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When it comes to nurturing potential leads, creating high quality content is one of your most effective tools.

Unlike advertising campaigns, good content doesn’t just cultivate brand associations in potential customers. It creates brand advocates who can disseminate your message, because their opinions carry weight across their circles of influence. Like diehard sports fans in their team’s colors, advocates amplify your brand for the long term.

Prepping for a lifetime of great content (and great advocates)

To craft great content, you must start with a deep understanding of both your organization and your customer. Then you can map content to each stage of the customer journey, beginning with the website experience and subsequently moving on to other touchpoints. It’s essential to think through calls to action for each stage.

But that’s just laying the foundation. To really understand how to execute effective content, we reached out to one of our Microsoft Partners, Total Synergy, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that makes business and project management software for the architecture, engineering, and construction design industry (AEC).

Jamie Millar, Total Synergy’s head of marketing, offered the following advice on how you can put content marketing to work for your brands:

He identified three keys of content marketing:

  1. Focus on quality versus quantity
    There’s too much emphasis on content for content’s sake. Instead, brands should focus on quality and relevance to build customer confidence and industry prestige. Support this commitment with a comprehensive style guide to shape everything from tone of voice to editorial principles that keep messaging consistent with brand values and space. Just as important: Use great design and original visual content. There’s nothing worse than clichéd stock photography.
  2. Get creative with content creation
    Whether you create content in-house or hire someone who knows your industry, interview customers, colleagues, and industry specialists to generate great content. These people have stories that resonate with your target audience, and it’s best if you tell them from their point of view. With every piece of content that you create, ask “So what?” If you don’t care about it, why would anyone else?
  3. Get content out there
    Invest in content distribution — both for customer reach and lead nurture. Offer the right material to the right people at the right place and time. In terms of lead nurture, for instance, content offers a typical funnel process of building awareness, reinforcing credibility, and demonstrating relevance with “social proof” (i.e., testimonials).

Still, choosing the right channels requires experimentation and analysis. At Total Synergy, we send email because it’s direct and effective. But we’re very strict on the quality of our email lists, and update them weekly to ensure accuracy. In addition, we make sure we budget for paid channels. Top shelf quality does your brand no good if few people see it.

Content Is Still King

The upshot? When it comes to awareness, reinforcing a brand’s expertise and relevance, or closing the deal, content matters. So, focus on quality by making it original, customer-informed, and insightful. Then, distribute it properly to let it work for your brand not just this year, but over the long haul.

Share with the Microsoft Partner Community on your content strategy here.