Content marketing has grown to the point where it’s now considered core marketing. It’s utilised by global conglomerates, small businesses, and everywhere in between; in fields from finance and pharma to food and fashion; B2B and B2C.
Marketers everywhere agree that content marketing is changing the game…and yet there’s still some confusion as to what it actually is.
What is Content Marketing?
Put simply, content marketing is about creating relevant, valuable and purposeful content in order to connect with your audience.
It’s straight from the school of ‘show, don’t tell’. If traditional marketing involves shouting the virtue of your brand from the rooftops, content marketing is about proving it. It’s less about selling and more about informing—empowering your audience to reward your business with the loyalty that straight selling can’t achieve.
That means giving customers what they really want, where they want to find it. It’s about adding value, demonstrating the benefits that your brand can deliver, and building the types of relationships and trust that help engender long-term success.
The one thing that binds all of the above is strategic planning. Without knowing what your audience is, how they consume content, where you can reach them, and what they care about, you’re just making noise.
What does Content Marketing look like?
How much time have you got?! The honest answer is that content marketing can take just about any form imaginable—videos, podcasts, blog posts, magazines, white papers, ebooks, infographics, quizzes, workshops, and just about anything else you fancy.
It can be delivered in physical or digital format, and be distributed directly by post and email or disseminated through social media and organic traffic. It can be long or short, cover every topic under the sun, and be designed and styled however you choose.
In truth, content marketing can exist in whatever form works for you—which is why it’s so important to ask that question early and often.
Indeed, there are lots of topics that should constantly be considered. Who are we speaking to? What do they want? Where can we reach them? What do we want to achieve? Those questions—and many more—will form the core of your strategy, in turn informing all your content marketing efforts as time goes on.
What does Content Marketing help?
If you really want to boil it down, content marketing’s benefits are based on increased sales, at a better rate of investment than traditional marketing, resulting in a stronger and more engaged customer base…but that’s a whole lot to cover in one sentence.
Let’s break it down, starting with increasing sales. That, of course, is the prime focus for most marketers and businesses—and content marketing can make it happen. Your content will spread brand awareness, and demonstrate the value you bring to customers. It can showcase your expertise, your USP, and position your business ahead of competitors.
It’s all part of why the golden rule of content marketing is being the best answer.The better return on investment is achieved by targeting your communications. Rather than attempting to reach as wide an audience as possible, content marketing is built on the idea of segmenting your market and addressing them accordingly.
That may mean creating audience personas, to better speak to specific groups; alternatively, it could be creating content to engage at each stage of the customer journey.
Combine the two, and you’re most of the way to the third benefit—a strong, engaged customer base. When people consume your content, they connect with your brand. When they feel like a brand is doing a good job of addressing them, and their specific needs, a sense of trust is established.
And if you’ve got a defined audience, with a mutual sense of trust, then you’ve got the type of situation that businesses dream of…
How do you get started?
If content is the fuel, then strategy is the vehicle—and so without a strategy, you’re not getting anywhere fast.
The biggest mistake that companies are making right now is launching into content marketing activities without a strategy in place; a survey we conducted at the start of 2020, in tandem with The Marketing Institute of Ireland, suggested that a full 50% of businesses don’t have a written strategy in place.
Whether researching the market and analysing your audience or setting goals and acquiring the resources to make the magic happen, a content marketing strategy is all about setting your efforts up in the right way.
You can’t run before you walk, and you can’t have successful content marketing without establishing the foundations first.
If you need help, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.