Bill Gates predicted a long-lasting trend in his well-known “Content is King” article, published almost exactly 20 years ago, when he claimed that content would reign as ruler of the digital marketing realm.

He was right in 1996. And as we come to the end of 2015, it appears he’s still right: 77 percent of organizations use content marketing.

And it doesn’t seem like that will change in the near future. B2C marketers are planning to allocate 32 percent of their marketing budget to content – up 7 percent from last year – and 76 percent of B2B marketers plan on producing more content in 2016.
That’s because these days, you just can’t wait for customers to come to you. You need to go find them where they are—and they’re online. You have to attract their attention, speak to their pain points, demonstrate your ability to help them achieve their goals, and engage them in valuable two-way conversations.

Make content king of your marketing

So how do you provide great information that brings prospects to your site and converts them to leads?
It doesn’t have to be complex or difficult. To get you started, here are my tips on steps you can take to create and distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent content:
And don’t just take it from me: Matt Kamp, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Influence & Co, shared the steps his marketing firm takes their clients through with us.
Here are his best practices for creating great content:

Know your buyer.

Consider the company you want to attract. Who at that company is key for you to influence? Matt suggests marketers create personas around ideal prospects, usually a decision-maker in the purchasing process. What is their motivation, what are their pain points, how can you bring value to them? Be specific in creating your personas – the more you know about your prospects, the better you can speak directly to them, and the more convinced they’ll be that you are the one to solve their problems.

Talk to your buyer.

Your prospects may not always be on your website, Matt says, so consider writing a guest blog on a site your potential leads might frequent. Use these guest posts as fuel for your team to share your knowledge and expertise throughout all of your marketing channels: social media, newsletters, etc. Let your target personas guide content decisions – instead of speaking generally about a product, talk about innovations that can answer pain points common to your persona and their role or industry.

Talk to your buyer some more.

You may need to have several conversations with prospects; that’s OK. Matt points out that if prospects have engaged with you or your content several times outside of your website, by the time they do come to you, they’re likely to be a highly qualified lead. Ask questions, get to understand them on a fundamental level: what are their challenges? Focus on uncovering the topics they most want to address so you can tailor content to them. Just remember, those off-site conversations are not the place to sell. At this point, you’re developing a relationship, demonstrating thought leadership, and giving value.

Give your buyer tailored, detailed content.

So you hooked a buyer offsite with great engagement. Let’s say you piqued their interest with a relevant, high-level article on LinkedIn or a guest blog on an industry website. They clicked through and landed on your website. Be sure they’re met with a call to action to get even more information; provide a richer, deeper dive in the form of an e-book, case study, or whitepaper, for example.

Work smarter, not harder

The key to content marketing?
“Giving, giving, giving,” says Matt. “You’re the expert. What advice can you give them that really provides value? That’s what gets them intrigued and wanting more information – from you.” But that doesn’t mean you have to work over-time to make it happen. Use the above tips to craft your own perfect plan, and then be sure to check out the pre-existing, pre-tailored content in the ModernBiz campaign to simply and quickly make content the king of your marketing in 2016.
Until then,
Matt Kamp is the director of strategic partnerships at Influence & Co., a content marketing firm that specializes in helping companies showcase their expertise through thought leadership. Influence & Co.’s clients range from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 brands.