01/31/2014 06:10 pm ET Updated Apr 02, 2014

How to Create and Maximize Killer Content

All companies need to focus on content in 2014. Good content marketing is about giving people what they want, this will mean they come back to you and a relationship has started.

Successful marketers have had to learn how to:
1. Entertain
2. Persuade
3. Educate
4. Convert

I recently watched Lars Silberbauer Andersen explain some of the reasons why Legos content has been a huge worldwide success. They excel at content marketing. So much so that experts now compare their output to that of a successful media company rather than a maker of plastic bricks. The company has mastered pushing great ideas out which get traction with Lego fans. Lego fans now produce a large portion of Legos content and promote it on social channels, i.e. they post pictures of Lego structures they or their kids have made. Lego might make a video explaining a competition they are running, potential customers then post their entries on social media and Lego then make a video at the end showing the best entries. I hope to show that you might not have the same budget as Lego but if you follow their and other success stories you can be effective. Lars explained at the Web Summit to produce great content and get people involved you have to make a connection and be attentive and observant (as he put it, think like you are first date!). This is good advice to keep in mind.

To start work on the content you need to have a good knowledge of your marketing funnel. No two marketing funnels are alike so both the sales and marketing people need to put the work in to design your own funnel for your business. No short cuts! Preferably it will include customer support as well BUT don't try to cover everything at once. Tom Schulz has an excellent blog which takes you through the practical steps for creating your funnel. Or if you are totally starting from scratch, check out my last blog.

Once you have your funnel outline in place you have three clear tasks

1. Creating the content
2. Distributing it to an audience who find it relevant and are potential customers
3. Exchanging useful content for an email address and/or hopefully more information about your potential customer

Your first task is to assemble the group to contribute and manage your content marketing -- i.e., its not just one person under pressure to produce something every week. In fact, good content marketing will go outside you team and include guest bloggers as well. If you can afford it, hire a journalist or a copy writer for specific tasks.

Next, the brainstorm will hopefully generate a steady flow of ideas, remember you can think outside your direct sector, think of Red Bull who sell soft drinks but their content is all about extreme sports. If you are struggling take a look at the Content Marketing Institute's 100 examples here.

Try and use a framework such as a content grid. If you work through a grid you should be able to structure your content so that it catches people at all the different times they might be open to your content i.e. it connects the content type and the distribution channels. Starting with those who are bored and work and moving through those who are interested in a solution before producing more specific content for negotiating and closing the deal. There is such a wide range of ways to get gain traction with potential customers these include (but don't limit yourself to);

Entertaining people
Virals, quizzes, competitions, branded videos and games
Articles, books, infographics, press releases, guides, white papers and trend reports
Widgets, celebrity endorsements, reviews, ratings
Demo videos, events, webinars, case studies, data sheet, price guides,

Ahead of distributing you should produce a content calendar which will outline what will be pushed out and when. This should help you to manage the work flow and plan for peak times.

If you have followed these steps you are well into creating content so it is vital to maximize it. The big task now is to generate traffic to your content. The good news here is that there are loads of platforms to distribute it and even more tools to make it more efficient and analyze the results. These include Uberflip, Percolate, Contently and many more. Even better there is a huge demand for good content. The number one thing to keep in mind is that your content needs to be easy to share -- i.e, clear buttons which share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest on the top and bottom of the page. To help spread your message you should identify influencers in your space. You can check how many Twitter followers or Facebook friends they have for initial investigation.

If you are a tech startup, a great case study is They produce and distribute high quality blog content and push it out every few weeks. A large portion of material is published by their founders who have become thought leaders in product strategy and design. Intercom always includes something for people to do after reading, i.e. a call to action or a link to another interesting post.

Remember that buyers are making the purchase later and later in the sales cycle. Many have carried out research and are educated (your content should have helped them with this).