Here’s my favourite definition of marketing.
“Marketing is everything connected to the process of PROFITABILITY by offering the right product or service, to the right person, at the right time, in the right manner, through the right channels, at the right price.”
I picked this definition up during my MBA, and it stuck with me.
The definition is all encompassing.
It addresses the crux of marketing, which is predicated on the 4Ps.
The 4Ps of marketing are product, placement, promotion, and price.
Essentially, the 4Ps help guide your marketing strategy. For example, you wouldn’t sell a Rolex watch (product) in a vending machine (placement).
Doing so would be a bad strategic move.
The 4Ps are the pillars of marketing and they’ll continue to remain that way.
But in our current milieu where data and information reign supreme, we’re seeing greater use of content in marketing strategies.
Companies are taking up inbound marketing—that is, content marketing—to draw in leads rather than using outbound marketing, which consists of targeting customers through advertisements across various channels (radio, print, television, among others).
But did you know that content marketing has its own 4Ps?
These help with developing a solid content marketing strategy that, like all marketing endeavours, helps a company with profitability.
Let’s take a look at the 4Ps of content marketing.
You first have to get to the drawing table to develop a strategy. There’s several questions you want to ask yourself here: what is the end goal with the marketing content you’re creating? Who are you targeting with this content? What will this content look like? How is this content going to be digested by the audience? What are the key performance indicators you’ll use to measure content success? This could by SEO ranking, lead generation, brand awareness or any other metric that work to achieve your revenue targets.
Now for the part that’ll get your creative juices flowing: create content!
Whether that’s a podcast, a video or a blog post, the best content marketers excel at developing content that hooks audiences. It’s important to develop a tone, or voice, with the content you’re creating. If you’re working in the health-tech space, for example, your content will be slightly more formal than content produced in the fast-food industry. Understanding your audience will be key here.
At the promotion stage of your content marketing strategy, you’ll use channels that will reach your target audiences. You want to promote using social media channels where your target personas usually hang out. You can figure this out with a little bit of research during the planning phase.
If you’re targeting a c-suite audience, for example, LinkedIn may work as a great channel to promote your content. If your target audience is Gen Z, consider TikTok.
This is the final stage of your content marketing strategy. This is where you measure how well your content did based on metrics you developed back in the planning phase. It’s important to remember that content marketing is a long-term game.
A study from Hubspot found that companies with more than 400 published blog posts get twice the amount of traffic than those with less than 400 blog posts, according to neilpatel.com.
With content marketing, performance should be viewed with the long term in mind. By remaining consistent in your content production, and looking several months ahead, these 4Ps of content marketing will definitely help the profitability of your business.
Humans are wired for stories.
“You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built in the human plan. We come with it,” says author Margaret Atwood.
Storytelling is what kept the spirits of our primitive ancestors going when they would sit by a roaring fire after a long day of hunting thousands of years ago.
Today, storytelling keeps us feeling connected in our remote, pandemic-weary world. It brings out our emotions at a time when disassociation from reality is often our only means of pushing through the current circumstances.
It’s no surprise that the business world has taken on storytelling, often through content marketing, with the aim to gather larger audiences.
Businesses that use storytelling are tapping into the depths of the human psyche to connect people to their brand, products, and services.
But what are some reasons why businesses should use storytelling?
And it pays.
In the B2B SaaS space, for example, businesses using content—storytelling through mediums like blog, podcast, and video, saw 30% higher growth and a 10% higher retention rate than SaaS businesses with no content marketing, according to Inc42.
Still not sold on the power of storytelling?
The B2B space is predicated on statistics, logic, facts and technical acumen, and you’ll see that spill out on company blogs.
Some B2B companies are beginning to see the value of going beyond that into the emotional realm to connect with people.
Storytelling keeps us feeling connected in our remote, pandemic-weary world. It brings out our emotions at a time when disassociation from reality is often our only means of pushing through the current circumstances.
And it’s working. A study conducted by Google, Motista, and CEB saw that 50% of B2B customers are more likely to buy a product or service if they relate to the brand on an emotional level.
It makes sense.
Brands that use storytelling evoke positive emotions in potential customers, and that engenders trust.
That same study notes that 71% of B2B buyers make a purchase when they see personal value in a brand.
Storytelling is a powerful tool in personalizing brands.
And finally, the study found 68.8% of B2B buyers would pay a higher price for a product or service if they believe in the business.
Storytelling also gives people faith in your business.
If you’re a B2B business looking to scale, consider adding storytelling to your marketing strategy.
I’ve picked up a few lessons during my freelance writing career, which spans five years.
During my undergrad in journalism school, I took a freelance writing course.
Initially, I never had a need for it. I worked full-time in newsrooms across the globe for nearly 10 years after J-School.
Fast forward to 2016. Print journalism continued its bloodletting and I was part of a mass layoff at the Toronto Star.
It was then that the freelance writing course came in handy. I grew a roaster of clients in the corporate space, which needed my journalistic storytelling skills.
But whether you’re writing for media outlets, or for corporations, these tips will come in handy if you plan on becoming a full-time freelance writer. Here are my top five tips on succeeding as a self-employed freelance writer.
Create A Website
As a freelance writer vying for new contracts, a website is necessary. Many clients want a quick and convenient way to see your work. A website showcasing your published articles does a great job of that. A website is your online portrait. It gives prospective clients a quick impression of your past projects, your writing style and—if you like—your per word rate or retainer conditions.
I use Weebly to host my website, which costs around $100 a year to keep online. But there are other options out there for around the same price.
Use Social Media
In this remote landscape, one of your best bet in landing new freelance opportunities is through social media. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, or another channel, social media is a great way to connect with prospective clients and to land those freelance contracts.
I’ve gotten many contracts through my LinkedIn account. Remain as active as you can on social media channels in order to reel in those writing gigs.
Find Your Niche
If you can become a specialist writer in any one industry, it’ll pay off in dividends for your career as a self-employed writer. When you understand a specific industry in depth, it makes you a better—and faster writer. And that pays. For example, if your per word rate for a 1,000 word article is 70 cents, you make $700. If you can research and write that piece in six hours, you end up making $117 an hour. If you can research and write that piece in four hours, your hourly rate jumps to $175.
When you find your niche, you understand the subject matter better, in turn, making you a better writer. And you also write faster. By writing regularly on the B2B SaaS space, for example, your writing will inevitably become more in tune with what editors in the industry are looking for. That’ll inevitably create more demand for your work.
Read, Read, Read (And Write) Daily
To become a good writer you need to read constantly. Journalism schools ingrain that into students. As a J-School undergrad back in 2008, I subscribed to several newspapers and magazines. And I was voraciously reading any book I could get my hands on.
My favourite horror writer, Stephen King sums it up well: "Constant reading will pull you into a place (a mind-set, if you like the phrase) where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness."
As a freelance writer, it’s up to you to hone your craft. Reading daily helps with that.
Keep That Line Of Credit Handy
Like with any business, self-employed writers experience an ebb and flow of work. For those dry spells, it’s good to have a line of credit to keep you going. There comes a point in a self-employed writer’s life where the influx of clients keeps you in the green all year long.
But if you’re just starting out, a line of credit will keep a roof over your head and your stomach full when the client work dries out.
When setting up a contract with a client, always agree on the rate prior to any work. Some clients pay per word, others by the hour. More long-term clients may develop a retainer for your work.
Create clear guidelines on how many revisions you’re willing to do after you’ve written an article, and what the revisions entail. You don’t want to end up doing full-on rewrites, so it’s best to make that clear with your client ahead of time.
Finally, don’t take on work that undersells your worth. Figure out the freelance writer rate in the industry you’re working in. Do some research prior to signing any contract.
And relish the fact you’re succeeding as a full-time writer working on your own terms, and creating your own schedule.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.