Most companies don’t do a particularly good job of selling their products. Rather than figure out which sales and marketing tactics are best suited to attract and influence their ideal customers, a lot of businesses go with a spray-and-pray approach.

There is a better way. Rather than market haphazardly, try designing a holistic go-to-market strategy that’s built around the most effective tool for shepherding prospects and customers down the path to purchase: high-impact content.

By delivering the right content to your buyers at the right points in the buying cycle, you can help them take incremental steps toward a sale. Well-executed content will address your buyers’ concerns at every potential stumbling block throughout the buying cycle, easing their worries and ushering them to the next step in the process. Not only that, good content can be leveraged to:

•    Establish your company as a thought leader
•    Build brand awareness
•    Drive traffic to your website
•    Foster engagement with your target audience
•    Generate, manage, and nurture leads

Accomplishing this is no small feat. You need much more than a steady stream of content. Your content needs to be specifically designed to:

Maximize conversions. Whether you want to get a prospect or customer to watch a video about your product, fill out a contact form, or sign up for a free trial, the ultimate goal is to get them to convert in some way. The key is to create content that is concise, timely, informative, and compelling, with a very clear call to action that communicates the value they will get by taking the next step.

Reflect a deep understanding of your buyer. To be effective, your content has to resonate with your buyers. That means it needs to be tailored to them (showing that you know who they are, what they do, and what they care about) and address whatever pain points they are facing. Content that lacks this sharp focus will just get lost among all of the other noise.

Align with your company’s brand aspirations. Your content is a very public reflection of your company. As such, it’s critically important that it accurately reflect the image and position you want to have in the market. The reality is that your content will leave an impression of your company in the minds of the people who consume it. The more that impression aligns with the one you are trying to create, the more you will be able to use your content to build your company’s brand.

Be optimized for search. At its most basic, search engine optimization (SEO) is about leveraging best practices for creating and offering your content to search engines like Google or Bing. Done correctly it will make your content discoverable and drive highly relevant, organic traffic to your site.

Be easy to find on your site. When visitors come to your website, they need to be able to quickly find the content that’s most relevant to them. If they can’t do so within seconds of arriving, they’ll likely leave. That’s why it’s important to set up your site for self-segmentation (e.g., by industry, pain point, or buyer role) so that visitors can easily navigate to whatever content they need at that point in time.

Have viral features built in. There are a couple of ways to help make your content go viral. The first is to try to evoke some kind of emotional response, even if it’s just a laugh. That way, people won’t just get your message; they’ll be entertained. Another is to make sure your content is so useful that people are inclined to share it. Make sure you embed social sharing tools on your site, creating opportunities for interactions through commenting and polls, and multiplying your promotion efforts by leveraging industry influencers and public relations.

Content is the key to successful marketing. Make sure that you are not only investing the time to create it, but also that you have optimized it to have the highest impact. Any company that wants to get more customers will do well with this simple approach.