinions that meet your needs and remain relevant over time!

Mike Gluckman is a founding partner of TwoTwoFive Media, working alongside Matteo Carrara. TwoTwoFive Media is a content marketing agency that works with premium cycling brands.

www.twotwofivemedia.com

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