If you’re dismissing content marketing as mere hype, you might be missing the mark. The truth is that, when done correctly, content can be a powerful force for change in your marketing efforts. Whether you’re eager to establish your brand as an authoritative voice in your field or looking to fill that all-important last stage of your sales funnel, content marketing can help you reach your goals.

Yet not all content is created equal and it is key that you not only create great copy with an eye-catching design, but you also need to make sure that it’s seen by as many people as possible. Here are five ways you can make your content marketing program matter for your business this year.

Find Your Audience

The importance of figuring out your target audience cannot be overemphasized. Seriously. You can’t be creating and sending in a void. Decide who your best customers are and court them with witty resiliency. Consider what they need and desire and then tailor your content to their exact needs.

Once you’ve accomplished this important step, you need to decide on the best channel to reach this audience. Can you accomplish all your goals via social media or with internal data? Or do you need to reach out to a third party provider to get more accurate data that will help get your content in front of the people who want to see it?

Discover Your Story

Content marketing is where you get to show off. Not in a glaringly obvious way, but by telling the story of your brand. What have you overcome? What are you excited about? What about your brand or product can help solve problems and ease your customer’s fears? Tell your story in the most compelling way possible by revealing not only where you’ve excelled, but also where you’ve stumbled and you’ll be sure to capture the hearts and minds of prospective customers.

Choose Your Medium Wisely

Even after you have your audience in mind and your story set, you still have your work cut out for you. You now get to decide the best way to get your message across to your audience.

Should you write a whitepaper? Create a webinar? Animate a video? Design an infographic? Start (or restart) a blog? The truth is that you should do all of the above, but you don’t have to start all at once. Explore your options, weigh your current in-house talent and research what type of content does best on the marketing channels you’re going to use to promote your content. For instance, an infographic is a great choice for a blog post or a social media post, but is a little thin for an email marketing campaign.

Eventually, you’ll want to be able to draw from a broad content pool that you’re continually renewing, but when you’re just starting out, choose one type of content and create the very best whitepaper/infographic/blog/webinar that you can.

Syndicate, Syndicate, Syndicate

Get your content out there. Your company website and social media is great, but to stand out from the crowd, they’re not enough. Partnering with an experienced lead generation company is a great way to get the word out about your company and to get your content in front of the right audience.

Recycle: It Doesn’t Just Save the Planet (It Can Save Your Sanity Too)

The first rule of content marketing is that it’s always hungry. Once you’ve awakened the content beast, you need to be sure that you have fresh content to serve it in a timely manner. Or else that audience you’ve worked so hard to win over might just find a more compelling story elsewhere.

Fortunately, you don’t have to always be creating new content (trying to keep up that way is a great way to burn out, fast). Once you have a pool of content to draw on, you can start to mix things up and turn older content into something shiny and new.

This can mean anything from crunching the numbers in a whitepaper to create an infographic, turning a blog post into a short video or sifting through a webinar’s highlights to create a compelling whitepaper, or some version of all of the above. You still need to be create completely new content, but not at a rate that’s going to tax your sanity.

Conclusion

The key to great content marketing is making sure that you’re being true to your audience and your brand. Find the content and distribution channels that work for your brand and then expand out from there. It might take a little trial and error, but really focusing on these five areas will truly make a world of difference in your content marketing efforts this year.

What are your biggest content marketing achievements? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.