In between creating a product or launching a service and promoting it online comes the actual process of developing content. Since your audience most likely comes in all manner of expertise/skill level and technical savvy, so should your content. Here are several content formats that you can leverage for marketing and promoting for greater short-term and long-term profits. You'll find that many, if not all of these can be used to promote and market your products and services in some capacity.
Analyst Report: Typically written and produced by a third party (often at a marketer's request), analyst reports provide an overview and/or evaluation of a company or group of companies offering a particular product or service. These reports are typically found in the financial industry, but if you have a product or industry that lends itself to being analyzed, finding the funding for such content can yield very positive results. Analyst reports are often repackaged and distributed (with permission) by the company reviewed in the report. The content found within analyst reports usually consists of introductions and background information on the subject of the report, term sheets listing important definitions, issues and implications of influencing factors relevant to the business, the value proposition and - most important - the perspective of the actual analyst.
In line with analyst reports (but perhaps a step down) are industry reports and general research reports. Industry reports provide an objective overview of an industry sector and the players and prospects for growth in that sector. Like analyst reports, they are typically compiled by a third-party consulting firm, then redistributed by a company named in the report or offering a product or service to the industry. Research reports communicate the results of surveys, research, field work, or other findings. Research reports may be produced by vendors or by independent third parties, and the source of the research should always be clearly identified.
Best Practices Guide: Content found within a "best practice" guide usually provides recommendations and guidelines to help the reader a) complete a specific task (such as the proper formation of a press release) or to, 2) understand complex concepts (such as the Internet sales tax). These guides can be extensive or brief as is necessitated by the content being covered. Typically, the more granular the topic, the better it will be received by its audience, and arguably that much better in influencing conversion. There are many best practice guides available online for content writers to serve as examples. How-To Guides also provide step-by-step instructions for approaching a problem or opportunity related to the product or service being promoted and can act as effective tools for reaching those that will actually use what you are explaining how to do. How-to guides usually are less technical than best practice guides. For example, a best practice guide might detail how to select the best laptop, while a how-to guide might explain how to turn it on.
Case Study: If you were ever to walk the trade show floor of an Internet conference and visit the booths, "check out this case study" would be something you would hear with great frequency. Case studies illustrate the value of a specific product or service by relaying the story of a company's existing client who has benefited from the providers implementation. There are two types of case studies: 1) factual ones depicting real organizations, people, and situations and 2) fictional ones that, although usually based loosely on actual people and events, do not use real organization's or people's names. The advantages of factual case studies are that they can provide a wealth of detail, give credibility to situations and problems, and provide real outcomes.
eBook: eBooks used to be considered a more serious standard in Web content. In years past, an eBook meant that a portion of an actual book was published in electronic format. Over the years, however, the definition has changed considerably and now eBooks are considered to be any content that is produced in PDF format. Content can be anything from training manuals, instructional guides, case studies, etc. eBooks typically go beyond the typical depth of an article or case study and provide more insight than can be provided in other content formats listed here. The difference between eBooks and white papers is negligible, depending on whom you speak with. Unlike eBooks, white papers should be detailed documents that offer a complete explanation of a product or service. A few steps above a brochure or press release, white papers should be honest looks at products that aim to instill credibility for a company and its offerings.
Digital marketing executive with proven experience in all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), performance-based advertising, consumer-generated/social media, email marketing, lead generation, Web design, usability, and analytics. - 20-year Internet marketing veteran, currently serving as the Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Antenna Group (formerly Chicago Digital). - Former Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine, and a regular speaker on Web technology digital marketing strategy - Author of several books on digital marketing Including Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success; Affiliate 360: The Fundamentals of Performance Marketing; Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names, and SEO 360: The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.