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4 Essential Pieces of an Awesome Content-Marketing Strategy To book awareness of your brand, look beyond your blog and create content in these hot formats.

By Matthew Toren

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It wasn't that long ago when marketing simply meant radio, TV and print ads to promote awareness of your business. Within the last 10 years marketing has been drastically changed with the widespread use of personal computers, the Internet and smartphones.

With all the websites for consumers to visit, marketing had to keep pace and digital ads started popping up online. As personal email was adopted by everyone around the world, newsletters also came on the scene as another important marketing tactic. Then came social media and mobile ads shortly thereafter. With all these outlets for marketing online you might be tempted to think that's all there is, but the truth is that the newest essential ingredient in your holistic marketing campaigns is content marketing.

What is content marketing? You know that you need great, well-written content that's valuable to your clients. However, it's no longer enough to just have great, valuable content. You content also needs to be sharable. That's what content marketing essentially means: exceptionally executed, valuable and sharable content.

Related: The Science of Great Content -- Think in Terms of 'AURA'

Here are four essential pieces of a content-marketing strategy:

1. Ebooks

Many of the large in-bound marketing companies such as HubSpot started with the ebooks straight out of the gate when their companies started to try to entice customers, or potential customer leads, to sign-up for their newsletters. You can follow the same strategy and create an e-book to entice your clients, or potential client leads, to sign up for your newsletter, webinar or other lead capture form.

Great ebooks are well written and laid out professionally by a designer. They should be both beautiful to look at and packed with great information. If you don't have the budget for a designer and professional writer, you should still create something visually appealing in a program such as PowerPoint or Keynote that you can convert into a PDF for downloading. It should have a catchy title with a clear call to action and include chapters and page numbers for easy organization.

2. Infographics

You see them and read them, but have you thought about creating your own? Infographics are data that's presented in a visually interesting and relevant way. It should relate to your industry and help your clients to digest complex or robust data. Here are a few important factors you'll need for the possibility that your infographic will go viral.

Do your research. It needs to have all data sources cited and properly listed. Make sure it uses valid, credible research sources. Essentially, avoid Wikipedia.

Keep it on brand. Make sure whatever you're creating is on brand. Not just for the writing and voice, but also for your graphics and style.

Include your logo and sources. Don't forget to make sure your own website and credentials are on your infographic! Get credit and traffic for your hard work.

Related: How to Repurpose Content for Your Online Marketing

3. Video

You may be surprised by how many entrepreneurs still are not effectively utilizing video as part of their content marketing and conversion strategy. Video can be a great addition to your website and newsletter, so don't leave your video just to YouTube. While you can do video on a budget yourself, if you're going to go the bootstrapping route, here are three things you need to make your video look the best.

Great lighting is the biggest contribution to a video. If you don't have a professional lighting set up, you need to do your video on a clear, sunny day with the most natural light possible. A video that's oversaturated with direct sunlight or too dark inside your house will not lend itself well to viewing. Take the time to get the best lighting possible.

Quality sound. You can get a wireless microphone for your iPhone or Mac for less than $100. Spend the money and invest in a real microphone. It will drastically improve the quality of your video.

On-screen graphics. You can do your own, simple graphics and titling in Mac programs such as iMovie to add a polish to your video.

4. White papers

As opposed to ebooks, which provide your expertise on a particular topic, white papers are well-sourced, broad-spectrum research papers that you present to your community. White papers should be about industry trends or a market position based on a vastly researched and expert set of data-points that support your conclusions.

Just like an ebook, however, your white paper should be branded and designed to look professional. A simple word document alone won't work -- you'll need a high-quality PDF with all your sources properly listed and cited.

Related: 5 Ways to Increase Your Audience's Time Spent Reading

Matthew Toren

Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.

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