I know since we’ve drilled into you the importance of going digital, you’ve got an awesome website complete with free online race registration and are basically a social media guru (PINTEREST ALL THE THINGS!). But there’s one thing that a lot of race directors are dragging their digital feet on, and that’s content marketing.
Now, you might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “What the hell is content marketing?”
In a nutshell, content marketing is all about using content to drive action – or in your case, race registration.
According to Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
So how do you create killer content that will inspire your customers to take action – even if the last thing you wrote was a paper for your freshman year philosophy class?
Write What Your Audience Wants
Maybe you think you have the best ideas in the world. (Humans can be pretty egocentric, except for me… I actually have the best ideas in the world.) But one of the biggest content crimes you can commit is writing what you want, and not what your audience wants.
You might have a great idea that you think your athletes will fall in love with. Then you spend weeks writing a 2,000 word post and launch it only to find… crickets.
You have to write content for your audience, not for yourself.
How do you know what your audience wants? Ask them. #duh
Reach out to your athletes (through social media, email, your website or your online race registration platform) and find out from their mouths exactly what kind of content they want to see from you. You can also pull a Sherlock Holmes, do some investigating, and research the types of content that your audience is seeking out. What keywords are they searching for? What are the questions you’re getting in your inbox? What are they pinning and hearting on social media?
Once you know exactly what it is your athletes are looking for (other than free energy chews, obviously), you can develop content around it and deliver exactly what they need.
Scope Out The Competition
With the ridonkulous amount of information being shared every millisecond, it’s getting damn near impossible to come up with totally new, fresh and original content ideas.
And guess what? That's ok. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. One of the best content marketing strategies is to scope out the competition, see what they’re doing and then do it better.
Now, let me be clear in case there are any copycats hiding in our audience: you never want to rip off the competition or plagiarize their work. Not only is it bad karma, but Google is all over that and will shut down your site so fast it’ll make your head spin.
However, it’s totally kosher to look at some of the competition’s content that your athletes are already going gaga for, and then build from that to make something even better.
For example, maybe your competition has a post titled “5 Best Apps For Getting Race Ready,” and it's getting a lot of comments, views and shares from the athletes you are targeting. What you would want to do is build off that idea, add a ton of value, and then release it right back to that same audience. If they’re going crazy over “5 Best Apps For Getting Race Ready,” there's a good chance that they’ll go even crazier over “10 Indispensable Fitness, Health and Meal Planning Apps For People Prepping For A Race” with thorough reviews, step by step instructions and links to where they can download each app. You are still adding your own unique value without copying another writer's work.
You don’t have to be the most original, you just have to be the best.
When you’re creating content, the last thing that you want to do is be too corporate, verbose or stuffy (clearly not a problem we suffer from at imATHLETE). Creating killer content is all about creating an authentic connection with your athletes, and the best way to do that is to make it conversational.
When you’re writing content, write the way you talk. If you wouldn’t use a certain word or phrase in a normal conversation with your athletes, don’t use it in your content.
If you want to test how conversational your copy is, read it out loud. Does it sound natural? Does it sound like something you would say to a friend, or do you sound like a robot from the Jetsons? If you’re veering into Jetson-land, it’s time for a rewrite.
Think Outside The (Written) Box
The last key to creating killer content is to think outside of the (written) box. It’s time for a light bulb moment, my friends - not all content needs to be written. There are about as many forms of content now as there are brands of protein bars.
Have some stats on how to increase your mile time? Create an infographic. Do you want to answer some FAQs you get from athletes before they register for your race? Film a Q + A session and upload it to YouTube or Facebook Live.
Awesome content wears a lot of different outfits, and if you limit yourself to just written content, you’re missing out on a lot of good looks. So flex those creative muscles and think outside of the text box.
If you’ve read all this and still feel like content marketing is out of your grip, I get it. Not everyone is born to be a Hemingway. But if creating content isn’t your thing, then it’s time to start thinking about hiring someone to do it for you. Because in the big bad world of marketing (and as such, in the big bad world of racing), content is king. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to be dethroned anytime soon.