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AfterSchool of Thought

Welcome to the "AfterSchool of Thought," a blog series for those with products and offerings for afterschool programs and the professionals who work in the field.

Content Marketing Best Practices

Content marketing is a popular buzz phrase these days and for good reason. As traditional marketing becomes less and less effective, organizations must focus on creating and distributing content that attracts and retains audiences.

content marketing quote UPDATE

Many organizations know they need to implement content marketing into their overall strategy yet fall short when it comes to execution. Several of the clients or prospects I talk to either find the concept confusing, don't have the staff to execute it or don't think they have anything worthwhile to share. That couldn't be further from the truth. Your organization wouldn't be in business if you didn't have a story to tell!

Here's where it becomes more challenging. Content marketing excellence and success takes thoughtful planning, time to execute, testing and studying analytics. I've found that many businesses who serve the education industry have limited resources – probably because educators do, too! The good news is that you likely wouldn't be doing what you do if you didn't share a passion with your audience. You're already one step ahead of the game, which leads to my first tip...

Know Your Audience.
Far too often I see companies focus too much on themselves. Every decision you make, including your content marketing, must be around your target audience's needs. If you're not thinking of your audience's likes and dislikes, or things that matter to them, then you won't effectively gain their interest. And if you can't effectively gain their interest, how will you sell your services or products? You can learn more about Audience Development in First Things First: Know Your Audience where I dig even deeper into this topic.

Be Authentic.
Now that you know all about your target audience and are confident you can help solve their problems, it's time to tell them! This is where having a solid Brand Strategy comes into play. What are your strongest brand attributes? What is your company culture? What sets you apart from your competition? What is your organization's passion and purpose? These things are important to everyone but especially important those in the education sector who have dedicated their careers to serving youth.

Hire a Professional.
Every time I try to paint in my house I'm reminded, "there's a reason people do this for a living." Same goes with good content. Professional content writers and marketers can work with you or your marketing team to turn your idea or vision into something polished and professional. Limited budget? Give it a go yourself first and then pass it to them for final editing.

Where to Share.
The quick answer...most everywhere!

Blog posts hosted on your web site are your top of the funnel resource. Make sure the topics you cover are backed by actual prospect pain points and by keyword research. People don't search online for brands; they search for solutions. Be careful though – ONLY start a blog series if you can commit to updating it regularly.

Social Media is another natural outlet for your content. Here you can share videos, infographics, testimonials and more. Educators are passionate and emotional people. Share things that will get them excited and evoke engagement. Likes, comments and shares will rank you higher up on those ever-frustrating algorithms.

E-mail statistically delivers your greatest ROI. Instead of always promoting your products and services, throw your prospects a bone by offering them some useful information. You'll position yourself as the expert, which in turn gains trust and loyalty. Oh, and make sure your email marketing is mobile-friendly!

Webinars can be an effective tool, too. Not surprisingly, educators are learners, hungry for information that will help support their challenging roles.

There's even some opportunity for content marketing in your advertisements. While space for copy is more limited, print and digital ads can be effective in making impressions and drive action for further engagement with your brand.

Take Risks and Track, Track, Track.
There's plenty of science to content marketing but everything good starts with a human idea. Stepping out of your comfort zone can feel a little scary at first but the results from your efforts might surprise you!

The only way you'll know if your efforts prove successful is it you track your results. There are lots of ways to analyze but at the very least you should be tracking web hits, custom URLs, email open and click-through rates and social engagement. And as you've hopefully been doing all along...don't forget to ask your new clients what prompted them to contact you!

Is the afterschool market a target for you? Let's connect to discuss ways we can implement your awesome content into marketing strategies with NAA!

JillHeadshotWritten by Jill Carroll, Marketing & Media Consultant, with The National AfterSchool Association. "AfterSchool of Thought" is a blog series with tips and advice on marketing to the afterschool community.

Have questions or seek assistance on how you can better promote your offerings to the afterschool market? Contact Jill at jill@serendipity-media.com or 866-252-7108.