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This past month, I was meeting with a client who asked about content marketing. His main concern was that he has read so much about how to set up a content-marketing program, but didn't know where to begin, and how to connect the dots to generate leads.

The guidance here is what I walked him through so that he could finally make sense out of content marketing, and understand how to directly generate leads from his investments.

It may help you, too, to create and distribute valuable and relevant content – from blog posts to white papers to podcasts to infographics to free reports to newsletters – that may help to build credibility and drive customers to your business.

Start with strategy in mind

With so much information out there about how to get involved with content marketing, it's easy to just want to get started and forget about the fundamentals of strategy.

Before you even begin to think about content-marketing tactics, you need to determine some foundational elements of strategy such as:

  • What growth objective is the core business trying to accomplish this year, and how can content help accomplish it?
  • What problems do your products and services solve?
  • For whom do you solve these problems?
  • What topics do customers want to know more about that you can address?
  • What kind of personality do you want to portray through your content?
  • Who will create your content?
  • How often should you publish?

Begin with blogging

A blog should be the first and most utilized tool used by your company to attract interested readers. It is, quite simply, the easiest to set up and maintain.

When you start your blog, don't try to be too ambitious and strive for a post a day. Start small by blogging once a week; as you get more comfortable with the process, increase it to a manageable number of postings.

Call to action

Something most companies forget about is adding a call to action at the end of their blog posts as a way to begin bringing readers into the sales funnel.

Develop a low-barrier-for-entry offer that is easy to buy into because it costs readers just their contact information for something like a white paper, e-book, newsletter, report or free sample.

The intent is to get contact information so that you can begin to nurture these prospects to become more likely buyers of your product or service.

More call to action

Your second call to action will integrate with your low-barrier offer with the intent of getting someone to begin a free trial, buy an inexpensive product or encourage a sales call. Chances are that not many will go from early interest to purchase intent, but you have a mechanism in place in case that does happen.

For everyone who doesn't buy in right away, you have an opportunity to nurture and educate them with e-mails and other low-barrier entry offers as a way to get interested prospects and consumers further into your sales funnel.


Once you have blog posts, calls to action and low-barrier entry offers created, you need to promote your content.

Use an assortment of tactics, such as social media, e-mail and outbound marketing, such as advertising and direct mail, to draw people to your blog and get them into your sales funnel so you can educate them and eventually have them become business leads.

Close the loop

As marketers try to prove their worth and entrepreneurs try to determine the best use of their time, it's imperative that they both keep track of the individuals who become buyers through their content-marketing efforts.

It's important to know how well your investments in creating content are performing. If you're keeping track and they're working, you may be able to justify spending more time on developing content, and less on other lesser-performing tactics.

Test. Test. Test.

Content marketing is an ever-changing medium. What works today may not work next month. Never get complacent. If you notice your results start changing, it's time to tweak your content and adapt to what the reader wants to know.

The easiest way to test new approaches is to start with your blog. Write on different topics and examine how many read it, how many share it through social media, how many people download your calls to action, and you will soon learn what works and what doesn't.

Special to The Globe and MailRyan Caligiuri is the founder ofRyan Caligiuri International, a growth consultancy focused on developing programs that generate credibility, competitive advantages, leads/demand and new revenue streams for small to medium sized enterprises. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network a mentoring program that teaches entrepreneurs and marketers best practices, frameworks and strategies to become business growth generators. Engage with Mr. Caligiuri onTwitter.

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