working together to create great content marketing,

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(This essay was sent today as part of the Hammock Idea Email series called “Beyond Selling.” You can receive each essay via email if you subscribe here.)

The term content marketing is becoming as widely used as the term social media–and that shift comes as welcome news at Hammock. Helping clients create and manage initiatives under the content marketing umbrella is what we’ve been focused on exclusively for more than two decades.

However, during that time, we’ve discovered that content that solves business challenges can often fall outside the traditional boundaries of what many companies consider marketing

Great content strategies encompass every facet of an organization: They are visible everywhere customers turn to research products they’re considering buying, and they’re apparent everywhere customers look to learn how to get the most out of a product they’ve purchased.

How content-savvy is your company?

Here are five quick indicators of whether or not your company takes a holistic approach to customer content.

  1. Your website’s “About Us” page indicates you believe the “us” includes your customers. The page should be more than long lists of historical bullet points, credentials and products. Read the page from a customer’s perspective. Would he or she consider it help or hype? Customers want to learn how you can help them. They grow tired of companies listing credentials.
  2. Your blog is fresh: Look at the date of the most recent post on your company’s blog. Is it older than a week? If so, this is what the potential customer sees and thinks: Nothing is happening of interest at this company. Do they still exist?
  3. Your blog is written by humans for humans: Is your blog filled only with press releases? Unless your blog was created to help you build closer relationships with lawyers and the media, press releases are the wrong content. On a blog, write about your news in terms of how it can help your customers — and not in the voice of a compliance officer.
  4. Your after-the-sale content equals the quality of your before-the-sale content: The pre-sale product marketing is your promise. The user-manual that accompanies the purchased product is the beginning of your fulfillment of that promise.
  5. Your how-to content should be easy enough for a CEO to follow: Hand your CEO the company’s latest “some assembly required” product, along with the assembly instructions and the necessary tools. If the CEO can easily assemble it without any help, appoint the creator of the instructions to your company’s content working group.